When I taught school, I needed snacks at my desk that I could grab in between classes.
I crave crunchy and sweet, so to keep myself out of the bags of potato chips and M&Ms I kept caramel rice cakes at hand.
While rice cakes are a healthier choice than potato chips, they may not be the right choice for everyone.
Say you love your rice cakes and don’t want to give them up, but you need to improve the nutrition in your snacking.
Eat only one rice cake but top it with something nutrient-dense, like nut butter, fruit, avocado, cottage cheese, or hummus.
If you need the best keto-friendly or gluten-free option try making some flaxseed crackers or keto cheese crackers or grabbing fresh fruit or vegetables. If you just need a crunch in your snack food, try roasted chickpeas, nuts, nut-based snack bars or air-popped popcorn. However, if you need a simple cracker-type option, try nut thins, Simple farmhouse cheddar crackers or Grain-Free Crackers, or other puffed grain cakes.
Keep reading to find out how to make your rice cake a better snack, what you can substitute for a satisfying but healthier crunch, other cracker-type options, keto-friendly and gluten-free choices, and some portable healthy snacks for kids’ lunchboxes.
Rice Cake Substitutes
1)Peanut Butter and Banana
Choose a natural peanut butter with no added sugars and slice up half a banana to top your mid-morning treat.
One tablespoon of peanut butter(100 calories) adds 4 g of protein to your rice cake snack. You also get a bit of potassium, calcium, and iron.
You can choose natural peanut butter to avoid added sugars. If you add half a banana (45 calories), you also get potassium, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and dietary fiber.
2)Almond or any Nut Butter, Plain or Drizzled with Honey
If peanut butter is off the table, try almond butter or other nut butter. Add a little drizzle of local honey for a sweet bite.
One teaspoon of almond butter has 98 calories, 3.4 g of protein, 4.3% DV of calcium, and 3.1% DV of iron.
This teaspoon of almond butter only adds 3 carbohydrates to your rice cake. A Drizzle of natural honey (½ teaspoon) has 11 calories and 8 carbs.
Honey is essentially all sugar, with only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that change depending on the pollens it is made from.
Local honey may help minimize seasonal allergies, and besides, it just tastes good.
3)Avocado and Fresh Ground Pepper
For a fresh-tasting super crunchy alternative, slice half an avocado and serve it up on top of your favorite bread. Top it with pepper for a little kick.
One-half an avocado has 160 calories, 15g of healthy fats, and 8g carbohydrates. This topping will add 14% DV of potassium, 3% DV vitamin A, 17% DV vitamin C, 3% DV iron, and 1% calcium. This will definitely satisfy your hunger until your next meal.
4)Cottage Cheese (And Maybe Sliced Peaches)
I prefer the mini rice cakes over the big ones, so having something to dip them in is appealing.
If you like cottage cheese, you can get a nice protein boost with your rice cake. One-fourth cup of cottage cheese has 6 g of protein, 50 calories, and 2 carbs. It has 3.5% DV of calcium and trace amounts of vitamin A, C, Iron, and potassium.
If you like a sweet bite with your snack, add a few slices of peach. One whole peach has 68 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, 17 g of carbs, and is a good source of vitamins A and C.
5)Hummus and Sliced Peppers (or Another Favorite Veggie)
Hummus is one of my favorite snacks, but I just have to eat it with something crunchy.
Spreading it on a super crunchy rice cake seems only natural. ⅓ cup of plain hummus has 100 calories, 6g of fat, and 8g of carbs.
It has 4% DV of potassium, 2% DV calcium, and 8% DV of iron. If you are buying pre-made hummus, check for the sodium content if that is a concern for you.
You can also add a few slices of sweet red pepper or your favorite sliced vegetable to this snack for a fresh, crunchy, nutrition-packed treat.
6)Basil Pesto and Sliced Grilled Chicken
Pesto is a fresh, green, fragrant sauce. If you have some leftover from dinner, try spreading it on your rice cake and topping it with some sliced grilled chicken (or whatever leftover chicken you have). This will be a hearty snack or even your lunch.
One tablespoon of pesto has 92 calories, 9 g of fat, and 1 carbohydrate. One serving of chicken (about ¼ cup) has 80 calories, 4.5 g carbs, 0 carbs, and 9 g of protein.
