In Rocco DiSpirito’s new cookbook, the celebrity chef gives recipes for family favorites such as macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders a healthy twist.
DiSpirito revamped these traditional recipes in “Now Eat This! 150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods All Under 350 Calories” (Ballantine, $22), his sixth cookbook.
The goal of the book, DiSpirito wrote, was to take on what he calls “downfall dishes.” These are the ones most folks have a weakness for — think ice cream, cookies, burgers and pizza.
By swapping out ingredients and using different cooking methods, the recipes come in at fewer than 350 calories per serving, much less than the classic versions. Typically, they have 66 percent less fat and 83 percent fewer calories than the originals.
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The book was inspired by DiSpirito’s desire to focus on a healthier lifestyle and his appearance on “The Biggest Loser” in 2008.
On “Loser,” his assignment was to eliminate fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar and artificial ingredients from dishes that contestants identified as their weaknesses. That assignment planted the seed for the new cookbook.
DiSpirito relies on fat-free, low fat, reduced fat and low-sodium products. He plays up ingredients that pack a lot of flavor but not calories, such as fresh herbs, citrus juices and Dijon mustard. Cooking methods such as broiling, grilling and faux-frying with panko bread crumbs knock out the fat.
Recipes include appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes and desserts. Each recipe has a before-and-after fat and calorie count. Other go-to recipes are slimmed-down versions of sauces, vinaigrettes and condiments, such as Rocco’s Magnificent Mayonnaise made with Greek-style yogurt.
The book is easy to use, and nearly every recipe has a full-color photo, holds to one page and has easy-to-follow instructions.