Choosing Healthy Food in Chinese Restaurants
How to Choose Low-Calorie Chinese Food
The good news about Chinese food is that these days a lot of places include a health-conscious section (or at least a couple of entrees) on the menu offering dishes that are steamed, cooked without oil and even soy sauce. If you think that Chinese food served without sauce is unappetizing, you may settle for steamed dishes and ask for sauce on the side, and dab it moderately. A few Chinese restaurants likewise serve up steamed fish dishes that are seasoned with light ginger/soy sauce or some variation thereof. These sauces are normally low in fat making the fish a great choice even when the sauce is already on.
The not-so-good news about Chinese food is that some dishes that sound rather light, like chicken and broccoli, can in fact be pretty high in calories because of all the oil being used in stir-frying. Keep away from anything deep-fried, like sesame or lemon chicken, or breaded, such as orange beef. Don't even consider the egg rolls, instead, go for an appetizer like egg drop, wonton, or hot and sour soup. A simple vegetable soup would be nice if they have it. Decide on steamed dumplings over fried ones.
Select entrees that have lean forms of protein, like white-meat chicken without the skin, shrimp, scallops, fish, or lobster. This could be something like sliced chicken with mixed veggies, Szechuan shrimp, or shrimp with asparagus. Menus may vary from one restaurant to another, but these popular selections would give you an idea of the kind of dish to enjoy, if not the exact dish. Tofu could be a healthy choice, but not the fried variety, so check before ordering. Nuts provide healthy fat and protein to a dish but also add up calories, so remember that when making your choices. It won't hurt to request for the cook to go easy on the oil. Restaurants usually make dishes to order.
Good news is that most dishes in Chinese food include lots of vegetables, and there are often large selections of vegetarian meal, like Buddha's Feast. Eggplant, however, is the one vegetable dish that soaks up oil like a sponge. At some Chinese restaurants, brown rice is already an option to accompany your meal. If it's not available, plain white rice is better than fried rice and to noodle dishes like lo mein and chow mein. Enjoy the fortune cookie at meal's end: it's just around 30 calories.
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