Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito reworks America’s favorite comfort foods and shaves off half the calories. His new book, Now Eat This: 150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods All Under 350 Calories, allows people to eat what they love, without paying for it on the scale! Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, pizza and brownies all get an overhaul.
“This is the whole point of the book,” Rocco says. “A chef is doing makeovers of unhealthy foods and making them healthy.”
Rocco’s Top Five Must-Have Cooking Ingredients
• Full-fat yogurt replicates the texture of butter
• A teaspoon of Dijon boosts flavor
• Scallions, garlic, lemongrass and bulb onions add flavor and aroma to foods without adding calories
Low-Sodium, Low-Fat Chicken Broth
• Fewer calories for everyday use
• Helps create texture and body in soups and sauces
• Allows food to be cooked with less butter and fat
Five Foods that Can Put Your Health at Risk
Researchers estimate that in the last five years, Americans’ escalating consumption of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages has contributed to 75,000 new cases of diabetes and 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease.
One 12-ounce soda has approximately 150 calories and 40 to 50 grams of sugar, in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which is equal to approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking two or more sodas a day may increase the risk of early kidney damage by 86 percent.
Soda contains phosphoric acid that weakens bones by leaching calcium and erodes dental enamel on teeth.
“Soda can actually unclog a drain,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
The average American consumes approximately 22 teaspoons (88 grams) of sugar every day!
The suggested daily intake (or less) of sugar per day:
• Adult women: 5 teaspoons (20 grams)
• Adult men: 9 teaspoons (36 grams)
• Children: 3 teaspoons (12 grams)
Some foods are rife with hidden sugar additives, so it’s imperative to check food labels. Foods such as yogurt, ketchup and nutrition bars often contain added sugar, fructose and corn syrup, which are other variations of the sweet substance.
Alternative Names for Sugar Additives:
• Diastatic malt
• Ethyl maltol
• Golden syrup
• High-fructose corn syrup
• Malt syrup
• Refiner's syrup
• Sorghum syrup
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
In the 1970s, most food and beverage manufacturers stopped using sucrose, or table sugar, and began using high-fructose corn syrup to flavor their products. HFCS is 20 percent sweeter than table sugar and available for a fraction of the price.
The United States Dietary Association estimates that the average American consumes approximately one-fourth of his or her daily calories in the form of added sugars, which is 142 pounds of sugar a year! Most of the sugars are in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which, more often than not, low-fat diet foods have the highest high-fructose corn syrup content.
Excessive High-Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption Can Cause: Partially-Hydrogenated Oils: Organic Eating
• Insulin resistance and obesity
• Elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL, or bad cholesterol
• Depletion of vitamins and minerals
• High blood pressure
• Liver damage
3. Unhealthy Oils
Many cooking oils are high in saturated and partially-hydrogenated fats, which contribute to high cholesterol, obesity and heart disease.
• Coconut Healthy Oils:
• Grape seed
Cereals make for a quick and easy meal, but some can contain up to 50 percent sugar!
“Some cereals are as bad as a donut,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says.
“If you read the first ingredient [on the box] and it says ‘sugar,’ essentially that’s what you’re eating,” Dr. Travis adds.
5. White Rice
The process used to make white rice strips the grain of its nutritional content. “White rice is empty calories,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “[Substitute with] brown rice, or whole wheat pasta or quinoa.”
Maria Rodale, author of the Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe, believes that eating organic food is a must to stay healthy.
“There are over 80,000 chemicals in the environment, the majority of which have never been tested before on human health,” Maria says. “So we are the guinea pigs, our children are the guinea pigs. It’s becoming more and more urgent that we switch the whole food system to organic food and that all of us together demand organic.”
If the price tag of organic food gives you pause, consider Maria’s three tips to making it affordable:
1. Shop at a Local Farmer’s Market: Going at the end of the day increases the chance of getting better deals.
2. Start a Garden: If you don’t have land where you live, do some research. Chances are there’s a community garden that you and your family can join. You can grow your own fruits and vegetables and get to know your neighbors!
3. Shift Your Dollars: Start thinking about your food differently. Instead of paying $4 for a box of 10 juice packets, buy 10 organic apples for the same price.
“I always tell parents it’s so much better to eat your fruit instead of drinking it,” Dr. Jim says.
Excessive High-Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption Can Cause: