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Curbing carbs? West Fargo's Fit Fuels Foods sells microwave-ready keto meals

Nichole Jackson-Lind’s refrigerated, oven- or microwave-ready foods range from a bacon-cheeseburger tater-tot hotdish to a cream-cheese laced chicken marinara. And while these dishes offer plenty of protein and gooey cheese, none contain more than 20 grams of carbohydrates.

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Nicole Jackson-Lind prepares and sells high-protein, moderate-fat, low-carbohydrate meals through her business Fit Fuels Foods in West Fargo.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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WEST FARGO — When in-person appointments at Dr. Spencer Berry’s medical weight-loss clinic were shut down by COVID, his certified nurse practitioner Nichole Jackson-Lind knew their patients would definitely need more support.

So Lind launched her own cooking show, initially called “The Cooking NP,” on YouTube.

A former 4-Her who felt at-home in the kitchen, Jackson-Lind demonstrated dishes that fit Berry’s recommended regimen of higher-protein, moderate-fat, low-carbohydrate eating.

Her subscribers loved it. “They said, ‘These are great, but I still wish you would just make them for me,’” Lind recalls. “I just want an easy, convenient item that I don’t have to think about.”

Challenge accepted.

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In August of 2020, Jackson-Lind and husband, Erik, began studying the logistics of what was required to set up such a business. By March of 2021, they filled their first order. And today, their Fit Fuel Foods are a popular staple in the keto-centric grocery section at Berry’s Wellness District Medical Weight Loss Clinic, 435 32nd Ave. E., Wes t Fargo.

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Fit Fuel Foods produces ready-to-heat, low-carb dishes, like this chicken marinara entree with seasoned broccoli, and sells them in the refrigerated section in the Wellness District's grocery area.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Jackson-Lind’s refrigerated, oven- or microwave-ready foods range from a bacon-cheeseburger tater-tot hotdish to a three-meat personal pizza and a cream-cheese laced chicken marinara.

And while these dishes offer plenty of protein and gooey cheese, none contain more than 20 grams of carbohydrates.

Fit Fuel’s entrees, soups, desserts and snacks fit neatly into Wellness District’s prescribed diet, which is built on research that shows sugar, not fat, is the main culprit behind America’s obesity epidemic. But, as Jackson-Lind also points out, these dishes are appropriate for anyone who wants to curb carbs.

“I firmly believe this is the way that everybody should eat, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not,” says Jackson-Lind. “It’s not as much about losing weight as it is about taking back your health, eating in a healthier capacity and understanding that your food is fuel. The reason I called it ‘Fit Fuel’ is because I wanted it to be ‘Fuel that’s fit for health.”

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Nicole Jackson-Lind, right, is a physician's assistant at Wellness District, which specializes in medically supervised weight loss. Here she consults with customers about different low-carb foods on Thursday, Jan. 6. <br/>
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Walking the talk

Lind designed the dishes based on the past decade she’s spent counseling Berry’s patients on nutrition and weight loss. Plus she’s drawn on her own weight-loss journey.

She first saw Dr. Berry as a patient 11 years ago. He not only helped her shave 35 pounds off her 5-foot frame, he taught her how the low-fat movement of the last few decades had made Americans fatter and sicker.

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Food manufacturers replaced the fat with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to keep their products palatable — and BMIs soared. Our bodies, struggling to eliminate all the sugar we were ingesting, developed insulin resistance and metabolic disorders, which paved the way for diseases like Type II Diabetes and high blood pressure.

To demonstrate our nation’s carb-addiction, Lind points out that the average adult should consume just 120 net carbs per day. Instead, the average American ingests anywhere from 500 to 700 net carbs daily, she says.

“Dr. Berry and I feel like we’ve been swimming upstream against this for almost 10 years,” she says. “People are finally understanding that our insulin plays a huge role in our weight gain, in our blood pressure, in diabetes, in cholesterol, in inflammation, in any single type of chronic disease out there.”

Looking to wholesale in '22

Demand has built steadily for Fit Fuel Foods — to the point where Lind has hired two part-time kitchen-prep staff.

As Fit Fuel holds a retail license through Wellness District, they are required to work in a licensed commercial kitchen. So Sundays through Tuesdays are dedicated to cooking out of one such rented kitchen in Horace, where Lind draws from a growing bank of 40 high-protein, low-carb recipes.

Lind says her most-requested items are her bacon cheeseburger tater-tot casserole, which has just 18 grams of carbs despite containing real potato tots. Other favorites include her taco bowls, chicken alfredo macaroni and chicken nuggets.

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Fit Fuel Foods also makes low-carb desserts, which are sold in the grocery section at the Wellness District in West Fargo.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

The majority of her dishes, which cost about $9.99 each, contain just seven to 10 net carbohydrates. Lind keeps carbs at bay by using low-carb wheat flour and pasta from the Great Low-Carb Bread Co. She also makes homemade cream soups and sauces over higher-carb canned versions

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People don’t need to be Wellness District clients to come there to buy Fit Fuel dishes. There’s also an option to order online, as the Linds offer delivery to Fargo and West Fargo. (Due to regulations, Minnesotans must come to Wellness District to pick up their food.)

Lind does occasionally offer several family-sized dishes, although she doesn’t want to get to the point where she’s constantly filling custom orders. After all, she still works Fridays at the Wellness District as an NP.

However, life will only get busier in 2022, when the Linds aim to add a wholesale component to their business. “It’s a much more tedious process than I ever would have thought,” she admits.

Even so, Lind draws inspiration from patients who tell her that Fit Fuel Foods helped them lose weight or reduce their diabetes medication.

One client had tried unsuccessfully to follow keto for years. Right before Christmas he contacted Lind and told her he had finally hit his 100-pound mark of weight loss.

“He said, ‘I hope everyone in Fargo-Moorhead knows how lucky they are to have home-cooked keto meals because I really struggled before you came along,’” she says, smiling.

“Those are the little stories that, when you’re standing there in the kitchen for 12 hours, make you think, ‘This is so worth it.' ... I really do believe that food is our best medicine out there."

Learn more about Fit Fuel Foods at fitfuelsfood.com .

Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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