Tuesday, 13 September 2011

5 Tips to Cut the Calories in Your Takeway

Takeaways have been back in the news for all the wrong reasons. It's been said many times before, but we’re being reminded yet again that takeaway food frequently goes hand in hand with ‘unhealthy’.

According to a new report, a typical portion of chicken tikka masala contains 116 percent of a person’s recommended daily limit of saturated fat and 92 percent of salt. A portion of sweet and sour chicken has 119 percent of the recommended daily salt limit and 16 teaspoons of sugar. Just one portion of chicken tikka masala with rice can clock up to 1,400 calories.

Most of us have some kind of awareness that takeaways aren’t usually the healthiest of food. But that’s not stopping us buying it. Research also found that 35 percent of people enjoy a takeaway at least once a week with 25 percent eating them twice a week.

The lure of the takeaway is too strong. That combination of convenience, taste and the notion that takeaway food is something of a treat, keeps us coming back for more.

For those who are concerned about the calories, fat, salt and sugar in takeaway food, there are various ways of cutting the calories but still enjoying your favourite meals. It’s not always easy though, since much of the food on takeaway menus is fried or drowned in oil. But it can be done. Some of the following tips may help.

1. Share your portion: 

Nearly all takeaway portion sizes are way too large for one person. And if you’re ordering a load of extras such as naan breads, fried rice or prawn crackers, it all adds up to a calorie nightmare. So, tip 1, order one portion and share it between two. This way, you’ve immediately halved your calorie intake and your food bill.

2. Skip the sauce: 

If you’re ordering food which comes smothered in a sauce, serve it up onto a plate using a fork, not a spoon. Leave the excess sauce behind or tip it away if you’re tempted to eat it. This way, you still get to enjoy the taste which the meat, fish or vegetables will have absorbed, but you’ll be losing the majority of the calories which are mostly found in the sauce.

3. Add vegetables:  

If you’ve followed tip 1 and are sharing a portion, make your meal healthier and bulk it up at the same time by adding your own vegetables. OK, a takeaway is supposed to make life easy and you probably won’t want to be preparing vegetables. In this case, you could always pop a bag of frozen ‘steam veg’ into the microwave and they’ll be done in a couple of minutes.

4. Avoid the highest calorie foods: 

Although the main meal itself is often the worst offender when it comes to calories, the extras can double the calories. Naan bread is gorgeous but it must be one of the most calorific breads going. A typical naan is around 150g which contains 450 calories or more.

Avoid fried food if possible (unless you’re following tip 1). Anything fried is likely to be coated in oil. Although stir fried food should use less oil, it’s impossible to know how much oil your takeaway outlet has used.

Restrict or omit samosas and bhajis unless you’re going to eat one as the meal. A meat samosa can have over 300 calories and a vegetable samosa around 250 calories. An onion bhaji can have up to 200 calories. Spring rolls and sesame toasts are all cooked in oil so avoid those as well. If you can’t resist fried food such as samosas, spring rolls or fried chicken, put it into absorbent kitchen paper and squeeze out as much oil as you can before eating.

5. Make Food swaps: 

Where possible, make food swaps such as choosing plain boiled rice instead of fried rice or pilau rice. Choose pizzas which have a thin crust and forget the stuffed crust kind. Also choose vegetable or ham toppings and avoid fatty meat such as pepperoni and salami. Lamb dishes will almost certainly have more calories than an alternative choice because it’s such a fatty meat. Where possible, order chicken, fish or beef rather than lamb.

As long as your meals during the rest of the day are healthy and don’t contain excessive amounts of calories, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a weekly takeaway without gaining weight. Just follow some of the tips given above and your takeaway shouldn’t become a health hazard.

© Diets and Calories 2011


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