14 Jun 2014
June 14, 2014

10 Tips for Cooking Healthy Italian Food

G&O are advocates of good, healthy and most importantly delicious Italian cooking. These are our top tips for keeping your home cooked Italian dishes health and authentic.

1. Not too much pasta

People have a tendency to throw the entire bag of pasta into the pan and end up cooking too much and overindulging. A suitable portion should be between 40g – 90g at the most. Also, ensure not to overcook your pasta as al dente is regarded as being the tastiest way to serve.

2. Olive Oil

Change your cooking oil to a good quality olive oil. Olive oil has been proven to be much better for you compared to regular cooking oils such as vegetable oil or butter. You can go one step further by switching to a Virgin olive oil which is a ‘good’ fat containing monounsaturated as well as omega 3 and anti-oxidants.

3. Seasonal

The typical Italian diet uses fresh produce so wherever possible, ingredients should be bought in season as. This means you don’t have to add loads of fat, salt or sugar to improve taste and helps to give dishes a fantastic flavour and colour. Also the fresher the seasonal ingredients, the better they are for you.

4. Don’t Drown your Dish

Traditional Italians only lightly coat their pasta dishes with a sauce. Drowning your dish not only increases the calories and fat content but does not add extra flavour. Tube shaped pasta, Rigatoni and Penne tend to soak up more of the sauce so try to avoid these.

5. Replace Meat with Fish

The health benefits of fish have been promoted for years so try to replace your meat dishes with an oily fish.

6. Balsamic Vinegar for Salad Dressing

Using oils or creamy sauces such as mayonnaise to dress salad not only increases the calories of your dish but they have a high fat content. Try to use a good quality balsamic vinegar which is low in calories and tastes delicious.

7. Fresh Tomatoes

The flavour of fresh tomatoes increases if they are served at room temperature before serving in salads or sauces. If using tomatoes in a sauce, try adding a little sugar to balance the acidity.

8. Gremolata

Use a gremolata instead of a creamy or oily sauce to add flavour to a steak or fish. A gremolata is an Italian garnish of fresh parsley, finely chopped garlic and lemon zest. It adds a huge amount of flavour whilst keeping the fat content and calories of the dish low.

9. Healthy Dolce

Dolce means dessert in Italian but this does not mean you need to have a calorific last course. Try a nice healthy fruit salad which you’ll find helps conquer the sugar cravings following your meal.

10. Make your own sauces

By making your sauces from scratch, you’ll exactly know what’s going in. Many of the supermarket jars contain added sugar and preservatives. If you’re really adventurous, have a go at making your own pasta or pastry.