Healthy Italian Restaurant Choices
healthy italian food choicesFor most Americans, Italian food is synonymous with greasy pepperoni pizza, baked lasagna full of cheese and meat sauce, and high-carb pasta dishes.
But in Italy, Italian food is actually pretty healthy, with fresh vegetables, fish, and olive oil taking the lead. In southern Italy, you’ll find more of the tomatoes and cheese that are typical in American Italian restaurants. In Tuscany and northern Italy, the emphasis is on simply grilled meats, beans, and salt cod.
Most antipasto platters include several kinds of salty, processed meats like salami and capicola. If a vegetarian antipasto is available, order that instead. And skip the fried appetizers like calamari.
Minestrone is a great starter because not only is it chock-full of vegetables, it will also fill you up. A simple salad with a Balsamic vinaigrette is another smart choice. Stay away from the Caesar salad which is loaded with fat.
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Pasta has a bad reputation with dieters, but it’s really the sauce that’s the culprit. High-fat favorites like Quattro Formaggi, Alfredo, and Gorgonzola cheese are strictly off limits. But a small serving of pasta – especially if it’s whole wheat – isn’t a bad choice.
Pesto sauce, which is basically olive oil, pine nuts, basil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, isn’t low in fat, but it’s the good kind of fat. Marinara, which doesn’t have any meat, is low in fat, and filled with antioxidants. And Arrabiata packs a lot of flavor into an acceptable calorie count.
Many Italian restaurants will let you substitute sautéed spinach for pasta, which makes it possible for you to satisfy your craving legally. If you’ve never had spaghetti with spinach instead of noodles, you’ll be surprised at how delicious it is.
Risotto can go either way. If it’s made with chicken stock, spring vegetables, and a little Parmesan, a little won’t hurt. But if cheese is listed as one of the featured ingredients, it’s probably best to pass.
If you want an entrée, most Italian restaurants serve grilled chicken breast or sea bass. And the skewers of grilled lean meat and vegetables called Spiedini are healthy and delicious, especially those with shrimp. These are popular in Italy.
When it’s time for dessert, a scoop of fresh strawberry or lemon sorbet, or a bowl of fresh berries with a little mascarpone cheese is a wonderful way to end your meal without blowing your diet.
source : the 13 Healthiest Things to Eat at an Italian Restaurant Slideshow