Meet Kaniwa, The New Quinoa



December 28, 2013

Lauren Salkeld

Quinoa has been the hot health food for the last few years. It's so popular that even your grandmother knows how to properly pronounce its name and she's likely eating it several times a week. But there's a new seed (yes, quinoa is a seed not a grain) in town and it just may steal some of quinoa's spotlight.

Kaniwa (pronounced ka-nyi-wa) is about half the size of quinoa but otherwise quite similar. It's high in protein, fiber, iron, and calcium; has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor; and comes from South America (primarily from the Andes Mountain region of Southern Peru and Bolivia). It's also gluten-free like quinoa and just as versatile; use it in salads, soups, and stir-fries, or eat it for breakfast.

One way that kaniwa is different from quinoa is that it doesn't contain the saponins that give quinoa that soapy, bitter flavor (the saponins get washed away when you rinse quinoa, which is why you really shouldn't skip that step). This makes kaniwa slightly less fussy and perhaps just a touch faster to prepare than quinoa. Otherwise the cooking process is pretty much the same, though it's common to toast kaniwa in a dry pan to bring out its flavor before cooking.

While quinoa is just about everywhere, kaniwa is less widely available. Some health food stores carry it and it can be found online. La Tienda offers both kaniwa and kaniwa flour from the Zocalo brand, while Roland sells their own kaniwa on their ecommerce site.

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