You can’t throw a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Boca without hitting an Italian restaurant. Calorie counters, especially, have a love-hate relationship with the cuisine; we love how it tastes, but we hate how it weighs us down. Is it possible to enjoy a guilt-free Italian meal? You bet—and here’s how:
• Pasta: The word “cream” with any pasta dish screams “calories, calories, calories.” And with good reason: They’re packed with loads of saturated fat. My suggestion is to skip the Alfredo and go for pastas with tomato-based sauces, which are high in heart-healthy lycopene and low in fat and calories.
• Antipasti: Loaded with veggies, the antipasti servings at an Italian restaurant are culinary paradise for health-conscious diners like me. This is a great opportunity to try different types of vegetables; a skilled chef can transform ordinary eggplant into decadent melanzane with the right Italian touch. One of my favorite places for antipasti in Boca is Trattoria Romana (499 E. Palmetto Park Road, 561/393-6715); you can make an entire main course out of their outstanding antipasti selection.
• The great grill: If you’re watching your carbs as much as calories, then go for perfectly seasoned, oil-free grilled items at your favorite Italian spot. Hungry for fish? Try the white, wild-caught variety that is popular in Northern Italy. Get a side of grilled vegetables and lightly drizzle some olive oil for extra flavor.
• Pizza: Did you know that traditional Italian pizza is thin and flaky and doesn’t have as much cheese as American versions? If you are craving the real deal, try one of the authentic Neapolitan pies—baked at high temperature in a wood-burning oven—at Scuola Vecchia in Delray Beach (522 E. Atlantic Ave., 561/865-5923). Note: Ask the server at your favorite pizza place if the restaurant has vegan cheese; you get all the flavor and save some calories.
• Green Goddess favorite: If I don’t find anything on the menu that piques my interest, I usually ask the chef to make me a plate of oil-free, sautéed spinach with mushrooms, fresh oregano, tomatoes and house-made tomato sauce. I invented this dish with the help of the wonderful chefs at Villagio at Mizner Park in Boca (344 Plaza Real, 561/447-2257) and fell in love with this creation. I now order it at other restaurants as well.
• Dessert: If you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth without the caloric damage, skip the heavy tiramisu and indulge in one scoop of true Italian gelato. Unlike American ice cream, gelato is lower in fat and choices can include great dairy-free options besides traditional flavors. Nobody does it better locally than Sonny’s Gelato Café in Boca (2151 N. Federal Highway, 561/362-0447).
About Alina Z.
Alina Z., aka “The Green Goddess,” is a certified holistic health coach, detox specialist and raw-food chef (she conducts occasional classes at Whole Foods in Boca). Prior to moving to Florida, Alina hosted her own TV show in Maryland—“Entertaining A to Z”—for people who didn’t have time to cook but wanted to eat healthy. Catch one of her web episodes at eHow.com, visit Alina’s website at alinazhealthcoach.com, or follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/fabulousfoodAZ) or Twitter (@FabulousFood). The Green Goddess blog runs every other Wednesday at bocamag.com.