Healthy Chinese Takeaways – Dr. Carina’s Naughty and Nice
Finding a healthy Chinese takeaway can be a bit of a minefield.
Just follow our nutritionist, Dr. Carina, and you can’t go far wrong. When you’re done check out Dr. Carina’s other pieces on choosing healthy takeaway. Trust us, she knows her stuff.
Naughty – Crispy Aromatic Duck
Here’s a fact for you – duck and goose are way higher in fat than other poultry such as chicken and turkey.
That’s why we’re always recommending chicken and turkey in the ‘nice’ section, but crispy duck has to be considered ‘naughty’.
To make this Chinese treat, the duck is first rubbed with a range of aromatic spices, or rested in a spicy marinade. to give it a great deep flavour. The spices will vary according to your particular takeaway’s recipe, but soy sauce and Chinese five-spice are common ingredients.
The duck is cooked (generally roasted) at a low heat for several hours, until tender on the inside, and the skin is perfectly browned and crisped-up.
Sometimes, that’s the end of the story; you shred the succulent meat and eat it wrapped in little pancakes with spring onion and cucumber and a dipping sauce. But some restaurants add an extra stage – cutting the bird into pieces and deep frying it to make it extra crispy.
Another thing that makes this dish ‘naughty’ is the fact that you get an awful lot of duck, and research has shown that being faced with hefty portions can tempt people to eat more than they usually would.
And remember – different bits of a bird are better for you. The paler breast meat is lower in fat than the dark leg meat (thighs and drumsticks) and wings. With a whole Aromatic Crispy Duck, you get the lot. You even get the skin, which is the highest fat part of all. Sad to say that the fattiest bits are generally the crispiest, and often the tastiest, so enjoy in moderation.
It’s one of the more expensive choices on the menu – after all, think of all that preparation and the hours it takes to cook.
So, look at Crispy Duck as a treat – something a bit more extravagant, rather than what you might grab on the way home from work.
Nice – Stir-fried Beef with Broccoli
I’m giving this one a ‘nice’ rating with a few exceptions.
It involves red meat, and that’s higher in saturated fat than other kinds of meat – we’re recommended to keep red meat to a couple of servings a week to stay healthy.
If your local takeaway is generous with the frying oil, this can bump up the fat (and calorie) count too.
We are looking at this as an occasional thing – not for an every day meal. Dishes like this are fine if you try to make sure the rest of your diet is low in saturated fat, and you don’t overdo the calories.
The reason why we can call Stir-fried beef with broccoli ‘nice’, is because of all the lovely and healthy nutrients it provides.
Beef is a good source of protein and valuable minerals including iron and zinc. We need iron to make healthy red blood cells and prevent anaemia, and zinc helps support our immune systems.
Though I personally think the word ‘superfood’ is a bit of a gimmick and over-used, when it comes to broccoli, it’s deserved.
For a start, it’s high in fibre (making it filling and good for the digestive system) and very few of us get enough fibre. It’s also rich in a plant pigment called beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, as well as being a decent source of vitamin C in its own right.
Broccoli also contains folic acid, which helps women expecting babies. It has been involved in heart health (so it’s important for men, too). Plus broccoli contains plant compounds called isothiocyanates (try saying that after you’ve had a few!), which appear to have cancer-protective effects.
Unfortunately, in the UK people generally boil broccoli, which means a lot of the nutrients are lost in the water. But – good news – stir frying preserves those nutrients.