Quinoa has been making waves around the trendy health food circuit for years now. So much so that it has literally become a food staple in many vegetarian homes.
Even the Banting and the Paleo crew have embraced it. And just when you thought it doesn’t get better than quinoa, along comes Kañiwa Or we called "Baby Quinoa"– The New superfood on the Block: More Iron than Quinoa and Crunchier too!
Kañiwa is a tiny seed but great in stature. Loaded with fiber, flavonoids and crunchy flavor, it is a gluten free, protein rich grain from Peru.
If you are looking for another nutrient dense ancient grain to add to your pantry, look no further than Kañiwa!
Where does Kañiwa originate from?
Kañiwa is not brand new to people outside of Peru, as it surfaced commercially many years ago but it is trending at the moment and getting some well deserved attention, finally.
People are calling it quinoa’s baby cousin, but it can definitely stand alone without any quinoa connotations!
This amazing seed is related to quinoa.
Both are from the genus Chespodium. Both grow high in the Andes mountains. And both pack a mean punch when it comes to protein, iron, fiber, flavonoids and wholesome goodness.
Interestingly though, both quinoa and kaniwa have genetic variability so they can be cultivated anywhere from sea level to high altitudes.
What are the Differences and Similarities between Kaniwa and Quinoa?
Size: Kañiwa is a much smaller seed than quinoa, about half the size.
Texture: Baby quinoa has a crunchy texture, even after cooking, while quinoa turns soft and fluffy when cooked.
Taste: Baby qunioa and quinoa taste different because kaniwa is slightly sweeter than quinoa, although both have a nutty taste.
Color: Kañiwa is either dark brown or red but quinoa can be white, red or even dark brown.
Nutritional differences: Kañiwa may not contain beneficial saponins like quinoa does, but it does contain high levels of flavonoids like isorhamnetin and quercetin.
Having no saponins means there is no soapy, bitter taste if you don’t rinse before cooking.
Kañiwa also has a flavonoid called rhamnetin, which is absent in quinoa.
Both seeds contain high levels of fiber and iron but Kañiwa has more iron than quinoa.
Kañiwa and quinoa are both gluten free. This means they can be eaten by people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
They both contain all the essential amino acids needed by the body, making them complete proteins.
Kañiwa has the added benefit of being high in lysine.
Kaniwa (Baby Quinoa) – Dynamite Comes In Small Packages!
You guys may have heard about ancient whole grains and seeds like teff grain, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, barley and millet. All delicious and nutritious alternatives to the traditional refined, processed, high carb, low nutrient wheat, pasta and rice options.
Kañiwa is also a highly valued seed, both in terms of nutrient density and digestibility. Kañiwa flour is a great wheat flour substitute.
Flours have also become super varied and just about anything can be milled into a flour. Non-GMO, wheat free cooking has become old news these days, and most health conscious families are changing up the old traditional meal plans for a wonderful array of “new” yet ancient grains and seeds to supplement their cooking with.
Nutritional value of Kañiwa:
A break down of the nutritional value, in 100 grams of Kañiwa, shows the following nutrients:
- Carbs: 20% RDA
- Protein: 30% RDA 14 g
- Fiber: 30% RDA 4 g
- Healthy Fat: 20% RDA
- Phosphorous: 42% RDA 424 mg
- Calcium: 13% RDA 134 mg
- Iron: 86% RDA 15 mg
- Thiamin (B1): 0.7mg 48% RDA
- Riboflavin (B2): 0.4 mg 25% RDA
- Niacin (B3): 1.4mg 7%
Bioactive, non nutritive compounds of kaniwa
Kaniwa also boasts a host of other phytonutrients that add to its value as a highly beneficial food to eat regularly, in place of refined and processed carbohydrates and proteins.
It is high in flavonoids like isorhamnetin and quercetin and amino acids, like lysine.
Health Benefits of Eating Kañiwa Regularly
1. Kañiwa is high in protein and amino acids. Protection for the skin and against aging.
Kañiwa is a high protein food and contains all the amino acids your body can’t produce itself. Protein and amino acids are the building blocks of the body, they repair and protect the body on a cellular level.
