Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Challenges of Chinese Cuisine

tidbits that tantalize


Is Chinese??

It hardly seems fair - here it is, "Chinese Chow Down" Thursday, and your wife and kids are all nagging you to "behave." What does that dang doctor know anyway? He didn't look like the healthiest guy himself and, really - you've got several friends with cholesterol levels way higher than 288. But, a promise is a promise. Just like the kids keep reminding you.

You grab a table at Chen's Super Dynasty and, with gleeful shouts of "Buffet!" ringing in your ears, you watch as your family makes a beeline for the food line without so much as a backward glance. You give a meager grin to the waitress, remove the dietary cheat-sheet from your pocket and consider your options. Just as you thought. In a barely audible voice, you tell the waitress, "I'll have an order of steamed broccoli and a side of stir-fried snow peas - no sauce."

The waitress nods politely, says, "Ah, so sorry," and scoots off to the kitchen to place your "special" order.

Is this the only way to eat healthily at a Chinese restaurant? Well...

Findings released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest paint a fairly dim picture of Chinese cuisine - and Italian, Mexican and the vast majority of American restaurants. But, not to become distracted, the main emphasis of the study deals with Chinese food.

Warning - if you love Chinese food you must STOP NOW - reading beyond this point may permanently alter your relationship with fried wantons, egg rolls and all fried foods soaked in soy sauce.

The study tells a chilling tale of exorbitant calories and excesses of salt. For example, a serving of General Tso's chicken contains about one-half the total calories required for an entire day and 1.4 times the sodium. The veggie dishes fair no better. A plate of stir-fried greens has about 900 calories and just shy of the daily sodium requirement of 2,300 milligrams.

It's a tough buffet to navigate, but the Center offers several healthy guidelines, including choosing vegetable dishes instead of meat or noodle dishes, avoiding deep-fried foods, leaving off the sauce, limiting salt and... Well, you get the idea - order the steamed broccoli...

You do your best to concentrate amidst the tempting, wafting, steaming fat-laden plates assembled by your family. Then, in a careless serendipity, your youngest accidentally splashes a few drops of soy sauce onto your steamed broccoli. "Woohoo!" You spear the broccoli before your wife has a chance to hit it with her napkin, sit back and savor each luscious bite.

Ah - Now, that's Chinese...

To read more about the study results, see this from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.


Blogger sylvia c. said...

Your broccoli sauce shenanigans played out perfectly in my imagination.

It made for an excellent little giggle.

I'll try portion control next time, but certainly not crab-ragoon elimination.

Thanks for the laugh!

Sylvia C.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Devon Ellington said...

I should hope the occasional slip's not a major crime, although eating that way every day might lead to problems.

Of course, if you prepare the food yourself at home, you have more control over the ingredients.

My wok is my best friend!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Tim,

I'm just waiting for the day that you find out all the "comfort foods" I love the most are really GOOD for me.

Think that'll ever happen?

The Working Writer's Coach

6:38 PM  

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