Chinese cuisine is a go-to for many households; it’s easy to find in every city and there are so many affordable restaurant options that deliver on demand. While Chinese takeout is typically considered a ‘cheat’ food, there are healthy options that can still satisfy your cravings while packing your diet full of nutrition.
Note: The following calorie counts are approximate and will vary from restaurant to restaurant due to individual recipes and serving sizes.
Appetizers & Soups
Several studies have shown that eating soup helps you eat less because your stomach empties more slowly for soup, keeping you fuller for longer. That’s why, we suggest downing a bowl of vegetarian hot and sour soup (90 calories per cup), egg drop soup (66 calories per cup), bean curd soup with veggies (50 calories per cup) or won ton soup (229 calories) before a meal.
Definitely try to avoid: Eating one too many deep fried spring rolls or pan fried meat dumplings. Individually, each item is 90-130 calories – not bad for a main course but they’re definitely hefty appetizers.
Fortunately, most veggie options available on a Chinese food menu aren’t bad for you. Take advantage of nutrient packed veggie dishes like steamed vegetables with chopped garlic, Szechuan style green beans or diced vegetables with cashews.
Definitely try to avoid: Any vegetable dish that is deep fried or comes with deep fried extras like tofu, and any vegetable dish covered in heavy sauces like black bean, oyster or garlic. If you simply can’t stay away, get the sauce on the side.
While dishes vary from restaurant to restaurant, a few go-to low-cal dishes you can indulge in include beef and broccoli (900 calories per dish), shrimp with garlic sauce (700 calories per dish) or lobster sauce (400 calories per dish), Moo Goo Gai Pan (600 calories per dish), chicken chow mein (600 calories per dish), or chicken with black bean sauce (700 calories per dish). Roasted, steamed or broiled meat or fish options are also low in calories. A cup of white rice is about 150 calories. If you can, opt for brown rice which is richer in fibre.
Definitely try to avoid: Again, anything deep fried, breaded, described as ‘crispy’, or smothered in sauce. Keep in mind that regardless of calories, most dishes will be high in sodium.