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Top Seed

Amaranth has gone from garden scourge to superfood in a few short years

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The Scoop
“Pigweed” may not seem all that appetizing, but call the grain-like herb by its other name—amaranth—and you’ve got a gluten-free option that’s a protein-packed winner. Amaranth has been cultivated in Asia, Africa, and South America for centuries, but the leaves, seeds, and flour have only recently made their way into North American recipes. Amaranth is high in iron, fiber, and calcium, as well as many other nutrients. Cup for cup, it’s richer in protein than quinoa.

How It’s Used

Nutty amaranth flour is increasingly found in gluten-free pastas, cereals, and baked goods. Whole amaranth seeds can be used like quinoa in stews, soups, and grain dishes. Fresh amaranth, sometimes called snow cabbage or red-in-snow for the red-green leaves that grow in early spring, has a peppery flavor and can be used like watercress or spinach.

Shopping Tips

Look for amaranth seeds and flour in the organic and baking sections of supermarkets. Leaves are readily available in Asian groceries and sometimes sold at farmers’ markets. Seeds and flour should be kept in the fridge; store fresh amaranth the way you store any leafy green.