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Now Eat This! Diet: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Eating 6 Meals a Day!
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Now Eat This! Diet: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Eating 6 Meals a Day!

3.7 65
by Rocco DiSpirito, Mehmet C. Oz, (Foreword by)

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On the heels of the bestselling success of his low-calorie Now Eat This! cookbook, Rocco Dispirito expands his brand with a weight-loss program guaranteed to produce maximum results with minimum effort.

Award-winning celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito changed his life and his health-without giving up the foods he loves or the flavor. He has lost more than 20


On the heels of the bestselling success of his low-calorie Now Eat This! cookbook, Rocco Dispirito expands his brand with a weight-loss program guaranteed to produce maximum results with minimum effort.

Award-winning celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito changed his life and his health-without giving up the foods he loves or the flavor. He has lost more than 20 pounds, participated in dozens of triathlons, and-after an inspirational role as a guest chef on The Biggest Loser-changed his own diet and the caloric content of classic dishes on a larger scale. In THE NOW EAT THIS! DIET, complete with a foreword by Dr. Mehmet Oz, DiSpirito offers readers a revolutionary 2-week program for dropping 10 pounds quickly, with little effort, no deprivation, and while still eating 6 meals a day and the dishes they crave, like mac & cheese, meatloaf, BBQ pork chops, and chocolate malted milk shakes. The secret: Rocco's unique meal plans and his 75 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack time, all with zero bad carbs, zero bad fats, zero sugar, and maximum flavor. Now readers can eat more and weigh less-it's never been so easy!

Editorial Reviews

When TV favorite Rocco DiSpirito decided that he no longer wanted to be a pleasantly plump celebrity chef, he used his award-winning cooking savvy to create a healthy diet that banished that poundage without starving his taste buds. In this standalone companion to his Now Eat This! Cookbook, he unfolds what sounds like a counterintuitive, six-meal a day diet plan. While you're grasping his strategy, you can sample his 75 healthful, appetite-quenching recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack time.

Publishers Weekly
A follow-up to the author's popular Now Eat This! cookbook, this volume offers an uncomplicated plan for cutting calories and losing weight, in two sections. The first explains how the diet works and how it's possible to eat tasty foods made from healthier ingredients, offers basic advice about exercise, and delineates a "14 Day Fast Track Plan" for kick-starting weight loss by eating 1,400 calories per day (1,200 for women). The second section delivers 75 recipes designed to fit into that low-cal meal plan. They're color-coded by calorie counts so it's easy to pick recipes to fit into a day's overall total. Breakfast choices include a sunrise sandwich with eggs—egg substitute, actually—and Canadian bacon on a whole-wheat English muffin for 279 calories. Bacon appears again in DiSpiritio's version of the BLT, a bacon, lettuce, and tomato roll with 245 calories, thanks to the use of fat-free mayo and a touch of crumbled bacon instead of several bacon strips per sandwich. Spicy-sweet linguine alla vodka gets its creaminess from 2% Greek yogurt and clocks in at 307 calories per serving. There are desserts, too, like red velvet chocolate squares in which beets lend moisture, and agave nectar instead of sugar serves as sweetener. The recipes are mostly super (more like assembling ingredients than cooking) and the prose is straightforward (if a little choppy and repetitive)—meaning just about anyone who wants to should be able to follow this plan and lighten up mealtimes. (Apr.)

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Grand Central Publishing
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Now Eat This! Series
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Now Eat This! Diet

Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Eating 6 Meals a Day!
By DiSpirito, Rocco

Grand Central Life & Style

Copyright © 2011 DiSpirito, Rocco
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446584494


Mehmet C. Oz, MD

Doctors enter and exit the lives of our patients, changing them, we hope for the better. Often the favor is returned and a patient or family comes along to change us for the better by what they teach us. I met Rocco the way most doctors meet people: Someone was sick and needed my help. It was November 2005, right after Thanksgiving. His charming mother, Nicolina, had suffered a massive heart attack on her way to a doctor’s appointment. She practically died in Rocco’s arms. She was rushed into surgery, and thankfully, her life was saved.

As is sometimes the case, Nicolina would ultimately need a pacemaker, a heart-valve replacement, and a stent to keep one of her arteries propped open. A friend of Rocco’s suggested that he get in touch with me to perform these procedures. Of course I agreed. I sat down with Rocco and his mom and talked as best I could in plain, everyday language about what the surgery and recovery would entail.

