Quinoa (you pronounce it KEEN-WAH) is an ancient grain from South America. Well, actually it's a seed, but it's a member of the grains and cereals food group. It has a delicious nutty flavor and it's usually served the way you'd serve rice or maybe oatmeal. It's also a great source of dietary minerals like iron and magnesium.
Serve quinoa like you'd serve rice or oatmeal, or you may find quinoa flour that can be used in gluten-free cooking. The main drawback to quinoa is that the seeds are covered with saponins, which are plant compounds that foam when they're mixed with water, similar to soap. The saponins won't hurt you if you consume them, but they give a bitter flavor to the quinoa seeds. Rinsing quinoa first can eliminate the saponins.
Quinoa has about the same amount of calories as regular rice, but it's more nutritious and higher in fiber than either brown or white rice. Quinoa is good source of protein. In fact, it's a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids. This is unusual for a plant-based foods so it may be helpful for planning vegan and vegetarian diets. Quinoa is also a good source of minerals. It also contains B-complex vitamins, including folate, and vitamin E.