7)Nut Thins – Best Healthier Rice Cakes Substitutes
Nut Thins are a delicious alternative to gluten-filled crackers and also make a good alternative to rice cakes. However, they do contain rice flour.
Nineteen crackers contain 130 calories, 2g of protein, 1g of dietary fiber, 23g of carbohydrates, and 5% DV sodium.
One serving (19 crackers) of original flavor Almond Nut-Thins has 130 calories, 24 g carbs, 3 g protein, 5% DV of sodium, 2% DV of calcium, and 2% DV of potassium.
These delightful crunchy crackers
8)Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers
are made from almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, tapioca flour, cassava flour, cheddar cheese, and other seasonings.
One serving of 17 crackers has 150 calories, 8g of fat, 17g of carbohydrates, 3g of protein 10% DV of sodium, 4 % DV of calcium, and 2% DV of potassium.
Crunchmaster brand products are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, & whole grain. They are careful to get their ingredients from trustworthy sources to ensure the highest quality.
Some of their products contain rice flour, so read the labels carefully. We are listing the products that do not contain rice flour here.
Bistro crisps are made from popped cassava, tapioca starch, coconut flour, sesame flour, olive oil, and other natural flavors (depending on the flavor of the crisps).
They are free from gluten, peanut, artificial flavors, cholesterol, dairy, and grains. These crisps are suitable for Kosher, paleo, and vegan diets.
One serving of Bistro chips (63 crisps) has 120 calories, 23 g of carbohydrates, 3g of fats, 2g dietary fiber, 1g of protein, 11% DV sodium, and traces of iron and potassium.
These crackers are made from cassava root flour and coconut flour. Like the Bistro Crisps, this product is gluten-free, peanut-free, kosher, non-GMO, and suitable for a Paleo diet.
One serving (about 19 crackers) has 110 calories, 2g fat, 24g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, and traces of calcium, iron, and potassium. They have 5% DV of sodium, 61% less than the average grain-based cracker.
10)Skinny Pop Popcorn Mini Cakes
Skinny Pop has a rice-free solution to your light snacking needs – a crunchy popcorn cake.
The sea salt flavor mini cakes only have three ingredients: popcorn, sunflower oil, and sea salt.
Other varieties will have additional ingredients. These mini cakes are non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut and tree-nut free.
One serving (22 cakes) has 120 calories. This serving contains 3.5 g fat, 18 g carbohydrates, 3g proteins, 7% DV sea salt, and traces of iron and potassium.
11)PopCorners Sea Salt Flavor
PopCorners are chip-like snacks made from only three ingredients: Popped corn, sunflower oil, and sea salt.
(Other flavors have more ingredients.) These snacks are not fried, non-GMO, certified gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan.
Try them on their own or top them with one of our suggestions for topping rice cakes.
They have a neutral flavor so they will work with many dips or toppings. One ½ ounce serving (single-serve bag) has 60 calories, 1.5 g of fat, 11 g of carbohydrates, and 4% DV of sodium.
12)Suzie’s Thin Puffed Cakes
Suzie’s makes a variety of thin puffed grain cakes. You are sure to find one that suits your needs and tastes.
These thinner cakes make a good substitution for bread, so try them for your favorite sandwich. These items are processed in a facility that processes wheat and milk.
Organic Corn Cakes
The organic corn cakes have only corn and sea salt. One serving, 3 cakes, has 51 calories, 11 g of carbohydrates, less than 1% of the DV of sodium, and 1 g of protein.
Organic Spelt & Flax Seeds
This variety of thin puffed cakes contains organic spelt wheat and organic flax seeds. Try topping them with cheese or fruit spread.
One 3 piece serving has 51 calories, 1 g of fat, 9 g of carbohydrates, 1 g of sodium, and 2 g of protein.
13)Roasted Chickpeas – Best Crunchy Non-Rice Snack Options
Chickpeas are a member of the legume family. They are packed full of nutrition, so some crispy roasted chickpeas meet your desire for crunch and will fill you up until your next meal.
One cup of chickpeas has 729 valuable, nutrition-packed calories. It has 12 g of fats, and 121g of carbohydrates.
