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Watching Your Carb Counts in a Chinese Restaurant

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Low Carb Chinese Food

This month marks the one year anniversary that Mini Mee was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  In his three days in the hospital, upon diagnosis, I learned more about carbs than I had known about it in my whole entire life.  I had to become keenly aware of his carbohydrate intake so that he would get the proper amount of insulin to offset it.  Counting carbs, or carbohydrates, became a way of life of him.  And for Mee.  To honor him, and The Chinese Quest, I am going to post a series of articles and recipes this month on low carb Chinese food.

Low Carb Chinese Food PyramidAs an added bonus, cutting down on your carbs will help you (umm, Mee) to lose the weight you’ve been wanting to lose, and to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.  And now I won’t have to give up my Chinese food, or The Chinese Quest!

You don’t have to stop eating Chinese food to follow a low carb diet, but you’ll need to pick your dishes carefully.  For instance, a typical serving of a Chinese restaurant staple such as sesame chicken with white rice can contain as much as 76 grams of carbohydrates. Learning what to eat, and what to avoid, can allow you to enjoy Chinese cuisine while keeping your carb count as low as possible.

Clear SoupClear Soups

Instead of ordering egg rolls, fried wontons, dim sum, dumplings, prawn toast or batter-fried shrimp as an appetizer, go for a clear soup such as egg drop soup, recommends the low carb Atkins diet guidelines.  Soups with a heavier consistency usually rely on carbohydrate-rich cornstarch as a thickener, which can add approximately seven grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon.

Tip:  Ask your server to help you identify which soups on the menu are prepared without cornstarch.

Stir FriesStir Fries

Stir fried vegetables, lean beef, chicken, shrimp or a combination such as beef with mushrooms are a low carb Chinese entree choice as long as you ask them to be served without noodles or rice.  Many stir fry dishes come seasoned with plum, orange, hoisin, sweet and sour or oyster sauce.

Tip:  Ask for yours to be prepared without any sauce, or with a small amount of the sauce served on the side. These sauces contain a large amount of sugar and often include cornstarch.

Grilled Meat, Poultry or Seafood

Avoid Chinese dishes that contain meat, poultry, fish or shellfish that’s been breaded or coated with a thick batter and fried, particularly if the food is served in a thick sauce. A restaurant serving of a batter-coated, sauce-rich entree such as sweet and sour pork can contain more than 70 grams of carbohydrates, even without the addition of noodles or rice.

Tip:  Opt for grilled foods instead, such as grilled fish or skewers of chicken or lean beef.  If grilled dishes aren’t available, look for steamed entrees.

Egg Foo YoungEgg Foo Young

Egg foo young is a combination of minced vegetables, eggs and small pieces of meat, seafood or poultry cooked into an omelet-style pancake.  Egg foo young is traditionally served with a dark brown sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce and cornstarch.

Tip:  Skip the sauce to avoid excess carbs.

So there you have it, you can eat your cake (ok, perhaps NOT literally), and eat it too!  Choose your carbs as wisely as you choose the Chinese restaurants you eat in.  And for our recommendations and reviews, please check out our Review page, and our Rankings page.

If you have any other suggestions to share, please post them in the comments.

Humbly submitted for your consumption,

Mee Magnum (“Chop!  Chop!”)

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  1. It hit home. Stay tuned for some healthy low-carb recipes in the coming days.

  2. Thank you for this very informative article.

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