With the back and forth of grains, no grains, things can get a bit confusing. Many people are sensitive to grains, and should remove them from the diet. But, does that mean that everyone should stay away from grains?
Personally, I do avoid grains, because of a food sensitivity. I did an elimination diet about one year ago, to discover which foods aggravate my sinus migraines. Unfortunately, grains are on that list. But, I believe most people can safely eat grains, as long as they are prepared properly. Our ancestors who ate grain, typically soaked and fermented them, prior to eating. This helps the body digest them more easily.
Overall, what is the consensus on grains? Should you be eating grains? Are grains bad? Can humans digest grains? All this and more can be found in this interesting article from UC Davis – Integrative medicine. Here, they dispel some of the myths surrounding grains.
Have a look:
Exploring the nutritional controversies surrounding whole grain: does it make you fat, should you include it in your diet, and more.
A couple of weeks ago, in my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NUTRIENTS: PROTEIN article, I published the following list of plant foods that are complete acids, containing all 9 essential amino acids.
Quinoa – 8.14 grams per cup
Amaranth – 9.35 grams per cup
Soybeans – 22 grams per cup
Buckwheat – 23 grams per cup
Hempseed – 31.56 grams per 100 g
Chia seeds – 16.54 grams per 100 g
Blue-green algae – 4 grams per tablespoon
Spirulina – 4 grams per tablespoon
As you can see, on the list is a little “grain” called Amaranth. I received a comment from a follower on how to prepare Amaranth, and what to do with it. So, I told her I’d post an article. Here’s a shout out to SUSIESHY45. I do apologize Susie. I meant to publish this last week and just ran out of time.
So just what is Amaranth? Amaranth isn’t a grain at all, but the seed of a plant from 60 different species of amaranthus. (1) It is often called a pseudo-grain because it possesses many of the same nutrient qualities as grains.
It was used by the Aztecs and domesticated between 6000 and 8000 years ago. Due to the high nutrient content of the seed, it was heavily relied upon by ancient cultures. (1) It is native to Peru, but can also be found in Africa, India, China, Russia, South America and North America. (1)
Here is the nutrient content in 1 cup of Amaranth: (1)
With all of the obvious health benefits, Amaranth does have a few drawbacks, like other grains, pseudo-grains, nuts and seeds. All of these foods contain properties, that act as built in defenses, which protect the plants. These substances include: phytic acid, tannins, gluten-related proteins and enzyme inhibitors. (2)
These natural defenses are known in the nutrition world as “anti-nutrients” because they can inhibit nutrient absorption and cause a host of other problems, such as (2):
bind with essential minerals in the gut, flushing them from your body
block new mineral absorption
irritate the gut
lead to bone loss
put stress on the pancreas
But don’t let these drawbacks scare you away from trying Amaranth, or any other grain, nut or seed. It simply means you need to prepare them properly.
Soaking Amaranth, (or other grain) in water with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice eliminates the anti-nutrients and begins the spouting process. This means the food has come to life, increasing the nutrient content. It also helps to partially digest the difficult to digest substances like, tannins, or gluten-like proteins. (2)
Soaking Tips: (2)
Combine the grains in a large bowl, covered with water (a couple of inches above the grain) with a dash of vinegar, cover with a cloth and set in a dark place.
Soak for a minimum of 6 hours. If you plan on having it for dinner, begin soaking in the morning, that way it’s ready when you want to make dinner.
If you’re making Amaranth Porridge for breakfast, begin soaking the night before
It can be soaked for up to 24 hours in the same water. If you choose to soak it longer, change the water/vinegar after 24 hours.
Drain the soaked grains and rinse them prior to cooking
Basic Recipe for Cooked Amaranth (after soaking) (2)
Because the grain has been soaked, it has absorbed water and will have a decreased cooking time and lower grain:water ratio. At this point you will need approximately 1 cup of water per 1 cup of grain. (will yield 2 – 2.5 cups) (4)
Put soaked amaranth grains in a pot and cover with water until the level is about 1/2 inch above the grain.
