When you’re new to the keto diet lifestyle it can feel as though the world is against you. Just think about it; the things most of us take solace in, the foods we eat, suddenly become off limits. Never is this truer than when it comes to rice.
Sure, you can probably lay off of the high starch and wheat based foods, but what’s a meal going to be without a glorious side of that shiny white base, everyone’s favorite- rice? It’s definitely going to take some getting used to at first, that’s a given.
Luckily, there are a couple good keto substitutes for rice that you can make use of. They won’t taste the same, but can likely become your go-to side dish in the future. The key here is to keep an open mind and be willing to try them in order to discover which you like.
Ready? Now let’s check out who might become the rightful heir to our dearly departed rice.
What Makes A Good Keto Substitute For Rice?
To understand what makes a good keto friendly rice alternative, you first need to appreciate what rice brings to the table. First and foremost, rice (both brown and white rice) is high in carbohydrates. Since on the ketogenic diet it is imperative that you restrict carbohydrate intake, you can see immediately how this poses a problem.
A one-third cup size serving of rice contains between 14-17g carbohydrates, and 0.2-1.5g fiber (between 40-55g per cup on average). The protein and fat content is unremarkable. A good substitute needs to above all else, address the problem of it being high carb.
With that in mind, the following are great options to spruce up your meals and help you get over the rice blues.
Starting with probably the most popular rice substitute on ketogenic diets across the world, cauliflower is one of the closest things you can get to the texture of rice while not causing a noticeable carbohydrate burden.
Many convenience and health stores now even offer prepared cauliflower rice that has already been pulverized and ready for cooking. If you happen to live in an area where this convenience is not offered, no worries, as you can easily do this in your kitchen with a food processor or even a simple grater.
Cauliflower is also a nutritional powerhouse, having more fiber than standard rice, along with a host of anti-inflammatory compounds. Not to mention that it belongs to the cruciferous class of vegetables, which are very helpful as natural estrogen blockers.
When used as a rice substitute, cauliflower is also arguably much more filling and will not cause blood sugar to raise, thanks to the generous fiber content.
Very closely related to the overall texture of cauliflower, broccoli is probably the second most popular substitute for rice. The beauty in using broccoli is its ease of preparation and mild taste which goes well with almost everything.
Simply pulse in a food processor for a few seconds and you’re also on your way to benefiting from a multitude of vitamins and minerals contained within.
Cabbage may not be the most obvious replacement for rice owing to the texture differences, but nevertheless it is one of the more popular options which serves as a decent accompaniment to meals.
It can be prepared in a food processor or with a grater in a manner similar to cauliflower. The rapid adoption of cabbage as a substitute is largely attributed to the fact that it is extremely low in carbohydrates, and very filling at the same time. Then there is the fact that if you consume red cabbages, you will be getting a very decent amount of vitamin A and dietary iron (comparison red vs green).
More closely related to a turnip and used as a substitute for potatoes, it is also growing in popularity as a substitute for rice, interestingly also being classified as a cruciferous vegetable.
One cup of prepared rutabaga rice that has been pulverized in a food processor yields just about 9 g of carbohydrates, which is significantly less when compared to rice itself.
Root vegetables such as rutabaga are also exceptionally rich in minerals such as magnesium, zinc, manganese and even calcium, and also does an excellent job in terms of its Vitamin C content.
If you’ve ever wanted to consume food that is as close to being calorie negative as is possible, then you absolutely have to try miracle rice. Also known as shirataki rice, this miraculous keto approved rice substitute yields just about 10 cal per ounce and less than one solitary gram of carbohydrates per similar serving size.
This rice is actually prepared with flour made from the root of the plant known as konnyaku.Owing to this, much of it is composed of soluble fiber which contribute to the feeling of fullness you might experience after consuming a serving.
If you have a hard time digesting certain foods, we recommend you give this a shot to ease the discomfort encountered when trying to find suitable rice alternatives.
Have you ever heard about edamame before? We wouldn’t be surprised if you had not. However, it is much more popular than you think, simply being immature soybeans. You probably won’t find edamame available as rice per se, since it is primarily available in pasta form, but with a little improvising you can make your own.
Simply boil the pasta as you normally would, then chip the noodles into tiny pieces once it has been cooked. It has a great texture and very mild taste that is not overpowering to say the least. Makes it a perfect complement to many dishes.
However – this substitute is a little higher in total carb count than other options, so it is best reserved as part of your post workout meal.
As we go further and further down the list, you may notice that substitutes change from being pseudo-rice in appearance, to more like noodles. In the case of zucchini this is also very evident, as you will likely be spiral cutting them.
Indeed, you can subsequently cut spiralized pieces into tiny bits that vaguely resemble rice, but the difference in texture may not be appreciated by everyone.
Squash can be considered similar to zucchinis and can be prepared in much the same way as they can. You can spiralize it to make spaghetti, which can subsequently be roasted to remove much of the moisture and create a crunchy side dish, or you can subsequently pulse for a short period of time in a food processor after cutting into cubes or spirals.
Substitutes That Failed To Make The Grade
Another extremely popular but often misconstrued rice substitute is quinoa, which at first glance appears perfect, both in texture and taste. However, it is extremely high carb (at least in relation to keto), and will definitely toss you out of ketosis and make it hard to maintain carb macronutrient limits.
Other grains such as oatmeal, barley and tapioca are all very high in carbohydrates as well, being primarily starches and not suitable alternatives.
Going cold turkey on rice may seem challenging, but is a necessary evil for you to reap the benefits. The key is to mix things up- experiment until you find which you like most and can tolerate for the long haul.