Amaranth: another high lysine, high fiber grain Essay

AMARANTH: ANOTHER HIGH LYSINE, HIGH FIBER GRAIN We are convinced that fiber prevents colon cancer and possiblyother cancers and we believe that lysine prevents the herpes virus andpossibly other viruses from multiplying. Therefore, we’re excitedabout amaranth for two reasons . . . it’s high in fiber andit’s high in lysine.

Once it was called the “grain of thegods’ by the Aztec Indians, and they may have known more than werealize. Meat and dairy products contain no fiber, so we are determined tofind exciting ways to get our lysine from grains, because they arehighest in fiber. Unfortunately, many grains don’t contain enoughlysine to provide a balanced protein diet. Amaranth does! High-lysinecorn does! So we’ve mixed the high-lysine corn with some amaranthin recipes for your testing.

A tiny grain about one-fifth the size of a rice grain and theconsistency of millet, amaranth can be baked into delicious breads andfruitcakes, combined as a porridge with stewed fruits for a tasty,high-fiber breakfast, put in salad dressing, made into pancakes orsimply popped like popcorn. We popped these little kernels of amaranth,and you nearly need a microscope to see them pop. Amaranth pops easilywithout 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 ingredientsand mix well.

Pour into an oiled loaf pan. Bake at 350|F. for 1 hourand 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, flourand tapioca. Fold in greased baking dish.

Sprinkle popped amaranthlightly 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 dryingredients. 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 hotoven 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 tocover grain) and soak for 15 minutes. Then drain.

Put all ingredientsin mixing bowl and mix only enough to blend. Pour into well-greasedmuffin tins about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool 15minutes 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 soakfor 15 minutes.

Mix dry ingredients. Add drained amaranth. Addbuttermilk, oil, honey and yolk. Blend well. Fold in egg white. Letstand 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 agrain.

Rice, for example, is highly digestible as well, but it isextremely low in nutrients. No matter how amaranth seeds are prepared, they contain 12 to 16percent protein and are high in lysine, an essential amino acid. Theability of the protein in amaranth to meet human needs exceeds that ofeven soy beans and milk. Those concerned with fiber content will behappy to hear that amaranth offers three or four times more fiber thanmost other grains. When mixed with wheat, amaranth offers protein justas 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 especiallyhigh in protein, iron and calcium. Fresh, young amaranth leaves can bechopped and eaten in salads or cooked in soup. We have the Aztecs to thank for amaranth. It is perhaps theirgreatest legacy to modern man. When the Spanish landed in Mexico some450 years ago, they found the Aztecs flourishing on a diet of maize andamaranth. When the Indian empire declined, maize remained to become anAmerican staple, while amaranth, by far the superior grain in nutrients,fell into obscurity.

The amaranth plant looks something like a tobacco plant but is muchtaller. The leaves are edible if cooked. (If only amaranth could besubstituted for tobacco fields in the South.

) Some backyard farmers in the United States have been raising smallplots of amaranch for years with excellent results. Russell Millsap, afull-time attorney and part-time gardener in the Sacramento area, raiseda plot of amaranth with more success than he expected. Instead ofgetting a yield of 1 1/2 to 2 ounces per plant, he got 6. Others havefound that by planting amaranch plants just ten inches apart, they canget “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 theNational Academy of Sciences, believes it to be even more promising thanthe winged bean, another crop high in nutrients being developed for usein Third World countries. Amaranth is now available through The Saturday Evening PostSociety. If you would like to try some, see page 24 for details. Photo: Amaranth in the field looks like tall, purplish weeds.

Ahardy plant, it can stand a variety of climates and soil conditions. Photo: Amaranth cornbread (below), a tasty blend of amaranth andhigh-lysine corn meal, can be baked into a loaf or served as muffins.Buttermilk adds richness. Photo: Amaranth fruitcake (left) has a delicious rich, nuttyflavor.

Just one-fourth cup honey provides adequate sweetness and nutsand fruits enhance the flavor. Try some on your guests and see it theycan detect the exciting amaranth flavor.

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