You will benefit from eating chickpeas due to the 50% DV of potassium, 78% DV of protein, 13% DV of vitamin C, 21% DV of calcium, 69% DV iron, 55% DV vitamin B6 and 57% DV magnesium. Although they are higher in calories, they pack a powerful nutritional punch.
You can roast your own chickpeas in the oven. Hot crispy chickpeas are amazing. After they cool, they are not as crispy, but they are chewy and nutty.
Roast them first, then toss them in whatever seasoning you like so the spices don’t become bitter in the oven.
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.Drain, rinse, and pat dry one 25 oz can of chickpeas.
3.Let them air dry for a few minutes.
4.Toss the chickpeas in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
5.Spread the chickpeas into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes. Some may pop, but that is ok.
6.Toss the hot chickpeas in your choice of spices and eat them while they are still hot.
14)Nut-based Snack Bars
Snack bars are convenient since they are individually wrapped and stay fresh for a long time.
Nut-based snack bars will be high in protein and have healthy fats that will keep you full much longer than a rice cake will.
Nuts will also help you maintain a stable blood sugar level. When you choose a snack bar, check the ingredients so that you don’t end up with one that is mostly sugar. The following options each have less than 10 g of sugar.
- This Saves Lives – Madagascar Vanilla Almond and Honey Chewy Granola Bar
- Kind – Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars
- Nature Valley – Roasted Nut Crunch
- Kashi – Chocolate Almond Sea Salt with Chia
Of course, nuts on their own make a great crunchy snack. When they are not in a bar, you have a better idea of what is in them.
For the healthiest choices stay away from sweetened nuts and look for those that are only lightly salted or have seasonings like cinnamon or cayenne.
Also, if you eat shell-on nuts, like pistachios, it will slow you down. Your brain and stomach will have time to sync up with satisfaction, so you eat less.
- Mixed nuts
Earlier we discussed popcorn chips or popcorn cakes. But plain old popcorn is a great choice for a snack to relace rice cakes as well. It is crisp, crunchy, and filling, so it is an appealing snack.
However, you do have to be careful not to go overboard with oil, butter, and salt or you can make the snack unhealthy.
Air-popped popcorn is a whole grain food with a low glycemic index. Therefore, it may be helpful in maintaining stable blood sugar in people with Type 2 Diabetes. It is less likely to cause a blood glucose spike in people with Type 1 Diabetes.
One 3-cup (popped) serving of air-popped popcorn has 93 calories, 18 g of carbohydrates, 3.6 g of dietary fiber, and only 1 g of fat. It also contains vital nutrients including, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and Vitamins A, B6, E, and K.
17)Flaxseed Crackers – Best Keto-Friendly Alternative
Flax crackers are crunchy bite-sized snacks made from flax meal. And you can easily make your own with just 4 basic ingredients:
- 1 cup Ground Flaxseed
- ½ cup Water
- Spices to taste – about 3-5 teaspoons (Try garlic powder, dried rosemary, salt, and onion powder for a good-with-everything flavor. Spice things up with paprika, oregano, and just a touch of cayenne pepper. Or, if you like a cheesy flavor, add some nutritional yeast.)
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1.Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the water. Stir with a spatula at first, then form the dough into a ball with your hands. You can add additional dribbles or water or dust the dough with more flaxseed meal to adjust the moisture.
2.Since the dough will be sticky, place it in between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll it out to 2-4 mm thick.
3.Cut the crackers into your desired size and shape, reshaping the dough as needed. (Makes about 20 crackers)
4.Place the crackers and the parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Pierce the crackers with a fork 2-3 times each.
5.Bake the crackers at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Check on them every 5 minutes after the first 15 so that you can manage how crispy they become. Thin crackers will cook faster.
6.Store cooled crackers in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
These crackers have .5g carbs per cracker (1/20th of the recipe). They have 3g of fat, 1.3 g of protein, and 38 calories. Try them with hummus or avocado dip.
18)Keto Cheese Crackers
If you like cheese crackers, you can still have them on a keto diet. This recipe for keto-friendly cheese crackers is easy to make and delicious to eat.
1.In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine 1 cup almond flour and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. (Or whatever flavor you like best)
2.Blend the dough until it is smooth. If it is crumbly, add water ¼ teaspoon at a time and blend again until it is smooth.
3.Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it is very thin. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter.
