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Have You Tried Amaranth?

September 30, 2013
Amaranth is a "complete" grain rich in amino acids with even more protein than quinoa.

If you’re vegetarian or just trying to eat less meat, you’re probably looking for veggie foods that contain some protein. Trouble is, most grains aren’t “complete,” meaning they lack enough amino acids (often lysine). Amaranth to the rescue!

Strictly called a “pseudocereal” since it comes from different plant lineage than true cereals, this South American native contains as much as 17% protein—in comparison, quinoa has about 14%—plus lysine, calcium and iron. It also contains lunasin, a peptide said to help block cancer, and it’s naturally gluten-free. If you can find it fresh, the leaves taste spinachy in salads or stir-fries. And the grains have a crispy crunch, even when cooked. Try amaranth these ways:

How to prepare it:

  • As an oatmeal alternative. Try this recipe, adapted from Whole Foods: boil 1 c. amaranth, 2 c. organic, grass-fed milk, or a good non-dairy milk) and 1 c. water in a medium pot; reduce to simmer, stirring frequently, until most liquid is absorbed and amaranth is tender (about 25 minutes). Add sweetener, spices and fruit to taste.
  • Popped. Popcorn, move over! Popped amaranth makes a crispy, nutritious salad or yogurt topping, or you can toss it with savory spices and nuts for a quick snack. Also try mixing it with cooked rice to add crunch. See how to pop it here.
  • Instead of a Rice Krispie treat. In Mexico, amaranth is made into an airy treat called Dulce de Alegría. Try this sweet and simple recipe.

As a flour.

How to use it:

  • As a soup or chili thickener. No need for corn starch or regular flour; this fiber-rich flour is known for its thickening abilities.
  • In a smoothie. You can blend a tablespoon or amaranth flour into your favorite smoothie to create a shake.
  • To make great crackers. Try our recipe below!

Go with the grain.

Black and White Sesame Seed Crackers




30 min


30 min


1⁄2 c. almond meal or almond flour

1⁄2 c. organic amaranth flour, plus more as needed (see instructions)

1⁄2 c. arrowroot powder

1 Tbsp. aluminum-free baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. fine sea salt

1 1⁄2 tsp. black sesame seeds, divided

1 1⁄2 tsp. white sesame seeds, divided

1 1⁄2 tsp. white sesame seeds, divided

1⁄2 tsp. coarse sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine almond meal, amaranth flour, arrowroot, baking powder, fine sea salt, 1 tsp. of the black sesame seeds, and 1 tsp. of the white sesame seeds. Add 1⁄4 c. of the oil and 1⁄4 c. water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a work surface lightly dusted with amaranth flour and knead a few times, until the mixture comes together.

Pat the dough into a rectangle, then roll it out to about 12" long and 8" wide, sprinkling a little amaranth flour under the dough as needed and pressing together any tears or cracks. Brush the dough with the remaining 11⁄2 tsp. of oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt, the remaining 1⁄2 tsp. black sesame seeds, and remaining 1⁄2 tsp. of white sesame seeds. Cut the dough into twenty-four 2" squares, then use a spatula to carefully transfer the crackers to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned at the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let crackers cool completely.

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