Takeout Orders, Done Right

Getting takeout tonight? Knowing these buzzwords will help you order the right stuff.
Cruising Through the Takeout Lane

No matter how much you love to cook, there inevitably comes a night when you turn to your housemate and say, "Let's order in." Takeout meals are fast, convenient and a tasty treat. But too often, they're also riddled with extra fat and calories. If you familiarize yourself with different key phrases for each cuisine, you can go light on the truly unhealthy dishes (or better yet, avoid them altogether) and indulge in some of the better choices. "Be choosy and ask questions about the food you order," advises nutritionist Jill Franks. "What is the food cooked in? Is it fried?" The more you know, the smarter your order.

Ordering Indian?
Know the buzzwords: korma, tikka masala (creamy sauces!); pappadam (fried flatbread)
"It's not the meat, it's the sauces that are the problem," says Franks. "Go for something tomato-based or with vegetables, like a rogan josh, and eat it with brown rice." Try dishes baked in the Tandoor oven, like chicken tikka, tandoori or shashlik, which are high on flavor but sauce-free. Tasty extras like pappadams and samosas are fried and loaded with saturated fat. Indian breads are another fat trap. "Naan bread is full of refined sugar, and fruity peshwari naan is even worse with added coconut." Franks' suggestion: "If you have to have a naan, just eat a small piece or order it instead of rice."

Ordering Chinese?
Know the buzzwords: batter, crispy, pan-fried
At most Chinese restaurants, the danger lies in the deep fried foods: avoid shrimp toast and anything cooked in batter, like pork or skrimp balls. And if a menu description includes the word "crispy," you can be sure that's fried, too. Instead of fried rice, try plain rice (order brown rice for a bigger fiber boost!) or noodles, says Franks. "Dishes with vegetables, chicken and noodles are easy to digest. Go for a fine noodle, like Singapore noodles."

Ordering Italian?
Know the buzzwords: garlic bread, carbonara, baked

Skip the garlic bread and go for a side salad. If given the choice, order whole wheat pasta to kick your meal's nutrition profile up a notch. Tomato or vegetable-based sauces are always better than cream sauces (and yes, vodka sauce counts as a cream sauce); try arrabiata instead of carbonara (which contains eggs and pancetta). "A pasta filled with vegetables, like cannelloni with spinach and ricotta, is a healthier option than lasagna," offers Franks.

Free Newsletter Get it now