Recently dining out at a nice restaurant celebrating the end of the year, I was lucky enough to eat a delicious dessert with red quinoa and amaranth – I was fascinated again because I tested these grains so many times. As a foodie I love to know more about what I eat…I knew that the quinoa and amaranth are gluten free products (ideal for gluten intolerance) and nutritionally speaking are amazing …but there’s much more with these super cereals!
Quinoa and amaranth are used in flours, breads, pastas, desserts and you can fly with your imagination in other uses;) By the way, I’m going to give you in this post some cooking tips and recipes, I know that you – foodie like this type of delicious stuff.
A Bit of History and Their Origins
Quinoa grain dates back over 5000 years especially in Andean areas in South America, which are now territories of Peru and Bolivia. The people considered it sacred and used in religious rituals.
It grows wild in the Andes at high elevations between 3000 and 4000 meters (10000 to 13000ft approx).
The Incas even called it the “mother grain” (not for less) for its importance of growing up in extreme conditions – a true gift from the gods!
Amaranth (Amaranto in Spanish) they’re a generic world type of plants but I’ll refer only to amaranth grain. They’re very old, thousands of years and were used by the Aztecs for their rituals. The grains were crushed, mixed with honey and shaped to a form of gods, for use in religious ceremonies. Today is mainly found in small quantity in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru.
Super Cereals and Benefits
Actually, they’re considered technically (pseudocereals) but isn’t the case…
What is Quinoa or the Amaranth nutritionally?
- The main feature is their high proportion of protein up to 18% against 10-14% of classic cereals.
- Their proteins have high proportions of essential amino acids that the body does not produce, such as cysteine, lysine and methionine.
- Both wheat and rice are low in essential amino acids…the contrary to the quinoa or the amaranth oops!
- According to FAO and WHO these grains are almost perfect and balanced for its protein value (leaving behind to cow’s milk, soy, beef, wheat and maize).
- They’re richer in iron, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin E (and several more of the alphabet) than the conventional grains. An idea, a cup of quinoa has 51 mg in calcium to 28 mg of the classic cereals.
- 400 calories per 0,1 kg (0.2 lbs) – totally useful for kids, pregnant women and athletes.
- For cases of gluten-free diets (celiac disease) are absolutely perfect, hence the huge amount of gluten free food recipes available include them! Vegans delight as well and they’re wonderful in healthy eating plans.
You’ll still asking, which is the relationship with NASA and Le Cordon Bleu? I assure you a lot.
Le Cordon Bleu – Mon Dieu!
In the new gastronomic trends, install amaranth and quinoa grains in a place of privilege.
The top culinary art school Le Cordon Bleu published a book and was awarded with the third prize of the “French Cuisine” category, of a world competition organized at London on April 2008.
The book “The New Cuisine from the Andes: Quinoa, Heritage of the Incas” (Spanish “Cocina Novoandina: Quinua, Herencia de los Incas”) is a brilliant cookbook that include garden-gourmet quinoa recipes like salads, soups, starters, desserts (mine)! and beverages produced with these grains. This book is part of a project for the promotion of organic quinoa of Peru and the large increase in the demand at the gastronomic area.
NASA and the Space Voyages!
I’m big fan of Star Trek and science-fiction movies but this is for real: NASA has selected and is working with quinoa and amaranth such as crops CELSS (Controlled Ecological Life Support System)… are excellent plants for removing carbon dioxide providing oxygen and keeping down the need of external oxygen supplies, besides they’re immensely nutritious meals – just right for astronauts. So worth a try!
How to Cook Quinoa and Amaranth – Some Tips:
- Both grains are cooked quickly and have a mild taste with a crispy texture.
- With a slight roasted make them more palatable.
- Warning: Amaranth explode with fire like pop corn but this case is pop amaranth 😉 very common in Central America and Mexico, are used even at breakfast.
- Quinoa is indispensable a pre-washed to remove a resinous substance that gives a sour taste if not removed. The seeds cook for about 15 minutes simmering, without adding salt. The proportion is 2 parts of quinoa to 1 part of water.
Take in mind that the volume is tripled! Certainly you can use a rice cooker too.
Quinoa and Amaranth Cereal Recipes
I was looking for some recipes for you to enjoy:
- Breakfast Quinoa, Canyons, and Bears, Oh My! By Susan
- Amaranth, Quinoa and Dark Chocolate Cake — Gâteau à l’amaranth, quinoa et chocolat noir by Bea
- Monster Gluten Free Quinoa Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe by Seamaiden
- Healthy: Nutty Amaranth Granola with Fresh Berries by Meeta
- Lime Quinoa Salad with Mint by Karina
- Frugal Fridays #3 Tuna and Quinoa Cakes by Ben
I’d like to know your experience, recipes and tastes about these awesome grains.
Well, the word is yours in the comments area 🙂
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