Healthy Italian Meals under 300 Calories
When you think of Italian food, big, heavy meals may automatically come to mind. While yes, Italians love their cheeses, meats and hearty portion sizes, not all Italian dishes are loaded with calories. It may surprise you but you can find many healthy Italian dishes that are actually less than 300 calories. That’s right! Low calorie Italian food does exist! Outlined below are just 5 of the many nutritious Italian foods that you can enjoy without feeling guilty with every bite. No need to sacrifice flavor or authenticity, these meals is truly Italian and truly amazing.
Minestrone soup is a classic Italian dish that is comprised of vegetables, broth and occasionally rice or pasta. The word “minestrone” translates to mean “thick vegetable soup” and with no set required ingredients, that is the perfect description of this dish. Typically made with whatever vegetables are in season, this soup may vary depending on where and when you eat it. Some make minestrone with beans which others may opt for pasta. You may see tomatoes as a base in one region while another part of Italy opts for spinach as the main vegetable.
One thing is for sure however and that is that this soup is low in calories. Since minestrone is mainly made with vegetables and broth, there aren’t many hidden calories lurking in the bowl. Some recipes may have you add parmesan cheese which can be easily skipped if you are trying to cut calories. Try our great recipe for authentic Italian minestrone here!
You may be wondering how risotto, with all that creamy texture, can be low in calories. Well, with a few conscious choices, it definitely can be! Risotto is a Northern Italian dish which cooks rice by slowly adding in broth in stages until a creamy consistency is reached. High starch rices are best for risotto and Arborio rice is the most commonly used today. Risotto is typically considered a first course, or Primo, in Italy yet many people state side eat it as the main course.
Risotto usually begins by sautéing onions and garlic in butter but to make a low calorie risotto, olive oil can be used instead. Low fat or no fat broth is also the best option to cut back calories. Choosing what additions go into the risotto is very important when being calorie conscious. Skip the fatty meats and opt for vegetables instead. Our recipe for fennel risotto is a great place to start!
Many Italian dishes which involve breaded meat are topped with rich sauces which make the calorie count go through the roof. That is not the case with veal piccata. This dish consists of veal pieces which are either breaded or floured and then sautéed with white wine and lemon juice. The simplicity of the dish is what makes piccata so low in calories. There is no excess sauce or piles of cheese, just simple, delicious meat cooked to perfection.
To make sure your veal piccata is less than 300 calories, be sure to use olive oil rather than butter and opt for a recipe where the veal is simply floured rather than coated in breadcrumbs. Use as much wine or sherry as needed!
Linguini and Clams
This is a perfect Italian pasta dish that is less than 300 calories. With only a light broth acting as the sauce, there are not many over the top ingredients in linguini and clams. In fact, there isn’t even any cheese in the recipe- a rarity in Italian cuisine! The most popular variation of this dish is Spaghetti alle vongole which is Italian for “Spaghetti and clams“. This dish is popular in Campania and the rest of Italy as well.
There are two traditional ways to prepare this Italian dish. The first method involves minced garlic, olive oil, clams and white wine being combined to make a thin broth like sauce. The other recipe utilizes tomatoes rather than white wine to make a red sauce for the linguini. Both are delicious and low in calories so choose whichever version sounds best to you!
It is always good to have a low calorie dessert that you can look forward to at the end of a meal. Gelato is a style of ice cream that originates in Italy and directly translates to mean “frozen”. Milk, cream, sugar, fruit and nuts are blended together to make any number of amazing flavors. Gelato is unique in that it contains very little air when compared to ice cream. This makes the dessert extremely smooth and rich yet still low in calories.
While most servings of gelato will fall under 300 calories, opt for fruit based flavors rather than those containing nuts to be sure. Gelato can be served in a cone, on a stick or just in a cup and no matter how it is served, it will be mouth watering. Skip the cone to save on calories and simply grab a spoon to dig in!
Eating Italian food doesn’t have to mean indulging in excess calories. There are many versions of Italian dishes that are very healthy and you will never know they are low cal. Begin with the dishes we have highlighted and then branch out to find even more healthy Italian foods under 300 calories!
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