Gluten is a protein found in certain grains including wheat, rye and barley. People who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, a condition that causes intestinal damage when gluten in ingested, have a more difficult time eating out because it's hard to tell which entrees they should avoid because they contain gluten. However, there are numerous gluten-free options at Chinese restaurants, which can make eating out less of a concern.
Rice is gluten-free and can add beneficial nutrients to your Chinese meal. Steamed white rice is low in fat and calories. Brown rice is also gluten-free and supplies a healthy amount of fiber. Order vegetable fried rice as another gluten-free option at Chinese restaurants. Fried rice with steamed meat, such as shrimp or chicken, is another gluten-free option as long as it's made without soy sauce. Ask for gluten-free soy sauce on your rice because traditional soy sauce is brewed with wheat and made with caramel color, which contains small amounts of gluten.
Fresh vegetables don't contain any gluten and they add fiber, various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A and potassium, to your meal. Skip brown sauces, however, because these are made with flour or other ingredients that contain gluten. Ask for white sauce instead. It's usually made with cornstarch instead of flour, which makes it gluten-free. Pass on fried vegetables as well because the breading usually contains wheat flour or bread crumbs that contain gluten. Order Buddha's feast, which is an entree of steamed vegetables served over steamed rice.
Many main course meat entrees at Chinese restaurants are breaded and deep-fried, and because of this, these options almost always contain gluten. Opt for steamed or sauteed meat instead. Steamed shrimp and crab are high in protein, low in calories and don't contain gluten. Sauteed beef, chicken and pork are also gluten-free. Ask the chef if the meat is marinated before it's cooked, however, because many marinades contain gluten. Order steamed or sauteed meat, seafood with steamed white or brown rice, and steamed vegetables for a filling and nutritious meal.
Most Chinese food meals come with an egg roll or a side of fried crab wontons, but both of these options contain gluten. Ask for spring rolls instead. The wrapping is usually made with rice flour, thus making the food gluten-free. For another alternative, order rice noodles, which many Chinese restaurants offer and are naturally gluten-free. Mei Fun and Chow Fun are two common entrees made with rice noodles and steamed vegetables. Ask the chef if the egg drop soup is prepared without soy sauce and with cornstarch instead of flour. If so, it's gluten-free and makes a high-protein side dish.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.