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  • Tim Rees

20 Reasons You Should Swap White Rice For Cauliflower Rice

Plus, how to prepare and cook it in under 11 minutes.

MANY PEOPLE IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD ARE OVERFED YET UNDERNOURISHED. This means we get a surplus of calories but not enough nutrients because convenient, junk foods and snacking have taken over real-food preparation and cooking.

As I prepared some cauliflower rice today, I pondered how people might benefit by making one simple swap; white rice for cauliflower rice. I can make the cruciferous version in under eleven minutes, and it’s way better than the painfully drawn-out, soggy recipes you see on the internet. I’ll tell you how a little later.

There are twenty, yes twenty, reasons you might want to swap your white rice for cauliflower rice. Here they are.

‘I don’t know about you, but I can eat white rice and never stop. It slips down even easier when I add fat to it. My button fly pinging across the room alerts me before my satiating hormones kick in.’

 

Cauliflower rice is…

1. Lower in calories In a 150 gram cooked portion of each food (used for all the stats here), white rice has 176 calories versus cauliflower's 44.

2. Higher in fibre Quality randomised control trials on fibre supplementation show mixed results. But, observational research is unequivocal; high fibre intake is associated with good health. Is this because people are eating more fruits, vegetables, and other less adulterated, high fibre foods compared with those of us basing our meals around highly refined carbohydrates devoid of fibre and nutrients? This remains to be seen, but in the meantime, eating fibre that comes naturally within plants seems to be an excellent strategy for most of us. Cauliflower rice has three times the amount of fibre than white rice.

3. Lower in carbohydrates Today, we’re drowning in carbohydrates. They’re so easy to eat and form the backbone of most snack and junk foods. Everywhere we turn, we see convenience foods made from crops processed into nothing but carbohydrates, aka energy. Go back and have a look at the opening sentence of this article. We’ve got plenty of energy, thanks very much. Most people—I say ‘most’ because most people in the world are overweight—should aim for less energy and more nutrients. Swapping cauliflowers for rice is simple and fulfils this aim perfectly.

4–8. Higher in B vitamins Cauliflower rice is nearly three times higher in vitamin B1 (thiamine), two times higher in B3 (niacin), and has over four times the amount of B6 than white rice. Cauliflowers contain B2 (riboflavin), white rice doesn’t. The cruciferous vegetable is bursting with folate (vitamin B9). Our 150 gram cooked portion has 72 micrograms (mcg) versus white rice’s pitiful 8 mcg. You should aim for about 400 mcg of folate each day. Cauliflower rice gives you 18% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) versus 2% from white rice.

9. Higher in vitamin C Vitamin C is crucial for the immune system and oodles of other functions in the body. We must get it from the diet, which makes it an essential vitamin. The RDA for vitamin C is between 65–90 milligrams (mg) per day. Our portion of cauliflower rice gives you 45 mg, or between 69–50% of that RDA, depending on your sex/weight. In one portion! 10. Higher in vitamin K1

The truth here is that vitamin K1 isn’t the best form. Its cousin K2 is more easily absorbed by humans. We can convert K1 into K2, but it seems to be a pretty inefficient transfer. Don’t be disheartened, it’s still got more K1 than white rice has, because the Asian staple doesn’t have any. Next!

11. Higher in vitamin E OK, I admit, this one’s pretty close and neither of our competitors have much vitamin E. But our portion of cauliflower wins by 0.2 mg so…

12–16. Higher in minerals It’s true, cauliflower rice is higher in calcium and phosphorous. It also has twice the amount of magnesium and nearly six times the total iron hiding away inside. In the interests of being straight up, neither has much of each when you view them as a percentage of RDA. But, our portion of cauliflower rice will give you about 9% of your RDA of potassium. Amongst other things, this critical mineral regulates fluid balance, nerve signalling, muscle contractions and a healthy heart rhythm.

17. Higher in sulforaphane You can find sulforaphane in all cruciferous vegetables. It’s one reason nutritionists consider cauliflowers a sensible addition to the diet. The chemical protects against DNA damage, a cause of cancer. It also directly protects us from carcinogens via its activation of antioxidants. By improving blood sugar control, the plant compound has metabolic benefits, and more besides. White rice doesn’t contain this useful factor.

18. Higher in choline Many people aren’t getting enough of this new kid on the block. Scientists discovered this nutrient just a couple of years before companies paid IT professionals a fortune to monitor for the dreaded Y2K bugs over New Year’s Eve. Choline must come via diet because we don’t make enough of it in the body. A deficiency of this important nutrient leads to liver damage. Healthy genetic expression relies on choline, which means it’s probably cancer protective. It’s important to have enough of this nutrient to share during pregnancy because it’s essential for fetal brain development. Our portion will give you 65 mg of choline, or 16% and 13% or your RDA for women and men, respectively.

19. More satiating

I don’t know about you, but I can eat white rice and never stop. It slips down even easier when I add fat to it. My button fly pinging across the room alerts me before my satiating hormones kick in. Fibre in cauliflower makes this kind of rice a lot more satisfying than the traditional fare. You’re likely to stop before you take someone’s eye out with your hurtling metal stud.

20. Quicker to prepare and cook A normal white rice will take about fifteen minutes to cook. Add the time to boil the water in the first place, then draining and finally serving. My cauliflower rice will take less than eleven minutes, and that’s a guarantee. Here’s how I do it:

  • Frozen, organic cauliflower florets. Fresh works, but needs more time to process before cooking.

  • Plonk into an air fryer. [Affiliate link]. A normal oven will work just as well, but wastes a lot of energy for something so simple, and requires warming.

  • 180-200 degrees C for 10 minutes, depending on your air fryer, hit play. Ping!

  • Tip into electric food processor with an S-blade. [Affiliate link] Pulse ten-ish times. Don’t put too much in, do it in batches if needs be. I use one with a glass bowl, linked above.

  • Serve, or use as you would plain old white rice.


In defence of white rice

As with all things nutrition, there are exceptions. Some people cannot tolerate cauliflower over white rice because the latter is certainly easier to digest for those with certain gut issues. It didn’t lose out on all fronts, either.

Our portion of white rice has about a gram and a half more protein than cauliflower rice, twice the amount of zinc, and four times the amount of selenium. Although it’s not an excellent source of those things compared to its former brown, husked self, I thought I’d mention them.

When all is said and done, white rice probably isn’t the major culprit in a poor diet. There are plenty of junk foods that are overeaten well before we indulge ourselves with rice. So, if you plough your way through a packet of biscuits and then make this swap, don’t expect miracles.

It’s a wrap

In a nutrition head to head, white rice does not compare to cauliflower rice. If you’re looking for a way of reducing energy and increasing nutrients, then this is a simple swap with added benefits.

I’d love to hear how you get on.

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