It’s true that whole grain rice is a healthful addition to meals of all kinds. It is full of fiber, and also happens to be a rich source of manganese, selenium, and vitamin B3. But if you’re following an all raw food diet, rice may not be an option for you. And even if you’re not, you might feel like something a little lighter once in awhile. Luckily, this doesn’t mean that you have to forego your favorite rice dishes – there are many great alternatives to incorporate into your diet that will give you the satisfaction you’re craving.

You can warm up any of the following alternatives to rice in the dehydrator, or enjoy it as-is for a fresh take on all your favorite recipes. With just a few ingredients from the grocery store, it’s easy to turn ordinary produce into a delicious rice meal that fills you up and provides plenty of nutrition without weighing you down. Without further ado, here are five fantastic raw vegan rice alternatives that you are sure to love:

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Cauliflower

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Cauliflower is the perfect alternative to rice because of its color and texture. Once shredded, pulsed in a food processor, or chopped finely by hand, this veggie looks almost like the real thing. You may find it a bit bland if you don’t spice it up, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Simply add it plain to soups, casseroles, and wraps so it can absorb the other flavors in the dish. But when it’s being served as a side dish, you should probably kick things up a notch.

If you want to make Spanish rice, mix your shredded cauliflower with a couple diced tomatoes, a little cumin, and some garlic powder. Make a curry dish by dissolving curry powder in a tablespoon of coconut milk and then stirring it into your “rice.” Or, make yourself a teriyaki dish by blending soy sauce, dates, and ginger together to marinade your favorite diced veggies in. While the veggies marinade, toss the cauliflower rice in a bit of sesame oil for rich depth and flavor.

Coconut

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VeganBaking.Net/Flickr

Believe it or not, coconut meat makes a great rich and filling rice alternative. The delicate flavor of the coconut lends itself well to Thai dishes, yet its flavor is light enough that it works well with just about any kind of dish. The best way to turn coconut meat into rice is to use a grater – choose mature coconuts, as their meat is harder than green coconuts and their coco-nutty flavor is less intense. Try dehydrating your grated coconut to remove some of the moisture and create a cooked texture that holds up well to being tosses in with salads and saucy dishes.

Parsnips

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RichardNorth/Flickr

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Parsnips look like white carrots, and they have about the same texture. When shredded or put in the food processor, they offer the look and mouth-feel of rice. A little firmer than cauliflower when they’re made into little pieces of rice, parsnips are an excellent option for sopping up sauce from enchiladas, adding to tortilla soup, and tossing with salsa. You can even make colorful rice by soaking chunks of parsnips in beet juice before grating it into rice. You’ll be left with a beautiful white and pink rice dish that will brighten up any plate.

Daikon

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FrancoFillini/Flickr

If you’re in the mood to work with an unusually large piece of produce, look no further than daikon. The name of this winter radish literally means “big root” and some of them get pretty huge, weighing several pounds each. You can find them about the size of carrots too, so it’s easy to pick up just the right amount for the meal occasion.

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Make rice out of them like you would any other these other alternatives, and then toss them with a little coconut oil, salt, and pepper to create a traditional rice-like side dish. Or create your own raw vegan macaroni and cheese by tossing it with some cheesy cashew sauce, and then dehydrating it for a couple of hours. You may find that it’s delicious right after being tossed too.

Apples

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Michael Hallan/Flickr

Apples work really well as a rice alternative in dishes like sweet rice sushi and rice pudding. However it’s more delicate than most other rice alternatives, so a machine shouldn’t be used to make rice pieces. Lightly shred the apples on a grater, with or without the peel, so they don’t get mushy.

To extract some of the moisture before using it in recipes, place the apple pieces between layers of paper towels and then place a light book on top. Let the apples sit for about half an hour, and they should be firmer and less moist. Refrigerating or dehydrating the apples will make them even hardier for incorporation in side dishes.

By mixing and matching these rice alternatives, you’ll never get bored of a meal or feel like you are missing out on a hardy, rice-filled dish. Friends and family are sure to love them too!

Lead Image Source: Cauliflower Un-Fried Rice in Ginger Miso Sauce