Junk or Healthy? “Fancy a takeaway tonight?” – a question we often associate firstly with a yes response and then with guilt once we have consumed thousands of calories. Chinese food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, although is often thought of that way.
If we always opt for fried noodles and fried meat, then, of course, is unbalanced and would be considered junk food in any cuisine. We tend to stick to what we know, safe in the knowledge we like what we know, but without understanding what else is on offer.
Authentic Chinese cuisine is actually very healthy. Over the years, Chinese food in the UK has been adapted to suit our preferences and quite a few dishes you might see in the UK would probably not feature on the menu of an authentic Chinese restaurant in China. It’s probably fair to say that few of us in the UK have experienced the array of true flavours and dishes that Chinese cuisine has to offer.
Many UK Chinese restaurants in fact offer separate menus for those looking for authentic dishes. The real way of eating Chinese food is both healthy and fulfilling. For example, emphasis on vegetables is often forgotten in the most popular takeaway dishes we choose time and time again.
Vegetables have their own status in Chinese cuisine. There aren’t many complex carbohydrates in vegetables so having a vegetable heavy dish alongside some meat or tofu is a good way of controlling your carbohydrate intake.
Soup will often feature on a Chinese menu. As thirst is often confused with hunger and lead to overeating, having soup before a main meal can help. Soup is a good and usually healthy way of consuming nutrients as well as feeling fuller before the main course.
With Western medicine, we often forget the importance of how what we put into our bodies (food-wise) can seriously alter our health.
Chinese medicine prescribes various foods as medical treatments. Take garlic for example which is used to counteract toxins. Similarly, chillies are used to promote good digestion and ward off colds.
Don’t let an unhealthy misconception cloud your judgement the next time you decide to eat Chinese food. A world of sumptuous flavours and aromas is out there.
The next time you’re in a Chinese restaurant, ask your waiter whether they have an alternative menu for authentic dishes. If they do, ask them to recommend dishes for you based on the meat/fish/vegetables or flavours you enjoy and you’ll have an array of delicious healthy dishes to choose from.
This article is brought to you by the Chinese Culinary Arts Programme. This is a learning programme that is designed to teach expert authentic cooking skills to the same standard that is taught in China’s own cooking schools. Chinese Master Chefs deliver cooking demonstrations from their kitchens in China, with a UK based tutor supplying the narrative via live video link to learners across the UK.
The programme results in an accredited Level 3 Diploma qualification that learners can use to further their career in food or as a stepping stone into it.