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P.F. Chang's Survival Guide: Best and Worst Choices

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02.20.15
 

P.F. Chang's Survival Guide

We polled the HG audience to see which restaurant menu they most needed help navigating, and P.F. Chang's won by a landslide! We found some scary-high-calorie stuff at the family-style Chinese-food chain, but there are some surprisingly guilt-free picks as well! Read on...

 
 

Heads Up: Like most chain-restaurant meals, the sodium counts are pretty high across the board. If excess sodium is a concern, you may want to avoid dining out at chain restaurants as much as possible...

 
  #1 Rule: Fill One Plate at a Time

Even if you order up the healthiest menu items, the calories can rack up fast with a family-style meal. Use this trick: Fill up a plate with mostly veggies and lean protein; then add a small portion of starch, if you want. Not only will this give you a balanced meal, but it'll also help you to keep an eye on your overall food intake. If you go back for seconds, just stick with the veggies.

 
Fill One Plate at a Time
 
  The Smarter Starters

P.F. Chang's: Smarter Starters Egg Drop or Hot & Sour Soup
1 cup: 40 - 70 calories, 1 - 2g fat, 560 - 570mg sodium, 6 - 9g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 - 2g sugars, 1 - 4g protein

It's not a myth: Begin a meal with broth-based soup, and you're likely to consume fewer calories overall. FYI: The Wonton Soup is a reasonable 120 calories.


Vegetable Spring Rolls
1 roll: 135 calories, 6g total fat, 535mg sodium, 19g carbs, 2g fiber, 8.5g sugars, 2g protein

You can get these in an order of two or four, which is nice. But here's some need-to-know info: The dish of sauce that comes with it has another 100 calories! Skip that stuff and trade it for soy sauce, or just use it sparingly.


Steamed Shrimp Dumplings
1 order of six: 290 calories, 6g total fat (1g sat fat), 1,430mg sodium, 31g carbs, 1g fiber, 8g sugars, 9 - 18g protein 

Don't slip up and order the pan-fried or pork versions (370 - 510 calories and 14 - 28g fat) -- the steamed shrimp picks are the way to go. And the calories from sauce are included in the totals... Yay for that! Use it in moderation to save some sodium...


Honorable Mentions: The standard or Orange Ginger Edamame (400 - 440 calories, 17 - 19g fat, Spicy Tuna Roll (280 calories, 3g fat, and California Roll (340 calories, 9g fat). All worthy apps!


Starter Shock! The Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps are actually a worse choice than the chicken ones, with 610 calories and 36g fat. Neither one's a great pick. And the Crispy Green Beans may be veggie based, but an order has a whopping 760 calories and 55g fat before sauce... The sauce brings the total to 1,070 calories and 88g fat! Stick with the Spicy Green Beans, featured down below in the Sides section...

 
  Best Picks for the Main Event

P.F. Chang's: Best Entrées No question: The sodium counts are high here. BUT... We called a few locations, and they said they'd be more than happy to serve the sauce on the side. Make that request, use the sauce sparingly, and you're likely to save tons of sodium...


Steamed Buddha's Feast
1 order: 260 calories, 4g total fat, 310mg sodium, 32g carbs, 9g fiber, 13g sugars, 25g protein  

This sauced-up veggie dish is simple and tasty. There's an option to get it stir-fried, which adds 120 calories and 4g fat to the dish -- why bother?


Ginger Chicken with Broccoli
1 order: 480 calories, 12g total fat (2g sat fat), 1,370mg sodium, 41g carbs, 6g fiber, 26g sugars, 57g protein  

Here's a yummy stir-fried dish -- the ginger adds maximum flavor for minimum calories. And yay for broccoli!


Shrimp with Lobster Sauce
1 order: 500 calories, 27g total fat (5g sat fat), 2,740mg sodium, 22g carbs, 5g fiber, 5g sugars, 38g protein  

This take on a classic includes black beans, peas, mushrooms, and scallions. Love that!




Rice is Nice... All entrées are served with a choice of steamed brown or white rice. We highly suggest going with the brown: a 6-oz. serving has 250 calories and 2g fat, and a bonus of 4g fiber. That fiber makes it much more filling than the white stuff. Now, we don't recommend overdoing it here, but keep your portion moderate, and you'll be all good.
 

 
 
P.F. Chang's: Noodles & Rice
  About Noodles & Rice...

As we said before, steamed brown rice is the way to go -- just say no to fried versions. In terms of noodles, the Vegetable Lo Mein isn't terrible: 490 calories and 6g fat. But watch out... The Combo version has nearly TWICE the calories and nearly FIVE times as much fat.

Swaparama: Click here to learn about the Dan-Dan Noodles (plus, a great recipe swap for them)!

 
  Green-Light Veggie Sides

There are a lot of veggies on the sides menu, but most are bafflingly high in the calories and fat department. Fill up on these guys! If you have your heart on something that comes with higher fat counts, ask your server if the chef can go light on the oil. (Never hurts to ask.)

Wok'd Spinach with Garlic
1 small order: 140 calories, 6g fat 

 
P.F. Chang's: Veggie Sides
 
  And for Dessert?

"Sweet Treat" is code for mini dessert here, but even those will cost you 290 - 390 calories. The best of the bunch? The Good Fortune Cheesecake, with 290 calories and 18g fat. Don't even ponder The Great Wall of Chocolate without a large team to take it down -- a serving has 1,700 calories and 71g fat! Our MO? Head home for an HG-style dessert...

 

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CHEW ON THIS:

The easiest, most guilt-free way to celebrate National Cherry Pie Day, which is today, February 20th? This microwave recipe.

Click here for a printable, text-only version of this page.

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