Manley experiments with healthy food

Manley experiments with healthy food

There’s a lot of information about heatlhy eating, but the key is to choose a variety of healthy foods. Make most of your meals from fresh, unprocessed foods. Limit added sugars, which are found in many packaged foods including some labelled as low-fat. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits (3 or more servings daily) and whole grains.


Parker Manley has been experimenting recently with healthy and nutritious meals, and he is continuing to learn new things while cooking alongside Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. 

“I’m learning to cook with materials I don’t normally cook with outside,” Manley said. “I’ve been learning a lot from the Scouts about portion sizes, how to make the most of your surroundings, and what’s best for the environment. 

Manley is from Meridian and is married to Kristi Manley. He serves as the District Executive for the Neshoba Boy Scouts and is on the Advisory Council for the 4-H Program for Neshoba County through the MSU Extension Service.

Manley started cooking for himself when he was 23 when he got bored of eating fast food and frozen Tyson chicken and decided he wanted to learn more about nutrition, the health benefits of different meals, and the creativity that goes along with cooking. 

“Steak was a big dish I started experimenting with,” Manley said. “I like steak and how it’s cooked at a lot of places, so I wanted to recreate it in my own kitchen. I experimented on how it was cooked, such as on a grill, cast iron skillet, stove, and more, and I learned that sometimes steak is better with salt pepper or with seasonings and marinade.” 

Manley eventually started making chicken, with the goal of creating healthier versions of the Tyson frozen chicken he would eat. 

“Sometimes I’ll pull meat off a rotisserie chicken or I’ll marinade chicken tenders,” Manley said. “I started meal prepping with chicken for health and nutrition reasons. My favorite dish with chicken is a baked chicken Parmesan. It’s grilled chicken with low-carb marinara with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. It’s not the cheapest thing to make, but it’s very dense.”

He said as the district executive for the Neshoba Boy Scouts, he gets to cook alongside the Scouts and has learned important things about food like portion sizes, making the most of his surroundings, and learning how to cook in a challenging environment. 

“Sometimes you won’t have the best meal of your life if you make a mistake, but it’s a great learning experience,” Manley said. “The best part of cooking is the sense of accomplishment. Knowing that what you’re eating came from you and that you meal prepped. Knowing that you cooked your own meal and didn’t go pay five dollars extra for the same thing knowing someone else made it.”

“The nutritional value I’m experimenting with right now is eliminating sugar and carbs and eating in a healthier manner,” he said. “I look at ingredients and be economically safe. I see what cooking can do for you, how it can hurt you, and the long term benefits of it. Protein is the biggest source of what we eat at my house and it’s easy to get that especially when you’re cooking outside.” 


2.5 lbs ground beef 

2 (14-15 oz) cans tomato paste 

1 (24 oz) can or jar of spaghetti sauce 

2 heaping tsps onion powder 

2 heaping tsps garlic powder 

2 heaping tsps Italian seasoning 

2 tsps seasoning salt 

1 tsp ground mustard 

2 lbs spaghetti noodles 

1/4 cup olive oil 

2 tsps salt 

Combine all spices into a Ziplock bag. Brown the ground beef in a large pot. While cooking the meat, slowly sprinkle in the spice mix. 

Once the meat is cooked, add the tomato paste and mix into cooked meat. Add spaghetti sauce and bring mixture to a boil for around five minutes. Remove from heat and the sauce is ready to serve. 

For the noodles, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add olive oil and salt to the boiling water and add noodles. Boil noodles for 9-11 minutes. Drain water. 




2-3 cans pie filling (any fruit)

2 boxes of yellow cake mix 

1 stick butter 

12 oz can of Sprite (or any soda of choosing) 

2 cups caramel bits 

2 tsps cinnamon 

2 tsps brown sugar 

Line a 12-quart Dutch oven with either an aluminum liner or parchment paper liner. Pour in fruit filling, and sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top. Sprinkle 1 full cake mix box and half of the second box on top of the fruit. Smooth mix evenly over the fruit, do not mix. 

Pour Sprite (or soda of choosing) evenly over the top of the cake mixes. Surface will be bubbly. Sprinkle caramel bits throughout the mixture. Cut butter into half-inch slices and distribute evenly on top. Cover and cook for 50 minutes over hot coals. 


2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded 

1/2 cup low carb marinara sauce 

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes 

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 

1/2 tsp dried basil 

1 slice bacon, fried and crushed 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the baking dish and grease it lightly so chicken will not stick to the pan. Lay out the shredded cooked chicken in the pan and spread marinara sauce all over. 

Dredge the top with some red pepper flakes, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Finally, sprinkle bacon and dried basil for more flavor. 

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove once the cheese has melted and formed bubbles. 


Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.

Add comment

sixteen + 10 =