Cooks Exchange

Happy New Year! Now it’s time to give up the sweets and treats and start eating healthy again

January means it is time to get back on the straight and narrow eating plan.

The Christmas cookies and goodies are eaten or given to friends and family. Now, it is time to shed those extra 5 or 10 pounds added during the holidays.

What are the best foods to eat for weight loss? It depends on what works for you.

A sugar detox works well for me. I need to get the sugar and sugar-free substitutes out of my system. Yes, like readers and family, I am a cookie freak. I baked cookies for our cocoa and cookies fellowship after Christmas Eve Communion. I didn’t have any leftovers that night, but I had baked some extras at home in case friends stopped by. Good excuse, huh?

We went through Greek braided cookies, Mexican wedding cookies (my favorite) and Elyssa and Lilly’s cutout cookies with royal icing. Need I say more?

My daughter is a carb queen; she loves bread. Lilly’s not a big eater; we should be more like her.

Whether readers do low-carb, low-sugar, gluten-free, Sugar Busters or Weight Watchers, the best diet is one that you can live with all year long.

This month is normally chilly, so I like to find low-fat soups. I also like entrée salads anytime of year. So today, I offer some soups to take the chill off but that are still healthy as well as salads that satisfy meat-lovers.

Fresh ground turkey substitutes quite well for ground beef. It must be purchased fresh or frozen. Frozen ground turkey is often made with the skin, so the fat content is higher. Look for fresh-ground turkey in the poultry case.

I have found salads that have an international flavor keep lunches or dinners interesting. A good Greek salad is a meal, as are some Asian and Mexican ones.

Boredom is the death of a healthy lifestyle. If I eat the same thing all the time, then that is when I usually blow my eating plan.


Carol Andrade of Gulfport needs answers to two questions. First off, she wants to know the difference between stock and broth.

“Can they be used in place of each other?” she asked.

Secondly, she wants information on turmeric.

“A friend gave me some turmeric. Lots of it,” she said. “I have never gotten fresh turmeric before. How do I use it and how do I store it?”

Readers, can you help Andrade? Please shoot me your answers via e-mail or mail.


Readers, what do you think were the worst and best food trends of 2017? What do you consider the best food you ate at home or in a Coast restaurant in 2017? Shoot me an e-mail at


Brenda Roberts of Ocean Springs wants a recipe for stuffed butternut squash.

“I know someone has a recipe,” she said. “But does it have to be peeled to stuff?”

The stuffed squash recipe must be a healthy one because Roberts has several health problems that require low fat or low sugar recipes.


Last week’s column included a recipe for Microwave Fudge and left out an important ingredient, which is a quarter cup of milk, so I’m including the corrected recipe today.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.


1 pound powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup oleo or butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts/coconut

Combine all but nuts and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 2-3 minutes or until oleo melts.

Remove and stir until smooth. Add nuts and vanilla and blend well. Put into greased 9-inch square pan. Cool.

For peanut butter fudge: Omit cocoa. Add 1 cup light brown sugar. Follow above instructions. Add 1 cup peanut butter along with the vanilla and nuts/coconut.

For blonde fudge: Omit cocoa. Add light brown sugar. Follow above instructions. After microwaving add vanilla and nuts/coconut.

Submitted by Doris Roberts


1 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, washed and dried

2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and large diced

1 medium English cucumber, large dice

1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon), plus more as needed

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

Place the lettuce in a large bowl and add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives and onion; set aside.

Place the oil, measured lemon juice, oregano, measured salt and pepper to taste in a small, nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and season with additional lemon juice, salt, or pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the feta and serve.

From ‘Chow’ in 2012


1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons commercial salsa, divided

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vinegar, divided

Vegetable cooking spray

1/2 pound freshly ground raw turkey

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon dried whole oregano

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/3 cup chopped sweet yellow pepper

3 cups torn iceberg lettuce

3 cups torn curly endive

1 cup frozen green beans, thawed and drained

Combine 3 tablespoons salsa and 3 tablespoons vinegar in a small jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously. Set salsa mixture aside.

Coat medium skillet with cooking spray’ place over medium heat until hot. Add turkey and next 3 ingredients, cook until turkey is browned, stirring to crumble. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine turkey mixture, kidney beans, tomato, green onions and yellow pepper in a large bowl; toss gently. Add remaining 3 tablespoons salsa and 3 tablespoons vinegar; toss gently.

Place iceberg lettuce and curly endive in a large bowl; spoon turkey mixture over lettuce mixture. Top with green beans, and drizzle with reserved salsa mixture. Yield: 5 servings (about 133 calories per serving).

From ‘Light & Easy Cooking Collection’


1 pound lean boneless pork loin

Vegetable cooking spray

1 cup chopped onion

3 cups water

1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby lima beans

1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

1 medium-size sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped

2 teaspoons vegetable flavored bouillon granules

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika

Trim fat from pork; cut pork into 1/2-inch cubes. Coat a Dutch oven with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork cubes and onion; cook until pork is browned, and onion is tender, stirring frequently. Drain pork mixture, and pat dry with paper towels. Wipe drippings from pan with paper towel.

Return pork mixture to pan; add water and next 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until pork and vegetables are tender. To serve, ladle stew into individual bowls. Yield: 7 cups. (About 199 calories per 1-cup serving)

Note: For complete meal, add a tossed salad and cornbread.

From ‘Light & Easy Cooking Collection’


2 cans (14 1/2 ounces) vegetable broth

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini or tortellini of your choice

1 (15 ounces) can white kidney beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14 1/2 ounces) can diced Italian tomatoes; do not drain

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 cups fresh baby spinach

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated

In large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add tortellini; reduce heat

Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes, salt and pepper; return to a simmer. Cook 4 to 5 minutes longer or until tortellini are tender.

Add spinach and fresh basil; cook until spinach is wilted. Top servings with cheese. Makes 6 servings at 239 calories per serving.

From Taste of Home magazine, 2013