The grain Amaranthus, better known as Amaranth, is a genus of herbs. Because of it’s nutritional qualities and its cooking methods, it is considered a pseudo-grain. The grain Amaranth is a tall broad-leaf grain with impressive colorful foliage. Amaranthus comes from the Greek word amarantos or “the never-fading.” True to it’s namesake, Amaranth’s foliage retains it’s beauty even after it has been harvested and dried. It originated in the South and Central America. It has been utilized in Mexico for a long time, and is a native crop of Peru. It was the staple food of the Aztecs. It was also mixed with honey and shaped into images of their Gods. During religious ceremonies, these treats would be broken apart and distributed to the people. In an attempt to convert the Aztecs to Christianity, when Cortez came along he outlawed its use. It was then smuggled to Asia. From there it has spread out all over the world. There was renewed interest in Amaranth in the U.S. starting in the 1970’s. There are 60 different species of amaranth. Some species are considered nothing more than weeds, however, most varieties are considered leafy vegetable, cereals, and ornamental plants.

 Grains provide important and essential proteins, vitamins, and mineral. We need at least 2.5 servings to meet our daily nutritional requirement. Amaranth provides a good source of these nutrients and can be found at local retailers such as K-mart. It contains more that 3 times the calcium than any other grain, and it is also high in protein. Its seeds protein content is higher than wheat, and it is gluten free. It’s proteins contain lysine which is absent in most grains, thus making is a complete protein. It contains many vitamins and the only known grain to contain vitamin C. The grain Amaranth is also high in fiber and is filled with other important mineral such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium. Because the grain Amaranth is gluten free and high in fiber, it is a great food for those with Celiac disease and those that are vegetarians.

There has been over 14 years of studies on the benefits of the grain Amaranth. These studies suggest that its seeds and oil lowers cholesterol and hypertension, therefore lowering one chance of heart disease. It is filled with antioxidants and it improves some immune parameters. Some even claim that it helps prevent hair from greying. With all of these benefits, the grain Amaranth should be easy to incorporate into ones diet.

To cook it add about 6 cups of water to every cup of grain. The water tends to thicken while boiling. Boil for about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the contents. The grain Amaranth can then be added to soups and salads for a wholesome addition. It can be made into bread, porridge, muffins, and even used in cookie batter. there are lots of recipes found on the internet to produce a variety of dishes to satisfy your palate.