gilmore girls revival-inspired guide to healthier takeout

better choices: takeout - a gilmore girls revival inspired take on better takeout food choices // cait's plate
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First things first, let’s take a moment to have the requisite freakout for the Gilmore Girls revival that’s finally here today!!!!  My sister and I have been watching (and re-watching) Gilmore Girls since the very first day it premiered.  We actually own the original DVD box set (and had our own mini celebration when the series came to Netflix!) – you know, the one that comes with the map of Stars Hollow and the Complete Guide to Gilmore-isms (I know I’m not alone in this!!)

Little fun fact, the series is based off the town over to our hometown (which is basically identical to it) so we grew up in a town just like it (those of you that follow me on Instagram and Snapchat are well versed in the cute, quaintness of my hometown!)

So in honor of the premiere today (and because in true Gilmore fashion, we’ll all likely be binge-watching the premiere with takeout!) I’ve chosen to share A Quick Guide to Better Takeout Choices.  Contrary to what you might hear in the media, I’m a firm believer that takeout is not evil and can absolutely be enjoyed as part of an overall healthy diet (so long as you make sure to avoid International Grab Bag Night at Al’s Pancake World😉).  So without further ado!

A Quick Guide to Better Takeout Choices

CHINESE:

Protein: When it comes to protein, limit anything that’s breaded, deep fried or in a heavy sauce to avoid added salt, sugar and saturated fat.  Opt for steamed or grilled protein options where possible.  As with everything however, if sweet and sour chicken is your absolute favorite item and you’re not eating it every night, go ahead and order it and enjoy every last bite!

Fruit/Vegetables: The best thing about Chinese takeout dishes is they often come chock-full of vegetables.  Choose steamed vegetables with light or no sauce.

Grains: Opt for steamed dumplings, brown rice, soba noodles (which are made from buckwheat, a whole grain that provides fiber and other important nutrients).

Other: Go with low-sodium choices where available and ask for ‘light sauce’ on dishes.  Be careful of egg-drop soup which can be loaded with sodium.

My Pick: Chicken and brown rice with steamed vegetables

ITALIAN:

Protein: When possible choose baked or grilled protein options and stay away from highly processed meat choices such as pepperoni or sausage.  Again however, if chicken parmigiana is your favorite and it’s not available baked, get it as it and enjoy it. Balance it out with steamed vegetables or a salad.

Fruit/Vegetables: When it comes you Italian food, you can always be sure some sort of a salad will be available as a side option.  I almost always order a side salad with any dish that I get.  My only recommendations would be to opt for those made with leafy greens (spinach, mixed greens, kale) as opposed to iceberg, which offers less nutrition.  Steamed or grilled vegetables on the side of your entree or top of your pizza are also great options.

Grains: Opt for whole grain pasta and pizza crust where possible (don’t worry too much if it’s not, all grains fit into diet!) or try thin crust pizza.  Avoid cheese-stuffed pasta dishes choosing instead to load your pasta up with grilled chicken, steamed veggies, marinara sauce and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

Other: Go for vinaigrette-based dressing or plain olive oil and vinegar rather than creamy to reduce sugar and saturated fat.  Fiber-packed minestrone soup also makes a great supplement to your meal.  Be careful with eggplant parmesan, it’s often fried and loaded with sodium so keep portions small if you choose it.

My Pick: Whole wheat cheese pizza with a mixed greens garden salad topped with olive oil and vinegar

JAPANESE & THAI:

Protein: Fill the protein portion of your plate with steamed edamame (a soybean packed with protein),  steamed or grilled tofu, fish or poultry which are all great options whether in sushi on a skewer or on top of a stir-fry.

Fruit/Vegetables: Look for steamed vegetable options rather than tempura (aka ‘fried’) vegetables, or choose to do half and half if tempura veggies are one of your favorite items.

Grains: Opt for brown rice when available for an extra fiber boost.

Other: Low-sodium soy sauce, broth-based soups and fresh spring rolls (sometimes called summer rolls) are all great choices. Limit sushi rolls that are packed with creamy or mayo-based sauces choosing rolls filled with salmon, vegetable or avocado instead which will provide you with lean protein, vegetables and healthy fat.

My Pick: Brown rice vegetable sushi rolls with edamame

INDIAN:

Protein: Tandoori proteins (cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven) are usually a good bet.  There are also many chickpea and lentil-based dishes (such as dal or chana masala) that are a great source of protein.

Fruit/Vegetables: Most dishes are served with sautéed vegetables which are a great choice!

Grains: Choose tandoori roti naan bread which is made with whole-wheat flour, papadums (typically made from lentil, chickpea, black gram or rice flour) and brown rice when it’s available.

Other: Avoid or limit anything deep-fried such as samosas, dishes that contain the words “paneer (high-fat cheese)” “ghee (clarified butter)” or “malai (cream)” and ask for “light sauce” on dishes that are in cream-based sauce.

My Pick: Tandoori chicken with a side of brown rice and market vegetables

MEXICAN:

Protein: Choose grilled protein options such as tofu, shrimp, pork or chicken (and whenever possible, “all-white meat” chicken for the leanest cut) and opt for vegetarian beans (often non-vegetarian options lard or pork fat).

Fruit/Vegetables: Fajitas are a great choice as they come with mixed peppers and onions.  You can also choose corn salsa or pico de gallo to top your dishes – both of which are made with fresh diced vegetables.

Grains: Choose whole wheat wraps, whole grain corn tortillas and brown rice for a fiber boost.

Other: Avoid fried dishes such as chimichangas and go easy on the chips (which are often deep fried); they’re fine in moderation but most of us will eat the entire bag/basket without even realizing leaving no room for more nutritious main entree items.  Opt for guacamole (a heart healthy fat) and ask your server to ‘go light’ on the sour cream (which restaurants sometimes get crazy with – I’m talking to you Chipotle, with your gigantic sour cream ladle!) 

My Pick: Shrimp or chicken fajitas with fresh corn tortillas, a side of black beans and guacamole

And as always, if you’re looking for portion recommendations, reference the plate method that I’ve outlined in my daily meal plans.  Feel free to leave questions/comments below and let me know if I missed your favorite type of takeout!

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Comments

  1. This is super helpful! I often look at Chinese or Japanese food as terrible for me- who knows what’s in those sauces! But it’s so wise to think to look for steamed options. Thanks for the post.

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