Amaranth was cultivated and used by different peoples living in what is now Mexico, 5,000-7,000 years ago. In the XII century in Central Mexico, the Aztecs appear, and they, having conquered many of the tribes living there, create a powerful empire. However, the Aztecs remained in history also because they discovered the value of amaranth. According to legend, amaranth bread was called Aztec bread. To this day, this culture has not lost its value, is cultivated and studied.
Since the time of the Aztecs
At the time of the Aztec, amaranth in the diet ranked second after corn. The anti-aging and healing properties of this plant were also highly valued. Moreover, the food was widely used and the green parts, and grains. From amaranth flour prepared cakes. The significance of this culture is also indicated by the fact that amaranth was included in the list of plants, some of which were Indians to give to the Aztecs in the form of a tribute.
If for many nations the name of the plant itself is translated as “denying death”, “unfading”, then in Mexico amaranth is also known today as “joy”. It continues to be important in traditional agriculture, grown in the states of Guerrero, Mexico, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Federal District, Michoacan and Oaxaca, and is actively used for the preparation of sweets, as a dietary supplement, in dietary products. Increased interest in it by researchers has been observed since the middle of the last century, and in the 70s of the twentieth century, the revival of amaranth as a field culture began. Such attention to amaranth is associated with a high concentration of proteins, minerals and vitamins in its grains, which are necessary for good nutrition and improving human health.
First of all, scientists have paid attention to the high content of high-quality protein in amaranth, and especially in the seeds of this culture. The research found that amaranth protein is the only vegetable protein that contains all the essential amino acids. In addition, amaranth is especially rich in lysine. For this reason, FAO (FAO, Food and Agricultural Organization – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and the United States Department of Agriculture declared that amaranth is a plant food with the highest nutritional value, with the possibility of becoming the food of the future for humanity.
Scientists pay attention to the quantitative and qualitative aspects of amaranth protein. Thus, amaranth seeds contain 16% protein, while wheat, rice, and corn, which are more common for many cereal crops, contain 12–14%, 7–10%, and 9–10%, respectively. Amaranth surpasses other cultures not only in quantitative protein content, but also in quality. It is the only vegetable of this type that contains all the essential amino acids (those that the body cannot produce). Here are contained:
For example, lysine, which is the basis for building our body’s proteins, still has a number of functions. It:
• help in the restoration of collagen and tissue;
• participation in the development of antibodies, hormones, enzymes;
• reducing the likelihood and / or preventing herpes infection;
• Ensuring proper nitrogen balance in the body;
• slowing damage to the lens of the eye;
• reduction of elevated triglycerides – fats contained in the blood and can lead to obesity, diabetes, kidney and thyroid diseases.
A lack of lysine causes immunodeficiency, leads to fatigue, fatigue and weakness, poor appetite, slow growth and weight loss, inability to concentrate, as well as irritability, bleeding in the eyeball, hair loss, anemia and problems in the reproductive sphere.
The lysine and other amino acids necessary for health of an organism, in an amaranth protein contain in bigger amount, than in many other cereals. Amaranth contains two times more lysine than wheat protein, three times higher than corn, and is comparable in content to cow’s milk protein, which is considered the “gold standard” of excellence in nutrition. Thus, amaranth is actually an optimal and “balanced” food additive in comparison with ordinary cereals. This is confirmed by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Amaranth works to recuperate
Thanks to numerous studies, one can be sure that amaranth helps to recuperate, again and again confirming its amazing healing and nutritional properties, which it has demonstrated for hundreds of years.
In the process of research and practice, it has been established that amaranth has anti-cancer properties and helps stabilize the level of glucose and fat in the blood. Therefore, products based on this plant are recommended for people with diabetes and problems in regulating cholesterol levels.
Consumption of food on the basis of amaranth grain (this can be, for example, different types of porridge) is recommended for patients with cardiovascular, oncological and other problems, people in a state of physical or nervous exhaustion. Because of its high calcium content, amaranth is recommended for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Medicinal properties of amaranth should be used to improve health at any stage of life. Doctors recommend including amaranth and products based on it for complex treatment and prophylaxis. This is especially important for older people who need not only to improve their health, but to return at least some of the energy expended in previous years.
Mexican’s favorite dishes
On all culinary sites of Mexico, it is noted that amaranth grain does not contain gluten and has great therapeutic properties. It also focuses on large amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, carotenoids, and lysine, which helps the body absorb calcium. Also, we should not forget that we can get this amino acid only with food. The benefits of amaranth and the content of protein and vitamins are noted. Practically on every culinary site tips are given on the use of amaranth in the nutrition of children, pregnant women, seriously ill patients – for this category, amaranth cream-based cream is most often recommended for breakfast.
The traditional dish in Mexico is porridge, which can be prepared with the addition of fruits, berries, honey, chia seeds. Thus, amaranth porridge with the addition of cinnamon, raspberry, chia seeds is recognized as very useful.
• 0.5 cups amaranth grain;
• cinnamon stick;
• grapefruit peel;
• chia seeds;
• linseed oil;
• 1, 5 cups of vegetable / chicken broth or water (for people with cardiovascular problems and high cholesterol, Mexicans recommend cooking broth from poultry);
• seasonings (clove, vanilla, cardamom).
It is necessary to pre-rinse and soak the amaranth grain in water (it is better to do this at night). In the morning, the remaining water is drained and again washed grain. Then heat the broth, add cinnamon sticks, grated zest, and cook on low heat for 25 minutes.
To this porridge add ingredients that complement and enhance the effect of amaranth. It:
• raspberry, rich in vitamin C with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as calcium and potassium;
• chia seeds, rich in omega-3, antioxidants, fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc;
• Flaxseed oil with a large amount of Omega-3 and has anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties.
As a result, we get a dish that is useful for athletes, people with cardiovascular pathology, oncology, frequent inflammatory diseases, as well as all who need a gluten-free or alkaline diet, cleaning the body of harmful substances. This porridge is suitable for children and the elderly.
Amaranth in coconut milk
This is also a kind of porridge. The general recommendations for the preparation of this dish emphasize that the grain of amaranth must be rinsed beforehand (through a sieve or cloth). After that, amaranth is cooked like rice, and the ratio is 3 parts of water for 1 part of amaranth, boiling for about 20 minutes over low heat. However, to obtain amaranth in coconut milk, other components are also needed.
• 1 glass of amaranth;
• 3 glasses of coconut milk;
• 1 sticks of cinnamon;
• 1 lemon zest;
• 2 tablespoons of tagatose (a sweetener that contains almost 4 times less calories than traditional sugar, and has a low glycemic index, therefore it is recommended as a healthy sugar substitute);
• 1 teaspoon of nutmeg;
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon;
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract;
• 1 pinch of salt;
• 2 tablespoons of ghee;
• nuts for decoration.
Prepared amaranth is sent to the pan with the required amount of water, put on medium heat and add all the ingredients, except ghee and sweetener. We continue to boil until boiling, and then we reduce the heat and continue to boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (from 18 to 20 minutes, but the amaranth should be transparent). Now you can remove the cinnamon stick and add the ghee. Turn off the fire and give the porridge a little cool, and then add the sweetener and mix well. Serve this porridge can be chilled, before serving, adding a choice of cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, nuts, fruits.
• ready-made pasta;
• 1 glass of natural tomato sauce to taste;
• 100 g of roasted amaranth seeds;
• 1 teaspoon of roasted sesame seeds.
Cook the pasta in the usual way and season with tomatoes. When serving paste, sprinkle it with amaranth and sesame seeds.