Like so many others in the DC area, I’m always looking for ways to eat good food and yet remain healthy. With that thought in mind, I stumbled upon a new cookbook, “Now Eat This!” written by Chef Rocco Dispirito. The premise of the cookbook is that Rocco takes everyday favorites and “healifies” them to be under 350 calories. Needless to say I was intrigued. I became more intrigued as I saw these recipes featured on Good Morning America and Oprah.
As such, I decided to try out three different recipes. My menu for the night was:
- Grilled Chicken Parmigiano
- Penne Alla Vodka
- Rocco’s Low-Cal Brownies
The meal started off wonderfully. The grilled chicken Parmigiano was amazing. Honestly, I liked it better than normal chicken parm. The main difference here besides using low fat ingredients is that the entire chicken breast is not breaded; instead the breading is just on top of the cheese. This reversal makes for a lovely crunchy texture, whereas the breading usually gets soggy from the marinara sauce.
Paired with the chicken parm was the penne alla vodka. I will admit that I’ve never had real penne alla vodka, but what drew me to trying this recipe was the substitution of Greek yogurt for the heavy cream and vodka. This was incredibly fresh. The Greek yogurt added just enough tartness and that was intermingled with the spiciness of cayenne. The biggest downfall here came when I tried to reheat it; the sauce just wasn’t liquid enough to keep the noodles from sticking. This is a big problem in my world, because I often I make dinner and then eat it for lunch the next day.
I was most excited to try the brownies. I had heard about these before I even know about the recipe. The thought of using black beans in brownies just tickled me. However, I was sadly disappointed. The brownies, if they can even be called that, were definitely chocolaty. The main problems I had were that they didn’t even resemble a cake-like consistency and the bitter after taste from the artificial sweetener. These I also fed to a group of my friends and and about 50% of the people liked them. To save these you may have to alter the main recipe. I could see eating a hot fudge brownie Sunday with these brownies, but I think that would alter the healthiness of the brownie.
Overall, I love the idea of this cookbook and I will definitely make some of the other recipes for dinners and lunches. However, I think the brownies have turned me off to making any of the other desserts. In the end, I do not think the reduction of brownies from 1500 calories to 53 is worthwhile. But the other two recipes are definitely staying, especially the chicken parm, which was reduced from 1090 calories to 332. The pasta which was reduced from 320 calories from 618, is also worthwhile.
-Guest Writer Caitlin Di Santo