When Nick Palmieri’s grandparents came to the United States from Italy, they brought with them the tradition of mouth-watering Italian cuisine and big family dinners. Palmieri households were known for hot bubbling plates of eggplant parmesan and homemade cheese ravioli. Neighbors ran errands for Nick’s family and mowed their lawn, hoping for invitations to dinner.
Those dinners looked like this:
- Lasagna and fried calamari
- Garlic bread dripped with olive oil and butter
- Desserts of cream-filled cannolis and other Italian pastries
To resume it was high in calories, carbohydrats and fat. As we all know, not the best combination to maintain a healthy body weight.
So when Nick Palmieri had a heart attack at age 47, the family had a problem. The doctors told Nick he had to lose weight, exercise more, and change his diet:
- less fat
- fewer calories
- lower salt content
A Welcome Home Meal
When Nick came home from the hospital, his family presented him with a welcome home dinner. But unlike earlier dinners, this was a heart-healthy, low-fat meal.
- Minestrone soup
- Tender roast chicken and pasta primavera with fresh garden vegetables
- A colorful platter of crisp steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, and mushrooms
- Fresh fruit and Italian ices
Cooking Tips to go from High-fat to Low-fat
The Palmieris used their superb cooking skills to convert their rich cuisine to low-fat, low-calorie healthy cooking, without sacrificing the tastiness of the food or the pleasure of the diners. They did this by serving more vegetables, leaner meats and fewer cheeses. They relied on tomato sauces for their pasta instead of cream sauces. By adding more Italian herbs they cut down on salt without losing flavor. They eliminated butter and used less oil, and only olive and canola oils.
As the Palmieri family learned, a few basic changes can convert a heavy menu to a healthy menu, whether the food is Italian, Chinese, or good old American:
- Substitute olive, canola, and corn oil for highly saturated oils such as palm and cocoanut oils and solid shortenings.
- Reduce salt (sodium).
- Use herbs, pepper, and salt-free seasonings instead.
- Consume fewer processed foods like sauces and soups, most of which are high in sodium.
- Fried, au gratin, crispy, pan-fried, sautéed, stuffed, or escalloped foods tend to be high in fat and calories. Steam, bake, broil, grill, poach, or roast food for less fat and fewer calories.
Like many families, the Palmieris express their love for each other through food. There is no better way as to serve food that is both: delicious and healthy.
On the side of the American Heart Association you will find more healthy nutrition tips.