Coming from an Asian background, believe me when I say it was TOUGH having to cut rice out of my keto diet. Growing up, my family would prepare a side of rice with every single meal (yes, we would even eat our bacon and eggs with a side of rice!).
Is Rice Okay for Low Carb Diets?
The short and sweet answer is no. A single cup of cooked rice can contain anywhere between 40-60g of carbs, depending on the type of rice.
While there are healthier alternatives to rice, such as quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat, the bottom line is that these substitutes are all still relatively high in carbs which is a no-go for a ketogenic diet.
Going on my third year now of being on my own keto journey, I thought I would share some keto rice alternatives that I have found throughout the years.
Low Carb Rice Substitutes
This is one of the holy grails or one of the staple options for people looking for a rice substitute. Cauliflower has a multitude of health benefits (on top of being tasty!):
- Only 3g net carbs, 2g of fiber (per 100g)
- Loaded in micro nutrients including vitamin C, potassium, magnesium vitamin B6 and more!
- Antioxidants and helps with detoxification of your body
You’ll find a multitude of various recipes or ways to prepare it online.
This can be quick and simple to make. Simply dice up your cauliflower head into chunks and blitz in a food processor until the florets are separated into small rice chunks.
If you’re one of the unfortunate people, like me, who don’t have a food processor, you can also use a cheese grater to rice the cauliflower florets into tiny pieces.
Once you’ve completed the tedious part, all you have to do is fry the riced cauliflower with oil and your choice of seasonings, veggies and meat for a simple low carb rice stir-fry!
You can still enjoy all of your favorite dishes with this simple substitution. While the texture won’t be the exact same as eating rice, it’s one of the closest options for a low carb diet!
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few recipes to get you started.
Miracle Rice (Shirataki Rice)
If you’ve experimented with keto substitutions, then you may already be familiar with shirataki noodles. Shirataki products are made from a Japanese yam (konjac) which is known for being incredibly low in calories while high in dietary fiber! Being made from the same plant, Miracle Rice has a similar, gelatinous texture to the noodles.
Since konjac is nearly 100% pure dietary fiber, it’s probably the closest thing you’ll find for a zero carb rice substitute. Each serving is under 1g of net carbs and nearly zero calories. Unless you’re eating more than two packs of miracle rice at once, you may not even bother counting it in your macros!
The packaged product also has a bit of a fishy odor so I highly recommend straining it and running it under some water. You can also boil or heat the rice in a skillet and even make stir-fry with it!
I found that Asian supermarkets primarily carry the noodle version, but you can also order the rice one straight off of Amazon and have it delivered right to your door (how conveneient!).
Similar to cauliflower rice, we can substitute the carby goodness with shredded cabbage. Either use a grater or blitz your cabbage into fine pieces in a food processor.
Depending on your preference, you can go with either a red cabbage or a green cabbage. Red cabbage does have its advantages including:
- higher amounts of Vitamin A and C
- higher amounts of iron
- red cabbage looks prettier (okay, maybe this is just my personal bias…)
Stir-fry your cabbage, just as you would with your normal rice and toss in your favorite seasonings, additional veggies and meats for a low carb rice recipe alternative!
Studio Snacks has 2 simple recipes that you can follow or use as a guidance on how to prepare such a dish.
While veggies aren’t exactly a rice substitute, a bed of lettuce or salad can be a great low carb alternative to rice. Instead of eating your meat with a side of rice, how about a side of freshly steamed broccoli, turnips or sauteed spinach?
Again, keto isn’t simply a fad diet, it’s a conscious lifestyle choice. Some sacrifices have to be made. This doesn’t mean you can never eat rice again, but for the vast majority of your meals, try swapping out the rice with a low carb alternative.
Squash and Pumpkins
While they may not soak up your delicious sauces in the same way that rice does, finely diced pumpkin or squash can act as a substitute to rice. These are great substitutes if you want more of a risotto style dish as they tend to soften up and can help thicken your sauces when cooked.
You may want to watch your portion sizes since squash and pumpkins do have a bit higher net carbs relative to some of the other options.
- Butternut Squash – 12g carbs, 2g fiber, 10g net carbs total per 100g
- Pumpkin – 7g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 6.5g net carbs total per 100g
- Kabocha (Japanese) Squash – 8g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g net carbs total per 100g
- Acorn Squash – 10g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 8.5g net carbs total per 100g
Preparing squash rice is pretty simple. All you have to do is peel and dice up your squash into manageable cubes and then toss them into your food processor for a quick blitz! You don’t want to over process them, otherwise you’ll end up with mashed squash (which is also delicious but not what we’re aiming for here…). Get it into a rice-sized consistency and then toss it on the frying pan for a quick low carb stir-fry or risotto.
Low Carb Noodles
If you’re missing the texture or taste of rice, this isn’t exactly a direct substitute. However, if you’re simply looking for something to fill you up (and you’re not a huge veggie fan), or to soak up some of your sauces, you can give low carb noodle alternatives a try.
I’ve listed 6 low carb substitutes to noodles and pastas which you may want to try to pair with your favorite rice dish!
Hopefully these 5 alternatives have given you some ideas of what you can swap out your rice with when beginning your keto journey.
If you have any other favorite alternatives to rice, feel free to let me know and share them in the comments!