Lifestyle Medicine: Harnessing the Power of Healthy Habits for Lasting Health

Discover how lifestyle medicine and healthy habits can prevent chronic diseases, boost well-being, and lead to lasting health improvements.

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Megan Isola. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Beyond Pills: Embracing Lifestyle Medicine for Chronic Disease Prevention

With chronic disease’s rising prevalence, embracing lifestyle medicine to prevent and manage these issues is essential. 

Lifestyle medicine targets the root cause of diseases by encouraging healthy behaviors and habits to promote health and longevity. Habits like eating nutritious meals, staying active, and getting enough sleep can positively impact your mental and physical health.

Studies indicate that up to 80% of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and over a third of cancers can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle choices.

In this post, we’ll dive into what lifestyle medicine is all about, why healthy habits are so important, and share some practical tips to keep you on track to a healthier version of yourself. 

Keep reading to learn how small changes can lead to better health that lasts. 

Understanding lifestyle Medicine

What is lifestyle medicine?

At its core, lifestyle medicine is about promoting health and preventing diseases by forming healthy behaviors and habits. This includes areas such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep.

Nutrition: Encourages balanced meals and nutritious eating habits. 

Exercise: Promoting physical activity that is tailored to your individual needs.

Stress Management: Teaches strategies and techniques to manage stress and emotions effectively.

Sleep Hygiene: Emphasizes the importance of getting enough quality sleep for overall well-being.

Principles of Lifestyle Medicine

The core principles of lifestyle medicine involve a holistic approach to addressing the root causes of chronic diseases through lifestyle changes, not just medications or procedures. Below are the key principles:

Addressing Root Causes: Lifestyle Medicine goes beyond symptom management and instead focuses on identifying the habits and environmental factors that contribute to health decline. 

Comprehensive Health Approach: It then modifies behaviors through physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of health. This treats each person as a unified system.

Preventative Measures: It focuses on the adoption of healthy habits such as nutritious eating, physical activity, stress management, and quality sleep. These behaviors benefit your health both short and long-term.

Personalized Care: Lifestyle medicine recommendations are tailored to each individual’s circumstances, preferences, and cultural backgrounds. 

In essence, lifestyle medicine empowers individuals to pursue health and well-being through the promotion of healthy habits, addressing root causes, and personalized care. The power of adopting these habits is lasting change. 

The Power of Healthy Habits

Developing healthy habits is crucial for achieving and maintaining overall health. Our behaviors impact our daily well-being, which can have lasting effects on our quality of life. Here’s why healthy habits are important:

Eating Balanced Diet

Consuming nutrient-dense meals provides essential vitamins and minerals needed for bodily function. It can help regulate body weight, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases.

Regular Physical Activity

Exercising regularly strengthens your muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and enhances flexibility and endurance. It can support weight management and boost your mood through the release of endorphins. 

Effective Stress Management

Engaging in meditation, deep breathing exercises, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol. This can improve your immune function, sleep quality, and well-being. 

Sufficient sleep

Prioritizing adequate, high-quality sleep is essential for cognitive function, regulating emotions, and physical health. It can improve memory consolidation, and hormone regulation, and strengthen immune function. 

Incorporating these healthy habits into your lifestyle can improve your physical health, enhance cardiovascular endurance, and strengthen immune function. They also provide better mental clarity, reduced stress, and emotional resilience. 

By adopting and maintaining these habits, you can improve your quality of life and reduce the likelihood of developing chronic diseases in the future.

Practical Tips for Adopting Lifestyle Medicine

With the benefits of healthy habits understood, we’ll now dive into how you can incorporate them into your daily routine to improve your health and well-being.  Here are practical tips to help you integrate these habits into your lifestyle:

Set Realistic Goals

Setting achievable goals for your lifestyle medicine journey is essential. Start with small, manageable steps and gradually increase intensity or duration as you progress.

Establish a Daily Routine

Consistency is key for habit formation. Create a daily schedule that includes time for healthy meals, physical exercise, relaxation practices, and adequate sleep. This routine will help reinforce habits and make them easier to maintain. 

