on March 14, 2010
I checked this book out from the library and intend on buying it. So far we have tried the Mac & Cheese (w/ Onion & Garlic Puree), Spaghetti Carbonara, Deep Dish Pizza, Nachos, & Brownies...all pretty much exactly as written and all in 3 days. The 1st three were AMAZING!! The Nachos were okay but I couldn't follow the recipe exactly due to our not having the black bean dip (subbed drained and rinsed black beans and green chilies)...if we'd followed it exactly I am certain that it would have been wonderful, as our version was "missing something". I am looking forward to trying the Indian Beef Curry and French Onion Soup soon. I LOVE that he incorporates Greek Yogurt into a lot of his recipes...such a wonderful healthy ingredient with a great texture, especially Fage brand.
I would give this book 4.5 stars if I could, but the scoring would not allow. The reason being is that there is an insane amount of artifical sweeteners in this book. I understand that he is trying to keep the recipes' calories and fat grams under certain amounts but I have a hard time believing that he, as a world-reknowned chef and serious athlete, would use Splenda & sugar-free chocolate syrup, etc as a normal part of his diet. I was really hoping that he would have included more of the "whole food, nothing artificial"-type recipes, like those that he had on the Biggest Loser. For example, the Brownies, which are supposedly the "star of the book" according to an interview that I read, had a "chemical" finish. I really wanted to try the chocolate chip cookies but haven't been able to find the chocolate nips in the recipe, so I opted for the more accessible Brownies. Please note that I have been making whole-food black bean brownies and white bean chocolate cookies (LOVE THESE!) for YEARS, including a bean brownie that is 79 cal/piece (8x8 pan, 16 pieces), so I am quite familiar with and accepting of the flavor and texture differences between these and the "real things". I just wish that the desserts were more "whole food" and less "fake" ingredients. It IS attainable. I do not give my kids artificial sweeteners, so most of these desserts would be off-limits for them.
All that being said, I LOVED the other recipes and look forward to trying more. I LOVE the variety of classic dishes from around the world. Thank you for this book, Rocco.
on March 12, 2010
I have to be honest and say I am not a cook. I am devoted to my takeout menus. There is a reason I laminate them and keep them in a folder. I have tried losing weight eating. I ate low fat, no taste food and it only left me feeling miserable and desiring meat dishes and sweet desserts.
My doctor suggested that I get healthy (translation: lose some weight or your heart, kidneys and other organs are going to quit on you.) He compared my body to a toxic waste dump and said the only thing that would help me was a return to eating real food I prepared myself. Enter Rocco's cookbook.
Rocco was a guest chef on the Biggest Loser. After that show, he was encouraged and inspired to write a cookbook with real food and recipes that anyone could eat and still lose weight.
This book includes all my favorite comfort foods that I tend to eat over and over again at fast food joints, order for takeout and at local shopping malls and restaurants.
I am adding one new recipe a week to my meal plan. Here are a few of my favorites and how many calories and fat grams Rocco reduced in each recipe:
1. Chicken Alfredo (made with whole wheat linguine) cut out 920 calories and 65 grams of fat.
2. Chicken Cordon Bleu cut out a 1,000 calories and 75 grams of fat.
3. Filet Mignon Béarnaise with Roasted Cauliflower -cut out over 400 calories 33 grams of fat
4. Loaded Baked Potato Skins - cut out 450 calories and 33 grams of fat
These recipes use fresh ingredients, sometimes cooking spray (you could substitute olive or canola oil), and sometimes natural sweeteners like stevia, etc.
The taste is incredible. The portions for some recipes may seem small, but I offer this suggestion. Turn off your TV and computer. Sit and eat at your dining room table without distraction. Savor every bite. Not only will you enjoy your food more, you will actually taste it, and realize when you are full a lot faster.
on February 9, 2011
I was very excited to try this book out. I read the details and the reviews and I figured I could live with the bad desserts as long as the actual meals part turned out good. The pictures looked amazing and the ingredients weren't too difficult to find in my area.
