Be your own buffet buddy
When in doubt, ask
how an item is prepared. Some visual tip-offs are obvious (like breading or batter,
or pools of grease in the sauce or on the dish), while some other items may appear
virtuous but actually be saturated with oil. Dumplings can be a tricky item, too.
Typically, the standard appetizer-style dumplings are either steamed, or very quickly
fried in shallow oil, which surprisingly doesn’t change the PointsPlus values.
Wontons, though, are another matter: Boiled, you get six for PointsPlus values.
But when they’re fried, their deep fried, almost doubling the PointsPlus values
to a whopping 12—and that’s just an appetizer.
One notorious culprit for oil, says Young, is anything “dry sautéed” (like string
beans) which actually means—wait for it—fried twice. Another veggie nightmare? Eggplant,
since it soaks up some much oil during cooking. In fact, as our interactive tool
above shows, ordering your favorite dish veggie-style often doesn’t save you any
points values over their meaty siblings due to the vegetables acting as little
oil sponges. (For example, one cup of vegetable chop suey has 5 PointsPlus values—the
same as pork and chicken. Beef will cost you one extra PointsPlus value.) Choosing
a dish with lean protein, such as chicken or shrimp, can be a better option in the
long run, as the extra protein helps satisfy.
Sauces pose their own problems, as many are extra-sugary or oily, too. If you choose a sauce to go with a dish, don’t cover your plate with it. Instead, dip in one bite at a time—you’ll get a flavor kick without using too many PointsPlus values.