12 rice substitutes, including low carb and keto options
Whether someone is allergic to rice, trying to eat fewer carbs, or reduce their calorie intake, there are many affordable, nutritious, and tasty rice substitutes that are easy to make at home. They include barley, riced broccoli, and orzo.
Rice is a versatile, healthy, and inexpensive food that forms a cornerstone of people’s diets worldwide.
It is a rich source of carbohydrates, which, as the body’s primary energy source, boosts energy levels, fuels exercise, and helps people feel satisfied and full.
However, some individuals may wish to swap out rice for other options. This may be because they:
Below are 12 nutritious alternatives to rice that people can enjoy.
Barley is a popular grain that people can purchase as whole grain, pearled, flakes, or flour versions.
This grain has many health benefits and is a suitable option for those looking to increase their dietary fiber.
Barley also contains antioxidants called lignans, which help protect cells from damage. It may also help lower cholesterol levels and balance blood glucose and insulin.
Every 100 grams (g) of whole barley contains:
Barley matches white rice in terms of calories, but it is much higher in fiber and protein.
Furthermore, it contains over 30 nutrients, including phytosterols, tocols, beta-glucan, and minerals, which can help combat chronic diseases, such as cancer and gout.
Quinoa is an edible seed that people consume as a grain. It has been a staple food in South America for thousands of years, where people have enjoyed its beneficial properties.
Individuals often use quinoa to substitute rice because it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Quinoa also supports heart health and has hypoglycemic effects, which help lower blood sugar.
Each 100 g portion of dried quinoa contains:
Quinoa is also high in magnesium, a mineral that helps the body make the protein, bone, DNA, and copper needed to produce red blood cells and energy.
Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
People can make riced cauliflower by chopping up raw cauliflower either by hand or with a food processor until the texture resembles rice.
They can then use the resulting riced cauliflower as either raw or gently cooked varieties.
This low carb and low calorie alternative to rice does not have a strong flavor and therefore works as well as rice in many recipes. It is also suitable for those following the keto diet or people with gluten intolerance.
A 100 g serving of riced cauliflower contains:
People can prepare riced broccoli in the same way as riced cauliflower.
Similar to its counterpart, riced broccoli makes an appropriate rice alternative for a person following low carb or low calorie diets.
Broccoli has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting effects.
Its nutrient profile similarly matches riced cauliflower, as 100 g of riced broccoli contains:
Broccoli also has 92.5 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which supports the immune system. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
Cabbage is another cruciferous vegetable that people can use as a rice alternative. Individuals usually shred it finely using a food processor or by hand.
The vegetable is low in calories and carbohydrates and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Cabbage is also rich in calcium, bioactive compounds, and vitamins C and E.
Evidence suggests that it can protect against high cholesterol, liver problems, pancreatitis, and heart disease.
Each 100 g portion of raw cabbage contains:
Shirataki rice is a popular food in parts of Asia. It is now rising in prevalence worldwide, thanks to its low carb and low calorie profiles. It is also rich in glucomannan fiber.
The vegetable, which resembles potatoes, comes from the konjac root, which manufacturers and people convert into rice-shaped grains.
A 100 g konjac rice serving provides 10 calories and 5 g of carbohydrate, all dietary fiber. It does not contain protein.
Although konjac rice contains calories, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows manufacturers to label it as a zero-calorie food because of its extremely low calorie count.
Researchers are investigating the health benefits of glucomannan fiber to reduce glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure. It may also aid digestive health.
Although couscous resembles a grain, it is a type of pasta that manufacturers make from semolina or ground durum wheat.
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine often features the food as an accompaniment to other dishes.
Couscous is high in protein and fiber, aiding digestion and helping people feel fuller for longer, which potentially helps with weight loss.
Couscous mainly comprises carbohydrates — a 100 g serving of couscous contains:
Bulgur wheat resembles couscous in appearance, but manufacturers make it from cracked whole durum wheat.
This rice alternative is low in fat, high in minerals, and is a minimally processed whole grain. It can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar.
A 100 g serving of bulgar wheat contains:
Orzo is pasta with the same size and shape as rice, and people can use it in the same way. It contains a moderate amount of protein, which is essential for the body to grow, repair itself, and maintain health.
A 100 g serving of orzo contains:
Farro is ancient, whole grain wheat with a chewy texture and nutty flavor resembling barley.
Because it contains high levels of protein, farro is a valuable dietary addition for those following vegan and vegetarian diets.
Wheat, such as farro, contributes essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals to a person’s diet.
A 100 g serving of farro contains:
Potatoes are incredibly versatile, and people can choose different and healthy ways to prepare them, such as boiling, mashing, ricing, or baking.
They are types of “tubers” that individuals have eaten since ancient times and have expansive health-supporting properties, including:
A 100 g portion of raw potatoes contains:
Sweet potato is another type of tuber that provides carbohydrates, micronutrients, fiber, and minerals. They can help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer thanks to their antioxidant properties.
A 100 g portion of raw sweet potato contains:
If people prefer to avoid rice because they are following a low carbohydrate or low calorie diet, there are various alternatives they can choose.
Vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, provide versatile rice alternatives that are extremely low calorie and packed with nutrients.
If a person wishes to include whole grains in their diet, they can choose from bulgar wheat, barley, or farro.