Plan and Prepare Healthy Meals:

Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure they are nutrient-dense. Stock up on healthy ingredients and consider meal prepping in advance to avoid impulsive decisions like snacking or fast food.

 Find Enjoyable Physical Activities:

Consider exploring various types of physical activities like swimming, yoga, walking, or weight training. Choosing activities that you like increases your likelihood of sticking with them long-term.

Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction:

Incorporate meditation, deep breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques into your daily routine. This will help reduce stress hormones, enhance emotional regulation,  and promote mental clarity. 

Improve Sleep Hygiene:

Create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, limit screen time before bed, and aim for consistent sleep and wake times to improve sleep quality.

Cultivate Supportive Relationships:

Surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, or community groups who encourage and motivate you to maintain healthy habits. Social connections contribute to overall well-being and accountability.

Monitor Progress and Adjust Habits:

Keep track of your progress by journaling or using apps to monitor your diet, exercise, and healthy habits. Regularly review your goals and adjust habits as needed to stay on track.

Overcome Challenges:

Identify potential barriers to maintaining healthy habits, such as cravings or time constraints, and brainstorm strategies to overcome them. Stay flexible and resilient in adapting to life’s demands while prioritizing your health.

Seek Professional Guidance:

Consult healthcare professionals, registered dietitians, fitness trainers, or mental health counselors for personalized advice and support. Consider integrating physical therapy into your wellness plan optimize your physical activity routine and address any musculoskeletal concerns.

By implementing these practical tips, you can build a foundation for lasting health and well-being. Consistency, mindfulness, and perseverance are key to successfully integrating healthy habits into your lifestyle and enjoying the benefits they bring.

Achieving Lasting Health through Lifestyle Medicine and Healthy Habits

Lifestyle medicine stands as a crucial approach for preventing and managing chronic diseases by promoting healthy habits such as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and quality sleep.

 These habits not only mitigate the risk of various health conditions but also enhance overall well-being and longevity. By incorporating these principles into daily life and seeking professional guidance when needed, individuals can foster lasting health improvements and enjoy a higher quality of life. 

Remember, small, consistent changes in lifestyle can lead to significant health benefits over time, reinforcing the importance of prioritizing personal wellness through proactive choices and habits.

Megan Isola

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.


Making Hot Rum Toddies Mulled Wine

Looking for a festive drink to keep you warm this winter? Look no further than these recipes for hot toddies and mulled wine!

Typically mulled wine is served hot and takes many forms and Recipes in different countries, this is a winter favorite in North America. You can create all sorts of flavor combinations by substituting ingredients from the basic method below. Add raspberries, apples, or any fruit or flavoring your imagination can think of.

In different variations white or red wine, half and half of each (the cheaters Rose’ ) can be used for a taste combination you can experiment with. Years ago when wine was spoiled it was masked with spices and flavorings to be drinkable and Mulled Wine was born.

Mulled Wine

 First pour a litre bottle of Red Wine in a stainless steel pot and add half the bottle measurement of water. Do not use certain pots as the acids tend to leach out particles that are bad for your health.
 Dice up lemon, orange and lime to thumb sized pieces, a half to one teaspoon of cinnamon powder, half a cup of honey more or less to taste and a cup of orange juice.
 Add this to the wine and simmer for fifteen minutes to reduce and infuse the flavors.
 Laddle out eight ounce servings in a large red wine glass wrapping the stem in a white napkin (it will be hot ) or any favorite holiday glasses or mugs you have.
 Add a cinnamon stick, fresh half slice of orange or lemon on the rim for garnish, yields six eight ounce servings.

Hot Rum Toddies

A Hot Rum Toddy is the perfect cocktail that’s fast and easy to make with just a few ingredients. The basic recipe is boiling water, sugar and rum, garnish with Lemon and dust with nutmeg. Add butter and sprinkle with nutmeg and it is a Hot Buttered Rum Toddy. A more elaborate version uses Rum, Honey, sugar, cinnamon powder, butter, lemon and hot water.

