COOK OF THE WEEK: Oxford woman reaps benefits of healthy diet

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Susan Foust stops short of calling herself a health nut, but in the past few years, she and her husband, Gary, have definitely adopted a healthy lifestyle.
“A couple of years ago, we did a 360,” said Foust, 49. “We’ve tried to eliminate processed foods, preservatives, artificial ingredients and high-fructose corn syrup. We just try to eat natural foods. Fortunately, we live very near the farmers’ market. Sometimes, I’m there twice a day.”
Foust is an executive assistant in the Office of the Provost at the University of Mississippi, where she’s worked since 1997. But she still makes time every evening to come home and make a healthful, home-cooked meal.
“I cook every single day and on the weekends, I cook much more,” she said. “I feel like that’s my time to stockpile for the freezer and get things ready for the week.”
Drop in at the Foust household in Oxford on any given weeknight and you might be treated to a frittata made with zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, feta, onions and garlic served alongside stone ground grits. Or, she might prepare panko-crusted salmon, roasted vegetables and a big salad.
“We were healthy people before, but now we’re seeing even better results,” she said. “That’s when I really saw the difference – when the good numbers got even better. It’s amazing to think what you eat can make that much of a difference.”
Foust learned to cook from her mother, Dot Turnbow, who died in 1985.
“Mother was an old-school Southern cook,” Foust said. “I watched her and learned from her. She made chicken and dumplings, fried chicken and pot roast, but she was also into the finer things. She could pull out a big gourmet spread, too, so I got the best of both worlds.”
Foust said she was a latchkey kid and it wasn’t unusual for her to get home from school in the afternoons, pull out her mother’s cookbooks and try new recipes.
“I wasn’t afraid in the kitchen,” she said. “I had no fear of experimenting.”
Foust is still not afraid to experiment and in fact, she’s recorded many of her favorite and original recipes on her food blog “Cooking with Susan a.k.a. Secrets of a Self-Taught Foodie (http://susansfoods.blogspot.com/).
“My blog is a way to have things archived so maybe, one day, I can do a cookbook,” she said. “A lot of the recipes I’ve come up with are ones that we love that aren’t so healthy. I’ve adapted them to be more healthy, revamped them, so they fit more into our new lifestyle.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.