Quinoa & Amaranth Grains – What They Have in Common with Le Cordon Bleu and NASA?

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.

Amaranth Cereal Dessert

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!

Organic Quinoa Grains

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 πŸ˜‰ 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:

I’d like to know your experience, recipes and tastes about these awesome grains.
Well, the word is yours in the comments area πŸ™‚

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    Gera is a techie & foodie passionate about how to succeed in social media. He focuses also on successful blogging tips and food connections. You can connect with him on Google +. Subscribe to his Free WPulsar Newsletter about WordPress Plugin & Theme Reviews, Blogging and Social Media.


    Hi Gera! I have not tried either of these grains. I have been seeing quinoa on a lot of blogs with some delicious preparations. My resolution is to try some new foods, quinoa is on my list! Thanks for all the interesting facts, as always!!

    J.A. ROSE

    Gera-Thanks for reminding everyone of us about these important and delicious foods. I love them both!! Amaranth is also easy to grow and a beautiful plant with lovely flowers as well as food source. Sister Javamanjoe


    Incredible post! Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
    This was definitely brain food.

    I’m totally intrigued to try both grains.
    *writing/adding to foodie mart grocery list*

    Carolyn Jung

    I’ve cooked quinoa in my ricecooker. It’s so easy that way. Just push the button and — “ding,” it’s done in no time.


    I love quinoa! And I especially love it as a breakfast cereal! What a great post, Gera.

    I’ve never tried Amaranth but will keep an eye out for it πŸ™‚

    Meeta K. Wolff

    what an exciting post Gera! I love both grains and often incorporate them in my breakfast or meals! Lovely!

    kang at LE

    Hi Gera!

    I’ve never had quinoa before and I didnt realise it has that many uses, that co2 absoprtion ability of quinoa is an intriguing one – not only is it healthy, it can potentially save the planet!

    great informative post!

    Rosa's Yummy Yums

    Thanks for the interesting info! What wonderful grains!

    Cheers and thanks for passing by!


    The Food Site

    Hi Gera,
    I’ve not tried both grains before but they sure do sound nutritious. Thanks for the great info!


    Actually they’re becoming popular recently but the nutritional properties are fantastic. Great resolution to experiment new flavors and foods..I try to the same when I can! Thanks so much Reeni! πŸ™‚

    You’re welcome Janet! They’re wonderful plants and the Amaranth, yes has good looking flowers apart from the grains. I tried to be concise and only refer to food-side..Thank you Javamanjoe! πŸ™‚

    @[email protected]
    Glad you like it! Certainly brain and soul food πŸ˜‰ I expect you’ll can get and explore them!
    Thanks for stopping by!! πŸ™‚

    @Carolyn Jung
    Yes I think is the easiest way to do it. Cook must be fun, easy and in the less time possible. Happy to see you Carolyn! πŸ™‚

    @5 Star Foodie
    I do believe a true coincidence, it’s a nice name because represents health and beauty!! Hope you enjoy the recipes! Thank you for the visit! πŸ™‚

    Wow Fabulous you like quinoa..for a healthy breakfast is so perfect! Do try amaranth is outstanding too! Thank you for coming by! πŸ™‚

    Thanks a bunch! I know I know!! you love them I enjoy a lot both in your recipes!! Big *Hugs* Meeta! πŸ™‚

    @Kang at LE
    So bizarre that these type of “old” grains are top notch in high techs environment…NASA, they’re plants perfect for the space and feed wonderful..Thanks so much Kang! πŸ™‚

    @Rosa’s Yummy Yums
    Rosa you’re always welcome! Happy that you enjoyed this post!. Cheers and Thanks a lot! πŸ˜‰

    @The Food Site
    Like your recipes these grains are stunning!! if you can, try to test them! Foong Thanks a bunch for your visit! πŸ™‚


    Great read Gera! I got a packet of fair Trade Quinoa for Christmas and I can’t wait to try it. I’d love the recipe for the first dish pictured, it looks amazing!


    I’ve only recently discovered quinoa and am quite a fan!
    I have yet to try amaranth…never heard of it actually πŸ™‚


    I’ve been using quinoa for a while and love it, but I haven’t tried amaranth yet. You’ve written a great rundown on both. Thanks!


