Rice is a staple dish that is enjoyed by many around the world. However, regardless of whether you are allergic to rice or are trying to eat fewer carbohydrates, there are some great healthy rice substitutes that are both nutritious and affordable. You can easily prepare these rice substitutes are home and can quite easily make them a major part of your diet.
Rice is such a versatile dish, it is healthy and inexpensive, which is why it is such a popular choice of carbohydrates by many people around the world. They are rich in carbohydrates, which is the body’s main energy source and can be a great calorie source to include in order to fuel your activity and exercise levels.
That being the case, rice doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are simply allergic to the plant compounds in rice. While others prefer simply eating fewer carbohydrates and are trying to monitor their calorie intake. Some may simply be looking to diversify and expand on the variety of whole grains that they include in their diet.
Regardless of what your reason may be for cutting back on rice, we have for you our list of 21 healthy alternatives to rice. Hence, without further adieu, let’s dive into the various healthy rice substitutes.
1. Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur wheat is a whole-wheat substitute for rice which has a similar size and appearance to couscous. Though couscous is made from wheat flour and is considered pasta, bulgur wheat is made from tiny pieces of whole-wheat grains.
It is famously used in Mediterranean salad dishes. Bulgur wheat is one of the alternatives with a lowered amount of calories. Hence, if you are looking to replace rice to cut your calories, you should consider bulgur wheat.
1/2 cup (91 grams) of bulgur wheat contains about 76 calories, which is about 25% fewer calories than an equal portion of white rice.
If you love the look and feel of rice, but would like to cut the calories, then bulgur wheat could be the right fit for you. It is cooked in boiling water; one part bulgur wheat to two parts water. You should cook in medium heat until the bulgur is tender. You should drain the excess water before serving.
Freekeh is a whole grain that comes from wheat grains that are harvested when still green. It is loaded with protein and fibre.
1/4 cup (40 gram) serving of freekeh contains about 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. It is also a great source of iron. Iron is important to ensure you have healthy red blood cells in your body that transports oxygen. A 40-gram serving contains about 8% of the daily value of iron.
Freekeh is cooked by boiling it with two parts of water in medium heat. You should allow the grain to simmer until the grain is tender and ready to be served.
Farro is a whole grain wheat that is very similar to rice. However, the flavour of farro is very different to rice. It has a nutty flavour with a chewy texture. Farro grains are similar to barley but are larger in size.
They contain a wholesome amount of protein and can be an excellent addition to a plant-based diet. It is best enjoyed alongside legumes such as chickpeas and black beans. This will ensure that you attain all nine essential amino acids from your meal.
Farro is prepared by allowing one part of farro to reach a low boil with three parts water. It should be cooked until the farro is tender and ready to be served.
4. Whole-Wheat Orzo
Orzo is similar to rice in shape, size and texture, however is considered a pasta. Whole-wheat orzo in comparison to regular orzo contains a lot more fibre and protein and can easily be the healthier option.
That being the case, if you are looking to cut calories, you may want to think twice. It contains 50% more calories than an equal serving of white rice. Hence, when you are eating whole-wheat orzo, you have to keep the portions in check. So long as you ensure that you are consuming an appropriate portion for your health, you should be fine.
It can be an excellent source of fibre, which will in essence help you with digestion and gut health.
When cooking orzo, you should boil it in water in medium heat and allow it to tenderise, after which you can drain the excess water and serve.
5. Chopped Cabbage
Cabbage can be a great alternative to rice which is both healthy and low in calories. It has a mild flavour and works with many styles of cuisine.
Cabbage is a valuable source of vitamin C and K with a 1/2 cup (75-grams) providing 31% and 68% of the daily value, respectively.
Vitamin C is important for the health of your skin and hair, while vitamin K regulates blood clotting and circulation and plays an integral role in bone health.
In order to prepare chopped cabbage, finely chop them by hand or you could simply use a food processor. Once prepared, you can cook the chopped cabbage in medium heat in a small amount of oil, until the cabbage is tender and ready to serve.
6. Whole-Wheat Couscous
Popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, couscous is a yummy staple that is made with very small fragments of flour.
Whole-wheat couscous is considered the healthier option since it contains a greater amount of both protein and fibre.
Couscous is smaller than grains of rice so they add a unique tangent to the dish. You can make them like fried rice and combine it with a serving of chopped vegetables.
To cook couscous, you should mix one part couscous with one part of water and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Once at a boil, remove it from the heat source and allow the couscous to rest for about 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and you are ready to serve.
Closely related to both wheat and rye, barley is a grain that is similar to oats and has a very earthy taste.
1/2 cup (81 grams) of barley contains about 100 calories which are about the same number of calories as an equal serving of white rice. However, it contains a lot more protein and fibre than white rice. It also contains a great amount of niacin, zinc and selenium. In fact, a 1/2 cup serving of barley provides 10% of the daily value for all three.
