While rice is a staple food item around the world, there may be those occasions when a substitute is in order.
Whether you’re looking to have more variety, increase your protein, or decrease carbohydrate intake, there are a number of other options.
- Riced cauliflower. Not my favorite, however most everyone I know loves this stuff. You can buy it already riced in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores. You can also make your own by chopping a head of cauliflower into several pieces then grating them with a box grater. Sauté in a bit of extra virgin olive or avocado oil over medium heat until tender and lightly browned, then season to your liking. A ½ cup serving has only 13 calories compared with 100 calories for white rice. You also get the benefits of counting this as a vegetable serving.
- Riced broccoli. Like it’s buddy cauliflower, broccoli can also be riced. Prepare the same way. I think I may like this alternative, since broccoli is one of my favorites. It adds eye appeal to your dinner plate, especially if you’re serving chicken or a white fish. ½ cup has about 15 calories and 2 grams of fiber.
- Quinoa. ½ cup of this offers 4 grams of complete protein and tastes like a grain. I recommend adding some fresh chopped vegetables and a simple dressing to make a side dish or even a main dish by adding chicken or beans. Serve it warm or chilled. I’ve tried eating it plain, like rice, and it’s a bit too dull for my liking. Quinoa is also gluten free. Click here for a quinoa salad recipe.
- Chopped cabbage. Another healthy vegetable alternative that’s low in carbs and calories. Choose purple or green, finely chop, sauté, and season. I’ve also cut it in ½” thin wedges, placed in a single layer on a pan, and roasted in the oven. Before roasting, season the cabbage with extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Bake for 30 minutes in a 400°F oven, or until it’s golden brown and forks tender.
Other possibilities include whole-wheat couscous (pasta), barley (grain), whole-wheat orzo (pasta), farro (whole grain wheat), and bulgur wheat (grain, commonly used in tabbouleh). The grains add a nutty, earthy taste and chewy texture to your dishes. The whole-wheat pastas contain fiber and protein.
If these, as well as unusual rice varieties, are not available in your local grocery, try online.
As you can see by the photo, Mr. Non-Compliant and I enjoy a rice substitute (purple cabbage) as well as white rice. Lemon chicken took the stage with these sides.
Eating well must never be boring. I challenge you to experience a new (simple) food adventure in the coming week.
“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”—Anthony Bourdain