Whether it is a rainy Sunday night or a busy school/work night, Chinese food is a popular comfort meal to order in. Many people consider Chinese food to be unhealthy, salty and a “cheat meal.” While this may be the case depending for some Chinese food dishes, there are ways to keep a Chinese meal healthy and guilt-free.
Here are the dos and don’ts when ordering from your favorite Chinese restaurant.
- Start with a healthy appetizer. Start with egg drop soup, tofu vegetable soup, or the inside of an egg roll to avoid filling up on heavier, oilier entrees. A cup of egg drop soup has only 66 calories!
- Order brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice has more fiber than white rice — about 3 1/2 grams of fiber per cup – while the same amount of white rice has less than one gram of fiber. Brown rice also contains more nutrients like magnesium and zinc.
- Order from the “diet” menu. Most Chinese restaurants have a special section on their menu listing the lightest and healthiest entrees. A typical meal on this part of the menu is steamed chicken or shrimp with mixed vegetables and brown rice. The brown sauce is served on the side to save you from consuming extra oil and calories.
- Order Buddha’s Delight. This entrée contains steamed tofu and mixed vegetables, and will only cost you about 500 calories, while the protein and will keep you full. Steamed tofu can be low in saturated fat, and it is a healthier alternative to fried meats.
- Fill up on vegetables. Look for entrees that have vegetables in the name such as Beef and Broccoli, Shrimp with Snow Peas, or Sliced Chicken with Mixed Vegetables. Other entrees such as General Tso’s Chicken or Hunan Style Beef may be fried, filled with sodium, and contain little to no vegetables so they have little nutritional value.
- Order Lo Mein. These noodles can cost you up to 1,000 calories and are filled with refined carbs, which are known to turn into fat.
- Order fried foods. Egg rolls, fried rice, fried dumplings, pan fried noodles and chicken wings are cooked in oil and filled with calories and fat.
- Order spring rolls. While spring rolls may sound like a healthier option than egg rolls, they are both deep fried.
- Use extra sauce. Ask for the sauce on the side when ordering any entrée, and skip soy sauce, which is high in sodium. Instead of duck sauce or brown sauce, fill up your plate with extra vegetables.