Chicken cauliflower fried rice is a tedious cardio workout of chopping vegetables followed by a meal of soy-sauce flavored, mushy cauliflower that tastes exactly like you’d imagined it– a bowl full of chopped cauliflower covered in soy sauce. At least that’s what I used to think about cauliflower fried rice!
Have you ever been to a restaurant, you read the menu and see a dish that you can’t imagine would taste anything but disgusting? Then when you try it, it tastes way better than you expected… And you’re like, “Mmm, it’s actually really good!”
Cauliflower rice gains popularity without me
Substituting cauliflower rice for regular white rice was a thing even before I started my low carb diet. Looking at Google search data, ‘cauliflower rice’ began trending upward in 2014, with its first big spike at the beginning of 2015.
Since 2017, the cauliflower rice trend has reached a plateau, with yearly drops during the holidays and big spikes every New Years.
Even though I’ve been eating a low carb diet with lots of vegetables for the past four years and I have a friend in Tokyo who makes it every week, this is the first time I’ve ever made cauliflower rice anything.
It just never sounded that appealing to me. If that’s what you’re thinking too, I get it!
I judged you before giving you a fair chance. I was wrong- I’m sorry!”
Fried rice vs. Cauliflower fried rice
“Why on Earth would you want to eat fried rice without rice?”
I know. I love fried rice and it’s still one of my favorites on cheat day.
To be honest, maybe I’ll never be able to replicate the taste of fried rice 100% using healthy, alternative ingredients.
However, if you’re someone who’s already given up rice, maybe you constantly battle your cravings for carbs. Healthy recipes with alternative low-carb ingredients like this one will make sticking to your diet a whole lot easier.
Cauliflower fried rice Pros:
1. Cooking cauliflower rice takes minutes compared to the time waiting for rice to be ready in a rice cooker.
2. You’re eating lots of healthy vegetables, compared to rice which has very little nutrition at all. It’s filler.
3. You’re not getting all the carbs = losing weight. You feel light and energized after your meal instead of tired, bloated, and sluggish.
4. Besides chopping cauliflower, if you don’t buy pre-cut bags or own a Cuisinart, it doesn’t take more time to make than regular fried rice.
5. It’s really filling and you can eat as many servings as you want without feeling like a pig. You’ll be eating more vegetables which is a good thing!
6. You can have it as a side dish or your main meal.
Cauliflower fried rice Cons:
1. Unless your palette and body have already adapted to eating ultra-healthy, I’d be lying if I said it’s going to taste just as good as the real thing.
2. Chopping all the vegetables isn’t as quick and convenient as stopping to pick up take-out Chinese on your way home from work.
3. From what I’ve read online, it sounds like cauliflower rice doesn’t keep well in the fridge for leftovers the next day. What I do is make this for lunch and eat the leftovers with dinner.
Healthy, low-carb ingredients
In Japan as well as other Asian countries, fried rice is a simple, fast dish that you make with whatever vegetables you have leftover in the fridge.
With this healthy version of fried rice, you still get to clean out the bottom bins of your refrigerator before the swamp rats move in.
Besides cauliflower, I added onion, broccoli, and carrots, all vegetables that you can find at basically any typical supermarket in the West. Last week, I was throwing in some diced zucchini and filets of salmon that were on special.
What I recommend is to start with my recipe (onion, broccoli, and carrots) because this combination works. From there, you can create your own version with whatever vegetables you find hiding under the lettuce in your fridge.
Fight the good battle against the refrigerator swamp rats! Don’t let your bottom bin-dwelling half onions and stubs of broccoli become worm food!
Here are some other low-carb ingredients you could try:
8. Brussels sprouts
13. mixed greens
14. coriander (cilantro)
15. green beans
Wait, I thought fried means it’s unhealthy?
If we’re talking about regular fried rice that’s typically stir-fried in vegetable oil, yes, I wouldn’t consider it healthy.
You might be surprised when I tell you that I cooked all the vegetables and cauliflower in butter. I know, vegetable oil sounds healthier than butter because they put the word ‘vegetable’ in its name.
I started cooking with grass-fed butter after this interview with nutrition/anti-aging expert, Dr. August Hergesheimer.
Kerrygold Pure Irish butter is one of my favorite brands that’s relatively inexpensive.
