• Going ‘Back to Basics’ with Chef JoJo’s meal plan

    By Staff Reports -

    Let it be known, Monday was my first day of doing a healthy meal plan with Chef Joey Morasse. He calls it “Back to Basics,” and it involves a lot of meat and vegetables, the good stuff. 

    For one month, I will not eat the following foods: 

    • sugar 

    • dairy 

    • grain 

    • soy 

    • alcohol 

    • legumes 

    I know; it sounds kind of intense. As I’m writing this I’m thinking about all the delicious fair food I’m going to miss out on these next two weekends. But this is long overdue and it’s only for a month. 

    I’m taking on this challenge not only because I’d like to lose a little weight, but also because I want to see for myself how it feels to get off the sneakiest drug around, sugar. I’m not the worst when it comes to sugar. I don’t drink sodas very often and I don’t often crave sweets, but as I start reading labels of things like condiments and chips I can see that sugar is everywhere. It’s sneaky, and it’s often unnecessary, yet it appears in my can of peas and in my ketchup and even my favorite salad dressing. 

    Naturally occurring sugars are fine on this plan, like the cup of mixed fruit that I just finished eating. Mostly, it’s the refined sugar that is related to inflammation and heart problems, so I’m allowed to have a little bit of natural sweet here and there.  

    For the first week, I prepared sweet potato salmon patties, a cucumber and tomato salad, fruit cups, salad ingredients and chicken wings with a homemade dry rub. I put it all together on Sunday evening so I could start the week off without the stress of what in the world can I eat. Food prep is one major key to success, especially without the option of grabbing a grease-burger in the drive thru.  

    I’ve been putting “Cooking with JoJo” columns in The Democrat’s Food section for a little more than a year now. They always look delicious and inviting, but before this week, I’ll admit, I hadn’t tried one. Now I know what I’ve been missing. 

    Sunday night I made the “Next Level Salmon Cakes,” which are made with sweet potato as a binder and a few spices. Tasting them gave me a lot of hope for my next month of cutting out some major favorite foods. 

    I think the hardest thing for me will be the grain. I’m a big fan of bread, and I’m an even bigger fan of chips. Rice counts as a grain, and even quinoa counts as a pseudo-grain. I’m pretty sure most of my extra weight comes from munching on chips after I get home from work. I like to have my chill time on the couch, which also invites munch time. Without giving up my relaxation activity, I found that sugar snap peas work very well as a munch-time replacement. Carrots and nuts also work wonders. 

    All in all, I know I’m in for a tough month, but I’m making it public so I can hold myself accountable. I’ll be posting videos of my progress once in a while, so be on the lookout.

    Sinclaire Sparkman is The Democrat’s news editor. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.

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