Heart surgery, like all surgeries, is serious business. When you treat and care for people undergoing surgery, you get to know them and their families at an intensely personal level. You prepare them emotionally and physically for the operation and encourage them through the rougher parts of recovery. You become very close with the families as you study what is best for them. Through the experience, I discovered that Rocco and I had many shared interests—health, cooking, living a balanced life. Rocco had the same mission I had: to fundamentally change how we treat ourselves—mind, body, and soul. We became fast friends.

And then I discovered his amazing talent for cooking healthy food and asked Rocco to get involved with HealthCorps, a charity I founded. Its mission is to empower teens in underserved populations to make simple lifestyle changes to enhance their health and well-being and take the message to friends, families, and neighbors. Rocco prepared and donated dinners for HealthCorps events and gave talks on healthy cooking at several of my symposiums. I invited Rocco to be on my television show as a regular guest, and he’s a hit whenever he appears to create some of his fabulous, healthy dishes.

If you don’t know already, Rocco can take the most fattening, heart-unhealthy recipes and turn them into miraculous nutrient-packed, delectable, mouthwatering meals. He cuts the calories, the trans fats, the saturated fats, the simple carbs, the sugar—all the bad stuff—without cutting the flavor.

This kind of cooking is just what America needs right now, and Rocco delivers.

You can use this book every day of your life to take care of the most precious thing that you ever inherited: your body. When you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.

For losing weight, not much of what most of us have tried will work. Whether no-carb, low-carb, low-fat, no-fat, cabbage soup, or whatever else your diet ploy is, please know it will not work over the long term.

Repeat after me: will—not—work for the years of healthy living you crave.

Let that sink in. Take a moment. Mourn all that money you’ve spent on various diet books and shakes and memberships.

Rocco’s book Now Eat This! Diet offers a strategy that will work because you get to eat healthy, delicious, natural foods—your favorite foods, in fact—in satisfying proportions that allow steady, progressive weight loss.

So forget the usual boring list of diet foods. Get ready to serve up fettuccine, cookies, crème brûlée, waffles—all the stuff you thought was bad for you.

Start eating the meals in this book, and you’ll feel so much better, physically, mentally, emotionally—and for a lifetime. We doctors can medicate you to cover up the poor food choices you make, but that’s just like painting over cracks in a foundation. We can put mechanical devices in, but those are poor imitations of what you were born with. Only you can change what you put in your mouth, and you are best able to achieve this goal if you crave the foods that are good for you. Let this book be your nudge to starting better nutritional habits.

By this time next week, I expect this beautiful book of yours to be covered with muffin crumbs, barbecue sauce drippings, spaghetti sauce, and other remnants of the great dishes you’ve prepared.

Oh, and by the way, do I use this book, as well as Rocco’s other cookbooks? You bet I do. My whole family does. Our favorites: Pita Chips with Charred Eggplant Dip and Crunchy Tomato Bread, to name just a couple. Embrace this book, start cooking, reboot your taste buds, lose weight, and feel alive once more. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some No-Boil Mushroom Lasagna in the oven…


Now You Can Really Lose Weight

So let’s eat what you love, and lose weight.

If a cheeseburger makes you happy, go right ahead and eat it. Or cookies, or quesadillas—plate them up.

On this plan, you can have it all. For instance:

Potatoes and sweets. If you love these things—and who doesn’t?—don’t deny yourself. Help yourself to mashed potatoes, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate mousse, and more.

Have pasta! You’ll be happy to learn that you can finally eat linguine and not be hunted down by carb cops trying to catch you in the act of eating pasta and bread. We Italians love and eat pasta from the minute we’re born until the day we die. We usually live long lives, too. So if you’ve been avoiding pasta because you heard it was fattening, well, I’ll introduce you to some noodles you can eat to your heart’s content.

Juicy beef. Most people believe they have to give beef and other meat the boot if they want to lose weight or prevent a heart attack. Well, that’s bullshit. Certain cuts of meat can be as low in fat and as heart-healthy as chicken—and taste incredible.

No-no sandwiches. On what diet have you ever sunk your teeth into a BLT or a grilled cheese? On this diet, now you can eat all your favorite sandwiches, and the calories won’t count against you.

Do you love junk food? What do you do when your family insists on fattening meals and snacks? Whip up my healthier, de-junked versions of jalapeño poppers, chicken tenders, potato skins, or mac and cheese. No one will know the difference.

