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Seeking Out Rice Substitutes for Healthier Eating

By Stephen R. Farris

When it comes to rice, most people consider it a popular dish used in Asian cooking. Visit any Chinese restaurant and usually you have your choice of white rice, fried rice, or some type of noodle to go with your Szechuan chicken dish.

While popular in Asian cooking, rice receives the same popularity in many other cultures from Mexican and South America dishes, and in the United States, especially in southern cooking.

The downside to consuming rice --  more in particular, the white variety -- is that it's loaded with carbs and a bit high in calorie content. Both of which you want to cut out as much as possible with a healthy food diet.

Luckily, there are plenty of foods readily available if you're looking for a rice substitute. Some of those include: 

  • Quinoa
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Shirataki rice
  • Whole-wheat orzo
  • Farro
  • Freekeh
  • Bulgur wheat

All of these are low in carbs and calories, and most are a good source of vitamins and minerals. If none of these appeal to you, or if they are not available at your local grocer, then you can try a few other foods instead.


Just like rice, barley is also a grain but it's closer in relation to wheat and rye. While barley may have the same calorie content ( cup) as white rice, it is slightly higher in protein and fiber content. Barley also contains essential vitamins such as niacin, selenium, and zinc.

Couscous (Whole Wheat)

Besides giving the appearance of rice, couscous is used in a variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. It's normally made from tiny droplets of flour, but if you're looking to stay on the healthier side of couscous, you probably should go with the whole wheat variety. Nutritionally, couscous is high in protein and fiber.

Chopped Cabbage

It's cheap and it's better for you than white rice when sticking to your healthy eating diet. You can chop it up finely, boil it, then serve with dishes you'd normally have rice with. Cabbage is a great source for vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C and K, as well as being low in carbs and very low in calories.

As you can see, there are many great rice substitutes available at your grocer, or online. The important thing is to find foods that will help you with your healthy eating goals, and that are good for your body.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in St. Louis, Mo.

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