In order to prepare barley, add one part barley to four parts water and allow to boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and cook the barley until it is soft. This usually takes between 25 to 30 minutes. Once cooked, you can drain the excess water prior to serving.
8. Shirataki Rice
If you are after a low carbohydrate and low-calorie alternative to rice, shirataki rice can be an excellent choice. It is made from konjac root which is native to Asia and is a source for glucomannan, which is a unique fibre.
It is a great source of prebiotics and is excellent for the health of your gut. A 3 ounce (85 gram) serving contains about 5 to 0 calories. That is right, almost no calories.
Glucomannan, the fibre in shirataki rice is of primary importance to the various health benefits it provides. Further to the fact that it boosts your immune system, it also forms a protective barrier in the lining of your gut which prevents the harm caused by bad bacteria. However, you do have to eat a large amount of shirataki rice to consume enough glucomannan. That being the case, regularly eating shirataki rice could enable you to reap the benefits of glucomannan.
In order to cook shirataki rice, rinse it in water and boil for about a minute. Once boiled, heat the rice in a pan in medium heat and allow it to dry. Once dry, you are ready to serve.
9. Riced Broccoli
This can be an excellent choice for those who are on a low-carbohydrate diet and are looking for a low-calorie alternative to rice.
1/2 cup (57 grams) of riced broccoli contains about 15 calories and 2 grams of fibre. It is also a great source of vitamin C, with a 1/2 cup providing 25% of the daily value. Vitamin C is great for your skin and works to boost your immune system and prevents cellular damage; due to its powerful antioxidant properties.
You can prepare riced broccoli by grating broccoli with a box grater or chop it in a food processor. Then you can cook the riced broccoli in medium heat with a bit of oil. The cooked riced broccoli is ready to serve.
10. Riced Cauliflower
Yet another excellent low carbohydrate and low-calorie alternative to rice. This vegetable-based alternative offers a mild flavour and has a texture and appearance similar to cooked rice.
That being the case, riced cauliflower only has about a fraction of the calories of rice. A 1/2 cup (57 gram) serving of riced cauliflower contains only 13 calories. That is minuscule in comparison to the 100 calories that you find in an equal portion of white rice.
In order to prepare riced cauliflower, you can use a box grater to grate the cauliflower or use a food processor to chop it. The prepared cauliflower can then be cooked in medium heat in a pan with a little oil until tender, slightly brown and ready to serve.
Quinoa is a seed with many health benefits. It is a very popular rice alternative for those on a gluten-free diet. It has a much greater protein content than rice and is generally considered a healthier alternative.
1/2 cup (92 gram) serving of cooked quinoa contains about 4 grams of protein which is double the amount of protein in comparison to white rice. It is also a complete source of protein, which means you get all the nine essential amino acids that are necessary for your body. It can be a valuable part of any plant-based diet.
It also contains vital minerals such as magnesium and copper which play important roles in metabolism and bone health.
In order to prepare quinoa, mix one-part quinoa with two-part water and bring to a boil. Cover the container and cook in low heat allowing time for the quinoa to absorb the water. Once cooked, you should remove the quinoa from the heat source and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and you are ready to serve.
Mushrooms are an excellent alternative to rice and contain almost no carbohydrates. In fact, an entire cup of mushrooms contains only about two grams of carbohydrates.
There are many ways you can serve mushrooms and they can be a healthy alternative to rice which can also be yummy to eat.
You can slice the mushrooms and saute them with a little bit of butter or olive oil. Mushroom dishes are not hard to prepare and can easily be made at home.
Lentils are an excellent source of protein and can be a valuable addition to a plant-based diet. It is cheap, versatile and packed with nutrients.
They don’t contain the lowest amount of calories, however, is considered reasonable. A 1/2 cup serving contains about 120 calories. It contains a wholesome amount of both folate and iron. Though it is considered reasonable along lines of calories, it is considered healthy for it contains mostly fibre and protein. A 1/2 cup serving contains about 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fibre.
Using a large saucepan, add one part lentils to three parts water and boil until tender. You should drain the excess water prior to serving. You can combine lentils with your favourite herbs and spices like mint and garlic for added flavour.
14. Chickpea Rice
Chickpeas are a great healthy alternative to rice and offer almost twice as much fibre and four times as much protein. It also contains lower amounts of carbohydrates.
Chickpea rice isn’t hard to make and can be a great substitute for rice. The preparation of the chickpea rice depends on the brand of chickpea rice that you use. Hence, be sure to read the directions on the package.
Cooked chickpea rice can then be sauteed in a frying pan with herbs and spices for greater flavour.
15. Turnip Rice
Turnip is a root vegetable that is loaded with vitamins. They contain a wholesome amount of fibre and has plenty of minerals such as manganese, potassium, iron and calcium.