Craving chocolate? If chocolate has your number, go for it. Now you can eat chocolaty foods like chocolate milk shakes, chocolate crème brûlée, and the others you tried—unsuccessfully—to resist in the past. On this diet, you can stop fighting food cravings and enjoy your favorite foods again.

chapter 1

The Now Eat This! Diet

Thanks to this plan, the foods you love—and that you may have thought of as diet breakers—can be eaten in good conscience and good health.

How is all this possible?

In my previous book, Now Eat This!, I transformed everyone’s favorite comfort foods into deliciously healthy versions, all with few bad carbs, few bad fats, less sugar, and maximum flavor. This book goes a step further. It contains eighty all-new healthy recipes—say hello to everything from Italian dishes to stir-fry to classic comfort foods like tuna casserole, BBQ pork, and fudgy fruit and nut bars—but it shows you how to put those recipes into a program that is based on three simple principles:

  • Watch Your Calories.

  • Learn to Cook.

  • Exercise.

I’ll briefly summarize each one for you.

Watch Your Calories

The Now Eat This! Diet is based on controlling your calories. Yes, the calorie is back. Well, technically the calorie never left (it’s not as if it’s been vacationing in the Bahamas), but it sure has gotten short shrift lately in our fat-free, low-carb, high-protein world.

To put it in simple terms, calories are the energy in food. Most of the calories you take in every day are used to get you through life, meaning your body requires a certain number of calories to perform duties you take for granted, like breathing, maintaining a steady heartbeat, and keeping the blood pumping through your body. Everything that automatically goes on in your body without your even thinking about it requires energy.

Another name for this, which you may have heard before, is resting metabolic rate. If you did nothing for a whole day and just sat still, your body would burn between 1,200 and 1,700 calories. Everyone burns calories at a different rate. So, without getting technical, if your body burns 1,200 calories just from the mechanics of living, and you eat 2,000 calories in a day, then your body is going to store that additional 800 calories as fat if you do nothing to expend those extra calories through exercise or additional daily tasks, like getting up off that couch.

The only way to lose weight is to cut or burn calories. Some diet gurus sell a lot of books by making it seem otherwise and overselling the gimmicks instead of focusing on the basics. But while a given diet plan may tell you to count the carbs or the fat, your body is still counting calories. It doesn’t matter if they are carb calories or fat calories or protein calories—your body sheds pounds when you reduce them.

Here’s the math of weight loss: 1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories. So, if you can engineer a deficit of 500 calories a day, you should theoretically lose a pound a week. The easiest way to reduce your normal calories by 500 per day is through diet and exercise. You can cut 250 calories from your diet and burn the other 250 with extra exercise, for instance. Or, on more energetic days, you could exercise off 350 calories and eat 150 fewer calories. Weight loss just won’t happen without calorie control.

Some diets promise unrealistic weight loss, like 8 to 10 pounds a week. But all you’re losing on those fad diets is water and muscle. Your weight bounces right back the moment you go off the diet.

This diet is carefully calibrated to provide between 1,200 and 1,400 calories a day for women and between 1,400 and 1,600 calories a day for men and is based on what doctors and dietitians recommend for safe, effective weight loss. Translation: You’ll eat enough every day—and up to six times a day! You never want to take your calories too low (below 1,000 per day), or you’ll reduce your metabolic rate and your weight loss might slow down. Eating the right amount of calories daily will get you to your best possible weight.

But don’t worry. I’m going to show you a simple way to watch your calories that doesn’t involve using a calculator or doing any head-scratching math.

Learn to Cook

Here’s what hardly anyone realizes: One of the keys to successful weight control and good health is to cook at home more often and eat out less. Wait—don’t close this book!

Hear me out: The decline of home cooking worldwide is an underlying cause of obesity. That’s the conclusion of several research studies done in the past few years. Adults, teens, and kids who eat out a lot are more likely to consume lots of fat, sodium, and soft drinks and lower amounts of nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables.

I’d like to see us eat together more often as families—at home. Eating together is almost a lost art in America, with breakfast on the run, prepared lunches at school or work, and few sit-down dinners on a regular basis. Some intriguing news: A few years ago, Australian researchers found that teenagers who regularly eat with their families are less likely to be overweight.

