Its those dreaded words everyone trying to lose weight fears, “Let’s go for Chinese.”
But dread not. While Chinese fare is known for being deep fried, smothered in fatty, sugary and salty sauces, with loads of white rice- there are actually many dishes, or substitutions you can make, that are healthy for you.
Think of the most infamous healthy meal- chicken, veggies and brown rice. These are the components of most Chinese meals- except smothered, covered, and fried. If you remove those additions, however, you can certainly mix and match to make a great meal, and leave room for a few fortune cookies.
Here’s how to decode and health-up your Chinese take out.
Crispy, sweet and salty are your enemy- they equal tons of calories and fat. Stay away from anything fried, which includes spring rolls, egg rolls, breaded meats, dumplings, crispy noodles and fried rice (oh dear, the fried rice.)
Stir fried sounds like a good option, but in a restaurant this equals tons of oil. Ask for steamed, or if they can use light oil when making your dish.
Some dishes that sound like they are just veggies and meat or tofu, can show up to the table drenched in sauce. Ask for your dishes dry, or with no sauce, to avoid surprises.
Look for dishes that are braised, roasted, simmered or steamed.
White rice and pasta is like glue to your arteries. Ask if you they have a brown rice or whole wheat option, and if not, just skip it- its filler anyway, so use veggies instead.
Portions are infamous for being big at Chinese restaurants, so dine family style and take home tons of left overs.
Some Safe Bets Straight off the Menu:
- Soups- egg drop and wonton are low in calories (about 100 and 200, respectively) and can fill you up
- Steamed veggies- always a good idea to add bulk, and important nutrients for very few calories.
- Moo Goo Gai Pan
- Steamed Veggie Dumplings are about 115 calories- frying them adds up to 100 calories
- Steamed Tofu and Veggies are about 290 calories
- Steamed Veggies and Chicken is about 490 calories
- Chicken Chop Suey is 600 calories
You can even get dessert! Fortune cookies are about 20 calories each.