Two of the healthiest things you should be eating!

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Hello friends! Well, the kiddos are all in school now and I love when my children are happily engaged in learning. It does this former teacher’s heart such good to see a text from my daughter yesterday saying how much she’s enjoying reading Homer’s Odyssey

  
Many of you are preparing breakfast in the morning for yourselves and/or for your children before work or school, right?!! Well, I’ve got an AMAZING meal for you, not just for morning but for anytime. It’s easy, delicious and it contains two of my favorite healthy foods, avocados and eggs. 

I’ve written about eggs in a past post “An eggcellent protein” and mentioned avocados in numerous posts, but since I have this great recipe that combines the two together I thought I would review why eggs and avocados are so good for us. Then I will provide the recipe for my egg and avocado bake at the end of the post. I’m sure eating healthy meals like this is why my daughters excel in their schoolwork. If it works for them, it will work for you! ūüôā

  
First, here’s why you should eat avocados and it doesn’t make sense at first but we will work through it-because they have a high fat content. In a past post “fat doesn’t make you fat” I explain how foods rich in fat like avocados actually help your body absorb more nutrients like vitamins A, K, D, and E. Thus adding avocados to vegetables helps your body to receive all the vitamins in your food. Without fat in your diet, your body wouldn’t be able to absorb vitamins. Also, because they are so full of good fat they actually make you feel more satisfied so you won’t want to eat an hour after your meal. They are full of antioxidant and anti inflammatory characteristics like phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and polyhydroxolated fatty alcohols that fight arthritis, as well as combat cancer, especially mouth, prostate, and skin. 

  
They’re really good for your eyes as they have a high lutein and zeazanthin content, two phytonutrients that act as antioxidants in the eye, helping to prevent age related eye conditions. Avocados are high in B6 and folic acid which helps regulate homocysteine levels that reduce cholesterol in the body. They also contain 6-7 grams of fiber in half a medium fruit, which can aid in weight loss because it will make you feel fuller faster and for a longer time. Wow, see what I mean about them being one of my favorite healthy foods?!!

  

  
Eggs might just top avocados for me though as my favorite healthy food of all time. Plus, I love them so maybe that’s why they top my list. Anyway, whole eggs are considered among the most nutritious foods on earth. When you think about it, there are enough nutrients in that single, small egg to turn one cell into a baby chicken! Eggs contain lots of vitamins-B12, B2, A, B5, Selenium and small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral required by the human body such as calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, vitamin E, folate, etc, etc, etc. You get the picture. One large egg has 77 calories, 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and trace amounts of carbohydrates. 

  
I don’t understand the “egg white omelette” kick as a healthy, diet food. Here’s why: ALL of the nutrients in an egg are found in the YOLK. The white mostly just contains protein. The yolk is also where the fat is and as I said with avocados, HEALTHY FAT IS A GOOD THING THAT CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT. Sorry I was shouting but I can’t stand these health fallacies that are out there, and I don’t want my wonderful readers believing such crap! So anyway, eat the WHOLE egg to receive all the wonderful benefits contained within. 

Here’s why eggs received a bad rap in the past- they have 212 mg of cholesterol which is a lot compared with many foods. HOWEVER, eating foods high in cholesterol doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol. Actually our livers make cholesterol every day and if we eat foods with cholesterol the liver has to produce less which ultimately lowers our cholesterol levels. 

  
Eggs have tons of choline in them, which is a nutrient in the B complex vitamin category that helps prevent liver and cardiovascular diseases as well as neurological disorders. They’re also considered a “perfect” source of protein because the amino acids contained in eggs are linked together in such a way as to form a perfect chain of 21 which are considered essential for our bodies. Just like avocados, eggs contain high amounts of lutein and zeazanthin that protect our eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts. These diseases are the leading sources of vision related impairment and blindness in the elderly. 

Because eggs have so much protein they, like avocados, score highly on the satiety index (a scale that shows how full and satisfied we are after meals). Therefore, eggs are an important part of a weight loss plan (or a weight maintenance plan for that matter).  Of course I always recommend pastured or omega 3 enriched eggs because healthier hens lead to healthier eggs. I buy my eggs from a local farmer who doesn’t raise hens in cages. Last but not least, eggs are cheap, taste great, and are very versatile too as I’ll show in my recipe.

So now we turn to the recipe part of this post. Buckle up your seat belts, because I’m about to knock your socks off with this one. It is one of the best recipes I’ve shared on my blog, and I know you will love it.