I consider myself to be a pretty good cook and have made other meals from many other Chefs' recipes with great success.
I made the penne alla vodka, the calamari, the mozzarella sticks, the artichoke dip, General Tso's chicken and the chicken fried steak. I also made the marinara sauce to go with the pasta dish.
Artichoke dip was fine, no complaints but it also wasn't that great either.
Penne alla Vodka using his sauce. It was time consuming, messy and terrible tasting. The sauce was bland. I didn't even let my husband try it as I threw it all away.
Mozzarella sticks. The time is wrong and the measurements are off. I made this the first time and the mozzarella sticks melted through (as he has you make them on a wire rack on the baking pan. He stated, I believe, 15 minute cook time. It was done in 5. I tried again after watching Rocco in a video clip from Rachel Ray. I thought it was a funny because the ones he prepared in person looked just like the ones I made, but the ones that came out of the oven were double breaded. I double breaded them and then the cheese stayed in but again, done in 5 minutes.
General Tso's chicken. The combination of the vinegar in the sauce made it so sour. I had to again throw it all out.
Calamari and Chicken Fried Steak are both plagued by the same problem. Rocco is not specific in the amount of seasoning needed. I tried these with more seasoning but in the end the result is the same, the whole wheat flour with the whole wheat panko breading just lends to an overly crunchy and bland taste. This is a reason that most of his dishes are served with some sort of sauce or gravy to compensate for the bland breading.
I don't think I'm picky and I truly hate throwing out food. For me to throw out food that was expensive and time consuming to prepare it is not worth it for me to try any more recipes. My husband won't even try to taste the food from this book anymore.
Another main complaint I have (and book editors that I have read) is the exaggerations in the calorie counts. The before seems to be a little inflated and the after doesn't seem realistic. I'm sorry I don't know anyone who eats just one mozzarella stick after preparing 8. That is the serving size of the recipe.
For those who want to cook good tasting and low calorie plus healthy foods, try Devin Alexander instead. In her most recent books she has even started using all natural products including sweetners instead of the artificial ones. Her books have many of the same recipes and ingredients but they just combine better. Please note many of her recipes are from 2006 forward (before this book existed).
An addional note on Truvia, it is not 100% stevia. It also uses Sugar Alcohols. I recommend sun crystals instead, that uses a blend of cane sugar and stevia that is less processed.
on March 18, 2010
Purchased at a retail book store for much more than I would have paid on Amazon... boo-hoo for me. Regardless, my initial good impressions have progressively soured... or more to the point, gone bitter.
I've made all my family's dinners this week (and one dessert) out of this book.
I made a good choice by cooking the chicken & dumplings Sunday - it was actually quite good.
Monday was chicken burritos... ok, but if I do it again, I will substitute lowfat sour cream for the greek yogurt.
Tuesday was fettuccine alfredo - the yogurt was the issue again, it overpowered the dish - I think I could come up with a better recipe using lowfat milk and lowfat parm.
Wednesday (last night, St. Patrick's Day 2010) was shepherds pie - YUCK! for only a few more calories, real potatoes instead of cauliflower would have made a world of difference. The extra cal's from potatoes would have been offset by using a fat free gravy instead of the chicken broth based gravy called for in the recipe. Anyone who feels that cauliflower in a food processor is any kind of substitute for mashed potatoes must be completely without tastebuds... did I say YUCK yet?
So to follow up this terrible St. Patty's Day Irish non-treat (shepherds pie is an Irish dish), I made brownies. THE BROWNIES ARE TERRIBLE - JUST PLAIN AWFUL - the picture on the brownie page is no way, no how the brownies from the recipe. They were bitter, the espresso powder overpowers the chocolate and the black beans give it a very strange texture that is not at all pleasing.
