This Protein-Packed Rice Alternative Is Much Easier to Cook

I was so excited for Banza to launch a line of rice alternatives, since I’ve enjoyed using their line of chickpea pastas in place of wheat varieties for a little extra protein and fiber boost at dinner. Their chickpea-based rice stacks up just as well nutritionally, with 5g of fiber, 11g of protein and 10 percent of our daily iron and potassium needs per serving. Their legume-based rice had a similar nutritional profile, just with a little less potassium per serving. But did it actually cook well and taste good? Here’s what I thought.

I’m terrible at cooking rice on its own, and if I don’t have access to a rice cooker I won’t do it. But I decided to give it another shot with a bag of the chickpea-based Banza rice, and I must say, it was pretty foolproof. I would definitely recommend cooking your rice in a big pot because there will be lots of white foam produced as the rice cooks, and the Banza website advises against using a rice cooker.

The rice also only took five minutes to cook, which is a huge time saver for weeknight dinners or when you’re trying to meal prep several dishes. You do have to run it through a colander after cooking, but that’s still way better than waiting 20 minutes or more for it to cook.

It’s important to note, however, the Banza rice is much more like an orzo than a grain for your burrito bowl or stir-fry (although, it can certainly function as such!) It would be perfect in an orzo salad, soup or risotto, but not so much in a curry dish. I loved the texture and heartiness of the rice and truly wouldn’t have known if someone had served me a traditional orzo or this chickpea version.

Looking for more healthy (but still tasty) alternatives?

  • 6 Dairy-Free Coffee Creamers as Good as the Real Thing
  • 6 Healthy Crouton Substitutes for Your Salad
  • The 6 Best Gluten-Free Snacks You Can Buy on Amazon, According to Nutritionists

While Banza is a little pricier than your average bag of white or even brown rice (about $4 for an 8-oz. package), it’s a great option if you’re avoiding gluten or just trying to get your family to eat more fiber and plant-based protein. As a vegan, I love that it’s a great iron booster and will certainly be putting Banza’s rice on heavy rotation in my home. Banza’s new rice line is available exclusively at Whole Foods, but you also can order it online through Banza’s website.

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