Complimentary protein, fiber, flavor and aroma of the ancient grains amaranth and quinoa with equally ancient mesquite flour.

As an example of the antiquity of use of mesquite flour as human food, archaelogists Capparelli and Lema of the Museum of Natural Sciences in La Plata Argentina dated mesquite pod remains at 3400 years before present in funeral hearths in Argentina. This  is earlier than the domestication of quinoa in the formative period in the mountainous Andean region approximately 1800 BC -400 AD.

 As mesquite flour is derived from the sugary pulp of the pod wall of a legume and amaranth and quinoa are derived from seeds, it is natural to expect great differences in nutritional and flavor/aroma properties.  As can be seen in the table below comparing the protein, amino acid, dietary fiber and sucrose concentrations of Amaranth, Quinoa and Mesquite mesocarp flour (minus the seeds), mesquite flour has a protein content less than half of Amaranth and Quinoa. Not surprisingly the amino acid concentrations are also about half.  The mesquite dietary fiber is substantially greater than either Amaranth or Quinoa. In the table below a published literature value of 59% was used for the sucrose in mesquite flour produced from the pulpy portion of the pods. However in commercial samples that tend to be about 45% sucrose.

 Mesquite flour has a cinnamon, coconut, café mocha aroma and flavor.  As some strains of quinoa have a bitter taste, the mesquite flour could help mask that flavor.  Taste panels have found the optimum concentration of mesquite in baked products i.e. pancakes and cookies is typically used about 15%. For this reason  in the table below,a theoretical composition of 43% amaranth and Quinoa with 14% mesquite flour is used. This overall mix is not much lower in protein than the Quinoa and Amaranth. The total dietary fiber of the mix is higher than either Quinoa or Amaranth.  The sucrose content of the mix at 8.3% is obviously much greater than either Amaranth or Quinoa leading to an enhanced flavor profile.. The sulfur amino acids cystine and methionine are much higher in the ancient grains than mesquite flour and the tryptophan is also higher in the grains.. The cinnamon/coconut aroma and flavor volatiles in mesquite are not in either Quinoa or Amaranth.

It would seem that low level additions of mesquite would not markedly decrease the protein content/quality but it would significantly increase the dietary fiber and the flavor/aroma profile which is sometimes an issue with these pseudocereals.

 Amino Acids are mg/100 of food.

  Protein % Alanine Glycine Valine Threonine Serine Leucine Isoleucine Proline Methionine Phenylalanine Aspartic acid Lysine Tyrosine Glutamic acid Arginine Tryptophan Cystine Histidine Dietary fiber (%) Sucrose (%)
Mesquite pod (minus seed) 6.5 353 331 330 241 342 554 311 361 99 283 635 343 274 882 343 116 40 141 26.5 59.1
Amaranth 13.5 423 938 442 421 764 673 400 495 314 652 952 529 601 2130 1197 181 164 416 20.6 0.0
Quinoa 14.2 557 778 528 469 654 833 433 504 231 685 1129 591 760 2319 1261 167 147 514 14.2 0.0

 

Composition using 43% Quinoa, 43% Amaranth and 14% Mesquite flour. This composition is used since taste panel tests found about 14% is optimum for mesquite

  Protein % Alanine Glycine Valine Threonine Serine Leucine Isoleucine Proline Methionine Phenylalanine Aspartic acid Lysine Tyrosine Glutamic acid Arginine Tryptophan Cystine Histidine Dietary fiber (%) Sucrose (%)
Mesquite14%/ Amaranth 44%, Quinoa 44% mix 12.8 471 784 463 416 658 725 402 480 248 615 984 530 624 2037 1105 166 139 420 18.7 8.3