Amaranth: Peruvian Wonder #1


Peru is having quite a culinary moment. The United Nations declared last year, the “International Year of Quinoa”, quinoa being one of Peru’s most well known food exports. The following three posts will talk about the amazing ingredients of traditional Peruvian cuisine. You might even call them super!

Superfoods are touted as functional foods that exceed basic nutritional content. They don’t just offer macronutrients (carb, protein, fat) but contain amazing nutrients that go beyond basic nutrition. In addition to quinoa, some Peruvian superfoods (or “whole foods” as I prefer to call them) are papaya, cacao, yacón (similar to sweet potato), Ají peppers, purple potatoes and, my personal favorites: maca, pichuberries and  kiwicha, commonly known as amaranth.

Peruvian Wonder #1: KIWICHA or AMARANTH

Known in the United States as amaranth or colloquially “mini quinoa”, Kiwicha is a small grain noted for its dense nutritional content, slight nutty flavor, and chewy texture. In addition, it’s known for its healing properties; to this day it is still used during Day of the Dead festivities.

Nutrition Facts:

This ancient grain is packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. A ½ cup serving of cooked kiwicha provides 125 kcal, 4.7 grams protein, 2 grams of healthy fat, and 2.5 grams of fiber (mostly soluble fiber). 

Some other attributes worth mentioning:  

  • Anti-aging due to its anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties, specifically the high content of phenolic acids, carotenoids, flavonoids as well as an agent called squaline. 
  • Cardiopropertective! Studies have shown how kiwicha lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides. The soluble fiber may something to do with that!  It also helps manage blood pressure. Two thumbs up for heart health!
  • Optimal plant protein meaning it contains all essential amino acids – specifically high in lysine, which is normally low in other grains.
  • Naturally gluten-free!

How To Use Amaranth 

Amaranth can be used in pilafs, added to salads and snack bars, or can be used to make granola or oatmeal (check out our very own #NYHRC RD oatmeal recipe!). You can also toast it quickly in a pan and “pop it” to a perfect consistency for breakfast cereals or energy bars. Another way of using kiwicha is by adding it to meat loaf or quick breads for a nutrition punch!

How to Store 

Like most grains, I like to keep them in a cool place, usually in a mason jar or a well-sealed container.

Pomegranate Amaranth Oatmeal (4 servings) 


  • 1 cup uncooked amaranth
  • 2½ cups unsweetened almond milk or skim milk 
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping


  1. Bring milk/milk alternative to a gentle boil in a lidded pot
  2. Stir in the amaranth and sliced bananas and lower the heat
  3. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until grains have absorbed most of the liquid.
  4. Top with pomegranate arils and cinnamon. Voila!

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 267 calories, 5.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 123 g sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 9.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 8.5 g protein.

Don’t forget to check out the following posts on Peruvian Food Wonders! 

Picture by John Lambert Pearson on Flickr. 

CSA: Local Food Lover’s Delight

I am excited about CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s exactly that. It gives you the opportunity to buy a “share” of fresh produce (like eggs, meat, and dairy) from a local farmer before the start of the season. You are essentially investing in a future crop. It’s a great and easy way for city dwellers to reap the nutrition and flavor benefits of high quality, fresh foods for pennies on the dollar while also supporting local agriculture!

How CSAs Work

  • CSAs typically offer amazing food throughout the warmer months. The “share” is purchased upfront to ensure that the farmer can adequately prepare for the season. Buy your share in March or April and get your bounty from June to October/November.
  • The farm you have chosen will deliver your share of produce to a convenient drop-off location on a prearranged schedule. CSA distribution sites vary but can be found all over the city, from gardens, and markets to housing developments and restaurants.

What to Expect

  • You will receive a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter listing the current share’s produce (usually 7-10 different types of vegetables and 1-3 different types of fruit).

