Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, brownies, and 147 other favorite recipies under 350 calories.
In this delectable cookbook, award-winning chef Rocco DiSpirito transforms America’s favorite comfort foods into deliciously healthy dishes—all with zero bad carbs, zero bad fats, zero sugar, and maximum flavor. What’s more, Rocco provides time-saving shortcuts, helpful personal advice, and nutritional breakdowns for each recipe from a board-certified nutritionist. So prepare your favorite foods without the guilt. Finally, a world-class chef has made healthy food taste great!
Featured Recipe: No Cream-No Cry Penne Alla Vodka
The dirty little secret about Penne alla Vodka is not the vodka but the hefty amount of heavy cream. Vodka is colorless, odorless, and without much flavor—not really attributes of a superstar ingredient. It’s the combination of cream and tomato sauce that gives this dish its signature flavor. The traditional cream is swapped here for low-fat Greek yogurt.
- 8 ounces whole- wheat penne
- 2 cups Rocco’s How Low Can You Go Low-Fat Marinara Sauce (page 206 of Now Eat This!) or store-bought low- fat marinara sauce
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- One 7-ounce container 2% Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, about 9 minutes; drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, bring the marinara sauce and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Cook the sauce, stirring it occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the saute pan from the heat.
3. Stir about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the yogurt until smooth (this tempers it and prevents the yogurt from curdling). Then whisk the yogurt mixture back into the marinara sauce.
4. In a large serving bowl, toss the sauce with the drained penne and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and serve.
Whole-wheat pasta has a dense texture that makes it a little tougher than regular pasta. Some people like that chewiness; some don’t. If you’re in the latter category, overcook it a bit. Toward the end of the cooking time, keep testing it until it’s as tender as you like it.
Fat: 4.8 g
Featured Recipe: Seared Tuna With Green Beans, Lemon, And Wasabi
Protein: 18 g
Carbohydrates: 55 g
Cholesterol: 11 mg
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 416 mg
This dish isn’t a makeover, per se. But there are so many beloved--and believe it or not, unhealthy--seared tuna dishes out there in the restaurant world that I thought I should offer at least one healthy version. The tuna is never the problem. Tuna is rich in nutrients, low in fat, delicious, and just a good bet all around. It’s the stuff that’s put on top that’s the problem--anything from seared foie gras to deep-fried tempura crispies. Sure, it tastes great, but those additions turn a healthful dish into an artery-clogging one.
- 4 sushi-grade tuna steaks (3 ounces each)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 12 ounces haricots verts or slim green beans, trimmed
- Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons wasabi paste
- 4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced thin on the diagonal
- 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat.
2. Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper to taste, and spray them lightly with cooking spray. When the grill is hot, add the tuna and cook for 1 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the tuna to a platter and allow it to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the haricots verts in the boiling water until they are just tender, about 3 minutes; drain.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest, garlic, and wasabi paste. Add the haricots verts, scallions, and sesame seeds. Toss to coat, adding salt and pepper to taste.
5. Thinly slice the tuna. Fan each portion onto each of 4 plates. Pile a mound of dressed haricots verts on top of the tuna, and serve.
Fat: 3.8 g
Protein: 23 g
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Cholesterol: 38 mg
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 211 mg
Popular television chef DiSpirito’s latest cookbook retools diet cookery in hope of convincing even the most stubborn gourmand to cut calories yet still maintain a regimen of delicious, satisfying foods not immediately perceived as diet food. To accomplish this, he takes up underused ingredients such as Greek yogurt, whole-wheat pasta, cauliflower, and reduced-sugar ketchup, whose benefits go beyond mere calorie trimming to add fiber and enhance nutrition. DiSpirito’s goal is to reduce calories in popular “comfort foods” to less than 350 per serving, and his methods yield some astonishing calorie reductions. Onion rings fall from about 1,800 calories to 342. Fried chicken loses more than half. In addition to building in lower fats, DiSpirito does his best to lower cholesterol, carbohydrate, and sodium levels as well. The frustrated gourmet compelled to address weight loss will thrill to DiSpirito’s novel approach, but it requires thorough pantry restocking. --Mark Knoblauch
About the Author
At the age of sixteen celebrated chef Rocco DiSpirito
entered the Culinary Institute of America, and at eighteen began working for legendary chefs worldwide. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in business, he began working for such renowned New York chefs as Gray Kunz. In 1995 Rocco opened Dava and quickly earned two stars from Ruth Reichl at
The New York Times. At thirty-one, Rocco opened Union Pacific in New York City and received three stars from
The New York Times.
