MasterChef Contestant Shows Us How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
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“My dear friend Maryann sent me a flyer one morning telling me to apply to be on Fox’s TV competition MasterChef,” Lexy explains. “I loved to cook, and loved the show, but I never ever thought my two minutes of spontaneous boldness would lead to all of this. My time on that show was challenging. I was six weeks pregnant with my third child upon arriving in Los Angeles and morning sickness took full effect as soon as I stepped into that amazing kitchen. I was stressed every day, trying to impress the very chefs I had been watching and studying my entire life.”
Gordon Ramsay is the show’s British celebrity chef. “He is, without a doubt, the most intimidating and oddly comforting man I’ve ever met.” Lexy had to press through all the stress. “I heard voices in my head constantly telling me, 'You’re not good enough. You’re not worthy. You won’t win anyway. You’re just here to help fill a demographic.' Those thoughts were difficult to silence, and even more difficult not to believe. Audition after audition, interview after interview, I kept making it through to the next round. When I got that apron, I became a member of a new family of chefs that brought me comfort and support … And all because I said yes to being uncomfortable and pushing past my fears, and no to doubting myself.”
Part of what intrigued the MasterChef producers is Lexy’s tout that she could feed her family on $40 per week (then), which was brought up often by Gordon Ramsay. Others criticized her low-budget approach. “When my season of MasterChef aired, some said I was labeling myself as a ‘poor black girl’ and acting like my personal budget was a public weakness. I am ashamed to say it affected me more than it should have. But I am not ashamed anymore, and if you can relate to my story, you shouldn’t be ashamed either. We live in a time of food deserts (lack of affordable, nutritious food in marginalized communities). Systemic oppression forces people to rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) benefits to feed their children, even though they work full-time jobs. Wages have stalled while living expenses have skyrocketed. I say, “HECK NO” to that nonsense. I’m proud of my ingenuity in the kitchen. I’m not a ‘poor Black girl.' I am the architect of my children’s phenomenal future. Besides, budget food can taste amazing if you know how to use the ingredients right. I don’t need saffron and wagyu steak.”
Lexy says her mom can cook well, and makes a fabulous “Zuppa Toscano” (recipe in the book), but cooking for her was more out of necessity than passion. The latter she got from two other close relatives. “At eight years old, I remember being on my tippy toes, peering over the counter to get a peek at my Aunt Lovie and grandma (we all call her Mama Anne) making magic in our tiny, rustic kitchen. It was an effortless alchemy. In a buzz of noisy, joyful chaos, Aunt Lovie and Mama Anne expressed their love for our family by turning everyday ingredients into extraordinary, heavenly smelling, warm-your-belly, hearty, nourishing meals. Sure, Mama Anne and Aunt Lovie showed me how to make the perfect collard greens and fried corn. But they also instilled in me a deeper lesson about connection and community. In our home, food had the power to bring people together, soothe weary souls, brighten someone’s day, and shape the dreams of a curious eight-year-old child. Mama Anne and her husband, Papa Fred, had a way of making strangers feel like family. Aromas from our kitchen wafted through the neighborhood, bringing people from all down the block right to our doorstep for a phenomenal plate of food. Thanks to the aroma-filled, warm-bellied childhood memories created by Mama Anne and Aunt Lovie, cooking for others became my love language, one that I now express to my husband, my children, and my community.”
FRUGAL COOKING WITH LOVE
Lexy, who grocery shops at Walmart, describes her thrifty approach thusly: “My taste buds are bougie, but my pockets are stingy.” Her recipes reflect where she is in life, i.e. a busy, military mom who doesn’t have time to make everything from scratch. “My fancy chef friends may not appreciate some of these recipes, and that’s okay. Canned foods are cheaper. Premade biscuit dough is easier. This book is for parents with toddlers clinging to their legs, folks saving pennies for their kids’ tuition, and college students craving easy, inexpensive late-night food. I see you,” she assures them. “When I picture families and communities all over the country breaking bread together, like we used to do in Mama Anne’s kitchen, it fills me with incredible joy. Whether you cook to live or live to cook, these simple yet delicious meals are easy to make, fun to enjoy, and full of heart.”
In her appearance on The 700 Club, Lexy will show and tell these favorite recipes, making the last one on set.
• Mini frittatas
• Monte Cristo crescent rolls
• Oven-roasted salmon with asparagus
• Taffy apple salad
Purchase Chef Lexy Rogers cookbook, Break Bread on a Budget and discover more receipes your whole family can enjoy at Chef Lexy Rogers. And, get get your copy of Extraordinary Meals on a Budget absolutely free by clicking here!
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