 Use one and a quarter to one and a half ounces of Rum.
 Take a slice of lemon and ring the edge of the mug all the way around.
 Dip mugs edge in sugar to coat see picture.
 Add a Table spoon of Honey, Rum and four and a half ounces of boiling water and stir.
 Top with a sprinkle of Nutmeg or Cinnamon and half a teaspoon of butter.
 Decorate with a half moon of lemon and enjoy

A Cure to the Common Cold

The cold season is almost upon us and many Grans profess the power of this drink to cure the common cold. Combine Boiling water with Honey, Rye whiskey and stir, squeeze a lemon wedge to juice it into mug and sip. If this is an old wives tale and not the ultimate cure at least you will feel better after drinking a few of these and maybe forget all about your cold for the time being.

A Beginners Guide To Cooking With Spices

With the right spices, you can easily make a good dish taste great! This guide will help beginners learn how to cook with spices.

Spices add excitement. Their scents evoke tropical climates and distant exotic lands. They transport us.

By definition, spices come from other parts of the plant than garden herbs do. Herbs are the leaves of soft, nonwoody plants. They tend to have milder flavors than spices, and are more likely to be used fresh. However, some plants bear both herbs and spices, like coriander and dill.


It is best to buy whole spices, because their essence stays vibrant much longer. Flavors dull relatively quickly when spices are ground. If you buy ground spices for the sake of convenience, get the smallest container possible, and mark the date on the jar. Throw out ground spices after a year, or sooner if they seem to have lost their zest.

Tools like a nutmeg grater, a ginger grater, and a small coffee grinder (that you never use for coffee), can help you make the most of your spice collection. A pepper grinder is handy too, and a mortar and pestle to pulverize a few spices without making a lot of noise.

Be willing to spend more for better quality. Top quality products do make a substantial difference in taste, and you are only using a small amount in each dish, so your cost per meal remains manageable.

Don’t buy every pretty jar in the store. Many people have a huge collection of dusty jars growing stale in their pantry. For example, you probably don’t need Greek oregano, wild oregano, and Mexican oregano as well. Choose the varieties that you are likely to use most often.

Buy some spice blends. Serious gourmets may be horrified, but spice blends will help casual cooks to flavor many dishes in a balanced and interesting way.


To keep them flavorful longer, store spices in a cool dark place that’s convenient for the cook. A pantry is ideal, or a cabinet with doors that shut out light and moisture. If both of these options are impossible, at least put your expensive collection in opaque or dark glass jars. Do not store your spices on top of the oven or right next to the cooktop.

Go through your collection frequently, and be sure to clean your jars thoroughly before refilling them with new spices.


To cook with spices, begin by adding less than you think you might need, and taste as you go. Too much spice will overwhelm the food instead of enhancing it. You are working to achieve a balance, in which you taste a combination of flavors, not a mouthful of overstated spice.

Flavors interact. A bit of salt, though it isn’t a spice, will tone down the bitterness of spices like cardamom. A tiny amount of vinegar will modify saltiness. A pinch of sugar intensifies the bouquet of many foods. Ginger lessens fishy flavors, and gaminess in wild fowl, but too much ginger will burn unpleasantly.

Spices often become more fragrant if they are toasted or sauteed, rather than simply being tossed in the pot with everything else. Curry blends and chili powder, in particular, will not taste good raw.

On the other hand, be very careful not to scorch your spices, or they may become bitter.

A Selection of Spices

Stick cinnamon, allspice, and cloves are basic sweet spices. Vanilla, made from an orchid, is essential.

Saffron, the stigma of the autumn crocus, is a delightful but costly spice. Turmeric or mace will also color foods pleasantly, and some believe turmeric to be a very healthy ingredient.

Chilies, mustard seeds, and wasabi all add heat, and must be used with discretion. Useful ginger must be refrigerated, and even then will mold.

Coriander, caraway, dill, and cumin are all fragrant seeds that retain their fragrance indefinitely. Crush lightly to release the aroma.

Spices add interest and intensity to everyday foods. They must be added with a light hand, but can raise home cooking to a delightful new level.

