When most people think of carbonara, the first thing that comes to mind is fat and calories. Traditionally, this dish is made with a creamy sauce made from egg yolks and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese along with bacon, which makes it seem like a heart attack waiting to happen. However, this delicious and hearty dish can be made in a healthy way. It all depends on the ingredients you use. With some tweaks to the sauce, using light or low-fat versions of other ingredients, and using healthier variations of other ingredients, you can make a version of this dish that’s nutritious as well as delicious. Here are some facts about carbonara and tips for making it as healthy as possible.
Is Carbonara Healthy?
The classic carbonara dish is made with bacon, eggs, cheese, and pasta. It’s a high-fat and high-calorie meal, but it can be made healthier by using turkey bacon or ham instead of regular bacon, low-fat cheese, and whole-wheat pasta. You can also lighten up the sauce by using milk or half-and-half instead of cream.
Calories In Carbonara
- Carbonara is a traditional dish from southern Italy. It is a hearty pasta dish served with bacon and cream sauce. The ingredients for the carbonara sauce include Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggs, and bacon.
- Carbonara has about 1,500 calories per serving (1 cup) of the traditional version. This number does not include the additional calories from bacon or other ingredients added to the dish.
- If you substitute light cream for heavy cream in the traditional recipe, you can cut about 300 calories per serving (1 cup). This is because light cream has less fat than heavy cream. For example, half-and-half has only 45 calories per serving while whole milk has 240 calories per serving. This means that using half-and-half instead of heavy cream will save you approximately 140 calories per serving compared to using heavy cream alone in your carbonara sauce.
- If you use skim milk instead of heavy cream in your carbonara, you can cut another 180 calories per serving. Skim milk has only about 110 calories per serving, so it will save you about 90 calories per serving compared to heavy cream.
- If you use low-fat cheese in your carbonara instead of regular cheese, you can save another 50 calories per serving. Regular Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has around 250 calories per ounce while low-fat Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has only 100 calories per ounce. Using low-fat cheese will save you about 170 calories compared to using regular Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in your carbonara sauce.
Healthy Fats In Carbonara
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil can be used in many recipes, but it is especially good for making pasta dishes. It is a healthy fat that is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are nutrients that help fight disease and cancer. Olive oil also contains monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats because they lower triglyceride levels which are considered unhealthy. Olive oil also contains polyphenols, which help to prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Without olive oil in your diet, you run the risk of having heart problems and possibly even death due to coronary artery disease or other issues such as stroke. This dish makes the best use of olive oil because it combines it with other ingredients to make a sauce where the health benefits of olive oil shine through.
2. Red Wine Vinegar
Many people think that red wine vinegar has a high acidity level and can make them sick; however, this is not the case. Red wine vinegar has a lower acidity level than white wine vinegar. It is also made from the same ingredients and has the same benefits as white wine vinegar.
Garlic is a great source of antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease and cancer, which are two big problems in our world today. Not only does garlic have antioxidants, but it also contains sulfur, which helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. When you cook with garlic, it releases all of its benefits into your food without you even realizing it because the smell of garlic is so strong that people can easily pick up on its presence when they are cooking with it! Garlic is great for adding flavor to foods like pasta sauces and carbonara because you don’t need much of it to get a lot of flavors. One clove of garlic has about 20 times more flavor than one teaspoon! Garlic should always be added at the end of cooking or right before serving because it will release its most powerful flavors and nutrients into the dish.
4. Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese has a lot of benefits to it, but one of the most important ones is that it is an antioxidant. The amount of antioxidants in Parmesan cheese is equivalent to that of blueberries and carrots! This type of cheese also contains an amino acid called cysteine, which helps to fight infection and inflammation. Without this amino acid in your diet, you will likely develop bacterial infections that may cause serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This is what makes this type of cheese so great for making a healthy carbonara because it contains all these great nutrients without being too overpowering like some cheeses can be!
Protein In Carbonara
- Bacon: a staple in carbonara, bacon is a high-fat meat. If you use low-fat bacon, you can substitute it for another source of protein such as chicken or shrimp.
- Shrimp: a great source of protein and low in fat, shrimp would be another good alternative to replace the bacon in the carbonara sauce.
- Chicken: chicken has more flavor than shrimp and is also a good source of protein and calcium. If you do not like chicken, substitute it with turkey or veal and add some fresh herbs to give it extra flavor.
- Prawns (shrimp): prawns are an excellent source of protein and have less fat than shrimp or salmon but they are still high in calories so don’t use too many of them if you’re trying to lose weight or keep your weight under control while eating this dish regularly. You can also try substituting them with crab meat instead if you don’t like the taste of shrimp.
- Salmon: this is a good source of protein and is low in fat. Salmon, however, tends to be expensive so if you can’t afford it substitute it with other types of fish like tuna or tilapia.
- Tuna: is a good source of protein and is also low in fat but it can be expensive so if you can’t afford it substitute it with another type of fish like salmon or tilapia.
Tips For Making Healthy Carbonara
- Make sure you use light or low-fat versions of the ingredients you use. For example, use part-skim mozzarella instead of regular mozzarella and use reduced-fat cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese.
- If you want to make your carbonara a heartier meal, add some cooked chicken or turkey sausage to the sauce.
- Consider using whole-grain pasta if it is available. It’s a good choice because it is lower in calories than regular pasta and has more fiber than white pasta.
- Add some vegetables to the sauce, such as spinach or broccoli.
- Make the sauce with a little less fat and salt than your traditional recipe calls for.
Carbonara is a rich and delicious pasta dish. When it’s made with wholesome ingredients, it’s a great source of protein and a delicious way to start your day. When you’re making it, though, you want to be careful to choose healthier ingredients. Pick whole grain pasta, low-fat milk and cream, and healthier toppings for the dish such as chopped herbs. With these tips, you can make a healthy version of carbonara that’s also delicious. This is definitely a meal you can feel good about eating!