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Eat Out, Eat Smart

From deli to Tex-Mex, here are dining-out choices that won't do in your diet


When it comes to a typical Chinese restaurant menu in the U.S., it's easier to list what to stay away from than what's healthy.

"You want to stay away from the deep fried options," says Hall.

Unfortunately, that includes a good chunk of the menu, including favorites like the pu pu platter, typically made up of egg rolls, fried shrimp, chicken wings, chicken fingers, and crab rangoon.

"And watch out for foods on the Chinese menu that tend to be dripping in sauces, like the sweet-and-sour chicken or pork," says Hall.

The key is to choose foods that are more like those actually eaten in China -- with less meat and less sauce.

"Go for the non-fried chicken at a Chinese restaurant," says Hall. "Look for options that are heavy on the veggies, and light on the sauce, like brown rice with vegetables."

Susan Moores, RD, of St. Paul, Minn., suggests these dishes as not-so-unhealthy options: "moo goo gai pan, moo shi (with vegetables, pork, chicken or shrimp, also called moo shu), shrimp, pork, or chicken with Chinese vegetables, Szechwan green beans, or lo mein (with vegetables, pork, chicken, or shrimp)."

And, she says, "boiled, steamed, or lightly stir-fried seafood, chicken, vegetable or bean curd dishes are generally low in fat."

In fact, many Chinese restaurants offer low-cal specials: dishes that are steamed without oil, sugar, or salt. In this category, you can usually find chicken with vegetables, shrimp with vegetables, or an all-veggie platter.

Even those who don't list low-cal dishes on the menu are often willing to steam a dish instead of frying and make other modifications.

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