Cook This!

20 Healthy Chinese Food Recipes

By Cassandra Talmadge

Trash the takeout menus and whip up these Chinese food recipes instead!

Chinese food is notorious in the nutritional world for its skyrocketing sodium counts, which leaves us thirsty, bloated, and unhealthy. According to dietary guidelines, we should be consuming 2,300 milligrams of salt a day (after all, it is an essential mineral and vital for bodily functions). However, some Chinese takeout meals exceed this amount after just one serving—and you can bet those takeout portions are more than that. Excess sodium adds up to trouble for our hearts, our skin, our body weight, and our blood pressure. Chinese food is also often packed with hidden calories and sketchy ingredients. Seriously, have you seen these Chinese Restaurant Entrees They Won't Eat in China?!

But before you mourn the loss of egg rolls and lo mein, scroll below. Every Chinese food recipe on this list is a good-for-you green light because they're made with better ingredients and you know exactly what you're eating. As a disclaimer, all of the nutritional profiles here were calculated using low sodium soy sauce. From general tso to egg foo young, you're welcome!

1
BAKED GENERAL
TSO CHICKEN

Nutrition (per serving, yields 4): 305 calories, 6.3 g fat (1.6 g saturated), 420 mg sodium, 27.6 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8.5 g sugar, 32.7 g protein

Traditional General Tso is usually a dietary nightmare. One serving can deliver an entire day's worth of sodium, ¾ of your total caloric intake, over 100 grams of carbs, and a whopping 90 grams of fat. One look at the nutritional profile in this baked version and we were smitten.

Get the recipe from Pickled Plum.

2
CAULIFLOWER
FRIED RICE

Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 113 calories, 7.1 g fat (1 g saturated), 132 mg sodium, 11.5 g carbs, 3.6 g fiber, 3.9 g sugar, 3.3 g protein

Cauliflower doesn't get nearly enough credit in our opinion. Sneaking its way into pizza crusts, pasta dishes, pudding, mashed potato recipes and, in this case, rice—the fiber and protein-packed veggie is a health foodie savor. You'll never find a "fried rice" on a takeout menu for under 500 calories a serving, let alone 113!

Get the recipe from Living Sweet Moments.

3
CHICKEN EGG
FOO YOUNG

Nutrition (per 1 cup): 219 calories, 12.7 g fat (3.3 g saturated), 638 mg sodium, 10.1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3.9 g sugar, 16.2 g protein

One out of seven people stick to egg whites. If you're one of them, consider this: Wake Forest University researchers reviewed more than 30 egg studies and found no link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, the yellow part of the egg contains a nutrient called choline, which plays a key role in optimal brain functioning, cell membrane structure, and liver health.

Get the recipe from Pickled Plum.

4
PALEO SWEET
AND SOUR CHICKEN

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 361 calories, 18.6 g fat (11.2 g saturated), 471 mg sodium, 19.6 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 17.2 g sugar, 28.6 g protein

Just because cavemen didn't consume Chinese cuisine doesn't stop Paleo dieters from getting creative. This recipe is 100 percent Paleo-approved and uses abdominal-shrinking coconut oil, so don't let the fat count scare you. Its medium-chain saturated fat lauric acid content allows your body to readily convert it into energy, ultimately aiding in your body goals. For more ways to ditch your belly rolls, check out these 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat.

Get the recipe from A Saucy Kitchen.

5
PF CHANG'S CHICKEN
LETTUCE WRAPS

Nutrition (per serving, yields 4): 298 calories, 15.7 g fat (3.9 g saturated), 331 mg sodium, 20.2 g carbs, 3.4 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 22.3 g protein

Although no longer a menu option, this PF Chang's copycat recipe is one of the many lettuce-wrapped divine gifts we've stumbled upon. It has all the Asian flavor and none of the belly-bulging consequences.

Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.

