It’s Friday night and you and your friends have dumplings on your mind -- it's only natural.
Stuffed with your favourite fillings, it's impossible to stop at just a few of these salty and moreish parcels. But, are they considered healthy, or a treat?
“Dumplings are a reasonably healthy option -- it’s the quantity you're eating that you really need to watch because it's easy to eat too many,” Simone Austin, accredited practising dietitian and DAA spokesperson, told The Huffington Post Australia.
One of the most important factors when determining if dumplings are healthy is whether they are steamed, pan fried or deep fried.
Steamed dumplings are the best option in terms of fat content, with pan fried the next best.
“If they do fry it -- like gyoza which are usually lightly fried -- then it puts the fat content up a little,” Austin said.
“You want to avoid ones that have been completely deep fried.”
The quality of the meat filling can also affect the healthiness of dumplings.
“If it’s fairly lean meat to start with, the dumpling is going to be quite low in fat in that sense,” Austin said.
The same goes for frozen dumplings you buy from the supermarket. As long as they're not pre-deep fried and contain whole, healthy ingredients they are an okay option, according to Austin.
Aside from meat quality and how the dumplings have been cooked, the vegetable content (or lack thereof) is also crucial in knowing whether dumplings are a healthy food option.
“Unless it’s a vegetable dumpling, most of them don’t contain a lot of vegetables,” Austin said. “So it’s very easy to eat a whole plate of dumplings and not eat any vegetables.”
In terms of a healthy diet, Austin advises a third to half of our plate to be vegetables -- so this is something we need to take into consideration when ordering dumplings.
“You’re probably getting your protein and carbohydrates from the dumplings, but you need to get your vegetables as well,” she said.
That doesn’t mean dumplings are off the table completely -- just mix it up and include some vegetables on your plate.
"Order some vegetable based dumplings, too -- not just meat dumplings,” Austin said.
“Having a side salad, steamed broccoli or bok choy, or a bowl of Asian soup with greens is also a good idea,” Austin said.
The serving size of the dumplings we order is another thing to take into consideration.
“Although it depends on the size, aiming for dumplings to be no more than half of your plate is a good idea -- and then having vegetables or salad for your other half,” Austin said.
The salty sauces we drown our dumplings in is something to be careful of, as the fillings in dumplings can often already be quite salty.
“We don’t want a lot of salt in our diet in general, so you’ve got to be careful about how much salty sauce you’re putting on the dumplings,” Austin told HuffPost Australia. “Maybe use a lower salt soy sauce.”
Why not take the party home and make your own favourite dumplings?
“Rather than always going out, it could be nice to invite some friends over and make them together for a bit of fun,” Austin said. “You can buy the round dumpling pastries in the frozen section of the supermarket and you can load up on the veggies.”
And it’s fun for the kids, too.