Bring the water to a boil, without a lid, then reduce heat to medium-low for about 15 minutes.
After 10 minutes, check the grain, if the top is dry, and it appears like the water is gone, stir with a wooden spoon to see if the grains have begun to stick to the bottom. If the bottom of the pot is dry, they are done.
For a more porridge like consistency, use slightly more water and cook longer. (3)
Amaranth can also be made in a rice cooker. This takes about 20 minutes. (4)
I hope I have inspired you to expand your culinary horizons and give this wonderful little “grain” a try. If you have cooked with Amaranth, how do you prepare it? Let me know in the comments below…I’d love to know! HAPPY COOKING!
A little while ago, I did a “Thank You” blog for reaching 500 likes by sharing a recipe for authentic Amish Friendship Bread. This bread is a type of sour dough bread, and the starter is shared to daughters on their wedding day or to friends as a gift.
So just what is sourdough?…I mean REAL traditionally made and properly fermented sourdough…
Sourdough is one of the oldest forms of fermentation, possibly dating to ancient Egypt. It is a natural form of leavening, that was used for centuries. (until commercial brewers yeast came along)
Most leavened bread, or bread in which the dough rises, uses commercial yeast. However, traditionally made sourdough…REAL sourdough, uses what’s called “Wild Yeast” and lactic acid bacteria from the flour, to leaven the bread. Wild yeast is naturally present in the air and on the grains. Making the starter gives this wild yeast food to grow. The acidic nature of wild yeast, allows it to work with lactic acid bacteria, allowing the dough to grow and rise. Most fermented foods contain lactic acid, such as: yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.
Here is a video, which discusses the science behind wild yeast and traditional sourdough bread.
What are the nutrition benefits of this type of bread? Nutrition content depends on the flour used, but in general the nutrition contents of an average piece of sourdough:
On average, one medium slice weighing approximately 2 ounces (56 g) contains (1):
Calories: 162 calories
Carbs: 32 grams
Fiber: 2–4 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Fat: 2 grams
Selenium: 22% of the RDI
Folate: 20% of the RDI
Thiamin: 16% of the RDI
Sodium: 16% of the RDI
Manganese: 14% of the RDI
Niacin: 14% of the RDI
Iron: 12% of the RDI
Sourdough bread, especially whole grain sourdough, is considered more nutritious than regular bread. Why? Grains contain a substance known as “Phytic Acid”, AKA, phytates. In the field of nutrition, phytates are an “anti-nutrient”, because they “bind” the wonderful minerals present in whole grains, impeding your body’s ability to absorb them.
However, the lactic acid, present in sourdough bread, deteriorates the phytates in the grain, resulting in bread with a much lower phytate level. Some studies show that phytates, in sourdough, are reduced by as much as 25 – 50%, when compared with conventional bread, which increases mineral absorption (1). Also, the lactic acid and bacteria in sourdough themselves, release anti-oxidants. Studies show that folate levels, or vitamin B9, tend to be higher in sourdough bread.
Here are some other health benefits of sourdough bread (1):
Due to the bacteria in the bread, sourdough is easier to digest than conventional bread. Could be safe for individuals with gluten sensitivities. Sourdough bread has a lower gluten content than conventional bread. The gluten that is present, tends to be easier to digest.
Help control blood sugar. Some research indicates the carbohydrate molecules are changed during fermentation, lowering the speed in which it is digested. In other words, the sugar spike is lessened. One study showed that individuals who ate sourdough had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than people who ate conventional bread.
HOW TO MAKE SOURDOUGH
What is a STARTER? Mixing flour and water together and allowing it to set for several days, feeds the wild yeast, naturally present in the air and on the flour, allows the wild yeast to grow, making what is known as a “sourdough starter”.
Here is a video showing exactly how to make your own “wild yeast” sourdough starter:
Now that you have a starter, here are some bread recipes! ENJOY AND BON APPETIT!