Photo by Nicole Fara Silver

What can sub in for a starch like rice, has protein like meat, and a nutty flavor like, well, nuts? Ding, ding, ding, quinoa it is! This seed cooks up like rice and is a perfect base for soup, oatmeal, and salads. It’s rich in all nine essential amino acids, but is especially high in lysine, the one responsible for tissue growth and repair (can you say “great post-workout recovery snack?”). It also offers fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Another surprising fact: this grain is related to leafy green vegetables like kale and Swiss chard, which could help boost immunity. So what are you waiting for? Add a little quinoa to your life.

The Takeaway: Quinoa is a healthy grain rich in protein and fiber as well as several other essential nutrients.

Fill ‘er Up

Once you’ve cooked up all that quinoa, try stuffing it in acorn squash. Add in some ricotta cheese and frozen spinach and you’ve got The Greatist Recipe: Stuffed Squash.

Fun Fact:

Quinoa is harvested in March in the Andes mountains. Farmers throw a two-day festival to kick off the harvest season each year, and farmers from roughly 4,000 (!) farms attend.