This made me think of my childhood and how I was raised. Our family always ate together, and we lingered over our meals for hours, nurturing each other with love, laughter, and lasagna. I remember all the wonderful smells that wafted out of the kitchen, where my mother and grandmother cooked for hours, feeding anyone who would sit at their table. I was always allowed to help out, and that, too, made me feel that I was part of something magical. My grandmother, who is probably cooking up pots of marinara sauce in heaven, is no doubt shaking her head in dismay and praying for the lost souls who don’t understand the importance of enjoying great food and breaking bread with family and friends.

The bottom line: You can’t eat out all the time and expect to be thin and healthy. You must cook more often for yourself, and everyone can cook something. By the way, if you’ve made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or heated up soup, you know how to cook. Cooking more often at home is absolutely necessary if you want to get in great shape, inside and out.

Don’t worry about time, either. I’ll show you how to get a meal on the table in less time than it takes for a pizza to arrive. I am always looking for ways to save time and simplify cooking, so I use a lot of shortcuts, simple ingredients, and labor-saving techniques, and you’ll learn about them in this book. Few recipes in this book take longer than 30 minutes to prepare.

While we can’t control every aspect of our lives, we have the ability to control the fuel we put into our bodies. So cook for yourself (and your family)! By cooking at home, you’re in charge: of the ingredients, the calories, the sodium, the sugar, the fat, the portion size—everything that’s important to your weight and health.

Most things are better when we make them at home, just because they are usually more fresh and healthy. So skip driving to your favorite restaurant every night of the week, waiting around for a table, and paying top dollar for food that’s making you fat. Don’t avoid the kitchen because you think you can’t cook. (You can!) Stop using your countertops as a space for today’s mail. Stock your home with quality ingredients and foods. Shop to select the food you will really use each week, rather than a collection of stuff you may never touch. I’ll give you ingredient lists that will make shopping a cinch. Have basic equipment on hand, like a good heavy, large cutting board, two sharp knives, measuring cups and spoons, a few large spoons and spatulas, a blender, three pans, a sheet tray, and a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Most recipes can be made using basic utensils.

Instead of watching others cook, join in the fun, and amaze yourself and your family with how delicious healthy cooking can be. I hear from people all the time who have made the decision to cook at home more often. Here’s what they’re saying:


I made sweet potato gnocchi tonight. Add that to the list of delish recipes from Rocco!


I made the replacement for the mashed potatoes tonight and another thumbs up. Thanks.


I made your Indian Curry with Shrimp a few nights ago and got a lot of praise 4 it… It was delish!!

Get used to reading recipes, measuring ingredients, and at the very least, boiling or microwaving a few things. Don’t worry about looking like a total culinary failure. I’ve made plenty of mistakes; I’ve burned rice, overcooked meat, and underbaked bread. Before long, you’ll start enjoying yourself. I promise! Everyone is doing it!


I’ll tell you a weight-loss secret—sort of a “duh” secret because it’s obvious, although some of us don’t act as if it’s true: You’ve got to exercise. A lot of people think weight gain comes from eating too much. That’s only half the problem. Successful weight loss requires exercise. You don’t need to join a gym or exercise for hours; just get more active in every phase of your life. Of course, a regular program of walking, jogging, or cycling will increase the effect, but even mowing the lawn, walking your dog, or climbing stairs can help. It is also helpful to lift weights and increase muscle tone because muscles burn calories.

I’ve got an easy way to look at exercise: Translate calories into exercise. I’ve written an entire chapter devoted to this. Knowing the amount of time you need to engage in certain activities to burn off the calories is a great way to speed up your weight loss.

How I Developed This Plan

As I wrote in the introduction, I, too, struggle with weight. Five years ago I was 30 pounds heavier, with an unhealthy 20 percent body fat. The weight gain bothered me, but I always told myself, “I’ll take care of it.” I rationalized that at six foot one and 216 pounds, I wasn’t really that heavy. Yet deep down I knew that if I didn’t start watching my weight, it could really get out of control.

What I did not realize was that there were health problems percolating under the extra flab. One day I went in to see my doctor for the results of my annual routine screening tests. I was shocked by what he told me. My cholesterol and blood pressure tests registered several times what is considered healthy. The scene began to take on the otherworldliness of a short film about heart disease, I couldn’t believe he was talking to me. Basically, if I didn’t turn this around fast, my answer to that ubiquitous question “Where do you want to be 10 years from now?” could have been: “Not in a cemetery or hospital.”