Hailed as one of
Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, DiSpirito is the first chef to grace the cover of
Gourmet magazine as “America’s Most Exciting Young Chef,” and was voted their “Leading Chef of his Generation.” Referred to as America’s original “Rockstar Chef,” Rocco has been featured in
Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, W, The New York Times, Details, House Beautiful, Us, OK! and
People, including the Sexiest Man Alive issue.
DiSpirito received the James Beard Award for his first cookbook,
Flavor. He went on to author
Rocco’s Italian-American (2004),
Rocco’s Five Minute Flavor (2005),
Rocco’s Real-Life Recipes (2007), and
Rocco Gets Real (2009).
DiSpirito also starred in the Food Network series
Melting Pot, the NBC hit reality series
The Restaurant, and the A&E series
Rocco Gets Real. He is a content partner on
Rachael Ray, and a frequent guest on
Good Morning America and
Top Chef. He has appeared on
The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Chelsea Lately, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and NBC’s
The Biggest Loser, and was the first chef to compete on the ABC megahit
Dancing with the Stars.
In 2006 DiSpirito began his quest toward a more active and healthy life, competing in triathlons, including an Ironman 70.3. In November 2009 he was the spokesperson for and completed the Ironman in Clearwater, Florida, setting a personal-best time. Rocco lives in New York City and appreciates all that cooking has brought to him.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
how can i be expected to eat “healthy” if the healthy foods aren’t the ones i want to eat?
It’s a good question that you’ve probably asked yourself again and again. For many people, the answer is surrender. They make no attempt at all to eat healthfully. The consequence of this type of eating, however, is weight gain and oftentimes heart disease, diabetes, or other health problems, as well as a compromised quality of life, and even premature death.
For others, the answer is self-denial. They eat only vegetables, or fish, or soy, or chicken, or restrict their diets to low-fat, low-carb, or high-protein foods. They give up pasta, red meat, pork, cheese, fast food, slow food, pizza, or alcohol. For some it’s desperation. They take diet pills, vitamins, nutritional supplements, or drugs. They try the Hollywood Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet, the banana diet, the grapefruit diet, or the cabbage diet.
Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the number of overweight or obese Americans at more than 60 percent. We’ve all heard the stories, read the magazine articles, and watched the talk shows. America is seriously fat and seriously unhealthy. As crazy as it all sounds, you–or someone you know–have probably tried at least one of the aforementioned tactics in an effort to lose weight, get healthy, and look and feel good. I say: Stop the madness.
It’s not madness to want to look and feel good–and we should all want to be healthy–but I believe the way we’re going about it is colossally wrong. The real answer to that eternal question about eating “healthy” is to eat the foods you like, but eat healthful versions of them. That’s what this book is all about.
“bad boys” made good
So why did I write this book? I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or physical trainer. I am a chef. To author most cookbooks, this qualification would be more than enough, as it was for me in writing my previous books. But Now Eat This! differs from my prior cookbooks because it’s informed by my quest to live a healthier lifestyle. And while I don’t make medical claims or offer specific health advice here, I do explore healthful eating within these 150 recipes.
More specifically, I take on America’s favorite “bad boys”—those foods that we desperately love but that really aren’t good for us. I call them “downfall dishes” because these are the foods that weaken your resolve to the point of breakdown. No matter what diet you’re on or how healthy you hope to be, you just can’t resist them. For me, it’s fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, and pizza. I am guessing that many of your biggest downfall dishes can also be found in this book.
I used social networking sites to research what Americans considered to be their favorite foods, and from this data I compiled a list of America’s top 150 downfall dishes—things like burgers, pizza, pasta, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream—which I then set out to reinvent with much less fat, far fewer calories, and zero sugar. My goal wasn’t to merely hang on to some sliver of flavor but to bust the code entirely and make over these favorite dishes so that above all, they tasted great—but had a calorie count of 350 or fewer for a main-dish serving and much less fat. In fact, if you look at the traditional fat and calories listed for each dish, you’ll see that I was able to reduce the fat by an average of 66 percent and reduce the calories by an average of 83 percent—and still have it taste delicious.
