Italian recipes are heavily inspired by Mediterranean ways of eating, which has a focus on healthy, natural ingredients like olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, whole grains, and leafy greens. Health benefits of this type of diet may include moderated blood sugar levels, weight loss, and mood elevation.
We sat down with Chef James Burns of Pazzo Pazzo Italian Cuisine to find out exactly what his main kitchen staples are. Chef James Burns has been cooking Italian dishes for as long as he can remember and has a insatiable passion for Italian cuisine. His restaurant draws attention from all over the world and is known for authentic, fresh, large dishes that are fit to satisfy any appetite! Book your reservation here or call us at (780) 425-7711.
Use olive oil when cooking instead of other oils or butter. Olive oil is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes and has less saturated fat. Olive oil may lower bad cholesterol while increasing levels of good cholesterol. Olive oil can be added to dishes for cooking, used in salad dressing, or even used instead of butter in baking.
Ripe, fresh tomatoes can be used in salads, soups, or turned into a healthy pasta sauce. Tomatoes contain plenty of vitamin C and lycopene, which can help to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Vitamin A, folate, and potassium are also contained in tomatoes. For a quick tomato-based snack, try slicing them onto toast with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Seafood is a great protein source and is found in many Italian meals. Both fish and shellfish appear in Italian dishes, sometimes together in the same recipe. Seafood like mussels, squid, shrimp, and sea bass offer a lot of great protein and fattier fish like tuna and salmon offer additional omega-3 fatty acids. For a healthy balance, use seafood in two or three meals per week. For an easy fix, toss some scallops or shrimp into your pasta dish at dinner.
For a long time now, health experts have praised whole grains for the benefits they contribute to a proper diet. Mediterranean meals traditionally focus on unrefined grains, like whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, barley, and so on. Whole grains contain a lower glycemic levels and so are digested slowly, preventing insulin and glucose from spiking after eating. Unrefined grains also have high fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, and other antioxidants. Whole grains help to prevent diabetes and heart disease, among other things. Try making your favourite Italian pasta recipe with whole grain pasta.
In Italy, nut trees are very common. Because they can be readily grown across the country, nuts are a favourite snack. They can also be mixed into salads or ground into sauces. Nuts provide a great source of protein—protein that has lots of arginine, which is required for the maintenance of healthy blood vessels. They also contain fiber, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and folate, all of which are important to a healthy diet. Chopped nuts are a great topper for salads or can be mixed into the batter when baking sweets.
Dark leafy greens make their way into many Italian recipes like broccoli rabe, which is often served with anchovy, sausage, and hot pepper. Dark greens have so many nutrients, it’s hard to know where to start. They have a ton of vitamin A, C, K, plenty of antioxidants, and contain fiber. When preparing a salad, try including chard, kale, collards, or spinach leaves for an added nutrition boost. Make your dressing with olive oil and toss some nuts on top and you’ve got a triple whammy!
Red wine is often served with Italian meals and, so long as it is enjoyed in moderation, can maintain healthy blood sugar levels, aid in digestion, and encourage “good” HDL cholesterol. Serve a 5-ounce portion with your meal, focusing on wines like Chianti, whose floral, cherry, and light nutty flavor will pair well with the earthiness of much Italian food.
By keeping these 7 crucial ingredients in mind, you can make the most out of your Italian cuisine.