Italians are known for their love of food, and though we may think mostly of the cream sauces, piles of pasta and gooey cheese, traditional Italian food is loaded with vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins.
With the holiday season now in full swing, parties and shopping on the agenda and guests galore, what better time to take a break and enjoy a healthy meal out at your favorite Italian restaurant? Italians are known for their love of food, and though we may think mostly of the cream sauces, piles of pasta and gooey cheese, traditional Italian food is loaded with vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins. Here are some of our favorite traditional ingredients:
Basil – With its high levels of antioxidants, this Italian food staple may help boost your immune system and reduce stress during the busy holiday season, as well as year round. When eating at restaurants, order whole grain pizzas and pasta with fresh basil, or blend it up at home to make your own pesto to season dishes.
Olive Oil – This essential unsaturated fat has been shown to help lower cholesterol and, along with it, the risk of heart disease. At any restaurant, ask for olive oil in place of other oils in the preparation of your dish, and when at home, keep olive oil handy for sautéed vegetables and lean proteins. Remember to use any oil sparingly. Olive oil may be heart healthy, but it is also high-calorie.
Garlic – Though notorious for its aroma, garlic is also well known for its ability to help protect against a variety of cancers and improve heart health. For these reasons (and its exceptional flavor), Italian food isn’t the only cuisine that regularly uses garlic. Around the world and throughout the ages, cultures have used this super food to flavor dishes. Most dishes at an Italian restaurant include garlic. Order those that are rich in vegetables and lean proteins. At home, add garlic to sauces and vegetables or roast garlic to spread on whole grain bread.
Anchovies – Not so sure about these healthy little fish? Italians know that these oceanic gems can add rich flavor to dishes, along with vitamin A for healthy skin, calcium for healthy bones and omega 3’s for overall heart health.
At restaurants, order whole grain pasta with lemon and anchovies. At home, try adding anchovies to salads, vegetable dishes and more!
Take a cue from the Italian proverb, “At the table with good friends and family, you do not become old” and savor these Italian Healthy Dining dishes with friends and family this holiday season. What could be better?