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Try These Healthier Rice Substitutes

By Paul Rothbart

A staple in cuisines worldwide, rice is a tasty grain that is satisfying and has nutrition. It works as a side dish with many proteins and can be combined with beans or vegetables. Risotto is a particular favorite of mine. Rice is high in carbohydrates and should not be consumed in great quantities by those on a low-carb diet, such as people who are diabetic or prediabetic. There are, however, delicious foods that can substitute nicely for rice that are lower in carbs. Here are some popular alternatives.

Shirataki Rice

Shirataki rice is made from the Asian konjac root. It contains a fiber called glucomannan. It is low in carbs and contains less than five calories per serving, making it an incredibly healthy choice. Researchers are finding that glucomannan may have several health benefits, including protecting the lining of the intestines. It can be used in any dish where you would use regular rice. It's not widely available in supermarkets but you can purchase it online. 


A grain that resembles oats, barley is in the same family as rye and wheat and has great flavor and texture. A half-cup serving contains about 100 calories, about the same as white rice. But barley is low in carbs and contains more protein and fiber. A single serving also contains about 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of the essential minerals selenium, zinc, and niacin.

Riced Cauliflower and Broccoli

Using a ricer or food processor to chop vegetables into small grains is an excellent way to make a rice substitute. Cauliflower and broccoli are popular, tasty, and healthy veggies for this. A half-cup serving of broccoli has just 15 calories while a serving of cauliflower contains only 13. Both vegetables are very low in carbs and contain many vitamins and minerals. You can make your own riced veggies or buy them pre-made and frozen in a supermarket.


Despite being a seed, quinoa has a grain-like texture and is a very popular rice substitute. It can be served alone as a side dish, combined with vegetables, and is good in a salad. Quinoa is low-carb, gluten-free, and contains more protein than rice. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium and copper, essential minerals that aid metabolism and bone health.

Rice is popular, versatile, and delicious. It is a high-carb food and contains a considerable amount of calories. For some people, too much rice could be unhealthy. Try one of these substitutes. You can still enjoy rice dishes while getting better nutrition and caring for your health.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Apopka, Fla.

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