Making Flavorful Italian Meals

Re-creating the flavors of Italy in your own kitchen is a snap.
Roasted peppers add color and flavor to Italian meals.

Select the freshest ingredients you can afford. Buy fruits and vegetables in season, check to make sure meats and fish are fresh with no signs of spoilage, and look for natural cheeses that are free from molds. Then follow these tips for high-flavor, low-fat cooking:

  • Select strong-flavored hard cheeses such as Parmesan and Romano. Grate them extra fine to make a small amount go further.
  • Substitute reduced-fat or fat-free cheeses, such as mozzarella and ricotta, for regular types in your favorite lasagna recipe.
  • Use extra-virgin olive oil to complement the flavor of raw or finished dishes such as salads, soups, and focaccias. Because of its fruity flavor, a drizzle is all you need.
  • Roast vegetables with a small amount of olive oil to intensify their flavor.
  • Use sun-dried tomatoes and dried porcini mushrooms to add intense flavor to dishes without adding fat.
  • Top pizza, focaccia, and sandwiches with roasted red, green, and yellow peppers for high-impact color and flavor.
  • Use fresh and dried spices and herbs to add flavor without fat or salt.
  • Toast pine nuts and other nuts before adding them to the recipe. Toasting brings out their rich flavor so you can use fewer of them.

Determining Your Fat Budget

To translate 30 percent calories from fat to fat grams, take the number of calories you need in a day, multiply by 30 percent (or .3) and divide by 9 (the number of calories in one gram of fat):

Daily Calories/Your Daily Fat Budget

  • 1,200/40 grams
  • 1,600/53 grams
  • 1,800/60 grams
  • 2,000/67 grams

Note: Guidelines on food labels are based on 2,000 calories a day. The fat grams, based on the recommendation of no more than 30 percent of calories from fat, are rounded off to 65 on all food labels.

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