Alternatively, you could also experiment with other healthy cooking oils: macadamia nut, avocado, or extra virgin coconut. Although, for the majority of us, these oils tend to be priced beyond our budgets.
I wouldn’t recommend cooking with olive oil, as it oxidizes easily when exposed to heat or even sunlight. That’s why it comes in green-tinted bottles.
For flavor, I added another super healthy oil: sesame. To get the most healthy benefits, look for cold-pressed or organic if your budget allows.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
As a main dish, this recipe serves 1-2 people. As a side dish, it serves 3-4 people.
- 1/2 onion, diced (sweet, small to medium-sized onion)
- 2/3 cup chopped broccoli
- 1/2 medium-sized carrot, julienne-sliced (makes approximately 1/3 cup)
- 2-3 thin slices of fresh ginger (finely chopped)
- 100 g minced chicken* (1/2 cup (3.5 ounces))
- 1/2 cauliflower (medium-sized head, finely chopped or grated)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce (*or alternative) ((approx.) season to taste)
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp green onion (finely chopped)
- Optional seasonings: dried seaweed flakes, fresh ground pepper, rice vinegar, or Tumeric powder
Chop cauliflower with a knife or grate with a box grater or food processor.
Peel and dice 1/2 onion and set aside.
Cut broccoli florets into small sprigs and set aside.
Peel and cut 1/2 carrot into julienne strips about 1-2 cm long and set aside.
Finely chop 2-3 slices of fresh ginger and set aside.
Finely chop green onion and set aside.
Cooking “Cauliflower Rice”
Preheat saucepan on low heat.
Add tbsp of butter and finely chopped cauliflower.
Cover with lid and cook on low heat for approximately 6-10 minutes.
Stir occasionally with a spatula.
Once the cauliflower is soft, turn off the heat. Leave the lid on and set aside.
Cooking “Cauliflower Fried Rice”
Cooking on low heat, add 1 tbsp of butter.*
Add diced onion. Cook on low to medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir regularly with a spatula.
Add the cut broccoli and carrots. Continue to “stir fry” for approximately 2-3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
Pour 1 tsp of sesame oil on top of the vegetables.
Then add the finely chopped ginger and minced chicken.
Continue to stir until the chicken is fully cooked.
Crack two eggs and add on top. Stir with a spatula.
When eggs are almost cooked, add “cauliflower rice” to the frypan. Mix well.
Season to taste with soy sauce (*or alternative: gluten-free or soy-free)
Serve warm in a bowl.
Sprinkle sesame seeds and finely chopped green onion on top.
Optional: sprinkle other seasonings on top. I recommend dried seaweed flakes, fresh ground pepper, rice vinegar, or Tumeric powder
*Leave out the chicken to make this dish vegetarian.
*For a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, try tamari sauce. For a soy-free alternative, try coconut aminos. To understand the difference between soy sauce and substitutes, see this blog post: soy vs. tamari and coconut aminos
The soy sauce I used also contains dashi. For extra flavor, you can try adding dashi or your favorite soup stock or bouillon.
*(2) When cooking with butter, it’s healthier to always cook slowly on low heat. If the butter turns brown, that means the healthy amino acids are breaking down = oxidation.
If you liked this healthy, low-carb recipe, you may be interested in these ones as well:
This recipe with cauliflower rice reminded me of this age-old lesson that we’ve all learned:
Don’t judge something before you try it.
This brings me back to my favorite Marie Forleo quotes of all time:
“Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”
I used to think that giving up eating rice wasn’t worth it, especially when I live in Japan! Before I tried cutting carbs, I imagined that I’d always feel hungry if I couldn’t eat rice, pasta, or bread.
Losing weight wasn’t worth the sacrifice that my imagination made it out to be.
Then, finally, after years and years and years…
I tried it.
I cut out eating rice at just one meal a day for a week.
Once I actually took that first step and did a bit of research, I learned that by adding healthy fats like avocado and extra virgin olive oil to my meal, I could feel just as full as when I ate rice. Plus, I had more energy and felt better without the lunch-induced coma.
Believe it or not, cauliflower fried rice is one of the most filling meals I’ve ever eaten. We’re talking stuffed!
With a half of avocado on the side, it’s actually a very satisfying meal.
But you’ll never know until you try…
I’d love to know what you think! Thank you for leaving a comment, sharing, and rating this recipe.