Got Some Extra Rice Cakes Laying Around? Here's How To Spice Them Up

When you think of a rice cake, it might not have mouth-watering effects. It's deemed as a low-carb, low-fat snack, stacked high in a plastic bag with a twist tie, with a crunchy texture so much so, you may be leaving a trail of crumbs after the first bite. But little did we know, they've been around for quite some time.

According to The Counter, rice cakes date back to the early 1900s, when steam-puffed rice was invented by Alexander Pierce Anderson, a botanist at the New York Botanical Garden. Investors bought into the concept and eventually sold off their shares to Quaker. Alas, steam puffed rice was compressed into cakes and now makes for a lighter alternative to bread. Healthline states that most rice cakes are gluten-free, with some brands adding barley. If you're intolerant to gluten, it's important to check the label. Also, certain brands incorporate whole grains, which have been proven to lower risk of chronic diseases. Lastly, they're lower in calories, with one rice cake yielding 35 calories, compared to a slice of bread that averages around 80 calories (via VeryWellFit).

While they come in many flavors, the original is simply puffed rice, sometimes with salt. On their own, they're a bit bland — but with the help of the right toppings, you've basically cracked the code to a lower calorie toast.

Top 'em with something savory

Bread acts as a blank slate to unique toppings and rice cakes can easily step in. Whether you're craving sweet or savory, using plain rice cakes or flavored, its crunchy texture creates the perfect base for different flavors. The best part? You can load 'em up higher than you would toast for a bountiful bite each time, seeing that they're half the calories of bread – and they're easy to transport in Tupperware for a breakfast or snack on-the-go (via Spoon University).

Let's start with some savory options: If you've got leftover greens like herbs, lettuce, or sprouts, briny ingredients like olives, capers, or pickles, and dairy products such as feta, blue cheese, or cream cheese, use 'em on a rice cake. The most obvious option that is oh-so-delicious is avocado with an egg on top. But let's get creative. Some combinations to try are cream cheese with smoked salmon and capers, cream cheese with cucumber slices and fresh chopped herbs, hummus with slices of carrots or bell pepper, jarred tomato sauce with crumbly feta and olives, or even blue cheese with sliced pears and walnuts for a sweet-and-salty option.

Top 'em with something sweet

If you have leftover fruit, jarred nut butters, and dairy products such as yogurt or mascarpone, you've got the perfect toppings for rice cakes on the sweeter side. While peanut butter with banana and a drizzle of honey is a go-to on toast, it tastes just as good on a rice cake. Some other unique combinations include chocolate hazelnut spread with sliced strawberries or raspberries, a spread of plain or flavored yogurt with blueberries on top, or even mascarpone cheese with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. These options are light enough for breakfast, and sweet enough for dessert — and don't forget, you can add another level of flavor by using different varieties of rice cakes such as apple-cinnamon, caramel corn, and chocolate.

Before you toss your leftover rice cakes that you only needed one or two of, check your pantry and refrigerator for lingering ingredients — you just might create something as magical as these rice cake combinations that are perfect for eating any time of day.