It’s Friday night.
You’ve had a huge week at work.
You finally arrive home after a long, arduous commute, and you’re kapooped. Absolutely rekt. Pwned.
And you know the moment your bum hits the couch, there’s no way in hell you’re getting back up to slave away in the kitchen.
It’s takeaway time.
Ordering UberEats or Deliveroo is a mod con our recent ancestors could have only dreamt of. Do a few swipes on your iPhone and twenty minutes later, a hot meal materialises on your doorstep. It’s some Criss Angel Mindfreak-level magic.
But convenience comes at a cost. Not only is ordering takeaway all the time exxy, it can also lead to some unhealthy habits.
It’s not just “fast food” that deserves some skepticism. Studies have shown eating food from restaurants – whether from fast food places, or fancier establishments – can led to increases in calories, fat and sodium compared to meals made at home.
It’s not all doom and gloom. You can have your Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese cuisine and eat it too, so long as you’re savvy about what dish you’re chowing down on. Here’s a handy guide on what to order from your local if you’re as partial to visible abs as you are to dining out.
Nothing beats a succulent Chinese meal.
But between battered lemon chicken, doughy pork buns and deep fried spring rolls, it can be hard to polish off a meal without feeling a little sluggish.
Here are our top picks for options that won’t have you rolling into bed clutching your gut.
Sucking back a cuppa clear, broth-based soup before you get stuck into your meal is an A+ idea. Research has found that if you eat a broth-based soup before a meal, you’ll feel fuller (that’s science) and end up eating less food in total.
When it doubt, order the greenest thing on the menu.
At many Chinese restaurants, that just so happens to be the broccoli.
Yes, it’s usually doused in salt-laden oyster sauce, but steamed greens are a great way to bulk up the banquet with some much-needed fibre and nutrients.
Steamed anything and everything
It would be almost a criminal offence to order Chinese cuisine and not get some form of dumpling.
Go for the steamed versions over the fried. They’re usually just as delicious, but the fact that they’re steamed means they won’t be swimming in any unnecessary oil. Extra points for vegetable or mushroom-filled dumplings.
There are plenty of options you can get on the menu that are steamed, from veggies to rice to lean protein like white fish.
Ask for sauce on the side
When it comes to salt and/or calorie bombs, the real killer is sauce.
One tablespoon of soy sauce typically contains about 1,000 milligrams of sodium — nearly half of the recommended limit for sodium intake in an entire day.
You might find you don’t actually need your pork to be doused in sauce for it to taste delicious – by ordering sauce on the side, you can dictate how much you actually need, cutting salt and calorific intake.
We’re heading into winter, which is when Indian cuisine really shines. It’s hot. It’s spicy. It’s comforting.
There are two ways to look at Indian cuisine. The upside of Indian? It’s antioxidant-rich with tonnes of fresh spices and herbs, meaning there’s less reliance on salt. Lean chicken is a staple meat, too.
The downside? Starchy, deep-fried appetisers and all those creamy, gravy sauces that make the curries so tasty.
Here’s how to navigate your local’s menu like a pro.
Pick the dhal, darl
Lentils and chickpeas are packed full of fibre and protein, meaning they’ll keep you fuller for longer.
Plus, they take to spices and sauces like ducks in water, meaning you don’t need to douse them in fatty oils and butter to make them taste authentically delicious.
Go the tandoori
Tandoori typically comes as a chicken, fish or vegetable-based dish.
No matter what base you opt for, it will be marinated in yogurt and spices like garlic and ginger and will be grilled or baked in a hot oven, rather than fried or drenched in cream like samosa or tikka masala.
Go easy on the rice
When it comes to eating out, recommended serving sizes go out the window. The biggest culprit of this usually comes in the form of rice, and Indian restaurants are no exception.
A single serving of cooked rice is about half a cup, but at a lot of restaurants you’ll be served double or even triple this amount. Start off with a smaller portion of rice on your plate and see if it fills you up before going in for more.
Of these three cuisines, Vietnamese probably gets the best wrap, health-wise. Many Vietnamese dishes are light, fresh and easy to grab on the go.
Here’s what to pick.
Regardless of how you pronounce it, phở is never a bad choice.
Consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and a protein (be it sliced beef, chicken or tofu), it’s a hearty dish that fills you up. Chicken is usually the healthiest choice of pho, given the fact it’s poached. You can easily ask for some added veggies in lieu of noodles to bulk up the fibre content.
Avoid adding in too much hoisin and instead load up on lime and fresh chilli for a kick (which is also a dynamite way to clear the sinuses if you’re coming down with a cold).
Veggie rice paper rolls
Rice paper rolls are a healthier alternative to deep-fried egg rolls, and they’re typically gluten free.
The vegetarian varieties are usually the most nutritious, given they’re filled with carrot, cabbage and fresh herbs. Prawn or shredded chicken rice paper rolls are another top choice, providing ample protein.
Fruit and vegetable salads
A typical Vietnamese-style salad includes healthy vegetables, nuts and fruits and are often seasoned with various spices and vinegar rather than oil-based dressings. Papaya, turnips, cabbage and peanuts are all regulars.
Vermicelli salads are a popular go-to, but rice noodles are very calorie-dense with not a whole lot of protein, meaning they won’t keep you full. If you’re choosing a vermicelli bowl, ask for extra veggies to up the healthy fibre and nutrient content.
The more veggies, the better, as always. Add some lean protein like poached chicken, prawns or tofu on top and you’re onto a good thing.
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