Kaniwa is creating quite a buzz lately, with some people even referring to it as a “superfood.” Kaniwa is a seed grown in Peru and Bolivia that is eaten as a grain product.

It is related to quinoa, and is prepared and consumed in a similar fashion, but kaniwa seeds are half the size of quinoa. Unlike quinoa, kaniwa does not contain saponins and you do not need to thoroughly rinse it prior to eating.

Kaniwa often is prepared as porridge or served as a side dish alone or as a component of salad. It also has appeared in recipes for stir-fries, casseroles, soups, and stews and is sometimes used to “bread” meats and fish. Kaniwa flour is used in a variety of baked goods, puddings, and beverages similar to hot chocolate.


Kaniwa is high in protein and provides fiber, iron, calcium, and zinc. It is a gluten-free food.

A cooked ½-cup (C) serving (¼ C dry) contains:


  • 178 calories
  • 3 grams (g) fat
  • 29 g carbohydrate
  • 7 g protein
  • 6 g fiber

Kaniwa is also high in antioxidants, both in the extrudate and bran form. About 43% of the fatty acids in kaniwa are omega-6.

For the best flavor, toast kaniwa prior to cooking.  To prepare kaniwa: combine 1 C kaniwa with 2 C liquid, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer (covered) for 15–20 minutes. Allow to sit (covered) for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.


To purchase kaniwa, check your area’s health food store or in the bulk section at some Whole Foods locations. It can also be purchased online from a number of retailers, including Amazon.com.

kaniwa quinoa-grilled-vegetables-2



References and recommended readings
Dean & DeLuca®. Zocalo kaniwa flour. Available at: http://www.deandeluca.com/pantry/pantry-new/zocalo-kaniwa-flour.aspx.

Fitday®. Kaniwa: the next superfood? Available at: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/kaniwa-the-next-superfood.html.

GoGo Quinoa™. Kaniwa (quinoa baby). Available at: http://www.gogoquinoa.com/products/grains/kaniwa-quinoa-baby/.

Repo-Carrasco-Valencia R, Acevedo de La Cruz A, Icochea Alvarez JC, Kallio H. Chemical and functional characterization of kañiwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule) grain, extrudate and bran. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2009;64(2):94-101.

Repo-Carrasco R, Espinoza S, Jacobsen SE. Nutritional value and use of the Andean crops quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and kañiwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule). Food Reviews International [serial online]. 2003;19(1-2):179-189.  Available at: http://www.mendeley.com/research/nutritional-value-andean-crops-quinoa-chenopodium-quinoa-ka%C3%B1iwa-chenopodium-pallidicaule/.