The last thing I ever expected was to be a candidate for heart problems that young. I was down and discouraged, but I knew I had to do something, anything. Realizing my own mortality slammed me into gear.

I had to make some changes—not easy for a guy who grew up eating meatballs, sausage, homemade bread, and pastas like manicotti, lasagna, and ravioli at will, and in any quantity. My mother was always cooking or offering us something to eat. But it never seemed silly to me; that gesture was the most warm, maternal thing I could imagine. It was her absolute expression of love and one of her supreme ways of fulfilling her life’s destiny, which, as she saw it, was to nurture her family and take care of other people.

I started making changes incrementally. The first to go was sugar. Sugar was a big deal but easy to eliminate. Little by little, I reduced sugar and limited my alcohol intake. I stopped guzzling soft drinks. I ate high-protein foods, vegetables, and good carbs and eliminated starchy, oily, and junk food completely. No more eating Chinese takeout five times a week and pounding out two to three orders of creaky chicken a day. I don’t think my local Chinese restaurant ever recovered financially from the sudden loss of my business. I started eating something healthy at regular intervals. This increased my metabolism, helping me to lose weight. Within six months, I started feeling stronger and more energetic. The difference I felt in my system was incredible.

Feeling driven to do more, I began cooking at home more often, although I wasn’t sure I had time. (Yes, even chefs fall prey to that too-busy-to-cook nonsense.) But I knew that if I cooked at home I could better control my nutrition and eat healthier food. Home cooking proved to be much more difficult than cooking in restaurants: I didn’t have an army of prep cooks, the big muscular stove, and the endless stream of clean cookware, and I found I had to do the shopping, the prep work, and the cleaning myself. It was a pretty rude awakening.

One of my biggest challenges was finding a way to fit my passion for food and cooking into my healthier lifestyle. After hours of trial and error, I found I could modify my favorite foods and make them low in fat, yet delicious. One of the first dishes to undergo a makeover was my favorite food, lobster bisque. After about twenty-five tries, I nailed it, amazed that it tasted even better than the original but had one-fifth the calories. It more than satisfied the deep lobster-bisque-loving corners of my soul. You’ll find this delicious recipe in my previous book, Now Eat This!

The more I cooked like this, the more the pounds began coming off, and when I started exercising (usually cardio), they seemed to melt away. I didn’t feel deprived. This way of eating is part of my healthier lifestyle now.

Killing Ourselves with Bad Food

My experience in shedding pounds got me interested in why so many of us are fat. In my case, I knew it was a combination of bad habits, working around rich food, lack of exercise, and indifference to the quality, caloric content, and nutritional value of the foods I ate. But why is it so easy to fall into this kind of harmful eating trap and so difficult to escape from it?

In my experience as a chef, it seemed that nobody was really interested in eating healthy, because healthy meant tasteless and bland. So as a society, I think we gravitated to a diet that’s arguably designed to make us fat: more processed foods; fewer fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and loads of added sugar, salt, fat, and preservatives—a calorie-maximized prescription for poor health.

That way of eating is a radical departure from the diet of our grandparents and great-grandparents, who ate mostly freshly grown plants and grains and fresh meat and fish—which they cooked and prepared themselves. The way my grandmother lived on Long Island was just like the way she lived in Italy. She had rabbits, chickens, and every kind of vegetable and fruit you can think of: fig trees, apple trees, cherry trees, lettuce, tomatoes, everything. Everywhere you looked, something was growing. There was no running to the grocery store. Practically everything she needed was homegrown and home raised. She made unbelievable dinners, almost everything fresh from her garden. In the winter she used ingredients she preserved from her summer garden.

We just don’t eat enough fresh, wholesome food anymore, and it’s killing us. One of the most credible sources on our nation’s health is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC says that, since 1990, annual deaths due to overeating and lack of exercise climbed 33 percent to four hundred thousand (almost as many deaths as caused by tobacco).

So basically we’re eating ourselves into early graves. The CDC has warned time and again that today’s children may have shorter life spans than their parents do. Further, public officials at the CDC cite all the usual reasons for Americans getting fatter, like sedentary jobs and lives, but they also underline the following: too much fast food and too little cooking at home!

