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Thai Buffet... healthy choices?

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Old 02-27-2008, 12:43 PM   #1
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Default Thai Buffet... healthy choices?

I am a relative newbie to eating Thai food, but my husband loves it. About once a month we go to the Thai lunch buffet. They don't have nutrition info available. Does anyone know what are the better choices in Thai food? I figure go with vegetables and stay away from rice, but beyond that I do not know if the sauces such as curries are really fattening or healthy. Tips?
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:52 PM   #2
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Most of the sauces that are opaque have coconut milk in them...and coconut milk is DEFINITELY crazy on the calories and fat (but soooo good!). I think most thai curries have coconut milk. I believe the term for a curry WITHOUT coconut milk is "Country-style", so they may have that on a tag on the buffet.

When I get Thai, I order a stirfry...thai stirfries are, classically, not oily at all and have lots of delicious veggies, and are in more of a "broth-like" sauce, without the coconut. So if they have stirfries, go for those...if they are made somewhat authentically, they shouldn't be greasy or too unhealthy.

Obviously you want to avoid anything fried. Things with peanuts or peanut-based sauces (like pad thai) may be higher cal. Broth based soups are good, but again, the most popular thai soups tend to have coconut milk.

If they have satay, that'd be a good option for protein since it is pretty simple - marinated grilled meat. Watch the dipping sauce, though.

Other than that, stick with buffet basics...lots of veggies, easy on sauces, small protein portions, watch the starches!
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:05 PM   #3
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If you like seafood Tom Yum soup or Tom Yum salad is a good choice. No coconut milk and lot of good protein from seafood. Spring rolls (the kind that aren't fried in the transparent rice wrappers) are usually pretty healthy too.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:10 PM   #4
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Avoid:
Duck dishes, usually high in fat and fried
Curry dishes and coconut milk dishes
tom ka gai, chicken coconut soup

Look for:
Stir-fried, sautéed, braised, steamed
Basil sauce
Fish sauce, hot sauce

with lots of veggies. Those are the lower cal options

I find that a lot of Thai place now talk up the health factor of their menus. Just ask them what are the house's lightest entrees, and they will usually be more than happy to help you out.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:11 PM   #5
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Thai can definitely be very caloric. I'd go for the veggies mostly and avoid the saucy dishes.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:29 PM   #6
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Wow I am so glad I asked! You guys are very helpful. We are going in about an hour and you answered so fast, thanks!! I will use all the tips and am excited to make this a healthy meal. It's kinda fun, like a scavenger hunt.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:38 PM   #7
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Also, stay away from the noodles. They add a bunch of calories.

If you can find spring rolls, those are good. I would go easy on the dipping sauce, though.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:35 PM   #8
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I LOVE Pad Thai...but I can't have it as much as I used to, of course. Their food is actually good, and if you want rice, see if they have brown rice...they're better than white rice, and indefinitely better than fried rice. They tend to be higher in fiber if I understand it right, and will keep you fuller longer.

Still learning here, so I may be wrong. =)
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:07 PM   #9
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I am back from the buffet and checking in.

They had several deep fried things, which I completely avoided. For the first time in my life, I had NO rice, none, nada. I love curries and thought I needed the rice to dilute the heat, but I found a better solution for the little bit of curry I had.

I drank water.
My first trip to the buffet, my plate was full of:
about half the plate: stir fried veggies (broccoli, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, carrots)
1/4 the plate: whole green beans from some kind of green bean/chicken dish in a light sauce
the other 1/4 plate: a bite of pineapple and chicken from the red sweet n sour chicken, a tiny bite of pork, a few pieces of chicken fished out of a dish with a thin sauce

I saw they had very thick and rich looking curries... one red and one green. I love that stuff. So I decided if I ate all my veggies and still wanted it I would have a little. I also had a small salad plate with a few cold fresh cucmber chunks, lettuce and a drizzle of sweet/sour sauce, maybe a T.

My second plate, I got a few more green beans, and a bunch more broccoli and cabbage. I fished the bamboo shoots out of the green curry (just a few) and I took 2 chicken bites and 5 pineapple chunks out of the red curry. I didnt take sauce.,.. just what was on the stuff I picked out. I mixed the curry items with the vegetables instead of rice. I had about 1/4c of curry items total.

Then also for the first time in my life, I skipped the dessert. I figured, I never have dessert after lunch at home, so why do it when out?

I was pretty darn full when I got done, and since I finished with the curries, I felt satisfied with just a little bit.

I added up the calories the best I could, counting all the vegetables, sauces, and adding in 1/4 c coconut milk and some oil just to be sure, and I came up with about 650 calories for that meal.

Which means I have plenty of room left in my day for a snack and a healthy dinner.

THANKS everyone
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:01 PM   #10
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Lyn -- Sounds like you did well!! Thinking of it like a scavenger hunt really helps make it fun, rather than feeling deprived, doesn't it!!
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