Recently I was asked to expound on the healthy aspects of a typical Chinese breakfast. My first thought was, this is simple, once you eliminate the you tiao and pearl tea and opt for the vegetable baozi and warm soy milk, the health meter reading improves greatly. My that was easy !
But after considering that several million people a day are eating breakfast in Shanghai I thought I should know a few more details about what was fueling this crowd, more than just “vegetable = good, fried dough = bad”. Not a lot more (sometimes it is best not to watch the street vendor too closely) but at least how many calories are really in a jian bing and does it have as much protein as I think it does. How about that pearl tea, is it just a Chinese version of a latte?
So with a bit of investigating I found out that a big steamed baozi can run you between 180 – 200 calories. The delicious greens and mushroom variety will have less fat than the pork but it is the bun that really accounts for all the calories. Figure the smaller sizes ( ie. golf ball ) run between 85-100 calories. Reasonable for sure. Now if you add a 16 ounce bubble tea to that order then you pile on 300 to 400 additional calories, yikes ! The health meter just drooped.
Bubble tea aka pearl tea or zhen zhu nai derive all those sweet calories from the milk, the tapioca pearls and any number of sweetners ( powdered sugar, brown sugar, honey). Alternatively Chinese milk tea will add only 150 calories ( tea and sweetened condensed milk) and green tea will add zero calories and plenty of healthy anti-oxidants to your morning.
I do want to end on a positive breakfast note and thankfully we have the jian bing. This scrumptious morning meal is high in protein, low in fat ( I know , that’s a surprise) has a bit of fiber and all for only a bit less than 300 calories. An added nutritional plus is the millet flour used to make the pancake. Millet flour is rich in B vitamins and gluten-free to boot. (If you are gluten sensitive, be sure to ask the vendor if they are using millet flour or a combination.)
Remember the calorie levels listed here(and most other places), are average figures taken from a few sources. Depending on the cook the actual calorie level may vary.
Eat Well Shanghai Around Town:
On Saturday, February 11th, skip that morning baozi and head over to the Jiashan Market for the fresh and friendly Farmer’s Market. The weekend market is back on the every other week schedule so if you miss February 11th, they will be back on Saturday February 28th.
Organic Kitchen has a home. Recently the delivery service opened a restaurant at 57 Fuxing Xi Lu. Same fresh, organic ingredients, same great taste. My chicken shwarma wrap and French potato soup today were delicous !
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun !