Image by StockSnap on pixabay
Are Rice Cakes Vegan?
Rice cakes have been a popular snack for decades, and for good reason. They are light, crispy, and come in a variety of flavors. But are rice cakes vegan? Unfortunately, the short answer is “it depends”. Yes, rice cakes are typically vegan, but there are exceptions. The dry cracker type of rice cakes, are made from puffed rice. The traditional version is flavored with salt, but other seasonings and toppings can be found too. This is where you will need to double check to make sure they are indeed vegan. Some types of rice cakes can have butter or milk in them, so be sure to read the ingredient list and double check that no animal products are present in order to be suer this is truly a vegan snack. Stick to plain rice cakes if you don’t want to read the ingredient label.
What Are Rice Cakes Made Of?
If you are asking about the dry cracker-like snack you can find in most grocery stores, then they are made of puffed rice. In addition to the base ingredient, you can find various different ways in which they are flavored. The most common flavor is sea salt, but there are numerous varieties to be found.
What Is Puffed Rice?
When heating rice under high pressure, the grain expands and pops. The result is puffed rice, a light and airy cereal or snack food with a crispy texture and a mild, slightly nutty flavor. Puffed rice is most often found in breakfast cereals and granolas as well as snack foods, like rice cakes. You can also find it in traditional dishes in eastern countries, like Indian kheer, Chinese Bhel puri and Korean Tteok. Puffed rice is high in carbohydrates, but low in fat.
Are Rice Cakes Made With Brown or White Rice?
Rice cakes can be made with either type of rice – brown or white. Because brown rice is still a whole grain with the outer bran and germ still in tact, it contains more nutrients. Brown rice, therefore, is a good source of fiber and contains certain vitamins (B1, B2, and B3) and minerals (iron, phosphous, potassium). White rice has had it’s outer bran and germ removed, which is why it doesn’t contain as many of those valuable nutrients that brown rice has. Rice Cakes made with brown rice tend to be chewier. In an attempt to get the nutrient content higher in rice cakes, some are made with a combination of brown and white rice in order to balance out the taste and texture. Adding a rice cake made of a mix of brown and white rice into your list of plant-based snacks is a good way to have something rather healthy and easy ready for when you’re on the go.
Are Rice Cakes Healthy?
Again, the quick answer to whether rice cakes are healthy is “it depends”. The health benefits of eating rice cakes depends on the specific brand and most importantly, on the ingredients used. As mentioned above, rice crackers made with brown rice – a whole grain – contain more nutrients and are therefore more healthy than rice cakes that are made of white rice. However, rice cakes are a great way to stay away from artificial flavors, animal fats, high fructose corn syrup and gluten. That is IF you make sure to read the ingredients list and stick to rice crackers made with basic ingredients. The more complicated flavors and toppings that are added onto the main ingredients of rice cakes, the more likely it is that those rice cakes no longer have a vegan label and that their nutritional value decreases due to ingredients such as white sugar, butter, dry whole milk, vegetable oil and other ingredients that you would probably try to avoid if you are following a healthy lifestyle. So, yes, rice cakes can be a healthy vegan snack, you just need to make sure you are buying the right type.
Are Rice Cakes Gluten-Free?
The base ingredients of rice cakes are indeed considered gluten-free, because rice itself is gluten-free. This makes rice crackers a great option for those suffering from celiac disease or other medical conditions that require you to stay away from foods containing gluten. Here too though, you will definitely want to take a close look at the ingredients list to ensure you are buying gluten-free rice cakes. Some rice cakes can contain additional ingredients like barley, wheat, or oats, which all contain gluten. Some rice cakes may also be processed in facilities that handle gluten-containing grains, causing cross-contamination. If you have a high gluten sensitivity or follow a gluten-free diet, it’s best to stick to the rice cakes that are specifically labeled as gluten-free and produced in a gluten-free facility.
How Long Are Rice Cakes Good For?
The way you store your rice cakes will change how long they last for. Keep your rice cakes in a dry, airtight container for best results and consume opened rice cakes within a few days. Generally, unopened rice cakes can last for several months when stored properly in a cool and dry place. If the rice cakes are not stored well, they can become stale, lose their crispiness, or even develop mold. Remember to check the expiration date on the package and look for any signs of spoilage, such as an off smell or mold, before consuming rice cakes.
What Are Some Common Non-Vegan Ingredients?
Non-vegan rice cakes are those that contain any type of animal product. Common ingredients derived from animals are butter, milk (or dry whole milk), or honey. Here are some common flavors of rice cakes that may not be vegan:
- Cheese: Some rice cakes are flavored with cheese, cheese powder, or other milk ingredients, which are not suitable for vegans.
- Butter: Some rice cakes are flavored with butter, which is not vegan.
- Honey: Rice cakes that are sweetened with honey are not vegan. Vegan alternative sweeteners are maple or agave syrup.
- Chocolate: Some chocolate-flavored rice cakes may contain non-vegan ingredients like milk, cream, or butter. Be sure to double check! Dark chocolate flavors are more likely to not contain milk, but it’s not a given.
