Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Superfood from the Indian backyard

Finally, I’ve gotten down to doing a food review I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Since I am currently in weight-loss/recover-from-injury mode, I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my diet and I’m happy to note that I’m making some really big changes in this department.

So here’s what’s on the plate today: amaranth seeds. This gluten-free seed (it’s not a grain, very similar to quinoa) is probably not much heard of outside of a few cultures, but in India, it’s a big part of our diet and tradition. Here, the air-popped seeds are mixed with jaggary, peanuts, and cardamom, and shaped into confection balls or bars.

Some interesting amaranth facts:

  • The Aztecs believed that amaranth gave them mystical, supernatural powers. Warriors and runners ate it for strength.
  • The seeds are high in protein and contain high amounts of lysine and methionine, two types of amino acids, making it a more complete source of protein than most grains (30% more). Using them in combination with wheat, corn, or brown rice equals the protein content to fish, red meat, or poultry.
  • Amaranth seeds are also high in fiber, calcium (twice as much as milk), iron, potassium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, E.
  • Amaranth is super-easy to digest (90% digestible) and because of this ease of digestion, it has traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness or ending a fasting period (very common fasting food in India).
  • Amaranth has a low glycemic Index (2.4), keeping you full, longer.
Although you can use the seeds (popped or unpopped) any way you like, I prefer to make porridge of it. It’s super easy and FAST!

Here’s how I enjoy my amaranth porridge:
Warm milk. Hot is best since the seeds soak in more readily.

Add popped amaranth seeds. More or less depending on the consistency you like. 

Mix and let it stand for about 2 minutes so that the seeds soak in the milk and it gets creamy.

Garnish! I sprinkled sugar, melon seeds, raisins, and prunes. Other great-tasting garnishes: bananas, peanut butter, almonds. And it’s ready…YUMM!

Nutritional Profile (based on ¼ cup dry grain)
Calories = 182
Total Fat = 3.25 g
Saturated Fat = 0.75 g
Cholesterol = 0 mg
Sodium = 10.25 mg
Carbohydrate = 32.25 g
Dietary Fiber = 4.5 g
Protein = 7 g
Gluten Free  

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