Puffed Amaranth - High Protein, Gluten-Free Food
Author: Shelley Bennetts Date Posted:31 January 2021
Puffed Amaranth is a Protein Powerhouse
Puffed Amaranth grain is an almost neutral flavoured food, just a little nutty and earthy. Lightweight and ever so tiny, you don’t want to let the slightest draft near your brekky bowl until you’ve weighted it down with other ingredients! These miniscule little puffs are packed with goodness and are a great source of gluten-free protein. Amaranth is Fodmap friendly, a low GI food, and an ancient grain considered a rediscovered superfood! With all of those attributes, puffed amaranth should be part of your healthy diet.
What is Amaranth?
Amaranth is the common name for more than 60 different species of amaranthus, which are usually very tall plants with broad green leaves and impressively bright purple, red, or gold flowers. Considered a weed or ornamental plant in some parts of the world, in others they are grown for their edible seeds.
Amaranth isn’t a true cereal grain, but is in fact a seed, with a nutrient profile like cereals. It is often referred to as a pseudo-cereal. Amaranth is a member of the Chenopodiaceae family of plants and is a relative of beets, Swiss chard, spinach, and quinoa.
Amaranth was a major food crop of the Aztecs, and some say amaranth was domesticated between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. The raw amaranth seeds can be boiled in water, like rice, to make a porridge. Seeds are also ground to make amaranth flour.
Health Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth contains more than three times the average amount of calcium and is also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. One cup of uncooked amaranth has 31 percent of the recommended daily allowance for calcium, 14 percent for vitamin C, and a whopping 82 percent for iron!
It’s a protein powerhouse! At about 13-14%, it easily trumps the protein content of most other grains. The protein in amaranth is complete because it contains lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains. The protein in amaranth is widely considered among the highest in nutritive quality of vegetable origin, close to those of animal origin products.
It’s good for your heart and is a low GI food . Amaranth has shown potential as a cholesterol-lowing whole grain as it’s a rich dietary source of phytosterols, which have cholesterol-lowering properties.
It’s naturally gluten-free and Fodmap friendly. Amaranth is an excellent way to boost the nutritional power of gluten-free recipes. Gluten is the major protein in many grains and is responsible for the elasticity in dough, allows for leavening, and contributes chewiness to baked products. More and more people are finding they cannot comfortably, or even safely, eat products containing gluten and are switching to gluten-free diets.
How to Use Popped Amaranth
Amaranth as a breakfast cereal
Puffed amaranth makes a delicious light and fluffy breakfast cereal. Mix it with milk, soymilk or yogurt. Combine it with oats or grains and add fresh or dried fruits - just like regular cereals. The flavour is light and nutty, with a slight bit of earthiness. Don’t let the lightness of this popped grain deceive you... It’s a very filling breakfast.
Amaranth as a Savoury Topping
You can prepare Puffed Amaranth as a savoury snack as well. It tastes pretty similar to popcorn. Just use your favourite savoury popcorn seasoning and sprinkle it on top of puffed amaranth.
Amaranth for Snack Bars
The beauty of the following recipe is that you can modify it to use whatever you have on hand in your pantry. These are grain-free and made from a base of mostly seeds; hemp seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds for extra protein and omega 3’s. To bind the bars, simply melt a little bit of honey (or brown rice syrup for vegans) with almond butter. Pour that in with the seeds and coconut, add your nuts, fruit and chocolate (if you please) then press everything down in a lined baking dish. Refrigerate for a few hours, cut them up and they are ready to eat! Delicious Puffed Amaranth, Seed and Nut and Chocolate Bars.