Rocco DiSpirito's recipes for healthier cooking in 2019

PHOTO: Rocco DiSpiritos protein pancakes with blueberry syrup.Play“Rocco’s Healthy and Delicious”
WATCH Rocco DiSpirito's tips for healthy cooking in 2019

If the New Year has you searching for nutritious takes on classic recipes, Rocco DiSpirito is here to help.

The celebrity chef appeared on "Good Morning America" Wednesday with recipes from his latest cookbook, "Rocco's Healthy & Delicious."

DiSpirito's secret is subbing in ingredients like applesauce, buckwheat flour and coconut sugar into classic recipes.

(MORE: How to meal prep like a boss in 2019)

Try these recipes in your kitchen in 2019!

Rocco's fried chicken with coleslaw and avocado

PHOTO: Rocco DiSpiritos fried chicken with coleslaw and avocado. ABC News
Rocco DiSpirito's fried chicken with coleslaw and avocado.

Fried chicken is one of our best-loved comfort foods, but that greasy stuff is off limits if you’re trying to keep a tight rein on your weight. In this recipe, I make fried chicken healthy and delicious through a technique known as flash frying.

(MORE: Fast and simple keto recipes that will make you forget you're missing carbs)

Because the chicken is already cooked, it only needs to fry for 10 seconds on each side, as opposed to 10 to 15 minutes for traditional pan-frying or deep-frying. By spending so little time in the oil, the chicken and breading absorb far less of it, yet the outside still has time to fry up to a perfectly feather-light crunch.

Makes four servings.


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup almond meal

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Grapeseed oil, for flash-frying

1 bag (14 ounces) coleslaw mix

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 packets Monk Fruit in the Raw

2 avocados, cut in half


1. Place the chicken in a microwave-safe container. Add enough water to cover halfway and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave until cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes (the cooking time will depend on the wattage of your microwave).

2. Cut the chicken into 1-inch-wide strips and set aside.

3. Set up a breading station: Place ¼ cup of the buckwheat flour in a shallow container. In a second container, beat the eggs. In a third, combine the remaining ¼ cup buckwheat flour, the almond meal, paprika, and salt.

4. Dip the chicken strips into the buckwheat flour, then into the egg, and then the buckwheat/almond mixture.

5. Pour ½ inch of grapeseed oil into a saute pan. Heat until smoking, about 400°F. Flash-fry for 10 seconds on each side. Place on paper towels to rest.

6. In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, vinegar, olive oil, and monk fruit and toss to coat.

7. To serve, divide the slaw among 4 plates. Top each with one-half of an avocado. Serve the fried chicken on the side.


Per serving: 382 calories, 21g fat, 28g protein, 24g carbohydrates and 10g fiber.

Rocco's protein pancakes

PHOTO: Rocco DiSpiritos protein pancakes with blueberry syrup. “Rocco’s Healthy and Delicious”
Rocco DiSpirito's protein pancakes with blueberry syrup.

These are the high-protein, gluten-free pancakes you’ve been searching for—they are one of the most popular items among my clients.

I’ve replaced the fat with applesauce, a healthy sub for fat in baked goods that also imparts a hint of sweetness with no added sugar.

Makes four six-inch pancakes.

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 scoop protein powder

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the applesauce, eggs, baking powder, and protein powder until just combined.

2. Heat a 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray and pour 3 ounces of batter into the pan.

3. Cook until the edges of the pancake are set, about 45 seconds. Flip and cook another 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat to make 3 more pancakes. Serve with blueberry syrup.

Per serving: 77 calories, 2.5g fat (1g sat), 8g protein, 6g carbohydrates and 2.5g fiber.

Recipes reprinted with permission from "Rocco's Healthy & Delicious: More than 200 (Mostly) Plant-Based Recipes for Everyday Life" by Rocco DiSpirito.