Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
Listen up, ladies: Triscuit’s new brown rice crackers aren’t your mother’s snack. The brand has developed delicious spins on its classic namesake snack—like sweet potato and sea salt and black pepper—that get two nutritional thumbs up from celeb chef and FITNESS advisory board member Rocco DiSpirito. The bestselling author developed three healthy, easy-to-make recipes centered around the cracker, and after sampling his culinary creations in Times Square (the turkey chili recipe below is OMG good), we chatted with DiSpirito about his cooking inspiration, eating for the season and saving calories with simple ingredient swaps.
Your Triscuit-inspired recipes were delicious! Why did you partner with the brand?
When an established food company like Triscuit/Nabisco decides they’re going to put a lot of money, time and effort to make something better for you, I’m a big fan of that decision. It’s brave because most food companies are like, “Why change it? It’s perfect, we sell a ton of food, we make a gazillion dollars, we have big homes in the Hamptons, we don’t need to do anything.” But this shows recognition that America needs healthier choices, including their snacks, and I’m proud to associate with a company that feels that way because that’s what I do every day: I try to convince Americans to make healthier choices.
What’s your main goal when developing a recipe?
My priority is to make a recipe that people can reproduce at home very easily. So I work backward from what I find in grocery stores. Every time I start a book, I go to the grocery stores and research what’s available, and that changes all the time. From the time I wrote Now Eat This to now, a lot has changed. There are a lot more healthy ingredients available, so that makes my job a little easier and more exciting. The point is to get people to try it and understand that when they cook, they’re in control, and cooking is better than buying from a restaurant. So those are my priorities: to make it super easy for people to make it at home.
How do you “healthify” a recipe?
You want to swap fats, dairy and sugar: those are the ones that are the most calorically dense. One ounce of any of those has more calories than one ounce of vegetables, for example. For dairy, fat-free Greek yogurt is a great swap. For fats, using something like xanthan gum. So let’s say you want to make an ice-cream smoothie, but you don’t want to use any ice cream. Skim milk and xanthan gum is a great way to create that texture that you’d get from cream. And for sugar, my favorite new sweetener is monk fruit extract. It’s an amazing calorie- and sugar-free sweetener.
What are some of your go-to spring produce?
It’s ridiculous what happens in spring! I start with asparagus, which is fresh in early spring. White asparagus is one of my favorite things on the planet. I plant a garden, so I grow several kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, watermelon, cucumbers—I look forward to all of those things. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like cucumbers, you’ve never had a home-grown one. Sometimes I pick off the leaves of squash blossoms and fry the blossoms, or make a squash blossom omelet. There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables that are in season.
Click for the mouthwatering chili recipe we sampled, then recreate at home – it’s perfect for a party!
Last week, FITNESS advisory board member and super chef Rocco DiSpirito made me breakfast. This was strictly (delicious) business, though! He hosted a group of editors to teach us how to make a low-calorie, well-balanced morning meal with ideas from his Now Eat This! Diet book and new recipes created with Coffee-mate’s recently-released Natural Bliss creamers.
It was all really tasty (and a huge step up from our usual weekday grab-and-go), so we asked DiSpirito to share two of his favorite recipes so we can all recreate them at home.
Vanilla Ricotta-Stuffed Crepes With Orange Maple Syrup
- 6 tablespoons Natural Bliss Low-fat Vanilla
- 4 teaspoons egg white powder
- 8 ounces light ricotta cheese
- 1 navel orange, 1/2 teaspoon of zest removed with fine grater, then peeled
- 1/2 cup calorie-free pancake syrup
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 4 sprigs fresh mint (about 8 leaves), torn into small piece
- Preheat the over to 350° F. Pour all but 2 teaspoons of the Natural Bliss in a small mixing bowl and whisk in the egg white powder until fully dissolved; set aside.
- In another bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the remaining 2 teaspoons of Natural Bliss and 1/4 teaspoon of the orange zest set aside.
- With a sharp knife, cut the sections of orange flesh out from the white membrane that encases them in the orange. Place the orange sections, remaining 1/4 teaspoon orange zest and the pancake syrup in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until the mixture simmers, about 2 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap on one side to vent but keep warm, and set aside.
- Spray a 10-inch nonstick skillet with one second of cooking spray and place over medium heat. Pour one-fourth of the Natural Bliss and egg powder mixture into the warm pan and swirl the mixture so it forms a thin even layer on the bottom of the pan. Put it over the heat until you can see browning at the edges, about 20 seconds, and then place in the oven and bake about 30 seconds or until it has full cooked. Pull the crepe out of the pan, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and set aside. Repeat these steps to make three additional crepes.
- Place a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the center of each crepe and spread it out evenly over the crepes. Fold crepes in half and then in half again and place one crepe each on four plates. Spoon the warm orange syrup over each crepe and garnish with mint leaves.
Nutrition information per serving (one crepe): 108 calories, 4 g fat
For a super sip, click below.
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Don’t love your love handles? Here are four steps to follow to blast belly fat. — Fit Sugar
- Order up! Finally, a food truck that caters to the health-minded masses. — Diets in Review
- Get some fitspiration from this trailblazing female athlete. — FitBottomed Girls
- Your mix-and-match meal plan to plot a trimmer Thanksgiving dinner. — University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Have fun in the kitchen this weekend with this healthy soft pretzel recipe! — Daily Spark
- Does your pre-teen have high cholesterol? Docs might start screening soon. — HealthDay
Rocco DiSpirito has had one busy year. The James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef launched his Bravo reality show Rocco’s Dinner Party, released his Now Eat This! Diet cookbook in March and today his latest book, Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts goes on sale. The FITNESS advisory board member knows weight loss: He dropped 20 pounds training for a triathlon and has kept them off for more than two years.
We asked DiSpirito to share a few of his top tips that offer a taste of all that you can savor in his new book.
Get the Scoop
DIY frozen yogurt and ice cream bars are all the rage, but topping with reckless abandon can lead to a much heftier indulgence than you were expecting! Follow this cheat sheet from DiSpirito of goodies to resist and enjoy. (All calories based on 1/2-ounce scoop of toppings, except cinnamon.)
Shake Some Flavor
- Resist: Chocolate sprinkles (64 calories)
- Enjoy: Dash of cinnamon (0 calories)
Pour it On
- Resist: Hot fudge topping (99 calories)
- Enjoy: Fat-free fudge (40 calories)
Crush Creaming Cravings
- Resist: Walnuts in syrup (127 calories)
- Enjoy: Whipped topping (18 calories)
- Resist: Gummy bears (38 calories)
- Enjoy: Blueberries or cherries (7 calories)
Tote Smart Snacks
We’ve all had those times when our stomachs rumble while we’re stranded far away from our well-stocked fridge and healthy snack stockpile. DiSpirito says that you can save cash and calories by carrying your own 100-calorie snacks rather than relying on store-bought ones (or a supersize cupcake from the bakery down the block). Some suggestions:
- 12 to 15 almonds
- 10 walnut halves
- 2 cups reduced-fat popcorn
- 6 dried apricots
- 12 mini cheddar rice cakes
- 10 baked corn chips
- 1 Now Eat This! Diet Red Velvet Chocolate Square
- 2 Now Eat This! Diet PBJ Cookies