Author Fred Bollaci is featured in “Flavors & More Magazine” and online blog, written by Lori Rodgers, a well-known food writer and gourmand, based in Sarasota, Florida
Excerpt from the article follows:
May 7, 2018
By Lori Rodgers
Two recently published cookbooks caught my eye. The first contains the word “Diet” in the title…usually a turnoff. Beginning at the tender age of five, I have tried EVERY diet on the planet. However, this publication also includes the word “Restaurant” in the title. As much as I dislike diets, I love dining in restaurants, so I sat down to thumb through it and ended up reading Part One, the Gourmet Weight-Loss Plan, in its entirety.
The Restaurant Diet, How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci incorporates the author’s inspiring personal quest to improve his health without taking punitive measures including eschewing dining out for the duration. Part One of this book is devoted to the “Gourmet Weight- Loss Plan”, broken down into four positively-named phases: Beginning, Opportunity, Challenge, and Achievement. Bollaci lost 150 pounds in one year, an impressive accomplishment, and has maintained his weight loss for seven years while continuing to enjoy delicious culinary treats all over the globe. Wisely, he advises anyone interested in pursuing this plan to first consult their physician. His support team included a physician, a nutritionist, and a therapist. As many of us know first-hand, emotions can play as much of a role in weight management as calorie intake and exercise.
There is no silver bullet here…moderate daily exercise is recommended and both phases one and two include a weekly cleanse day – fruit, veggies, and tea only. Calorie counting, food tracking and elimination of “white” carbs are part of phases 1-3 and included in 4 as needed. Here comes the good news…one glass of wine, preferably a really good glass of wine, is allowed with dinner every day (with the exception of the weekly cleanse day) from Day One. Yay!
Aside from sharing his very personal struggles to help others facing similar challenges, I was impressed by the author’s ability to convince chefs and proprietors of some of the nation’s top restaurants to share their recipes! Presented alphabetically by state, from California to Vermont, each recipe includes a tidbit about the restaurant’s setting and history, notes for healthy preparation, nutrition facts, and the corresponding phases of the program during which they can be enjoyed. Bollaci delivers on the gourmet factor with such offerings as Cornmeal Blinis and Lemon Crème Fraiche, Chicken Pappagallo with Agrodolce, and Fig & Chestnut Risotto.
Following this nationwide tour of Bollaci’s favorite restaurants and healthy dishes, he includes recipes from an Italian cooking school as well as his favorite hotel in Italy, the Hotel Santa Caterina on the Amalfi coast. The Hall of Fame section includes the specialties of famous establishments that sadly are no longer in operation.
Finally, Bollaci shares several of his original healthy recipes. According to the author, two of his favorites are Fred’s San Marzano Tomato Sauce and Fred’s Famous Meatballs. With his permission, we have included the recipes. I’m going to make these for dinner tonight!
Fred’s San Marzano Tomato Sauce
Yields 12 cups * All Phases
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 cup water
2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed), torn
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large stockpot
When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until golden brown (do not burn the garlic)
Add the hand-crushed tomatoes with the juice from the cans. Put ¼ cup of water in each can, swish it around to gather up all the last of the tomato goodness, and add it to the sauce (1 cup of water total).
Add the fresh basil, salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or let simmer.
One cup of tomato sauce is sufficient for a 4-ounce serving of pasta. Most pasta contains 100 calories per ounce so 4 ounces of pasta with 1 cup of my sauce is 481 calories. Add a Tbsp. of freshly grated Parmesan, which is 22 calories.
Fred’s Famous Meatballs “Two Ways”:
Sicilian Style Three Meats with Raisins and Pignoli & Traditional Neapolitan-Style
Yields approximately 15 meatballs
Sicilian Style is Phases Two-Four
Traditional Neapolitan-Style is all Phases
2 Tbsp. golden raisins (optional)
¼ cup marsala wine to soak raisins (optional)
1 cup plain bread crumbs (store bought is fine)
¼ cup of skim milk
½ pound ground lean sirloin or round
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground lean pork
4 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, lightly toasted (optional)
1 tsp. of chili flakes (optional)
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Soak raisins in marsala wine for half an hour (optional).
To prepare the bread, remove the crusts, cut into small cubes, soak a couple of minutes in the milk.
Mix the ingredients with a fork until well amalgamated.
Roll the meatballs by hand, forming approximately 15 balls (you can adjust the size as you wish).
Drop rolled meatballs into a large pot of hot simmering tomato sauce and let simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes on low heat, gently stirring occasionally so they don’t stick.
Traditional Neapolitan-Style Meatballs
Use the same quantities of the above ingredients, except use 1 ½ pounds lean ground sirloin (omit the pork and veal). Also omit the raisins, marsala, and pine nuts. Mix and roll the meatballs, cook in simmering sauce as above.
Both dishes are cooked directly in simmering San Marzano Tomato Sauce. Eliminating the raisins and/or the pine nuts will reduce the calorie count.
I enjoyed each section of this book in different ways. The personal story is compelling. The Key Weight-Loss Tips and the Healthy Lifestyle Principles are practical and feasible to incorporate into my already packed daily routine. The selection of restaurant recipes are creative and elegant interpretations of healthy ingredients. Fred’s favorite recipes are tasty treats that you can prepare for your family and friends with the bonus of knowing they are nutritious.
Given the choice, I would prefer to dine at Fred’s favorite restaurants instead of preparing their healthy dishes at home. As mentioned earlier, I truly enjoy dining out and the prospect of enjoying a fabulous meal guilt-free is just too darn tempting to pass up! However, should I wish to impress dinner party guests with healthy, elegant cuisine, this will be my bible. Buon Appetito!
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About Lori Rodgers – Lori’s passion for food and fine dining began at an early age. She started reading Gourmet at 8, and was fortunate to have a father who included her in his travels to cites across the US, often frequenting restaurants she had read about in the magazine. After studying hotel and restaurant management at FSU for two years and thoroughly enjoying the summer program in Switzerland, she graduated with a degree in International Business with a minor in Spanish. Lori owned and operated the family business, Bert Rodgers Schools of Real Estate for 25 years, indulging her cooking hobby by whipping up meals for family and friends on the weekends. She has two teenagers who have adopted a vegan lifestyle, adding a new challenge to Lori’s cooking repertoire. Lori recently sold the business and is embarking on a new chapter and new career, returning to her true calling, cooking and exploring the multifaceted world of food!