6
AVOCADO
EGG ROLLS

Nutrition (per 2 mini egg rolls): 324 calories, 35.3 g fat (7.8 g saturated), 12 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 4.3 g fiber, 1.2 g sugar, 2 g protein (calculated with greek yogurt in place of mayo)

We highly recommend substituting Greek yogurt for mayo, sour cream, and/or the vegetable oil in this one—but the majority of the fat here is from waist-whittling avocado. And according to research published in the journal Diabetes Care, a diet rich in monounsaturated fat can prevent abdominal body fat distribution by down-regulating the expression of certain fat genes. Plus, another study published in Nutrition Journal discovered that participants who ate half an avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. While the serving size doesn't account for quite that much avocado, we're willing to bet it will still put your hunger pangs to rest.

Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.

7
CREAM CHEESE
WONTONS

Nutrition (per wonton): 120 calories, 9.9 g fat (6.2 g saturated), 84 mg sodium, 4.2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2.2 g protein (calculated with greek yogurt cream cheese)

Creamy and fried are typically code for "diet sabotaging", but there are exceptions to every rule and this is one of them. With just 120 calories when you opt for this recipe and sub in greek yogurt cream cheese and 4.2 grams of carbs, it's about to be lit (in your mouth).

Get the recipe from Lil Luna.

8
GLUTEN-FREE
WONTON SOUP

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 278 calories, 3.9 g fat (1.1 g saturated), 82 mg sodium, 47 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 11.5 g protein

Gluten are storage proteins found in grains that not everyone's bodies can break down. Often, those who suffer from intolerance experience gastrointestinal problems, weight changes, rashes, and fatigue. Just as frustrating, people with gluten intolerance are usually forced to give up foods they love. Fortunately, a little effort goes a long way and this recipe is no exception. While wonton soup is one of the better choices on a takeout menu (assuming you're not gluten-free), its sodium content is overwhelmingly higher than this one. Skip the bloat and make this homemade version instead.

Get the recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

9
SLOW COOKER
BROCCOLI BEEF

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 304 calories, 11.4 g fat (4 g saturated), 544 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 9.9 g sugar, 32.7 g protein

Nothing says fall like dinner simmering in a crock pot, but it's not very often that the slow cooker is brimming with a Chinese recipe. Aside from being a much healthier alternative to takeout, super convenient and practically effortless, this beef and broccoli dish contains a whopping 32.7 grams of protein. The macronutrient is credited with boosting metabolic activity, increasing satiety and building lean body mass.

Get the recipe from Le Creme de la Crumb.

10
EASY
LO MEIN

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 245 calories, 10.2 g fat (1.4 g saturated), 519 mg sodium, 33.3 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, 11.2 g sugar, 7.7 g protein (calculated with 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce)

Mushrooms, carrots, and snow peas are combined with Asian noodles, low sodium soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger and calorie-scorching sriracha. Thanks to capsaicin—the compound that gives hot peppers their steamy hot sensation—this recipe does more than heat up your mouth; it boosts your metabolism, too!

Get the recipe from Add A Pinch.

11
CHINESE STICKY
HONEY SPARE RIBS

Nutrition (per 1 cup): 353 calories, 21.7 g fat (7.2 g saturated), 261 mg sodium, 8.9 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 8.4 g sugar, 29.4 g protein

Perhaps the sketchiest thing on the Chinese takeout menu is the spare ribs dish. In case you weren't aware, they're taken out a freezer, thrown over heat for a few minutes, and served hot to you with a side of fried rice. Origin: Questionable. Freshness: Questionable. Nutrition: Questionable. Do yourself a favor and make this recipe instead.

Get the recipe from Jeanettes Healthy Living.

12
SKINNY
ORANGE CHICKEN

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 264 calories, 8.1 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 416 mg sodium, 21.1 g carbs, 2.2 g fiber, 15.6 g sugar, 28.3 g protein

With flu season upon us, immunity-boosting foods should become your best friends. Knock out a day's worth of your vitamin C recommendations—130 percent of your daily quota to be exact—with one serving of this skinny orange chicken. Bonus: Vitamin C can also improve mood, fight stress, and keep you lean.

