There's a new, nutritious and versatile seed in town.
Kaniwa, pronounced ka-nyi-wa, might be making its way onto more and more store’s shelves and even into your pantry as it’s an extremely versatile and nutritious seed that, yes, can be used similarly to quinoa. Here are eight things you need to know.
Kaniwa comes from South America primarily from the Andes Mountain region of Southern Peru and Bolivia. And has been part of the staple diet of the local population of the Andes for generations. It’s only recently been discovered by Western civilizations.
It’s marketed as a whole grain, but it is actually a seed from a flowering plant called the goosefoot. The seed resembles a much smaller, dark reddish-brown quinoa in appearance. It’s also gluten-free, just as versatile and can be used in salads, soups, and stir-fries, or even for breakfast.
It’s nutritious! Kaniwa is higher in protein than its cousin quinoa and offers the same high quality of protein with notable amounts of the essential amnio acids. It also contains a higher amount of iron (60% to quinoa’s 15). In addition, kaniwa boasts the same B vitamins and minerals as whole-grain wheat. A single 3.5 ounce serving contains 6.5 grams of fiber.
It is antioxidant rich: Kaniwa is particularly rich in the flavonoids isorhamnetin and quercetin. These specific flavonoids have been established as helping reduce the risk of certain inflammatory diseases and aid in cardiovascular health.
How to cook? Unlike quinoa, this seed does not contain any saponins, which give some foods a bitter, soapy flavor. Kaniwa lacks those saponins and doesn’t have to be rinsed before it’s cooked. To extract the maximum flavor from kaniwa, it’s recommended to toast the seeds in a dry skillet for about 2-3 minutes before cooking. Cooking in a 2:1 ratio of water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the seed is soft and the liquid has been absorbed.
Taste? Kaniwa has been described as having a nutty, mild and slightly sweet flavor similar to that of quinoa. It doesn’t ‘fluff’ in the way that quinoa does, but it also does not congeal like millet.
Versatility: Kaniwa can replace rice as a grain bed for any meal, and it can be cooked with milk for a breakfast porridge. Add a handful of raisins or chopped nuts with a little sweetener of your choice, and it creates a filling start to the day. It can be ground down into a flour as well. With its high protein density, kaniwa does not bake well by itself for pastry products or breads, so follow instructions on the label or be ready to experiment!
How to store? Stored in a sealed plastic or glass container, preferably in a cool, dark and dry cabinet, kaniwa will stay fresh for one year.