- Caramel: Caramel-flavored rice cakes may contain non-vegan ingredients such as cream, butter, or milk. But don’t let the caramel color alone throw you off! There are some caramel flavored cakes that are still vegan, since real caramel techinically is made of just sugar. Unfortunately, many companies do add in dairy to make their caramel. Be sure to double check!
- Peanut Butter: Some peanut butter-flavored rice cakes may contain honey or other non-vegan ingredients. Be sure to double check!
- Yogurt: Rice cakes that are flavored with yogurt or contain yogurt-coated toppings are not vegan.
As mentioned, it’s always best to double-ckeck the ingredients list before purchasing or consuming any food item, especially if you are hoping for it to be a vegan option.
How Do You Serve Rice Cakes?
Rice cakes can be eaten just as they are, making it a simple low-calory snack. But you can also add many tasty toppings to spice it up a bit. Try using veriarious spreads or fruits on your crunchy rice cake. I particularly like to add avocado and essentially turn it into a healthier avocado toast. Vegan cheese, along with cherry tomatoes also works well! Add on some green onions to make it extra special. There isn’t really any limit to what you can use as rice cake toppings!
Where Are Rice Cakes From?
Rice cakes have a long history and can be found in various cultures around the world. Some of the earliest known forms of rice cakes were made in China, where they were a staple food and were often used in religious ceremonies. Generally in Asia, rice cakes are found in many traditional dishes such as mochi in Japan, and tteok in Korea.
Mochi is made from glutinous rice and is often used in savory and sweet dishes. Tteok found in Korean food is a rice cake that is made from glutinous or non-glutinous rice flour and is often served as a dessert or in soups.
In India, rice cakes are made from puffed rice, and are called murmura or poha. They are often used in traditional dishes such as kheer and bhel puri.
Rice cakes also have a long history in Europe, where they were traditionally made as a way to stretch the food supply for those with lower means. These European rice cakes were often made by parching or popping grains of rice, which expanded and created a light, airy cake.
It can, therefore, be said that rice cakes are a global traditional food and that they have been enjoyed in various cultures throughout history.
How Do You Know Which Type of Rice Cake Someone Is Talking About?
When someone is talking about “rice cakes” without specifying a type, it’s likely that they are referring to the dry puffed rice cake snack. This is especially true, if the speaker isn’t a native Korean or Indian.
However, if someone specifically mentions “Korean rice cakes” or tteok, they are referring to the traditional Korean rice cakes that are made from glutinous or non-glutinous rice flour. These rice cakes have a chewy texture and are often used in sweet and savory dishes.
On the other hand, if someone mentions “Indian rice cakes” or murmura or poha they are likely referring to the traditional Indian rice cakes made from puffed rice. As mentioned above, these rice cakes are often used in traditional dishes such as kheer and bhel puri.
Finally, if someone mentions “Japanese rice cakes” or mochi, then they are referring to glutinous rice cakes which are often used in sweet and savory dishes.
As you can see, the context matters when you’re talking about rice cakes. But if the rice cake in question is NOT a dry puffed rice cake snack from the store, then you will most likely hear them referred to in a more specific way, just like “Korean rice cake”.
Image by eunhee ryu on Pixabay
Are Korean Rice Cakes Vegan?
Here again, the answer is “it depends” on whether or not Korean rice cakes are vegan. Tteok, the Korean rice cake, can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the specific recipe and ingredients used. Some traditional tteok recipes are made with just rice flour and water, making them vegan-friendly. However, other recipes may include ingredients such as butter, milk, or eggs, which would obvisouly make them non-vegan. Some tteok may be flavored or sweetened with honey which also makes it non-vegan. As always, it’s best to ask the person making the dish or to read the label to be sure that there really aren’t any animal-derived ingredients included.
Are Indian rice cakes vegan?
Murmura or poha, the traditional Indian rice cakes, can also be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the specific recipe and ingredients used. At the base, murmura and poha are typically made from puffed rice, which is vegan, and seasoned with spices, peanuts, and other ingredients that are vegan too. However, as is so often true, some recipes may include non-vegan ingredients such as butter, cream, or yogurt. It’s also possible that some traditional poha recipes may include ingredients like milk, curd and ghee, none of which are vegan. Just as with the other types of rice cakes, here too, you should check the ingredients list or recipe to ensure that this really is a vegan food product.
Are Japenese rice cakes vegan?
Japanese rice cakes mochi can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the specific recipe and ingredients used. Traditional mochi is made from glutinous rice which is steamed and then pounded into a sticky dough-like consistency. In this traditional way of making mochi, it is vegan. However, some mochi recipes may include non-vegan ingredients such as butter, cream, or milk. Also, some mochi may be flavored or sweetened with honey, which is not suitable for people following a plant-based diet.
Many of the different types of rice cakes can make a healthy snack option. It just depends on which type of rice cake and which flavor or topping you choose. Any type of rice cake can be suitable for a vegan diet, but it’s always a good idea to double check the ingredients list or the recipe to make sure that specific item truly is a vegan product. Different flavors of the store-bought rice cakes can make these crunchy snacks more or less healthy. Stick to the basic rice cake recipe and check the packaging for more nutritional information.
Image by ally j from pixabay