Dining

Fast food for the health-conscious: How cauliflower rice compares to other grain bowls

Start with the good stuff when you're putting together this popular one-dish meal for yourself. The pros teach you what's what
 

Photography: Veronica Tay; Styling: Alice Chua & Shan

Grain bowls are basically fast food for the health-conscious. Whether it's for lunch or dinner, this lot is generally guilt-free. But we find out what sets the different bases apart. 

 

1. Cauliflower rice

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If you want low-carb, this is pretty much it - cauliflower florets are pulsed in a food processor until they've broken down into tiny granules resembling "rice". This is an excellent source of vitamin C (which is thought to protect against immune system deficiencies), vitamin K (which regulates normal blood clotting), and folate (which helps in the process of red blood cell formation). "Cauliflower rice contains a high level of antioxidant phytochemicals, which are said to protect against the development of cancer in its early stages," adds Yishun Community Hospital's principal dietitian Chan Sue Mei. Plus, cauliflower helps reduce the body's oxidative stress (that means stress as a result of exposure to toxins like cigarette smoke and too much alcohol). 

 

2. Red and brown rice

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You should always choose one of these two options over white rice. Bonnie Lau, lead dietitian at digital health company Holmusk, says that's because they contain almost five times more fibre as well as way more vitamins and minerals - which usually gets stripped away in the processing of white rice. 

Red rice also has antioxidants called anthocyanins - found in some fruits and vegetables - that are thought to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer, says Sue Mei. Brown rice, she adds, has niacin (more commonly known as vitamin B3), which is often used to treat anxiety

 

3. Barley 

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Eating healthy goes down a lot easier when you're eating stuff you enjoy. Most people like barley for its softer texture and malty taste - and when added to a soupier dish, it gives it a velvety and silky feel, with some bite. Barley has more fibre than brown rice and quinoa, and is also a good source of iron, niacin and vitamin B6. 

 

4. Soba

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Soba is made from a mix of buckwheat flour and white flour. Buckwheat is touted as a good source of manganese and magnesium, says Bonnie. Manganese is for better bone health, glucose metabolism and wound healing, while magnesium maintains muscle and nerve functions and keeps the heart's rhythm steady. 

 

5. Quinoa

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A gluten-free staple, quinoa is more of a seed than an actual grain. The selling point? Being high in protein and a great source of zinc, copper and magnesium - all of which are great for bone health. "Quinoa also contains relatively high levels of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant which can protect against chronic diseases," says Sue Mei. 

 

ALSO READ: A MASOCHIST'S GUIDE TO THE LATEST FAD DIETS

This story was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Her World.