Japanese Superfoods: Kinako

The Miracle Powder

By Anisa Kazemi
May 17, 2017
Food & Drink

"Just another food-based confirmation of choosing to become a Japan-dweller!"

I was first introduced to my love kinako (soybean flour), smothered on and around my other love, mochi (Japanese rice cakes). The flavor was like nothing I’d ever tasted: deliciously nutty, slightly spicy and delicately soft and sweet all at the same time — just another food-based confirmation of choosing to become a Japan-dweller!

But kinako is not only flavorsome. It is also a proven superfood, and, one that is suitable for our gluten-free and nut-allergic friends, too: kinako is finely ground and roasted soybeans. It has a powdery flour-like texture, it is golden brown in color, smells warm and nutty, and tastes similar to roasted peanuts.  

Why Is It A Superfood?

For starters, in Japan soybeans are known as the “meat of the field.” This is because, soybeans are a wonderful source of plant-based protein. Kinako, naturally sharing the same nutritional profile as the mighty soybean is packed with more protein per 100g than actual meat (note that).

In addition to protein, kinako is rich in soy isoflavones (interestingly known to promote hair growth by mimicking estrogen and reducing DHT, a hormone that causes hair loss), lecithin (which has anti-aging powers), dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B1, potassium, chlorophyll, and calcium. In short, kinako is a superfood miracle.

How To Use It?

Traditionally, kinako is used to compliment mochi or other wagashi (Japanese-style desserts). Other modern common uses of kinako are as a low-carb paleo baking ingredient (simply sub for a 1/4 of your recipe’s asking flour) in cookies and cakes, or stirred into hot milk for kinako lattes — a usual at most Japanese restaurants and cafes.

Personally, I like to think of it as a natural protein powder minus the nasty ingredients because, well, it is! So, I add a heaped spoonful of it into my morning smoothie, sprinkle it on unsweetened yoghurt for an afternoon pick-me-up, or stir it into a warm cup of milk (with a cheeky drizzle of honey) for a nutritious hot drink.

Recipe: Kinako and Banana Smoothie Bowl

Serves 2

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened yoghurt of choice
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 heaped tsp 100% kinako
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp peanut butter (optional)

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blitz until dreamy creamy. Spoon into a bowl and top with favorite toppings of choice — I used fresh banana and kiwi-fruit, raw almonds, chia seeds, and more kinako! Put in a bowl and enjoy your superfood breakfast (or an afternoon snack)! 

If you try these recipes or use kinako in your menu,  share your amazing photos with us via Facebook or #savvytokyo on Instagram. Enjoy! xx

Persian-kiwi Anisa (born in Iran, raised in NZ) came to Japan for the tofu. Her favorite word is "shemomedjamo." It's a Georgian word describing the many an occasion when your stomach is really truly full but the food is so damn delicious that you just can't resist but to eat more. It loosely translates to "I accidently ate the whole thing" — which also happens to be the title of her blog where she loves discussing food and sharing recipes of her own. But before you think she's a glutton, know that it's all super healthy and good for you.

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