Chinese food is a very enjoyable change of pace for many Americans. But, when a person is trying to eat more healthy food and even diet to lose weight, are there healthier Chinese food options? The true Chinese cooking is different from the Americanized versions of many famous dishes. Americanized Chinese cooking is often based on fried foods or foods with sauces high in sodium, sugar, and fat. These foods can be high in calories. But, people going to American Chinese restaurants can choose healthier menu items. Another option is to cook your own Chinese dishes using healthier ingredients.
Be Aware of what is in The Chinese Food You Order
The first step to finding healthy Chinese dishes is to check the ingredients listed on the menu. Avoid sauces that have too much sodium and ask if light sauces are available. Choose healthy chinese food by avoiding the fried foods in favor of steamed choices. Choose menu items containing lots of vegetables. Then, eat slowly and don’t over-eat. Some people find that taking sips of water or tea in between dishes can help them feel fuller with less food.
When a person is cooking their own Chinese food, they can read the labels on the containers of ingredients. Choose the low sodium, light versions. Pick recipes that use healthier cooking methods such as steaming or stir-frying with reduced amounts of cooking oils. There are Chinese takeout or eat in menu items that are more healthy. Some of the healthiest Chinese food options include the following ones.
1. Steamed, mixed vegetables or lightly stir-fried vegetables should be included in every order. The seasonings and choice of vegetables make this a delicious choice that is also very healthy.
2. Try broth-based soups such as egg drop, wonton, hot and sour and others have good flavor but have fewer calories. These soups can be an appetizer or the main dish. Hot and sour soups contain vinegar, spices, and vegetables such as mushrooms and bamboo shoots. It may also include eggs.
3. Order vegetable dumplings that are steamed and dipped in chili sauce instead of salty soy sauce as an appetizer. Don’t eat too many. Chinese dumplings are pockets of special dough filled with vegetables and meat.
4. Stir-fry dishes are much healthier than fried menu items as long as the oil use is limited and they are not drowned in rich sauces. A customer can ask for the sauce on the side or with only 1/2 the sauce. Stir-fries often use lots of healthy vegetables mixed with shrimp or lean proteins such as chicken or beef. One such choice is Moo goo gai pan which is a light stir-fry with lightly sauced, lean chicken and vegetables including broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and carrots. Be sure to ask for light sauce. Another good choice is beef and broccoli which has stir-fried beef, broccoli, and a light sauce.
5. If the Chinese restaurant offers chicken lettuce wraps, these are a good way to get lean protein and vegetables in one meal.
6. Choose Kung Pao Chicken instead of the calorie laden General Tso’s or the sweet-and-sour chicken. This recipe has less fat, sodium, and chicken that is not fried. It uses spices and more vegetables for taste.
7. Choose a vegetarian dish such as Buddha’s Delight. This dish is packed with vegetables with interesting textures and tastes served in a rich spicy broth. It has a mixture of snow peas, water chestnuts, cabbage, and mushrooms, along with bell peppers, onions, and carrots all cooked to the crisp-tender stage. The light broth is soy sauce based and flavorful. This is a dish often made with tofu for more protein.
8. Ma-Po Tofu is a product made from soybeans and rich in protein, iron, and calcium. This is a good addition to any order.
9. Moo shu chicken consists of lots of vegetables, chicken and spices wrapped in pancakes or in lettuce.
10. Chop Suey can be healthier than that one form with lots of sauce and noodles. Healthier versions are heavy on vegetables such as cabbage, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts served with different meats over rice or fried noodles. This is also a stir-fried dish and may also contain eggs.
11. Egg foo young is like a Chinese omelet made with a combination of eggs, meat, and chopped vegetables. Ask for this dish to be lightly fried instead of deep fried and choose to forgo the salty brown sauce that may be served with it. The vegetables often include peas, onions, and carrots. The meat included can be pork, shrimp, chicken, or beef.
12. Some Chinese restaurants offer a baked salmon option. This is very healthy served with a side of steamed vegetables. Salmon is low in fat and high in protein and omega-3 fats.
13. There is a happy family menu item in many chines restaurants that consists of a stir-fry made from meat and vegetables and served in a brown sauce over rice. The meat can be seafood, pork, or chicken, or a combination.
To order the healthier dishes, always know or ask what cooking method is used. Avoid ordering the battered and deep-fried take out choices because they are loaded with starch, fat, and calories. Try to stick to menu choices that are steamed, baked, sautéed, or boiled using only a small amount of cooking oil.
Remember that one menu serving of Chinese food can really contain up to four servings, so don’t eat it all at one setting. One idea that experts recommend is to measure out one correct serving size before serving and then save the rest for later. Or, share the food with family or friends for a nice social occasion. Many groups of friends or families order several menu choices to share. This way everyone gets a small portion of several menu items and no one over-eats.
Chinese food can be a healthy choice for those trying to eat healthier or cut calories, if the choices are carefully considered and the portions are limited. Remember to choose dishes with plenty of vegetables and light sauces rather than the heavy sauces packed with salt and fat.