A Guide To Cheese Great Cooking Cheese

Interested in cooking with cheese? This guide will teach you about the different types of cheese, their flavor profiles, and how to cook with each of them.

From Mozzarella to English Cheddar, your guide to cooking with cheese and the great cooking cheeses.

There are thousands of varieties of cheese available, from every corner of the world not all however, are great cooking cheeses. Here are some of the classic cheeses for cooking with.

What are the Qualities of a Good Cooking Cheese?

This is somewhat of a trick question, as the answer depends upon the style of cooking and what is to be achieved. Here are some of the key considerations.

-- Melting Habit – In cooking, cheeses melt in a different ways all of which give a cheese a suitability or not for a given usage. For sauces, a cheese is required which will completely melt away into the sauce, leaving only the flavour. On the other hand, a cheese such as Haloumi has an ability almost to avoid melting, making the cheese perfect for use in dishes such as vegetable kebabs.

--Flavor – One of the prime reasons for using a cheese in cooking is to impart flavor upon a dish. Strong varieties such as Cheddar will add a strong cheese flavor to a sauce or dish. Not all cheeses however, have such strong flavors a point to note in the selection of a cooking cheese.
 Texture – Whilst some cheeses are used to impart a strong flavor on a dish, others with a milder flavors are used for texture. Mozzarella is a classic example, the cheese in itself does not have a massive flavor, the cheese is cooked with, instead to lend its unique chewy texture to dishes such as pizza and grilled sandwiches.

-- Salt content – Cheeses have a variety of salt contents present in their constitution. Remember that such salt levels will add to the salt content of the overall dish. As such consider that the use of a salty cheese may off set the need for seasoning of a dish.

Great Ingredients – Classic Cooking Cheeses

-- Cheddar – A staple English cheese. Cheddar is a cows milk cheese and is often made to have a strong flavor. The cheese melts well and as such, its melting point and flavor makes it the ideal cheese for the production of cheese based sauces.
-- Haloumi – True Haloumi comes from Cypress and is made of Ewe’s milk. The cheese does not melt readily, this may be considered a drawback in cooking for many purposes. However, the unique properties of Haloumi mean that it is great for inclusion on a kebab or other barbecued food.
-- Emmental and Gruyere – Both of these are classic Swiss cheese of the “holed” variety. Both cheeses melt well and go well with earthy flavors such as mushrooms. The combination of the nutty flavor of Gruyere and mushrooms make an ideal filling for a vegetarian version of ravioli.
-- Feta – This is the classic Greek goat’s cheese. The cheese is salty and bright white in color. Consider using this cheese in the cooking of rustic versions of pizza or grilled sandwiches. Grilled Feta goes well with olives and peppery green salad leaves, such as rocket.
-- Blue Stilton – The classic blue cheese of England, produced only in the three counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Blue Stilton is great cooked in a soup, Stilton and Broccoli is a classic.
-- Mozzarella – True Mozzarella is made from buffalo milk, although much of the Mozzarella which is sold in the supermarket is made from cows milk. Mozzarella has a very mild flavor, the true merits of Mozzarella in cooking its chewy texture and ability to stretch into long strings. Mozzarella is a classic cheese for inclusion on a pizza.
-- Ricotta – Another classic Italian cheese. Ricotta is a “whey” cheese with a grainy texture and does not ooze when cooked. Ricotta is ideal used in combination with spinach, this can then be used as a filling for baked pasta dishes such as Cannelloni.

Basic Techniques For Cooking Chicken

Find out the basics techniques for cooking chicken, including how to season it and cook it in a variety of ways.

Find out the basics techniques for cooking chicken, including how to season it and cook it in a variety of ways.

One of the most useful and easy to accomplish kitchen skills is how to cook chicken. An extremely versatile ingredient, cuisines from around the world have a signature chicken recipe such as Chicken Cacciatore, Coq au Vin, and Southern Fried Chicken. Regardless of the origin, the majority of recipes use one of the following eight cooking methods.

