Ah, San Francisco - famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, the 49ers, Alcatraz - and a mixture of pasta and rice known as Rice-A-Roni. Rice-A-Roni has been a pantry staple for decades - it's fast, cheap, and while it may not suit gourmet taste buds, the general population enjoys it immensely. Wanting to market toward a more health-conscious shopper, Rice-A-Roni has released a line of packaged brown rice mixes known as Savory Whole Grains with fancy names like "Roasted Garlic Italiano" and "Chicken and Herb Classico." I decided to try the "Spanish" flavor, which sounded the most humble.
The first thing that I noticed when I started to cook this was the lack of "-Roni." There is no pasta. The orzo or vermicelli that usually accompanies the rice is missing. It's simply parboiled brown rice with a bouillon packet. It's also worth noting that this only makes about 2.5 servings, as apposed to 3 in a box of regular Rice-A-Roni. Less servings and more rice to make up for the lack of pasta. Way to be cheap! I boiled the rice for the recommended 25 minutes, let it stand, and fluffed it. It smelled marvelous cooking, and when I tried it, it wasn't too bad. There's a spicy tomato flavor with a few reconstituted bell peppers and onions. Not fancy, but good for what it is - a fast, convenient boxed mix.
One serving of Rice A Roni Savory Whole Grains Spanish Flavor (before it's prepared) contains 200 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 760 mg of sodium, which is a whopping 37% of daily recommendations (haven't seen too many "healthier" food products bold enough to have this much sodium), 5 grams protein and 42 grams of carbohydrates which includes 3 grams of fiber (13% of the daily recommendations) and 4 grams of sugar. There is also 50% of the recommended daily amount for vitamin C (kinda weird) and 10% for vitamin A. If you follow their preparation directions to add 1 1/3rd cup of water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil then the nutrition facts change to 250 calories and 8 grams of total fat (1 gram of which is saturated).
Blowing over a third of your day's allowance of sodium on a cup of rice is hardly what I'd call healthy! One package cost me $1.15, but you're better off buying Minute Instant Brown Rice ($1.75 for a 14 ounce box) and adding you're own seasonings. I noticed that the lower sodium Beef and Chicken Rice A Roni still have 29% of the RDA for sodium, but I suppose that is much less than the 42% sodium in the regular Rice A Roni Beef and 44% sodium in the Chicken.