However, rice — white rice in particular — may not be appropriate for everyone's dietary needs. For instance, people who are trying to eat fewer carbs or calories may want a lighter alternative like riced cauliflower.
In addition, swapping out rice for alternative healthy choices, such as other whole grains, can add variety to your diet.
Here are 11 healthy alternatives to rice.
While it assumes a grain-like taste and texture after cooking, quinoa is a seed. This popular rice substitute is gluten-free and much higher in protein than rice.
It's also a good source of the vital minerals magnesium and copper, which play important roles in energy metabolism and bone health (4Trusted Source).
To cook it, combine one part dried quinoa with two parts water and bring it to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat, allowing it to simmer until all the water is absorbed. Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork.
If you're gluten-sensitive, only purchase quinoa that is certified gluten-free due to the risk of cross-contamination.
2. Riced Cauliflower
Riced cauliflower is an excellent low-carb and low-calorie alternative to rice. It has a mild flavor, as well as a texture and appearance similar to that of cooked rice, with only a fraction of the calories and carbs.
This makes it a popular rice alternative for people on low-carb diets like keto.
To make riced cauliflower, chop a head of cauliflower into several pieces and grate them using a box grater, or finely chop them using a food processor. The riced cauliflower can be cooked over medium heat with a small amount of oil until tender and slightly browned.
You can also purchase premade riced cauliflower in the freezer section of most grocery stores.
3. Riced Broccoli
Like riced cauliflower, riced broccoli is a smart rice alternative for people on low-carb or low-calorie diets.
It's similar in nutrient content to riced cauliflower, with 1/2 cup (57 grams) packing about 15 calories and 2 grams of fiber (6).
Riced broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin C, with 1/2 cup (57 grams) providing over 25% of your Daily Value (DV). Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent cellular damage and boost immune health (6, 7Trusted Source).
Like riced cauliflower, riced broccoli can be prepared by grating broccoli with a box grater or chopping it in a food processor, then cooking it over medium heat with a bit of oil. Some grocery stores also sell riced broccoli in the freezer section.
4. Shirataki Rice
Shirataki rice is another popular rice alternative for low-carb and low-calorie dieters.
It's made from konjac root, which is native to Asia and rich in a unique fiber called glucomannan.
According to the product packaging, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of shirataki rice does not contain any calories (8).
However, when a food provides fewer than 5 calories per serving, the manufacturer can legally state that it has zero calories, which explains why a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of shirataki rice appears to be calorie-free (9).
Glucomannan, the primary fiber in konjac root, is being studied for many potential health benefits, including its ability to form a protective barrier along the lining of your intestines (10Trusted Source).
Still, you would need to eat a large amount of shirataki rice to consume a significant amount of glucomannan.
To prepare shirataki rice, rinse it well in water, boil it for 1 minute, and then heat the rice in a pan over medium heat until dry. Rinsing shirataki rice before cooking helps reduce its unique odor.
If you can't find shirataki rice locally, shop for it online.
Barley is a grain that's closely related to wheat and rye. It looks similar to oats and has a chewy texture and earthy taste.
With about 100 calories, a 1/2-cup (81-gram) serving of cooked barley provides about the same number of calories as an equal serving of white rice. Yet, it contains a bit more protein and fiber (2, 11).
To cook barley, bring one part hulled barley and four parts water to a boil, then reduce it to medium heat and cook it until the barley is soft, or about 25–30 minutes. Drain the excess water prior to serving.
6. Whole-Wheat Couscous
Couscous is a type of pasta that's widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It's made of very small pearls of flour.
Whole-wheat couscous is a healthier option than regular varieties, as it's richer in fiber and protein.
Couscous pearls are much smaller than grains of rice, so they add a unique texture to the foods they're served with.
To make couscous, combine one part couscous and one part water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove it from heat and allow the couscous to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff it with a fork before serving.
If your local supermarket doesn't offer whole-wheat varieties, you can find one online.
7. Chopped Cabbage
Chopped cabbage is another excellent alternative to rice. Cabbage is low in calories and carbs with a mild flavor that compliments many styles of cuisine.
It's an excellent source of vitamins C and K, with a 1/2-cup (75-gram) serving providing 31% and 68% of the DV, respectively (12).
To cook chopped cabbage, finely chop a cabbage by hand or using a food processor. Then cook it with a small amount of oil over medium heat until it's tender.
8. Whole-Wheat Orzo
Orzo is a type of pasta that's similar to rice in shape, size, and texture.
Whole-wheat orzo packs more fiber and protein than regular orzo, which makes it the healthier choice.
Still, it's fairly high in calories, providing about 50% more calories than an equal serving of white rice. Therefore, be sure to choose a portion size that is appropriate for your health goals (2, 14).
Whole-wheat orzo is a great source of fiber, which can help improve digestion by bulking up and softening your stool, as well as serving as a food source for your healthy gut bacteria (15Trusted Source, 16).
To prepare orzo, boil the pasta in water over medium heat until it reaches the tenderness you desire and drain it before serving.
You can shop for whole-wheat orzo locally, though it may be easier to find online.
Farro is a whole-grain wheat product that can be used similarly to rice, though it's much nuttier in flavor and has a chewy texture. It's similar to barley but has larger grains.
Farro contains a hefty dose of protein and — like quinoa — is another excellent plant-based source of this important nutrient (17).
To ensure you're getting all nine essential amino acids, pair farro with legumes, such as chickpeas or black beans.
To prepare it, bring one part dried farro and three parts water to a low boil and cook it until the farro is tender.
If your supermarket doesn't have farro in stock, try shopping for it online.
Freekeh — like barley and farro — is a whole grain. It comes from wheat grains that are harvested while they're still green.
It's rich in protein and fiber, with a 1/4-cup (40-gram) dried serving providing 8 and 4 grams of these important nutrients, respectively.
Freekeh is cooked by bringing it to a boil with two parts water, then reducing the heat to medium and allowing the grain to simmer until it's tender.
You can shop for freekeh locally or online.
11. Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur wheat is another whole-wheat substitute for rice.
It's similar in size and appearance to couscous, but whereas couscous is pasta made from wheat flour, bulgur wheat is small, cracked pieces of whole-wheat grains.
It's commonly used in tabbouleh, a Mediterranean salad dish that also features tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs.
With the exception of the vegetable-based alternatives on this list, bulgur wheat is the lowest in calories. It contains 76 calories in 1/2 cup (91 grams), about 25% fewer calories than an equal serving of white rice (2, 20).
It's a great rice alternative for those who are trying to cut calories but still want the familiar texture and flavor of a grain.
Bulgur wheat is cooked by boiling one part bulgur wheat and two parts water, then reducing the heat to medium and allowing the bulgur to cook until tender. Before serving, drain the excess water and fluff the cooked bulgur with a fork.
If you can't find bulgur wheat at your local supermarket, shopping online may be a convenient option.
The Bottom Line
There are many alternatives to rice that can help you meet your personal health goals or simply add variety to your diet.
Quinoa is a great gluten-free, high-protein option.
Vegetables, such as riced cauliflower, riced broccoli, and chopped cabbage, are low-calorie and low-carb alternatives packed with nutrients.
Plus, many whole-grain options, including bulgur, freekeh, and barley, can add a nutty, earthy taste and chewy texture to your dishes.
Next time you want to put rice aside and swap in something different, try one of the nutritious and diverse alternatives above.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Manuela Callari
It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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