Rice cakes are a healthy, gluten-free option for snacks, breakfast and dessert. Here are three healthy brown rice cakes recipe ideas featuring nutrient-dense toppings and creative combinations that will send your taste buds soaring!
This post is sponsored by our friends at Sprouts Farmers Market. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Root + Revel possible.
I was just having a conversation with my friend earlier this week about what “eating healthy” really means. It seems everyone on the planet has their own idea of what healthy eating looks like–for some it's about counting calories. For others it's eliminating food groups, like carbs or fats. Others like to label their diet, like Paleo or Vegan.
Me? I guess I would define a healthy diet as one that is based in real foods that are anti-inflammatory, since inflammation is the cause of basically every chronic disease.
Regardless of what kind of label you put on it, the underlying concept I always seem to come back to is nutrients.
When I am eating a nutrient-rich diet, I feel my best. My digestion flows smoothly, my hormones are balanced so my energy is high, my skin is clear, my cycles are regular, and I just feel great. It's not about whether or not I'm eating gluten or dairy or meat or whatever evil offender is trendy to hate right now.
It's about adding more nutrients in–simply eating more of the good, and letting go of the rest. If I try to work as many fruits and vegetables as I can into every meal I eat, it doesn't matter as much what else is in the dish because my body is being flooded with nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
So that's how I try to think about food–what can I make (or order, if I'm eating out) that has the most nutrients? It may be a pasta that's laden with veggies. It may be a big salad or grain bowl that's got some quality protein on top. It doesn't matter, so long as it's nutrient-dense.
What do you think? What does healthy mean to you?
So, when Sprouts approached me about teaming up with them to create some fun recipes using their Organic Brown Rice Cakes, I was thrilled!
Yes, this is the perfect example of how you can take a meal (whether it's breakfast, snacks or even dessert) and add as many nutrients as possible to it, resulting in a super healthy dish, appetizer and/or snacks recipe that's as delicious as it is nourishing. Take a look!
Rice Cakes for Breakfast (or Dessert!)
The first idea I had for rice cake toppings was to make a sweet-version of roasted butternut squash, topped with superfoods like pomegranate seeds, almond butter and probiotic-rich yogurt.
OH. MY. GOD. You guys, this is my new favorite obsession–these sweet rice cakes are perfect for breakfast, mid-day snacking and even dessert! And check it, they are SO good for you!
Rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, butternut squash is full of fiber (great for digestion), potassium (bone health), vitamin B6 (essential for nervous and immune systems), folate (heart-healthy), tons of Vitamin C and most importantly carotenoids like beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A). (source)
And that's before you even consider the immunity boost you'll get from the pomegranate seeds, the hormone-balancing effect you'll receive from the cinnamon, the healthy fats from the almond butter and the probiotics from the vanilla yogurt.
This butternut squash rice cake is a nutritional powerhouse! Even the rice cakes themselves are providing some much-needed nutrients in the form of fiber and complex carbs, plus Magnesium, Zinc, Phosphorus and Vitamin B3.
Plus, the rice cakes themselves are organic, whole grain, gluten free (and wheat free), dairy free, and Vegan.
What are rice cakes made of? Is it good for you?
Heck to the yes! Though just snacking on plain rice cakes isn't exactly the definition of nutrient-dense, they can serve as a healthy, low-calorie base for fruits, veggies and other healthy toppings.
One of the most popular Google searches when it comes to rice cakes is “why are brown rice cakes bad for you?”. It's so funny to me because the answer is: they're NOT!
People are often really concerned about the glycemic index of rice cakes, or whether rice cakes are a complex carb. So let's take a look:
On the glycemic index, a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or quickly it increases your blood glucose levels, rice cakes clock in at 77, on average, which is pretty high.
Though foods that are low on the GI index are generally better for diabetics, or those watching their blood sugar, as well as people who are dieting or trying to cut weight, the glycemic index tells only part of the story, which is where the Glycemic Load comes in. And rice cakes are just 17 on this index. (source)
What's more? Are rice cakes gluten-free?
Science has proven that diets full in unrefined, fiber-rich whole carbs will not raise blood sugar or insulin levels, and can actually reduce fasting insulin levels by 30 to 40 percent. (source)
Plus, a serving of two rice cakes (which contains roughly 1 gram of fiber) is just 15 grams of carbs (compared to the 50 grams that GI index uses to measure food), so you'd have to eat nearly 7 rice cakes in order to reach that number. These recipes call for just 2 rice cakes per serving.
Coupled with the healthy toppings, like fiber, protein and healthy fats, you add to the rice cakes, which will impact how quickly your blood glucose levels are affected, I think they're an excellent choice! Any plant-based foods you eat from whole grain sources are generally always going to be a good option.
