Italian food is delicious. Creamy sauces topped with melted cheese layered on top of al dente pasta and crispy pizzas topped with flavorful tomato sauce, need we say more? While it’s a delight for your taste buds, it could mean trouble for your waistline. With summer around the corner, it’s normal to cut back on calories. But it’s not always fun. Until today! If you’re an Italian food fanatic, you’ll be happy to know that you can have the best of both worlds. Below, you’ll find quick and flavorful Italian dishes that will help you reach your goal weight.
Quick Italian Bread Recipe
Bread is a staple in Italian cuisine, served alongside most dishes. What makes the westernized versions of this delectable food noncalorie friendly is the amount of garlic butter we slather over the top. Don’t let that get your swimsuit hopes up. You can still enjoy the same flavors of Italian bread by making a few substitutions. Instead of butter, go for olive oil seasoned with herbs like oregano and rosemary. Brush it over the top of the loaf and pop it in the oven for a hit your entire family will love.
Easy Italian Salad Recipe
Salads are the perfect choice when watching your weight. The only thing you have to be cautious of is the dressing, making sure it’s not too fatty. Italian salads come with leafy greens, olives, tomatoes, onions, and parmesan cheese. If you’re counting calories, you can skip the cheese or go for a low-fat version. As for the dressing, which is the start of the plate, it’s quite simple. Instead of anything heavy, Italian dressing consists of olive oil, vinegar, and spices like salt, basil, and oregano.
Quick Italian Beef Recipe
Upping your protein intake helps you to lose weight by kicking your metabolism into gear. The best way to feed your body protein is to choose lean cuts like a boneless chuck roast. Ask your butcher to trim the fat off for a high protein and low-fat Italian meal that you can enjoy for lunch or dinner. To add an Italian kick to a roast, season with Italian dressing, pepperoncini, salt, and pepper to taste. If you have a slow cooker, plug it up in the morning for a delicious home-cooked meal that you can enjoy after a long day.
Minestrone Soup (Light Version)
The traditional version of this tasty soup dish is a bit filling. It’s filled with shell macaroni that takes the calorie count up a few hundred points. To keep all the savory flavor without all the puffy feelings after, you’ll only have to make a few changes. Go for a gluten-free spaghetti or even a vegetable noodle that you can find in most supermarkets these days. Minestrone is not only easy to make but also a natural vegetarian dish that most people love.
Meatballs and Marinara
We don’t want to down talk noodles because a bit of carbohydrates are a godsend. Just steer clear of stuffing yourself when it comes to pasta, as it increases the calories and has gluten, carbs, and lots of salt. The meatball is a staple Italian item but comes packed with cheese and usually fried before stuck in the oven. Dipped in egg and breaded in flour, the traditional meatball is a bomb of fat. With a carb-friendly version, you can stick them straight in the oven. Add enough seasoning to forget all about the traditional version.
If you’ve ever ordered a salad in an Italian restaurant, you’ve more than likely tried Caprese. It’s got thick slices of mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, pieces of fresh basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. To give the original version a makeover and enjoy a better one to help you with your weight loss goals, opt for lower fat mozzarella cheese and increase the number of tomatoes. You can still enjoy the same dressing, adding a few herbs and spices on the top to give it an extra kick. Go for oregano, pepper, rosemary, and a bit of cayenne to amp up your metabolism.
Italian Wedding Soup
Italian wedding soup has savory meatballs and white bread crumbs. Together, these ingredients make a hearty and filling meal that mimics that butterfly feeling in the stomach. You can still get warm and fuzzy with this delicious version to keep that waist slim and trim for the summer months. Switching chicken for the meatballs and oats instead of breadcrumbs, you’ll have a delicious and nutritious soup that will keep you full throughout the whole day. Instead of serving with bread, try out a low-fat version of croutons that you can find in any bread sections in the grocery store.
Olive Garden’s Famous Salad
One thing that everyone can agree on is that the salad from Olive Garden is the bomb! The salty, crunchy, and sour flavors of all the fresh chopped ingredients blend together perfectly to create an explosion in the mouth that will keep you dipping back in for more. Pair that with OG’s famous breadsticks for your new addiction. To make it lighter, you should skip on the breadsticks (sorry) and go with a lighter dressing. To whip this up, make a base of olive oil and vinegar, and spices.
If you order this delight in a restaurant, you’re likely going to get a bowl full of meat and cheese. We will admit that this is super tasty but not so useful if you’re trying to keep the pounds off. But, by switching up a few things, adding others, and skipping on the cheese, you’ll have a well-balanced and overall healthier version of this Italian staple. You’ll mix together cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, peppers, mushrooms, and other veggies and drench them with a light dressing. You don’t have to leave the meat and cheese out but watch your portions and enjoy.
