Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Amaranth

In my quest to add different types of whole grains to my diet, I stumbled upon an article about amaranth (also known as ‘baby quinoa’). Amaranth, like farro, is an ancient grain, is naturally gluten-free, and is extremely nutrient-dense.  Like quinoa, amaranth is also high in protein (one cup raw contains over 28g!), and is a complete protein, at that.  It is one of the few plant sources of protein that contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own, and it is an especially high source of the amino acid lysine, which most other grains contain in very small amounts.  Amaranth is also high in fiber, calcium, iron, and magnesium, and like many other “exotic” whole grains, can be used just like familiar staples such as oats and rice.  The recipe below takes a ubiquitous rice dish, rice pilaf, and enhances its nutritional –and curiosity – value through the inclusion of amaranth.

Amaranth Pilaf

Ingredients
3 cups water
1 cup amaranth
½  tsp. salt
½  tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. softened butter
 ⅛ tsp. pepper

Instructions
1.  In a medium saucepan, combine water, amaranth, salt, and thyme.
2.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
3.  Cover saucepan and cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
4.  Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes to steam.
5.  Stir in butter and pepper and serve.

Recipe adapted from About.com

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