A healthy person can easily get by with only 10 – 20 % of their diet being protein. One only needs 0.8 – 1 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. A healthy person needs about 30 – 50 g of protein daily but an unhealthy or aging person would need to double their protein intake in order to get the body to repair itself.
Protein helps to keep skin healthy and protect it from age related diseases as well as preventing bed sores in incapacitated individuals.
The quality of protein found in Kañiwa is far superior to that of any meat product and because it is also a complex carbohydrate you end up getting more goodness out of your calorie intake.
By eating high protein pseudocereals like kaniwa and drinking protein based smoothies and powders will enable a person to get sufficient levels of protein needed.
2. Kañiwa is high in lysine. Lysine cures cold sores.
Lysine taken in amounts of more than 1 – 3g daily can actually prevent outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus, also known as cold sores. With 1g being maintenance level.
Kañiwa has the highest level of lysine out of all grains. But one must lower the amount of L-arginine at the same time. Foods high in L-arginine include beer, peanuts and chocolates.
Lysine in 100g of kaniwa (about 2-3 servings) contains almost 30% of your daily lysine requirements. It scored high in the Lysine chart of 101 foods.
3. Kañiwa Is Gluten Free – Can be eaten by people with Celiac disease
People suffering from celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten in any way. Eating gluten free foods like kaniwa promotes a healthy digestive system. Getting enough calories from carbohydrates is essential for optimal nutrient absorption.
Kañiwa is a complex carbohydrate and a complete protein food. It is ideal for vegans and vegetarians.
4. Baby Quinoa has a low GL (glycaemic load) – Great for diabetics and to aid weight loss.
Glycaemic load is what measures a food’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. A good score means that you will feel fuller for longer, which will aid any weight loss regime. It also means it is a good food for pre diabetics and diabetics.
5. Kañiwa contains high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants
Protection against heart disease and inflammatory conditions.
Baby quinoa has high levels of caffeic acid, ferulic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin and rhamnetin. These flavanoids have antioxidant properties like Buleberry which are anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory like black cumin seed oil.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals at cellular level and reverse the damage caused by oxidative stress.
How do I cook with Kañiwa- recipes
I cook my kaniwa and usually serve it as an accompaniment to my other vegetable dishes. Sometimes I add the cooked kaniwa to my salad creations. It is always a winner.
Use kaniwa whole, or toasted and milled as a flour. Use a coffee grinder to mill your nuts and seeds into flours.
Coconutty KAÑIWA Winter Salad- Vegan
How to cook Kañiwa:
- Add 1 cup Kañiwa to 2 cups boiling water.
- Add Himalayan pink salt and a dash of oil.
- Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Fluff with fork to loosen grains.
How to serve Kañiwa:
- Serve as a side dish or a main dish.
- Serve as a salad or add to soups.
- Use as a flour substitute when baking.
- Add Kañiwa “flour” raw to smoothies for a protein boost.
Where can I buy Kaniwa? 3 Best Kaniwa Brands
1: Zócalo Peru Organic Kaniwa Grain, Is of Peru, organic, non GMO and packed in an environment free of soy, wheat, gluten and dairy. This brand also sells 8 packs of 16 ounces. Ideal for singles or couples.
2: Roland Kaniwa is a 79 year old, American based company with a good reputation of delivering fair trade produce of a high quality.
They have different quantities available and promote kaniwa as a good substitute for rice and other grains as well as being a food high in iron.
Their kaniwa is kosher and gluten free.
3: North Mountain Supply Kaniwa It is also produced in Peru, it is organic and Non-GMO. Ideal quantity for family use.
High in vitamin B’s, calcium, iron and phosphorous.
Much of the information in this article comes from Patrick Holford’s book The Optimum Nutrition Bible, available through Amazon.
I would also like to thank Katherine A. Sanchez for her 2012 copyrighted article titled: Observations regarding consumption of Peruvian native grains (quinoa, amaranth and Kañiwa), Weight status and perceptions of potential risk factors, warning signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes among Peruvian adults: A Case Study