Rice is found in cuisines all over the world. It is a delicious grain that pairs well with just about any dish- sweet or savory. Rice has been cultivated and eaten for thousands of years and is known by virtually everyone. Unfortunately, rice is not a very nutritious food. It is lacking in protein and nutrients and aids in spiking blood sugar.
Luckily, there are many great-tasting healthy rice alternatives out there that have been gaining in popularity over the past few years. Knowing what to use in place of white rice can make a world of difference in a meal, adding vitamins, nutrients, and of course, flavor!
Rice Nutrition Facts
While nutrition labels can seem intimidating at first, they are actually pretty simple to read when you know what you’re looking for. White rice, for example, is lacking in major nutrient groups.
High In Carbs
White rice is high in carbohydrates, which can be sustainable for certain body and lifestyle types, but this high-glycemic food will not provide long-lasting energy, according to Medical News Today. The USDA reports that one cup of cooked white rice contains 45 grams of carbohydrates.
Low in Vitamins & Nutrients
While white rice does provide 4 grams of protein per cup, there is not much else nutrition-wise. There are only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals in white rice, including all of the necessary ones that people need. A diet of white rice alone would leave one severely nutrient-deficient.
Rice is a staple in many diets, but it can also be high in carbohydrates and not offer a wide variety of nutrients. Luckily, there are several common alternatives to rice that can provide you with the same delicious flavors while still offering plenty of nutritional benefits. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Best Substitutes for White Rice
Cauliflower rice is made by simply blending up steamed cauliflower until it resembles small grains of rice. It’s an incredibly versatile dish as it can be served hot or cold, savory or sweet, and cooked with various spices and seasonings. Plus, this low-carb rice substitute is packed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Potassium, and Magnesium!
Couscous is a tiny grain that’s made from semolina wheat and has recently become a popular healthy rice alternative. It is light, fluffy, and easy to make; plus, it has a mild flavor that pairs well with many dishes.
Couscous is also a nutritional powerhouse, offering several benefits over white rice. For starters, it contains more fiber and protein than white rice – both of which are important for regulating digestive health and weight loss. In addition, couscous also provides essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc – all of which can help support your body’s daily needs.
Overall, couscous is an excellent substitute for white rice that can be used in savory meals or sweet desserts! Not only does it offer plenty of vitamins and minerals but its mild flavor makes it incredibly versatile. So go ahead, give couscous a try – you won’t regret it!
Broccoli rice is another healthy rice alternative made from vegetables instead of grains. Like cauliflower, broccoli can be steamed and chopped into a rice-like texture and used alongside many dishes. Broccoli rice provides many vitamins and minerals that white rice lacks, making it one of the most popular substitutes for white rice.
Chopped cabbage can make a great base for many foods in place of white rice. Cabbage is mild in flavor but still provides a nice texture alongside a stir fry, BBQ chicken, or in soup. Cabbage makes for a great healthy rice alternative because it can be eaten raw, or sauteed slightly to add a little more flavor.
Brown Rice Alternatives to Try
While brown rice is typically marketed as a healthy rice alternative, it does not provide many more nutrients than white rice. However, the fibrous hearty flavor can be found in many other grains:
Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it’s packed with essential amino acids that your body needs to function properly. Not only is it a type of grain that is rich in fiber and antioxidants, but quinoa has a nutty flavor that makes it an excellent brown rice alternative. Not only is quinoa inexpensive, but it can be cooked quickly, and has a great ability to absorb the other flavors cooked along with it.
Farro is an ancient grain that has been enjoyed around the world for centuries. It is a whole grain, meaning it is not refined or processed, so it maintains high levels of important vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium. Farro also contains more protein than other grains, giving it a great nutritional profile.
Barley is a type of grain that is popular around the world as well. It is high in fiber, which can help support digestion and lower cholesterol levels, as well as essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron. Barley also contains a variety of vitamins and plant compounds that may have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
Wild rice is actually not a type of rice at all; rather it’s an aquatic grass seed native to North America which has been a dietary staple of Native Americans since pre-colonial times. This nutrient-dense grain offers significantly more protein than white or brown rice varieties – as well as more fiber and B vitamins! Other benefits include its high mineral content such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, making wild rice an excellent healthy rice alternative!
Leave White Rice Behind
When making the switch from traditional white or brown rice to healthier alternatives – don’t forget that the possibilities are endless when it comes to experimenting with healthy rice alternatives! From quinoa and cauliflower to barley and wild rice – each alternative provides unique flavors, textures, vitamins, and minerals which make them perfect for any dish you have in mind!
An easy way to try different healthy rice alternatives is through a meal delivery kit like Gobble. Gobble provides new chef-inspired recipes every week that are designed to be ready in 15 minutes or less. Whether you are looking to eat lean & clean, or want to explore the gourmet classics, Gobble has something for everyone.
Take a look at some other common cooking substitutions here.