Amaranth is one of nature’s best kept secrets. An ancient grain that possesses all eight essential amino acids and one of the highest levels of protein of any grain (although technically the tiny little beads typically referred to as amaranth are the seed of the amaranth plant, not an actual grain). The tiny seeds are also an excellent source of iron, with a serving of only 3 tablespoons providing 25% of your RDA of iron. A good source of fibre and calcium, this toothsome little grain is also a good source of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. It’s free of trans fat, gluten, cholesterol and vegan to boot!
GoGo Quinoa is a manufacturer specializing in ancient grains imported from Bolivia.
Their parent company, 2 AMERIKS, opened in Montreal in 2004 on a mission to provide healthy gluten-free products to people affected by celiac disease or intolerances and sensitivities to gluten and wheat. They ensure that all their products are organic and vegan.
As a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), 2 AMERIKS governs itself according to the ten WFTO fair trade principles. Their products are ethically and sustainably sourced, respecting local farmers, the environment, and paying a fair price as determined by the producers.
Amaranth has been in cultivation for over 8,000 years. Its biggest proponents were the Aztecs. For them, Amaranth was both a staple and an important part of religious festivals.
According to Historians, the seeds were popped like popcorn. In some cases they were mixed with sacrificial human blood and consumed. Still other rituals saw the seeds molded into sculptures which were then eaten ceremoniously.
When the Spanish conquistadors conquered the Aztecs, they banned the production of amaranth. They saw its use in religious rites as a pagan activity. For eons Amaranth just grew as a weed, unmodified or altered in any way. This solitude is what created the genetic integrity and wholesomeness the ancient grain enjoys.
In Mexico and Central and South America Amaranth is still enjoyed popped and mixed with honey and pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. It’s a treat named alegria (joy) by the Spanish, and often formed into “granola bars.”
For a more savoury snack, after popping, amaranth can be mixed with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and eaten right out of the bowl.
It should be pointed out that amaranth must be cooked like a grain–or popped–before eating, since humans cannot digest it raw.
Interestingly, it can be cooked as a breakfast porridge, like cream of wheat, and still maintain a little of its crunch when fully cooked. Amaranth also makes a great and healthy addition to homemade granola bars.
Here’s a recipe courtesy of GoGoQuinoa that combines the goodness of amaranth and corn, a meal in itself perfect for a cold winter day.
Amaranth and Corn Chowder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic –minced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 cup amaranth
3 cups plus 1 cup water or vegetable broth
¼ tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups plus 1 cup corn kernels
1 cup cream, milk, or alternative (soy)
- In a large pot heat oil and add leek, onion, garlic and bell pepper, stirring until vegetables are soft, 3-5 min.
- Stir in the amaranth and water or broth; bring to the boil and stir in the thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 min.
- Meanwhile, puree 3 cups of the corn with a cup of water or broth and add to soup along with the other cup of kernels.
- Reduce heat and continue cooking until the amaranth is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream, milk or soy milk.
- Serve, garnished with chopped parsley.