Wholesome Chinese New Year

Cara Cunningham, Com

Reporter:

Cara Cunningham, Com

It’s the Chinese New Year on the 31st January – the year of the horse. Many people will be tempted to celebrate by heading to their local Chinese restaurant, either for a meal or a take-away; but how can you make sure to keep it healthy?

It’s the Chinese New Year on the 31st January – the year of the horse. Many people will be tempted to celebrate by heading to their local Chinese restaurant, either for a meal or a take-away; but how can you make sure to keep it healthy?

Go straight for the main event: popular Chinese starters such as spring rolls, prawn toast, crispy wontons are laden with fat and high in calories, so it might be best to avoid them entirely. If you must have a starter, choose soup or maybe share one dish

Choose boiled rice rather than fried rice: that will save more than 100kcals per portion, without compromising too much on taste. Better still go for brown rice if it is on offer as this would be healthier still

Veg it up: choose meals that have more vegetables in them, or go the whole hog and go for the vegetarian option to cut down on the calorie intake, and it also ups the amount of fibre you are getting

Not too saucy: a good rule of thumb is that the thicker the sauce the more calorific it is, you could always request the sauce on the side.

Get to know the lingo: Choose items on the menu that are prepared in a healthier way. These will be described as steamed, ‘Jum’ (poached) and ‘Chu’ (broiled) and are better options than other cookery methods such as deep-fried! Interestingly there does not seem to be a term in Chinese cookery for deep fried chicken balls, there are more a ‘western’ invention rather than a traditional Chinese dish

Don’t add more salt: Chinese foods are usually already salty enough, with the addition of MSG and/or soy sauce. So it’s best to at least taste the food before reaching for the table salt.

Eat with chop stick: research has shown that you will eat less when eating with chop sticks especially if you are a beginner!! It will definitely make you more mindful (if not more grateful) for every bite you manage to get on target!

Share: as we say to the kids ‘sharing is caring’, and as portions can be very big it is good to share, perhaps getting 2 main dishes between 3 people. Or eat until you feel full then save the rest for another meal.

Fortune cookies – read the fortune don’t eat the biscuit

This year the symbol is the horse which represents courage, grace and speed; all good for 2014, but then of course the Chinese are ‘ringing in’ the year 4711.

For more information on any of the issues discussed above or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact Maria at; The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster by telephone on (044) 9395518 or email community.dietitians@hse.ie