Chinese vegetarian noodle soup

MyPlate Inspired Dishes From the Central Southern Region of China

Are you trying to cook more at home, but finding that you miss some of your takeout favorites like Chinese? There are many ways to create these flavors at home while following the MyPlate guidelines and keeping it budget friendly. Traditional Chinese cooking looks a lot different from Chinese takeout.

Traditional Chinese dishes emphasize balance between foods and flavors in each meal. Similar to our MyPlate, traditional Chinese dishes include portions of grains, vegetables, and proteins. You may think of chicken, pork, or beef as the focus of Chinese dishes, however, meat is not as commonly used in traditional Chinese cooking. Many dishes include plant-based sources of protein, such as beans and tofu. Dairy is also not commonly found in Chinese dishes, but good sources of calcium come from vegetables like broccoli and bok choy. Sugary or deep fried desserts are usually reserved for holidays. Fruit is a more common treat after a meal. Seasoning foods with unique combinations of spices is what makes for a classic Chinese dish, such as sweet and sour chicken.

balance scale of spicy and sour flavors with mellow and sweet flavors

If you are interested in adding a Chinese flare to your dishes, try these tips:

  • Use dried spices like garlic, ginger, and chili powder to add flavor.
  • Keep your favorite frozen vegetables on hand to create a stir-fry any night of the week.
  • When you buy fresh veggies, you can prep them ahead of time by washing, cutting and portioning them out so that they are ready to go!
  • Use whole grains, like brown rice, as the base of your flavorful dish.
  • Try this simple Chinese Stir-Fry recipe that you can make in under thirty minutes or learn to mix and match custom stir-fry recipes for your family.

All of these side dishes or meal ideas make for great leftovers! Try some of these tips to create dishes inspired by traditional Chinese cooking to add variety and new flavor to homemade meals. What’s your favorite Chinese meal?

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