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Hungry Girl Today: 2.20.15


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.

The Smarter Starters

Egg Drop or Wonton Soup
1 cup: 50 - 60 calories, 1 - 2g fat, 600 - 730mg sodium, 8g carbs, 0 - 1g fiber, sugars n.a., 1 - 4g protein -- PointsPlus® value 1*

It's not a myth: Begin a meal with broth-based soup, and you're likely to consume fewer calories overall. FYI: The Hot & Sour soup is also impressive in the calorie and fat departments, with 80 calories and 2.5g fat per cup (PointsPlus® value 2*), but the sodium's up there: 1,750mg.

Vegetable Spring Rolls
1 roll without sauce: 105 calories, 2.5g fat, 430mg sodium, 18.5g carbs, 1g fiber, sugars n.a., 1.5g protein -- PointsPlus® value 3*

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 Handmade Vegetable or Shrimp Dumplings
1 order with sauce: 290 - 310 calories, 6g fat, 990 - 1,030mg sodium, 37 - 54g carbs, 0 - 1g fiber, sugars n.a., 9 - 18g protein -- PointsPlus® value 7 - 8*

Don't slip up and order the pan-fried or pork versions (300 - 420 calories and 8 - 20g fat) -- the steamed veggie and 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...

Tuna Tataki
1 order: 180 calories, 7g fat, 720mg sodium, 9g carbs, 4g fiber, sugars n.a., 19g protein -- PointsPlus® value 4*

Seared tuna with a citrus-y sauce? This protein-packed dish couldn't be more HG if it tried! We'll take two, please...

Honorable Mentions: The standard or Orange Ginger Edamame (400 - 440 calories, 17 - 19g fat, PointsPlus® value 10 - 11*), Spicy Tuna Roll (280 calories, 3g fat, PointsPlus® value 7*), and California Roll (340 calories, 9g fat, PointsPlus® value 9*). 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

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 fat, 300mg sodium, 32g carbs, 10g fiber, sugars n.a., 26g protein -- PointsPlus® value 6*

This sauced-up veggie dish is simple and tasty. There's an option to get it stir-fried, which adds 160 calories and 8g fat to the dish -- why bother?

Ginger Chicken with Broccoli
1 order: 460 calories, 10g fat, 2,320mg sodium, 38g carbs, 8g fiber, sugars n.a., 59g protein -- PointsPlus® value 11*

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: 360 calories, 18g fat, 2,700mg sodium, 19g carbs, 3g fiber, sugars n.a., 29g protein -- PointsPlus® value 9*

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

Moo Goo Gai Pan
1 order: 420 calories, 15g fat, 2,390mg sodium, 21g carbs, 5g fiber, sugars n.a., 49g protein -- PointsPlus® value 10*

Prawns, chicken, mushrooms, bok choy, and carrots, all in a savory sauce? We're in!

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 310 calories and 2g fat, plus 4g fiber (PointsPlus® value 8*). 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.

Entrée Shockers! More reminders that veggie dishes aren't always the safest... The Coconut Curry Vegetables? An order has 1,050 calories and 77g fat! The Stir-Fried Eggplant? That's got 1,010 calories and 88g fat... Click for our swap! And in the seafood department, the Walnut Shrimp with Melon sounds fairly refreshing, but the shrimp is tossed in a "light Asian aioli," a.k.a. mayo sauce. You're looking at 1,380 calories and 104g fat...

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 (PointsPlus® value 13*). 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

Fill up on these guys! And when it comes to those with higher fat counts, ask your server if the chef can go light on the oil. (Never hurts to ask.)

Sichuan-Style Asparagus
1 small order: 90 calories, 4g fat, PointsPlus® value 2*

Spinach with Garlic
1 small order: 120 calories, 8g fat, PointsPlus® value 3*

Shanghai Cucumbers
1 small order: 70 calories, 3g fat, PointsPlus® value 2*

Spicy Green Beans
1 small order: 150 calories, 8g fat, PointsPlus® value 4*

And for Dessert?

"Sweet Treat" is code for mini dessert here, but even those will cost you 250 - 580 calories. The best of the bunch? The Tiramisu, with 250 calories and 15g fat (PointsPlus® value 7*). Don't even ponder The Great Wall of Chocolate without a large team to take it down -- a serving has 1,540 calories and 72g fat! Our MO? Head home for an HG-style dessert...

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

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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark. For more info on the new PointsPlus® program, visit

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