Congratulations! You’ve expanded your dietary horizons to venture past the ubiquitous wheat pasta to include other whole grains into your daily menus. Maybe you enjoy brown rice with your chicken … toss a handful of barley into simmering soups … perhaps even checked out the new recipes for quinoa in your favorite magazine?

Now it’s time to add another “superfood” to your life: amaranth.  Like quinoa, this one’s considered a superfood due to its densely packed nutritional profile. But unlike quinoa, amaranth isn’t technically a grain, but rather, a seed.

Why Amaranth is Considered a Superfood:

Nutrition profile of a 1-cup serving of amaranth (cooked):

9 grams protein, 5 grams dietary fiber

Low-sodium – 15mg (1% Daily Value)

Estimated glycemic load of 21 (target total is 100 or less per day)

Percent Daily Values of the following essential nutrients: 105% manganese, 40% magnesium, 36% phosphorus, 29% iron, 19% selenium, 18% copper, 12% calcium, 14% Vitamin B6, 14% folate.

You can find amaranth at most health food stores and natural/gourmet grocery shops. It can be a bit pricey, but considering how concentrated the nutrition is – it’s worth every penny!

Amaranth is delicious when combined with other grains such as millet and quinoa to make a light and fluffy pilaf. Try it in tabouli as a replacement for couscous. Stir it into soups or stews for a protein boost. You may have even seen amaranth sold in puffed form, as a cereal or granola ingredient, but this is very easy to make yourself at home. Simply heat a skillet on the stove, add a couple tablespoons of uncooked amaranth, place a lid on top and swirl the pan until the seeds pop. You can combine puffed amaranth with nut butter and honey to make a delicious and simple energy bar.

For easier digestibility, soak amaranth seeds for 8-10 hours in cold water prior to cooking. You don’t need to do this but it may enhance absorption of nutrients.

To cook amaranth seeds:

Boil 1 cup seeds in 2 1/2 cups water for 18-20 minutes. Don’t overcook them as they will become gummy!

Amaranth has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and you can enhance the flavor by gently sautéing the cooked seeds, as with quinoa.

Do you have a favorite recipe using amaranth?