Royal Quinoa is a very special variety of quinoa that only grows in the lands surrounding the vast and expansive salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni located in southern Bolivia where it grows at altitudes of up to 4,000m. Royal Quinoa not only survives, but thrives in this truly desolate and inhospitable place where the harsh sun beats down during the day and the icy frost blankets the land overnight.
Quinoa grows annually to a height of between 1-2m and when in bloom bursts into a dazzling array of pink, burgundy, orange, white and yellow colours. Quinoa is technically not a grain or cereal as it is not part of the grass family, though due to its characteristics and uses is considered a “pseudo-cereal”. As part of the amaranth family, quinoa is actually closely related to beetroots and spinach, and you know how healthy those are!
Throughout the region the Incas and the civilizations which preceded them found ways to grow resilient crops including quinoa in the unforgiving landscapes of the Andes mountains. To water their crops, irrigation canals and cisterns were built into the mountains and terraces to grow food were cut into the steep hillsides. Incredibly, prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s the Incas were cultivating an area of around one million hectares of crops which fed their vast empire. Quinoa was sacred to the Incas who considered it a gift from the gods and referred to it as “Chisaya Mama” meaning “Mother of All Grains”.
When the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and his 158 men reached the Andes mountains in 1532, the Incan civilization was changed forever. Within the space of one year the Incan emperor was killed and people forced into submission, religious ceremonies forbidden, and all quinoa fields destroyed and quinoa cultivation banned. Only high in the Andes mountains hidden away from the conquistadores did the native people continue to cultivate quinoa on small plantations.
Andean Sol Royal Quinoa is a 100% organic and raw superfood – no pesticides or other chemicals are used in its production. Please read on to learn more about how Andean Sol Royal Quinoa is produced.
Once established, Royal Quinoa is an exceptionally hardy and adaptable plant that can survive in areas where adverse climate and soil conditions make growing anything else next to impossible. Quinoa can grow in dry desertic conditions as well as in quite humid conditions. It can survive below freezing temperatures as well as extremely hot weather. Quinoa is naturally irrigated, so the only water it receives comes from rainfall. Quinoa is a plant that is very efficient in its use of water and can grow in soils lacking in minerals and nutrients. As you can see – truly a superhero of plants!
Harvest takes place in the early hours of the morning using a variety of instruments including manual tools such as sickles as well as hand held motorized mowers which are basically weeding machines adapted to cut the quinoa. This harvested quinoa is placed into piles and covered with straw for around 7 to 15 days to protect it from any poor weather until it reaches the lower level of humidity needed for threshing, which is the process of loosening the delicious, edible part of the quinoa plant from the leaves and stems. The traditional method of threshing quinoa involved placing the quinoa plants on platforms covered with llama pelts where they were then beaten with a tool called a “huactana” and even cactus sticks. After the quinoa grains were free from the rest of the plant, they were then sifted to separate them from the rest of the plant pieces. These days most threshing is done mechanically using a machine which uses sieves to separate the grains from the leaves and stems automatically. Following threshing, this quinoa would then be placed into bowls and poured out onto tarps in the strong afternoon winds which blew away some of the finer unwanted plant pieces that had not yet been cleaned from the grain, though today fans are also used to speed up the process. Once the Royal Quinoa is threshed and the grain separated from the unwanted parts, it is then placed into bags and transported approximately 500km to a modern processing facility located in La Paz, Bolivia for further cleaning and purification of the product.
When first received into the processing plant, the Royal Quinoa is weighed, its origin for traceability purposes is established, and its high quality is confirmed. Quinoa grains naturally have a bitter, soapy tasting coating called “saponins” which repels insects, birds and other animals that might want to eat them. Though not harmful (in fact saponins can actually be used as soap!), the saponin is removed by first cleaning the quinoa with water and then drying it. The Royal Quinoa is then fed onto an inclined vibrating table which sorts the quinoa by size: smaller, lighter quinoa grains move towards the top of the table, and the larger grains that Andean Sol uses move towards the bottom. After this, the Royal Quinoa is destoned using a machine that can specifically identify stones and remove them via air compression – yes, we know. Crazy. As a precaution, Andean Sol Royal Quinoa is then passed through a metal detector which removes any metal impurities that may have fallen into the product. Our Andean Sol Royal Quinoa is then packed into 25kg kraft paper bags, ready for the most important test of their lives.
To confirm the quality and organic status of our Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa, using a laboratory in Europe we analyse each batch produced for an array of items including purity (minimum 99.95%!), microbiology, pesticides and other contaminants to make sure you are only getting the highest quality product possible. Only when we are convinced of the quality do we prepare a shipment for transport.
Once the Andean Sol Royal Quinoa has been checked and approved for quality, it is ready to be transported to Europe. The 25kg bags of Royal Quinoa are packed into a truck which then makes the 500km (36 hour) journey from La Paz to the port of Arica, Chile on the Pacific Coast. Why Chile? Bolivia is actually land locked and so has no access to water. As such, all Royal Quinoa exported (in fact all goods exported except to Bolivia’s neighbours) generally go through Arica. In the port of Arica, Chile, the trucks are unloaded and the bags of Andean Sol Royal Quinoa are loaded into containers and loaded aboard a ship. The journey on the water from Chile to Europe generally takes between 28-35 days during which the vessel travels up the west coast of South America, passes through the Panama Canal, and then travels across the Atlantic Ocean to reach us. Once it finally arrives, it is then unloaded and packed into Andean Sol spout pouches. Enter in the Andean Sol Unique Batch Code into our Batch Code Tracker to learn more about the specific batch of Andean Sol Royal Quinoa you purchased.
When it comes to the nutritional benefits of eating Andean Sol Royal Quinoa, where do we begin?
Our Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa is high in fibre – providing close to twice as much dietary fibre as wheat and other grains. The high content of fibre keeps you feeling full longer, and can help curb your appetite. Fibre also helps food move through the intestines and promotes gastrointestinal regularity.
Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa is a great source of plant protein which contributes to the growth of muscles and maintains your bones in tip top shape. It is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. At around 14g of plant protein per 100g of uncooked Organic Royal Quinoa, you have to feel a bit sorry for rice which only has around 5g.
Quinoa clocks in at 53 on the Glycemic Index, which limbos under the 55 required to be considered a food that helps to stabilize your blood sugar. Carbohydrates with a low GI value are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore insulin levels.
In addition to being high in iron which is good for your brain and muscles, Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa is also a great source of magnesium, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, and phosphorous, all essential to keep you running smoothly.
On top of the above, Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free.
|Nutritional Facts||Per 100g||Per 15g|
|Energy kJ/kcals||1955 kJ/474 kcals||293 kJ/71 kcals|
|of which saturates||3.5g||0.5g|
|of which monounsaturates||2.3g||0.3g|
|of which polyunsaturates||26.5g||4.0g|
|of which sugars||0.0g||0.0g|
|Alpha Linolenic Acid (omega-3)||20.0g||3.0g|
If you’ve tasted regular quinoa before, you know how delicious and versatile it is as a dish. Welcome to the next level – Royal Quinoa is a special larger grade of quinoa specific to the salt plains of Bolivia that makes a fluffier, nuttier dish without the bitterness so common to lesser grades.
Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa is really easy to make – basically you prepare it and use it just like you would do with rice, but healthier. Bring one part quinoa, two parts water (or stock) and a dash of salt to a boil. Once boiling, reduce it to a simmer, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes). Once it’s cooked, fluff it with a fork, season to taste and you’re good to go. Anything rice can do, our Andean Sol Organic Royal Quinoa can do better!