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Substitutes for Rice

Jun 25, 2010

Rice is a staple of many Asian cultures, but in the past several decades it has begun to show up more and more on the plates of individuals of different cultures. Rice's mild taste makes it a great side dish. It goes well with nearly anything. However, rice isn't necessarily the best food for good health. It is loaded with simple carbohydrates, which can lead to blood sugar spikes and rapid crashes. It can also be a source of some acute health conditions, such as yeast infections. Below are three great healthy alternatives to rice that are as healthy as they are delicious.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a great alternative for individuals who are looking for a starch source but can't or don't want to use rice. Quinoa is the seed of a plant that is native to South America, and cooks in the same manner as rice. While this is often used as a side dish with meats or other main dishes, when served with milk or honey, it also makes a great alternative to oatmeal.

Quinoa has a mild nutty flavor and provides a chewy texture that's similar to rice. Quinoa has a plethora of health benefits, namely its high protein content. Quinoa is composed of between 12% and 18% protein, and unlike most other grains it's a complete source of amino acids. This makes it especially popular among vegans and vegetarians. In addition, quinoa is high in fiber, phosphorous, and iron, all of which are essential for good health. As stated above, quinoa cooks in the same manner as rice. Though many herbs and spices can be added to quinoa, as a general guide use two cups of water per cup of quinoa for the base of the recipe.

Barley

Barley is another great alternative to rice. Research has found that like quinoa, barley has many health benefits. Some of these include an ability to decrease cholesterol levels, which can be effective in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, along with other chronic diseases.

In addition, barley contains many vitamins and minerals which are essential for good health, including niacin and selenium, which has been found to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system as well as the health of the colon. Finally, the zinc, potassium, and calcium found in barley can help promote good health in the liver and intestinal tract. Like quinoa, barley is typically used as a side dish for meat, fish, and poultry dishes, but with a little creativity it could also be used for breakfast and even dessert.

Millet

Millet is a type of seed that when dry roasted has a nutty flavor. Millet also contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important for optimal health and growth. When purchasing millet, make sure to buy it in its most natural form--this means free from added salt or other preservatives than can detract from its nutritional soundness.

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