By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – These days, Lois Sanderson is all about color on her plate.
“You eat with your eyes first, so a plate should never be the same palette,” she said. “You need different colors and textures. Color lets me know if I’m going to have a scrumptious meal or a bland meal.”
Sanderson, 55, hasn’t always cooked this way.
Before her divorce, she typically prepared a meat, vegetables and bread at every meal. And she fried a lot of foods.
But not anymore.
“When your diet has a lot of colors, generally it’s better for your health,” she said. “If it’s got a lot of color, it’s beautiful and it looks good, but I also know that means I’m eating healthier. In the last few years I’ve really started to concentrate on healthy foods. There’s no oil in my house except olive oil.”
After Sanderson’s divorce, she was back to cooking for just one.
“At first, I started breaking large recipes down, but even then I’d have a lot of leftovers. I don’t really like leftovers and I used to throw away so much food, so I just came up with meals for one,” she said. “Now, if I get a pack of chicken breasts, I’ll take out one or two and freeze the rest in packs of one or two. I do the same with shrimp and fish.”
Sanderson, a data analyst for North Mississippi Medical Center, said she enjoys the rhythm of chopping and cooking and putting a meal together.
“It’s relaxing to me,” she said. “I love to see the outcome of a plate.”
For herself, she might prepare a baked swordfish fillet, eggplant and red pepper couscous and an ear of corn; or maybe sautéed shrimp with some roasted vegetables.
For company, she might make roasted Cornish game hens and roasted potatoes with carrots or asparagus.
“I use a lot of herbs in my cooking,” said the Amory native. “Fresh cilantro, dill and rosemary really play a big part in the flavor of food. I even put fresh herbs in my salads.”
Sanderson shares her Tupelo home with two beloved cats, 15-year-old Molly and 12-year-old Elvis. They like to watch her cook and will sometimes wander in when she takes time for her creative outlet, painting.
“I got interested in painting after a stroke in 2004,” she said. “I wasn’t very artistic before. I started with watercolors on my own and then I took a class and the instructor suggested I start with watercolors or acrylics, but I wanted to do oils. So I did that on my own. And I think my watercolors have gotten better since I’ve done oils.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.