I often cook with quinoa, and with it being gluten-free, vegan, and full of protein, lots of other people have hopped on the quinoa bandwagon as well. If you want to start cooking with quinoa, or already do and want to know more, here are five things to know about quinoa. 1. What does quinoa taste like? Dietriffic.com describes it as “brown rice crossed with oatmeal” which is probably the most accurate description I’ve heard so far. It’s definitely a rice substitute, although it can be used for so much more than that, but it’s heartier than rice, very fluffy, and has a nutty kind of taste. 2. Why is quinoa suddenly so popular? Oprah. Alright, not entirely, but in 2008 Oprah’s 21-day cleanse included a quinoa mushroom garlic comfort food recipe, which bolstered it’s popularity. It was actually introduced into the U.S. in 1913, been talked about by food writers since 1980, but it wasn’t until the late 2000s that it became a food sensation. This is probably in part to Oprah, in part to the increase in quinoa cookbooks and food blogs, and in part to quinoa’s amazing health benefits: it’s full of essential vitamins and minerals, not to mention a super high protein content. Fun fact: the UN made 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. 3. How did quinoa become kosher? During Passover leavened foods are forbidden, including wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats. Quinoa is often confused for being a grain, although it is in actual fact closer to spinach or a beet. Since quinoa is not a grain, nor is it grown near wheat, certain quinoa products are now certified as kosher. 4. How do you cook quinoa? There are lots of ways to cook quinoa depending on what you’re using it for, or your personal texture preference. Personally, I cook it pretty much exactly like rice with a few alterations: I rinse 1 cup of quinoa, then toast it in a tiny bit of oil for about a minute, then boil it with slightly less than 2 cups of water. Once it comes to a boil I lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 1 cup dry yields 3 cups cooked. 5. What is the future of quinoa? It will become our new world rulers, ALL MUST BOW BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY QUINOA (queen-oa?). Ok, so, the non-ridiculous answer is that although quinoa is primarily grown in South America, the rise in popularity is resulting in more quinoa farms, and currently 35 types are grown in the states, we can only expect more varieties and availability in the future.