Rice is one of the most common grains in the world. Brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice—the list goes on! It’s a staple in the majority of countries, and it’s available in literally EVERY supermarket and grocery store. Brown rice may be fairly healthy, but white rice is a source of empty carbs. If you want to switch out the rice on your menu, here are a few awesome grains to replace rice:
No one can argue against quinoa, not once they read the nutritional label on the package. Quinoa is one of the only grains to contain all nine amino acids essential for muscle-building, making it one of the best grains for athletes and active people to eat. It’s also fairly low in carbs, thanks to its high fiber content. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, not to mention lots of antioxidants. Quinoa is, by far, the healthiest of the grains. It’s also bloody expensive, but totally worth it if you want to improve your health.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste as “freaky” as it sounds! You’ll most likely find it in the Middle East or the Mediterranean, though many specialty grocery stores have begun to stock it. Basically, it’s wheat that has been harvested before it’s fully matured, which is why it has that odd green color. The green wheat, as it’s known, is roasted to give it a delicious smoky flavor that will be surprisingly enjoyable from such an odd-colored food. You get a hefty dose of protein, fiber, and antioxidants in every serving of the green wheat. Definitely one to try if you’re looking for grains to replace rice and/or wheat.
Farro, or pharaoh’s wheat, originally came from Egypt, but it has spread throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. It’s a healthier grain than rice or wheat, and it makes a great replacement for pasta. You get a lot of fiber and protein in every serving, plus a lot of magnesium and Vitamin B3. Eating more farro will do wonders for your muscles, bones, nerves, and metabolism. The Vitamin B3, in particular, will be beneficial for helping your body to break down carbs, proteins, and fats from the food you eat.
Barley is one of the most unique of the grains to replace rice. It’s chewier than the other grains, which gives it a consistency almost like pasta. That means it’s awesome for adding to noodle soups and salads, as well as Asian cuisine. It has a much lower glycemic index than rice and pasta, making it easier on your body and less likely to affect your blood sugar levels. The grain can help to reduce your cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and make weight loss a bit easier. Talk about an awesome grain to add to your diet!
Amaranth isn’t going to be as useful for your cooking, but it’s definitely a grain that you can use a lot more of. It’s actually an “Ancient Grain”, meaning it’s Paleo-friendly and a lot healthier than any wheat or rice-based foods. It’s one of the only gluten-free grains, and it’s loaded with amino acids—particularly lysine, one of the most important muscle-building amino acids. On its own, it’s essentially a complete protein. Mix it in with milk, yoghurt, or cereal, and you’ve got yourself a full meal. You can use it to make porridge or hot cereal, or add it into your granola to give it a higher protein content. Heck, you can even enjoy one of those “alegria bars” the Mexicans eat as a snack!