Italian food is the best – but often not the best for you. From red sauce-covered pastas, to cheesy, basil-covered chicken dishes, there are many Italian delicacies to please the appetite. The problem is that most have a high calorie, carb, and fat content – which isn’t ideal for those looking to eat healthy. There are healthy – and delicious – options available to those watching their waistlines. Below are some of the best and healthiest options available at most Italian restaurants.
“Grilled” Is The Best Word
Grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled calamari – if it has the word “grilled” in it, chances are it is one of the best choices on the menu. You do need to watch out for butter that is added, or oils, so be sure to ask for your food “dry”.
Don’t Break Bread
One of the worst calorie and carb busters available at an Italian restaurant is the bread basket that is laid out as soon as you arrive. Instead of filling up on bread, save your appetite for your main course of healthy appetizer.
Soup It Up
For an appetizer, or even a main course, a broth-based soup is your best option. Full of hearty veggies and protein, a broth-based soup such as minestrone or Italian Wedding Soup can help fill you up for few calories. Cioppino—a broth-based stew featuring a combination of fish and shellfish—is also a great option.
Salads Are Your Friend
There is zero shame in ordering a salad at an Italian restaurant. Heck, Olive Garden makes a big chunk of their revenue on salad. Order a salad with plenty of vegetables, and just a few high calorie, high fat, and high sodium extras like cheese and Italian meats (pepperoni, salami, prosciutto, etc.). Balsamic vinegar is always a good choice to add extra flavor and takes away from the dry salad texture.
Whole Grain is The Way To Go
Yes, you can eat pasta at an Italian restaurant, but make sure it’s the luncheon portion and it’s whole grain. This can save you calories, and fill you up on good fiber. A side dish of pasta is also great if you are eating a grilled protein, so you can stay healthy and indulge at the same time.
Don’t Take the Cannoli!
If you are in need dessert, skip the cannoli and instead opt for a nonfat cappuccino and a small biscotti. It can help you sweet cravings, but keep the calorie count low. Also, if you are just in the mood for a not-so-good-for-you dessert, consider sharing with your date, or taking half home in a to-go box.