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

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

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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