It’s easy to understand why rapper Post Malone has been talking lately Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon says he celebrates “every major life event” In the olive garden.
Italian restaurants have a welcoming atmosphere and a menu full of comfort food – what’s not to love?
But the food in Italian restaurants is often “loaded with fat and calories,” says Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD. So does that mean you have to give up your favorite eating place in order to stay healthy?
Nope – we’ve rounded up the healthiest foods to order in an Italian restaurant (along with some of the menu items to avoid).
What are the healthiest options in Italian restaurants?
Navigating the menu at an Italian restaurant can be a little daunting, but Giancoli uses one trick to help focus on healthy fare: Look for the veggies.
“As with any restaurant, the more vegetable dishes you order, the better,” she says.
vegetables Help fill you up Without a lot of extra calories – and you don’t have to make do with regular steamed veggies.
“Spinach and garlic are sautéed in a little olive oil, they’re delicious and healthy,” adds Giancoli. “Just be sure to ask them to highlight the oil.”
Here are seven other healthy Italian foods you can enjoy (in moderation of course) without ruining your healthy eating goals.
1. Grilled calamari
Fried calamari, also known as squid, can be a calorie-packed appetizer — but its grilled counterpart can be a healthy option.
Calamari watches are not ready in time 99 calories and 17 grams protein Per 4 ounces.
Of course, calamari is often drizzled with oil when it’s grilled, which adds extra calories—so just be sure to ask the chef to skim the oil.
Again, ask them to highlight the oil—olive oil “has a lot of calories, so it’s easy to overdo it without realizing it,” says Giancoli.
3. Caprese salad
While the fresh mozzarella cheese in the caprese salad contains calories – 72 calories per ounce – Balance of tomato and sweet basil. And – you guessed it – try limiting olive oil to keep your calorie count.
4. Mussels in white wine
Like calamari, mussels offer a lot of protein – 27 grams in 4 ounces.
And while white wine sauce is often made with butter, Giancoli says it’s still a healthy choice because you don’t usually polish the entire pot of sauce: “As long as you don’t lick every drop or absorb the sauce with the bread, you’re good.”
Wait – gnocchi?! You might be surprised to see these pasta dumplings on the “good” menu, but it depends on the type of gnocchi you order.
Gnocchi can be a “very heavy dish,” Giancoli notes—especially if it’s made with ricotta cheese or topped with pesto.
The trick, she says, is to order the potato gnocchi – they’re made with fewer ingredients, and they’re available 250 calories and 5g protein per cup.
order it with Shika sauce If available, and – you guessed it – ask them to light up the oil.
Giancoli says ordering a charcuterie board full of meat is a smart move “even though it’s all meat and cheese”.
The reason: You usually share it as an appetizer, so you won’t overload the fat and calories before you arrive.
Minestrone is one of the healthiest soup options in Italian restaurants because “you get a lot of veggies with a little pasta,” says Giancoli.
Eight ounce serving of Gravy-based minestrone at Olive Garden Only 110 calories with one gram of fat, making it an ideal choice to help you feel full before your main course.
What foods should I avoid in Italian restaurants?
The first rule of Italian restaurants: if it’s fried or made with cream, it’s probably not the healthiest option. However, sometimes the wording on the menu can deceive you.
Here’s what you should pay attention to when ordering.
1. Mozzarella sticks
“It’s just packs of fat,” says Giancoli. Do we need to say more?
2. Eggplant cheese
Sure, eggplant is a healthy food Potassium, niacin and other nutrients – But in most Italian restaurants, this dish is served fried and covered with cheese.
“You don’t necessarily have to avoid it completely,” Giancoli says. “Just order it as an appetizer and eat two slices instead of as a meal.”
(Or you can always move a file Healthy eggplant and parmesan cheese at home.)
3. Fried calamari
While the grilled version is healthy, the bread and oil in the fried calamari add plenty of unnecessary fat and calories.
4. Caesar salad
Salad is healthy, isn’t it? not necessarily. “Caesar salads are made with a lot of cheese and oil—and they’re not exactly light eating,” says Giancoli.
She adds that if you order, be sure to ask for the sauce on the side so you can enjoy the flavor without overdoing it.
“Italians are famous for their bread,” says Giancoli. It can be hard to resist a basket of breadsticks, especially when they arrive at the table while you’re still waiting for your meal.
“If you’re trying to cut calories, ask them to take it away or not at all,” advises Giancoli.
6. Fettuccine Alfredo
It’s best to avoid creamer dishes like fettuccine alfredo because they are very high in saturated fat and calories, says Giancoli.
7. Zuppa Tuscany
Zuppa toscana is filled with veggies like cabbage and celery, along with beans that are packed with protein and other healthy ingredients—but the broth is cream-based rather than broth, which ups the calorie count.
share of zuppa toscana in the olive garden It contains 220 calories – twice the calories in their barrier.
4 HACKS TO EAT HEALTHY IN ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Here are some other simple tricks for staying healthy (relatively) when dining in an Italian restaurant.
1. Look for low calorie menus
Don’t want to spend some time researching the menu for healthier options (or trying to resist the eggplant parm)?
Many Italian restaurant chains now offer special low-calorie menus that feature lighter versions of popular favorites.
2. Get it to go
Portion sizes at Italian restaurants can be great, so ask your server to put half of your meal in a quick box Before start eating.
“Most of us only eat what’s in front of us,” Giancoli says. It’s easier to stop when you can’t see the rest.
Bonus: You don’t have to worry about what you’re cooking for dinner tomorrow!
3. Get the soup and salad first
You can’t overeat if you’re already full on healthy fare.
“If you have a salad without a creamy dressing, or a broth-based soup like minestrone first, it can help Eat fewer calories in general‘ says Giancoli.
4. Add Parmesan Kick
While it might seem counterintuitive to add more cheese to an Italian dish, parm is actually “very tasty, so you don’t need much to add more cheese to your food,” says Giancoli.
If possible, add it yourself so you can control how much you eat.