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10 Best Healthy Alternatives To Rice You Should Try

Rice is a staple food and forms a part of the daily diet of more than half of the world's population. Its versatility, availability and the ability to adapt to any flavourful dishes is what makes rice a staple ingredient of every meal.

Rice, especially white rice that we eat almost on a daily basis, has very few essential nutrients because it is refined, which means its husk, bran and germ have been removed during the milling process.

Studies have shown that refined grains have been linked to obesity [1] [2]. Also, refined grains like white rice are a source of carbohydrates and empty calories with very few essential vitamins and minerals.

But there are other healthy alternative choices to rice that can help meet your personal health goals. We've listed down some of the healthy alternatives to rice that you can incorporate in your daily diet.


1. Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the most popular health foods known for its high nutritional value. It is free of gluten and high in protein than rice. It contains all the nine essential amino acids which makes it a good protein choice for vegetarians [3].

How to cook: In half a bowl of quinoa add two cups of water and boil it. Cover the bowl and reduce the heat. Simmer it for a few minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow it to rest for five minutes. You can add veggies of your choice while you are boiling quinoa.


2. Barley

Barley has a chewy texture and an earthy taste and contains a high amount of protein and fibre than rice. It also possesses a good amount of iron, magnesium, potassium, fibre, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals [4].

How to cook: Add four cups of water in half a bowl of hulled barley. Boil it for a few minutes and reduce the heat. Cook the barley for 25 to 30 minutes until it's soft. Remove from the heat and drain the excess water from the barley before consuming it.


3. Couscous

Couscous is a processing grain product made from crushed durum wheat or semolina flour. There are three types of couscous which includes Moroccan, Lebanese and Israeli. Whole-wheat couscous is a healthier option because it's rich in fibre and protein than the regular variety of couscous.

How to cook: In half a bowl of couscous add half a bowl of water and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat and let the couscous rest for 5 minutes before serving. You can add vegetables of your choice while boiling couscous.

Image ref: Thekitchn


4. Shirataki rice

Shirataki rice is another healthy alternative to rice. Shirataki rice is made from konjac root and it is rich in glucomannan, a natural, water-soluble dietary fibre. Glucomannan has a wide range of health benefits that has been shown to prevent many chronic diseases [5].

How to cook: Rinse shirataki rice properly and boil it for one minute. In a pan heat the rice over medium heat until it turns dry. You can serve shirataki rice with other stir-fry vegetables.


5. Riced cauliflower

Riced cauliflower is another excellent alternative to rice. Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C, fibre, manganese, potassium and vitamin K which contributes to many of its health benefits [6]. The texture and appearance of riced cauliflower looks similar to that of cooked rice, so you can easily swap it with rice.

How to cook: Wash and chop the cauliflower into many pieces and grate them. Then cook the riced cauliflower over medium heat with a little bit of oil. Cook until the riced cauliflower is tender and brown.


6. Chopped cabbage

Cabbage is extremely versatile which makes it an excellent alternative to rice. Cabbage is high in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and contains small amounts of vitamin A, iron and magnesium [7].

How to cook: Wash and chop the cabbage. Then cook it with a little bit of oil over medium heat until it becomes soft. You can pair cabbage with stir-fry veggies, eggs and lean meat.


7. Riced broccoli

Riced broccoli is another healthy alternative to rice. Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This nutritious veggie is a healthy addition to your diet whether cooked or raw[8].

How to cook: Grate the broccoli and then cook it over medium heat with a bit of oil.

Image ref: Cooking light


8. Farro

Farro is a wheat grain with a nutty flavour and chewy texture. It is a perfect healthy alternative to rice. Farrois packed full of protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants [9].

How to cook: Add three cups of water in half a bowl of dried farro. Bring it to a boil and cook it until it is soft.


9. Freekeh

Freekeh is a whole grain rich in several nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, fibre, magnesium and protein. Infact, freekeh contains more protein and double the amount of fibre than quinoa.

How to cook: Combine one cup of freekeh with two cups of water. Boil it for few minutes and reduce the heat. Simmer it and cook for 20 minutes.

Image ref:ebay


10. Bulgur wheat

Bulgur wheat is a cereal grain made from dried, cracked wheat. It is low in calories and has a similar texture and flavour of rice. Bulgur wheat is a good source of magnesium, iron, manganese and fibre. It provides an array of health benefits such as promoting heart health, improving digestion, aiding in weight loss etc [10].

How to cook: In a bowl add two cups of water and a cup of bulgur wheat. Cook over medium heat until it becomes tender. Drain the excess water from the bulgur wheat before serving.

To Conclude...

Quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley, chopped cabbage, riced cauliflower, and riced broccoli, etc are some of the healthy substitutes for rice which are packed full of nutrients and are easy to cook as well. Try incorporating these nutritious and healthy alternatives into your daily diet.

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