Get the recipe from Add a Pinch.

13
SHRIMP
FRIED RICE

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 348 calories, 8.3 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 428 mg sodium, 49.7 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2.6 g sugar, 19.7 g protein (calculated with 2 cups brown rice)

Protein-packed shrimp, detoxing garlic and wholesome brown rice are combined with corn, peas, green onions, and Chinese seasonings to create a healthier, cheaper version of your favorite side.

Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.

14
SUMMER ROLLS
WITH PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE

Nutrition (per roll): 163 calories, 8 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 193 mg sodium, 10.3 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 12.4 g protein

You had us spring rolls—but then we saw peanut butter was involved and it was done deal. The dipping sauce not only makes the rolls more satiating and delicious, but it may even help you burn more calories, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. For the skinny on the PB, check out The 36 Top Peanut Butters—Ranked.

Get the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.

15
CHICKEN
AND BROCCOLI

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 351 calories, 17.3 g fat (3.2 g saturated), 599 mg sodium, 23.5 g carbs, 3.2 g fiber, 13.8 g sugar, 26 g protein

Chicken and broccoli is arguably the healthiest thing on a Chinese food menu. But this recipe comes together in just 12 minutes, saves you money, and guarantees that you (probably) know where the meat came from.

Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

16
BEEF WITH
SNOW PEAS

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 449 calories, 11.8 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 541 mg sodium, 54.3 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 9.2 g sugar, 30.5 g protein (calculated with ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce)

Snow peas are full of gut-friendly fiber, natural sugars, and muscle-building protein, making them one of those great go-to vegan foods. Ironically, they're a Chinese food staple in dishes like this one, which contains red meat. Just make sure to opt for lean grass-fed beef (which void of skanky chemicals) and consume it in moderation.

Get the recipe from Julia's Album.

17
CHICKEN
LO MEIN

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 297 calories, 13.2 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 328 mg sodium, 29.6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 5.4 g sugar, 16.7 g protein

Lo mein is a carboholics go-to. And if you're short on time, you can actually create a balanced meal using a recipe like this one, which contains chicken, mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, onion, and noodles. And the best part? It's a stir-fry, making dinner an absolute breeze. One wok, one cooking utensil, one burner, and minimal clean up.

Get the recipe from Jo Cooks.

18
GREENBEAN
TURKEY RICE BOWL

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 387 calories, 13.3 g fat (2.2 g saturated), 312 mg sodium, 37.1 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3.4 g sugar, 27.2 g protein

Packed with vitamins C, K, and A (which support bone health), carotenoids, antioxidants and gut-friendly fiber, green beans are like little lean superheroes. They're associated with preventing colon cancer and vision degeneration, moderating diabetes, and boosting immunity. Plus, they're super accessible and some of the most affordable high fiber foods out there.

Get the recipe from Weary Chef.

19
RAMEN VEGETABLE
STIR FRY

Nutrition (per ¾ cup serving): 245 calories, 7.5 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 335 mg sodium, 37.8 g carbs, 2.2 g fiber, 2.4 g sugar, 6.8 g protein

One serving of store bought ramen contains 830 milligrams of sodium, noodles, and artificial flavoring. This homemade version has less than half of that. Plus, it contains plenty of fresh vegetables to boost nutrients and natural flavor.

Get the recipe from The Rustic Willow.

20
HOMEMADE FORTUNE
COOKIES

Nutrition (per cookie): 79 calories, 2.9 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 32 mg sodium, 10.4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 6.3 g sugar, 1 g protein

You could create your own fortunes to stuff inside these homemade cookies—but making them guarantees that you'll also still fit into your skinny jeans tomorrow. So, in our book, that's enough good fortune to have us convinced. For more flat belly cookies, check out these 20 Healthy Cookie Recipes That Won't Derail Your Diet.

Get the recipe from Lil Luna.


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