When you think Italian food, what comes to mind? Pizza? Pasta? Delicious crusty Italian bread? While these staples certainly have their Italian roots, there are also many lean and healthy options Italian restaurants have to offer — and they’re just as tasty as the not-so-healthy dishes. Read on to discover some of our favorite Italian meals that will keep you on track to your diet goals and make your taste buds happy too.
Healthiest Italian Dishes
Wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas can dominate the menu at many Italian restaurants. However, there are equally large amounts of healthy options thanks to the abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs, olive oil, beans and lean proteins typical of Italian cuisine. Here are 10 of our top picks of the lowest calorie Italian foods and dishes out there:
- Minestrone Soup: Almost any variety of minestrone makes a healthy Italian starter. Most minestrones are broth-based and chock full of veggies, making them lower in calories but packed with flavor.
- Starter Salads: Popular Italian Insalata varieties include Italian Wedge, Caprese Salad, Italian Market Salad and more. Filling up on a nice crunchy salad is an excellent way to keep from overeating when it comes to the main entrée. Besides containing beneficial compounds, vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber. One tip to make your Italian salad even healthier is to ask for your dressing on the side so you can control how much you consume.
- Cioppino: The healthy fats and protein from the fish and shellfish in this hearty seafood stew make it one of the healthiest choices you can make at dining out at an Italian restaurant.
- A glass of wine: Research suggests that drinking the occasional glass of red wine has health benefits. These include protecting against heart disease and harmful inflammation, providing antioxidants and protecting against heart disease, among others.
- Mussels: Almost any Italian dish that features mussels — whether it’s Pei Mussels, Mussels in White Wine or Mussels in Spicy Red Sauce — is a healthy choice. Mussels are rich in long-chain fatty acids and minerals and are low in calories.
- Dishes high in protein and lower in fat: Popular Italian dishes such as beef dishes, chicken cacciatore, and chicken or fish Marsala are packed with protein and some of the healthiest choices you can make at an Italian restaurant. Eating foods high in protein can aid in weight loss, build muscles and help you to feel fuller after eating.
- Pasta dishes with red pasta sauces: No, pasta dishes are not off-limits when you’re trying to eat healthily, especailly those with red pasta sauces like the red clam, marinara or vegetable sauces. These sauces are healthier choices than white cream or butter-based varieties. Better yet, choose a pasta dish with a red pasta sauce and some lean protein. The trick with pasta is to watch your portion sizes — and yes, they can still be healthy!
Eat Healthy Italian Dishes at Allora Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia
Looking for healthy Italian dishes in an inviting atmosphere? At Allora, our combination of authentic Italian dishes in a modern atmosphere makes us the best Italian dinner restaurant in Atlanta. Whether you prefer vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free options, we have it all. Check out our healthiest Italian dishes on our restaurant’s menu or reserve your table online today.