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Low-Carb Italian Feasts

June 15, 2013 Carlino's Restaurant no comments

“Go Italian and enjoy the excitement of Mediterranean dining”

Over the past few years, low-carb eating plans have soared in popularity. From athletes in training to health-conscious diners who want to stay trim, many people have embraced a diet rich in leafy vegetables, lean protein and healthy oils. Mediterranean meals are often naturally low in carbohydrates, so if you’re counting carbs, you can still enjoy an Italian feast.

Antipasti and Salads 

If you’re going low-carb, start with a great antipasto plate. “Antipasto” literally means “before the pasta,” but you can also think of it as the opposite of pasta – full of protein in salumi, pungent cheeses and ripe olives. Marinated asparagus spears, artichoke hearts or peppers add flavor without contributing carbohydrates. Hot or cold, antipasti are an excellent choice for a light low-carb lunch or to begin your dinner.

Low-carb eating plans sometimes skimp on the fiber, but not when you add a salad. Salads bring a healthful array of vitamins and minerals to the table, too. Ask for your salad wtihout croutons to cut the carbs; instead, get crunch from slivered nuts, radishes or matchstick carrots. Although root vegetables do have carbs, the amount in a light sprinkling of carrots is negligible even on a very low-carb plan. An insalata Caprese or tricolore salad is a phenomenal low-carb option. With vitamin C from fresh tomatoes, calcium in the house-made mozzarella and a boost of flavor from basil, it’s a great choice for summer dining.

 Low-Carb Entrees

Pasta dishes are wonderful, but they’re far from the only options available. Find low-carbohydrate options among the chicken, veal and seafood dishes on the menu. Anything cooked in wine is a good choice. Wine is relatively low in carbohydrates at about 5 grams per glass, and a dish cooked in wine is even lower in carbs per serving. Chicken marsala enlivened with mushrooms and herbs is a low-carb staple. Veal sorrentino’s layers of eggplant and mozzarella are another great choice. On the seafood menu, any grilled or broiled catch of the day fits a low-carb plan as long as it isn’t breaded. Clams posillipo is a local favorite that happens to be virtually carb-free.

Pair your entree with any sauteed green, leafy vegetable, and you have a feast. Broccoli rabe and spinach are essential for fiber and nutrients, but you won’t be thinking about that when you’re eating them; in the hands of a talented chef, they’re tasty enough to be a treat, not an obligation. If you’re dining with a crowd, order a few sides and pass them around family-style so everyone gets more variety on the plate.

Some plans that monitor carbs allow moderate whole grain portions. If you’re splurging with a few carbs in an otherwise low-carbohydrate plan, you might find what you’re looking for with a whole wheat pizza crust. Choose a thin crust to minimize carbs and max out on healthful, flavorful toppings. A grandma-style thicker crust also works if you’re stepping up or down from a more tightly controlled plan. Onions, peppers, extra cheese and any kind of meat will work well on a whole wheat crust.

One of the toughest parts of maintaining healthy eating habits is avoiding boredom. When you’re tired of low-carb wraps and bun-free burgers, go Italian and enjoy the excitement of Mediterranean dining.

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