Dietitian Tupelo promotes healthy cooking and moderation | food

Tupelo • As a registered dietitian, Merrill Levikos Rogers has always cared about good health.

Meals prepared for her children, Sims and Hart, and her late husband Lee, were well-balanced, with lean protein, plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the plate.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogers and her sister, Laura, were – in Rogers’ words – “puffed up” a bit.

In June 2021, Rogers and her sister decided to try intermittent fasting, a meal schedule that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Rogers lost 32 pounds, and Laura dropped 60.

“All of my nutrition friends were touting its benefits,” Rogers said. “They have used it with their patients with great success.”

Rogers fasts daily between 7 p.m. and 11 a.m., then within eight hours between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., she can eat anything she wants.

“But I always eat healthy,” said Rogers, 74.

When she breaks the fast at 11, she might have an omelet or two hard-boiled eggs with a slice of Canadian bacon, or a chef’s salad in oil and vinegar.

Dinner could be oven-fried catfish with roasted vegetables, such as asparagus, potatoes, red peppers, and zucchini. A bowl of berries with a layer of leather might work for sweetening.

Initially, Rogers wanted to lose some weight before her wedding to Norman Henry in August 2021. Unfortunately, Norman passed away on August 3.

“I’m still sad about that,” she said.

Rogers was born in Greenville, Alabama, to the late Gus and Ruth Levikos. Her father was in the Navy, and the family lived in California, Virginia, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before moving to Tupelo in 1957.

“My mom and dad were great cooks,” Rogers said. “Mother was very smart – she let my dad do all the cooking.”

Rogers said some of her fondest memories of her are of her, her parents, and her brother Richard, in the kitchen on Sundays after church services at All Saints’ Episcopalian.

“We never missed church, and then we came home and we cooked together,” she said.

Rogers received her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, and worked as a postgraduate at Washington University Clinics in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Rosemary Bryan, who was the only registered dietitian at the time at North Mississippi Medical Center, was the reason I wanted to become a registered dietitian,” Rogers said. “I liked it very much. I saw the difference it made in patients’ lives.”

Rogers began her career as a counselor in 1970, and has worked in hospitals and nursing homes in Ripley, Tupelo, New Albany, Starkville, Amaury, Corinth, Holy Springs and Fulton. It maintains the current RDN license.

“I’ve always tried to preach about healthy cooking, but as a dietitian, we always say ‘everything in moderation,'” Rogers said. “You don’t need to deprive yourself of anything you want to eat.”

Do you know good cooking? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, PO Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or call (662) 678-1581 or email them to

Marinated Shrimp

3/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil

1 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

1 caper bottle with juice

2 jars or cans of mushrooms, drained

2 cans artichokes, cut into quarters, in water, drained

Boil shrimp for 5 minutes (no salt or crab). Peel and set aside.

Heat the oil and vinegar until almost boiling. Add salt. Pour over shrimp. Add onions, capers, mushrooms, and artichokes, and cover tightly. Refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Sour cream squash

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Buttered breadcrumbs or biscuit crumbs

Cook zucchini and onions with salt until soft. Drain into a strainer. Mix with a hand mixer until completely homogeneous. Mix butter, sour cream, cheese and pepper.

Pour the mixture into a 2-liter casserole and cover with the buttered breadcrumbs or the breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbling.


1 whole beef tenderloin, chopped

Put the beef, the marinade, the garlic cloves, and the olive oil in a large ziptop bag and leave for 5 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the beef on a rack in a skillet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for two hours. Remove beef and wrap in aluminum foil. When ready to serve, cut into desired slices.

custard caramel

1 1/4 cup sugar, divided

Whisk the egg yolk with half a cup of sugar and salt. Scald the milk and pour into the egg mixture. Add vanilla and nutmeg.

Caramel 3/4 cup remaining sugar in a black cast iron skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat quickly and pour into the bottom of 6 custard cups. Divide the egg mixture evenly over the caramelized sugar.

Put the custard cups in a water bath. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Richard’s Red Hut

Chop the bacon and cook in a frying pan until done. Fried cabbage in bacon broth. Add pears and remaining ingredients.

macaroni salad

5 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons of Greek Kavender seasoning

1 package (12 ounces) vermicelli or angel hair pasta

3 (2 ounces) black olives, sliced, drained

1 (4 ounce) jar pimiento, chopped and drained

6 green onions, finely chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)

4 ounces cooked, shredded chicken breast (optional)

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1 (4 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (optional)

Combine mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, and Greek seasoning. Beat with a whisk until smooth. Sit aside.

Divide the pasta into 1/2-inch pieces and bring to a boil until softened, about 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well.

Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the pasta and mix well. Add olives, pimientos, and green onions, tossing lightly. Add optional ingredients as desired. Best service at room temperature. Serves 8 to 12.

Tenderloins pineapple

2 (12 ounces) pork tenderloin

1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1 1/2 tablespoons dry ginger

12 slices fresh or canned pineapple

Fresh parsley sprigs, for garnish

Trim the fat from the tenderloin. Put it in a heavy-duty ziptop bag.

Combine pineapple juice, ginger, garlic and mustard. Pour over the tenderloin. Close the bag and shake it to cover. Soak in the refrigerator for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove the tenderloin from the marinade. Reserve salt water. Cover the grill rack with cooking spray. Place the tenderloins over a medium-high grill and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, flipping and covering occasionally with the reserved marinade, until the thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Transfer the tenderloin to a serving tray.

Place the pineapple slices on the grill and leave them for 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Slice the tenderloin diagonally. Arrange pineapple slices and parsley sprigs around pork chops. Serves 6 to 8.

Oven fried cats

1 cup ground corn flakes

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

4 (4 to 6 ounces) catfish fillets

Combine the ground cornflakes, celery salt, onion powder, paprika, Old Bay seasoning, and pepper in a bowl. Squeeze half a lemon on both sides of the fish, then spray both sides with olive oil spray.

Roll the catfish fillets in the cornflake mixture and arrange in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle any leftover cornflake mixture over the fillets. Spray again with olive oil spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Cut the remaining lemon half into slices or wedges and serve with fish.

Forgotten cookies

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until frozen. Add salt, vanilla, nuts and chocolate chips and mix well.

Drop 1/2 teaspoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. Put the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven and turn off the oven immediately. Leave the biscuits in the oven overnight. Store in a box. Makes about 3 dozen.

cold dip

1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes or 1 Ro-Tel tomato with cilantro, drained

1 can chopped green pepper, drained

1 can chopped black olives, drained

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

a pinch of garlic, or to taste

1 can black beans, drained (optional)

Mix all ingredients. Chill overnight for best results. Served with Doritos or chips of your choice.


Leave a Comment