Boyd suggests ordering skewered proteins, like the beef or chicken found on a pupu platter, if you want a protein-rich meal. “While they may marinate the chicken, pork and beef in a sugary concoction at some places,” she says, “the protein content you’ll get from ordering teriyaki skewers far outweighs the other choices you may have.” If you want to be really savvy, she recommends ordering a side of stir-fried mixed vegetables (with sauce on the side, of course) so you don’t miss the deep-fried snacks that often accompany a pupu platter, like egg rolls and fried wontons.
- Estimated Calories: about 300 calories
- Estimated Fat and Protein: about 15g fat and 24g protein
A few other of the healthiest Chinese food ideas Boyd suggests? Shrimp spring rolls (just skip the soy sauce to cut back on sodium), egg drop soup, chop suey (usually just a mélange of veggies and protein), chicken or shrimp lettuce wraps and Peking duck with veggies. A general rule: As long as you choose vegetables over rice and carb-laden sides (and stick to stir-fries instead of deep-fried dishes), you should be in the clear.
All nutritional information estimated from an online database like nutritionvalue.org.
What Are Unhealthy Chinese Food Options?
It probably goes without saying, but there are a few popular Chinese takeout items that we’re reserving for special occasions. That includes:
- Egg rolls: They’re wrapped in dough, deep-fried and served with sweet sauce. Swap for steamed vegetable dumplings instead.
- General Tso’s chicken: Sadly, one of our go-to orders is breaded, fried and coated in a sugary sauce, and it probably has more sodium than you should eat in a day. Kung pao chicken is a lighter, more veggie-forward option that’s spicy and satisfying.
- Sweet-and-sour pork: The name gives it away, but this dish is sugary and greasy. Mapo tofu, on the other hand, is another dish with pork that’s more authentic and less likely to fill you with regret.
- Lo mein: It’s basically pasta, so this well-loved dish has lots of carbs. Skip it altogether for something equally delicious but less caloric like Sichuan-style green beans. (Or if you absolutely must, order it with veggies.)
- Crab Rangoon: These entirely American takeout bites are basically just deep-fried cream cheese. Swap for steamed spring rolls if they’re on the menu.