Food Showdown: Which Chinese Dish is Less Fortunate for Your Waistline?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
P.F. Chang's is a Chinese bistro that offers an eclectic variety of options.  There are some good points to Chinese cuisine in general--it's usually stir-fried, it contains some healthy veggies, and portions tend to be smaller (as long as you're not frequenting a buffet).  Here are two popular Chinese dishes that P.F. Chang's has created that definitely have appeal. 
The Ginger Chicken & Broccoli is served ''Cantonese-style'' on a bed of freshly steamed broccoli and marinated in a sweet and spicy ginger sauce.  From the vegetarian menu, Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu is a Szechuan dish of crispy silken tofu, also with broccoli.  Many times vegetarian meals are lower in calories and fat than meat dishes, but in this case is "crispy" (fried) tofu still lower in calories and fat than chicken?

The Winner: Ginger Chicken & Broccoli!
This time, chicken wins! Remember that no matter how a food starts out, it can be changed greatly when it's prepared and cooked. A full dish (3 servings) of the Ginger Chicken & Broccoli contains 470 calories and 11 grams of fat, but is lower in saturated fat (2 grams).  Since this chicken isn't breaded or deep fried, the calorie count remains moderate. Don't let P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu fool you into thinking it's healthy just because it's vegetable-based. This tofu is deep-fried, which means it's high in calories (the full dish contains 1030), fat (70 grams!) and saturated fat (13 grams).

When dining at a Chinese restaurant, choose the vegetable-based dishes and make sure you ask for them steamed. Request brown rice instead of white (which is rarely available, but is a staple at P.F. Chang's) and keep those portions in control while avoiding breaded and fried foods, whether they're meat or tofu-based. Also, why not share a dish with a friend? It will cut those calories and fat grams right in half. If you're watching your sodium intake, steer clear of heavy sauces (which can be difficult with Chinese cuisine!). Sauces can also contain a lot of sneaky hidden sugar. If possible, order the sauce on the side, or simply ask for a plate of fresh steamed veggies and a protein of your choice.

What do you usually order at a Chinese restaurant?