Anyone who’s been keeping up with Rocco DiSpirito these days knows the celebrity chef is now all about healthy eating. DiSpirito completely turned his diet around a decade ago, losing more than 40 pounds and dubbing himself a “healthy lifestyle crusader.” He’s authored 11 cookbooks, including his most recent bestseller The Negative Calorie Diet, and now runs the A Pound a Day Diet fresh food meal delivery service. The James Beard Award winner first became a darling of the culinary world in the ’90s with his acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Union Pacific and has since starred in several food-focused reality TV shows and as a guest judge on Top Chef.
What you may not know is that the guy eats a lot. “I have six to eight meals every day, I’m on what’s called metabolic fasting,” he explains. “It’s funny, people think if you eat less you lose weight, but it’s actually not true at all. If you eat good, whole foods, the more you eat the faster your metabolism works.”
During one recent (and very busy!) weekend, the New York-based chef kept track of every single thing he ate and shared it with us. And yes, he practices what he preaches: eating mostly healthy, including many items from his own meal plan, with a little bit of splurging here and there. (Hey, it was a special occasion!) By the time you’re done reading about his incredible weekend, you’ll want to swap your PBJ for pickled mackerel, trust us.
Morning: A Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie. “I start every day the same, with one of my shakes. I added a little maca powder to it and a little homemade almond milk from a place called Dr. Cow in Brooklyn.”
Mid-Morning: Cantaloupe. DiSpirito jazzed up the melon, which he bought at the Union Square Greenmarket, with some sweet herb syrup made from herbs grown at the garden at his Queens commissary where he and his team also grow vegetables. “It’s Stevia, pineapple mint, and chocolate mint pureed into a syrup that’s sugar-free, of course.”
Early Afternoon: Pickled Spanish Mackerel. He gets much of his fresh seafood from the Long Island-based Blue Moon Fish, run by a family of fishermen. “There’s a guy named Alex who calls me when he gets off the boat and tells me what he has,” says DiSpirito. “I did this with a dill sweet-and-sour pickle with carrots and onions. Mackerel is an oily fish that does really well with a slight brine or a slight cure and when it’s pickled it prolongs the shelf life and it tastes really amazing.”
Mid- Afternoon: Bluefish “Tacomole.” “It’s a taco shell that we make from fiber and protein and it had guacamole and local bluefish made on our 700 degree plancha.”
Late afternoon: Chocolate Protein Bar and Vanilla Smoothie. DiSpirito was on his way to spend the evening at Bard College in Dutchess County, New York, where he created the menu for a charity gala to benefit the school’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Of course, he came armed with some snacks for the two-and-a-half hour drive up there. “The bar has almonds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, lots of raw organic cocoa … and no sugar. It’s very filling.”
Evening: A Little Bit of Everything. The event for 220 people included a cocktail hour, for which DiSpirito created two huge displays of salumi and handcrafted cheeses from local purveyors and an array of passed hors d’oeuvres like classic deviled eggs, cold pea soup shooters, and tuna crudo with watermelon. For the sit-down dinner, DiSpirito’s menu featured a pea ricotta with grilled summer vegetables and sprouts grown in a nearby vertical garden, followed by entree choices of monkfish, Campanile chicken, and porchetta, an Italian pork roast DiSpirito makes when he wants to do something “crazy and indulgent,” he says. “I had a little bit of each. I had to taste everything. And we did a bunch of sides like farro, which came out really well.” Even the health-conscious chef couldn’t resist a taste of the peach-and-blueberry cobbler dessert. “I had a bite of it and I never eat dessert. I’m an 80/20 guy. 80 percent of the time I do the perfect thing and 20 percent of the time I can go off.”
3am: Berry Beignets, Stuffed Green Peppers with Turkey and Tomato, Chocolate Protein Bar. “I was starving by the time I got home,” he admits.
Morning: Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie. As per usual.
Afternoon: Wild Boar with Polenta, Grilled Eggplant, Prosciutto, Bread (shared with friends).“I went to a place called Terra for a late brunch and they have this cool section on their menu called Cicchetti and they’re all like $10 dishes and a pretty good selection,” he says. “Everyone I hang out with likes to try different things and are very adventurous eaters so we share and anybody can try anything I have.”
Evening: Avocado-Quinoa balls and a Fruit and “Cheese” Plate. “I remember I was sitting there with my dog and I had these. They’re basically black bean and avocado turned into a ball and coated in sliced avocado. It’s something I make my clients as well,” he says. The cheeses were all made with cashew milk and almond milk cheeses while the fruit from the farmers market included strawberries, black currants, red currants, and blueberries.
Late Evening: Saffron Yogurt Rice Pudding. DiSpirito combines no-carb, no-calorie Miracle Noodle Shiritaki Rice with coconut yogurt and saffron to create this healthy dessert. “It came out particularly well,” he shares. “Saffron in a sweet application is awesome and I hadn’t done that in a while.”
OK, we officially want to go on Rocco’s diet.
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