Archive for Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Cooking Q&A: How to reduce fat when eating Chinese

November 13, 2002

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Q: I understand that Chinese food contains a great deal of fat. Can we eat Chinese food and still maintain a low fat, heart-healthy diet?

A: Most certainly, we can. Keep in mind, Americans do not eat Oriental food in the same fashion that the Chinese do. Americans consume more meat and less rice when they eat Chinese entrees. Consequently, Americans eat more fat.

Try the following to reduce fat when consuming Chinese foods:

1. Order a bowl of hot, steaming low-fat soup such as hot and sour soup, Chinese vegetable soup, or rice soup with chicken or shrimp. Eating soup prior to a meal may decrease any tendency to overeat when the main dishes arrive.

2. Limit the deep fried appetizers like egg rolls, crab rangoon and wontons. These items are loaded with fat. In addition to its fat content, crab rangoon is an American invention. You will not find crab rangoon on an Asian menu.

3. Skip the peanuts on the Cashew Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken. One ounce of peanuts contains about 14 grams of fat. (14 grams of fat times 9 calories per gram of fat equals 126 calories from fat).

4. Ask if your entree can be stir fried with less oil.

5. Order menu items that are likely to be low-fat selections. Here are some key words, phrases, and menu items that indicate a more nutritional, low-fat choice: Vegetarian or with assorted vegetables; simmered, steamed, roasted; tofu; light wine sauce; stir fried in mild sauce; hot and spicy tomato sauce; hunan spicy chicken; beef and broccoli; szechuan style shrimp; teriyaki beef or chicken; and fresh fish.

6. Order white rice instead of fried rice. By reducing the portion size of your main dish and adding 1 cup of cooked rice, you will decrease the total percentage of calories from fat.

Remember, there are not "good" or "bad" foods. Only bad diets. Chinese food consumed in moderate portions will not adversely affect otherwise healthy eating habits.

Q: How should whole wheat flour be stored?

A: Whole wheat flour is ground from the entire wheat kernel, which includes the bran, germ and endosperm. The keeping quality of whole wheat flour is limited due to the fat contained in the germ. Over time the fat becomes rancid, thus effecting the quality and flavor of the whole wheat flour.

Unopened whole wheat flour can be stored on the shelf in a cool place for three months. Once opened, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer up to three months.

Q: During the autumn season I love to make apple pie. How can I modify my traditional apple pie recipe to decrease the fat and sugar content?

A: There are several ways to decrease the fat and sugar content in your apple pie. In a traditional double-crusted pie, the pastry crust harbors more than half the calories and nearly all the fat. Thus, you may choose to go crustless and choose an apple crisp or you can cut the fat dramatically by using only a single crust. Better still, make a crumb crust of 1 cup crushed graham crackers (or gingersnaps or vanilla wafers) plus 1 tablespoon margarine and 1 tablespoon sugar (omit sugar if using either of the cookie varieties).

To illustrate how to satisfy your sweet tooth using less fat and sugar, compare the following:

Traditional Apple Pie
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Standard double crust, made from:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
4 cups sliced, peeled apples
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Calories (1/8 pie) :quot; 380
Fat :quot; 19 grams
Sodium :quot; 300 milligrams

Low-fat Apple Pie
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4 cups sliced, peeled apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Calories :quot; (1/4 recipe): 275
Fat :quot; 7 grams
Sodium :quot; 70 milligrams

Toss apples with lemon juice, flour, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour into 1-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. Add water. Combine margarine, remaining sugar, rolled oats, and cinnamon. Spread over the apples. Bake at 350 degrees until the apples are tender, about 25 minutes. Serves 4.

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