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Amaranth: another high lysine, high fiber grain.

AMARANTH: ANOTHER HIGH LYSINE, HIGH FIBER GRAIN

We are convinced that fiber prevents colon cancer and possibly other cancers and we believe that lysine prevents the herpes virus and possibly other viruses from multiplying. Therefore, we're excited about amaranth for two reasons . . . it's high in fiber and it's high in lysine. Once it was called the "grain of the gods' by the Aztec Indians, and they may have known more than we realize.

Meat and dairy products contain no fiber, so we are determined to find exciting ways to get our lysine from grains, because they are highest in fiber. Unfortunately, many grains don't contain enough lysine to provide a balanced protein diet. Amaranth does! High-lysine corn does! So we've mixed the high-lysine corn with some amaranth in recipes for your testing.

A tiny grain about one-fifth the size of a rice grain and the consistency of millet, amaranth can be baked into delicious breads and fruitcakes, combined as a porridge with stewed fruits for a tasty, high-fiber breakfast, put in salad dressing, made into pancakes or simply popped like popcorn. We popped these little kernels of amaranth, and you nearly need a microscope to see them pop. Amaranth pops easily without oil.

We suggest soaking the amaranth for an hour before cooking.

Here are some recipes:

Amaranth Fruitcake (Makes 1 loaf)

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1/4 cup figs

1/2 cup amaranth

1 cup boiling water

2 egg whites

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup margarine, melted

1/4 cup pineapple tidbits

2 cups whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soak dates, figs and amaranth in boiling water. Beat eggs well, add honey and margarine. Beat well. Stir in all remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into an oiled loaf pan. Bake at 350|F. for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Apples Amaranth (Serves 6)

8 apples (cut up), unpeeled

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup amaranth flour (make from seeds in blender)

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup tapioca

Cook apples in water. Drain water and add honey, cinnamon, flour and tapioca. Fold in greased baking dish. Sprinkle popped amaranth lightly on top. Bake 20 minutes at 350|F.

Amaranth Corn Bread (Makes 1 loaf)

1 teaspoon soda

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 egg white

3/4 cup high-lysine corn meal

1/4 cup amaranth

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon margarine, melted

Sift the soda and flour together and mix with the other dry ingredients. Beat egg and add it to the milk and the melted margarine. Beat in the dry ingredients, pour into an oiled tin and bake in a hot oven about 25 minutes.

Whole-Wheat Bran and Amaranth Muffins (Makes 15 muffins)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup amaranth

1 cup bran

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups skim milk

4 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425|F. Pour boiling water over amaranth (enough to cover grain) and soak for 15 minutes. Then drain. Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix only enough to blend. Pour into well-greased muffin tins about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before removing from tins.

High-Lysine Corn Meal/Amaranth Pancakes (Makes 16 4 pancakes)

1/4 cup amaranth

1 1/4 cups yellow high-lysine corn meal

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon honey

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons salad oil

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten

1 egg white, stiffly beaten

Pour boiling water over amaranth (enough to cover grain) and soak for 15 minutes. Mix dry ingredients. Add drained amaranth. Add buttermilk, oil, honey and yolk. Blend well. Fold in egg white. Let stand 10 minutes. Bake on hot, lightly greased griddle.

Amaranth's most important advantage is its nutritional value. It is high in protein, of good quality and very digestible--unique for a grain. Rice, for example, is highly digestible as well, but it is extremely low in nutrients.

No matter how amaranth seeds are prepared, they contain 12 to 16 percent protein and are high in lysine, an essential amino acid. The ability of the protein in amaranth to meet human needs exceeds that of even soy beans and milk. Those concerned with fiber content will be happy to hear that amaranth offers three or four times more fiber than most other grains. When mixed with wheat, amaranth offers protein just as valuable as that found in meat or eggs.

In addition to its seeds, some amaranth species have edible leaves. The leaves taste like spinach but have more nutrients and are especially high in protein, iron and calcium. Fresh, young amaranth leaves can be chopped and eaten in salads or cooked in soup.

We have the Aztecs to thank for amaranth. It is perhaps their greatest legacy to modern man. When the Spanish landed in Mexico some 450 years ago, they found the Aztecs flourishing on a diet of maize and amaranth. When the Indian empire declined, maize remained to become an American staple, while amaranth, by far the superior grain in nutrients, fell into obscurity.

The amaranth plant looks something like a tobacco plant but is much taller. The leaves are edible if cooked. (If only amaranth could be substituted for tobacco fields in the South.)

Some backyard farmers in the United States have been raising small plots of amaranch for years with excellent results. Russell Millsap, a full-time attorney and part-time gardener in the Sacramento area, raised a plot of amaranth with more success than he expected. Instead of getting a yield of 1 1/2 to 2 ounces per plant, he got 6. Others have found that by planting amaranch plants just ten inches apart, they can get "incredible' yields up to 2.3 tons per acre.

The first international seminar on amaranth was held in Chapingo, Mexico, last October. Dr. Noel Vietmeyer, a staff member of the National Academy of Sciences, believes it to be even more promising than the winged bean, another crop high in nutrients being developed for use in Third World countries.

Amaranth is now available through The Saturday Evening Post Society. If you would like to try some, see page 24 for details.

Photo: Amaranth in the field looks like tall, purplish weeds. A hardy plant, it can stand a variety of climates and soil conditions.

Photo: Amaranth cornbread (below), a tasty blend of amaranth and high-lysine corn meal, can be baked into a loaf or served as muffins. Buttermilk adds richness.

Photo: Amaranth fruitcake (left) has a delicious rich, nutty flavor. Just one-fourth cup honey provides adequate sweetness and nuts and fruits enhance the flavor. Try some on your guests and see it they can detect the exciting amaranth flavor.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Irwin, Christopher
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jan 1, 1985
Words:1152
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