Though it’s long been associated with Hippies and substance abuse, Hemp Seed is, in fact, an extremely healthy food source, high in protein, fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids. If you’ve read my special report, then you know how important these elements are to an anti-inflammatory (synonymous with anti-disease) diet and it's especially heart healthy!
We have come to call it a gluten free grain, but ancient amaranth (cultivated as a grain for some 8,000 years), is actually the seeds from an herb.
In many places around the globe, the leaves and roots of amaranth are eaten as vegetables. It was also widely used by the Chinese for its healing chemicals, curing illnesses such as infections, rashes, and migraines1. I’m just talking seeds here, as a gluten free baking option.
And since the Hopi are my neighbors, I thought it interesting to note: “The flowers of the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth were used by the Hopi (a [Native American] tribe in the western United States) as the source of a deep red dye. There is also a synthetic dye that has been named "amaranth" for its similarity in color to the natural amaranth … known as Red No. 2 in North America”2
I digress. I want to tell you about using amaranth (the seed) as a gluten free grain, but did you know that amaranth contains Lysine, an essential amino acid not present in most grains? Lysine helps to quell herpes simplex outbreaks, including cold sores and shingles.
The bad news: Apparently there is strong evidence that some strains of amaranth contain “anti-nutritional and toxic factors” but that “thermal processing in a moist environment” (my translation: cooking) “may be a promising way to reduce the adverse effects of amaranth's anti-nutritional and toxic factors”. 3 Yikes! More evidence that a diet should consist of a broad range of whole foods, rather than relying heavily on a few fall backs!
The good news: Studies have shown that regular consumption of amaranth (the seed – and presuming it's been cooked) reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels!
Here’s a a great resource for more info and a list of ways you can use amaranth in your kitchen:
- Toasted or popped, then added to salads or used as a gluten free “breading”
- Polenta or porridge style
- As a flour
- In soups
I’m going to the test kitchen right now, to try a batch of Amaranth Ginger Muffins! Look – there they are!
How about you? Have you had amaranth? How have you prepared it – breakfast cereal, flour substitute, others? Please add your comments below!
If you’ve never eaten risotto (translation “rice dish”), think rich, creamy and savory. Traditionally, risotto is prepared s l o w l y, lovingly, laboriously, with Arborio rice.
But I wouldn’t be Chef Nancy if I didn’t put a twist on it. In this case, a healthy and hurry up twist! Traditional risotto is made with Arborio rice and almost constant attention for 30 minutes, minimum, while the liquid is added a bit at a time to coax the starch out, creating a creamy sauce. I wanted to create the same creamy and savory result with a high fiber, quick cooking, whole grain and add other goodies to make this an ultra healthy dish.
The fun thing about risotto is that you can switch up the additions to your hearts content. Try some sweet red pepper to add color and flavor. Use mushroom broth instead of vegetable; Miso instead of Parmesan cheese for safe vegan protein and a similar flavor. Variations are limited only by your imagination!!
First I tried using brown rice instead of Arborio, to increase the fiber. It took even longer to cook! Then I tried buckwheat – not even rice at all – but cooked it using the risotto method, in nearly half the time. Ta da!!
And I made a video for you, so you could see it done first hand. I call it Risotto in 11 Minutes and you can view it below. Find the recipe on page 50 of Chef Nancy’s Recipe for Health !
My culinary training taught me that quinoa is an ancient grain and the only grain that is a complete protein, all by itself. That means it has all the amino acids required to make up protein chain. Just like meat or eggs or fish. How cool is that? Protein, just like animal products have, without the inflammatory acid of animal products and with all the fiber that animal products lack. AND it's gluten free.
I LOVE QUINOA!!!!
So, what the heck do you do with it? Everything!
Well, no, you still need to eat a variety everyday, so as not to develop an intolerance from eating the same thing too often.
What I meant was, quinoa lends itself to a really broad range of uses, kind of like Bubba Gump's shrimp!
One of the best things about it is that even though you can buy it processed into flour or rolled flakes, the overall goal is to eat as little processed food as you have to – quinoa is so small that it doesn't need to be ground into flour. It can be used in baking, patties, loaves, cookies, bars, salads, mashes, or just plain by itself, WHOLE. Did I mention I love quinoa!?
And it comes in three colors – red, white and black – so you can either match it to what you're putting it in (in case you need to sneak it past someone 😉 or you can use a contrasting color to enhance the "curb appeal" of your dish!
Here's a little demo I made, to show how easy it is to cook this stuff:
Today I had it as a hot breakfast cereal, with some cinnamon and coconut sap crystals. You might like it as a side dish with dinner. Have you tried the Broccoli Quinoa Mash in my book (p.83)?
Post your comments and share your favorite way to enjoy QUINOA!
- Miso soup – heat some low sodium vegetable broth, add a heavy pinch of toasted nori crinkles and stir in a tablespoon miso until dissolved. Voilà! Soup.
- Use in place of Parmesan in your favorite Pesto recipe.
- Toss pasta noodles with olive and miso to distribute evenly, then dress with your favorite sauce.