Sample week of a fruit and vegetable share: 1 head romaine lettuce, 3 kohlrabi, 1 bunch collards, 1 pound purple string beans, 2 delicate squash, 3 sweet bell peppers, 1 bunch braising greens, 1 bunch arugula, 1 Italian eggplant, 3 pounds McIntosh apples

  • Some CSAs even provide delicious recipes featuring the week’s bounty!
  • Incredible fruits and vegetables, that will remind you just how flavorful and delicious healthy food can taste.
  • A BYO Bag operation—In the vein of going green, CSA’s make an effort to reduce waste so bring a few large reusable bags to hold your fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • A feeling of connectedness to your community.
  • Flexibility! There are many options in terms of the size of your share. You can find the best fit for your needs whether you are feeding a large family or cooking for one. Cost varies depending on the size and type of share.


  • As a CSA member, you are expected to volunteer about 2 hours per growing season at the distribution site because it really is a community effort.
  • Volunteers are asked to help take produce out of boxes, sign in fellow members, assist members choosing their allotted quantity of produce, weigh produce, or clean up.
  • It is a great opportunity to meet new and like-minded people, give back, and learn even more about your CSA.

Want to Learn More?

  • Just Foods is a wonderful resource to learn more about CSAs and has a search by zip code feature to help you locate a CSA near you!
  • For the next generation of CSAs, you will be able to purchase credits ahead of the harvest that you can spend any time throughout the growing season. This option is great for those who travel a lot or have unpredictable schedules, check out Holton Farms. 
  • Want the benefits of a CSA without any hassle and variety from various local farms? Fresh from the Farm 365 delivers your share directly to your door!  Their fresh local options span from fruits and vegetables to meat, dairy and even baked goods.  

Do you belong to a CSA? Which one and what do you love about it?

Co-Written by Debi Zvi, RD, CDN and Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Fermented & Cultured Foods 101


(Kvass Soup, Kefir, Pickles)

Fermented and cultured foods have long been touted for their health benefits, but do you know why? A staple in many cultures, fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha, and cultured foods like kefir, Greek yogurt and buttermilk promote the proliferation of good bacteria in our gut, which aid in digestion and boost our immune system. Having a healthy gut filled with good bacteria, known as probiotics, can help us reduce gas and bloating after meals and even shed a few pounds!

Fruits, vegetables and fiber from whole foods can help promote the growth of strong, healthy bacteria, but, unfortunately, many things in our environment wreak havoc on a healthy gut.

Good Bacteria, Don’t Go! 

Step 1: Don’t eat processed foods. Many ingredients in processed foods are foreign to our digestive tract and we are not equipped with the right enzymes to break them down. Unhealthy bacteria feed on these foreign ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, which cause them to proliferate and potentially outnumber the healthy bacteria. An uncomfortable side effect of this process is gas, which makes us feel bloated. Cutting down or avoiding processed foods, as well as adding cultured and fermented foods, can help the good bacteria flourish.

Step 2: Check your antibiotic use. Along with wiping out the bacteria that makes us sick, antibiotics clear the healthy lining of good bacteria in our gut. If you are prescribed antibiotics for longer than three days, you may consider taking a probiotic supplement during and for at least a week after treatment. Recommendations can range anywhere from 1 to 30 Billion CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per day, depending on age and symptoms. Some of my favorite probiotic supplements include: Align® probiotic, Culturelle® probiotic, Designs For Health probiotic synergy, and Garden of Life raw probiotics. 

How can we bring the good bacteria back?

Eat cultured and fermented foods! (Of course…) These foods contain healthy bacteria, yeasts and/or fungi that set up shop in our gut as we digest them. To start, aim for one serving of these cultured and fermented foods per day.

Here is a list of fermented and cultured foods to try:


  • Pickles
  • Pickled Fruits and Vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Homemade Ketchup
  • Kimchi
  • Kvass
  • Fermented Salsa
  • Sourdough Bread 


  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Cultured Sour Cream (low fat)
  • Lebneh Cheese (low fat)

Let me know what your favorite cultured or fermented food is at Bushwick Nutrition! 

Co-Written by Debi Zvi RD, CDN & Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Reference: Probiotics & Fermented Foods. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op. 

Edited by the Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team