With the stress of the holidays, we tend to go overboard. Overboard with our emotions, spending, stress, drinking, and eating. With long days spent at work or even just the many stressful hours stuck in the mall parking lot, we find ourselves running out of time and energy to cook.
I don't blame you for wanting a night off from cooking, I order takeout often. And guess what, I don't instantly balloon up when I do. There are plenty of healthy takeout options available.
Today's first post covers Chinese. Chinese is one of the most comforting, crave-worthy meals out there and I definitely have a few Chinese takeout places permanently installed in my phone. Below are the essential tips to remember when ordering Chinese food:
- Start with a broth-based soup or a light appetizer: Soups like hot & sour or egg-drop soup can help to fill you up before your meal. They are some of the lowest calorie items on the menu and help you to avoid loading up on the heavier entrees. If you are looking for a lighter appetizer, try steamed dumplings or edamame (hold the salt and put it on yourself).
- Avoid the fried food options: Make sure to avoid anything with the word "fried" in the description like egg rolls or Peking ravioli. Also, avoid any foods described as "breaded," such as Sesame chicken or Chicken wings. Instead, order foods that have been cooked in healthier ways. Look for key words such as "steamed." (If the name of the dish is in Chinese, look for healthy dishes that start with words like "jum" (poached), "kow" (roasted), or "chu" (broiled).
- Beware of the sauces: Sauces such as sweet & sour or Genral Tso's chicken pack lots of SUGAR and calories! Order the sauce on the side and dip your fork in the sauce between bites.Oyster, hoisin, black bean and mustard sauce are all good sauces to order. Also, avoid dousing on the soy sauce, which has lots of sodium and will leave you feeling bloated. Buy a low sodium soy sauce from your local grocery store to keep on hand and when at restaurants, ask the server for the low sodium version if it's not already on the table.
- Portion, Portion, Portion: Even with a healthy meal in front of you, it is still possible to exceed your daily caloric intake due to the amount of servings in one dish. When you get home, make sure to spoon out your meal onto a small plate, rather than just directly eat it from the take out box. When out to eat, take at least half of your meal to go. If your willpower is not so great, ask for a "to go" box at the start of the meal.
- Treat your sides RIGHT: Order a side order of veggies and load up your plate. Avoid noodle dishes and rice dishes as sides when possible. (A cup of fried rice has approximately 363 calories and 14 grams of fat*). If you really want a side of rice, load it with veggies or look for entrees with veggies in the name, such as steamed chicken & broccoli. And you know that little tea cup found on the table at the restaurant? That's equivalent to the correct portion size of rice.
...and go ahead and eat that fortune cookie if you really want it. Its only 35 calories and 3g of sugar. I was always told that you have to eat your fortune cookie in order for it to come true, and so I always take a bite out of mine.
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