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Dining Out: Chinese Cuisine

Restaurant-Specific Strategies

-- By SparkPeople

Characteristics:

Reflects many different cooking styles, traditions, customs, ingredients and flavors from multiple regions of China. Cantonese, the most popular form in the U.S., features grilled meat, steaming and stir-frying, and flavors are not as intense as other regions, such as Szechuan or Hunan.


Common Ingredients:

High emphasis on a very wide variety of vegetables and complex carbohydrates like rice and noodles. Meat, poultry and seafood are usually sliced and served in smaller portions. Tofu is a popular ingredient in many dishes.
Hidden Dangers:
  • Avoid anything fried, including spring rolls, dumplings, fried rice, crispy beef, egg foo yung and battered pork.
  • One spare rib can contain 1-3 tablespoons of fat.
  • Avoid the crispy noodles served with soups.
  • Soy sauce is very high in sodium.
  • Sweet and sour dishes are usually fried and/or high in fat and calories.
  • Stir fried dishes can be oily and fatty, but can be prepared with smaller amounts of oil.
  • Tangerine or orange beef isn’t as healthy as it sounds (a fried peel with breaded and fried beef).
  • Walnuts can be healthy, but are often caramelized (sugared and fried).
  • Eggplant can soak up a lot of oil during preparation.
  • Beef Chow Mein: 940 calories and 60 g fat
  • Sweet and Sour Fish: 1160 calories and 58 g fat
  • Chicken/Shrimp Omelet: 990 calories and 82 g fat
  • Lemon Chicken. 1,350 calories and 88 g fat
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Healthy Finds:
  • Try a one-pot soup. Usually a large portion that can fill you up.
  • Order a side of steamed veggies to mix into your dish.
  • Look for dishes that are braised, roasted, simmered or steamed.
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan
  • Marinated spinach salad has only about 100 calories.
  • Steamed Veggie Dumplings (3): 115 calories, 2.5 g fat.
  • Steamed Tofu and Veggies: 293 calories and 9 g fat
  • Steamed Veggies and Chicken: 490 calories and 12 g fat
  • Chicken Chop Suey: 600 calories and 20 g fat
  • Egg Drop Soup: 93 calories, 5g fat
  • Fortune Cookies: only 20 calories each!

The Big Tip:

You might be able to order “family style” with large dishes that can be divided among several people at the table. This makes it easier to control your portions. Since portions are usually pretty large, you can get away with ordering fewer entrees than you have guests.
Substitution Ideas
 
 Try This Skip That
 Wonton (or other clear) Soup  Velvet Corn Chowder
 Black Bean Sauce  Sweet & Sour Sauce
 Steamed Rice (185 calories)  Fried Rice (360 calories)
 Steamed Dumplings  Egg Rolls
 Soft Noodles  Fried Noodles
 Hot Mustard  Soy Sauce
 Chicken  Duck
 Dishes with Water Chestnuts  Dishes with Cashews

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