Adding this to your day could extend your life!

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 Hi friends! Well we’ve had some amazing weather here in the Midwest, it’s been so warm and sunny, great weather for doing more walking. That is the focus of my post today. 

  
Did you know that you can add SEVEN YEARS TO YOUR LIFESPAN BY WALKING FOR 20-25 MINUTES DAILY?!! I had to put that in caps because it is such an incredible fact. 

Now that’s not to say that’s all you need to do, obviously you still need weight training and a healthy diet. If you also add in weight training and interval training to your fitness regime you can add an ADDITIONAL 3-7 YEARS TO YOUR LIFESPAN!

  
 Walking is important for a few different reasons. First, if you’re walking you’re not doing one of the worst things for us and the thing we Americans do far to much of, and that is sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is known to lead to type 2 diabetes, among other diseases. Second, walking helps delay the onset of dementia, serves as an anti-depressant and improves cognitive function. Yep, all that with a simple 20-25 minute walk! 

And if you vary the pace of your walk you can burn 20% more calories than if you walk at a consistent pace. Slowing down and speeding up help to create a varying pace, but stopping and starting are where the most energy is expended in a walk. Another thing that helps is to walk with weights or a backpack to burn more calories. Oh, and walking in a curving route rather than a straight line will also burn more calories. All of these things can be achieved when walking with dogs because if you’ve ever walked a dog you know they slow down, speed up, stop suddenly, and definitely don’t follow a straight line. Also, since I have two dogs and they pull hard despite wearing pronged collars, it takes all of my energy to pull them back so they don’t run into the road and get hit. I’m burning some calories for sure!! Getting a dog has so many advantages, too many to name here, but one of the best ones is that they get me MOVING.

   

So that’s my message for the day for my wonderful readers, get moving and keep moving! If you have a fit bit or a step app on your phone aim for 5,000-7,000 steps per day, but 10,000 is the ultimate goal to reach for. Moving to a new home is a great way to get your steps in because since we moved a week and a half ago I’ve increased my steps to the 10,000 range daily unpacking all the boxes, and it’s great weight training at the same time. Win-win! Keep on walking and you’ll live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

The MOST important thing you can eat!

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Hello friends! As the summer has progressed I realized that I’ve slowly transformed the way I eat. As a result,  I have more energy and feel the best I ever have in my life. My skin is glowing and my body feels stronger- and I’m almost 50 years old! 

  
 Wow, this must be quite a radical change to my diet that involves eating gross foods, making weird complicated recipes, or buying expensive products, you might think. That is not the case at all, and I would bet you have the answer right in your own kitchens. It’s really quite simple, I EAT MORE VEGETABLES! Let me correct that, EAT MORE ORGANIC VEGETABLES- it is essential to eat organic whenever possible and vegetables are no exception. 

  
I sound like your mom used to, right, “eat your vegetables and you’ll grow big and strong!” But it is true, and there is compelling evidence for this way of eating. Now I’m not talking about becoming a vegan or vegetarian here. After all, I am a girl who LOVES her beef, pork, chicken-yum! I’m talking about changing the proportions of your plates at meal times. Let me take a moment to explain why vegetables are so good for you, and then I’ll talk about plate proportions. 

  
You might say, “this isn’t rocket science, Vital Val, I know vegetables are good for me.” Of course you do, but do you know just how critical they are for your continuing good health? According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risks for numerous chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.”  Well here’s why that is true. Vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and contain substances found in plants that help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

  
I just read about a study done recently that showed women who ate 7-8 servings of vegetables and fruits high in flavonoids had a 21% lower risk of ovarian cancer. Flavanoids are super antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables that support cell formation and suppress poor cellular growth to have an anti-cancer effect. They also support heart health and combat atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Here’s the cool thing, flavonoids complement vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient for the body, enhancing its effect. It’s like buy two get one free, a super deal! High flavonoid fruits and vegetables: red and orange bell peppers (raw is best for absorption of nutrients, I love to dip them in hummus), strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, spinach, green tea and RED WINE- yay! 

  
And that’s just flavonoids, my friends. Vegetables contain many, many other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help support your body. Now, I know I’m not discussing fruit as much as vegetables, however I feel vegetables get a bad rap compared to fruits. Plus, fruits contain sugar, albeit in a natural form, and I try to limit my sugar intake. I usual eat fruit once a day only, and get my other 7 servings required with vegetables. 

BUT, don’t eat french fries and say that you’re eating vegetables. What I do is try to keep the vegetables as close to their original state as possible, and still make them tasty. Here’s an example from the other night’s dinner, which is typical of the way I eat these days. We had pork chops which I marinated in garlic, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt, pepper and herbs from my garden, and my significant other grilled them to perfection. 

  
Jacqueline sliced tomatoes from my garden and added EVOO, basil, salt and pepper. 

  
I boiled 6 ears of corn from the farmer’s market, allowed it to cool and then cut it off the cob and added a little organic butter. Danielle had corn shucking duty that night- her favorite! ūüôā

  
Earlier in the day I boiled beets that I bought at the farmer’s market for an hour, cooled them a bit and peeled the skin off which slides off easily in your hands after boiling them. Then I chopped them and added a small amount of butter, salt and pepper. They can be warmed right before dinner which is what I did. I hope you don’t say, “Ew, beets are gross”, because they’re not! Beets are delicious and so good for you- see my past post “And the Beet goes on!”, for more info.

