When it comes to big family gatherings, food is often the center of attention. However, just because the holidays signal hearty meals and large portions doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your healthy lifestyle to enjoy time at home. Our tip? Next time everyone gets together, volunteer to bring a side dish so you’ll know there will be a healthy option on the table to help balance out any holiday feast.
From cauliflower rice to warm veggie coleslaw, you can find a way to offer up a low-carb side that’s not your typical heavy mashed potatoes or nutrient-lacking white rice. Instead, introduce your family to one of these five low-carb rice substitutes at your next gathering.
A play on a classic side of rice and peas, this recipe for cauliflower and roasted garbanzo salad is so chock-full of flavors that you’ll enjoy it more than the original combination. Instead of familiar grains, bring cauliflower to a rice-like consistency using a food processor or blender. For the “peas,” you’ll roast seasoned chickpeas in the oven to plate with garbanzos, radishes, apples, and avocado. This side dish is anything but boring, and it makes a perfect low-carb rice substitute. Serve it on the side or place the mixture inside little radicchio lettuce cups for a little something extra.
Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker ($199-209)
Rice may feel like a mandatory side to certain main courses, but consider this winter veggie coleslaw as a worthy low-carb alternative. The colorful vegetables that make up this dish will leave you with a beautiful presentation that will complement any holiday tablescape. Plus, the homemade dressing is made of naturally flavorful ingredients like fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar so you won’t have to worry about a sugary topping bringing down the healthy aspects of this side. Try out this warm salad as a low-carb rice substitute that’s sure to impress.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration, turn your attention to this jerk shrimp stew with cauliflower rice for a perfect example of how to pair cauliflower rice with the main course to create a healthier meal with flavor combinations that are just right. Enjoy shrimp and vegetables coated with a sweet pineapple sauce paired with a light and fluffy bed of cauliflower rice. The cauliflower acts as a low-carb rice substitute and is the perfect consistency for soaking up all the yummy flavors of the sauce.
W/R/F Serving Bowl ($42)
You’ve probably heard of stuffed peppers before, and maybe you’ve even tried your hand at this fun and flavorful dish. One way to make this meal even better is to substitute the regular rice filling with low-carb cauliflower rice. This recipe for cauliflower rice stuffed peppers calls for only 10 ingredients. Just shred a head of cauliflower until it reaches a rice-like consistency, and add beans, salsa, lime juice, and spices before stuffing the mixture into a variety of bell peppers. You’ll get all of the flavors with fewer carbs than traditional rice recipes.
Anthropologie Reactive Measuring Cups ($48)
This warm winter vegetable salad may not be an exact rice replica, but it can easily make its way to the table as a low-carb side dish that pleases most palates. The dish is made of warm carrots, kumara, cauliflower, red pepper, onion, and chickpeas. It’s no ordinary roasted veggie side. Before popping in the oven, top with a delightful combination of honey, olive oil, and cumin seeds. Then add the feta dressing to finish. Serve it up on the side with a crispy flatbread or with a decadent roast lamb for a warm, comforting low-carb side dish that will make you forget why you ever ate plain old rice.