Nov 02 2011
Amaranth is a broad-leafed plant which produces multi-headed flowerets containing grain-like seed of extremely high nutritional value. The tiny seeds are a creamy tan in color and are about 1/32″ in diameter. Each plant produces 40,000-60,000 seeds. The amaranth seeds are used in their whole grain form, milled into flour or puffed into miniature kernels.
For centuries, the Aztecs and American Indians have known the benefits and diverse uses for amaranth.
Not only is amaranth higher in protein than most commonly used grains, that protein, containing high levels of lysine and methionine, is better balanced and more complete. Amaranth, with 13-19% protein, scores closer to a perfect 100 on a theoretical protein score chart than do other grains. For example, amaranth’s 75 is significantly higher than wheat at 56.9, corn at 44, soybeans at 68 or even cow’s milk at 72.5.
Amaranth possesses a potent lectin that has been shown to identify colon cancer cells which are in the early stages of mutation.(1) As such a diet high in amaranth may well be protective against this common cancer, which is known to have a significantly higher incidence in blood group A.
Here’s a great recipe that uses amaranth flour to make a grain free bread:
Grain-Free Boston Brown Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons amaranth flour 1/4 cup arrowroot 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger 1/2 cup currants 1/2 cup walnuts 3/4 cup boiling unsweetened fruit juice or water 1/4 cup honey or molasses 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Generously oil a 1-quart mold or 1 pound coffee can. Fill a Dutch oven or stockpot with about 5 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil while you prepare the batter.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, arrowroot, baking soda and ginger. Stir in the currants.
In a blender, grind the walnuts to a fine powder. Add the juice or water, and blend 20 seconds. If the ingredients in the blender don’t reach the 1 -cup mark, add a little more liquid. With the blender running on low, add the honey or molasses and lemon juice.
Pour the liquid mixture into the flour bowl. Stir quickly to blend; do not overmix. Transfer to the prepared mold orcan. Cover with a square of foil or wax paper; tie the wax paper securely with a piece of string.
Place the mold in the boiling water. (It should come halfway up the sides.) Cover the pot tightly, and steam for 2 hours over medium-low heat. Do not remove the cover during that time.
Remove the mold from the pot. Cool the bread in the mold for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. For the best results, cut with a serated knife with a gentle sawing motion.
Variations: Replace the honey or molasses with 1/3 cup maple syrup. Instead of the currants, use dried unsweetened pineapple, apples, prunes or ther dried fruit; use the corresponding juice as the liquid.
(1)Boland CR, Chen YF, Rinderle SJ, Resau JH, Luk GD, Lynch HT. Use of the lectin from Amaranthus caudatus as a histochemical probe of proliferating colonic epithelial cells. Cancer Res. 1991 Jan 15;51(2):657-65.