So which rice cakes are the healthiest? As always, it depends on what the rice cakes are made of, what they contain in their ingredients and/or how the rice cakes are processed.
I recommend looking for an organic brand that's made with whole grain, non-GMO brown rice. And then looking for brands that don't include any additives or preservatives. Sprouts' in-house brand fits the bill perfectly–they offer both lightly salted and plain options. You could use either for this recipe (and the other two), as the salt is so minimal it won't affect the taste, if only to balance out the sweetness here.
As you can see, rice cakes are a super healthy option when it comes to snacking, and because rice cakes don't taste like a whole lot (imagine pure brown rice in a puffed, crunchy form and that's what a rice cake tastes like; essentially a slightly nutty neutral) you can top them with just about anything to make a delicious meal.
In fact, here's another fun snack recipe idea for rice cakes.
Japanese-Style Rice Cakes with Avocado
I cannot stop eating these. They basically give me my sushi fix, without having to spend a fortune.
I rely on those classic Japanese flavors, like seaweed (nori), sesame, sriracha and avocado, to make these and they're assembled in just a two minutes flat.
Plus you get tons of nutrients from the toppings, like heart-healthy omega-3s from the avocado, metabolism-boosting properties from the chiles, and thyroid-nourishing benefits from the nori. I eat these for breakfast, for snacks, really any old time.
Try topping yours with a fried egg, too. Because everything's better when you #putaneggonit.
Mediterranean Rice Cakes H'ors D'oeuvres
For the third recipe, I wanted to make something that could be served as an hors d'oeuvres at a party. What's better than a Mediterranean veggie platter with cured meats and hummus?
I was stoked to see that Sprouts has a few in-house brand options for this one–I used their delicious artichoke spread and a jar of their roasted red peppers to make rice cake toppings. Expect lots of digestive support from the antioxidants in the artichokes, plus plenty of phytochemicals, carotenoids (namely beta-carotene) and anti-inflammatory benefits from the peppers.
The olives add a subtle tang and Vitamin E boost, while the salami adds an addictive savory bite full of protein. It's all topped off with fresh basil, which is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
Oh and did I mention this delicious rice cake starts with a hummus base, boosting the protein ante along with heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Yeah, you're gonna want to make extras of this one for your next party. 😉
Where to Buy Rice Cakes
At this point, you're probably wondering who sells rice cakes and how quickly you can make it to the store so you can make all of these recipes immediately, amiright?
While most grocery stores sell rice cakes (you can usually find them in the cereal or cracker aisle), I recommend Sprouts Organic Brown Rice Cakes. They're just $0.99 per package, and you'll get 15 rice cakes per bag.
If you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag the recipe #rootandrevel/@rootandrevel on Instagram.
Japanese-Style Rice Cakes with Avocado
- In a small bowl, mash avocado with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Evenly divide the mashed avocado over the two rice cakes, spreading in an even layer.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon or sriracha over each rice cake. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds over each rice cake. Garnish each rice cake with 1 teaspoon nori strips.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Vanilla + Cinnamon Butternut Squash Rice Cakes
- 1 cup organic butternut squash, peeled and diced (Sprouts sells it pre-chopped for convenience)
- 1 tablespoon 4th & Heart vanilla bean ghee, melted (can substitute plain ghee or coconut oil)
- 1 tablespoon organic ground cinnamon (I recommend Simply Organic)
- 4 4 Sprouts Brand organic brown rice cakes
- 4 tablespoons organic vanilla yogurt (look for full-fat brands with no additives, like Siggi's 4%)
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 4 teaspoons almond butter (I recommend Wild Friends)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Toss diced squash with melted ghee and cinnamon. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Spread 1 tablespoon vanilla yogurt in an even layer over each rice cake. Top with 1/4 cup roasted squash and 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds. Drizzle each rice cake 1 teaspoon almond butter over each rice cake.
- Serve and enjoy!
Mediterranean Rice Cakes
- 4 Sprouts Brand organic brown rice cakes
- 4 tablespoons roasted red pepper hummus (I recommend Hope Foods)
- 4 teaspoons Sprouts Brand artichoke sauce
- 4 tablespoons Sprouts Brand roasted red peppers, diced
- 4 teaspoons organic green olives, sliced
- 4 slices organic salami (look for brands without nitrates)
- 1 tablespoon fresh, organic basil, minced
- Spread 1 tablespoon hummus over each rice cake. Top each rice cake with 1 teaspoon artichoke sauce, 1 tablespoon diced roasted red peppers, 1 teaspoon sliced olives, and 1 slice of salami. Garnish each rice cake with fresh basil.
- Serve and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser