Cauliflower Rice vs. Classic: Which is Right for You?
You’ve heard your friends tout the health benefits of cauliflower rice. The trendy twist on the traditional grain has taken off among carb-conscious dieters, but should you throw Uncle Ben to the wayside in favor of a finely chopped vegetable? We did some digging so you don’t have to.
It seems like everybody these days is singing the praises of riced cauliflower. Trader Joe’s can’t even keep the stuff on its shelves. Sure, it’s a low-carb alternative to rice and is great for Whole30 or paleo lifestyles. But just how healthy is riced cauliflower? Do its nutritional benefits outweigh those of classic rice?
The answers aren’t as clear-cut as they may seem.
Cauliflower is low in calories and high in fiber—one cup of boiled cauliflower contains just 28 calories and 10 percent of the daily recommended value of fiber. A diet rich in fiber promotes healthy digestion, weight loss and lowers cholesterol levels. The cruciferous vegetable is also loaded with antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and protect against several diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. It can’t get healthier than that, right? Well, that depends on who you ask. While riced cauliflower is great for people looking to keep their daily calorie intake low and fiber intake high, it’s not necessarily always the best option. Plain old rice has many nutritional benefits, as well.
There’s a reason rice, a carbohydrate-rich food, is a dietary staple for more than half the world’s population. Today’s carb-conscious eaters tend to view carbohydrates as unhealthy. Yes, a low-carb diet can help you lose weight. But carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. Not to mention, they are incredibly important for proper brain, kidney, heart, muscle and central nervous system function. A diet deficient in carbohydrates can lead to all sorts of health problems for some, such as extreme fatigue. It is important to note, however, that only brown rice can be considered a whole grain. That means it contains all the nutritious parts of the grain, including the bran and germ; white rice has had those parts removed. Generally, brown rice is considered healthier than white.
Point being, the best rice option—traditional or veggie based— is going to vary person to person, even meal to meal. As long as you’re choosing your rice based on your nutritional needs, making sure to consider portion control, it’s hard to go wrong.
As far as preparation goes, neither option is difficult. For a classic rice dish, you really only need to boil some water. However, we've found that it really helps to have a few rice cooking tricks up your sleeve.
Try some of these, for example:
Preparing cauliflower rice from scratch requires a food processor and a little bit of patience, but isn’t too difficult. All you have to do is pulse the cauliflower in the food processor until it is finely chopped, almost resembling couscous.
If you’re short on time, you could just buy a bag of frozen, pre-riced cauliflower at Trader Joe’s—if they’ve managed to keep it in stock, that is.
Once you have your cauli-rice at the ready, try it out in a recipe like this low-calorie alternative to shrimp fried rice.