forget takeout! try this low-carb Chinese dinner instead


While traditional Chinese food is loaded with carbs, fear not; you don't have to eliminate it from the menu. While rice and noodles are definite no-no's, you can still savor the flavor of Chinese cuisine by using some simple substitutions. Recreating takeout favorites at home is entirely possible, and it's a lot easier than you think. Here's how to re-think those to-die-for Chinese dishes while maintaining a low-carb lifestyle.

Main Course: Shrimp Shumai

While they're usually wrapped in a carb-heavy dumpling mix, this recipe calls for low-carb cabbage instead. These mouthwatering meatball dumplings pair perfectly with a soup on the side.

Makes: 16 dumplings

INGREDIENTS

The Dumplings

  • ⅛ head of cabbage

  • ½ lb shrimp, peeled

  • ½ onion

  • 1 tbsp ginger

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin fish sauce (switch to teriyaki or garlic, if preferred)

  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

  • ¼ lb super fine almond flour

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • garlic cream sauce (see options below)

The Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp garlic sauce

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Garlic Cream Sauce

  • 2 gloves minced garlic

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mince the onion, grate the ginger, and set aside in a large bowl.

  2. Chop the shrimp into thin slices, and add to the bowl. Toss in the extra virgin fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, and super fine almond flour. Mix all ingredients together until you achieve a well-blended concoction.

  3. Use your hands to form 16, medium-sized meatballs out of the mixture.

  4. Shred the cabbage, and roll each meatball tightly inside, ensuring they're fully covered.

  5. Place all of the shumai meatballs onto a vegetable steamer, cover with a lid, and steam for 10-15 minutes until fully cooked.

  6. Remove the shumai from the vegetable steamer and place onto a large tray. If desired, cover with the garlic cream sauce and top with parsley.

  7. Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, and set to the side. Once the shumai have cooled, they're ready for eating and dipping!

Serving Size: 4 shumai, includes ¼ of the dipping sauce mixture

Net carbs: 5.5g

Fat: 27g

Protein: 5g

*If you serve your shumai smothered with the optional garlic cream sauce, you only gain 1g net carbs and 11g fat.

Side: Spinach "Noodle" Soup

The perfect compliment to savory shrimp shumai, this recipe is a tasty replacement for those tempting noodle dishes—without the carbs. Paired together, you have a mouthwatering meal that rivals any takeout offering.

Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 32 oz vegetable broth

  • 1 bag shirataki noodles

  • 2 cups baby spinach

  • 1 tsp soy sauce

  • salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Drain the shirataki noodles, cook in boiling water for 3 minutes, re-drain, and set aside.

  2. Simmer the broth.

  3. Add spinach to the broth as it's simmering, cooking until the leaves are fully wilted.

  4. Add the prepped shirataki noodles and soy sauce to the mixture, stirring until it's well-blended.

  5. Pour the soup into four bowls, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a hearty helping of shrimp shumai. Transform this soup into a tasty main dish by adding garlic cream sauce-covered shrimp shumai into the soup, stirring in the dipping sauce for additional flavor.

Serving size: 1 cup

Net carbs: 6g

Fat: 0g

Protein: 1g

Simple Substitutions:

Use these easy-to-find (and quick to cook) suggestions to re-create low-carb twists on takeout at home!

Cauliflower rice is the most common (and tasty) replacement for white rice. If your takeout favorites are served with rice on the side, lower the carb count by springing for cauliflower instead.

There are multiple noodle replacements out there, so sample a few and make use of your favorite. Shirataki noodles are gaining popularity as a substitute, especially amongst the Asian cuisine-loving crowd. Meanwhile, classic zucchini noodles remain the standard for substitutions, while Carba Nada pasta and Wonder noodles are working their way into low-carb meals everywhere. Wrapping up Chinese classics with cabbage, lettuce, or spinach is a go-to for appetizers and lighter fare, as seen here.

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