Healthy Chinese Take-Out Options

March 4th, 2009 by Kia in How To..., Photos, Red Tag Crazy, health, red tag crazy blog

After a long day at work and / or school, the last thing you probably want to do is cook a healthy dinner. My favorite thing to do on many of these days is to order Chinese food. Yummy and satisfying, this fall-back option has lots of choices that clog arteries faster than a towel clogs a toilet. (Don’t ask, but, I do know this from personal experience… the towel/toilet part).

To order healthy Chinese-

1. Order Wonton soup instead of the Wonton appetizer. The soup has about 240 calories (an even better choice is Hot and Sour Soup which is usually under 100 calories). While they are yummy, fried Wontons are little fatty calorie torpedos and we’ll discuss the sauce below. Get that wonton feeling minus the calories, soup is good food.

2.  Steer clear of anything deep fried – like Sesame Chicken or Sweet and Sour Pork. Many restaurants will make these dishes without deep frying, but then, you have to consider the sauce…

3. Those thick gravies or sauces, like the Sweet and Sour, are made from sugar, flour, or cornstarch. They’re loaded with corn syrup which is just plain icky. (Plus, at 60 calories per tablespoon, you’ll end up eating way more calories than you’d probably like.) If you are a big sauce fan – try entrees with mustard or oyster sauce instead. Whatever you order, request “half sauce.” That way, you get half the sauce-and half the calories-of what they’d normally use in the dish. Another thought is to ask them to box the sauce separately, and use it as a dipping sauce rather than a “coating” sauce. Trade the extra hundred or two hundred calories for a lovely glass of wine or two!

4. Super secret code words on Chinese menus:
“Shu” means barbecued. “Kow” means roasted and “Chu” means broiled. Words like braised, steamed, lightly sautéed are code for NOT FRIED. These are good entrees to order. Fried, stir-fried, Deep-fried are less than optimal choices.

5. Use chopsticks. Did you know that eating with them can help you eat less, and consume less oil and fat? Yayyyyy chopsticks!

6. Go Veggie. There are lots of straight veggie options on Chinese menus – Kung Pao Tofu, Ma Po Tofu, Steamed Mixed Veggies etc. If you need a meat chaser with your veggies, order dishes with a veggie in their name, like, Beef with Broccoli or Shrimp with Snow Peas. You can also request that your meal be cooked in vegetable stock (velveted), and save yourself another 200 or so calories. (Oh, look, another glass of wine or two!)

7. Good sides and BAD sides. We all have our good sides, and Chinese food does too. Good sides include vegetables, tofu, steamed veggie buns etc… Bad sides?  Those deep fried crunchy noodles are little fat bombs. And Lo Mein noodles… they turn that dark color from soaking up all that oil. A large portion generally runs in the thousands of calories. Order rice or noodles but don’t get both. If you do, you’ll end up feeling semi-comatose due to carb overload. Better to eat more lean protein or veggies.


8. Order brown rice. It is a complex carbohydrate. Besides being low in calories, complex carbohydrates boost the metabolism. Only 215 calories and, you get the added boost of 3.5 grams of fiber per cup!

9. Get two meals for the price of one. Save half of your entrée for lunch the next day – especially if you indulge in one of those fattening dishes.

10. Ask for MSG free or Low Salt versions of your dish. Many popular Chinese dishes have an entire day’s worth of sodium. Countless migraines across the globe are spawned from MSG consumption – Don’t hurt yourself!

Next time, Pilates.


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Healthy Chinese Take-Out Options (5)

lilminnow March 5, 2009 at 6:34 am

Did somebody say Panang curry??? Make mine double veggie please, that is SO my splurg meal! March 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I LOVE the fried cream cheese wantons. I try to avoid chinese food, just becaue I know if I go eat there, I will want to eat a w hole plate of JUST wantons!

Thanks for the tips!

dogparent March 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I’m so glad to help! And, (she says while patting herself on the back) tonight, we brought home Thai food to my sick spouse and I only ordered a noodle dish instead of both noodles and rice. Although, I did totally sow out on their tofu panang curry – all that coconut milk is not the best choice, but it is SO DAMNED GOOD!

kristen March 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm

I really, really love this series you’re doing :) . It’s great to see healthy options presented. Particularly when most people don’t even realize how bad most take-out options actually are :) .

And for those curious, Dry Red Wine usually averages 129 calories for a 5 oz. glass, while dry whites are slightly less for the same portion at an average of 120, with the sweet whites running around 140.

Caroline March 4, 2009 at 12:32 pm

oh man Kia, I totally am craving Chinese food now!!! Great advice, I’m going to follow it this evening :D

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