Speaking of Italian food conjures up visions of a menu loaded with cream, cheese, butter, sauces and oil. Lip smacking delicious, but hardly a choice for someone who is working towards a lean torso. However, you can follow these few deliberate and conscious choices to make dining at an Italian restaurant a lighter, more nutritious and healthier affair than what it generally turns out to be.
- Steer Clear of the Bread: Most Italian breads are loaded on butter and are the main culprits besides cheese to add calories to your Italian dish. Try substituting the garlic bread or bread knots with plain unbuttered Italian bread, or cut it out altogether.
- Appetizers: Go easy on the appetizers as they are just ways to load on extra calories. Try a minestrone soup or pasta fagioli loaded with vegetables instead, to tingle your taste buds.
- Start off with a Salad ( Insalata): Start off with a salad that has a lot of greens tossed into it and maybe some grilled fish or chicken. Do not take the tag of “salad” on ‘antipasto’ at face value, as it is filled with cured meat and cheese. Try a Caesar salad instead. The anchovies used in the dressing of the salad are a rich source of Omega-3 fat. Order the salad on the side to keep the calories low. You don’t want your salad swimming in dressing.
- Opt for Red Pasta Sauces over White: White sauces are made with cream and butter and it would do you good to stay away from them and opt for pastas made in marinara, red clam or vegetable sauces. You could also go for white wine or alcohol and garlic sauce pasta like penne ala vodka but be sure to ask if it is not made with too much butter.
- Avoid Completely preparations like lasagna, vannelloni, baked pasta dishes or ravioli as the main ingredient in these dishes is cheese.
- Halve the Cheese: While ordering your food, ask for the cheese to be halved to retain the flavor of cheese while making it healthier too.
- Dolce: If dessert (dolce) is your weakness and you just have to go for it, remember that sharing the dessert will always reduce the calories that you will end up with. Try fruit sorbets and biscotti instead of the Tiramisu as a healthier option to the latter.
Always follow the simple rule, that anything white and creamy makes use of cheese and cream, so will contain all those empty calories. Substitute these with other healthier options on the menu and discover the real great taste of Italian cuisine.
Photo Credit By: features.peta.org