By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina

The average American family has about a dozen or less meals they prepare on a regular basis. In my Polish-American working class family, they were chicken noodle soup, Hungarian goulash, ground beef mixed with onions, peppers, and rice, fish sticks, Polish sausage and sauerkraut, hot dogs and baked beans, and a few others that showed up on the table regularly. Of course we always had a mix of cooked vegetables and salads served by my health conscious mom who worked hard to stretch the tight grocery budget.

Like so many things, changing our eating habits is often a challenge. One way I have played with in the past year or two is trying to add a new recipe every week or two just to expand our repertoire. Most recently, my wife and co-chef Michelle discovered an amazing recipe on line that came out even better than expected. It was Rosemary-Garlic-Lemon Chicken. Rosemary from the backyard and some nice organic chicken breasts in the freezer set us up to cook.

• Thaw the chicken breasts, rinse, and pat dry

• In a skillet, gently brown a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic in extra-virgin olive oil

• When the oil is hot and the garlic just turns translucent, put in the chicken and sear it quickly on both sides to seal in the juices

• Slice a couple of lemons and lay them on top of the chicken along with a few sprigs rosemary

• Add ¼ cup of cooking wine for moisture

• Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes or so until done

Serve with vegetables of your choice, perhaps some wild or brown rice, farro, quinoa, or other healthy whole grain. If you have leftovers, the flavors keep infusing and it is even better after a day or so when reheated and served sliced on a salad.

You can use this same recipe for other meats as well. When I was a kid, lamb was rarely on our menu at home, except maybe at Easter, mostly because ham was more common and cheaper. Perhaps as a result of my early lamb deprivation and as a result of our raising organic Rambouillet sheep in Colorado, I just adore a well-done lamb chop.
A Greek butcher in Chicago gave me this quick and tasty recipe:

• Rub the lamb chop with olive oil

• Cut little slits and insert slivers of garlic

• Sprinkle on lemon pepper

• Rub on some fresh or dried oregano

• Grill

I also used the rosmary-garlic-lemon chicken recipe on lamb this week.:

• Rub the chops with garlic-flavored olive oil (I like the Temecula Olive Oil Company whose motto is “may olive your dreams come true” )

• Shave on some lemon peel zest for extra lemony flavor

• Add sprigs of rosemary

• Set sliced garlic and lemons on top

• Grill on a moistened cedar plank for a little of that smoky flavor.

That was the best lamb in town I will tell you what.

Trying new recipes is a great way to juice up your menu and your creativity in the kitchen. If thoughtfully done, it will enhance your joy and your health.

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina is the WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at UTMB.