January 21, 2014 at 8:28 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food: Rice cake ideas, and what are you doing with this gluten-free treat?

Call me rice-cake crazy, but I love these gluten-free treats. (Maureen Tisdale)

I figure January is about the only month I can get away with writing about rice cakes.

Wait, wait, don’t click away! They make crunchy ones today (my favorite being Lundberg Brown Rice, available at some Krogers and Whole Foods) that are a far cry from the typical ones a friend calls “regular ol’ ceiling tile rice cakes” — though I happen to like those, too.

As long as they have salt. Unsalted — not so much.

In any case, for me this isn’t just a New Year’s resolution flirtation, it’s a full-blown love affair. As a bread-free eater, I frequently enjoy these gluten-free cakes with turkey and yellow mustard, and my go-to at-home treat these days, especially for days when my 19-month-old son has worn me out and I want something quick and easy, is cashew butter on rice cakes (almond butter is great too; I’ve even recently tried macadamia nut butter on ’em, though that’s much harder to find and surprisingly, I prefer it least of the three).

It’s not just me, either; part of what inspired me to write now is rice cakes just keep coming up lately. One friend with whom I swap food reports (for accountability) melts cheese on them regularly, which I finally tried last week (pretty good, I thought). I told that to my friend Dawn — she of the fridge mash-ups from leftovers, frugal legumes and more, who used to be my Lundberg rice cake supplier when I couldn’t find them — and she said she might try to play with a nacho version of rice cakes (she loves them with banana and almond butter, avocado or salsa).

Also last week, I visited my friend Dana — you might remember her as the mom of six small children for whom I made those friend-in-need meals last fall — to try to catch her parenting skills by osmosis. While I was observing what she does when her kids pitch fits, she was telling me she makes a kettle-corn-like treat with rice cakes by breaking them up and tossing them with a little butter and sweetener.

Even my sister Mavi — who finds my trick of piling turkey and yellow mustard on rice cakes off-putting — texted this weekend to say she finds the cashew butter and rice cake thing a surprisingly satisfying breakfast. Then, when I called to talk rice cakes with Mom Monday, Mom mentioned a friend of hers likes to toast them (though you have to watch carefully to prevent burning).

So I figured our readers might benefit from some of those ideas, provide some of their own — or even just feel like they’ve whacked a January mole by tolerating a discussion on rice cakes.

And if not, hey, maybe I’ll feel less guilty about cleaning out the rice cake section next time I stock up.

Any great ideas for uses of rice cakes? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Over the next few days, Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!