If you are looking for Healthy Alternatives To Rice, let me share some of my recommendations with you. As this is a blog focused on whole grains, I will be sharing plenty of whole-grain ideas that will be a healthy alternative, especially to plain white rice.
I will also be sharing ones made from vegetables as well. Especially for those who are looking for low-carb alternatives.
Types of rice
- White Rice: White rice is the most commonly consumed type of rice. It is milled and polished to remove the bran and germ, resulting in a white color and a mild taste. White rice has a soft and fluffy texture. It is a good source of carbohydrates and provides quick energy, but it is lower in fiber and nutrients than brown or wild rice.
- Wild Rice: Wild rice is not technically rice but rather an aquatic grass seed. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, making it a nutritious choice.
- Brown Rice: Brown rice is a whole grain rice with the bran, germ, and endosperm intact. It has a mild nutty taste and a slightly chewy texture. It is a good source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
- Traditional Rice: Traditional rice refers to the varieties of rice that have been cultivated for generations and are native to specific regions. Depending on the region, they can vary in size, shape, and taste. Examples include Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, and Arborio rice.
- Black Rice: Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, is a type of rice that has a dark purple or black color. It has a slightly sweet flavor and a chewy texture. Black rice is rich in antioxidants and nutrients like iron and fiber. It was historically considered a luxury food in ancient China.
Alternatives to rice- vegetables
Cauliflower Rice: Cauliflower rice is a low-carb rice alternative made by finely chopping or grating cauliflower. It's lower in calories and carbs than regular rice. This is a good option for a keto diet.
Broccoli Rice: Broccoli rice is created by pulsing broccoli florets until they resemble rice. It's packed with nutrients and fiber while being low in calories.
Cabbage Rice: Cabbage rice is made by shredding or chopping cabbage into rice-sized pieces. It's low in calories and carbs and can be enjoyed raw or sautéed.
Chickpea Rice: Chickpea rice is a grain-free option made from ground chickpeas. It's high in protein and fiber, providing a satisfying meal.
Shirataki Rice/Miracle Rice: Shirataki rice, also known as miracle rice, is made from konjac root. It's extremely low in calories and carbs, ideal for low-calorie or low-carb diets. Some consider this one of the best alternatives to rice.
Sweet Potato Rice: Sweet potato rice is created by grating or spiralizing sweet potatoes. It offers a subtly sweet taste and is rich in nutrients and fiber.
These vegetable rice alternatives provide low-carb options with fewer calories. They offer added nutrition and can be enjoyed in various dishes. These can be made in a food processor, blender, or even a spiralizer.
Whole grain alternatives to rice
Bulgur Wheat: Bulgur wheat is an ancient grain and a fiber-rich rice replacement. It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture, perfect for pilafs, salads, and stuffing. Wheat grains make very healthy rice substitutes.
Spelt: Spelt, an ancient grain, is a healthy alternative to rice. It offers a mild, nutty taste and chewy texture, adding wholesomeness to dishes like risottos and grain bowls.
Quinoa: Quinoa is a versatile ancient grain, packed with fiber and complete protein. Its fluffy texture and nutty flavor make it a popular rice substitute in salads, stir-fries, and pilafs. Because of its popularity, quinoa is very easy to find in most grocery stores.
Couscous: While technically a type of pasta, couscous is often considered a rice alternative. It cooks quickly and has a light, fluffy texture, serving as a neutral base for flavorful dishes. I also think it can have a similar texture to rice and it also has a very mild flavor. There is also whole wheat couscous if you are looking for a whole-grain option.
Buckwheat: Buckwheat, gluten-free and rich in fiber, is an ancient grain with an earthy taste. This is a popular grain, and growing in popularity as it is gluten-free.
Amaranth: Amaranth, an ancient grain rich in fiber and essential amino acids, adds a hearty and nutty element to recipes like soups, stews, and porridges. It was a staple food in Mesoamerican cultures.
Farro is an ancient grain that has gained popularity as a rice alternative. It has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor, making it a delightful addition to various dishes. Farro is packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients like magnesium and iron. It is probably my favorite white rice alternative.
Millet is a nutritious and gluten-free white rice alternative with a mild flavor and fluffy texture. It can be used in various dishes, providing a satisfying and healthy option. I have a post on how to cook millet in a rice cooker you need to check out!
Corn grits are a tasty rice alternative made from coarsely ground dried corn. They have a creamy texture and can be used in various dishes like polenta and porridge.
High protein alternatives to rice
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a high-protein grain and a popular rice substitute.
- Lentils: Lentils are legumes that offer a good amount of protein and can be used as a white rice substitute in various dishes.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are another legume that provides protein and can be used in place of rice or as an addition to grain-based meals.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat is a protein-rich grain alternative that can be used as a substitute for rice in different recipes.
- Amaranth: Amaranth is an ancient grain with a high protein content, making it a nutritious choice as a rice alternative.
What grains are complete proteins?
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a versatile grain that contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also high in fiber and various nutrients.
- Amaranth: Amaranth is another complete protein grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It offers a good amount of protein, fiber, and micronutrients.
- Buckwheat: Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is gluten-free. It is a complete protein grain that provides essential amino acids along with minerals like magnesium and copper.
- Hemp Seeds: While not technically a grain, hemp seeds are considered a complete protein source. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and other beneficial compounds.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are tiny but mighty. They are a complete protein source and offer a good amount of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
- Soybeans: Soybeans are a legume that contains all essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. They are also rich in healthy fats and provide various vitamins and minerals.
These grains and seeds offer a complete protein profile, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that the body needs. Incorporating them into your diet can help meet your protein requirements, particularly for individuals following a plant-based or vegetarian lifestyle.
Let me share some of my favorite recipes where I share good options for dishes you would traditionally use rice in. These include rice bowls/ buddha bowls, side dishes, etc.
- 3 cups vegetable stock You can also use water if you prefer. I like the flavor stock gives it though. If you would rather use a chicken, fish or beef stock, those are great too.
- 1 cup pearled farro
- 1 teaspoon salt this is a variable. You can add more or less, depending on preference.
- Bring stock to a boil over medium heat. Add salt and farro. Cover and simmer on low for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5-10 minutes, fluff with fork.Serve as desired!Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a week to a week and half. I like to reheat with a little liquid. So, if you are microwaving, place chilled farro in a microwaveable bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover and microwave on high for for about a minute. If you don't like using microwaves or prefer the cooktop, you can use the same method there. Place farro in pan, add water, cover and simmer until heated. Now, sit back and enjoy. Look at how healthy you are!!