My Secret Weapon for Healthy Snacking
If you’re as much of a foodie like me, creating a healthy balance between guilty pleasures and healthy eating is a needed balance. Thankfully, companies are making a wider variety of better-for-you food options. Choices include portion-controlled packaging, added fresh food options, and simple changes such as the ingredients. But, even with added options, one challenge of incorporating a healthier diet into your routine can be fighting off snack cravings. When I crave snacks high in fat, carbs, or sugars, one of my defenses is reaching for rice cakes instead.
I Wasn't Always a Fan of Rice Cakes
Rice cakes were the “it” food for lunch boxes and after-school snacks growing up in the 90s. I’ve always remembered them as bland cardboard discs and hadn’t desired them much as an adult. Lately, I’ve been working on my diet and making healthier choices. I recently walked past rice cakes while shopping and decided to give them a second chance. They may not have much flavor on their own, but I realized they could become vessels for fresh toppings. That sparked ideas for various rice cake snacks throughout the day! While rice cakes don’t offer much nutritional value, they are a good substitute for unhealthy snacks.
An Alternative to High Fat and Carb Snacks
While I wouldn’t call rice cakes a nutritional snack by themselves, they’re a good substitute for foods that contain unhealthy ingredients. In moderation, they can be a game-changer for weaning off of junk foods. Most stores carry flavored, plain, and sodium-free options. However, if you opt for a rice cake with flavor, there will be some added sugar and extra calories. I purchase organic multigrain rice cakes for the healthiest rice cake snacking option. For a full breakdown of the nutritional pros and cons, check out Healthline!
A Blank Canvas for Snack Creations
I’ll admit that rice cakes, especially plain varieties, aren’t always a craved snack. The flavor and texture on their own can be a taste acquired over time. However, the size and shape of rice cakes make them perfect as a base for snacks, breakfast, or even dessert! The flat surface is ideal for spreading layers of peanut butter, Greek yogurt, and even hummus! You can then add a variety of toppings, turning a plain rice cake into a flavor explosion. To help inspire you, I have a few favorite recipes to get started!
Greek Yogurt and Berry Rice Cakes
For some of you, mornings are your time of the day to rise early, relax with a cup of coffee and plan your day. For others, mornings can be just trying to ensure you leave the house on time. If you are in the latter group, choosing a breakfast on the go is an enticing option. However, if convenience tempts you to grab a donut or vending machine snack, try yogurt on a rice cake topped with fresh fruit! It’s like a parfait on a rice cake, and the fruit options are easy to experiment with and keep the flavors exciting.
Hummus and Cucumber Rice Cakes
Hummus and cucumbers are one of my favorite pairings. Combined with a rice cake, it creates an irresistible crunch. What I love about this recipe is the variety of hummus options available. From everything bagel flavor to red hummus, you’re sure to find a taste you’ll love! Try adding some sunflower seeds, carrot chips, or even caramelized onions for a flavor combo. If you haven’t caramelized onions before, it requires about 45 minutes, but the flavor is worth it. I cover the process from start to finish in how to caramelize onions. You may need a breath mint after, but the taste is out of the park!
Banana, Maple, and Peanut Butter
A sweet tooth can make it challenging to say no to sweeter foods. However, healthier substitutes in your back pocket can be a lifesaver and allow you to snack with less guilt. If you want something sweet that isn’t loaded with granulated sugar, this recipe is for you! Rice cakes topped with peanut butter, banana slices, and a drizzle of maple syrup can help satisfy your sweets craving. While maple syrup is still an added sugar, you can control the amount added.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Rice Cakes
I don’t know about you, but evenings are when snack cravings tend to reach their peak for me. Once the dinner plates have cleared the table and you’re cozy on the couch, those cookies in the pantry suddenly come to mind. Perhaps it’s that leftover dessert in the fridge or the ice cream in the freezer. If you want to satisfy that craving without consuming a sugar bomb, try a rice cake topped with peanut butter and dark chocolate shavings!
All you need to create chocolate shavings is a bar of chocolate and a vegetable peeler. Holding the chocolate bar at a 45-degree angle, shave the vegetable peeler blade down the side of the bar. Adjusting the angle of the blade and the amount of pressure can create larger or smaller curls.
Rice Cake Pies
If peanut butter and chocolate isn’t your usual go-to flavor for snacks, I have something that may be up your alley! While this pairing may never win against the taste of a piece of pie, it’s certainly a healthier option. Conventional pie doughs contain a large amount of butter to create flaky layers. So instead of reaching for a traditional pie, top a rice cake with your favorite pie filling! I won’t tell if you topped these with some ice cream or a squirt of whipped cream!
Add Rice Cakes to Your Next Shopping List!
Since realizing the full potential of rice cakes, I’ve always had some on hand. To extend the shelf life once opened, I keep rice cakes in an air-tight container to prevent staling. While the flavor of rice cakes alone can be simple, the topping options are limitless, making them a perfect snack that won’t become boring! If you are meal prepping, I do recommend packing the toppings in a separate container from the rice cake. Separate storage prevents the cakes from absorbing water and becoming soggy. If you’ve added rice cakes to your routine, what are some of your favorite toppings to add?