Friday, May 18, 2007

Specialty Grain - Amaranth

In the Himalayas, Amaranth grain is a crop of moderate importance . It was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Inca civilization, and it is known today in the Andes as kiwicha. It was also used by the ancient Aztecs, who called it huautli. Other Amerindian peoples in Mexico used Amaranth to prepare ritual drinks and foods.

Amaranth was used in several Aztec observances, where images of their gods (notably Huitzilopochtli) were made out of amaranth grain mixed with honey. The images were cut with the pieces to be eaten by the people. To the Roman Catholic priests who witnessed the ritual, this looked like the Christian Eucharist, thus the cultivation of Amaranth grain was forbidden for centuries.

Amaranth grain (especially A. cruentis and A. hypochondriaca) was revived in the 1970s largely due to its importance as a symbol of an indigenous culture, and because it is very palatable, easy to cook, and its protein is particularly well suited to human nutrition needs. Amaranth and Quinoa are the only two grain that contain complete protein. Besides Protein, Amaranth grain provides a good source of Dietary fiber and Dietary mineral such as Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, and especially Manganese.
After cultivation having been forbidden, it was recovered in Mexico from wild varieties and is now commercially cultivated.

Amaranth’s use has spread to Europe and other parts of North America. It is a popular snack sold in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, sometimes mixed with Chocolate or Puffed grain. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like Popcorn and mixed with Honey or Molasses to make a treat called alegría (literally "joy" in Spanish).

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Brief History of Wheat - Part Two

Here's the rest of yesterday's wheat history article...

It has been said that the first evidence of wheat was discovered in the Middle East. When farmers started supplying enough crops to feed people from other lands, trading between the diverse cultures began. Ultimately wheat made it's way from the Middle East to England and other countries, then into the United States with Columbus back in the late 1400s and early 1500s. Over time, the growing of wheat spread to many continents and countries and is still one of the highest producing crops in the world.

All of the wheat grains were eaten or ground whole with the bran, germ, and endosperm parts of the wheat still intact. However, a new way of milling took hold in the wheat business when the industrialization wave hit America in the later 1800s. These manufacturers started removing the bran and germ from the wheat, because it meant that the wheat products could sit longer on grocery store shelves without spoiling. However, during this process almost all the essential vitamins and minerals (not to mention the dietary fiber from the bran) were removed. Since that time there have been increasingly more health problems throughout America and other countries.

Wheat in it's unrefined form has the attention of nutrition experts of today due to how it contains nutrients, fiber and phytochemicals that the body needs. Let's get back to eating wheat when it's whole and stop eating the refined grains, after all the people long before us ate it this way with no problem. In some cases, they even lived longer than we do now!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Brief History of Wheat Article

Long ago, before the conveniences we have now, people traveled to different places to find food. They would eat whatever grew wild. When the population began to grow however, and more and more food was harder to find, the travelers had to figure out how to grow the food themselves. So they had to settle down.

Wheat could possibly have been one of the first plants to be grown by people, on account of how well it adapts to rough surroundings this seems likely. After it was discovered you could grow wheat, considerable changes started taking place. People realized they could grow their own food, so they no longer needed to travel around in search of it. The stable food supply caused people to start settling permanently.

The travelers became farmers, and as the growing of wheat progressed, so did the farmer's knowledge. They began to make the wheat easier to cook, grow, and eat. Bit by bit they began choosing kernels from their best wheat plants for the next years' planting. By doing this it ultimately generated better crops and better quality of wheat that was passed down from one generation to the next. Wheat very quickly became one of the most significant crops in the world and to this day is grown on more land area worldwide than any other crop!

...Come back tomorrow for the rest of the article. Or subscribe to our feed.

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