Low-Carb Alternative to White Rice: Beyond Basics

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White rice in a white bowl on the wooden table with a text "white rice substitute".

As an Asian kid, I grew up eating white rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Some days I even eat it for merienda, our version of “snack.” 

So that’s five times in a day. Because, yes, we snack around 9-10 in the morning, then 3-4 in the afternoon. 

And that’s not counting the midnight snacking! When both the hunger and the clock strike 12, you’re a slave to your baser self. 

Namamahaw, as we Filipinos call it. The term is attributed to eating rice aside from the three main meals. 

The act of namamahaw came from the word ‘bahaw,’ which means leftover white rice. It’s basically eating rice that wasn’t consumed during a previous meal and has been saved to be eaten later. 

I know, I know. This isn’t healthy!

No matter how much white rice is deliciously exquisite, I can’t consume it at this rate. 

And so! It is with much joy (not really) that you and I get to share low-carb rice substitutes. 

Why We Love White Rice

White rice in a black bowl.

If you haven’t gathered it yet, white rice is more than just “kind of” a big deal for Asians. It’s life itself! 

It’s made from milled rice. It’s the result of removing the husk, bran, and germ. 

The process gives white rice its color and smooth texture. Unfortunately, though, it also removes some of the nutrients. 

Can’t I just say, “Live fast, die young?” White rice might even be my first love. 

I already tried giving it up before, you know. I lasted for two (excruciating) years! 

But the moment a spoonful entered my mouth, I broke my streak and came crawling back with promises of loyalty and unconditional love. 

Why the Need for White Rice Substitutes

I know some of you need to follow strict dietary restrictions. As such, you need to limit your carbohydrate intake.

But this is the only reason I’ll accept why any of you won’t eat white rice 😉

No worries, we’re a team here. Your cough burdens cough are mine as well. 

Here are some low-carb white rice substitutes:

Beef Tapa with Shirataki Rice

Beef tapa with egg, tomato and cucumber in a black bowl.

It’s a miracle! A miracle, I say. 

Our first low-carb substitute is literally nicknamed the ‘miracle rice.’

Shirataki rice has this “magical” ability to fill you up without actually adding other substantial calories. 

And to think that this rice already has a low-calorie count. One serving contains less than five calories!

Of course, we’re balancing it with a (my) beloved Filipino breakfast dish. Think of beef tapa as this tug-of-war between savory and sweet.


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp of calamansi juice
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • ½ tsp of pepper
  • ¼ tsp of ground ginger
  • 14 oz of shirataki rice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of water or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Combine the beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, calamansi juice, garlic, pepper, and ginger in a large bowl. Mix and marinate overnight. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium fire. Add the shirataki rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Pour the water or broth, and season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes in low heat. 
  4. Cook the marinated beef in another pan over medium fire for about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Serve together with fried egg on top. 

Ginataang Cauliflower Rice with Shrimp

Cauliflower rice is another healthy white rice alternative, making a name for itself in the rice world. 

A feat because it’s technically not rice. 

You can easily make cauliflower rice at home, too. Just pulse the florets in a food processor. 

So you see? 

It is still very much cauliflower. It just happens to resemble rice-sized grains.  

Make it a ginataan with shrimp, and you won’t be able to tell the difference! 

Basically, “ginataan” means cooked in coconut milk. We’re making a popular and flavorful dish for our second recipe. 


  • 1 head of cauliflower turned into rice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 grated inch of ginger
  • 13.5oz of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of shelled shrimp
  • ½ cup of chopped snow peas
  • ¼ cup of chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • ½ tsp of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped cilantro


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and cook until it turns soft. 
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger, then cook for a minute. 
  3. Add the cauliflower rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. 
  5. Throw in the shrimp, snow peas, and bell pepper. Cook everything for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Include the fish sauce and basil, then season with salt and pepper
  7. Garnish with cilantro before serving. 

Why Settle for White

Full image of white rice.

Alright, alright. I stand corrected. 

It looks like these white rice substitutes can hold their own and have much to offer. Color me impressed (and persuaded).

Still, I’m a Filipino through and through. But what’s a few days of having low-carb substitutes for dinner, huh? 

I’m sure I’ll survive. 

As for you, my dear Foodies, a few parting words…

Eating well shouldn’t be seen as a chore, okay? It should be a mouthwatering adventure that tickles the senses. 

Grab your spoons and explore!

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