Just a few years ago, health foodies were at a fever pitch over quinoa, a protein-rich, gluten-free super grain grown in South America. While the crop maintains near-holy status in the wellness world—especially since the advent of the grain bowl—there’s a new grain in town that may just succeed to the throne of rice and pasta alternatives: baby quinoa.
What is baby quinoa? Similar in taste and composition to quinoa, “baby quinoa,” or kañiwa as it’s named, is smaller than quinoa, but it has more fiber. The ancient grain has been around for just as long, but health food brands have recently started to take notice of its exceptional nutritional value. In the words of the Magic 8 Ball, “signs point to yes” that kañiwa may soon be the most buzzed-about grain.
So what makes kañiwa so great?
Like quinoa, kañiwa is a great source of complete protein. This means it contains all of the essential amino acids your body cannot produce itself—and kañiwa actually has about 3% more protein than quinoa. It also has a higher amount of iron than quinoa; Kañiwa provides about 60% of your recommended daily allowance, whereas quinoa offers 15%.
Kañiwa also has exceptionally high levels of flavonoids (again, even higher than quinoa). Flavonoids have great anti-aging benefits for the skin and help to prevent both cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.
Like quinoa, kañiwa is also rich in many vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin B, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese. It’s also high in lysine, an essential amino acid.
Have you ever forgotten to rinse your quinoa before cooking it and then found it has a soapy, bitter flavor? That’s the saponins at work—this outer layer on quinoa is a molecule that lends a soapy flavor if not washed away thoroughly. Thankfully, kañiwa, unlike quinoa, has no saponins, so it doesn’t need to be rinsed before cooking—win! Anything to save you some time in the kitchen, right?
Delicious Taste and Texture
Though slightly different in taste, kañiwa has a similar nutty and slightly sweet flavor to quinoa. Because of this, it can be enjoyed in practically every way you might use quinoa, from grain bowls to stir fry to wraps to baked goods. It also cooks in essentially the same way. However, it doesn’t fluff quite like quinoa does, but it doesn’t congeal either, as other grains like millet do.
Have you tried kañiwa? Will you be looking out for it?