I am not a regular consumer of Chinese food, it would always come last if I was given a choice of takeaways or restaurants to go to, simply because I am not a big fan of the food. But I know that for a lot of people it is their downfall every weekend, and something which they look forward to at the end of a long work week. So here are some of my top tips to satisfy your craving without going completely off track!
- A lot of Chinese dishes which you get from the takeaway are very fatty, full of oil and sodium, which could leave you retaining more water than normal giving you that bloated look and feel, so drink PLENTY of water. By drinking lots of extra water you are more able to flush it out of your system and return to normal.
- Try and look for ‘steamed’ or ‘wok fried’ options are these are likely to contain less fat and more vegetables. The more vegetables the better! Something like Szechuan Prawns or Steamed Chicken would be good choices.
- Chicken with Broccoli would probably be my dish of choice (but I realise that it isn’t on every menu), and if possible ask for the sauce to be served on the side. There is usually a meat and vegetable option though so go for that if in doubt. A Chicken Chop Suey is likely to set you back about 350-450 calories.
- If you do want a starter, opt for one of the popular soups such as chicken and sweetcorn, or hot and sour.
- Worst options would include Deep Fried Sweet and Sour dishes with fried rice. The amount of calories and fat in a dish like this is enough to make your eyes water, on average coming out at around 1100 calories and over 30g of fat per portion!
- Anything with the word fried in it is best to be avoided!
- Fried Rice contains up to 50% more calories than steamed rice, so opt out of that one where possible.
- Avoid fattening side orders such as spring rolls, prawn crackers, prawn toast, wontons etc. Stick to your one main dish (this also means giving the cold shoulder to duck pancakes I’m afraid!).
——-> and if all else fails, eat with chop sticks as that will slow you down and chances are you will realise you are full a lot sooner than you think! May sound like a silly idea, but trust me it works!
There’s nothing like an indulgent curry to treat yourself, especially if you have the dreaded Sunday hangover; but after doing a little bit of research on the internet, I came across this stat:
‘According to a survey in Which? magazine, the average meal of chicken tikka masala, pilau rice and a plain naan contains a whopping 1,338 calories and 55g of fat.’
I am not overly shocked if I am honest, as the amount of oil, butter and cream used in the above will be very high. You have to remember that the main aim of restaurants and takeaways is to make their food taste good, they don’t care how many calories are in it. It is up to you to be mindful and savvy when choosing what to order!
- For starters there are usually an array of meat dishes such as tandoori chicken, or chicken tikka. These are some of the lower calorie options available due to how the meat is cooked. It is marinated in a range of spices and sometimes yoghurt which means that it is full of flavour, and because of the method of cooking very little oil is used.
- Skip the deep fried appetisers like poppadoms, samosas, onion bhajis etc, and save yourself for the main meal.
- For your main course, you can once again opt for the tandoori or tikka dishes, served with boiled rice. But rather than have a whole portion of rice to yourself, try and share, or just take a couple of spoonfuls and match the portion which you would usually serve yourself at home; always choose boiled rice over pilau and save yourself some calories.
- I know you may be used to having a naan bread as an accompaniment as well but it really is best avoided in this scenario. If you really must order one, go for the plain option rather than one with filling, or choose a Roti instead. The worst naan’s can contain well over 400 calories each!!
- If you are craving a curry then choose tomato based ones like a Balti or a Jalfrezi rather than creamy ones such as Masala or a Korma. By selecting chicken or prawns instead of lamb, you are also able to reduce the amount of fat in the dish.
Indian is not the worst food on offer if you choose wisely.
Now here is my absolute favourite cuisine to review! Thai food can swing from extremely healthy to calorie and fat laden, usually with coconut milk being the main culprit. Coconut milk is ‘healthy’, however like I have mentioned in previous Facebook and blog posts, just because something is classed as ‘healthy’ it doesn’t mean that we can eat it in copious amount. Calories are king, so we just need to exert a bit of wariness when selecting these types of dishes.
- A lot of Thai cooking contains the flavours of turmeric, chilli, thai basil, and lemongrass – these not only make everything taste amazing but they also have nutritional, cardiovascular, digestive and other health benefits! Try and go as spicy as you dare! Fish sauce, soy sauce and shrimp paste are also abundant in most dishes, and all are relatively high in sodium, so make sure you accompany your meal with a lot of water to help flush it out of your system and reduce water retention and bloating.
- There is always some sort of Steamed Fish or Seafood on the menu, order this with steamed rice and mixed vegetables and you have yourself a great, tasty meal.
- Most Thai Salads are great choices, as the dressings tend to be made without oil; lime juice, fish sauce and sugar are the main staple ingredients. They are full of fresh and tasty vegetables, papaya salad is my favourite but it is quite rare to find it in restaurants in England. ‘Lab Gai’ which is made with minced chicken adds an extra hit of protein too.
- My absolute favourite dish from any thai restaurant is ‘Tom Yam’, a hot spicy broth based soup, usually served with prawns or chicken. I must have it at least once a day when I am on holiday in Thailand, and the judge of a good restaurant is on how good I think their soup is! As it is broth based and full of vegetables and meat, it is a great option. (Not to be confused with ‘Tom Yum Kha’ which is also a soup but made with coconut.
- Chicken Satay, which is basically just grilled chicken on a stick, is also on the menu; just make sure that any peanut dipping sauce comes on the side.
- Unlike Chinese spring rolls, the thai version isn’t deep fried. They are usually made with fresh vegetables and wrapped in a soft rice paper roll.
- Cashew Chicken is popular choice and is high in protein, usually coming in at between 350-400 calories per portion.
- Curries are a little bit tricky, even though they are absolutely delicious, they do pack a fairly hefty calorie punch due to the coconut cream and milk. If you don’t want to miss the flavours of these amazing curries, one option would be to order, put take the main ingredients out of the bowl and add to your rice rather than the other way round. This way you wont be taking in as much of the actual curry sauce. Massaman Curry is the most calorific of the lot, so leave this one in the kitchen.
- Pad Thai is probably my other go to Thai favourite dish. I am quite picky now, and it takes something special to impress me! They are however fairly calorie laden, sometimes up to 1000 calories in a restaurant sized serving! So unfortunately best avoided if you are trying to cut down.
- Mango Sticky Rice is probably the most well known dessert at a Thai restaurant, best to avoid though due to the high amount of sugar and milk used to make it.
Go and enjoy a delicious Thai meal without feeling guilty or like you have fallen off track!
All of the above would obviously apply to takeaways as well as eating at a restaurant.
So there we have it, my run down on 3 of the country’s favourite international cuisines. Hopefully I have been able to clear up any questions you may have had about what is best to order; if not just let me know and I will see what I can do! We all have our favourite menu items, so if you are unsure how good they are for you drop me a message or comment in the box below.
The aim of this mini series is to show you that you can still eat out or enjoy a takeaway with friends at the weekend, but you are still able to stay relatively on track with your fitness goals. There are always options available to you to make a better choice, it is just about a little bit of pre-planning and sometimes a little bit of sacrifice.
Love Abi xxx