In The Oven

Roasting is used most often to cook a whole chicken. Place the bird on a rack in an uncovered roasting pan to allow heat to circulate around and underneath the chicken and is basted with pan drippings to keep the meat moist and to help develop crispy brown skin.

Similar to roasting, baking uses dry heat but the food is cooked in a baking pan. Typically chicken is baked either as a casserole or as individual pieces that are cooked in a sauce.

Broiling uses direct heat from above and is most often used for pieces of chicken or a whole bird that has had the backbone removed and is then pressed flat. Preheat the broiler for 8-10 minutes. Use a broiler pan that has a slotted top piece and keep 6-8 inches between the broiler and the food.

On The Stovetop

Frying uses medium to high heat and depending on the type of frying, a varying amount of fat. Pan frying uses the least amount of fat, and deep-frying the most. To shallow fry, preheat a heavy bottom skillet. Add enough oil to reach midway up whatever you are frying and keep the oil at a constant temperature. Only flip the food once during cooking.

Sautéing is perfect for cooking thin cuts such as cutlets. Preheat a shallow, wide bottom pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then the ingredients but do not over crowd. There needs to be space between each piece of food to allow steam to evaporate. Turn or flip the food frequently during cooking.

Stir-frying uses high heat and only a small amount of fat. Preheat a skillet or wok until the oil is very hot, add the ingredients in groups according to cooking time. Make sure not to crowd the pan so the food will fry, not stew and then keep stirring the food continuously until the vegetables are crisp tender and the chicken juices run clear.

Braising uses liquid and slow cooking process to create fork tender meals. Begin by browning the chicken in fat over a medium high heat, and then add broth or wine to deglaze the pan. After deglazing, add enough liquid to cover the meat and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for several hours at a low temperature either on the stovetop or in the oven.

On the Grill

For charcoal grilling, pile the briquettes into a pyramid in the center of the grill, wet with a good amount of lighter fluid and light. It will take about 20 minutes for the coals to be ready to cook on. If cooking boneless chicken parts, spread the briquettes into a single layer before placing the grill rack. Cook bone-in chicken over indirect heat by pushing the coals to the sides and then cover the grill.

Indoor grills and gas grills do not have the advantage of being able to distribute the heat by moving the ‘fire’ but they do have adjustable controls and heat zones. Whether indoors or out the idea for grilling is the same; direct (high) heat for quick cooking cuts and indirect (low) heat for slow cooking bone-in cuts or whole birds.


Beginning cooks are often intimidated by recipes that require sautéing or braising because of their unfamiliarity with cooking terms. The terms for cooking in the oven, on top of the stove, and on the grill are basic to the kitchen and can be easily learned and with a bit of practice, mastered. Once a cook becomes comfortable with these techniques, there is no end to the variety of meals that will show up on the dinner table.

Beginners Guide To Low Fat Cooking

Beginning a diet of low fat cooking, may be as simple as changing your method of cooking to baking, broiling, or grilling, in lieu of, frying.

To begin with, fried foods are going to contain more fat content, than foods prepared by baking, broiling, or grilling, especially when preparing meat. The excess fat is allowed to drain and run off the meat, for example, if you are grilling steaks, instead of frying them. Of course, in a low fat diet, lean red meats, and white meat , may be a better choice, since they don’t have as much fat content naturally..

Skip using the deep fat fryers, since they allow foods to absorb and saturate the grease or oil they are cooking in, resulting in more fat calories consumed. Most of these fats are also trans fats, which are the saturated fats found in animal products, that help contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease.

Next, we need to establish exactly what defines low fat food that is used in cooking.

Low fat food usually means that a particular food product has 3 grams of fat or less per serving. Labels are provided for the consumer on the back or side of food products to list the fat content of a particular food. Try to avoid foods that are listed with higher saturated fat content. Some unsaturated fat oils that can possibly lower your blood cholesterol levels, are olive and canola oils. Be sure to use these sparingly though, since they do add a lot of calories also.

Secondly, make a list of foods that are naturally low in fat and incorporate these foods into your cooking. Here are some of these foods listed below.

