Great ways to reduce the calorie count in a wide range of Italian meals…
Use nonfat Greek yogurt in place of cream and sour cream. Cream has about 800 calories per cup and sour cream 500—but nonfat Greek yogurt has just 90. Yet Greek yogurt is so creamy that it doesn’t taste low-fat.
Use this tasty recipe for a low-cal olive oil substitute. Olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. To make a delicious olive oil substitute that has just 28 calories per tablespoon, put one cup water and five and one-quarter tablespoons olive juice from a jar of garlic-stuffed green olives—Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives are a good choice (www.Mezzetta.com)—into a blender, and blend at the lowest setting. Sprinkle in one-eighth teaspoon of xanthan gum, and continue blending until the mixture thickens, which should take about a minute. Increase blender speed to medium, and pour in two-and-a-half tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a steady stream. Increase blender speed to high, and pour in an additional two-and-a-half tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Continue blending until the mixture is homogenous, which should take perhaps 30 seconds. Refrigerate in a jar until needed.
Warning: This “Super Olive Oil” is only for seasoning, finishing and salad dressings, not for sautéing or frying—heat makes it separate.
Use balsamic vinegar as a flavor enhancer. Its sweet-tart flavor adds a wonderful zip to salad dressings, marinades, pastas and meats with almost no fat, calories or sodium.
Helpful: Look for DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), an Italian quality-assurance certification. The vinegar is sweetened with grape must, a sugar.
Use whole-wheat panko bread crumbs in place of conventional bread crumbs. Panko, an airy, crustless bread invented by the Japanese, makes lighter, crispier bread crumbs than other breads and does not absorb oil as readily.
Helpful: Panko bread crumbs are particularly effective for faux frying. Coat chicken, fish or onion rings in these crumbs, lightly coat with cooking spray, then bake at high heat.