We're welcoming a new seed to the My Food Bag pantry this week, canihua (pronounced ka-ni-wah). Featuring in our Gluten-Free Bag it's served as a tabbouleh with BBQ lamb and tzatziki. Read on to find out more about this superfood.

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Well, canihua is not actually a ‘new’ seed at all, it has been cultivated for millennia in the Andean ranges, by the Incan and Aztec cultures. This almost ‘forgotten’ crop has recently been brought back to life by the surge of market demand for naturally gluten-free carbohydrates, most particularly, the closely related quinoa.

The canihua (or qañiwa) plant is incredibly hardy, surviving extreme conditions with temperatures ranging from -10°C to 28°C. This is the main reason for its continued cultivation over so many years, as it has withstood the harsh environmental conditions of the Andean mountain range to feed the communities living at such high altitudes.

The method of cooking of canihua is much the same as that of quinoa or rice, with a 1:2 water or stock ratio and a boil and steam method. An extra bonus of the canihua is that it has no saponins, the soapy tasting protective layer that occurs with most seeds and grains. For this reason, canihua has no need to be rinsed or soaked before cooking – we love easy food!

The nutritional quality of the canihua is also extremely high – what doesn’t this seed have going for it?!

It has a high protein content (even higher than that of quinoa) and the balance of the essential amino acids it contains means that is good enough to be substituted for animal proteins. Canihua is also a great source of calcium, iron and antioxidants, with a higher content of all these nutrients than most cereals and grains on the market. Canihua (nicknamed “baby quinoa”) is also naturally gluten free and has a great, nutty flavour.

We can’t wait to hear what our Gluten-Free foodies think of canihua! 

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