Healthy Italian Food

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Recipes | Tags: , , , , |

If you’re like I used to be, you probably think there is no such thing as healthy Italian food – that it all comes laden with melted cheese over mounds of pasta, with rich sauces and meats in between.  Well, that certainly is Italian food that most Americans are familiar with, but there are many regions in Italy that favor vastly different food.  Sauteed seafood and vegetables in olive oil with a few fresh spices is every bit as Italian as a plate of lasagna.    And if you keep that in mind, eating healthy Italian food becomes a lot easier.  As my mother says ‘If you can’t change something, change the way you look at it.’  I can’t change the calorie content of that lasagna, but I can change my view of a good Italian dinner.

I have a few recipes that are healthier than lasagna or chicken parmigiana, but don’t quite make the cut for my current extreme diet.  The best is Sweet Italian sausage with Tortellini.  Basically, I just prepare tortellini (fresh, frozen, or dried is fine, whatever I have on hand).  While it is cooking, I par cook the sausage until it is firm enough to slice, then finish cooking the slices.  Once the fat starts to render I add diced fresh tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms and cook until just tender.  I sometimes add extra vegetables such as bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, or asparagus if I have some leftover from a previous meal.  Then I add basil and parsley, and toss with the tortellini.  Sometimes it needs just a little extra olive oil to toss properly – it just depends on how much fat renders out from the sausage.  It is delicious, and is only about 450 calories for a 1 cup serving that’s heavy on the veggies!

Now, on my current diet I have had to cut back a lot, and sausage and pasta aren’t in the mix.  Luckily I found a recipe in a magazine for a quick, Americanized skillet dinner that is very similar.  I just use boneless, skinless chicken instead of sausage (cooked in 1/4 cup fat free Italian dressing) and skip the pasta.  (This one is particularly good with asparagus added to the sauteed veggies.)  That cuts the calories down to 190 for a 1 cup serving!  For those of you who are eating more than 200 calories per meal, you can even still have a slice of garlic bread or top your entree with cheese – in moderation.

It may take a little getting used to, but changing the way you think of Italian food will help your waistline (and the rest of you too) in the long run.

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One Response to “Healthy Italian Food”

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This blog’s great!! Thanks :).


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