Though quinoa is often referred to as a grain, it’s actually a seed that can be cooked and used in many of the same ways that whole grains like rice or barley would. Quinoa is growing in popularity, likely due to its easy preparation and numerous health benefits. Quinoa is packed with protein (in fact, it is considered a complete protein — one that provides all the same amino acids that animal-based proteins do), is gluten-free, and cholesterol-free.
There are numerous varieties of quinoa, but the most commonly cultivated and consumed types are white, red, and black. White quinoa, often referred to simply as quinoa, is the most common in stores. Red and black quinoa are similar but red quinoa is said to hold its shape better when cooked, making it idea for cold salads, and black quinoa has a slightly earthier and sweeter flavor. All three varieties of quinoa can be cooked in the same way that rice would.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.