Friday, May 23, 2008

Gluten-free diets and the Amaranth

The Amaranth has been treasured as a food plant across the globe. It's not a grain, but it is versatile enough to be used successfully as a grain. It's also prized as a leaf vegetable.

A few years ago, my doctor was concerned that my allergy/upper respiratory issues were caused by a gluten intolerance. I decided that a gluten-free diet was worth the effort, if it would help me breathe again! Sad to say, it wasn't a gluten intolerance causing the problems, but I learned a lot and picked up some tricks.

One of those was the Amaranth. Most people haven't heard of it; and, if they have, they don't know how to use it. You can pop it and use it like cereal (Rice Crispies, anyone?), grind it into a flour and make pasta and bread out of it, or just take the leaves and use them in stir fries.

However, it's hard to find and pretty expensive, if you manage to find it. BUT! it's really, really, really easy to grow. It's a pretty plant, as well as a tasty one, and very productive. One plant can produce pounds of 'grain'. A few years ago, I grew about thirty plants and ground, shared, ate tons of it. It's got a delicious, almost nutty flavor. Sadly, this year my seedlings all died when I fell ill. :(

At the request of SapphireChild, here's a recipe for an amaranth bread that I experimented with last year. It's a modified version of a recipe from Nu World Amaranth.

Wheatless Amaranth Bread

3/4 cup warm water (you can also use soy or nutmilks, but I'd recommend using a bit less than if you use water)
2 1/4 cups amaranth flour, divided
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil (I like grapeseed oil for baking)
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
-You can mix this up with seeds (I like to add sesame, sunflower, milo, chopped walnuts...)
-You can also mix this up with dried fruit (dried apricots and dried pineapple were some of our faves)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine and mix 2-1/4 cups of the flour with the starch, salt, and whatever extras you want. Add ¾ of warm water (or milks) and oil to the flour mixture and mix well. Comine the boiling water and baking soda and add to the dough. Stir until water incorporates and turn the dough onto floured board or kneading surface.

Coat the dough in flour and knead for 2-3 minutes. Pull dough into a ball and place on floured baking sheet. Score the top of the bread and reduce temperature to 325F as you're putting the bread into the oven. Bake for about an hour and crack the loaf to test for doneness. If there are any gooey spots, put it back in for another couple of minutes.

Here's a link to the Amaranth in my shop. :)


SapphireChild said...

How exciting!! I'm going to try it with chopped dried pineapple! I think I'll also try popping it. That sounds like fun.

Thanks for the information!

LLove said...

yum! i am hearting your amaranth in your shop so that once i finally make some sales i can buy. i love amaranth but the price sucks so growing one might be the answer.

Christopher And Tia said...

I'm gluten intolerant. And amaranth intolerant. And pretty much everything else intolerant. I guess there are a lot of celiacs that can't tolerate amaranth. But for those of you that can... lucky!!

fluffnflowers said...

That stinks, christopher and tia! I've heard that most people aren't intolerant of it, though, but are actually allergic to it. Not that it really makes a difference, since you can't eat it!