Remember when “rice” was a just a noun? Nowadays it’s become a verb and an adjective to describe one of the hottest veggie trends around. These tiny chopped pieces of vegetables have found their ways into all kinds of recipes, and can offer a hefty dose of nutrients.
What started out as a new-fangled way to use cauliflower has evolved into so much more. Cauliflower “rice” came on the scene as a popular grain free alternative to rice. Riced cauliflower can be used as a standalone side dish or as the star ingredient in traditional recipes like fried rice and baked casseroles. Using a vegetable-based option in place of grains lowers the calories and carbohydrate counts but this swap isn’t completely a nutrition win. If you compare one cup of cooked rice to the same portion of cooked cauliflower, rice contains more fiber, protein and magnesium but less vitamins K and C.
As with many food trends, the “riced” craze has continued to advance. Instead of just cauliflower, ricing other veggies like sweet potatoes, broccoli and carrots has begun to gain momentum. There is also more variety of flavored rice vegetables. Check ingredient lists as some are seasoned with flavorings that can up the sodium content.
You can find fresh and frozen riced veggies of some sort at every grocery store. Trader Joe’s offers bags of fresh riced broccoli as well as both fresh and frozen riced cauliflower. Green Giant has a series of frozen riced products including blends of cauliflower and sweet potato and a medley of cauliflower, carrots, onions and peas. Boulder Canyon brand features a variety of plain and flavored items like Thai Curry Riced Carrot and Caramelized Onion Riced Sweet Potato.
DIY and ways to enjoy
Making your own riced veggies is surprisingly simple. Trim, chop and pulse in a food processor then cook with a quick steam or sauté. Flavor with fresh herbs, spiced, nuts, other chopped veggies, or a sprinkle of cheese.
Recipes to try:
Healthy Cauliflower Rice (pictured above)
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.