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Italian - Made Healthy!

Have a craving for Italian food tonight? Here are some tips to amp up the nutrition of your favorite comfort food.



Image c/o New York Times

  • Pasta: Opt for chickpea or lentil based pasta instead of traditional pasta made from wheat flour. The carb count may be comparable (30-35 gm vs 40-45 gm per cup of cooked pasta). However, the legume pastas are much higher in fiber and protein, and contain complex carbohydrates - meaning they will be more filling and won't cause the same glucose spikes.

  • Marinara sauce - A half cup of jarred sauce has around 15 gm of sugar. Try making your own from a can of crushed tomatoes, cooked with sautéed garlic and seasoned with salt, chili flakes, and fresh basil leaves. A half cup of homemade sauce has 8 gm of carbohydrates (and better yet, none of this is added sugar!)

  • Additions - We're all for meatballs - they increase protein content and cut down on the amount of pasta you need to fill up. Consider using lean meat, which is lower in fat and calories, to make the meatballs. Don't skimp on the veggies either. Adding sautéed or roasted bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and mushrooms will contribute valuable vitamins and help round out the meal.

  • Sides - Skip the garlic bread and try some roasted broccolini, sauteed swiss chard, or a crisp and light green salad instead. If you're short on time, a bag of frozen vegetables can be defrosted and seasoned with salt and garlic powder within minutes.

Even adapting one of these changes will make your meal healthier without sacrificing flavor. Next time you sit down to dinner, think about the little tweaks that will boost nutrition.

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