Quinoa originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. It is estimated to be domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, though archaeological evidence shows a non-domesticated association with pastoral herding, approximately 5,200 to 7,000 years ago. Quinoa contains essential amino acids, such as lysine, and also calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Generally, quinoa is cooked in the same way as rice and is used in similar dishes. However, although quinoa looks and is eaten as a grain, it is actually a seed.