Is it Red Root or Pigweed? Neither it's Amaranth!
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A.K.A. Red Root or Pigweed
Botanical Amaranthus retroflexus
Parts: Tender leaves, seeds
For: Salad, cooked green, flour (from seeds).
Sometimes called pigweed or red root, this common garden “weed” is actually a valuable herb. Amaranth grows best in recently cultivated ground. Amaranth seed’s protein content has been found to be as high as 18%. This is higher than most other grains. Combining amaranth with other, more common grains can boost their nutritional value. Amaranth is high in lysine. This is 1 of 3 (lysine, tryptophan and methionine) important amino acids required to form a complete protein. Most other grains are low in lysine and high in tryptophan & methionine amino acids. This means that a food with high lysine levels needs to be included in a meal to receive a complete protein. Meats or beans (both high in lysine) are usually recommended to achieve this. But if Americans ate more amaranth mixed in their grains this would not be a problem. Amaranth seeds can be cooked like rice and eaten or when thoroughly dried, can be ground into flour and mixed with other grains to create a more complex protein source. The seeds contain beta carotene, B-complex, vitamins C & E, niacin, riboflavin and many important minerals including calcium and iron. The wild seeds are dark in color. A lighter colored seed variety of amaranth is available commercially. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or steamed, sautéed or simmered until tender.