Turnip rice can be a great alternative for those who are looking to cut down on carbohydrate intake and consume fewer calories.
In order to prepare turnip rice, simply wash and peel the turnip and cube them up and chop them up in a food processor. Then you can add the chopped turnip into a frying pan with a little bit of oil and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. You can serve it any way you would serve regular rice.
16. Rutabaga Rice
If you didn’t know what rutabaga is, it is a cross between cabbage and turnip. It is a very healthy alternative to rice which contains only 9 grams of carbohydrates in a one-cup serving.
It is rich in fibre and has over 3 grams of fibre in a one-cup serving. Further to this, it is also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron and has a wholesome amount of vitamin C.
In order to make rutabaga rice, you have to spiralise it first and then chop them into pieces before processing them in the food processor. You can mix the rutabaga rice with some chicken or vegetable stock for some flavour in a frying pan and cook it for about 10 minutes. Once cooked, it is ready to be served.
17. Zucchini Rice
Zucchini rice is very low in calories and can be a great alternative to rice when you are looking to control your calorie and carbohydrate intake.
A 1/2 cup serving of zucchini rice contains only about 10 calories. Though is it low in calories, the nutrient profile of zucchini rice is rich. It contains fibre, protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and many more vitamins and minerals.
Zucchini is an affordable vegetable that is even more affordable during its season. In order to prepare zucchini rice, simply spiralise the zucchini and then dice them up. Add the diced zucchini into a frying pan and cook in medium heat for about five minutes. You need to ensure to cook off as much water as you can. Once properly cooked, your zucchini rice is ready to serve.
18. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is a carbohydrate source, which is packed with micronutrients, fibre and minerals.
They help protect your body against cardiovascular disease and cancer, due to their various antioxidant properties.
Though not a low-carbohydrate alternative, sweet potato can be a good substitute for those who are allergic to rice.
A 100 gram serving of raw sweet potato contains about 86 calories. It has about 1.6 grams of protein and 20 grams of carbohydrates.
In order to prepare sweet potato, simply wash and peel it first before dicing them up into small pieces. Then you can cook them in a frying pan with some water in low to medium heat until tender. Once tender, drain the excess water and you are ready to serve.
Yet another alternative to rice that brings with it a host of health benefits. Potatoes are an extremely versatile vegetable and there are many ways to go about preparing them. You can boil them, mash them, rice them or even bake them.
They have some amazing health benefits including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They also have a cholesterol-lowering effect and helps balance out blood sugar levels.
A 100 gram serving of raw potatoes contains about 74 calories. It has about 2 grams of protein and 17.6 grams of carbohydrates. It contains fewer carbohydrates than sweet potatoes.
There are many ways in which you can prepare potatoes. You can rice them by chopping them up in a food processor and stir-frying them in a pan in medium heat with a little bit of oil. Once slightly brown, the riced potatoes are ready to be served.
Amaranth is a great alternative to rice which is loaded with fibre. Amaranth is a combination of more than 60 different species of grains that have been cultivated for more than 8,000 years.
The grains were considered a staple food in the Inca, Maya and Aztec civilisations. Amaranth is rich in fibre and protein and also contains many other important micronutrients.
Though not low in calories like the vegetable alternatives in this list, amaranth is packed with nutrients. A 1/2 serving contains about 125 calories with 4.8 grams of protein and 23 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, selenium and copper.
To prepare amaranth, mix equal parts with water in a pan and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat and allow it to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Once cooked, you are ready to serve.
Buckwheat can help lower your blood sugar levels and can be a great addition to the diet for those who suffer from insulin resistance. It is a great gluten-free source of nutrients that contains a wholesome amount of both protein and fibre.
Grown throughout the United States, buckwheat shares similar properties to cereals but does not come from grass. It is thus considered a pseudocereal.
A 100 gram serving of buckwheat contains about 145 calories with 4.12 grams of protein and 23.3 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains about 3.1 grams of fibre and micronutrients such as phosphorous, magnesium and calcium.
In order to prepare buckwheat, simply mix one part buckwheat with two parts water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook in low heat for about 10 minutes. Once cooked, you are ready to serve your buckwheat.
Healthy Rice Substitutes
There you go, our list of 21 healthy substitutes for rice that you can pick and choose from. Rice can be a staple for many people, however, regardless of what your reasoning may be, you have been looking for alternatives to rice.
Some of the alternatives on our list are very low in calories and carbohydrates which is perfect for those who are on a keto diet and are looking to lose weight.
Though some of the other alternatives on our list do contain more carbohydrates and calories, due to the nutrient profile of these foods, they are considered a healthier option to rice.
Regardless of what your reasoning may be to find a viable alternative to rice, we hope you were able to source a few good substitutes from our list. They are all considered healthy options that you can try to replace rice in your diet.