This has not been accomplished by employing the kind of crazy food science that results in yogurt that contains omega-3 fish oils, or peanut butter boosted with antioxidants, but by using real, fresh ingredients—and by swapping high-calorie and high-fat ingredients and cooking methods for far more healthful yet flavorful ones. Nor was it accomplished by making the portion sizes minuscule. The serving sizes here are generous but reasonable. You’ll push away from the table feeling thoroughly satisfied and guilt-free.
As a chef, I know how to do one thing: cook food and make it taste great. In this book, I have simply set up parameters taken from personal experience and conventional wisdom that make these formerly high-calorie, high-fat foods taste great in their new skin.
be in control: cook for yourself
This “I-can-have-my-chicken-cordon-bleu-and-eat-it-too” philosophy may sound impossible, but I guarantee it’s entirely possible. There is just one catch: You have to cook it yourself.
Before you throw up your hands and walk into a McDonalds and order another not-so Happy Meal, consider this: When you cook, you are in control of everything you put into your pan and thus into your body. You decide how many calories and how many fat grams you eat in a given day. You can still eat a version of your favorite foods. But you have to cook it. You have to make the choice to step into the kitchen instead of pulling into the drive-through or turning to highly processed prepared foods because it seems more convenient.
To help make the choice to cook it yourself easier, I’ve tried to provide 150 of the easiest and tastiest recipes possible—all under 350 calories per serving. With just a few exceptions, these dishes can be prepared in about 30 minutes and call for everyday items found in your local grocery store; none have long lists of ingredients. They also require no special cookware. Most recipes call for only a few pieces of basic equipment, such as a frying pan, saucepan, baking sheet, or mixing bowl.
from foie gras to the finish line
I am something of a latecomer to the diet/weight loss and exercise experience. I became interested in both in my late thirties, and purely by accident. They were two very different paths that eventually crossed.
Back then my idea of a healthy diet was laughable. “Do I spread butter on toast instead of dipping it in melted butter? Do I cut back on the foie gras—just eat it every other day instead of twice a day, for lunch and an after-service snack?” Chefs are exposed to limitless quantities of the best food in the world, and we love to eat it all. And for a while, that’s what I did.
But then my body began to protest. I have had back problems my whole life and realized that without a lot of painkillers or a miracle, I wouldn’t be able to stand at the stove anymore—or stand anywhere, period. And when something gets in the way of my cooking, that something has to change.
After visiting a few traditional doctors who told me to “get used to back pain” or “stay off your feet,” I realized I needed a different approach. I got the name of a great chiropractor from a trainer I knew, and he not only got me standing straight again but also got me on my feet and running.
One day I walked in for my regular adjustment, and my chiropractor asked if I would participate in a triathlon for charity. Chefs are suckers for anything having to do with charity, so before I could think, I said yes. Then I asked what I had to do. It was a race in which you swim half a mile, bike fifteen miles, and then top it off with a three-mile run. I am fairly fearless (some say reckless), so I immediately agreed. I began to look into triathlons, and before it really sunk in that I would have to swim, bike, and run those distances, I fell in love with the gear (chefs are notorious gear heads).
But when I started training, the other shoe dropped. I could hardly walk a mile, much less run one. My 20 percent body fat probably had something to do with that. So I got serious. I got back in touch with a trainer I had worked with a few years earlier, and he told me what I had to do. I started with a focus on cardio and a modified Atkins diet. I gave up alcohol and carbs and ate high-protein foods. I added to that a regimen of double-cardio sessions six days a week. Within six months my weight and body fat percentage was down substantially (the body fat to 12 percent) and I could run a mile or two without calling the paramedics.
In June that year, I competed in my first triathlon. My goal was simply to finish the race without stretchers being involved.
For a starting time, the participants were broken into male/female age groups called “waves.” I was in the second wave. The last group was the “Athena” wave—women who were age sixty and older. On the swimming portion of the race, wave after wave passed me like I was treading water—and most swam over me. When the Athena group eclipsed me, I knew I was in trouble. I had a thirty-minute head start on them!