NEW YORK — Banza, the maker of chickpea-based pasta, is introducing a grain-free alternative to rice made with chickpeas, potato starch, xanthan gum and sea salt. A tricolor legume variety also contains red lentil and green pea. Banza Chickpea Rice has three times the protein, double the fiber and nearly 30% fewer net carbs than brown rice, according to the company.
The products are launching in the rice and grains aisle of Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.
“Similar to what we did in pasta, we’re excited to upgrade an equally popular staple food,” said Brian Rudolph, co-founder and chief executive officer of Banza. “We’re so grateful for Whole Foods’ partnership in helping us bring a more nutritious rice to more people.”
Founded in 2014, Banza has become one of the fastest-selling pasta brands in the United States and is available in more than 11,000 retail outlets. The brand offers a range of pasta shapes, including angel hair, cavatappi, linguine, wheels, ziti, rigatoni, shells, rotini, penne, elbows and spaghetti.
Mr. Rudolph began making chickpea-based pasta in his kitchen years ago for personal dietary reasons. His creation, alongside the hoverboard scooter and Tesla Model X, was named among Time magazine’s best inventions of 2015.
Mr. Rudolph chose chickpeas because he loved the taste and, in pasta form, the legume’s yellow hue resembles that of wheat.
“If you’re going to make something with a new ingredient, it’s important that it be accessible and something that isn’t too scary to give to your kids,” he told Food Business News during an interview in September 2017.
The announcement of Banza Chickpea Rice follows the launch of a similar product, RightRice, from Keith Belling, founder and former c.e.o. of Popchips. The product contains a blend of more than 90% lentils, chickpeas and green peas, and less than 10% rice — with no fillers, starches or gums — and has 10 grams of complete protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving, with nearly 40% fewer net carbs than conventional white rice.
Riced cauliflower and other vegetables in chilled and frozen formats have gained steam over the past couple of years as more consumers seek grain-free and low-carb substitutions. Mainstream restaurant chains and leading frozen vegetable brands have embraced the trend. Unlike cauliflower rice, Banza and RightRice products are shelf-stable and cook similarly to conventional rice.