Amaranth flour is ground from a seed about the size of a poppy seed. Each plant produces thousands of tiny, golden tan seeds.
The Amaranth plant itself, grows up to 4 to 7 feet tall (there are at least 60 varieties) and has red flowers.
It is easy to grow and seems to have originated in Mexico, however it is more common in Asian countries nowadays. For example, in Nepal they use the ground seeds to make chapattis.
There are many ways to use this plant, including eating the leaves raw in salads, or cooked and eaten like spinach. On the gluten free diet the seeds are what interest us most, however.
The seeds must always be eaten cooked, because when raw they contain compounds that can inhibit absorption of essential nutrients.
The seeds can be boiled, 1 cup seeds to 2 cups water, for 20 minutes and eaten as a cereal. They can also be added to soups and stews where they will gradually dissolve, thickening the meal as it cooks. In Mexico they are often popped like popcorn and eaten with sugar.
As Amaranth has an intense, nutty flavour it is most commonly combined in a recipe in a proportion of 1 part to 3 parts of other flours.
Use 1 cup Amaranth flour in place of 1 cup of wheat flour in a recipe.
Due to its colour and flavour it is ideal for spicy or chocolate cakes or my indulgent gluten free chocolate chip cookies. The flour does tend to brown quickly so take care.
Amaranth flour is an ideal alternative to wheat flour for those of us that need a gluten free diet.
It is an extremely nutritious food, and an excellent source of fibre. and is one of the few vegetable plants that provides a complete protein, making it ideal for gluten free vegans and vegetarians.
Due to the fact that it provides twice as much calcium as milk, it is also ideal for a dairy free diet. In addition it supplies iron potassium, along with Vitamins A and D.
Amaranth flour can be kept for up to 6 months in a sealed container in the refrigerator. If it is not refrigerated, it can go rancid during prolonged storage, therefore, only buy as much as you can use in a short period of time.
Amaranth flour is often obtainable in your supermarket, grocery store and health food shop or you can order it online in bulk, from places like Amazon or specialist gluten free suppliers.