Considering the US has more Chinese restaurants than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendy's combined, it makes sense that the cuisine comes with a stir-fry of great stories. Lee begins her journey with the tale of how the Powerball lottery was once almost brought down by a set of lucky numbers printed in dozens of fortune cookies. She follows with fun facts about the origins of the cookies, as well as of chop suey and General Tso's chicken. But this book isn't as lighthearted as you might think
I already told you about a few unhealthy Chinese food menu items that are heavy hitters in terms of calories, fat, and sodium and you may have been thrilled that your favorite dish was not on there. Unfortunately, there's more.
In case you missed it, Newsweek talked to Jayne Hurley and Bonnie Liebman , authors of Chinese Restaurant Food: Wok Carefully. They shared their take on the most unhealthy Chinese food menu items. I wanted to make sure you don't miss the highlights:
- Lemon chicken: A plate of lemon chicken contains 1,400 calories, two-thirds of a day's fat, and no vegetables. "It's like eating three McDonald's McChicken sandwiches and a 32-ounce Coke," Hurley says.
- General Tso's chicken: General Tso's chicken features breaded, deep-fried chicken chunks that are then soaked in sauce; Hurley and Liebman found that one plate has about 1,300 calories and half a day's worth of saturated fat.
- Barbecued spare ribs: These "appetizers" pack a punch — one plate of spare ribs carries two-thirds of a day's worth of saturated fat and 600 calories. That's the same amount of calories as in two pork chops, Hurley says. Dumplings, steamed or pan-fried, are much more health friendly, she says.
So eat Chinese food at your own risk, I know I will be — sometimes a girl's just gotta have her General Tso's.
The other day, out of the blue, I was having a bit of a craving for Chinese food. This is unusual for me, but I was thinking of indulging myself. Then I read a nutritional dissection of the cuisine in Newsweek by Jayne Hurley and Bonnie Liebman, the authors of Chinese Restaurant Food: Wok Carefully. Their take on the most unhealthy Chinese food menu items certainly had me rethinking my decision to indulge – or at least stick to steamed meals with sauces on the side.
Here are highlights:
- Fried rice and lo mein: "Those dishes are basically three quarters of a day's calories, and you're just getting four or five cups of white rice or white noodles with oil and a sprinkling of vegetables," Hurley says. They're especially dangerous because they're often served alongside people's main orders, she says, and deliver "not much more than a smattering of vegetables or protein from the meat."
- Chow fun: This dish is made of wider rice noodles and might taste more healthy than lo mein, but it's not. "The noodles are thicker, but they're going to do the same damage to your belly and blood pressure as the lo mein," Hurley says.
- Crispy (orange) beef: Many meat-based menu items simply offer "hunks of fried meat," Hurley says. "What you're getting is three quarters of a pound of deep-fried meat, garnished with vegetables," she says. The same goes for sweet and sour pork.
So there you have it. This is not to say that you shouldn’t eat Chinese food, because sometimes you need some take-out and a fortune cookie. Just try steer clear of the high-calorie, high-sodium, high-fat items like those listed above.
Take the Quiz
Today is the first day of the Year of the Rat. During the Chinese New Year, a special emphasis is placed on the symbology of different foods. I thought it would be fun to see how much you know about this food symbolism. I'll list an ingredient and you choose what it usually represents. Sound fun? Get started!
With all this talk about Chinese food having a bad rep, I thought it would be appropriate to break down so called gourmet Chinese food, Panda Express.
|Calories||Fat (g)||Trans Fat (g)||Sodium (mg)||Carbs (g)|
*The numbers above are all done without rice.
Want to know what you definitely shouldn't order (including sides) then, read more
Recent reports from the Center for Science in the Public Interest are giving Chinese food a very bad rep. The reports show that a typical battered, fried chicken dish with vegetables has 1,300 calories, 3,200 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of saturated fat. The rice has about 200 calories per cup and an egg roll has about 200 calories and 400 milligrams of sodium. Yikes! Equally troubling are the high amounts of sodium found in common Chinese dishes. For example, a plate of General Tso's chicken, has 40 percent more sodium than the average adult needs for an entire day. Even the vegetable dishes were found to be very high in sodium.
However, Chinese was not the only type in the spotlight, Italian and Mexican restaurants are just as bad, if not worse for your health because their food is higher in saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
If you're not ready to give up your favorite take out restaurant just yet, then consider these tips from CNN.com on making smart choices at Chinese restaurants:
- Look for dishes that feature vegetables instead of meat or noodles. Ask for extra broccoli, snow peas or other veggies.
- Steer clear of deep-fried meat, seafood or tofu. Order it stir-fried or braised.
- Hold the sauce, and eat with a fork or chopsticks to leave more sauce behind.
- Limit salt, which means steering clear of the duck sauce, hot mustard, hoisin sauce and soy sauce.
- Share your meal or take half home for later.
- Ask for brown rice instead of white rice.
Ever hosted a Chinese themed dinner party and wished that you could personalize the messages in your fortune cookies? Well you can! Rachel from Indiana showed me this cool little website that customizes fortune cookies. Not only can you write your own fortune, but you can also choose from a rainbow of colored fortune cookies! Wouldn't it be cute to make a Chinese menu around the holidays and have red and green fortune cookies with messages that read Merry Christmas inside? The possibilities are endless!
If there are any boys (or bold girls) out there reading this who are in serious relationships, here's a suggestion: after a romantic evening at your favorite Chinese restaurant propose in the message of the fortune cookie! It would be so adorable she/he could hardly refuse you.