Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Celebrating Amaranth

If you're anything like me, you probably know amaranth as the baby sister of quinoa. Amaranth, the little seed/grain that when boiled is a sticky, slightly malty side-dish. 

At the WBCG, were growing a lot of amaranth, and over the past summer, i have received an education on amaranth. It turns out you can eat the leaves too, and I have been eating a lot! 
And who wouldn't want too! Amaranth leaves are nutritionally similar to Swiss chard and spinach, but are far superior. Amaranth leaves contain three times more calcium and three times more niacin (vitamin B3) than spinach leaves.
Amaranth is much closer genetically to its wild ancestors than our over developed and nutritionally depleted typical vegetables. Amaranth leaves are an excellent source of carotene, iron, calcium, protein, vitamin C and trace elements. Even comparing 100g of Amaranth leaves to 100g of rump steak is pretty interesting: 
More potassium, less sodium, vitamin A, C, calcium and comparable iron! That is a pretty nutritious and vegetarian-friendly plant. 

It grows really well to. Heading down once a week to water my own plot, I would pick more bouquets of leaves from the same plants over and over, as they seemed to only need the week to sprout new foliage to the same height (some plants are more and 1.5m tall!)

What have I been cooking? Well, using it much like silverbeet or spinach (it has a similar way of cooking down but a more earth and less 'irony' taste), it's been a rotation of amaranth omelettes, amaranth and carrot (or pumpkin) soup, amaranth in stir fry and amaranth steamed and tempered with coconut oil, pepper, chili and garlic. 

The gardens amaranth is now going to seed, in glorious, droopy magenta baubles. I'll be sorry to see the last of this annual, but luckily, it self-seeds! I'm sure to have it in my own garden next year. 

Hope all is well,