We’ve all been at that place where we’re in a hurry and we’ll just cook whatever’s easiest and simplest to make. We’ll throw on some chicken breast for protein and a little side salad for some vegetables. And for carbohydrates, there really isn’t anything simpler than dumping a bunch of rice into a rice cooker and pressing the “cook” button. But as delicious as rice is, it can also get stale and boring if you’re eating it on a daily basis. The body and the taste buds crave variety and there’s no better way to give it this than to look at rice alternatives.
In countries where rice isn’t readily available, they’ve developed other carb dishes that are just as tasty and serve the same purpose. They also have different textures and tastes which can liven up even the most boring and bland of diets. Here are some exciting rice alternatives from around the world that can liven up your meals.
This might be one of the most well-known rice alternatives and it’s really starting to become popular amongst health nuts and hipsters alike. The texture is pretty similar to that of tiny bubbles and it’s denser and more flavorful than plain white rice. It even reads a bit like rice because it’s neutral enough to soak up flavors from stews or soups or sauces. But people who are on gluten-free diets might want to avoid it only because it’s actually a form of pasta even though it has a grainy consistency. This is a delicious dish to make when you just can’t stand looking at another bowl of rice.
Quinoa is only just now leaking into the mainstream even though it’s been in South American countries for centuries. It’s technically a type of flower that people have harvested for its edible seeds. It looks a lot like couscous except it’s bigger and a little bit squishier and it’s fairly neutral in flavor which makes it a nice alternative to plain white rice. However, it’s also full of protein so you should balance it out by eating lots of vegetables and low-fat meats like chicken or fish. Pairing it with red meat can lead to a protein overload.
Anyone who eats Indian food on a regular basis should know all about Naan bread. It’s a delicious flatbread that’s crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside and it’s great for soaking up flavorful curries. Due to its popularity, you can actually buy frozen or pre-made Naan bread in your local supermarkets and all you have to do is heat it up in the oven. Chowing down on this type of bread is a great way to get your carbs in without having to eat another bowl of rice.
Brown Basmati Rice
If you’re tired of the flavor of white rice but you don’t want to give up the texture and convenience that comes with it, then you should check out brown basmati rice. It’s pretty much the same as regular basmati rice except the husks (a.k.a. outer shell) are still attached to it which makes it more flavorful and packed full of nutrients. Because the husks are still attached the grains are more aromatic than regular rice and there’s a nutty taste to it. It certainly makes ordinary dishes like chicken and rice a whole lot more interesting.
This option is a bit of a cheat because it’s actually rice but in an entirely new form. Instead of using wheat to form noodles, vermicelli is made when rice is ground up and made into flour. This flour is then rolled into very thin rice noodles that are usually served in some sort of soup broth. You might not want to go with vermicelli if you’re tired of the taste of rice since it’s pretty similar. This noodle is a better option if you’re still into rice but you want something new in terms of flavor or form.
The next time you’re facing another bowl of rice, just know that you’ve got other options. After all, you are human and your body and your taste buds need variety and new flavors. If you stick with the same old things, you’re going to go nuts. If you’re not quite ready to give up on rice, take a look at allthingsrice.com for exciting recipes that re-invent the way this grain is cooked and prepared. The more you change things up, the better your culinary life is going to be.