Amaranth – An Ancient Mexican Grain

19 Jul



Amaranth is one of the world’s most nutritious plants. It contains large amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, it was one of the principle sources of protein for pre-conquest Mexicans. The Spanish, when they saw how strong it made the indigenous Mexicans, forbade them to eat it. They claimed it was diabolical. Mexicans stopped eating it, except in a candy called “alegrías,” the recipe for which has been passed down by Mexican cooks for centuries. Today, because of the amaranth’s association with poor campesinos, many Mexicans consider amaranth to be a lower-class plant than vegetables introduced from Europe. Mexican nutritionists, however, are promoting increased used of amaranth and other varieties of “quelites.”  Both the foliage and seeds (popped like corn) are edible.  (Info and photo from a tour of Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca.)


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