4.Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
5.Flip the crackers over and bake for another 6 minutes. Sprinkle with salt while still hot.
6.Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a week.
Change up the recipe by adding a variety of spices and seasonings.
Fresh fruit is clearly not a rice cake, but you can get some similar satisfaction from crisp fruits like apples and pears.
Bananas and oranges are easily portable. Berries and grapes are great snacks that give you the feeling of eating several items because you can eat them one at a time and still not go overboard.
Similarly, you can keep some crispy veggies for a satisfying crunch. You’ll have to prep these ahead of time, but this is a great way to increase your vegetables.
Try carrot sticks or jicama slices for a satisfying crunch. If you like the task of shelling nuts, try edamame. It will slow you down as you snack but still give you concentrated nutrients.
Tiny tomatoes or broccoli florets give you the feeling of eating a lot of something without having too many Skittles.
If your rice cake habit was a replacement for breakfast or lunch, take 10 minutes and have oatmeal instead.
Top it with fresh fruit and cinnamon for extra flavor. Oatmeal to stay with you throughout the day instead of making you hungry again quickly like rice cakes.
A couple of slices of cheese makes a great snack instead of rice cakes. (Or on top of them) Cheese is high in protein and has 1 carb per ounce, so it won’t spike your blood sugar.
If you really want the crunch, you can make crispy cheese chips. This works especially well with parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grate fresh parmesan cheese and arrange it in small piles on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake them for 5-10 minutes until golden brown and let them cool. You will end up with a light, crispy, salty bite that is satisfying by itself or as a topping on a salad, a baked potato, or a burger.
Rice Cake Nutrition
Rice cakes are made from whole grain puffed rice and a little salt which are pressed into a sheet then cut out and packaged.
Some flavors have more salt and other flavors like cinnamon, caramel, chocolate, and cheese.
One plain rice cake (9 grams) made from brown rice offers
- Calories: 35
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- And trace amounts of niacin, manganese, copper, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
They also contain minimal amounts of several other vitamins and minerals Their sodium content depends on whether they’re salted. If you’re watching your salt intake, check the sodium on the
What are Rice Cakes?
To clarify, this article discusses substitutions for the American snack food, rice cakes. They are made from puffed rice pressed into circular cakes.
They are sold as a low-fat, whole-grain snack food. Some varieties are lightly salted, while others have a dusting of cinnamon, chocolate, or caramel.
Common brands of rice cakes are Quaker and Lundberg Farms. Many grocery store chains sell store brands as well.
Make Your Rice Cakes a Better Snack
Perhaps you are like me and you don’t want to completely abandon your rice cakes. After all, they are satisfyingly crunchy.
And if you are looking for a lower-calorie snack, they meet that requirement. Try adding a nutrient-dense topping to one rice cake instead of eating two or more low-nutrient rice cakes.
Of course, when you start adding toppings to rice cakes, the calorie count, sugars, and fats are going to increase.
However, the nutritional benefit and length of time you will feel satisfied will also increase.
You won’t be hungry for another snack in less than an hour if you increase the nutrients in your snack.
Korean Rice Cakes – Garaetteok
When you start googling the word rice cakes, you will find the American crunchy puffed rice snack treat and a kind of cooked rice flour cake or noodle that is cooked in sauce for a meal.
For clarification, we are going to discuss the second kind of rice cake here, even though they are quite different than the American snack food.
The Korean rice cake is a short cylindrical rice cake made with short-grain white rice flour. The rice cakes are about as big around as a boba tea straw but 2 inches long.
They are white, don’t have much flavor, and have a lovely chewy texture. They are a common Korean street food tossed in a variety of sauces, sometimes with vegetables and other proteins.
Tteokbokki is an extremely popular rice cake dish. The sauce is made from gochujang sauce.
It is often served as just the noodle and sauce as comfort food, but you may also find it with veggies for a full meal.
Substitutions For Korean Rice Cakes – Garaetteok
- You may be able to find them pre-made at a Korean grocer or you can make your own.
- If rice products are off the table for you, try making gnocchi, Italian potato pasta.
- Another possibility is Potato Starch Noodles. Some pre-made ones have wheat starch so check labeling if you are sensitive to gluten.
- Try these Sweet Potato Glass Noodles for a gluten-free option.
