High protein foods barley dish

Trying to reduce your grain consumption because of an intolerance or just looking to lose weight through a low-carb diet? In a food system that’s rife with enriched and processed grains, it can seem impossible to cut out old standbys like rice. While this grain can be a healthier alternative to pasta or white potatoes, other high protein foods are even better.

If you’re thinking about adopting a Paleo or other grain-free lifestyle, it’s important to provide your body with as many high protein foods as possible. But as any vegan eater will tell you, eggs and other animal-based proteins aren’t your only option. Protein can be infused into your diet in many different ways, including savory side dishes. To help you get started on a grain-free lifestyle, we’ve rounded up some healthy, high-protein foods that can serve as an alternative to rice.

5 Healthy, High Protein Foods You Can Eat Instead Of Rice

high protein foods quinoa

1. Quinoa –  Pronounced “keen-wah,” this grain-like seed is literally packed with protein. Like rice, it can cook quickly, yielding a fluffy texture with a light nutty flavor that’s the perfect medium for your favorite stir-fry or stew.

2. Barley – (pictured at top) While still technically a cereal grain, barley has earned its place as one of the most versatile high fiber, high protein foods. Barley delivers a pasta-like texture and nutty flavor, and is a common ingredient in hearty vegetarian soup recipes and risottos.

vegetable fried cauliflower rice photo

3. Cauliflower – Nope, that’s not a typo. If you’ve been steaming and pureeing your cauliflower, you’re missing out. As Paleo eaters know, this cruciferous vegetable makes a pretty convincing and delicious substitute for boring white rice. With only 2.2 grams per serving, it’s not a headliner for high protein foods, but it’s got a sweet flavor, lots of fiber and potassium, and a fraction of the empty carbs of rice. Try this Vegetable Cauliflower Fried Rice Recipe if you’re skeptical.

high protein foods spelt

4. Spelt – This is an ancient grain that used to be a common part of human diets, but has faded thanks to the overwhelming popularity of wheat. “Rich in complex carbohydrates, spelt is a complete protein that provides significantly higher concentrations of essential amino acids than whole wheat,” reports SF Gate. It has a sweet, nutty chewiness that tastes a little like barley but without the slimy texture some find off-putting. In addition to a side dish, you can also us spelt to make bread. See our No Knead Spelt Bread Recipe with Dried Fruits and Nuts.

high protein foods swiss chard

5. Swiss Chard – Leafy greens are extremely trendy, but if you’re only consuming the leaves of this vegetable, you’re missing out. Swiss chard is a dark horse on the list of high protein foods (nearly 3.5 grams per cooked cup) and with a little creative preparation, the stems can be put to use as a healthy rice substitute. Just ask the Cooking Caveman.

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Image: wordridden, avlxyzScott Teresi, Rasbak, jdickert