Chef Rocco DiSpirito’s Thanksgiving appetizers

Acclaimed celebrity Chef Rocco DiSpirito, author of Rocco’s Healthy + Delicious, stopped by “The View” to show off some of his most delectable Thanksgiving appetizers — that taste great and are great for you, too!

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THANKSGIVING TRAIL MIX
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES
PER SERVING 88 calories / 7g fat / 2g protein 5g carbohydrates / 2g fiber

INGREDIENTS
¼ cup raw pecans
¼ cup raw cashews
¼ cup freeze-dried cranberries
½ brown rice cake, crumbled
¼ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper

METHOD
In a small bowl, combine the nuts, cranberries, rice cake, olive oil, poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste and toss well to combine.

FRIED CHICKEN WITH COLESLAW AND AVOCADO
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 10 MINUTES
PER SERVING 382 calories / 21g fat / 28g protein 24g carbohydrates / 10g fiber

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. 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.

INGREDIENTS
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ cup buckwheat flour
2 eggs
½ cup almond meal
1½ teaspoons paprika
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Grapeseed oil, for flash-frying
1 bag (14 ounces) coleslaw mix
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 packets Monk Fruit in the Raw
2 avocados, cut in half

METHOD
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 sauté 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.

PROTEIN PIZZA CRUST
MAKES 4 SERVINGS

I’ve baked nutrition right into this pizza crust— baby spinach, a supergreen, is incorporated into the dough! I left it open for you to top the crust with anything you desire, but I suggest sticking to veggies, nondairy cheese, and turkey sausage.

PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 15 MINUTES
PER SERVING 62 calories / 1g fat / 9g protein 3g carbohydrates / 3g fiber

INGREDIENTS
2 cups baby spinach
1 scoop Rocco’s Protein Baking Mix or your favorite baking mix (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
Pinch of salt
¼ cup liquid egg whites
1 egg

METHOD
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or use an ovenproof nonstick pan.
2. In a food processor, combine the spinach, protein baking mix, and salt and pulse until it is almost the texture of sand, 8 to 10 times. With the processor running, pour in the liquid egg whites and whole egg.
3. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and bake until the center of the pizza crust is set, 12 to 15 minutes.
Tip: Put any ingredients you would like on your crust and broil for a few minutes to warm through—and melt any cheese.

SHRIMP CREOLE
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES
PER SERVING 225 calories / 6g fat / 26g protein 18g carbohydrates / 4g fiber

In this classic Louisiana dish, the trio of onion, celery, and bell pepper forms the base of a flavorful tomato sauce that is then infused with hot sauce. You can easily double or triple this recipe to serve a crowd.

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
½ cup chopped celery
4 cups chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce
1 pound shrimp, peeled, including tails
1 cup chopped scallions

METHOD
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery and sweat until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook until they have broken down and formed a thick sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste.
3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the shrimp and cook until they are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Fold in the scallions and serve.

CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM EMPANADAS
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 40 MINUTES
PER SERVING 302 calories / 8g fat / 27g protein 34g carbohydrates / 2.5g fiber

Empanadas are meat-filled pastries that are easy to make and even easier to eat, because you can use your hands. You can change up the filling however you’d like—I made these using chicken, mushrooms, onions, and more—all wrapped up in gluten-free pizza dough. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them for future use. Empanadas make a great party dish.

INGREDIENTS
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound cremini mushrooms
1 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of red chile flakes
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped cilantro
4 portions (52 grams each) store-bought gluten-free pizza dough (such as Gillian’s)

METHOD
1. In a pot, combine the chicken with water just to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool, then pull apart with your hands. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the mushrooms, and sauté until they begin to brown and soften, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the chili powder, chile flakes, tomatoes, and pulled chicken to the pot and cook until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Finish the filling by stirring in the cilantro.
5. Meanwhile, roll each portion of pizza dough into a 12-inch round.
6. Divide the chicken and mushroom mixture evenly among the 4 rounds of dough. Use a spatula to fold the dough over the filling, then press the edges with your fingers to seal.
7. Transfer the empanadas to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until the crust is golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.
Tips: Keep cooked chicken ready to go in your refrigerator to cut down on prep time. Roll the pizza dough between two pieces of parchment. It is much easier to work with this way.

HIBISCUS-POMEGRANATE AGUA FRESCA

INGREDIENTS
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1 Thai chile, split in half lengthwise
4 3-inch strips orange zest
½ cup dried hibiscus flowers or 24 hibiscus tea bags
1 cup pomegranate juice
½ cup coconut nectar
½ cup fresh lime juice
Thin lime wheels (for serving)

METHOD
1. Scrape vanilla seeds into a medium saucepan; add pod, chile, orange zest, hibiscus, coconut nectar, and 1 cup boiling water, 1 cup pomegranate juice.
2. Let steep until infusion cools to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids.
3. Stir in lime juice and 2 cups cold water; chill agua fresca 1 hour.
4. Divide agua fresca among ice-filled glasses. Garnish with lime wheels.

Source.