Medicinal herb amaranth is rich in vitamins A and C, iron and protein

amaranth, callaloo

Amaranth is an annual plant that is native to Latin America, but it can be found all over the globe.  It was brought to Europe by Cortez who found the Aztecs using it for medicinal purposes.  The entire plant may be used for medicinal purposes.

In some parts of the world it is cultivated as grains, known as Keerai. This is especially done in India. It is also greatly cultivated in Mexico and the plant and leaves are also edible. The seeds are generally used to make flour, cereals and porridge. Therefore, the main parts used are the seeds, leaves and stems. It is a part of the Chenopodiaceae family.

The common names are Pilewort, Red cockscomb, Prince's feather, Love-lies-bleeding, Lovely bleeding, Lady bleeding, Velvet flower, Amaranthus, Flower of immortality, Rhamdana as well as Pigweed.  The botanical name is Amaranthus hypochondriacos.  The medicinal properties are alterative, tonic, diuretic, astringent, stimulant, nutritive, doaphoretic and antidiarrheal.

It is used in Jamaica as an edible and nutritious vegetable. However, we refer to it as callaloo (Amaranthus viridis) and it is used and prepared just like spinach. The seeds however is not red as it is in some counties, it is generally whitish-green. We popularly used it anytime of the day and we are never tired of consuming it.  We also refer to callaloo as "greens."  I love it dearly just like most Jamaicans.

It is mainly used for breakfast served with boiled bananas, boiled dumplings, fritters or roast breadfruit.  We sometimes combine it with codfish (salt fish) and even sausages.  When it is combined with the sausages, the children take delight in eating it.  That is how they enjoy it.  Although it can be consumed raw, we prefer to steam it.  Hot pepper soup, also referred to as hot pepper pot, cannot be done without this medicinal plant.  It is the primary ingredient in this type of soup and we love it especially the elderly folks.

There many pastry shops all over the Island where we can purchase callaloo patties.  It is especially made for people who are vegetarians.  However, omnivores take delight in eating it as well and it is delicious and nutritious.

Health benefits of amaranth herb

The medicinal uses cannot be ignored. It has many herbal medicinal benefits that will benefit the users. You can safely say it is an herbal medicine for prolonged and extreme menstruation. It is also used as a wash for the skin which will aid in the removal of skin ailments. It is also good to treat dysentery, diarrhea, sore throat, swollen mouth, high cholesterol, piles as well as hemorrhoids.

When combined with lettuce, parsley as well as carrot and blended into refreshing drink, then it can be an excellent remedy for purifying the skin.

In Latin America, the seed of the flower is grounded into a powder and used as flour for baking. These are some of the benefits that may be utilized for an healthy body as well as an healthy mind.

maranth: By Dwight Sipler from Stow, MA, USA (Amaranth

Callaloo and codfish recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb shredded callaloo1 medium onion
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 a hot chilli or scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 sweet pepper
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 2 tsp dried thyme

Preparation

Let the codfish soak overnight in cold water, changing the water several times because this procedure will remove the excess salt.

Cook the fish and gently simmer the fish for twenty minutes. Chop the onion, sweet pepper, chilli pepper and tomato and put aside.

Wash the callaloo in a pot of water and drain thoroughly.

Prepare the fish by removing the fish from water and allow to cool. Then remove all of the bones and skin then shred the flesh of the fish.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onion, black pepper, sweet pepper, chilli and thyme and sate in a few minutes.

Add the callaloo and half a cup of water, cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Then add the tomatoes and flaked fish and steam for another 10 minutes

Serve with yam, green bananas, fried dumplings or Irish potato.

This is one on my favorite breakfast dishes. If and when you try it you will not regret it.

Amaranth herb also contains amino acids.

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Updated June 3, 2015


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