Ah, the humble Chinese restaurant. God’s gift to those in need of affordable restaurant standard cuisine.
When we go out for a Chinese or – if you are feeling lazy – stay in for a Chinese with your favorite people, it is not an occasion where you are asking exactly the calorie counts of different foods that are on offer or that you have ordered.
However, sometimes we have set ourselves to a strict diet and, come rain or sun, we are sticking to it.
Often, this means people are only eating the snacky or appetizer parts of the Chinese meal that has been ordered. But are these okay in terms of calories? Especially, everyone’s favorite: spring rolls.
Just how many calories are in a spring roll? Is it a lot? Or a little? Today, we are going to find this out.
What Is A Spring Roll?
In case you have never had Chinese cuisine or have just never had a spring roll, spring rolls are a kind of hors d’oeuvre that are normally served in China as part of the spring festival, but have become synonymous with Chinese food in the west.
They are little parcels of pastry that have been rolled into a cylindrical shape around a filling of julienne cabbage and other vegetables.
The spring rolls are then cooked, in the far past this was done by steaming or boiling them, creating a kind of see-through dim sum like wrapper and the same texture as dim sum.
In the modern day, most Chinese people pan fry their spring rolls, creating a wonderful and satisfying crunch when you bite into them and a rich, soft flavor inside.
However, many people in the west prefer to oven bake or deep-fry them instead, for a crunchier texture and a richer flavor all round, though it does detract from some of the softness of the dish.
Spring rolls are such a ubiquitous part of Chinese culture and cuisine that almost all parts of Chinese culture, beyond the dominant Han majority, enjoy eating it in a unique way.
This includes Taiwanese, Cantonese, Hong Kong, and many other forms of spring roll that are slightly different from one another.
This tasty treat has even spread around the world and become one of the most beloved and eaten dishes throughout our globe.
All the countries of SouthEast Asia have their own versions, and it is so common in European Chinese restaurants that it often comes for free when you order from them with your dish.
How Many Calories Are In A Spring Roll?
A single spring roll is about 145 calories in total, which, considering what it is, isn’t bad.
This may appear confusing that we consider this ‘not bad’, especially when a spring roll is not that big, however you need to take this in context. This calorie count is based upon this food being deep-fried.
Deep-frying is literally submerging a food in boiling hot fat and letting that absorb into the food. With this in mind, a spring roll does not have that many calories.
If you were to oven bake a spring roll, then it would only have 38 calories in it, which is more than a 100 calories difference between the two.
However, we are talking about a spring roll from a restaurant, so it is probably deep-fried or pan fried to some degree. It is worth noting that the larger the spring roll, the more calories it will have as well.
The size we’ve gone for is the average, wherein 4 will take up a small plate, but a larger one will be almost double the size, which means double the calories.
Conversely, a smaller one will be half the size, which means it will have half the calories.
Are Spring Rolls Bad For You?
Genuinely, it depends on how many you eat.
Having a spring roll in a meal won’t do any damage, but if you are shoveling in hundreds of spring rolls at a time as part of a spring roll eating competition, then that would be incredibly bad for you.
As such, we will look at the good and bad parts of spring rolls:
They are full of vegetables, in fact it is their main ingredient.
These include garlic, ginger, onions, carrots, and cabbage (sometimes bell peppers), all of which are chock-full of nutrients that will help keep your body healthy.
These vegetables are also extremely low in calories a lot of the time, with many of them being less than 10 calories each for even a bowl full of them, which is great if you are looking to lose weight.
If you oven bake spring rolls, you can gain the full benefit of these vegetables with basically none of the drawbacks.
The single biggest drawback is that spring rolls are often deep-fried. Deep-frying makes a dish delicious, but it also means that that food is now supremely unhealthy because the food absorbs the fat in the fry oil.
If you eat deep-fried food every day, you will shorten your lifespan considerably.
Apart from this, the only other drawback is the fact that it uses refined white flour for the wrapper.
This isn’t really that unhealthy, but it has a lot of carbs in it, and it may be bad for those with diabetes or heart problems to consume it in excessive quantities.
As you can see, spring rolls aren’t terrible for you if you eat them in moderation and don’t have them deep-fried.
Taking away the deep-frying means that they could be more beneficial than not to your diet, although your local Chinese will be unlikely to stop frying them just for you.
Spring rolls have about 145 calories when deep-fried and about 38 calories each when baked in the oven.
For what they are, the first number seems a little excessive, but if you take out the frying, they can be a reasonably healthy snack or appetizer.