Part of the benefit of growing all of that food was the physical activity of tending the garden. Now, I’m not suggesting you start a garden to lose weight, although it’s not a bad idea! But commercial food makers, including restaurants, put boatloads of sugar, salt, and fat in food. I know this firsthand, since I’m a chef and have worked in and owned several restaurants. I’ll let you in on something: As chefs, we used to love to figure out how much fat we could put in a dish to make food taste good. Per square inch, the density of fat is usually five or six times what a home cook would use. Example: For a dinner party of ten people, I might use 8 pounds of whole butter in a multi-course meal. Yes, you read that right: 8 pounds. Not all that fat ends up in the food (although that was certainly my goal), but more than half of it will. And the fat I’d use is the full-flavor, heart-clogging, saturated-to-the-max type; I’d even use goose fat.

So much of our culture revolves around irresponsibly prepared food. By that I mean food that’s high in artery-clogging fats, added sugar, and calories, and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals—any food that’s prepared without much regard to health. This kind of food is advertised on television, on billboards, and in publications. It’s in restaurants and grocery stores, and even our own families prepare it, whether they realize it or not. It’s even in “healthy” foods. Take fat-free foods, for example. I’m sure food makers had good intentions in creating them, but many of these foods have nearly as many calories as, or even more calories than, their full-fat counterparts. The label fat-free creates a kind of delusion that encourages us to eat more food that’s often high in calories, such as processed starches and foods loaded with sweeteners, including artificial ones.


Meals eaten in fast–food restaurants contain an absolutely unbelievable number of calories. To put these numbers in perspective, realize that the average person needs to eat around 2,000 calories a day—so if you had a combo meal for lunch or dinner, you’ve spent a whopping portion of that budget! I can’t tell you how ridiculous these calorie counts are.









































Source: T. Dumanovsky, C. A. Nonas, C. Y. Huang, L. D. Silver, and M. T. Bassett, “What people buy from fast-food restaurants: Caloric content and menu item selection, New York City 2007,” Obesity 17 (2009): 1369–1374.

Irresponsibly prepared food is absolute garbage and will kill you faster than you realize. If you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties and are eating poorly most of the time, in ten years, you’re going to have serious problems that you aren’t going to be able to fix. We absolutely must stop the madness and the obesity and the increase in life-shortening diseases. Americans are raising the most unhealthy generation of children in our history because we feed this junk to our kids!

My solution is to return to the healthy, wholesome foods you enjoy and to get creative with them. The point of this book is to get you to be in control of what you put in your body—so that you can lose weight and stay fit and healthy.


When you supersize a meal at a fast-food joint, you’re paying 67 cents more, on average. But that’s not all. There are hidden financial costs. You’re spending more on health care and gasoline, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. They calculated that for a single instance of paying 67 cents to make a fast-food meal larger, the total daily cost for increased energy needs, gasoline, and medical care would be between $4.06 and $7.72 for men and between $3.10 and $4.53 for women, depending on body type. The more you overeat, the greater your financial cost.

So let’s say you eat at a fast-food restaurant ten times a month and supersize your meal each time. Here’s what that might cost you in extra money per year.









Source: R. N. Close and D. A. Schoeller, “The financial reality of overeating.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 25 (2006): 203–209.

The Biggest Losers and Me

I saw what a profound impact healthy foods and healthy cooking could make on people’s lives in 2008 when I got a call from the producers of NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser. The producers wanted me to cook and to teach the contestants how to prepare healthy versions of their favorite foods—foods like chicken Alfredo, pizza, fried chicken, chocolate chip mint ice cream, and other “downfall dishes” that got them in trouble in the first place.

I had been doing the very same thing for myself. Now I had the opportunity to do it on a grander scale. I was excited. The show had some specific cooking guidelines, too: no sugar, no salt, no white flour, barely any fat, nothing artificial. Only organic fruits and vegetables, except those with high sugar content—grapes, mangoes, pineapples, beets, and potatoes. Protein was allowed, but it had to be superlean and organic. I couldn’t wait to rise to the challenge to see if I could match the flavor profiles I expected from myself. After all, I’m known as the flavor guy. People expect me to make anything taste good.

All of my experience told me that I had to think and cook in a completely different way than ever before. I dug deep down in my culinary bag of tricks. I remembered that in cooking, if you know the basics, you can work around just about any obstacle. People’s health and lives were hanging in the balance. I had to take it seriously.

