Italian food, it is healthy… really!
As we enter into each new year, people have this idea of eating well and the phrase clean eating has become very fashionable. Every year prognosticators present lists of trends that will be hot in the months ahead in a host of areas. Food is no exception. Not all of the predicted food trends actually take off, of course—and not all of them should. There was a recent article in the Daily Mail about how high street Italian restaurants are serving up to 3 times the recommended fat into just one meal. I was intrigued by this statement because Italian cooking is traditionally healthy. The famous Olivio TV advert where Italians live longer and BBC wrote an article supporting that statement. So why do pasta-loving Italians live longer?
Italian, celebrity chef, Gino D’Acampo is an advocate of good, healthy Italian cooking. Gino shared his top tips for keeping Italian dishes authentic and healthy. This is what we like to practice in Alfresco so that you are not consuming 3 times the daily fat consumption in one meal. Gino has some very good points.
1. Keep it seasonal
Wherever possible, ingredients should be bought in season as the typical Italian diet uses fresh produce. This helps to give dishes a fantastic flavour and means you don’t have to add loads of fat, salt or sugar to improve taste. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are also usually more nutrient dense and therefore better for you. Italians love to wander around local markets to select their ingredients – it’s part of enjoying food. In Alfresco we only buy fresh. We even dry our own herbs. We change our menu seasonally too so we can keep up with the fresh ingredients. We will not put mussels on our menu if they are not in season as you cannot get them fresh.
2. Don’t overdo the pasta
Pasta should be cooked al dente. We cook our pasta to just that and this has a lower glycemic index than soft, overcooked pasta – so it is good for filling you up and keeping you satisfied for longer.
3. Change your oils
We use quality olive oil to cook with. It is more expensive but it is more authentic and much better for you. Virgin olive oil is high in good fats like monounsaturated and omega 3 as well as containing anti-oxidants.
Fish is a great part of your diet and being a seafront Italian restaurant there is always plenty of fish on our menu. Fish is a very important part of the Italian diet and we also use a lot of shellfish, which are high in nutrients – you can’t beat a tasty seafood platter.
5. Cook from scratch
We cook from scratch. You’ll also know exactly what’s going into your dish and onto your plate this way. This is better for people with allergies too as we can guide them appropriately but it also tastes much better!
Swap your calorific dessert for a nice healthy sorbet!
7. Salad dressing
Our salad dressings are homemade and use good quality and flavoursome aged balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is low in calories.
We try and flavour our fish and meat dishes with gremolata. Instead of a creamy or oily sauce we garnish using raw, finely chopped garlic, fresh parsley and lemon zest and when it is sprinkled on top of your fish or meat at the end of cooking it adds huge amounts of flavour without the calories or fat.
Do not be put off by eating Italian. Italian cuisine should follow the Mediterranean pattern of eating—it focuses on simple, natural ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, dark leafy greens and whole grains, making it one of the world’s healthiest and tastiest dishes!
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