This column originally ran in 2009.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
Ever since Rice-A-Roni hit those San Francisco streets in the 1960s, rice boiled with a packet of seasonings has been a pantry staple.
Flavored rice remains a popular convenience food that is tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare. Plus rice is a healthy choice.
Unless youre watching your sodium intake.
And who isnt? Nutrition experts say most of us need to do a better job of reading nutrition labels to avoid the high levels of sodium found in processed foods.
For instance, Rice-A-Ronis Spanish Rice contains more than half a days sodium in a single serving. And even the more health-conscious Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grains Spanish Flavor contains a hefty 760 milligrams of sodium per serving.
The maximum recommended daily intake is 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about 1 teaspoon of salt.
The Stars recipe for Chicken With Yellow Rice and Salsa takes advantage of the convenience of seasoned rice that contains 2.5 servings per package, then stretches it to feed six, significantly lowering the total sodium content.
Spanish rice typically contains tomatoes, peppers and bits of meat, making it an ideal dish to help stretch food dollars. With a few nonperishable staples from the pantry and inexpensive chicken breast, its easy to add volumes of flavor in no time.
• Shopping tips: Jarred roasted red peppers are available in the produce section of most large supermarkets.
For testing purposes, we used Vigo brand saffron yellow rice.
Chicken With Yellow Rice and Salsa
Makes 6 servings
1 (5-ounce) package seasoned yellow rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, divided
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cups prepared salsa
Prepare rice according to the package directions, omitting oil or margarine.
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a medium nonstick skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until done, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
Toss chicken with cooked rice, cumin and 2 tablespoons lime juice.
Combine remaining ingredients and add the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Toss gently to combine.
To serve, place chicken and rice mixture in shallow platter with sides. Mound salsa in the center.
Per 1 1/3-cups serving, plus 1/3 cup salsa: 243 calories (15 percent from fat), 4 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 28 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 212 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.
Recipe developed exclusively for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss. To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Stars food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook. Follower her on Twitter: @kcstarfood and @chowtownkc.