I went into my “lab”—my kitchen—and started experimenting. Dish by dish, I figured out even more ways to replace the fat and sugar in foods without sacrificing their intrinsic flavors. Replacing the fat was the biggest challenge. Fat does two things. It gives a rich mouthfeel, and it carries flavor. I began to experiment with alternative ingredients like vegetable puree, onion puree, garlic puree, evaporated milk, cornstarch, chicken stock, and nonfat yogurt to provide the same thickness and creaminess that we associate with foods like cream and butter. It worked.

For example, one of the Biggest Loser contestants I was working with loved fried chicken. True fried chicken weighs in at about 700 calories a serving, so drastic reductions in fat were required. I didn’t want to make just the same-old, same-old oven-fried chicken you see in all the low-fat cookbooks. My standards are higher than the average diet-food standards, and I knew people were counting on me to deliver above-average results.

I did some homework and spoke to nutritionists, doctors, and even a renowned food scientist. After experimenting a lot, I concluded and confirmed that the amount of fat absorbed in frying is a function of time, not a function of the quantity of fat. I realized that if I fried chicken for a very short amount of time—a method called flash frying—it would absorb very little fat but still achieve a crispy coating. By flash frying, I was able to eliminate 20 grams of fat and 500 calories from traditional fried chicken, and it tastes as good as, if not better than, the original.

Next out of my bag of tricks: sugar replacement. Here’s where I get gray hairs: trying to make something taste naturally sweet but leaving out all the calories. To ease back on the sugar in recipes, I experimented with agave nectar, extracted from the plant that’s used to make tequila. Although it has more calories than sugar—about 20 calories per teaspoon—agave nectar is sweeter, so I could use less of it.

For desserts like brownies, cookies, and bars, I began experimenting with ingredients outside the traditional sphere of flour. I found that beans and legumes make excellent structural replacements for flour in desserts like cookies, brownies, and bars. In fact, Japanese cooks use red beans all the time in their desserts. So, by using various types of beans, I was able to get rid of the flour, and then I used natural sweeteners like agave nectar or stevia for sweetening. In the Red Velvet Chocolate Squares recipe on page 263, I used beet, rather than flour, as the base. It was an extraordinary discovery for me.

The results of my experiments were miraculous. I found I could modify people’s favorite foods and make them low in fat, bad carbs, sugar, and calories, yet mouthwatering and delicious. I could take every comfort food ever known and transform it into a dish that would promote health, not damage it.

In the world of weight loss, I discovered that “diet food” has the potential to be really wonderful. And the impact it had on the Biggest Loser contestants stirred me deeply as a chef. One contestant, Mark Kruger, confided that he used to eat a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream every night. He loved it. When he ate my revised version, he teared up with gratitude. He thought he’d never be able to enjoy his favorite ice cream again. I gave him the ice cream machine so he could keep on making it.

I knew the food I made for the contestants was good, but with every dish I made, their oohs and aahs and heartfelt thanks confirmed it. It was then that I realized that this type of cooking can make an impact. It can really change people’s lives and life expectancy for good. Cooking is about nurturing and entertaining people with an experience, an atmosphere, and big flavors, and for many years I enjoyed the gratification of just cooking for kicks. But here I saw that when you cook to entertain and to help people achieve their health goals and possibly extend their lives, the gratification is profound.

And so I’ve become passionate about this new way of cooking and eating. Earlier in my career I was a French-trained chef intrigued by Southeast Asian foods. I got a kick out of mixing old-school techniques with ingredients from around the world—the newer or more unusual the ingredients, the better—to see how their flavors would coalesce.

Both my journey toward better health and the Biggest Loser experience opened my eyes to good food that is good for you. Afterward, I began incorporating the concepts of healthy cooking and eating into my work. I now write cookbooks on healthy cooking, and I talk about healthful eating on television shows all the time. I’m dedicated to bringing flavorful, healthful food to more people around the country.

This plan was born from all these experiences. It takes healthy cooking to a whole new level and shows you how to put nutritious, delicious recipes into an actual plan that you can live with and love.

Now, let’s get started.


The average life expectancy for men and women in the United States is 77.9 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Being overweight, however, can take years off your life. Based on actuarial tables used by insurance companies, you can roughly calculate how much your weight might cost you in years. For example:

  • If you are overweight by 50 pounds, subtract 13 years from your average life expectancy if you are a man, and 8 years if you are a woman.

  • If you are overweight by 30 to 50 pounds, subtract 4 years from your average life expectancy.

