10 Top Medicinal Uses & Nutrition Of Amaranth (Rajgira) | Thotakura For Health, Hair & Weight Loss
is one of the oldest grains in the world, and it is a must know grain
not only because it is ancient but because it offers a lot of health
benefits. Amaranth is actually a pseudo grain that means though it has
all the nutrients like a grain, it is actually a seed of amaranth plant.
Amaranth was cultivated by aztecs who lived from 14th to 16th centuries
and it made up of 80 % of their diet. Amaranth was not only their
staple diet, they also used it in religious ceremonies. The word
Amaranth refers to all the plants belonging to the genus Amaranthus that
has around 70 species. We call amaranth plant Chaulai in Hindi and the seeds are called Rajgira | Ramdana in Hindi and Marathi, Rajgaro in Gujarati, Mulai Keerai (plant name) in Tamil (if it matures, it is called Thandu Keerai) and the amaranth seeds are called Keerai Vithai in Tamil. Amranth Leaves are called Thotakura in Telugu and the seeds are called Thotakura Ginjalu, Cheera in Malayalam (plant name), and Harive in Kannada (plant name). Here
at home, we make a stir fry and mash with the leaves and stem of the
plant. Lately, I have started using amaranth seeds in my cooking and I
have gotten really creative with it and so far, I have tried amaranth
bars, amaranth pudding and a stir fry. I first came across amaranth
seeds a few months back attractively packed in my local super market.
When I looked at the nutritional information at the back of the pack, I
was very much impressed. I immediately bought a pack for cooking it at
home, though I struggled to cook it perfectly (especially popping the
seeds without burning) in the beginning, over time I learnt to cook it
perfectly. I also did a lot of research about the health benefits and
medicinal uses of this wonderful seed. Nutritional value: 100 grams of
amaranth seeds contain around 367 calories, 66 grams carbohydrates,
13.44 grams of protein, 5.3 grams fat, 4 grams of fiber and 303 mg of
calcium. It is rich in minerals like manganese, phosphorus, iron,
copper, magnesium, selenium, potassium, sodium and zinc. It is also rich
vitamin B6, B9, B2, B3, Vitamin E and thiamine. Amaranth Health Benefits
& Medicinal Uses: 1. High Protein: The first thing I noticed when I
read the label at the back of the pack is it's high protein content,
100 grams contain astonishingly almost 14 grams of protein! Especially
for people who are on a vegan diet, consuming amaranth will greatly help
meet their daily protein requirements easily. 2. Lowers Cholesterol:
Amaranth has wonderful cholesterol lowering properties. Amaranth has
been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol significantly, you can read the
study that proves it here. Any food that is rich in fiber helps lower
cholesterol, fiber binds with the cholesterol and helps excrete it
naturally. 100 grams of amaranth has around 4 grams of fiber, people
with high cholesterol levels can include amaranth in their diet
regularly. 3. Good For Diabetes: Any food that keeps the blood sugar
levels stable is very good for diabetes and amaranth does just that.
Also amaranth is rich in manganese and diabetics usually tend to have
low amount of manganese, so amaranth is a wonderful ingredient for
diabetic patients to include in their diet. 4. Amaranth Antioxidant
Properties: Amaranth has both anti oxidant and anti inflammatory
properties making it a miracle grain. Consuming amaranth regularly will
keep us in peak health. 5. Amaranth For Weight Loss: Amaranth keeps us
full for long periods of time and is a perfect weight loss food. The
last time I had a bowl of amaranth pudding, I didn't feel hungry at all
for a very long time. 100 grams of amaranth has around 367 calories but
it will be hard to consume even 50 grams at a time as it fill us up so
quickly in addition to keeping us fuller for longer periods of time. 6.
Amaranth For Bone Health: Amaranth is rich in calcium, 100 grams of
amaranth has around 303 mg of calcium! Since calcium is very crucial for
bone health, consuming amaranth regularly will help us have strong
bones. 7. Amaranth is Gluten Free: Amaranth is gluten free and for
people who are allergic to gluten, amaranth is a wonderful choice to
include in the daily diet. 8. Amaranth For Hair & Skin: Amaranth is
rich in vitamin, minerals and proteins making it a perfect skin and hair
food. Amaranth especially contains lysine which is essential for hair
growth. 9. Amaranth During Fasting & Pregnancy: Traditionally in India, amaranth is had during fasting in the form of roti. As it is gluten free, high in protein and nutrients, it will keep one from getting tired during the fast. Amranth is also rich in iron that is why pregnant women are advised to include amaranth in their diet. Amaranth also can be included in children's diet regularly 10. Amaranth Greens: Like the seeds, the amaranth leaves also have wonderful nutritive value. It is rich in calcium, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin B, K and C. Amaranth leaf is a wonderful body coolant too. Where To Buy Amaranth Seeds? Amaranth is sold in all the departmental stores, 500 grams costs approximately around 150 rupees. Amaranth greens can be got easily from local shops that sell greens. We also get amaranth flour | rajgira atta but it is not commonly available here in South India. If you want to to make amaranth flour at home, dry the seeds for an hour or two in hot sunlight and grind in an dry mixer jar to get fine powder. Amaranth Recipes | Rajgira Recipes: Traditionally here in India, rajgira is used to make ladoos (using the same method for bars but instead of chocolate using jaggery syrup), rajgira kheer, roti (a mixture of rajgira flour and boiled potato), chikki, puri and rajgira sheera | halwa. Along with the traditional recipes using either popped amaranth, cooked amaranth and amaranth flour, try the recipes I have given below too....
HOW TO POP AMARANTH SEEDS AT HOME EASILY:
1. The secret to popping amaranth is that the pan should be hot. The seeds should pop immediately when you add the seeds to the pan. The white colored ones are the ones that popped immediately upon adding.
2. The second important thing is to pop only a tablespoon at a time, since the seeds are very small they tend to burn very very quickly if you add large batches. Once you add the seeds, close the pan with a lid and swirl it around so the heat gets distributed evenly so the rest of the seeds that haven't popped also pop.
3. Once you have popped all the seeds, it will look something like this, smaller version of puffed rice. Also, in my personal experience, few seeds don't pop at all and I just sieve the popped seeds in a large hole strainer and they just fall off...
AMARANTH (RAJGIRA) RECIPES:
1. Amaranth Bars:
This is my own recipe and it came out so delicious. For the bars, for a cup of amaranth, use a cup of chocolate chips. First pop the amaranth using the method above and add 2 tbsp of finely cut pistachios to it. Melt the chocolate along with a tsp of butter, once fully melted, let cool a bit and then add the popped amaranth and mix well. Line a square tin with cling film and press the mixture firmly and leave it in the refrigerator to firm up and then slice. This is a high protein snack that is wonderful for children...
2. Amaranth Pudding:
This is also an other recipe that I tried on my own and it came out delicious. For the pudding, soak 1 cup amaranth seeds overnight in a cup of water. The next day, add a cup of milk to it, close the lid and cook till it is fully cooked. Open the lid, add a tbsp of cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder and enough raw sugar | brown sugar to sweeten. Add a few drops of vanilla too. Let the mixture thicken and then switch off. Pour into individual cups and chill in the refrigerator, you can either serve it plain or topped with fruits of your choice. A very healthy high protein dessert, for vegan version, use coconut milk instead of plain milk...