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What is quinoa? Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah,” is a seed, not a grain, as many people mistakenly refer to this increasingly popular foodstuff. Quinoa has its roots in ancient Peru, according to Reader’s Digest, and it’s known as a healthy food packed with iron, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, and potassium. It’s also a good source of protein and amino acids, and for these and other reasons, it’s showing up more and more in cookbooks and restaurants.

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After asking, “What is quinoa?” many health-conscious folks with their interest piqued next wonder, “How does quinoa taste?” and “How do you cook quinoa?” According to Reader’s Digest, quinoa has “a naturally bitter coating” and boasts a “richer, nuttier flavor” than couscous and rice. As per Dietriffic, quinoa “is a bit like brown rice crossed with oatmeal.” As for cooking quinoa, you prepare the seed much like you would rice, boiling it with water or vegetable broth for about 15 minutes, according to most sources.

What is quinoa? It’s versatile—that’s for sure. While it’s commonly used in side dishes, just like rice, it can also be mixed with dried fruit, syrup, or honey and eaten for breakfast. Some people use it to make veggie burgers or throw it into salads. Bakers also take advantage of quinoa’s high nutritional value and use it to make healthy muffins and breads.

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How many calories are in quinoa? Just 50 per serving, according to Skinny chef, and that’s another reason to reach for this seed instead of rice. “Out of all the grains quinoa really stands out,” says Chrissy Freer, author of “Supergrains: Cook Your Way to Great Health,” according to Taste.com. “Its nutritional profile is quite superior.”

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