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Q&A With Rocco DiSpirito

continued...

5. What can't you resist, regardless of the calorie count?

"Great wine, wine so good that it changes your outlook on life. But I don't drink often. I save it for a special occasion."

6. Do you have a regular exercise routine?

"I do a lot of biking. Five times a week, I bike a fast 20-plus miles. And I do resistance training three to four times a week."

7. You visit schools around the country, doing cooking demonstrations, and getting students excited about eating healthier. Why are kids such an important audience for you?

"It has always been important to me to teach others the value of what I do. Cooking changed my life for the better when I was 11. I want to impart that to kids. Plus, with obesity being such a widespread problem, I want to give kids the resources and skills to make healthy choices."

8. When it comes to food and eating, what are three lessons you want every kid to learn?

"Sugar is bad. Learn how to cook. ‘Healthy’and ‘delicious’ are not mutually exclusive."

9. Did the food you grew up on -- and the cooks you grew up with -- influence your approach to healthy cooking and eating?

"I love Italian food, and on the list of most obese countries, Italy is No. 26 while the United States is No. 1. Clearly, Italy has a successful system that produces healthy results. It's delicious and healthy and fresh. Growing up, there wasn't a dinner that didn't have six kinds of vegetables."

10. Which of your healthy, low-calorie recipes gets the most converts?

"The fried chicken, the macaroni and cheese, and my black bean brownie cupcakes."

11. What is your best health habit?

"My best habit is being conscious of everything that I put in my mouth. I consume thoughtfully. I always think about the importance of making better, healthy choices when it comes to what I eat."

12. What is your worst health habit?

"Eating late at night. The food just sits in your stomach when you sleep."

13. You're in your mid-40s now. Is there anything you wish you had known about health, say, 20 years ago that you are just learning now?

"I'm definitely prone to heart disease. I would have placed a lot more importance on cardio exercise."

14. What do you cook for yourself at home?

"I eat a lot of grilled fish, like grilled salmon glazed with mustard, tamari, and agave nectar. I also really like seasoned chicken broth."

15. How do you stay passionate about your work?

"I know this is going to sound clichéd, but if you do something that you love, you never work a day in your life. I feel like I'm playing with toys. Traveling for work sometimes leaves me tired, but this is a field that is full of passion. It's so dynamic, so exciting. You can feel like a master, then find 100 things that you don't know. I'm always learning. There is no way to get bored."

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