  • If you are overweight by 10 to 30 pounds, subtract 2 years from your average life expectancy.


Adapted from: K. R. Fontaine, et. al., “Years of life lost due to obesity,” Journal of the American Medical Association 289 (2003): 187–193.



Excerpted from Now Eat This! Diet by DiSpirito, Rocco Copyright © 2011 by DiSpirito, Rocco. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Rocco DiSpirito entered the Culinary Institute of America at the age of sixteen, and at eighteen began working with legendary chefs worldwide. The James Beard award-winning chef opened the 3-star Union Pacific in New York City, where he established his culinary credentials. He was named Food & Wine's Best New Chef and—as the first chef to grace its cover—was called 'America's Most Exciting Young Chef' by Gourmet. DiSpirito starred in the NBC hit reality series The Restaurant, and the A&E series Rocco Gets Real. He has appeared on Oprah, Ellen, Chelsea Lately, and The Tonight Show, among others.

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Now Eat This! Diet 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
CrazyJosephineDavolo More than 1 year ago
Purchased this book the day it came out. If you get this book, please read the Introduction and the chapters--don't go straight to the recipes because it is a good and interesting read. Mr. Dispirito has made this a foolproof and inventive way to make your meals. All dishes are color coded to certain nutritional values. Easy Peasy. As a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, I've tried every "diet" and "healthy" recipe around--they just never taste right. I made the beet,goat cheese and walnut salad and it tasted like a totally loaded salad. Only 4 points--and I have the WW calculator and I checked his nutritional information and those points are spot on!!! I am making the mushroom lasagna this weekend. Listen--I'm not expecting to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, but I'm really focusing on healthier and tastier foods that my family will enjoy. This book is a keeper.
Monica Daniel More than 1 year ago
I have wowed my husband and several others with these recipes. They are simple and easy to follow. The only negative is that some of the recipes don't state how big a portion size is.
NanaLLF More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed the chapter portions of this book on my nook. They were informative and I enjoy the way this author writes. The problem I had is that I do not have a color nook and will have to use my computer to see this book in color. Color is a must to get the full impact of this book. I am looking forward to trying the recipes I can afford. The recipes in this book are for the most part fast and easy, although they do at times have many steps. it is worth it to eat healthy. The flash fried chicken is soooo GOOD. The smoothies are great and help when I have the munchies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the intro and the chapters leading up to the recipes. He writes as he speaks which is wonderful. I just started trying the recipes and I am wowed. I would never have believed that beets and red beans in a dessert would be good but I couln't even tell they were in the Red Velvet Chocolate Squares (recipe on page 263). I had my boyfriend try one and he loved the chocolaty taste. I am now going to buy the first book, Now Eat This!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book and recipes. Wanted to diet but my husband is a foodie. This book allows me to fix items we both can enjoy.
thecollector0 More than 1 year ago
mmhhhhh. this book was awesome and it works!
Bookworm_MomWI More than 1 year ago
i was able to make this dinner fast and very easy. there are alot of dishes due to the steps that are needed but yummo!
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I'm not really sure if that's healthy... I'm 15 and I actually finally reached the 100 pound mark. I'm really happy about it too because my 12 year old sis is heavier/taller than me. But I can understand if you're in modeling or something where you have to have around a specific weight. But I just don't think that's really that healthy for a 13/14 year old cause i was around 80 pounds at that age and I should've had a little more than that. And I live with a mom who tries hard to be about clean eating...we're s-l-o-w-l-y getting there. On Pintrest there's some really good recipes that are ¿ber healthy ( I've tried some) and then there's the option of getting in shape if you aren't in a sport already. This is a tip that maay be mentioned in the book: The more often you eat ( i eat 5-6 times a day or try to) the faster your digestive track or metabolism ( I'm gonna research it.) works to burn it off. In 7th grade I ate very often and I had to walk home on somedays so I pretty much ended up burning those calories off and in the end I maintained the 90-95 mark all year. 114 pounds isn't all that bad really with your weight now though you sound skinny. I would see with you doctor/pediatrician and see what they say/reccommend. In fact next time I have a check up I'm gonna ask how tall and heavy I'm supposed to be.~ The Little Mermaid P.S. I hope I didn't offend anyone because that's just my opinioun and belief. Love y'all and eat healthy and be healthy! (I'm also a Directioner. teehee)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I use it as an easy go to diet book and im only 13 years old and only87 pounds lost 27
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