OWN

The 272-Calorie Chinese Take-Out Favorite You Can Make At Home (VIDEO)

When many of us have a craving for Chinese food, we reach for the takeout or delivery menu and try to choose among our favorite dishes. It certainly makes for a cozy night in, but, according to registered dietician and author Sharon Palmer, there's something you may be overlooking when it comes to ordering Chinese food.

"Many Asian restaurants can pack in the calories through the oils and all these salty sauces we add," Palmer tells #OWNSHOW in the above video. "In fact, some vegetarian meals that you might think might be healthy could have over 1,000 calories -- and that's not even including the rice, which can add another 300 calories."

With the right recipes and a few key ingredients, you can make much healthier versions of your favorite Chinese dishes at home.

"My Shanghai Stir-Fry Rice has only 272 calories," Palmer says.

shanghai stir fry with forbidden rice

How is this possible? "I have a lot less oil added to the Shanghai Stir-Fry -- just enough to let it cook and season without sticking to the pan -- and lots of veggies, which really can help lower your calorie count," Palmer explains. "And Forbidden rice, which is a beautiful black rice rich in anthocyanins and fiber. Anthocyanins are the same things found in blueberries, so it's very healthy."

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups (240 g) uncooked forbidden (black) rice
2 1/3 cups (552 ml) water
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 medium carrot, sliced (see Note)
1 medium onion, coarsely sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely sliced
One 15-ounce (425 g) can baby corn, drained (1. cups)
One 8-ounce (227 g) can water chestnuts, drained
One 8-ounce (227 g) can bamboo shoots, drained
3 cups (210 g) sliced Chinese (Napa) cabbage
1 cup (70 g) sliced mushrooms
1 cup (104 g) fresh bean sprouts
1/4 cup (4 g) chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/4 cup (59 ml) reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1/2 cup (69 g) coarsely chopped cashews

Directions

Place the rice and water in a small pot, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, until tender, with all of the water absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium heat.

Add the carrot and onion and sauté for 3 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the bell pepper, corn, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.

Add the cabbage, mushrooms, sprouts, and cilantro and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, agave, broth, and cornstarch in a small dish until smooth. Add to the pan with the vegetables and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Garnish the stir-fry with the green onions and cashews and serve with the rice.

**

If you want to turn this dish into a more robust meal with dessert (cherries sprinkled with granola) and a drink (green tea), here's the breakdown:

shanghai stir fry calories card

More meals under 500 calories:

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

  • 1
    The West Coast bohemian culture really took to American Chinese cuisine in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until after World War II
    The West Coast bohemian culture really took to American Chinese cuisine in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until after World War II that it started to become really popular. Originally there were two menus available — an American one and a Chinese one, each catering to different preferences, though soon the beatnik palate started to dominate and the American menu was left standing. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Janet Lackey Click Here to see more Things You Didn’t Know about American Chinese Food
  • 2 The Canned Food Industry Took It Mainstream
    A big difference between American Chinese food and the more traditional variety is the proliferation of dishes with sweet syr
    A big difference between American Chinese food and the more traditional variety is the proliferation of dishes with sweet syrupy sauces. This is because many of the ingredients used canned fruits like pineapple and cherries, which came drowned in sugary syrups. The sweet and savory combinations proved a hit with the American public and the cheaper canned ingredients kept the prices lower, which seemed like a win-win for everyone. Today even though some eateries offer healthier versions of these dishes made with natural ingredients, those canned-food flavors still haven’t changed... sweet and sour pork, anyone? Photo Credit: © Flickr / Philip
  • 3 It Has Some "Interesting" Local Variations
    American Chinese food has melded and adapted to satisfy a variety of palates across the U.S., from Chow Mein sandwiches in Ne
    American Chinese food has melded and adapted to satisfy a variety of palates across the U.S., from Chow Mein sandwiches in New England and the deliciously artery-clogging deep fried pupu platters, to a St. Paul’s Sandwich further west in Missouri, which is basically an egg foo yung patty with lettuce, a pickle, and mayo between two slices of white bread. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Zsu Dever Click Here to see more Things You Didn’t Know about American Chinese Food
  • 4 Chinese Takeout Containers Used to Be Oyster Pails
    Those little white-carton wire-handled containers that are synonymous with Chinese takeout are actually a uniquely American i
    Those little white-carton wire-handled containers that are synonymous with Chinese takeout are actually a uniquely American invention, a Japanese-influenced origami design from Chicago native Frederick Weeks Wilcox. The invention was an update on the wooden-box oyster pail, which was used to transport raw oysters from the harbor to the urban areas where they could be shucked on the spot. When the live oyster trade started to ebb, the wooden pails were used to bring Chinese food home from restaurants for quick and easy dinners. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Addison Berry
  • 5 It Actually Comes From California
    American Chinese food had its early beginnings on the West Coast, where it was brought to California by immigrants from the s
    American Chinese food had its early beginnings on the West Coast, where it was brought to California by immigrants from the southern Chinese district of Toishan. Through much of the subsequent history Chinese immigration was severely limited so Chinese American food stuck to those early dishes and evolved from them: such favorites include chop suey, egg foo yung, and sweet and sour pork. They were associated mostly with the poor, rural dishes that were not eaten by most Chinese people. When immigration laws relaxed, the market was flooded with newer dishes from Taiwan and Hong Kong, which added to the concoction of what we now consider American Chinese food. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Wally Gobetz Click Here to see more Things You Didn’t Know about American Chinese Food
CONVERSATIONS