Today, along with other nutritious gluten-free grains like quinoa and teff, amaranth is enjoying a renaissance as a whole grain used in cooking, as well as a flour in gluten-free baking. Amaranth is a seed crop native to South America and was the essential food staple of the ancient Aztecs and Incas. This tiny seed is a nutritional powerhouse that contains each of the essential amino acids, in addition to boasting 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber in just one 1⁄2 cup serving. Similar to quinoa, this South American supergrain lends itself well to culinary versatility. Amaranth can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from porridge and pilafs to casseroles and snacks. Consider taking some of your favorite rice, potato and pasta dishes and substituting amaranth for a new taste and texture sensation.
These tiny seeds remain miniscule even after cooking, but become soft and tender while maintaining a faint, appealing crunch. Amaranth does not fluff up like rice and quinoa when cooked, but maintains a hearty, dense quality that maintains moisture well and has a unique, golden shimmer.
It’s common to see amaranth flour being incorporated into flour blends for gluten-free baking; the high protein content provides a stickiness that is beneficial. But amaranth is also widely used in commercial food products. For example, NuWorld Amaranth specializes in a variety of ready-to-eat amaranth foods.