Bringing Southern Elegance & Healthy Recipes to the

Modern Kitchen



It happens to all of us sooner or later. There is “that birthday” looming on the horizon that makes you stop and think. For some it is 40, for others 50, but for me it was 47. It was three months before my 47th birthday when I decided to make a lifestyle change. I had to get back into shape and lose weight after having a baby at almost 43-years old, but how do I avoid food when my life revolves around it?

I am a private chef, Emmy award-winning television host, cookbook author, and founder of Wicker and Whisk—a gourmet line of clean eating sauces coming out this year. My life literally is all about food. In addition, I am a wife and mother of three boys, ages 22, 16 and 5. Yes, 5!

Food is just as big a part of my family life as it is my professional life. No one in the family was going to be happy if I cooked boring food. So, I made the decision that I was going to create delicious meals, just as I always had, but healthier and cleaner. No boring baked chicken and plain salads were going to dare grace my Southern table. Southern food is comfort food! People expect dishes like fried chicken, cornbread, fried green tomatoes, pound cakes, and of course grits. Traditionally a lot of Southern foods are fried and often breaded with flour, which has gluten. How can I get the traditional flavor that people love but present it in a clean way?

As a chef, I knew that I would have to push my culinary skills to keep my family and myself happy while trying to be healthier. The thought of being bored with cooking, when it is what I love so dearly, was terrifying. I had to learn to avoid processed foods, gluten, and refined sugar; limit dairy; and add more plant-based foods to replace dairy. For the first 120 days of my lifestyle change, I created a new recipe every day, putting my creativity to the test.

I also made a commitment that I would faithfully work out, incorporating weight training and cardio. Exercising in itself was a challenge in the beginning. I have always told people: “If you see me running, call the police because someone is chasing me!” Exercise was something I did half-heartedly in the past, but now it is a regular part of my life. I actually love working out. I have discovered muscles and strength I never knew I had.

I lost 46 pounds and went from a size 12 to a size 2. What began as something that I thought I would suffer through to reach my goals of becoming healthy and fit has become a new passion. I found that it was actually possible to lose the weight from having a late-in-life baby. And what’s more, I found that you can eat healthy without sacrificing flavor.

Cooking has been the biggest blessing. My creativity is challenged every day, and I love it! I haven’t given up anything. I have simply added a new culinary passion—glorious food that is delicious, beautiful, healthy, and clean!