Featured Item of the Week = Amaranth

amaranthIt seems that in today's culture, more and more people are looking for new sources of nutritious foods. This could be partly due to people trying to make heathier choices, but we have also seen a rise in customers who have an intolerance to gluten.

For those people who cannot consume wheat products or who have gluten sensitivities, we rely on other whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, corn, and amaranth in our menus.

So what is Amaranth?

Amaranth is a tiny grain of broadleaf plants (similar to sunflowers) that grow five to seven feet tall. It has a slightly sweet, nutty, and toasted flavor. It does not have the fluffy texture of rice or quinoa, and it tends to be creamy when cooked.

Amaranth is often seen in the form of flour and whole grains in gluten free items. In just 1/2 cup of grain, amaranth can supply 28% of daily requirements for protein, 60% for dietary fiber, 18% for calcium, and 55% for iron. It is low in saturated fats and high in lysine, cysteine, methionine, and essential amino acids needed for brain maintenance. Amaranth has the highest quantity of protein by percentage, more dietary fiber, and more calcium than any other grain. Amaranth is perfect for those adhering to gluten free diets, as these nutrients can be difficult to obtain when excluding other cereal grains. Recent studies have even linked amaranth to reduction in cholesterol.

The History of Amaranth

This grain was highly revered by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conquest in 1519, and it was used to make tortillas long before corn was cultivated. The Spanish banished Amaranth during the conquest because it was used to feed the Aztec soldiers. It was a major food source and therefore considered sacred. Because of this, all fields of the grain were destroyed. Growing or even owning seeds of the grain was forbidden, and penalties were severe for those caught breaking those rules. Thankfully some seeds did survive. Today, Amaranth is grown in Mexico, Peru, Nepal, and the United States - including right here in Colorado.

Give Amaranth a Try!

We hope you give this grain a try and enjoy knowing that you are eating something that has a long history in developing culture... and it's also good for you!

Here in Dining Services, "We Feed The Bears!"

Chef EssigThere are many new and exciting things happening in Dining Services this year, and I certainly hope you will take advantage of what we have to offer. Dining Services is here for you because "We Feed The Bears" and we are very proud of it! GO BEARS!

Don’t forget to look at the weekly menus often to find out what other fabulous menu items await you this week! You can also call the FoodLine (970.351.FOOD) for daily menus. Not signed up for the Faculty/Staff Payroll Deduction program yet? Learn more about the program here.

Happy Dining!
Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
(Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator)