Typical Italian restaurants have menu offerings that range from delectable pasta dishes to deep-dish or thin-crust pizzas. As tasty as they might be, it can sometimes be challenging when you are trying to make healthier food choices to better manage your weight or particular health condition. However, it is not impossible to select foods from Italian restaurants that are lower in calories and better for your overall health.
Pasta dishes are one of the most popular choices at Italian restaurants, but selection of the right pasta dish is key to a low-calorie and healthy meal, and it all starts with the sauce. Pasta sauces that are marinara, or tomato-based, or marsala sauces that are made from wine are going to be much lower in calories and fat than creamy white sauces that are made out of high-fat milk, and butter and cheese, such as Alfredo sauce. Additionally, marinara or marinara sauces that are vegetarian are going to be much lower in fat and cholesterol than those that contain fatty meats like Italian sausage, pepperoni or ground beef. You should also avoid dishes that are filled with meat or cheese, such as lasagna, manicotti, ravioli and tortellini, because the meat and cheeses are loaded with fat and unnecessary calories. Lastly, if whole wheat pasta is an option, this should be substituted for regular pasta because it is higher in fiber and will make you feel fuller faster and may help you manage your portion control.
Another popular item at most Italian restaurants is the pizza. Because pizza is almost always loaded with cheese, it's rarely a low-calorie option. However, there are ways to improve upon the traditional offerings. A lot of the calories in pizza come from the crust, so thicker crusts are going to have more calories. Thin-crust pizzas are better choices than deeper-dish crusts. Additionally, pizzas that are loaded with meats like sausage, ham and pepperoni are going to be high in extra fat and calories. Replace the meats with roasted or raw vegetables for a lower-calorie option. When available, whole-wheat crust is another option that will provide for a healthier pizza meal.
Italian restaurants usually offer a number of savory soups either as side dishes or even main dishes. Some soups that contain beef and sausage and are based around meat broths, like Italian wedding soup and Italian sausage soup are going to be higher-calorie options. Some creamy soups that are made with cheeses like gorgonzola or Parmesan are also higher in calories. For lower-calorie soups, you should try vegetarian and vegetable-broth soups like minestrone or eggplant and mushroom soup.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.