I love to eat Chinese food, or any Asian cuisine for that matter. We regularly cook it at in our own kitchen and go to Chinese buffets, sit-down restaurants and quick-serve Chinese restaurants when traveling. Eating Chinese food on a diet can be like a walk through a minefield but it is possible to choose diet-friendly options at a Chinese restaurant. There are a few general tips I follow when I get a craving for Chinese food:
- Soups, such as egg-drop or hot and sour, are the best appetizers.
- Steamed vegetable dumplings are a better choice than fried egg rolls.
- Steamed brown rice is the best starch choice, but you should avoid fried rice and noodles.
- Try to eat with chopsticks. No grades are given for technique and it generally leads to eating less.
- Pay attention to portion sizes. Many full-service Chinese restaurants intend their meals to be shared.
- Avoid anything deep-fried or breaded or covered with a thick, syrupy sauce.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for half-sauce or the sauce on the side at a full-service Chinese restaurant.
There are several Chinese restaurants in my area, both national chains and independents. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, a full-service restaurant, and Panda Express can each be found in 38 states as well as international locations. I’ve eaten at both and have found their diet-friendly options to be delicious. According to a March 8, 2010, press release, P.F. Chang’s has expanded its gluten-free menu options to 28 items offering more diet-friendly choices to its patrons.
In my experience, most Chinese restaurants offer similar dishes. I’ve used the nutrition information for items available at P.F. Chang’s and Panda Express to give a sampling of 10 Diet-Friendly Chinese food options.
Hot & Sour Soup
With one serving weighing in at 90 calories, Hot & Sour Soup is a great choice when ordering Chinese food. Four to five grams of protein are a great boost.
Steamed Vegetable Dumplings
Ten grams of carbs and two grams of protein packed into a 65-calorie serving make this appetizer a great diet choice.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Lettuce wraps are a diet-friendly egg roll! No deep-frying leaves this appetizer with 153 calories, eight grams of protein and two grams of fiber.
Steamed Brown Rice
If your favorite restaurant doesn’t offer brown rice, don’t order a starch at all. A six-ounce serving contains 190 calories, 40 grams of carbs, four grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.
Vegetables are the best way to bulk up any Chinese meal. A serving contains only 70 calories but adds five grams of fiber and four grams of protein.
Spicy Green Beans
I love spicy, stir-fried green beans! A five-ounce serving includes three grams of protein and fiber and only adds 103 calories.
Beef isn’t always bad for you when a serving provides 11 grams of protein in just 150 calories.
String Bean Chicken
This Chinese entrée contains only 190 calories with 12 grams of protein and three grams of fiber.
Salt & Pepper Shrimp
Seafood works well with Chinese cooking techniques. There’s a lot of flavor in 197 calories and 21 grams of protein.
Vegetarian Fried Rice
Some people just can’t visit a Chinese restaurant without fried rice. Choose a vegetarian option containing 215 calories and just three grams of fat.
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