Ten Healthy Italian Recipes

Not all Italian-inspired recipes have to be filled with carbs and calories. Here's 10 recipes to create healthy meals.

Italian ingredients image via shutterstock

Italian ingredients image via shutterstock

Italian food is much more than just mounds of melty cheese and crispy sausage. Roasted veggies, lots of herbs, lean meats, healthy oils, and a lemony finish is the foundation of many traditional Italian dishes. And you don’t have to lose all the cheese to be healthy. Part-skim mozzarella and low fat ricotta cheeses make great swaps for reducing fat and calories. If you keep the veggie-to-cheese proportion in check you’ll be able to enjoy all the deliciousness that Italian food has to offer.

1. Italian Chicken Salad
via Cooking and Beer

This recipe drops the mayo in favor of a lemon vinaigrette. Instead of wrapping the salad in tortillas, try using whole wheat pitas or just top some greens with the chicken and toss the whole thing with the vinaigrette. You might not need the whole cup of olive oil, so only add enough for the desired consistency.

2. Pizza Stuffed Zucchini Boats
via Damn Delicious

Your kids (or friends) won’t care about the missing bread when you serve up this recipe. If you like a little heat, try adding hot sauce to the marinara or a pinch of red pepper flakes to the ground turkey. When buying marinara sauce, look for a low sodium or an organic brand to cut down on sodium levels.

3. Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole
via The Iron You

What’s better than the flavors of eggplant parm with half the hassle and a fraction of the calories? You won’t need a breading station or a fry pan for this recipe. If you’re using good quality Parmesan and Romano cheeses, then using the full amount listing in the recipe is okay. If you have a bagged cheese, then cut the recommended amount in half.

4. Baked Turkey Meatball
via Pick Fresh Foods

Healthy meatballs are a great go-to recipe for a quick weeknight meal. These work with lean turkey, tomato sauce, and ground oats for a healthy and hearty mix. You can make a modified meatball sandwich with a pita or top over a pile of whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash.

5. Tomato and Zucchini Frittata
via Skinny Taste

This is a little Italian spin on brunch with a vegetable frittata. For added flavor try mixing in dried herbs before cooking. Top with fresh herbs when it comes out of the oven. Basil, tarragon and dill are all good choices.

6. Naked Turkey Bruschetta Burgers
via Skinny Taste

These burgers have an added bonus of shredded zucchini and then piles a healthy helping of bruschetta topping. There’s no bread involved so an extra helping is encouraged. If you aren’t a fan of raw garlic, then sauté the two cloves in a little olive oil until it’s fragrant and translucent.

7. Cioppino
via Food Network

Instead of reaching for a creamy chowder, try this recipe that pairs fish, mussels, and shrimp in a tomato and white wine broth. You can buy fish stock at the grocery store but be sure to get a low sodium variety. This is a recipe for a nice dinner with friends to celebrate fall.

8. Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup
via Cooking Light

Everyone should have a quick soup that tastes like you slaved over the store for hours. The dried shiitake mushrooms are the key to flavor in this soup. Don’t add any salt until the reserved mushroom liquid has been added. Reconstituting mushrooms can leave a salty liquid that can season an entire soup.

9. Pasta-less Vegetarian Lasagna
via Honest Cooking

This recipe uses strips of zucchini in place of pasta which takes the carb factor of this lasagna way down. Try using low fat ricotta cheese and adding in your favorite vegetables like roasted red peppers, caramelized onions or roasted butternut squash to personalize this recipe.

10. Italian Wedding Soup
via Marin Mama Cooks

This soup is all about being hearty without the heft. Chicken meatballs, veggies, and a little pasta (try using whole wheat pasta) all cooked together for a family-friendly dinner for any night of the week. You can make and form the meatballs ahead of time.