Amaranth Flour: An In-Depth Look at This Popular Gluten Free Flour
Whether you’re following a gluten free diet or not, you are probably already familiar with some of the most popular gluten free flours. Almond flour, coconut flour, and rice flour are commonly used in gluten free versions of baked goods and pantry staples because they are easy to use. If you’re looking for something to shake things up or you’re curious to know what else is out there, take the time to learn about another popular gluten free flour – amaranth flour.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at amaranth including what it is and how it is made into flour. You’ll also learn some simple tips for cooking and baking with this gluten free flour and receive a collection of tasty recipes to try for yourself at home.
What is Amaranth?
The name “amaranth” applies to a genus of plants called Amaranthus, some of which are annual and some short-lived perennial species. There are approximately 60 different species that have been recognized and they are cultivated for different purposes. Some amaranth species are grown ornamentally while others are cultivated as leaf vegetables or pseudo-cereals.
Amaranth gets its name from the Greek word for “immortal” or “everlasting” which is a reference to the seed’s virtual indestructibility. The plant has been cultivated for over 8,000 years, though three species are most commonly used as grain: Amaranthus cruentus, Amaranthus caudatus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus. These plants grow 3 to 9 feet tall in bushy growths with this stalks and tiny seeds that come in a wide range of colors including gold, tan, white, and pink, depending on the species.
Being classified as a pseudo-cereal, amaranth is technically not a cereal grain like oats or wheat. It shares a similar nutrient profile, however, and is used in similar applications.
What Should You Know About Amaranth Flour?
The uncooked amaranth grain contains about 65% carbohydrate, 14% protein, 12% water, and 7% fat. For every 3.5-ounce (100 gram) serving, amaranth contains about 370 calories. It contains roughly 20% your daily value of protein, dietary fiber, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and a number of dietary minerals. It is particularly rich in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and selenium.
Here are some of the health benefits of amaranth and amaranth flour:
- It contains more than your daily value for manganese in a single serving – manganese is important for neurological health and brain function.
- It is naturally rich in antioxidants which play a key role in protecting against free-radical damage and oxidative stress.
- It may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, helping prevent the development or progression of chronic disease.
- It may help lower both LDL or “bad” cholesterol as well as total cholesterol levels by as much as 22% while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol.
- It is naturally gluten free which means that it won’t trigger a negative reaction in individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
It is high in protein and fiber content which could support weight loss by decreasing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin to reduce appetite and calorie intake.
Because it has been cultivated for thousands of years, several cultures have learned how to use amaranth flour to its best advantage. Amaranth was particularly popular in ancient Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures but today is often used in Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and various Asian cuisines.
Read on to learn how you can use amaranth and amaranth flour to make delicious gluten free foods.
Tips for Cooking and Baking with Amaranth Flour
Amaranth flour is made by grinding the seeds of the amaranth plant into a fine powder. As a gluten free flour, amaranth can be used in a wide variety of different applications. It is particularly suitable for making unleavened flatbreads like tortillas in Mexican cuisine or chapatis in Indian cuisine. When using it for leavened or yeast-risen breads, it is best used in combination with other flours.
Here are some simple tips for baking and cooking with amaranth flour at home:
- Because it has a subtle nutty, earthy flavor, amaranth flour works very well in baked goods and in combination with almond flour.
- Add extra leavening agents when using amaranth flour as the sole flour in a recipe because it absorbs a lot of liquid and may make your recipe too dense.
- Amaranth flour works very well as a thickener for soups, sauces, and stews.
- Use amaranth flour as a 25% replacement for wheat flour in recipes and combine it with other gluten free flours to achieve the best texture for your baked goods.
- Try popping amaranth grains over dry heat to add a nutty flavor and unique texture to your baked goods – it works particularly well in granola.
- Be sure to store your amaranth flour in a dry container away from heat and direct sunlight to keep it fresh for up to 2 months.
- Feel free to try grinding your own amaranth flour at home from whole amaranth grains – you may just need to sift it a few times to improve the texture.
Now that you have a better idea what amaranth flour is and how to cook with it, you may be eager to try it for yourself. In the next section, you’ll find a collection of gluten free recipes to try at home featuring amaranth flour.
4 Gluten Free Recipes Using Amaranth Flour
As is true for many gluten free flours, amaranth flour does not work well as a direct substitute for wheat flour. If you’re new to using amaranth flour, your best bet is to start with a recipe made specifically for amaranth flour instead of trying to make substitutions. Once you get a feel for this nutritious gluten free flour, you can start trying it as an alternative to wheat flour in your favorite recipes. Here are some recipes to try!
1. Easy Amaranth Pancakes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 ½ cups amaranth flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Beat the eggs and almond milk together until light and foamy.
- Stir in the melted butter then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined.
- Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry then let rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat a large nonstick skillet or electric gridle to medium heat (375°F).
- Spoon the batter onto the skillet using ¼ cup per pancake and cook for about 2 minutes until bubbles form in the surface and start to pop.
- Carefully flip the pancakes and cook until browned underneath, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
- Slide the pancakes onto a plate and keep warm.
- Repeat with the remaining batter and serve with butter and maple syrup.
2. Amaranth Flour Tortillas
- 1 ¼ cups amaranth flour
- 1 teaspoon seasoning blend (your choice)
- ½ cup warm water
- Whisk together the amaranth flour with your choice of seasoning in a bowl.
- Stir in the water – add more, if needed, to create a soft, moldable dough.
- Form the dough into a ball then pinch off 6 golf ball-sized pieces.
- Roll the dough balls in additional amaranth flour to coat them then knead and pat into a circle about 1/8-inch thick and up to 6 inches across.
- Repeat with the remaining dough balls until you have 6 tortillas.
- Heat a nonstick skillet or electric griddle and cook the tortillas for a few minutes on each side until lightly brown and dry.
- Cool the tortillas on wire racks before using.
3. Garlic Herb Amaranth Crackers
Servings: 4 to 6
- 1 cup amaranth flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- ½ teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 355°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it forms a sandy mixture.
- Turn the mixture out onto a piece of parchment and knead into a smooth dough, adding a little more flour if needed.
- Flatten the dough and sandwich it between two pieces of parchment paper.
- Roll the dough out to about 1/5-inch thick and cut it into 2-inch crackers.
- Prick the crackers with a fork and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
- Transfer to a cooling rack to cool and store in an airtight container.
4. Amaranth Spice Cookies
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup amaranth flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch ground cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Whisk together the olive oil and egg in a medium bowl.
- Add the brown sugar and whisk well then stir in the spices.
- While whisking, add the amaranth flour a little at a time along with the baking soda and salt.
- Drop the cookie dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet using a tablespoon.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until just browned on the edges.
- Cool the cookies for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Amaranth flour is a nutritious and versatile gluten free flour that you can enjoy in numerous applications. Try the recipes here or come up with your own. Don’t be afraid to get creative!