Rice cakes are a popular snack, prevalent in Asia, where rice is condensed or molded into a food item. There exist several varieties of rice cakes, which are consumed widely across south and east Asia; some variants use rice flour, whereas some are directly prepared with rice grains or ground rice. Consumption of rice cakes is prevalent as snacks eaten at any time of the day and they are typically served with a wide variety of condiments to enhance their flavor. The simplest form of rice cake is made up of only rice and salt and does not have any flavor of its own.
Each Asian region has its own variety of rice cake – for example the Japanese rice cake, the Burmese rice cake, the Chinese rice cake etc. There are several sub-varieties of these rice cakes as well as variances across regions. For example, the humble Chinese rice cakes are prepared in fifteen. different ways across various regions of China. Similarly, in India the flavorless rice cake is known as the popular idli from South India.
Since in its basic form the rice cake only comprises rice and salt, it is flavorless and does not contain many nutrients. Given the calorie richness of rice, the addition of condiments may contribute to increasing the nutritional value of these. However, the health benefits of rice cakes have been a subject of widespread debate in the scientific community.
As per WebMD, typically the nutritional value of a single serving of unsalted rice cake, prepared with brown rice is as follows:
7.3 grams carbohydrates
0.7 grams protein
0.4 grams fiber
0.3 milligrams manganese
2.2 micrograms selenium
0.7 milligrams niacin
32.4 milligrams phosphorus
11.8 milligrams magnesium
This is indicative of the fact that the nutritional value of this delicacy is extremely low, but usually there is addition of certain nutritive ingredients which enhance its flavour as well. However, this does not mean that rice cakes and their consumption is devoid of any benefits. Rice cakes are beneficial, and have many positive aspects for its consumption. There are several benefits that you must keep in mind while eating rice cakes!
BENEFITS OF RICE CAKES
There are certain benefits of rice cakes which can be enlisted as follows:
Rice cakes are rich in carbohydrates. Their high calorie count lends energy to individuals. Having five rice cakes is equivalent to one small meal, so go grab that bite of that rice cake!
Rice cakes are healthier when they are made of brown rice. Whole brown rice has more nutrients like protein, lipids, minerals, and vitamins than refined white rice, because they are stripped away during the refining process. Brown rice contains nutrients that are speculated to help in blood glucose regulation.
Better quality snack
Instead of eating store bought chips, wafers or biscuits, rice cakes are a healthier alternative. They can be prepared at home in a jiffy, and one can customize them according to their own tastes and preferences.
Low in calories
Each rice cake, on an average, contains only about 35-40 calories, and hence can be consumed by people following diets. It is a low calorie food item, and can be consumed at any time of the day as a quick snack in between meals.
High glycemic index
Foods that convert into glucose (sugar) quickly by the body also rank high on the glycemic index. The glycemic index contains values assigned to foods based on how quickly or slowly those foods increase blood glucose levels. The glycemic index rating for rice cakes ranges from approximately 70 to 90, depending on the brand. High glycemic foods may benefit muscle recovery post-workout or provide quick energy for endurance runners, and are beneficial for physical strength.
Rice cakes are also greatly beneficial for people who have dietary restrictions as they are a gluten free snack, and can be consumed by individuals who are allergic to gluten.
MAKING RICE CAKES HEALTHIER
You can buy many varieties of rice cakes, so they can be fairly versatile snacks. There are whole grain versions made with brown rice, miniature versions that are bagged like potato chips, and thin varieties.
Rice cakes also come in several flavor options, including savory flavors like sour cream and onion and cheddar and sweet flavors like chocolate and caramel. Miniature savory-flavored rice cakes are a lower calorie alternative to potato chips, but it’s a good idea to eat them with a yogurt- or hummus-based dip to add some protein and fat.
Try pairing rice cakes with the following ingredients to make them a healthy snack/meal option:
sliced cucumbers and tomatoes
peanut butter and sliced bananas
almond butter and sliced strawberries
Guacamole, avocados or kale with sliced cheese
sliced lean meat and tomatoes
Beans, carrots and radishes
tuna salad and celery
tomato, basil, and mozzarella
Fish meat or egg yolk