    Yes, I have been cooking with both of these grains. I even plant my own amaranth. Unfortunately, was too overwhelm about harvesting them. I always end up buying them at the grocery store. I like to maka tabouleh with quinoa. And amaranth, I can make porridge for breakfast. And In Indonesia, the green amaranth with stripy red vine on their leafs (bayam) is very popular vegetable. And it is highly nutritious as well.


    @[email protected]
    Try it in your excellent recipes!! About the yummy dessert I haven’t the recipe only the photo taken in the restaurant but is a baked basket with peaches in a strong syrup decorated with amaranth pop and caramel!
    Greetings to you and have a Happy summer there!

    Both are great to try in recipes and the amaranth…you can do pop amaranth instead of the common popcorn πŸ˜‰ a nice variation!
    Thanks so much Olga! πŸ™‚

    @Marc @ NoRecipes
    Quinoa is more common than amaranth in general ..you’ll love amaranth too. They’re interesting grains to add to tasty dishes.
    Thanks a lot Marc! πŸ™‚

    It isn’t easy to be a farmer and put the attention that the plants deserve! I ate maka tabouleh but not with quinoa.. good idea πŸ™‚ so useful information about these vegs if you have some recipe please let me know Elra πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for stopping by and Cheers! πŸ™‚


    Hello Gera,

    Awesome post on quinoa and amaranth.

    I haven’t had much experience with amaranth, but I have baked with quinoa and cooked with it too.

    I often make it hot for breakfast for my hubby with a little honey and milk.

    Also, you could check out my recipe for Mango Masala Chai Quinoa Muffins: http://CookingWithKimberly.com/?p=361

    Thanks for this awesome post Gera!

    Kimberly πŸ™‚


    I’m a big fan of quinoa — can’t beat it for protein! But, I’ve not done quite as much with amaranth. Definitely on my list of things to try more of in 2009!


    Nice info on these grains. I have so many recipes that I want to try that use these, especially quinoa. Hope to post more about it soon.

    Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    I’ve been having quinoa lately, which is a good alternative to barley or couscous or rice. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t so keen, but am quite partial to it now. Best of all, it’s very good for you!


    @Kimberly @ the How to Cook Blog
    Great you’ve had “appetizing meetings” with quinoa. The recipe of muffins is so special bookmarked for later!
    In that way, for breakfast is completely healthy and yummy too πŸ™‚
    Thanks for coming by Kimberly! πŸ™‚

    The proteins of these cereals are impossible to overcome! If you try amaranth, let me know the result, for sure it’ll be stunning!
    Thanks a lot Lo! πŸ™‚

    With the total availability of recipes it’s hard to try a big part of them but I do know I’ll see a quinoa recipe from you soon !
    Thanks a bunch Jude! πŸ™‚

    @Helen Yuet Ling Pang
    When you like to break new boundaries quinoa comes as replacement of the mentioned cereals and the better part, your body will welcome!
    Glad for your visit Helen, thanks so much! πŸ™‚

    taste memory

    Hi Gera ~ hope you’ve been well. thanx for posting about these grains….appreciate your insight + bit of history about them! I have had both quinoa + amaranth but don’t cook with them often. but funny you should mention because I have had quinoa in mind for a dish to prepare. thnx for heads up about rinsing it well to wash out the preliminary taste of the shell!


    @Taste Memory
    Hope you’re well too!! Great you like them…I’d love to see your recipes as well πŸ˜‰
    For sure will be awesome as usual!!
    Ingar, Have a Super Weekend πŸ™‚


    Beautifully written & a lot of information. I have not had amaranth yet, but eager to try since I read the "pop" sounds really interesting & fun:-) We are in love with quinoa & the possibilities are just endless.

    Aroma y Cocina

    In Spain Quinoa and Amarant are really unfrequent grains. I never saw or even cooked them.
    I have read that when spaniards conquered AmΓ©rica they burnt every crop of these grains, as they were considered food for wild people, and they forbided them. We also have an expresion in our language that I cannot translate: Β‘Me importa un bledo! reflects the contempt(desprecio) to the amarant grain.
    A “bledo” is an edible plant, and also something insignificant and worthless.
    Really interesting post!
    The spaniards really seemed to be the only wild ones!

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