Tonight (Thursday) was going to be his Sloppy Joes, but forget it - chalking this book up as a $20 loss and moving on with my life. Do yourself a favor if you think this is a cookbook for you: ask to borrow a friend's, borrow it from the library, or find another way to try out some these recipes for free before you waste your money.
on March 23, 2010
Just received the book and tried the Mac and Cheese and Fried Chicken recipes. The Fried Chicken was Oh My God good and for under 300 calories???? Can this be real? I usually don't like Mac and Cheese...made it for the wife and I really liked it. I am looking forward to trying all the recipes in here!
on April 10, 2010
I gained 80 pounds in college. I've since lost it, but keeping it off has been a struggle, particularly after having two kids. I thought my days of eating Alfredo, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, and ranch dressing were gone for good. I've never been so happy to be wrong.
The recipes are good. They don't take long to cook (with a few worth while exceptions) and they don't have a lot of weird hard to find ingredients. Does the food taste exactly like their fatty counterparts? Amazingly, a lot of them do. Some of them do taste a little different, but still very good and close enough to the original to quench my cravings.
It's been great for my family too. My husband is happy because he can eat nachos in front of me again without feeling guilty. I don't have to beg my very picky three year old to eat her dinner anymore and she's even started requesting her favorites. I've also learned a lot of techniques and substitutions that I've been able to incorporate into other dishes.
This book has made eating better almost easy. I don't feel deprived anymore. I don't worry about a weakening resolve that results in a brownie binge. For anyone who wants to eat healthy but dreams about jalapeño poppers at night, buy this book NOW. It will blow your mind!
I just spent about an hour reviewing Now Eat This! 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods, All Under 350 Calories, by celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito. As a former chef and avid cook, my passion is cooking healthy and delicious meals. So, it was with interest that I read this book, as I wanted to see how Rocco brought flavor--not calories--to America's favorite comfort foods.
The trick to cooking flavorful, healthy and low calories meals is using--no surprise--flavorful, health and low calorie ingredients and understanding how to combine them to make a dish that satisfies. Using such ingredients is how Rocco achieves this. He uses aromatic herbs and spices that are packed with flavor, for example. Another great substitute that Rocco uses for butter, sour cream or cream is Greek yogurt--yum! If you haven't tried Greek yogurt, you're in for a treat. I substitute it all the time in dishes and don't miss a thing.
Rocco was inspired to write this book after being a guest cook on The Biggest Loser. He was asked to turn traditional comfort foods--laden with fat and calories--into low calorie, tasty and healthy dishes.
The book itself is eye candy--bright, beautiful colors and lots of sexy photos of the dishes.
To keep the calories at a minimum, Rocco uses cooking spray. Cooking spray is great for faux frying and in some other instances, but I would use a bit of extra virgin olive oil in some of the other recipes. Olive oil is a "good fat" and is good for you. Sure, it adds calories, but it also adds flavor and gives the diner the feeling of satiation and satisfaction. (I can't help but believe that some of these meals are so light in calories that they would lead to hunger an hour or so later later and a possible unhealthy binge! For instance, his macaroni ann cheese recipe calls for 4 ounces of pasta for 4 servings!I do not know any pasta lover who could eat 1 ounce of pasta and be satisfied...)
That said, these are terrific recipes if you are trying to lose weight! Instead of the same old boring diet dishes, this book could keep you on track because of the variety in the dishes.
If you just want healthy and tasty meals, this cookbook is still fine. You can always eat a bigger portion or add some olive oil! :)
Overall, I like this cookbook and have earmarked several recipes to try very soon.
Author, HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT & SELL YOUR HOME FAST
on May 24, 2010
It seems the general consensus on this comment board is that the cookbook is great, but avoid the brownie recipe, made with black beans (replacing the flour).
It has gone so far as somebody actually blogging the photographs of the, to them, dismal experience. And, sure enough, with close up pics on their brownies, you can see shreds of the black beans, not the illusion of a cohesive dark brown chocolate we expected from the photo. She also complained about taking longer in the oven than the thirty minutes required.
