May 10, 2012

Rocco’s Brown Bags


Rocco DiSpirito: My name is Rocco. I’m a chef. I’ve been cooking since I was 11 years old.

Scott: Meet celebrity Chef Rocco DiSpirito. You might recognize him from his reality show appearances but now he is trading the TV for…a truck?┬áHe has named it Now Eat This and Rocco and his truck travel to schools bringing free brown bag lunches to students.

“Thank you!”

Rocco: Enjoy your lunch!

“Thanks, man.”

Scott: Today, he has at Cliffside Park High School in New Jersey. And this isn’t just a free meal. Rocco wants these teens to learn how to eat healthy.

Rocco: What do you guys know about calorie consumption? Gives you energy. And if you don’t use the energy what happens? Goes right there! It gets stored as fat in places nobody wants it stored.

If they walk away thinking that healthy and delicious is possible — even if they like what I like half as much as I like it — that’s a big. big win. Because most of these kids don’t believe that healthy and delicious is possible.

Scott: Rocco starts off each visit by talking to the students…

Rocco: You know what makes me crazy? When people talk about how expensive it is to eat healthy.

Scott: …Explaining to them it is possible to eat smart.

Rocco: So, how do we make chicken noodle soup that’s delicious, that’s healthy, that tastes like grandma’s chicken noodle soup with noodles?

Scott: Senior Ariel Martinez, a member of the school’s culinary club, loved seeing Rocco cook in person.

Ariel Martinez: I’ve always been interested in not just food itself but the nutrition part of the food. The recipes that he’s teaching us I can show my friends and family. You know, it’s very interesting.

Rocco: Celery.

Scott: Rocco showed the teens how to make the lunch that he was giving out.

Rocco: And then you add surprise chicken.

You know, I asked, ‘what’s your favorite food?’ and everyone said McDonalds. I get it. It’s delicious. We can’t count on other people to cook for us every day of our lives. Because no one is as interested in our future as we are. You can cook for yourself and make much better choices.

So then, you stir this around. Let it cook for thirty minutes and that’s it. You’re done. Chicken noodle soup done!

Scott: The meal even included a low fat cupcake made from brownie batter.

What did you think?

Student: Yeah. It had a certain taste. It was really nice though. You could tell it was healthier.

Student: Really weird.

Student: It tasted good. I like it. I mean, it did give a little weird aftertaste but i would get used to it.

Scott: So, would you say that would be something, like, would you incorporate it into your life or bring with you in your school lunch?

Student: Yeah, definitely. I would even introduce it to my parents.”

Scott: And it would be healthy!

How healthy? Well, Rocco’s special dessert only has 77 calories in it, where a regular brownie or cupcake can sometimes have close to 400 calories.

Rocco is able to pay for the student’s free meals with money he earns from his Now Eat This food truck, selling the good eats to New York City workers and tourists.

Now, if you are not able to get a visit from Rocco but still want to make a change for the healthy, he has got some tips:

Rocco: Eat by color. That’s a good starting point. Lighter foods are generally unhealthy. Darker, generally more healthy. Whole grains, whole rice, etc. Stay away from packages and labels. If you can eat something like an apple that isn’t wrapped, you’re making a better choice for yourself.

It starts at home. Ask your parents to do something different.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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