Four Quick and Easy Tips to Make Rice a Roni Side Dishes More Nutritious and Healthier

Rice a Roni is a favorite side dish at many dinner and lunch tables across the United States. It is convenient, easy to prepare and consistently delicious. Here are four super food nuts and seeds that can quickly and easily be added to your Rice a Roni dish for a more nutritious and healthier meal:

1. ORGANIC WHOLE GRAIN QUINOA

About … Quinoa, commonly thought and referred to as a grain, is actually a seed that is closely related to green leafy vegetables like chard and spinach. Considered to be one of the super foods, whole grain quinoa is one of the most nutritious grains (seeds) because it is high in dietary fiber, is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron and copper, and is rich in all eight essential amino acids. Quinoa has been cultivated as a staple in the Andean region of Peru, Chile and Bolivia for over 5,000 years and was once held to be a sacred crop by the ancient Incas.

General Cooking Information … When cooked, quinoa has a mildly nutty flavor and a light and fluffy, somewhat creamy and slightly crunchy texture. It generally cooks in 12-15 minutes at medium heat. Quinoa seeds swell to about 4 times their size during cooking so that, for example, 1/8 cup of uncooked quinoa will yield about 1/2 cup when cooked.

How to Use … To use it in Rice a Roni, simply rinse about 1/8 cup in a fine mesh strainer under cold run water for a few minutes and add it, together with about 1/8 cup of additional water to the Rice a Roni mixture about mid-way in the total cooking time. You may need to add additional water, as necessary during the simmering process. No additional seasonings, herbs or spices are generally needed as there is plenty in the Rice a Roni seasoning mix. Adding the quinoa will simply “lighten up” the otherwise usually very intense flavor.

Best in … Quinoa is best added to one of these Rice a Roni Whole Grain Blends: Spanish, Chicken & Herb Classico or Roasted Garlic Italiano.

2. ORGANIC GROUND FLAX SEEDS OR FLAXSEED MEAL

About … Flax seeds are considered a super food. They have a mild nutty flavor and are high in dietary fiber, are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, folate, copper, phosphorus and Vitamin B6, and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals. Whole flax seeds can pass through the intestines without being digested and, therefore, it is recommended that they are ground before being consumed. Flaxseed meal is an excellent alternative to buying whole flax seeds and grinding them yourself.

How to Use … Simply stir 1 – 3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds or flaxseed meal into the Rice a Roni mixture after it has been cooked. No cooking or other steps and no additional water, seasonings, herbs or spices are required.

Best in … Ground flax seeds or flaxseed meal is best added to the Rice a Roni Chicken & Herb Classico or Roasted Garlic Italiano Whole Grain Blends. They can also be stirred in or sprinkled on top of the Rice a Roni Herb & Butter, Country Cheddar, Creamy Four Cheese, Parmesan Chicken, Chicken & Mushroom, Chicken & Broccoli, Chicken & Garlic and Long Grain & Wild Rice.

3. ORGANIC RAW SUNFLOWER SEEDS

About … Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber, contain some amino acids (particularly tryptophan), are rich in linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. The seeds are also an exceptionally good source of vitamin E and B1 (thiamin). They are also rich in manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B5 and folate.

How to Use … Stir 1-3 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds into the Rice a Roni mixture during the last few minutes of cooking. This softens the seeds up slightly. No additional steps, water, seasonings, herbs or spices are required.

Best in … Raw sunflower seeds are best added to the Rice a Roni Chicken & Herb Classico or Roasted Garlic Italiano Whole Grain Blends. They are also delicious stirred into Rice a Roni Garden Vegetable, Rice Pilaf, Parmesan Chicken, Herb & Butter and Italian Creamy Garlic.

4. ORGANIC RAW WHOLE ALMONDS

About … Another super food, almonds are commonly classified as a nut, but are technically the seeds of the almond tree. Almonds contain a variety of phytochemicals, are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and are an excellent source of manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium.

How to Use … Do not remove the skin. Stir 1-2 tablespoons of chopped, thinly sliced or slivered almonds into Rice a Roni after it has finished cooking. Sliced or slivered almonds may be added during the last few minutes of cooking to soften them up. No additional steps, water, seasonings, herbs or spices are required.

Best in … Chopped almonds are best added to Rice a Roni Chicken & Herb Classico or Roasted Garlic Italiano Whole Grain Blends. Thinly sliced or slivered almonds taste great in Rice a Roni Fried Rice, Rice Pilaf, Creamy Four Cheese, Chicken & Garlic, Herb & Butter, and Long Grain and Wild Rice.