Connect with us

Whole Grain Benefits

From Farro To Freekeh, Here Are 13 Rice Alternatives To Know



Photo: Jessica Gavin by Lauren Golangco

July 03, 2021

Learn about the nutritional benefits, flavors, and textures of various types of rice and other rice substitutes. Spoiler alert: Wild rice, actually not a rice variety!


Sign up for our newsletter to receive all of our top stories.


You have successfully subscribed

White rice is an essential part of Asian cuisine. It plays a central role in many dishes across all meals, from nasi lemak to banana leaf rice. However, there are many other varieties of rice and rice substitutes to explore, each with their own nutritional profile, texture, and taste. Read on to learn about different varieties of rice, grains, seeds, noodles, and even plant fibers!

Related: Everyone should know how to cook rice, says Chef Jowett Yu

White rice - the staple food we know and love!

Photo: Love and Lemons, LLC.

Despite its low fiber content and high glycemic index (GI) (around 73 GI), white rice remains one of the most popular grains in the world – largely thanks to its extreme versatility and market availability. This common grain comes in many different forms and has found its place in many different cuisines. For example, short grain arborio rice is very popular in Italian dishes, while long grain jasmine rice is widely used in Southeast Asia – including Hong Kong!

Brown rice - very similar to white rice, but with added benefits from whole grains.

Photo: Cookie and Kate

Unlike white rice, brown rice still has its very nutritious bran and germs intact. These provide brown rice with much more fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins and minerals compared to white rice. Additionally, brown rice has a lower GI of around 64-72, which means it’s better at maintaining blood sugar levels and allowing for slower energy release.

Similar: 11 Hong Kong restaurants for the best claypot rice

Red rice - one of the most nutritious varieties with low GI and antioxidant properties!

Photo: Kompass & Gabel

Called “the most nutritious variety of rice” by some, red rice is full of fiber and anthocyanins, the compounds that are responsible for the reddish hue of the grain and have an antioxidant effect. At around 55 GI, this variety of rice also has a lower GI than both white rice and brown rice. While there are both whole grain and partially ground varieties of red rice, keep in mind that the latter lack some of the nutrients than the former – opt for whole grains for maximum benefits!

Black rice - another low GI rice variety with antioxidant properties thanks to the anthocyanins.

Photo: Feast at home

Black rice – also known as banned rice or purple rice – is also filled with anthocyanins, making this cereal option another great source of antioxidants. In addition to having a firmer texture and nuttier taste than the other rice varieties, black rice also has a lower GI of 42.3.

Wild rice - actually not a rice variant, but the seeds of a water grass!

Photo: Cookie and Kate

Don’t let the name fool you – wild rice is actually a seed! While its fiber content is similar to that of brown rice, wild rice is much higher in protein, has a lower GI (45), and also contains all nine essential amino acids – those that our bodies cannot make and must therefore be ingested through our diet. Expect a strong chew and a taste reminiscent of black tea from this “rice”!

ICYMI: 7 Zero Waste Stores in Hong Kong

Adlai - a rice alternative that is grown in many regions of the country.

Photo: Healthyrow Enterprises

Adlai is an ancient grain that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Of the 11 local varieties documented by the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Research, Guilan is the most popular variety, usually referred to as “Common Adlai”. The slightly nutty, chewy grains look and taste very similar to white rice, but have a lot more protein and fiber while maintaining a low GI (around 35), making them an excellent rice substitute.

Quinoa - a common rice alternative that is actually a seed!

Photo: Gimme Some Oven

Although quinoa is considered a grain by many, this hugely popular low GI (53) rice alternative is actually a seed! Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, plus lots of fiber, protein, and a good amount of healthy fats.

Related: The Ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine That Can Boost Your Health

Shirataki Rice - an extremely low calorie option that soaks up any flavor you throw in your direction!

Photo: The Low Carb Muse

Consisting of about “97% water and 3% glucomannan fibers”, Shirataki rice or konjak rice has a very low calorie and carbohydrate profile. While its texture is different from regular rice, it is also a great addition to savory or soupy dishes as it is “near-tasteless” and will soak up all of the flavor easily.

Photo: Jennifer Segal

Couscous is another common rice alternative that actually does not belong to the grain family – rather, couscous is a “small-beaded pasta” made from semolina flour. There are three main types of couscous, each different in size: Moroccan (the smallest), Israeli, and Lebanese (the largest). While couscous is delicious and extremely versatile, it doesn’t have the best nutritional profile and a mean GI of 65.

Barley - similar to Adlai, with a chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste.

Photo: Of course

Barley is another high-fiber grain that is widely used as a rice substitute – and aside from shirataki (which has a GI of 0 due to its low calorie content), it has the lowest GI on the list at just 28. Similar to Adlai, barley has a chewy texture and a mild, nutty taste. It’s usually sold either peeled or pearled, with peeled barley still having the bran and germ intact and therefore providing more protein and fiber per serving than the pearled variety.

See also: Plant Chef Peggy Chan on Zero Foodprint Asia

Bulgur - the fastest cooking whole grain, perfect for anyone looking for a practical, high-fiber alternative.

Photo: Deliciously Mediterranean

Bulgur is best known for its place in tabbouleh and other salads, but bulgur is also a good substitute for rice. Like adlai and barley, bulgur is a tough, slightly nutty grain, but also the “fastest cooking” whole grain, which makes it particularly handy for anyone looking for a high-fiber, low GI alternative (46).

Farro - an ancient whole grain that can take some time to prepare, but has great taste and texture!

Photo: Pinchandswirl

Another common low GI rice substitute is Farro (45 GI). The preparation of this original whole grain takes a little longer, but it promises a great bite and a nutty, slightly cinnamon-like taste that is worth the effort. The pearl and semi-pearl varieties do not need to be soaked overnight, but they are also less nutritious than the protein-rich and fiber-rich whole Farro.

Freekeh - a whole grain with a unique smoke flavor and a low GI!

Photo: Live Eat Learn

Like many on the list, this cereal has a slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture, which makes it a great substitute for rice – but Freekeh also has a mild, smoky flavor thanks to the roasting process that removes the peel. Although Freekeh is generally sold as whole grain or crack, the only difference between them is that Cracked Freekeh has been broken into smaller pieces for faster cooking and a softer texture. Therefore, both technically are whole grains and their nutritional benefits are the same: low GI (43), high fiber, and high protein.

Related: The best noodles in Hong Kong, according to food stylist Gloria Chung

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

Continue Reading

Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Continue Reading

Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2017 Zox News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by WordPress.