Rice may not be the first thing that comes to mind when lamenting on your previous life of rich and tasty carbs, and might come second, third, or even fourth on your long list of erstwhile food loves—right behind pizza, cupcakes, and Big Macs.
For many people, however, rice is a staple food. After all, it’s incredibly versatile when cooking homemade meals, it tends to be inexpensive, and goes well with all kinds of dishes. But for people on a low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet, rice just isn’t an option.
The absence of rice in your life is an excellent opportunity to get creative and start experimenting in the kitchen, for there are plenty of healthy substitutes you can make that compare just as well or even better than rice.
In this article, we’ll take a look at delicious and healthy alternatives to rice so you can continue strong on your low-carb journey.
Rice 101: Nutrition Facts
Before you decide to have a cheat night by plopping a meaty and fresh serving of salmon on top of a bed of rice, read on!
Rice is believed to have been grown for over 5000 years and is a staple food for over half of the world’s population. While brown (whole grain) rice has gained plenty of popularity due to its health benefits, brown rice, along with all other varieties, are notorious for the amount of carbs they bear. Aside from carbs, rice also contains small amounts of protein, but virtually no fat, making it a big keto no no.
The fact of the matter is, rice is primarily composed of carbs (mainly starch), so it goes without saying: you’ve got to give it up if you want to succeed in your keto diet. Luckily, there are some great options and no shortage of delicious recipes you can take full advantage of.
The Ultimate Low-Carb Rice Alternatives
While it may seem strange at first, cauliflower rice does surprisingly well as a rice substitute. It’s versatile, mild in flavor, and incredibly healthy. This low-carb and keto-friendly vegetable is a powerful alternative to many foods, including rice.
If you’ve never seen or tried cauliflower rice before, it is essentially best described as being light and fluffy, with a similar texture to rice. While it tastes best piping hot, you can also eat it cold. As a result, it can pretty much replace almost any dish that relies on rice.
While you can buy cauliflower rice at most grocery stores, you can also easily make it at home. All you need is some cauliflower and some salt and pepper.
In a 100 g serving of cauliflower rice, you get only 40 calories, 2.37 total fat, 4.02 carbs, and 1.78 protein. Not bad!
Similar to cauliflower rice, most rice dishes can easily be swapped out for cabbage rice. This can be done with any type of cabbage, but red cabbage is the best because it has some additional nutrients. Consuming cabbage has even been shown in studies to help in cancer prevention.
Just like with cauliflower rice, to give cabbage rice a nice, rice-like and fluffy texture, you’ll want to grate the cabbage or use a food processor to shred it. Once that’s done, all that’s left is to season it as you would any regular rice.
Cabbage itself offers a nice, subtle flavor, which is what makes it a great alternative that works extremely well with many dishes. It’s especially complimentary when whipping up Asian cuisine!
Miracle Rice (Shirataki Rice)
Shirataki products, such as Miracle Rice, are made from Japanese yams. This rice-like variation of shirataki noodles are known for being high in dietary fiber and low in calories.
Research shows that individuals who consume plenty of dietary fiber appear to be at significantly lower risk for heart disease and other conditions, so don’t be afraid to try this Japanese food!
While it might not fool you as well as cauliflower or even cabbage rice, Miracle Rice sort of stands on its own, having a different texture than plain old rice. It’s a bit more gelatinous, but does well overall as a rice substitute.
Be warned, this packaged food comes with a slightly fishy odor, so its recommended to first strain it and then run it under water. You can also heat the rice in a skillet and try out some stir-fry recipes.
While Miracle Rice is a product specifically marketed as a healthy and low-carb rice option, you can get a similar outcome with other types of noodles, especially if you cut them up finely to better resemble the texture of rice.
There’s a wide range of low-carb noodles that can serve as great and delicious alternatives to rice while also coming with a nice serving of dietary fiber (minus the calories of regular rice).
Whether it’s vegetables or noodles, there are simply tons of ways you can get creative to fill that rice void in your ketogenic diet. Don’t be afraid to experiment a try different things.
If you don’t feel like grating down some cabbage or breaking out your food processor, you’re in luck! All of these low-carb rice alternatives can be purchased at most grocery stores.
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