An Italian sauce with a pink tinge has a mixture of cream and tomato. This sauce will change the way you see Italian food forever. It is delicious and pairs well with everything from vegetables to proteins. This sauce comes paired with freshly made pasta and topped with extra grated cheese and crushed red pepper flakes. While you can keep the toppings, swap the cream for Greek yogurt and transform the sauce into a creamy delight that won’t make you regret it later. You can still add pasta but make it a veggie or whole wheat version so that it’s easily digestible.
These days, you can make things that taste like meat that have none. Things like tofu mimic the texture and absorb seasoning to maintain flavor. They are tough enough not to lose any during cooking. Going for a meatless Bolognese, you’ll skip on the cholesterol and salt and have a fiber and mineral-packed dish. Plus, instead of plain old spaghetti noodles, opting for zucchini noodles, you’ll have a delicious meal that is summer-friendly and bikini approved.
Lasagna is another staple Italian dish that everyone loves. Meat, meatless, packed with veggies, loaded with cheese, any and every version is spectacular and sets off fireworks in the mouth. The only bad thing about lasagna is that it has pasta, cheese, meat, and sweetened tomato sauce.
The traditional version has multiple types of cheese, from spreadable ricotta to parmesan. Almost every ingredient in lasagna is not calorie friendly; luckily, you can make some changes. Instead of ricotta, go for cottage cheese for a version that has half the fat. Try layering veggies on top of the meat to reduce your servings and create a varied meal. With these two changes, you’ll have a healthier version your tastebuds will love. Trust us; your thighs will thank you.
Flaky Thin Crust Pizza
Ordering takeout is easy. You can call in and have your food delivered right to your door. Ordering takeout is ok every once in a while, but it’s not so diet-friendly. When you’re focused on losing weight, takeout can be your worst enemy. Maybe reduce takeout nights to once a week or twice a month if you can.
We promise that, after you make your own thin-crust pizza at home, you won’t crave your pizza takeout as much as you think. You can mix and roll out your own crust or buy one at your local supermarket. Add olive oil or tomato sauce and layer yummy and healthy toppings like spinach, peppers, onions, garlic, and top it with a thin layer of cheese.
Eggplant is a yummy vegetable that takes in the texture of meat when breaded and baked. While popular Italian restaurants will place eggplant atop a bed of pasta, you can make a more waist-friendly version and skip that. Plus, instead of breading eggplant with a mixture of flour and egg, sprinkle with seasoning and a few breadcrumbs and pop them in the oven. They will take on the same texture without all of the added calories. Make a savory tomato sauce seasoned with herbs and spices. Then, top your baked and breaded eggplant with the sauce, and voila!
Carbonara has the following: bacon, cream, cheese, egg, and pasta. It doesn’t take a dietician to realize what’s wrong with this dish. The overabundance of flavor, fat, and creamy goodness makes it addicting. Making a few substitutions, you can keep the same flavors but enjoy a healthier version that you’ll be excited to make for dinner. Subbing bacon for turkey bacon and pasta for a whole wheat version, you can enjoy the flavors and savor the same sensations. Plus, add a little less cheese and watch your portions so that you can enjoy this dish more often.
Just because you’re trying to drop a few pounds doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a yummy dessert time or two. Tiramisu is an Italian classic with layered ladyfingers dipped in espresso and topped with cream. Not so good for weight loss, right? Well, you can still enjoy the coffee-infused classic by making a few changes. Change the sugar for honey and use ricotta instead of mascarpone cheese to have the same creamy sensation without all the calories. Also, to control your portions (trust us, you need to hear this!), try making tiramisu in muffin pans instead of a cake pan. Then, you can enjoy a sweet treat a bit at a time. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
The cannoli is an Italian pastry that gets its fame from the crunchy outside and creamy inside. Think of it as the Italian doughnut, sweet, savory, and irresistible. The original version is deep-fried in oil and stuffed with a creamy filling made from the sweetened cream cheese. You can make a healthier version that has the same finger-licking sensation without all the calories. All you’ll have to do is coat the cannoli with a bit of olive oil and fill it with a creamy and light whip sweetened with honey, and pop them into the oven. All we have left to say is yum.
The light and fluffy texture of Zabaglione gives it a rep for a light dessert. However, look up the ingredients, and you’ll find that it takes egg yolks and tons of sugar to make this airy and fluffy dessert. You can whip up the same texture with a little less sugar and add strawberries or other fruits for a healthier version and enjoy the same lovely texture and great taste.
Swap Don’t Stop
Just because you want to lose weight doesn’t mean you have to stop living your best life. Savor all the gifts of Italian cuisine while keeping yourself in line to strut your stuff this summer. Enjoy!