food & drink

Friday night takeaway: why Chinese is the healthiest option

Chinese food, Friday night takeaway, healthy, Kettle Mag
Written by Nigel Simpkins

It’s Friday night and you’re sick of the cheap and not so cheerful pasta dishes that you’ve been making all week.  Time to blow the budget and eat something tasty for a change, so you reach for your phone, oh it’s in your hand already, of course it is.  Or, if you’re the energetic type, you walk round the corner and stand for a minute, bathed in the soft neon glow of the take away temples that stretch to the horizon, as you consider where to take your custom this week.  Money changes hands and you scurry home like a thief in the night, or you wait for that knock on the door with a racing heart and a mouth full of saliva.  And then suddenly it’s all over and you feel dirty and violated and you vow to yourself that you’ll kick the habit and from now on you’ll go to the gym every day.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Chinese food is healthy

Take Chinese food for instance.  It’s a great take away, it’s delicious and it’s got a bad reputation.  Try telling someone that Chinese food is healthy and they’ll think you’re being ironic.  It’s true that there are some Chinese takeaway favourites that need treating with caution:  barbecue spare ribs, those delicious little fingers of sin, will give you 66% of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat all in one hit.  A harmless bowl of fried rice will give you 75% of your recommended daily calorie count and that sweet and sour chicken that you love so much packs a mighty 1,000 calorie punch.  So next time you order a Chinese delivery, steer clear of the fried processed dishes in favour of the more nutritious options, for a healthier Friday night treat.

Learn the lingo

First off, learn the lingo: jum,chu,kow,shu – poached, broiled, roasted, barbecued.  Now at least you’ll know what you’re ordering.  The Chinese don’t tend to drink water with their meal, they eat soup instead and so should you, it’s a scrumptious way to take in fluid and it takes the edge of your hunger so that you actually enjoy the main course.  Traditional Chinese cooking doesn’t regard vegetables as some irrelevant side dish just for decoration, but as the main event.  So start loading up on those steamed veggies:  a vegetable dumpling tastes absolutely great and is only 40 calories.  Fish and chicken are a great source of protein but so is tofu and it’s got fewer calories. Buddha’s Delight is a full meal made up of steamed veg and tofu, it tastes great, it’s only 200 calories and you won’t be hungry at the end of it. 

And finally, remember, the fork is not your friend, it may help you to shovel that food down faster but the consequence of that is you’ll over eat, you’re much better off taking it slowly with chop sticks, that way your brain will have time to tell your stomach when it’s time to stop eating.