Friday, July 9, 2010

Shrimp "Un-fried" Rice

Authentic Chinese food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. The fact that the Chinese center their meals around whole grains, locally farmed vegetables, and lean meats explains why they do not have the obesity epidemic that we do here in the United States. Although Asian restaurants seem to be in abundance in our culture, the typical fare served at these eateries barely resembles the fresh, traditional ingredients. Mainly because of the American demand for such options, most Chinese entrees include white rice, fried meats, and thick sauces. These adaptations lead us far from a nutritious meal; with many menu selections, you would be better off choosing a combo meal from a hamburger joint. Not only are the dishes loaded with saturated fat and calories, but the sodium content is astounding. By following my healthy substitutions, you can slash these statistics in half.

In no way am I trying to convince you that my recipe for Shrimp "Un-fried" Rice is of Chinese authenticity; it is simply a healthier version of an American-Chinese favorite. I would never even consider ordering shrimp fried rice in a restaurant, but I feel good about enjoying this meal at home in its healthier form. The dish is full of flavor provided by whole-grain brown rice, fresh gulf shrimp, and fried rice seasoning mix. I just so happened to have jumbo gulf shrimp in the freezer (thanks to my dad's recent visit to Destin, FL) when preparing this, but any type will work fine. Of course, the fresher, the better.  It is a very simple  recipe that is easy to prepare in large amounts- just double or triple the ingredients. Wok your way to a healthier lifestyle!

If you find yourself out to eat at a Chinese restaurant, keep these figure-friendly tips in mind:
  • Many places offer steamed entrees that are served with sauce on the side (Dip lightly, Don't pour).
  • Begin your meal with a cup of broth-based soup or a small salad (No Crispy Noodles).
  • Choose steamed brown rice over white or fried rice.
  • Avoid egg rolls, fried foods, and desserts.
  • Stay away from the All-You-Can-Eat buffet. 
  • Try using chopsticks to take smaller bites.
  • Remember that rice has about 200 calories per cup.
  • "Sweet and Sour" = "Fat and Sugar"
  • Vegetarian labeled dishes are not always the healthiest options.
  • Most meals contain 2-3 servings. Split with a friend or box the leftovers.
  • Many fast food chains and some fine dining restaurants post their nutrition information online. Check the stats to decide what you should order before you go.
  • Enjoy a fortune cookie for only 30 calories.
Shrimp "Un-fried" Rice
serves 4

4 cups cooked whole grain brown rice
1 lb. fresh shrimp, shelled and washed
1 packet Kikkoman Fried Rice seasoning mix
2 tbsp water
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup egg beaters
2/3 cup frozen green peas
1 tbsp low-sodium (light) soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Spray a large non-stick skillet or wok with cooking spray. Dissolve seasoning mix in water.
2. Over medium heat, cook shrimp until opaque (pinkish).
3. Add green onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
4. Push shrimp and onions to one side of the skillet and pour liquid egg beaters onto the opposite side.
5. Scramble the egg beaters and then mix in with the shrimp and onions.
6. Add cooked rice to the skillet and stir until it is incorporated with the other ingredients.
7. Pour seasoning mix in skillet and stir to coat.
8. Add soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Use salt sparingly as soy sauce is already salty.
9. Add green peas and stir into mixture. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Nutrition: 316 calories, 42g carbohydrate, 31g protein, 3g fat, 3g fiber, 896mg sodium, 2g sugar

***If you cannot locate Kikkoman's fried rice seasoning mix, there are other brands on the shelves in the Asian section of your grocery store. Just be sure to read the directions on the packet, as the preparation of the mix may differ slightly.

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Nutrition student with a passion for giving yummy recipes a healthy make-over. Future RD on a constant search for the best food finds. And new blogger trying to relay my tasty ideas to everyone else.

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