Week 3, Meal 3

A Healthy Italian Lunch 

In Italy we eat in courses.  Primo piatto or first plate pasta, rice, or soup.  Secondo piatto / second plate meat and vegetables. Insalata - salad follows  the second plate and is a healthy strategy because the high fiber foods of a salad clean the digestive tract, keep you satiated and the diversity of plants in a salad provide a wide range of nutrients.  Finally, Italians finish with dolce or sweets; however, sweets are not typically desserts except on special occasions.  In general Italian eat fresh, in season fruits at the end of the meal.  Fruit will satisfy the sweet tooth  Once again fruit will add to the feeling of being satiated and are always nutrient dense.  

Primo Piatto

This lunch started off with a SMALL bowl of pasta.  Follow the serving directions for pasta so that you don't over-carb.  It is also important to cook the pasta "al dente" which means the pasta is firm to the tooth.  Not only does it taste better, but it keeps the pasta glycemic index low so that it does not create an insulin spike. I used Barilla rigatoni.  While the pasta was cooking I diced red and yellow bell peppers full of vitamin C.  I rinsed a can of cannellini beans that are super high in fiber and protein.   When the pasta is done, simply mix the beans and peppers with a drizzle of olive oil.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  

Secondo Piatto

When I got married my wife told me she hated tuna fish.  But she had not had it the Italian way.  Use albacore tuna fish packed in water.  Drain the water and put it in a bowl. Chop red onion and parsley.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  My wife and children love it, and it is an easy go-to for a quick lunch or snack.  Some of you may be concerned about the mercury levels in tuna.  Tuna consumed 1-2 times a month is not a concern.  Tuna is a lean source of protein.  The red onions are part of the Allium family, like garlic, and have numerous health benefits related to the sulfur compounds that fight cancer and promote cardiovascular health.  Parsley is as a dark, leafy green vegetable is a super food high in vitamin K,C,& A.  


Chop roughly romaine lettuce and raddicchio, slice a carrot and fennel. Lightly salt the salad ingredients with sea salt and black pepper.  Drizzle extra vigin olive oil.  Mix the salad.  Add white balsamic vinegar evenly drizzled over the salad ingredients and mix.  Romaine lettuce is heart healthy high in fiber and vitamin K. Raddicchio is a cruciferous vegetable in the cabbage family.  It is a cancer fighter!  Carrots are high in beta carotene and multiple anti-oxidants they are heart healthy cancer fighters.  Fennel has very unique phyto-nutrients that support the immune system.  


A bowl of red grapes

When I started this series I mentioned that a goal of mine is to see how many different colors and types of plants I could eat in a meal and through the day.  

Red Pepper

Yellow Pepper

Cannellini Beans


Red Onion

Romaine Lettuce




Red Grapes

That is 10 different plants and each contributes to our health in a different and unique way.  Try this meal!  It is healthy, filling and good!