 Whole grains
 Soy products

Food products you may want to limit or avoid when wanting a lower fat content in cooking, are cheeses, ice cream, and egg yolks, which have a higher fat content .You can, however, use just the egg whites, low fat or fat free ice cream, and fat free cheeses to avoid this.

Although margarine is lower in calories and fat content than butter, beware of using any margarine, in lieu of butter, since a lot of margarine is high in trans fatty acids. There is trans fatty free margarine now available at most supermarkets.

Another step is eliminating fried foods, and avoiding processed foods, for example, cookies, crackers, and donuts, that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, both of which are high in trans fat. Trans fatty acids have been shown to lower good cholesterol, HDL levels as well as, raising LDL levels.

Remember, learn how to prepare your food in a low fat way. Try to bake and grill your meats, rather than frying them, avoiding the high fat content of oils and grease used in frying.

Finally, generally, to begin low fat cooking, use what nature provides, and avoid frying, processed foods, and oils and you’ll soon be off to a great start in preparing low fat meals.

Best Ways To Cook Flat Iron Steak

A flat iron steak is a type of beef that can be cooked in many different ways. Here are some recipes to get you started.

Even though it is reasonably priced, many shoppers overlook the flat iron steak because they are not sure how it should be cooked. The flat iron is a relatively new cut of meat from the shoulder of the cow. It is called a flat iron because of its appearance, which is flat like an old-fashioned iron. It is boneless and sold in a package that looks like a brisket. It can be used in recipes that call for other flat cuts of meat such as the flank or skirt steak.

Grilling the Flat Iron Steak

Flat Iron steaks are good either grilled outside on a charcoal grill or on a George Foreman indoor grill. They can be simply salted and peppered and grilled, then served with a side sauce such as a prepared horseradish sauce or barbeque sauce, or flavor can be added by using a store-bought rub or a home-made one before grilling. A quick homemade rub can be prepared with:

3 TBSP brown sugar
dash of garlic powder

Flat iron steak can also be marinated. Mix all ingredients, then let it sit in marinade a covered dish or sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 2 hours.

Easy Marinade:

half a cup of lime juice
quarter cup brown sugar
1 TBSP soy sauce
powdered garlic just a pinch
ginger just a pinch

Grill the steaks on each side for about five minutes. This steak tastes best slightly rare or medium and not overcooked.

To broil flat iron steak, prepare as if grilling, then place in foil-lined broiler pan about four inches from the top. Broil about 5-6 minutes on each side.

Pan-Frying the Flat Iron Steak

Here is an easy recipe for pan-frying the flat iron steak:

1-lb. flat iron steak
1 TBSP steak seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Rub the steak with seasoning and salt, then cook in hot oil in a large frying pan for about 5-6 minutes on each side.

Using the Leftovers to Make Stirfy or Fajitas

Leftover flat iron steak can be the basis for a good stir-fry or pepper steak served with rice. Fajitas are also an excellent way to serve the leftover steak. Since the meat is prepared, the work is almost done. Slice the meat into very thin strips, then heat in a skillet and serve with warm tortillas. As a garnish use shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream and guacmole.

Chicken Recipes Chicken Casserole Chicken Quick Meals Cooking Ideas

These quick chicken recipes will help you get a quick and delicious meal on the table without spending hours in the kitchen.

Chicken can be used in complex and simple recipes. Here are some easy ideas to using chicken in a simple, budget effective way that remains mouth watering. The portions of chicken and side ingredients you use are modifiable to fit your dining needs.

Ingredients: 4 Chicken breasts, 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese, and 1 bag of vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 400. In a baking dish single file lay out your chicken. Pour the mushroom soup over it. Heat in oven for 50 minutes. Pull out and add cheddar cheese to the top and put back in oven until cheese is melted. Microwave some canned or frozen veggies. Pull out chicken. And dinner is served.

Ingredients: 1 lb Spaghetti, 4 Chicken breasts, a can or jar of spaghetti sauce, 1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400. In a baking dish single file lay out your chicken. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the chicken. Heat in the oven for 50 minutes. The last ten minutes get your water ready to boil and cook your noodles. Pull chicken out and add the mozzarella to the top and put back in the oven until cheese is melted. Drain your noodles. Arrange plates with noodles then chicken over them and the excess sauce in pan can be used.

