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Italian Food

Pasta and pizza may be the first foods that come to mind when you think of Italian cuisine, but the menus of Italian restaurants contain a wide range of items, from rich soups, antipasto, and meat, to cheeses, cakes and ice cream. Here are some suggestions to help you make selections that fit into a healthy diet, whether you eat at a fine Italian restaurant or call out for a delivery from a local pizza parlor.

Salads and light soups, such as minestrone, are good appetizer selections. If you order a salad, ask for balsamic vinegar or, alternatively, ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.

Steer clear of antipasto salads, which contain marinated vegetables and many high-fat items: olives, hard-boiled eggs, sausages and meats such as prosciutto ham. Skip the fried appetizers and order mussels or clams in a wine sauce, instead.

Try not to overindulge on Italian bread. Select bread sticks or plain rolls, not buttery garlic bread. Request bruschetta prepared with very little oil and go easy on dipping it in oil.

Pasta can be a good low-fat meal, depending on the sauce. Red clam or meatless marinara sauces are good, tasty alternatives to high-fat cream sauces such as alfredo or carbonara. Keep pasta dishes low-fat by forgoing additional olive oil, cheese or fatty meats.

Try dishes like chicken, seafood, veal cacciatore or veal picata. Avoid dishes that have been breaded and fried, such as eggplant or veal parmigiana. Steer clear of entrees prepared with a lot of cheese, which can be very high in fat. Ask that your entree be prepared without oil.

Order thin-crust pizza with fresh vegetable toppings. Resist extra cheese, meat toppings, olives and stuffed and deep-dish crusts.

Try an Italian ice, fresh fruit or a skim milk-cappuccino! Hold off on the cannoli and gelati!


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