Takeout Chinese food is one of the most popular meals in the United States with about 1/3 of Americans eating it once a month or more! That’s a lot of General Tso’s chicken and Wonton Soup.
Chinese food often gets a bad reputation for being too high in salt and unhealthy overall, but that isn’t always the case. You just need to know what the healthier options are so you can still indulge in Chinese takeout without feeling guilty.
Check out this list of 9 good-for-you Chinese food menu options that most people don’t order, but should!
Chicken or Beef and Broccoli
Simple, but delicious and nutritious, many people pass over Chinese Chicken or Beef and Broccoli for sugary dishes like Bourbon chicken or super salty ones like Mongolian Beef. That’s a huge mistake.
Tender chicken or beef stir-fried with yummy broccoli all in a light and sweet ginger soy sauce make this dish one you’ll want to order again. It’s a lower-calorie dish with high protein and a reasonable amount of fat.
The light sauce still contains a fair amount of sugar and salt. You can always ask for light sauce on your dish or for the sauce on the side.
Steamed Chicken or Pork Dumplings
Another healthy Chinese food option is chicken or pork steamed dumplings. Dumplings are delicate dough pouches filled with vegetables and meat.
Most Chinese restaurants offer dumplings steamed or fried. Choose the steamed version to save yourself fat and calories. Dumplings in general are a nutritious choice with most having less than 50 calories a piece.
What can get unhealthy on you is the high amount of sodium in the soy-based dipping sauce. Eat them plain or use less sauce if you need to avoid salt.
Craving dumplings but all your searches for, “Chinese dumplings near me” turning up blank? You can always order frozen ones online so you can immediately fulfill your dumpling craving anytime!
Moo Goo Gai Pan with Chicken or Shrimp
You’ve probably seen Moo Goo Gai Pan on a Chinese food menu, but do you know what it is? Moo Goo Gain Pan is a type of Chinese stir-fry with broccoli, carrots, water chestnut, mushrooms, and meat in a light, tangy, sweet sauce with a hint of sesame oil.
Choose chicken or shrimp Moo Goo Gai Pan as your meat for a lighter, high-protein option. All the vegetables provide lots of fiber and nutrients.
Just watch the sauce as it can contain high amounts of sugar and salt. Ask for less sauce or get it on the side to control how much you put on.
Pork Egg Foo Young
Egg Foo Young is another Chinese takeout dish that you’ve seen on the menu but probably have yet to try. It does contain eggs as the name suggests.
Egg Foo Young is a Chinese egg omelet made with meat, usually pork, and chopped vegetables. The eggs and meat make it a high-protein, low-calorie dish. Added vegetables like peas, carrots, and onions boost the nutrition and fiber content at the same time.
Again, the thick, brown sauce that accompanies Egg Foo Young has a very high sodium content. Try to use it sparingly. You can also ask for your omelet to be lightly fried instead of deep-fried to save on fat.
Shrimp or Chicken with Vegetables and Black Bean Sauce
Black beans may make you think of Tex-Mex or Cuban dishes before you think of Chinese food. That will all change once you try Chinese Black Bean Sauce.
Used mostly in Sichuan and Cantonese cooking, Black Bean Sauce is made with fermented black beans and garlic. It tastes salty, spicy, pungent, and a little sweet.
Choose chicken or shrimp with vegetables for a healthy Chinese takeout option full of lean protein and antioxidants. Don’t forget to ask for the sauce on the side if you want greater control.
Kung Pao Chicken or Shrimp
Craving something spicy and healthy? Try Kung Pao chicken or shrimp next time you order Chinese takeout. As long as you’re not allergic to peanuts!
Chinese Kung Pao has a sweet, salty, and very spicy flavor thanks to the chili paste and Szechuan peppers. It also contains tons of peanuts and vegetables like carrots and snow peas, and bell peppers to make it filling and low calorie.
Kung Pao is one of the healthiest Chinese food options for meat-eaters.
Are you a vegetarian or vegan looking for a tasty and healthy Chinese takeout meal? Buddha’s Delight is an awesome stir-fry made with seasoned tofu and a multitude of vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and cabbage in a lighter, savory sauce.
The high-fiber content and decent amount of protein mean even meat eaters can appreciate this tasty and filling meal.
If you are vegan, double-check with your local Chinese food restaurant that their version contains no animal products.
Chinese Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
Just looking for a side to add some extra nutrition to your meal? You can’t go wrong with Chinese Eggplant in Garlic Sauce.
They grill the Chinese Eggplant until it’s smoky and crispy, then smothered in a tangy, savory garlic sauce. It might not fill you up as a whole main dish, but it makes a great side or starter.
Egg Drop or Hot and Sour Soup
Many Chinese takeout starters are deep-fried and full of fat or come with super salty and sugary dipping sauces. You don’t have to cut out appetizers if you choose the right ones.
Try Egg Drop or Hot and Sour Soup as a great opener to your meal. Egg Drop Soup is a light soup with chicken broth and egg ribbons. Hot and Sour Soup is heartier with ginger, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, tofu, and egg ribbons with lots of vinegar and spices.
Keep in mind though both soups are low in calories, they may contain high amounts of sodium.
It’s Easy to Choose Healthy Options off a Chinese Food Menu
Next time you go to order takeout off a Chinese food menu, take a look at this list of healthier options.
You can even combine some of the options like Egg Drop Soup with Kung Pao Chicken or some Steamed Dumplings with Pork Egg Foo Young for a full delicious meal that won’t leave you feeling guilty.
Try some of these healthy Chinese food options to satisfy your craving today!