- One more gluten-free option is noodles made from the yucca/cassava root. They may also be called tapioca noodles.
A keto diet is made of high (healthy) fat, low-carb foods like eggs, meat, and low-carb vegetables.
On average, a keto diet should be made of only 5% carbohydrates (20-50 g based on the overall totals).
Therefore, rice cakes are not keto-friendly because they are low fat and have empty calories.
Gluten-Free Snacking Options
Some of the items we have listed already are gluten-free. If you want a cracker-like substitute for a rice cake, both of the crackers listed in the Keto-Friendly section are gluten-free.
You may also like popcorn, nuts, roasted chickpeas, PopCorners or SkinnyPop popcorn cakes, or Crunchmaster’s Bistro Crisps or Grain-Free Crackers.
Naturally, you can add your favorite toppings to any of these crackers for a more nutritionally sound snack.
However, if you want something more or something different, try fresh fruit and vegetables, hummus, a bowl of oatmeal, or cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Arsenic in Rice A Problem? Do Rice Products Cause Cancer?
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element. When rice grows in soil with higher concentrations of arsenic (and other minerals) it is absorbed into the plant.
This raised alarm bells for multiple groups of people: those who eat rice or rice products daily, people with Celiac disease or other gluten intolerances, and small children and infants.
Many foods for infants are made from rice, like rice cereal and puffed rice snacks.
Knowing that arsenic, even in small to moderate amounts can be dangerous for small children, parents and food safety organizations began working to remedy this problem.
In many cases, the production of baby food now includes an assortment of grains to reduce the amount of rice that young children eat. Food safety groups recommend that very young children not drink rice milk exclusively.
Otherwise, eating rice and rice products in moderation as a teen or adult is safe.
Do Rice Cakes Raise Your Blood Sugar?
Managing your blood glucose levels can be a dizzying proposition. When you start reading labels, you find information about sugars, carbs, net carbs, glycemic index, and other information.
Different groups will interpret this information in different ways. As the parent of two children with Type 1 Diabetes, I find the whole mess misleading.
A carb is a carb is a carb. Whether it comes from refined cane sugar, fresh fruit, or grain, it will raise your blood sugar.
You should consider whether or not the food you are eating benefits you nutritionally along with those carbs.
Rice cakes don’t have much nutritional value. They are mostly carbs and air. Therefore, while they are low in calories, they will raise your blood glucose levels.
If you love rice cakes, add a protein like a tablespoon of nut butter or a slice of cheese with avocado.
That way your light, crunchy rice cake will be the vehicle that gets other nutrients into you.
The proteins will help slow the breakdowns of the carbs into sugars, therefore slowing the rise in blood sugar.
As always – ask your doctor or nutritionist. We are experienced parents, but not medical professionals.
Can You Eat Rice Cakes On A Keto Diet?
Rice cakes are not keto-friendy. Keto diet plans focus on food options with healthy fats and low carbs.
Rice cakes are the opposite – 0 fat and 7 carbs (Quaker lightly salted rice cakes). If you need a crunchy keto treat, try flaxseed crackers or keto cheese crackers instead.
Are Rice Cakes Bad For You?
They aren’t bad for you necessarily, but they don’t offer any nutritional benefits either.
Due to their simple carbs and potential additional sugars, they may cause blood sugars to spike in people with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.
Are Rice Cakes Plant-Based?
Yes. In fact, some of them are made from whole grain brown rice. They are a reasonable addition to a low-calorie vegan diet.
While rice cakes are not the most nutritious snack, they are not necessarily bad for you in moderation.
If you really like eating them, consider having only one large rice cake and topping it with something that is nutrient-dense like nut butter or avocado slices.
That way you get your low-calorie crunch, but you also get much-needed nutrition and a snack that will stick with you longer.
If you are trying to avoid rice altogether, try popcorn cakes or crisps as a substitute for rice cakes.
You can also find other crackers that do not contain rice or rice flour such as Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar crackers, Crunchmaster Bistro Crisps or grain-free crackers, or Suzie’s thin corn cakes or spelt & flax cakes.
If you are looking for crunch in your snacks, you can try popcorn, roasted chickpeas, nuts, or nut-based snack bars. Of course, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and oatmeal are always good options.
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