Ingredients: 1 cup of butter, 4 potato’s, 4 chicken breasts, 2 tbsps lemon pepper (use more or less depending upon taste), 1/2 cup onion

This is another way to use the chicken in the oven. This leaves a zesty taste that even the pickiest eater can’t resist. Preheat your oven to 400. Peel and wash your potatoes. Slice them and layer in bottom of casserole dish. Then lay the chicken over them. Melt approximately 1.5 cups of butter in a microwave. Pour over your chicken and potatos. Add sliced or diced onion to the pan. Sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper. Cover the chicken and the potatoes. Bake for one hour. Then serve.

Ingredients: 2 chicken thighs, 3 cups of rice, bag of frozen vegetables, 2 tbsps soy sauce, 2 eggs

Brown your chicken in a skillet. Go ahead and prepare your rice according to package directions. Add the cooked rice to the skillet. Next crack your eggs and add about two to three eggs to the mixture in the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring around. Add your frozen vegetables and soy sauce as you cook. When the vegetables are heated, and the eggs are done, turn off heat and move to a cool surface. Enjoy this quick and easy version of chicken fried rice.

Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts, small bottle of Italian dressing, 4 potatos, 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup of onion

Marinate your chicken in Italian dressing for one hour, longer will not hurt the flavor. Prepare your grill. Peel and slice your potatoes. Butter one side of aluminum foil. Put the potatoes in the foil and add diced onions. Wrap the bundle of potatos and onion tightly and secure the package. Put them on the grill for one hour, turning once in middle of cook time. On the last twenty minutes of cook time pull out your chicken. Throw it on the grill and enjoy an easy, simple meal.

Ingredients: chicken (whole fryer works best), 1 cup onion, 1 lb egg noodles, 2 tbsps sage, 5 chicken bouillon cubes

Boil your chicken until it is done. Feel free to sprinkle some sage and seasonings over the chicken while boiling. Save the broth from the boiling. Set chicken aside to cool. Add your egg noodles and diced onion to the broth. De-skin the cooled chicken and throw the skin away. Pick the meat off the bones and add to the broth. Add more sage and chicken bouillon cubes to taste. Serve an easy, delicious chicken noodle soup.

Chicken is an easy dish to experiment with. Use any one of these fast and easy variations of the meat or come up with a unique combination. These ideas all started with a grocery budget and a mom who was in a hurry to come up with an easy dinner. Quickly they became family favorites.

Common Garden Herbs To Use In Your Cooking

Are you looking to add fresh herbs to your cooking? Here are some of the most common garden herbs and how to use them!

Herb gardens can be small, or large, grown either in a patch of earth, or on a sunny window sill. Whether you choose to have a few plants on your kitchen shelf, or many plants in your giant backyard, you will find that herb gardening is both pleasurable and rewarding.

All of the plants listed here are considered perennial. If planting outdoors you may want to cover them in fall, in colder climates, to ensure their return next spring.

Chives are one of the best loved herbs. They are raised for their hardiness, and ease of care. They offer lovely blooms in the spring and summer, and add a touch of flare regardless of whether you use their pungent leaves or edible flowers to enhance your cooking.

Parsley is an easy to grow herb, that comes in many varieties. Parsley can add a lovely texture to the earth garden, or can be grown indoors for a decorative, and productive display piece. It is a common herb used in a variety of dishes, from Italian to down home American cooking. Parsley is used both dried and fresh, however it’s flavor and eye-appeal is generally at it’s best when the plant is used fresh.

Oregano is also a nice addition for the herb garden. It will grow in almost any climate, and is useful in the kitchen as well. While chives and parsley are herbs that are generally used fresh, Oregon can be dried, and added to your favorite recipes, long after the garden has been covered over for the winter.

Rosemary is a lovely, fragrant plant. Though not used as often in the kitchen as some of the other herbs mentioned, it does add an intriguing flavor to many Italian dishes. Rosemary is easy to grow, does well in pots and planters, and will bloom if left uncut in the summer.