First things first. It may be that the photo of the brownies in the book was not the resulting brownies being made. Rocco is a chef, not a photographer, and I am willing to accept that, if this were not the brownies he conjured up, that could have been a major screw-up on the publisher's end. This does not diminish the uniqueness of the resulting brownies in any way. Deduct a star, but it's not a dealbreaker.
Secondly, grab yourself a highlighter and underline two easily overlooked passages: (a) the two minutes required to grind the beans with the cocoa, and (b) turning the baking pan halfway through cooking time. It is way too easy to under process the beans--two minutes is a lonnng time for a food processor to work, especially if it looks as if everything has been well-blended after fifteen seconds. But--mark my words--the more you process, the less evident the bean shred will be.
"Bean shred"--sounds gross, I know. Making it less evident is why you have to go the extra mile in this case.
Lastly, if you are too timid to try these brownies as is, go online and search for "black beans recipes" and make adjustments. Rocco didn't invent the black beans substitution--he just took the basic concept and ran with it, substituting as many low-cal/no-cal ingredients as he could while keeping the general gist. For the first time making the brownies, use real sugar, or real chocolate syrup, or reduced fat sour cream, (instead of no-fat). Also, add walnuts. (I liked the suggestion someone said to add a teaspoon of baking powder to the resulting batter).
Then, when you make this again, (and you will--it is delicious), make more lower-cal adjustments each time. The sugar substitute is the biggest challenge, because not all sugar substitutes taste the same. I am not opposed to the Stevia plant (it's actually sweeter than sugar), so I suspect I will even like the next incarnation even better.
I trepidatiously approached this recipe, but I went ahead with it, and now I'm glad I did. The resulting brownie is not a "true" brownie, but it is a very decent counterpart, with a flavor not unlike chocolate mocha, and with a texture not unlike a cross between a brownie and chocolate mousse. Very moist, even overnight.
The star rating is for the brownie recipe only. I've yet to try any other recipe (except for the sweet potato fries--yum!) I'll be making more recipes out of this in the next few weeks, but suffice it to say, if people say the only bad recipe is the brownie recipe, and I was able to salvage it into something quite decadent, then I have no fears about the result of the book's contents.
on March 14, 2010
I heard about Rocco's new book at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and was eager to get a copy and test the recipes. Favorite foods redesigned to be healthy and low in calories - this sounded too good to be true. The first thing I tried was the brownies. I couldn't believe the taste! No flour, no sugar, only 53 calories and they tasted amazing. Rocco has created ingenious substitutes for familiar dishes that actually taste like the originals. Aside from the obvious food results, here are some other things I like about Now Eat This!:
Before and after fat/calorie comparison for each recipe
Explanation of healthy cooking techniques
Tips about ingredients and preparation
Lead description of each dish
I also enjoyed Rocco's introductory essay about his personal quest for a healthy lifestyle. This book is going to change a lot of bad habits. I recommend it to anyone who eats.
on March 12, 2010
My husband and I have followed the career of Rocco DiSpirito, and it is impressive. Though perhaps best known as a celebrity chef, his training and experience indicate that he is so much more than just that. Flavors, published in 2003, presented innovative and creative recipes, identifying and combining sour, salty, sweet, and bitter ingredients. The recipes in this new book, Now Eat This, are again creative and innovative. We tested recipes as they became available through his appearances on the network early morning shows. His fettuccine alfredo was divine and clinched it in terms of getting a copy of Now Eat This! Now that we have it and are giving the recipes a go, I can already say that DiSpirito has really taken favorites to the next level--healthy, delicious, and delightfully easy so that my husband can take a turn! One recommendation: Don't compare these innovative recipes to old favorites laden with butter and cream. Instead, savor Rocco's flavor combinations. You won't be disappointed!