Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May's Grain of the Month: Amaranth

I just bought some amaranth. 
I'm experimenting with different grains after learning about the website, Whole Grain Council. This past winter, I found out about the Whole Grain Council Website after doing some research for Heidi Skolnik, a Sports Nutritionist. Heidi did a one, two, three part series on Dr. Oz highlighting different grains used around the world. I announced some of those grains on my blog, as they were celebrated during each month by the Whole Grain Council. There was barley in February,  quinoa, in March, and Teff, which is celebrated in November, but I shared it in February - I was trying to show the directors interviewing me for the dieteic internship position that I was working with Ms. Skolnik. Do you believe  they would not take a direct letter of recommendation from her because I had already completed my on-line dietetic applications, and already had four recommendations? Apparently four is the legal limit!
Well, May is the month that the Whole Grain Council celebrates amaranth!
So, I bought some.
Amaranth has a nutrition profile sort of similar to grain, but like quinoa and buckwheat, it is a pseudo-cereal. Amaranth, and all pseudo-cereals, are great to use if you are sensitive to gluten, or have a gluten allergy and suffer from Celiac Disease.
This makes celebrating and buying amaranth in May
even more worth it!
Some cool things about amaranth is that it contains about 3X more calcium and fiber, and 5X more iron than other grains. It is also the only grain known to contain vitamin C! 

Amaranth is full of protein, about 13-14%. This is not just any protein. Amaranth contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it only second to soy, as an excellent source of a complete plant protein! For nearly the same calories as brown rice, you get double the protein with amaranth. I bought amaranth because I liked that it was a plant version of a complete protein - that demands a little respect!

I thought it was cool that amaranth contains lysine, an amino acid that is usually missing from traditional grains. Lysine helps strengthen collagen fibers. Tendins are made from collagen - and with my problematic tendinosis - which has de-railed my competitive edge since late December - I need to vary my grains and add in some that will work for me.
I think these can work for me!
Dulce de Alegria/Amaranth Bars
Amaranth also contains a special cancer-preventing molecule, a lunasin-like peptide, which is currently being studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are trying to see if these anti-inflammatory properties can help people suffering from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. So far, research has identified amaranth as a cholesterol-lowering grain.
So what am I going to do with it?
I found a Toasted Pilaf recipe for amaranth on the Dr. Weil site, 
and I'm going to try it.
Looks tasty!
Do you have any amaranth recipes?
I heard it can be heated, and popped, like corn? 
Have you done this? If so, would you recommend doing this?

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