Chantal Royer, self-proclaimed foodie and travel enthusiast

True Italian food is a real pleasure when discovered and nirvana when eaten; while there are many eateries that lay claim to offering authentic cuisine, the real gems are few and far between. Many consumers may choose the quell the craving for traditional favorites prepared in their own kitchens out of necessity, utilizing the fine ingredients and classic techniques to create a sublime Italian meal.

Some may shy away from true Italian favorites, instead opting for foods that are perceived as more healthy or less caloric. There is no reason why consumers experimenting with Italian fare in their own kitchens can't implement a few health-friendly tactics that make the meal a healthful and delicious option. Chantal Royer, self-proclaimed foodie and travel enthusiast, tweaks her favorite Italian dishes with high quality olive oil in lieu of some heavier creams and sauces. Some home chefs may want to look for lean cuts of meat and pay attention to the amounts of butter or salt that they are adding in the recipe itself, as well as at table-side.

Fresh vegetables including eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, and fresh herbs can bulk up and round-out any Italian feast. Dressed simply with a splash of red wine vinegar and spritz of good olive oil, fresh romaine leaves and red onion are an affordable, healthy, and tangy accompaniment to any heavy meal. Consider crispy baked bread sticks rather than the doughy variety that beckon to be slathered in butter; the difference in calories can be a painless trade-off for those watching what they eat.

Injecting a bit of the Italian flavor through the sights, sounds, and smells of this culture can escalate a simple dish into a divine Italian meal. From a simple salad of greens tossed with lemon juice and topped with canned salmon seasoned with Italian herbs, to a deep-dish lasagna oozing with melted mozzarella, bringing elements of Italy to the table can enrich and improve any meal. Food presentation, the atmosphere of the room, and anticipation of the savoring experience will all lend to Italian dishes prepared in contemporary kitchens of any home.