Quinoa ( / ˈ k iː n w ɑː / or / k ɪ ˈ n oʊ . ə / , from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa )  is a flowering plant ( Chenopodium quinoa ) in the amaranth family . It is a herbaceous annual plant grown as a grain crop primarily for its edible seeds . Quinoa is not a grass like wheat or rice, but rather a pseudocereal botanically related to spinach and amaranth ( Amaranthus spp.). After harvest, the seeds are processed to remove the bitter-tasting outer seed coat .