I think one of the main reasons I wasn't particularly fond of the food my mom prepared for us was that I simply don't have a basic 'meat and potatoes' palate. I like diversity! I like trying new foods, from exotic lands that I'm determined to experience some day. One of my most favorite cuisines is Italian. To me, you can almost taste the love in every dish.
There aren't a lot of Italian restaurants on this little island in the middle of the northern Atlantic. There are several restaurants that do have Italian dishes, along with burgers and steaks, chicken and fish, but they aren't specifcially Italian. There is one national chain that is Italian and they don't do a bad job at it but it's pretty much a hit or miss experience. One of my favorite Italian chains is The Olive Garden, but I've only dined there while travelling.
Much to my dismay, though, somewhere along the line, I found the nutritional information on their fettuccine alfredo and it broke my heart, (figuratively of course, although to indulge regularly I'm sure literally would also apply). Each serving of Fettuccine Alfredo at The Olive Garden has 1,220 calories, 75 g of fat, 47g of which are saturated, and 1,350 mg sodium! This would just not do!
With my love for fettuccine alfredo to inspire me, I was determined to 'healthy-up' my most beloved of Itailan fare. It was definitely a labor of love. I wanted to dramatically reduce the fat, sodium and overall calories, increase the protein and other vitamins, and NOT sacrifice the flavor. I hasten to tell you that, at the very moment I was satisfied I had ticked all of those boxes, my youngest daughter and her friend walked through the door, and, well, she was a tad embarrassed.
Why you may ask? Well, let's see.....picture in your head a middle age woman in her kitchen, hair dishevelled, head thrown back, dancing around her kitchen doing the Snoopy Happy Dance, singing 'Mama Mia'. Ya...you probably can see where I'm going with this. It wasn't necessarily my finest moment, but hey...I had achieved my goal!
What was even better was the validation I got from my family, and many people since, that my fettuccine alfredo with chicken and vegetables was better than any they'd had before. But what's even better is seeing their faces when I tell them my recipe is low fat, low sodium, low calorie, high in protein and fiber (both soluble and non-soluble), and rich in vitamins C, A, K, B complex, as well as iron, phosphorous and phyto-nutrients.* Sometimes my family just looks at me with a mixture of fear and surprise when I excitedly tell them how beneficial the tasty meal they've just eaten is, (I tend to get a tad hyper with the whole process), but at the end of the day, I've re-created a favorite dish, that's much healthier than the original, maintained the flavor and improved on it's nutritional benefits. It's moments like that, that I realize why I'm driven to do what I do.
You can find the recipe for my low fat, low sodium, high flavor,, Mama Mia Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and vegetables under 'Poultry' in the Recipe section of the navigation menu above. I kid you not, it takes less than 30 minutes from start to table to make this dish and not only is it fantastic with a starter salad for dinner, its great re-heated for lunch the next day.
*Phyto-nutrients are compounds found in plants that are believed to lower the risk of developing diabetes, heart diesease and certain cancers. Carotenoids and flavenoids are two types of phyto nutrients. (USDA's Agricultural Research Service).