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Grain of the Month: Canihua PDF Print E-mail

 by Chris Ellis, Staff Nutritionist
July, 2016

 I am delighted to have yet another miraculous seed to feature this month, canihua, which is pronounced kani-wa (and is sometimes spelled that way too, among other variations).

It is found in the Bulk department at the Co-op, alongside other gluten-free grains.

It's often hard to keep up with the diversity of grains as well as the introduction of new varieties sold in the Bulk department at the Co-op!

Canihua is tiny, though it is bigger than the incredibly small teff grain, which was featured in a recent newsletter.

Canihua is actually a seed, but it functions as a grain. Unknown to many in this country, it has been around a long time but is a relative newcomer here!

Canihua, a member of the goosefoot family, is grown high in the Andes Mountains in Peru and Bolivia.

It has existed for thousands of years and was a staple food of the Inca and Aztec people. It is an extremely resilient plant—not only can it survive extreme drought, but also the cold frost and extreme heat of the high mountains where most plants do not survive.

Canihua is related to quinoa and some resources refer to canihua as its cousin. Like quinoa, it is gluten free.

Canihua has a deep reddish brown color, similar to the dark red variety of quinoa.

It is often referred to as "baby quinoa" but in fact, it is not from the same plant and has different characteristics. It is smaller than quinoa—almost half the size!—which is hard to believe.

Canihua also does not have saponins on the outside, which are the natural protective coating that produces quinoa’s bitter taste if not rinsed before cooking.

Given its small size, the nutritional benefits of this tiny seed are amazing.  It is an excellent source of protein—it actually provides slightly more than quinoa.

It contains the amino acid lysine (a building block of protein required by our bodies) that most grains do not provide. It is a great source of fiber, and contains a good amount of calcium, zinc, and iron too.

And it's loaded with antioxidants—isorhamnetin and quercetin are two found in concentrated amounts in this incredible seed.
Canihua cooks up in 15 to 20 minutes and uses the same amount of water as quinoa—about twice the amount as the grain used.

Simmer for 15 minutes covered and be ready to add more water if needed.

This grain has a great flavor and crunchy texture, and can be used as a side dish or as a salad. It can be added to soups and stews too!

If you want to keep things very simple, prepare it as a hot cereal and serve with any of your favorite toppings: fruits and nuts, cinnamon, yogurt, etc.

Try this new addition to the Bulk section soon! You’ll be impressed with its great taste, its versatility, and its nutritional punch!