What Foods Can Be Substituted for Rice?

Rice prices have risen 68% since January and in response to the global food crisis, some American retailers including Sam’s Club and Costco are putting limits on the amount of rice their customers can buy. For those of us who like to cook with rice now and again, I imagine it won’t be long before rice becomes a little harder to find. There are some passable substitutes for rice which will work in those Asian, Indian, and Mexican dishes we love to eat. If you are looking to cut back on your rice consumption or aren’t able to find rice on the supermarket shelves, these alternatives may work for you.

Spaghetti Squash is a type of gourd that is known by many names, including vegetable marrow, noodle squash, vegetable spaghetti, and spaghetti marrow. When cooked, this gourd can be split open and the flesh falls away from the sides to resemble strands of spaghetti. Spaghetti squash makes a pretty decent substitute for rice noodles.

Spaghetti Squash also happens to be a very easy garden vegetable to grow in the back yard.

Cauliflower is well known as a rice substitute for folks on those low carb diets. Most recipes seem to call for shredding the cauliflower in a food processor and using it “as is” in your rice dishes. I did run across one recipes that called for frying the cauliflower in butter first to give it added texture.

Cauliflower is another easy to grow vegetable that can be raised in the back yard.

Quinoa is a relatively new health grain from South America that has recently popped up in American health food stores. Quinoa is not a true grain but is actually related to spinach and Swiss Chard. This health grain is high in magnesium and contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Quinoa is cooked exactly like rice but with a shorter cooking time. Quinoa is available in most health food stores.

Bulgar Wheat is a cereal food made from duram wheat which has been parboiled, dried, and then debranned. This grain is light and slightly nutty in flavor, and is typically associated with Mediterranean, Indian, and Middle East recipes. Bulgar wheat is higher in nutrition than rice and is a great substitute for Asian recipes calling for rice.

Last but not least is textured vegetable protein. Known also as TVP, this product is made of defatted soy flour and look a bit like chunky corn flakes. The texture is similar to ground hamburger when cooked and does quite well in casserole type dishes. It also absorbs spices very well and I can see this stuff being a fabulous rice substitute in curried dishes and heavily seasoned Asian meals. Textured Vegetable Protein is widely available in most supermarkets.

As rice gets a little harder to find, these five substitutes will allow you to keep cooking those family favorite meals without having to compromise on the taste, quality, and nutrition. Recently purchased a rice cooker and worried that you can’t use it with the substitutes? Well worry no more, all the rice cookers listed at RiceCookerWorld are able to be used with the substitutes.

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