Navigating restaurant menus can be a challenge, particularly when the nutritional information isn’t readily available. Registered and licensed dietitian Karyn Capozzo of Appleaday Lifestyle Counseling in Bonita Springs dug into the menu at Angelina’s Ristorante to identify some of its healthiest options, as well as some tips for deciphering your best bets for appetizers and entrées that won’t break the calorie budget.
Eating a home-prepared meal allows you to be in control, but when you’re at a restaurant, you’re at the mercy of the chef. And while large chains often provide nutritional information for all menu items, smaller, locally owned spots—like Angelina’s in Bonita Springs—may not. Even so, most restaurants do offer a few options that will let you stick to your healthy meal plan—if you know what to look for.
When reading a menu, keep an eye out for certain key words. “Light,” “broth,” “baked” or “grilled” typically refer to healthier items. However, stay away from those terms that mean unwanted extra fat and calories, like “fried,” “crispy,” “creamy” or “sautéed.” Dishes with lots of cheese and other saturated fats, like bacon, can add up in calories and fat quickly, even if the base of the dish is a light fish or seafood.
If you know you are dining out at a spot that has rich foods that are higher in fat and calories, plan your day accordingly. That doesn’t mean you should skip a meal; however, you should eat lighter than usual at breakfast and lunch to allow for the extra calories at that special meal.
Also keep in mind that most restaurants serve large portions, so take half home for another meal, or share with a friend to keep the amount you eat in check. As always, eat slowly, and when you feel full, stop eating. Instead, focus on conversation and enjoy every bite.
Cozze alla Puttanesca
These Maine mussels are simmered in a light broth of spicy tomatoes and green olives. Mussels are a great source of iron, and the green olives provide a good, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. This could also make a nice entree.
Zuppa di Ribollita
This hearty, classic Italian soup is made with cannellini beans, mixed vegetables, black kale and roasted pork. This is another great choice for a starter, as the beans, vegetables and kale make it a great source of fiber. It’s also broth-based, which is lighter than a cream-based variety.
Risotto di Aragosta e Gameretti alla Fra Diavolo
If pasta or risotto are your favorites, Angelina’s offers some great choices. My favorite is this spicy risotto. The Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp are served in a tomato broth with fresh spices. You will get protein from the seafood, along with lots of energy from the carbohydrate in the risotto.
Although cheese in small amounts is fine, be aware that pastas made with cheese and cream sauces will add too many extra calories and fat that is not heart-healthy. If you like cheese, order something like this risotto and add a small amount of Parmesan cheese to add flavor. You only need a small amount of this strong-flavored cheese to add a lot of flavor.
Costarella di Agnello
Angelina’s offers a fantastic variety of entrees that include fish, seafood and other proteins. If you are thinking lean, you don’t always have to do fish or seafood. Some red meats, such as lamb, can be healthy choices for your protein. This marinated lamb with risotto is a nice balance of lean meat and good carbohydrates.