A popular diet that is on the rise is the Paleo diet, which gained its roots from its Paleolithic-period eating style. Following the traditional diet practices of hunters and gatherers, this diet follows the theory that only foods that can be naturally accessed should be consumed.
Even though rice is technically considered to be a grain, there is some debate on whether it is truly paleo-friendly. Therefore, many Paleo diet followers avoid this carb at all costs. Some Paleo substitutes for rice that are commonly consumed include cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, butternut squash rice, and konjac rice. Let’s take a closer look at each of these alternatives.
Rice is a versatile starch that can be used in a variety of dishes. Substituting this carb only seems realistic for those following a diet that would otherwise eliminate it completely. Rice alternatives form the basis of many dishes in the Paleo diet culture.
How To Prepare Paleo-Friendly Rice Substitutes
Just as every rice substitute that is acceptable on the Paleo diet is different in taste and texture, they must also be prepared differently, too. Here are a few common swaps for Rice for those on the Paleo diet and cooking instructions for each:
1 .Cauliflower Rice
This rice substitute can be purchased in bags in the freezer section or the vegetable aisle of your supermarket already riced. You can also grate your head of cauliflower at home, which is a cheaper option.
Either way, the method of preparation is similar. You can either microwave riced cauliflower or heat it in a pan on the stove.
If you are preparing cauliflower rice fresh, the key is to get all of the liquid out before cooking. You can do this by placing your riced cauliflower in between two paper towels and gently squeezing it.
To amp up the flavor, many Paleo diet followers like to add salt, pepper, and spices. It can also be used as the base of many dishes that include meat and veggies.
2. Konjac Rice
As a lesser-known substitute for rice, konjac rice comes from an undervalued root vegetable, known as konjac. While you can make this yourself, konjac can be hard to find in the store. Popular products called Miracle Rice and Magic Rice are commercial forms of this rice alternative.
Konjac rice is cooked by bringing water to a boil, adding the riced vegetable, and cooking until soft. Drain afterward and serve as you please.
3. Broccoli Rice
Similar to cauliflower in size and texture, broccoli rice is a comparable Paleo-friendly rice alternative. Due to the texture of broccoli, if you are ricing it at home yourself, it isn’t a good idea to grate it like cauliflower.
Instead, cut your broccoli into florets and put them into a food processor or blender. After they are ground up, boil them on the stove until tender and then drain.
4. Butternut Squash Rice
Referred to as a “good carb,” butternut squash is a good staple to have in any diet. Its bright orange color is indicative of the healthy carotenoids and Vitamin C that are in it.
As a soft vegetable, butternut squash is easily made into a rice dish. It can be microwaved or boiled, but you should be careful not to overcook it.
Delicious Recipes That Can Be Made With Paleo Rice Alternatives
Just because you have to find a substitute for rice as a dedicated Paleo diet follower doesn’t mean your dishes don’t have to have flavor. Oftentimes, you wouldn’t even notice your regular rice has been replaced.
Take a look at some of these dishes that taste delicious with rice alternatives:
- Butternut Squash Risotto
- Beef Fried Plaintain Rice
- Asian Fried Rice
- Coconut Cauliflower Rice
- Dirty Paleo Rice
If these don’t sound good enough to get your taste buds watering, I don’t know what will. They also allow you to maintain your Paleo-based diet.
Why Isn’t Rice Considered Paleo?
Paleo isn’t necessarily about cutting carbs, but it does tend to be a low-carb diet. Even those on the Paleo diet agree that a moderate amount of carbs has substantial health benefits.
However, carbohydrates aren’t considered acceptable in the Paleo diet because they contain gut irritants and antinutrients that don’t digest well. Carbohydrate-dense foods that don’t contain these qualities are considered to be safe on the Paleo diet. These include potatoes and plantains.
Rice has a hard outer shell that serves as a protective coating for compounds that could be considered dangerous and disruptive to your digestive system. This is why rice isn’t considered to be a paleo-friendly food.
While frozen rice or quick rice may be convenient, Paleo rice alternatives are more gut-friendly.
Learning To Replace Rice With Paleo Substitutes
If you love rice, it can be a big change to cut this carb out of your diet. Doing so in small, attainable steps is the best course of action.
When you want to ease into it, you can begin replacing portions of your regular rice with a Paleo acceptable substitute. Mixing in ¼ cup to ½ cup of your chosen rice alternative at a time can help you get used to the change in taste and texture.
However, cutting out rice cold turkey may be a better option for some. If you do this, add sauces, gravies, and flavorful foods to your rice alternatives to mask the taste until you get used to it.
Incorporating A Rice Substitute Into Your Life Can Take Time
Don’t expect to just fall out of love with rice overnight. Substituting a plant-based rice replacement is a big change that may take time and patience to accomplish.
However, if a healthier, Paleo lifestyle is what you are seeking, substituting rice for whole food alternatives is a small price to pay. Just remember all the options you have and experiment frequently to find out what you like.
Substituting rice with an alternative becomes easier when you actually enjoy what you are eating. So, good ahead and substitute your rice with a Paleo-friendly alternative and have some fun along the way!