Rice cakes are sold as healthy snacks., but in reality, they’re a whole lot of nothin’.

Rice cakes are touted as low-calorie snacks, but consider this: If a food is produced to have fewer calories, it also has fewer nutritional benefits.   Think of calories as energy — that is what nutritionists call them.  If a food doesn’t have a lot of energy, it won’t fuel your kids’ bodies.

Teaching kids to fill up on bulky, empty food isn’t exactly the right lesson for a lifetime of healthy eating.

If you want to give your kids salty snacks, treat them to potato chips.

1) For starters, when we give our kids chips, we teach them they are meant to be eaten occasionally, not daily. We don’t say that about rice cakes. What you teach your kids about how frequently to eat different foods might be the most important part of teaching them to eat right. Read It Doesn’t Matter WHAT Your Kids Eat!

2) Chips are often a better nutritional bet than rice cakes.

It’s true that different varieties stack up differently against potato chips.

  • Gram for gram, Quaker Lightly Salted Rice Cakes have fewer calories, less fat, less sodium and slightly more protein than chips.  And they’re made with only whole grain brown rice and salt.
  • Even if you purchase Quaker Cheddar Cheese Rice Cakes you’ll do OK – if it doesn’t bother you that they’re made with rice and corn, and if you don’t mind pumping your kids with ingredients such as corn syrup solids, maltodextrin, potassium chloride…
  • But if you buy the more “kid-friendly” mini rice cakes from Quaker known as Quakes, you’re in for a surprise. These are made from rice flour, corn and a long list of other yummy things (like partially hydrogenated oil, monosodium glutamate and sodium phosphate).  These cakes even flunk The Potato Chip Challenge.

Let’s look at the numbers.  For every 10 grams (about the size of 1 regular-size rice cake), your child will consume:


  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips – 53
  • Cheddar Cheese Quakes – 47


  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips – 3.6g
  • Cheddar Cheese Quakes – 1.7g


  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips – 62mg
  • Cheddar Cheese Quakes – 153mg


  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips – .75g
  • Cheddar Cheese Quakes – .67g


  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips – .38g
  • Cheddar Cheese Quakes – 0g

If you are concerned about how your kids eat, teach them to snack on fruits and vegetables.

  • It’ll be more nutritious: An entire apple has only 81 calories, .5g fat, 1mg of sodum and it also has 3g of fiber and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.  And your kids can pronounce all the ingredients — apple!
  • It’ll teach them the right lesson about snacks: Think Snack TIME not Snack FOOD.
  • It’ll help you win the vegetable war.  Frequently giving your kids fresh fruit reinforces their exposure to the taste, texture, aroma, appearance of fresh, natural foods. This will help them accept other fresh, natural foods.  Alternatively, giving your kids rice cakes – even the best varieties – is like arming them to the teeth in the fight over vegetables.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Sources:  http://www.quakerricesnacks.com/ accessed March 10, 2010.

Bricklin, Mark. 1993. Nutrition Advisor: The Ultimate Guide to the Health-Boosting and Health-Harming Factors in Your Diet. Rodale Press. P. 284.