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Posted by Carolyn Lees on


Amaranth, a Staple Food of Incas

Want to know a bit more about a super gain, a ‘mother grain’ and a seed which technically all turn out to be a type of seed in the end? Amaranth, quinoa and chia seeds are the hottest wholefoods since sliced bread.

Amaranth- a staple food of the Incas and the Aztec, was described as the ‘crop of the future’ in a 1977 publication of the U.S Science magazine.  But what makes this super grain so super?

 Firstly amaranth is amazingly easy to grow and harvest. Secondly it is very quick and easy to cook and thirdly it has one of the highest levels of protein out of any other grain, (except for quinoa) and contains in abundance the amino acid lysine. Lysine being great for calcium absorption, muscle building and treating cold sores.  Fourth- it’s gluten free.

Quinoa, a Mother Grain

Quinoa- pronounced keen-wa, and called ‘mother grain’ by the Incas because they felt it was sacred, quinoa is steadily becoming a must have grain. It’s not only high in protein but is considered a ‘complete protein’ meaning it has virtually the same protein content as meat- so a wonder grain for vegetarians. It is gluten free, high in fibre, contains calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. With 2013 being heralded as ‘the International year of Quinoa’ by the United Nations- what better time to try some?

Amaranth & Quinoa Cooking Tips

Amaranth & Quinoa cooking tips- Rinse well and soak overnight. This removes the bitter naturally occurring chemical on the outside of quinoa.  Phytic acid is also removed via this process, which is another natural property of most grains and legumes which block nutrient absorption. So soaking all grains over night is great to increase your digestion of them. Rinse again in the morning and cook as you would rice.

Chia Seeds, an Aztec Favourite

Chia seeds-Another Aztec favourite and still used in Guatemala and Mexico. Its name is derived from an ancient word meaning ‘oily’, and they are one of the highest food sources of omega three fatty acids such as that found in fish. Omega three is great for skin health, brain health and weight loss. Vitamins A, B12, C, Zinc, calcium, phosphorus and fibre for bowel health are additionally found in chia. 

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Honor Tremain - Nutritionist and health writer

Honor is a qualified naturopathic Nutritionist and health writer. She is very passionate about nutrition and health, and has been working in the field for almost 20 years.

Honor is the head nutrition writer for the multi-national Fitness First magazine, which won best app for an iPhone & tablet device in 2011 for the ‘Magazine excellence awards’.

Honor also has her own ‘Ask Honor’ column and weekly health article in the APN newspapers for The Fraser Coast Chronicle and Observer in QLD.

She designs weight loss meals and menu’s for Sydney based food manufacturer Core Food Concepts.

Honor has lectured and supervised the Nutritional medicine students at one of Sydney’s largest Natural therapies college’s- Nature Care College.

You can follow her and many of her articles on Facebook at:


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