6 Healthy and Delicious Rice Alternatives
Why Substitute for Rice
White rice may be delicious, but it's not the most nutritious. Since it is not a whole grain, white rice doesn't have the fiber, vitamins, and minerals of some alternatives. Brown rice, for example, has more antioxidants and more protein than its white and fluffy cousin. For weight loss and certain special diets like keto, white rice isn't the best bet, since it is relatively high in calories and carbohydrates. The good news is, there are a lot of enticing rice alternatives out there.
In addition to being healthier alternatives to white rice, substitutes can also add variety to your diet—because eating plain ol' white rice all the time can get, well, kind of boring. Here are some of our favorite healthy and delicious rice alternatives.
1. Shirataki rice
This Asian specialty is made from flour from the root of a Konjac plant. It is gluten free and extremely low calorie, with just 10 calories per serving. In fact, shirataki rice is sometimes called "miracle rice"—and you might see it branded that way when shopping—because it is so low in calories. With zero net carbs per serving, shirataki rice is a natural option for anyone following the keto diet.
While it can be hard to find in regular grocery stories, "miracle rice" is available at most health food stores and also online. Other names it can sometimes be found under when shopping are "slim rice" and "konjac rice."
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), an ancient South American grain, is naturally gluten free. It is also high in protein and fiber, making it a much healthier choice than white rice. Additionally, quinoa contains minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. It also has a lower glycemic index than white rice, making it a good choice for anybody looking to keep their blood sugar levels low.
Closely related to wheat and rye, barley is a grain with an earthy taste that is frequently used in stews. With about the same amount of calories as white rice, barley isn't as weight loss-friendly as some other options on this list. However, it packs more fiber and protein than white rice, making it a good match for an exercise-heavy lifestyle. Barley also has over 30 nutrients, and a study found that eating barley could help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Cauliflower Rice
Riced cauliflower is made by chopping cauliflower in a food processor or blender, turning it into rice-sized bits. As a bonus, it is even the same color as white rice! But seriously, cauliflower rice is a low calorie, low carb rice alternative that is especially good for people following the keto diet. It is also diabetes friendly because it has much fewer carbohydrates than white rice. Cauliflower rice is also high in Vitamin C and in fiber.
5. Broccoli Rice
Similar to riced cauliflower, broccoli rice is made by cutting or food processing broccoli into small, rice-riced pieces (about 1 inch). Also similar to riced cauliflower, broccoli rice is low carb and low calorie, another great option for the keto diet. It is also packed full of fiber, protein, iron, and Vitamin C.
6. Chopped cabbage
Chopped cabbage is another grain-free rice alternative that is low calorie and a good source of fiber and potassium. It is also full of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, the latter helping to regulate blood clotting and circulation. Cabbage's mild flavor makes it a great match for several different styles of cuisine. You can prepare cabbage as a rice alternative by chopping it by hand or with a food processor. Then, cook it on the stove over medium heat until it is soft enough to eat.
If you're going rice free, my suggestion for which rice alternative to start with is quinoa. It is packed with a lot of nutrition and is easy to cook—very similar to rice. One of my favorite recipes to cook with quinoa is these harvest bowls from Minimalist Baker. Give them a try and see if you don't notice yourself feeling grounded after eating so many root vegetables!