  
I’m really into these tiny potatoes that I bought from Fresh Market because they cook quickly and they’re so tender. I took them, a bunch of asparagus, a whole onion, chopped them, added garlic, EVOO, red pepper flakes, herbs, salt and pepper, and roasted them on a big tray in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes. 

  
So, I had tomatoes, beets, corn, potatoes, asparagus, and onions in addition to my protein. I almost got my 7 veggies a day in ONE MEAL. And as you can see the vegetables dominate my plate which is as it should be for maximum health. Here’s the thing though, it was SO GOOD! The meal was full of flavor and all my eaters loved the meal. I felt full, but not too full, and SATISFIED. These are not dry, boring, tasteless vegetables, folks, but vibrant and delicious additions to your meal. 

Enjoy your vegetables because they’re full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They’ll fill you up, keep you satisfied, and protect you from all kinds of heinous diseases. Plus they are tasty when prepared properly. When winter comes to the Midwest, I can’t utilize the farmers markets or my garden as the source for my veggies, but health food grocery stores have a great variety of organic fresh and frozen ones to choose from. So get your 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies my friends, but try to make sure most of those are vegetables. Eating vegetables will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

HEALTHY coffee is my favorite way to start the day!

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Coffee11This morning after a late night at the Fleetwood Mac concert, which was such fun by the way, I really needed my morning coffee. My coffee is a necessity to give me a much¬†needed boost of energy in the morning. It’s also warm, homey and comforting to me. It really is a hug in a mug! I have previously spoken of my love for coffee and it’s benefits but today I want to talk about the stuff that goes into your coffee and how important it is to keep those things healthy. Otherwise, you can add HUNDREDS of calories to your coffee, and it can easily go from a healthy start to your day to a caloric wasteland. Besides being high in calories, some of the things you can add to your coffee can be downright BAD for your health, full of chemicals that can’t even be pronounced. I wanted to use this opportunity to save you all the calories and chemicals, and show you what I use so that you can benefit from my experience and drink delicious, HEALTHY coffee.

My coffee area highlighted by my Nespresso espresso machine!

My coffee area highlighted by my Nespresso espresso machine!

1. Start with high quality coffee- If you can find organic coffee, by all means use that. I have an espresso machine that I’ve used for the last few years. I really enjoy espresso but I recognize that many people don’t like the intensity of it, so use whatever works for you.¬†But for me the first step is to use really good coffee/espresso that doesn’t have any artificial flavors or additives in¬†it (artificial flavors=chemicals). Nespresso sells high quality, sustainably raised coffee in their espresso cubes. You¬†put the cube¬†into the machine and it¬†makes delicious¬†espresso.

I use an aeroccino or as I call it, a milk frother.

I use an aeroccino or as I call it, a milk frother.

2. Add REAL cream- I don’t use artificial creamers in my coffee. I will only use half and half, but the cool thing is that I use a milk frother. I pour the half and half into the frother, press the button, and it whips the milk up into a foamy deliciousness that makes me feel like I’m getting my coffee from a professional barrista! Of course I only use organic half and half also. I use an organic hazelnut half and half and add a¬†splash of that to the regular half and half and whip them together so I get a bit of sweetness into the cream.

I use Mexican hot chocolate bricks to impart sweetness into my coffee!

I use Mexican hot chocolate bricks to impart sweetness into my coffee!

Organic hazelnut half and half adds a bit of sweetness to the cream.

Organic hazelnut half and half adds a bit of sweetness to the cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. NO FAKE SUGARS- As I’ve said in previous posts, artificial sweeteners are bad for your health in MANY ways. They are full of chemicals and are NOT a component of a healthy lifestyle. In an effort to keep the calories down and impart sweetness to my coffee, I use a small splash of hazelnut half and half as I said above, and I also shave a small amount of Mexican hot chocolate into my coffee. I use a very small grater and shave no more than a half teaspoon of it into the coffee before adding the cream. I let the chocolate melt into the coffee, and then I add the cream and stir a few times to combine everything without adding too much air to take the fluffiness out of the foam.

Spices like cinnamon add tons of flavor to your coffee and are good for you too.

Spices like cinnamon add tons of flavor to your coffee and are good for you too.

4. Add different flavors to enhance your coffee- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom can really jazz up your coffee, adding a lot of flavor without adding calories. I add organic cinnamon to my coffee whenever I make it. Cinnamon is a healthful spice and has been said to help prevent diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and blood sugar spikes. It also is very warm and flavorful, and really complements the flavor of coffee. It’s a must for me!

There it is, all done and waiting for me to drink it!

There it is, all done and waiting for me to drink it!

Well, that’s how I make a perfectly delicious and healthy cup of coffee. The idea is to add layers of flavor so that you get an amazing¬†taste without adding a lot of chemicals or calories. Coffee can help enhance your memory and workouts, as well as preventing liver damage, helping to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, lessen our stress, and add antioxidants to our bodies. So I am perfectly justified in indulging in my morning cup of Joe, and I know it’s good for me too. Drinking coffee with healthy additions to it can help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!