HBH Guide to Ethnic Cuisine: Asian

As the holidays approach, it becomes more common to eat out (at least I know it is for our family)! Whether it’s because our schedules become filled with events and a quick meal is needed or it is the focus of a social gathering, the amount of times we cook meals at home dwindles.  One of our goals of starting this blog was to provide our readers with the tools to eat healthier! Our Quick Bites posts that provide suggestions on foods to order while eating out at specific restaurants have been extremely popular. However, it may be hard to look up the nutritional facts of every restaurant you go to especially local places where they do not provide the facts. Instead, we wanted to provide some common tips on various cuisines so you can be prepared to choose healthier options. First up: Asian cuisine!

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When eating out at any Asian restaurant, fat and sodium content are going to be some of the larger issues to be aware of. Here are some tips for maneuvering these type of restaurants without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle.

Go for the veggies: Many of these establishments do not provide nutritional facts to look at (especially local places) but a general rule of thumb is to choose an entree that contains vegetables. The more that the dish is filled with colorful vegetables and less of fried protein and carbohydrates like large amounts of noodles, the healthier the dish likely is. And, are you a fan of edamame? Make sure to ask how it was prepared. Steamed with water is a much better option than cooked in oil!

  • Choose: Vegetable spring rolls, vegetable dumplings or Moo Goo Gai Pan for an alternative to other dishes.

Ask for sauce on the side or for less of it. When possible, choose steamed dishes with minimal sauces. If a sauce is included, ask for it on the side to prevent excess calories, fat and sodium.

  • Choose: Don’t be afraid to ask if your favorite dish could be steamed with sauce on the side. If you need more flavor, mix a small amount of the included sauce with a small amount of low sodium soy sauce! A perfect example of the nutritional difference between steamed and stir fried is at PF Changs – choose Buddha’s Feast Steamed for a healthier version (250 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 300 mg sodium) over Buddha’s Feast Stir Fried (480 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 3860 mg sodium!)

Go Whole: Choose whole grain carbohydrates when possible. As we have previously talked about, whole grains are filled with fiber which not only keep you fuller for longer, but also provide other health benefits.

  • Choose brown rice over fried rice or Lo mein noodles for a healthier option!

Watch portion size: Many of the portions provided at Asian restaurants are large enough for multiple people to enjoy! Try sharing with others you are dining with or ask for a to-go box when the entree is brought to you to prevent from over eating. For rice, try to not eat more than a fistful size at one sitting.

Have soup first. By having soup as an appetizer first, you are preventing yourself from eating more than you should later on.

  • Choose: Wonton, hot and sour, or egg drop soup for a broth based appetizer option that fills you up without excess calories.

Talk to us! What are some of your favorite healthier Asian dishes?

 

Quick Bites: Corner Bakery

Corner Bakery is one of my favorite places to go for a quick meal. Their menu is expansive while giving you the ability to mix and match to make your own personal combos. With the popularity of our Quick Bites posts, we thought we would continue by highlighting some of the recommended menu items at Corner Bakery and those to avoid if possible! We also included our picks for the CB kids’ menu, as there are are definitely menu items to avoid for the kiddos in your life.

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Quick Bites: Olive Garden

We are back with another installment from our popular Quick Bites series! If you are new to our blog, check out our Nutrition 101 page for our all of our quick bite reviews on popular restaurants. In each review, we include our recommendations on what to order and what to avoid when eating at these establishments. Don’t forget to look at our review on Chick-fil-a for the nutritional markers we look for when eating out. Today, we are reviewing a classic place and a favorite of many: Olive Garden. As you can imagine, the menu includes many dishes that would exceed a person’s daily intake of sodium, fat and saturated fat. But, there are a few dishes that made our choose list!

www.olivegarden.com

www.olivegarden.com

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Quick Bites: McAlister’s Deli

McAlister’s Deli is up next for our continued Quick Bites series! This chain, found across the U.S., has a variety of menu options. But, don’t let the word ‘deli’ in the name trick you, as there are quite a few options on the menu that should be avoided! The ‘choose 2’ menu option is an easy way to have 2 smaller portions of items to make up a healthier meal. For instance, you could have a ‘choose 2 meal’ of the deli turkey sandwich and cup of Fire Roasted Vegetable soup for a meal under 300 calories and 1 gram saturated fat. But, as we have learned, it is important to review the nutritional facts of any dining establishment before eating there. In this case, it would be easy to pick a ‘choose 2 meal’ containing over 1,000 calories just by choosing the smaller portion of the muffuletta! I have broken down menu items to choose and those to avoid, but as always, there are menu items that may be acceptable that I have not discussed. For a breakdown of what nutrients we look at, take a look at our original Quick Bites post on Chick-fil-a.

www.mcalistersdeli.com

www.mcalistersdeli.com

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Quick Bites: Zoe’s Kitchen

We are back with another edition of our Quick Bites series, and today, we are looking at one of my favorite places to eat – Zoe’s Kitchen! I love the focus on healthy eating at Zoe’s Kitchen as well as the variety of options. In fact, Zoe’s provides a speciality menu called ‘Simply 500’ which lists the menu items that are already 500 calories or less or those that can be specially ordered to qualify. Also, for those people following specific diets (such as vegetarian, gluten free or vegan), the menu labels which menu items qualify making it easy to decide what to order! I wanted to narrow down the menu even further by taking a look at some of the other nutrients that play a role into what we would consider a healthier meal. As always, there are menu items that may be acceptable that I have not discussed. For a breakdown of what nutrients we look at, take a look at our original Quick Bites post on Chick-fil-a.

zoes

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