Sage, used in stuffing, with chicken and pork, and even occasionally in pasta or pesto. This plant is also easy to grow, and will provide you with plenty of “produce” when grown either indoors or out.

The best location you can use for your herb garden is one that gets the majority of sunlight throughout the day. Herb gardeners grown just outside the kitchen door are convenient, if you plan to cut your herbs just prior to cooking with them. Herbs grown in pots in the kitchen are also convenient when cooking, and they lend a cheery, homey atmosphere to your decor as well.

Cooking For A Week On A Budget

Trying to save money on your food budget? Check out these tips for cooking a week’s worth of meals on a tight budget!

Cooking has become a dying art for parts of our communities and for a variety of reasons. Busy schedules and other life style issues have placed constraints on our time and it often becomes easier to simply buy fast food or dine out.

For others, cooking has very much become a challenge. This is especially true if you have a family. Higher food costs, fuel costs, mortgage payments etc have stretched our budgets to the breaking point.

So what to do? As parents and cooks, we all want to have our families eating healthy and of course, we still want to provide that occasional sweet treat for a job well done at school or simply out of love.

The first, and most important, is to shop smart. When you can, buy in bulk as this generally offers a greater savings. Avoid getting caught up in the “sale wars”. Store coupons most certainly save you money, but always consider before hand if you are really going to be saving money if you have to drive from store A to B to C to use these coupons. Another thing to keep in mind is the generic food line. This I have found to be mostly a trial and error affair. There are some really good generic products and then there are some that just don’t cut the mustard if you will.

Before you go shopping, take a moment and really look at what you are shopping for. Menu planning can save you money without you even knowing. Stores are set up for impulse sales and it is easy to grab that little extra item. Having a weekly menu along with a shopping list will help you avoid these pitfalls.

Secondly, be creative. A good imagination and a little love can lead you to some very affordable and delicious meals. One of the most useful products I buy for home is cream of celery soup or cream of mushroom either as a box mix or in a can. These serve as the base for casseroles, potato bake, scalloped potatoes and much, much more.

A simple hot dish using cream of mushroom soup would include a pound of ground beef, a diced small onion, mixed vegetable, (I prefer using frozen) and your favorite cooked noodles. In a skillet brown off the ground beef with the diced onion, drain well. Add the soup and dilute as directed, add your mixed vegetables and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender. Finally add your cooked noodles and heat through. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Simple, tasty and a good way to stretch your food dollar.

Cream of celery soup makes an excellent potato and vegetable bake. To add a little extra touch, try adding shredded cheddar cheese. Over all though, I think my favorite use of cream of celery soup is for making scalloped potatoes. This recipe makes a lot and is ideal for a large family.

Scalloped Potatoes:

3 to 4 pounds of peeled and slice potatoes.
1 small onion, diced
1 can cream of celery soup + can of water
1 can evaporated milk
1 ham steak, cut into cubes
4-6 strips of bacon
Salt and pepper

In a deep baking dish, place a layer of potatoes, ham and chopped onion, sprinkle with flour, lightly salt and pepper. Continue this until layering until you have used all of the sliced potatoes. Pour cream of celery soup, evaporated milk and water over the top of your potatoes. Don’t worry about stirring, it will all come together as it cooks. Top this with the bacon strips. Cover and bake on cookie pan (this is just a precaution in case the potatoes boil over in the oven) until potatoes are tender. Remove lid and let the bacon brown up a bit.

Another simple and delicious meal would use two cans cream of chicken soup, left over chicken, de-boned and cut into cubes. Your favorite style of rice prepared as directed and a light and fluffy dumpling recipe. Simply prepare the soup as directed, add the cubed chicken. Bring to a gentle boil. Drop your dumplings by the spoonful into the soup, cooking as directed until done. Serve along with your favorite vegetable on the side if you wish.

Well, that is all for me today. Remember, don’t be afraid to use your imagination or combinations that one might not normally associate with a certain recipe.