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Restaurant Dining Guide: Healthy CHINESE Food Choices

Posted Nov 20 2009 10:01pm
Enjoy dining out? Learn even more healthy eating options with our complete Restaurant Dining Guide!

While it's true that much of Chinese cuisine is rice and noodle-based (rice is prized throughout China), forgo these carbs and you can truly experience the diversity of flavors, textures and cooking techniques this regional fare has to offer.

Four regions are the primary sources of Chinese cooking styles: Beijing (Peking) in the north, the southern provinces of Guangdong (Canton), the eastern area of Nanjing (Shanghai) and Szechuan to the west. Each has its distinct style:

-- From the north come homey noodle dishes and steamed buns, as well as the justly famous Peking duck. In general, northern-style cooking is considered bland but satisfyingly filling.

-- Cantonese cooking is probably the most familiar of Chinese regional cuisines. It's the style that familiarized us as children with such exotic dishes as wonton soup and barbecued spare ribs -- different, but easy on the palate. This region is home to the stir-fry specialties that rely on fresh, not preserved, ingredients prepared quickly in little oil. Cantonese cooking is not spicy.

-- From the east come Shanghai's renowned fresh fish and seafood dishes paired with an abundance of fresh vegetables -- in fact, vegetarians delight in the many meatless listings on Shanghai-style menus. Poultry, too, is a specialty from this area. Shanghai cooking tends to be slightly oilier than that of other regions.

-- Go west to the Szechuan region and you'll find fiery, spicy cuisine featuring hot chilies, peppercorns and aromatic garlic and ginger. Pork, poultry and soybeans are common elements of Szechuan cooking.

Know Your Menu
Typical dishes you'll see on Chinese menus include lo mein, chow mein, chow fun, mai fun or lai fun. These dishes are all noodle-based, and also incorporate shrimp or other seafood, pork, chicken or beef. Opt for the sauteed or stir-fried proteins without the noodles. Egg rolls, an all-time favorite appetizer, are encased in dough wrappers, then deep fried. Peking duck is fine choice -- just leave the pancakes that come with it on the side. The same applies to moo shu pork -- help yourself to the filling, but pass on the pancakes. Be aware that the cubes of meat in sweet-and-sour pork are dipped in batter before deep-frying, then they're slathered in sticky, sweetened sauce.

In addition to avoiding rice and noodle-based dishes, other high-carb ingredients you should be on the lookout for on Chinese menus are peas, onions, black beans, soybeans, oranges and corn.

Like Chinese food? Did you know you can lose weight by having restaurant-quality, fresh-prepared food like Kung Pao Chicken delivered with eDiets Meal Delivery? Learn more!
At Chinese Restaurants

Choose...
egg-drop soup

Instead of...
egg rolls

Choose...
sizzling shrimp platter

Instead of...
shrimp fried rice

Choose...
steamed tofu (bean curd) with vegetables

Instead of...
any chow fun (wide noodle) dish

Choose...
stir-fried pork with garlic sauce

Instead of...
sweet-and-sour pork

Choose...
beef with Chinese mushrooms

Instead of...
beef lo mein

Choose...
steamed whole fish

Instead of...
shrimp with black bean sauce

Choose...
chicken with walnuts

Instead of...
chicken with cashews

Choose...
sauteed spinach with garlic

Instead of...
moo shu vegetables (with four pancakes)


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