The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat way of eating that is supposed to help your body burn fat more effectively. One of the biggest adjustments people have to make is cutting back on carbs, which means one of those meal-time staples—rice—is literally off the table. But just because you won’t be able to enjoy a bed of fluffy rice doesn’t mean your meals will be lackluster.
Enjoying Healthy Alternatives
Prepare cauliflower rice for a slightly nutty-tasting substitute. Cauliflower rice has gotten more and more popular over the last few years. Add it to salads, use it to make faux-fried rice, or mix it with other veggies and a protein to make a delicious, filling meal.
- Swapping rice for a cup (107 grams) of chopped cauliflower lowers your carb intake from about 34 grams to 5 grams.
- In addition to being a great substitute for rice, cauliflower can also be transformed into a sub for mashed potatoes.
About Carbs and Keto: If you’re following a keto diet, you’ll generally be eating between 20-50 grams of carbs per day. A single cup of rice has about 40-60 carbs. Limiting carbs is the main way your body reaches ketosis, which can help it burn more fat. If you’re interested in the keto diet, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s a safe option for you.
Shred or grate cabbage for a colorful addition to your next meal. Instead of rice, add a layer of green or purple cabbage underneath a piece of grilled chicken or salmon. Mix it with other keto-friendly friends, like pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, and a squirt of fresh lime or lemon for a refreshing side dish.
- A cup (89 grams) of chopped cabbage has 5 grams of carbs.
- You can eat cabbage raw, or you could microwave or sauté it so it has a softer rice-like consistency.
Add some extra green to your next meal with vitamin-rich broccoli. Broccoli is easy to turn into a rice-like consistency—all you have to do is pulse it, stems and all, in a food processor or blender. For added texture, leave it raw. For a more rice-like feel, sauté or microwave it for a few minutes.
- You can enjoy a cup (91 grams) of chopped broccoli for just 6 carbs, making it a smart substitute for rice.
- Broccoli also contains a lot of fiber, which is important if you’re following a keto diet.
- You could make cheese and broccoli fritters, “rice” bowls, or simply serve riced broccoli on the side to add more volume to your next meal.
Give your next meal a sweet undertone with riced carrot. With a little bit of cinnamon or cayenne pepper, carrot can be a fun and colorful way to boost your vitamin intake while replacing rice. You could even mix it with riced cauliflower. Top it with fresh parsley and lemon juice for a sweet, tangy side dish.
- One cup (128 grams) of chopped carrots has 12 carbs, which is a lot when you consider how many carbs you can have in one day on the keto diet. Cut the serving size down to 1/2 cup (64 grams) for just 6 grams of carbs.
- If you’re craving sweet things, this might be a great way to satisfy that need without overdoing it on carbs.
Get an extra dose of potassium by ricing a butternut squash. Butternut squash is slightly sweet and nutty. It adds beautiful color to your plate while also giving your body lots of vitamins E and B-6. Use it to make a taco bowl with ground beef, or sauté it with other vegetables and some shrimp for a hearty dinnertime meal.
- There are 16 grams of carbs in a cup (140 grams) of diced butternut squash. Bulk it up with some cauliflower rice to get the flavor without having to ingest as many carbs.
Try konjac, or shirataki rice, as a fiber-rich replacement. This is a great option if you want something super high in fiber. Konjac is almost 100% fiber! You can find it in some Asian markets or you can order it online. Sauté it for a few minutes or pop it into the microwave for a minute to warm it up.
- 3 ounces (85 grams) of konjac rice has just 3 carbs.
- There can sometimes be a slightly fishy odor to this rice because of how it’s processed. Rinse it with warm water before adding it to your meal to get rid of the smell.
- There’s a noodle version of konjac, too, which can make a nice substitute for pasta.
Swap out rice for a bed of greens. It won’t look like rice and doesn’t even have the same texture, but a bed of greens can add bulk to your meal. Raw, sautéed, steamed, or roasted veggies can add a lot of flavor, color, and nutrients to your meal. Plus, green veggies tend to be the lowest in carbs. Try some of the following keto-friendly vegetables:
- Spinach, lettuce, and kale
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Green peppers
Turning a Veggie into Rice
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Rinse, peel, and rough chop the veggie of your choice. If you’re using carrot or butternut squash, you’ll want to peel away the outer layer of skin. For cauliflower, you’ll remove the outer leaves, and for broccoli, you’ll want to trim away any rough or dead stems. Chop the veggies up into pieces that are small enough to fit into a food processor or blender.
- Ricing vegetables is a quick and easy task! It takes a lot less time to prepare than rice, so you can get a meal on the table fast.
Pulse the vegetables in a food processor until it’s in rice-sized bits. Place the chopped veggies into a food processor and put on the lid. Pulse the food in one-second increments until it’s in small rice-sized pieces. You may occasionally want to use a spatula to scrape down the sides.
- If you have a grating attachment, put that into the food processor first and then feed the vegetables into the machine.
Alternative: If you don’t have a food processor, don’t despair! Use the medium-sized holes on a box grater to shred your veggies.
Put the veggies into a microwave-safe bowl and drizzle them with olive oil. If you notice any large pieces that didn’t get grated in the food processor, pick them out. Use about 1⁄2 tablespoon (7.4 mL) of olive oil for each cup of vegetable.
- You can use any cooking oil you want. When following a keto diet, extra-virgin olive oil is often encouraged, but you could also use avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or even coconut oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave the veggies for 3 minutes. Place the covered bowl into the microwave and let it cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. When it’s done, carefully remove the bowl, peel back the plastic wrap, and stir the veggies. Taste-test them to see if they’re a soft enough consistency yet.
- If the veggies are still hard, put them back in the microwave for 30-second intervals until they’re cooked.
- If you don’t have a microwave, cook the veggies on the stovetop in sauté pan for 5-7 minutes.
Measure out how much food you want for your meal. Tracking and measuring food is a big part of the keto diet, and you especially want to be careful to track how many carbs you’re eating each day. Use a measuring cup or food scale to spoon out the correct amount.
- To figure out how many carbs are in a serving of food, check the label or search online for “food calculator.” There are lots of sites where you can research specific foods and get the breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat grams.
- Writing down your food intake in a journal or logging it in an app can make tracking a lot easier. MyFitnessPal, Fooducate, My Diet Coach, and Lifesum are top-rated apps you can download on both Android and iOS phones.
- Some people experience stalls in their weight loss because they stopped tracking their carbs and have ended up consuming more than the recommended amount.
Store leftovers in the fridge or put them in the freezer for long-term storage. Pop whatever is left into an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days. Leftovers will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. Simply put the veggies into a microwave-safe bowl and reheat them for a few minutes when you’re ready to use them.
- Label the container so it’s easy to remember how long the food will be good for.
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If you don’t want to make your own rice substitute, lots of stores are now offering various rice alternatives, pre-made!
While the keto diet is often used by people who want to lose weight, it can also be helpful managing conditions like epilepsy.
Following the keto diet can be dangerous if you have certain types of medical conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Always check with your doctor before beginning any kind of diet plan.
Be careful when taking food out of the microwave. Wear oven mitts or use a towel to hold the dish so you don’t get burned.
Things You’ll Need
Turning a Veggie into Rice
- Vegetable peeler
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Cutting board
- Food processor or box grater
- Microwave-safe bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Oven mitts
- Measuring cup or food scale
- Container for leftovers
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