Some nights you just don’t want to cook and for me tonight was that night. Chinese food is always a go-to for me as a healthy take out option. Chinese take out is a quick and tasty way to get out of cooking for yourself. Most people don’t think Chinese food can be good when your on a diet or even just generally healthy. The trick is to know your Healthy Chinese Food Options.
Unfold your menu and take a good look at your options. If you know how the food is cooked or have an idea of the ingredients you will have a pretty guide idea of the calories or macros. It should be pretty self explanatory by looking at the menu but here are some ideas of what not to order and why.
What Not To Eat
You can pretty much eliminate 90% of the menu because most of the stuff, all though delicious isn’t cooked in a way that would be helpful to anyone’s diet. That’s right, most Chinese food is fried!
The other problem with most Chinese dishes is that its cooked with loads of sodium and cornstarch. Even if its loaded with veggies the sauces could be killer when trying to watch your calories.
Here is a short list of what to stay away form;
- Fried Dumplings
- Egg Rolls
- Shrimp Toast
- Fried Rice
- Lo Mein
- Sweet & Sour (chicken, pork, shrimp, etc)
- General Tso’s (chicken, pork, shrimp, etc)
- Sesame (chicken, pork, shrimp, etc)
- Lemon (chicken, pork, shrimp, etc)
- Orange (chicken, pork, shrimp, etc)
- Anything in sauce
Most of the dishes mentioned above are fried and loaded with calories, carbs, sodium and anything else you might want to watch out for. Unfortunately some of my favorites are listed above.
Your probably thinking, “what the hell can I eat”?
Don’t worry, I promise that there are some low calorie and healthy options at your favorite Chinese take out joint. Here are some things you could consider but you should be careful if your on a strict calorie counting diet.
Steamed Dumplings – This is one of my top picks for a Chinese food appetizer. Steamed and not fried helps to keep out the oil. Each meat filled dumpling is about 40-80 calories based on the size and actual ingredients. Try to hold the dipping sauce loaded with sodium.
Soup – Most places have many soup options like wanton, hot & sour, vegetable, etc. The soups will have loads of sodium but a “lower” calorie option, especially if you can substitute bok choy for the noodles.
Egg Foo Young – Be careful with this because every place has their own style of making it. For the most part its a Chinese omelet with meat and onions. Hold the brown sauce and hopefully it hasn’t been simmered in oil.
The Healthiest Chinese Food Options
Most people either don’t notice this part of the menu or they just try not to imagine how gross “diet Chinese food” is. Majority of take-out menus have a small corner towards the end labeled “diet menu”. I’ve seen it written lots of ways but there usually the same no matter if it says health menu, weight watchers or diet specialties its your best bet. All this means is your getting steamed food with sauces on the side.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with steamed Chinese food. You can get a lean meat with a large serving of crispy steamed vegetables that’s sure to be filling. Each 1 cup serving has only 200-300 calories without sauce.
Your best options
- Steamed Chicken & Snow Peas
- Steamed Chicken & Broccoli
- Steamed Chicken & String Beans
- Steamed Chicken & Mixed Chinese Vegetables
If your not in the mood for chicken most places have a variation of chicken, shrimp or pork for any of the options listed above.
Tell me this doesn’t look satisfying!
Pro Tip #1: Spicy Mustard has virtually no calories and if you want to add some extra flavor and a kick it will go a long way!
Pro Tip #2: Make sure to ask for the sauce on the side because they might just mix it in. Just because the sauce is on the diet menu doesn’t mean its different than all the other sauces. Its best to not get the sauce at all.
Pro Tip #3: If it comes with rice, get brown rice. Brown rice is lower in calories, carbs and has more fiber than the white stuff.
If you can control yourself I’ve just given you some great information for the next time you want to order up Chinese. Remember to stay away from fried and most steamed items are your friend. The next time your no in the mood to cook just get a movie on Netflix and have some Healthy Chinese delivered to your door!