Unless you grew up with hippie parents who were regulars at a hole-in-the-wall health-food store, you probably didn’t have a clue about quinoa until recently. Now the superfood’s stocked at big-box retailers, and its amped-up nutrition profile is leaving your go-to grains, like brown rice, in the dust.

So, what exactly makes the obscure-sounding protein source so worthy of our attention?

  • Quinoa is the only grain that’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, says Jackie Newgent, R.D., author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes. It’s an ideal protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Quinoa packs a filling combo of 8g of protein and 6g of fiber per cooked cup.
  • The grain’s also a good source of iron. One cooked cup takes care of about 15% of your daily requirement.
  • Quinoa is a super-versatile cooking ingredient. Served hot or cold, the grain comes in three varieties: white, red, and black. White’s the most popular and has a very mild flavor, while red and black quinoa taste nuttier and earthier.

To cook quinoa, the general rule is to add 1 cup of dried quinoa to 2 cups liquid inside a pot. Boil, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Now that the basics are out of the way, you’re ready to work the supergrain into your meals and snacks, and we’ve got seven ways to help you do it.