Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Takeout Tuesdays: Chinese edition

Today is the first Tuesday of December, which means that the Takeout Tuesday series has begun! 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.

  1. Start with a broth-based soup or a light appetizerSoups 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).
  1. Avoid the fried food optionsMake 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).
  1. Beware of the saucesSauces 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. 
  1. 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.  
  1. 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.

 It is just so tempting to have the food ready at our beckon call, with no mess to clean up afterwards. And so takeout happens. But I'm here to tell you to forget any of the guilt you feel when ordering out. There's no reason to fear that suddenly  you will go on some major downward binge spiral.

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. If you read the 5 tips for the next 3 Tuesdays,  you'll do just fine and be ready to order anywhere like a pro. So use that extra hour or so you would of cooking spent elsewhere and enjoy the takeout dinners every once in awhile.
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, along with my regular Takeout order from Alice's Mandarain Taste

...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. 

Please take the Take Out Survey to let me know what kind of Take Out you'd like me to cover next. Would you like to learn tips for ordering pizza, breakfast Drive thru in the morning.. its up to you guys!

 Below is your daily dose of inspiration. See you all tomorrow! 

*Calories from livestrong.com


  1. This is a great post! For people who are living a healthy lifestyle, eating at a Chinese restaurant can be a better alternative than eating at a fast food. Places that serve authentic Chinese food use natural ingredients so they are healthier. Chinese dishes are also meant to be shared between friends and families, which is why restaurants serve large portions.

    Robert Hung

  2. Thank you so much Robert! I agree that Chinese is a better alternative than fast food. I actually had steamed chicken and veggies tonight for dinner. Thank you for the great tip to keep in mind that the dishes are actually family-sized and not individual! If you are interested in reading any future posts, the blog is now actually located at CreativelyLu.com!