  
Avocado and Egg Bake

  • 1 avocado cut in half, seed removed
  • 2 organic pastured farm raised eggs
  • 1/4 cup shredded organic cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, chili pepper
  • Salsa
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  
Preheat oven to 425. Place the avocado halves in a small baking dish. Scoop out a bit of the flesh of the avocado and then crack an egg into each half.

  

  
 Sprinkle the tops with cheese, spices and salt/pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Check to make sure the egg is done before serving and cook a little longer if needed. Remove from oven, pour some salsa over the top and serve. They are so delicious you won’t believe it!

  
That’s all there is to it and now that you know just how healthy avocados and eggs are I’m sure you’ll try this recipe. Encorporate more eggs and avocados into your diet because you’ll live longer, and be happier and healthier too. Eating foods like this will help you live a life of vitality-with Valerie!

Beyond the Orange; Better Sources of C!

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A Vitamin C cornucopia of colors and flavors here!

A Vitamin C cornucopia of colors and flavors here!

I have to say that I love Vitamin C, it makes me think about tropical climates, sunshine, vibrant colors and happiness! It also makes me think about oranges, as it does for most people I would imagine.¬†Many people¬†think oranges¬†are the best way to get vitamin C, and they do have 69.7 mg for a medium sized orange,¬†but did you know there are other far better ways to get vitamin C naturally? You didn’t know that? Well, I’m going to tell you about it today!

Vitamin C is such an important nutrient for us in many ways. Not only does it shorten the duration of colds/flu, but it also helps repair/regenerate tissues, aids in the absorption of iron, helps delay or prevent cataracts, supports healthy immune function, protects against heart disease, prevents scurvy, protects against a variety of cancers by fighting free radicals, and helps neutralize the effects of nitrites (preservatives found in some packaged foods that can contribute to certain kinds of cancers). That’s quite an impressive list!

So how much do we need and how do we get it? According to the National Institutes of Health, men need 90 mg per day, and women need 75 mg per day, however if you’re a smoker you need even more Vitamin C (250 mg!)¬†because smoking disrupts the absorption of it by the body. Toddlers 1-3 years old need 15 mg per day,¬†¬†children 4-8 years old need 25 mg, children 9-13 need 45 mg, male teens 14-18 need 75 mg, and females of that age need 65 mg. However, if you have a cold you will need much more to help fight the virus, 250 mg per day.

Now, you can take a supplement and I’ve referred to supplemental sources of Vitamin C in my previous post “Healing Cold Remedies”, but I always prefer to get my vitamins in food if possible. Know though, that if you have a cold/flu or are healing from an injury you probably will need to supplement your diet with other sources to get as much as you need to help your body heal. However, if you’re a healthy, happy human like I am right now, you can get your C naturally. And the great thing about Vitamin C is that there’s no such thing as getting too much C because our bodies will release it into our urine when we’ve had enough. So consume your C, guilt free! With that in mind, here’s a list of the fruits and vegetables with the most Vitamin C, so you can get the biggest bang for your nutritional buck.

The King (or Queen) of Vitamin C!

The King (or Queen) of Vitamin C!

1. Red Bell Peppers– They have the most Vitamin C with 190 mg per cup. They’re also a great source of Vitamin A which is good for your eyes. Add them to salads, dip them, add them to stir fries, soups, omelets, and crock pot meals. They are one of my favorite vegetables because I like their bright and mild flavor, and as such they’re extremely versatile.

The Prince, or Princess, of Vitamin C!

The Prince, or Princess, of Vitamin C!

2. Kiwi2 Kiwi fruit give you 137.2 mg of Vitamin C. They’re also a great source of potassium and copper too. I love to slice them into a fruit salad, or just grab a spoon and scoop them into my mouth. They’re so refreshing!

I heart broccoli!

I heart broccoli!

3. Broccoli- Broccoli has 132 mg per cup, it is also full of fiber, which is why they’re called colon’s broomsticks! At just 30 calories per serving you can’t beat this nutritional powerhouse. They’re also one of those superfoods thought to help prevent cancer. I love to add a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven on broil for 10 minutes. But watch them, or they could burn! Lots of yum!

Tropical tasting Mango!

Tropical tasting Mango!

4. Mango– Oh I love me some Mango! It has 122.3 mg of Vitamin C per cup, it’s also loaded with Vitamin A, which is great for the eyes. I love mango in a fruit salad or added to a salsa for a fruity twist.

Crunchy cauliflower!

Crunchy cauliflower!

5. Cauliflower- A small head of cauliflower has 127.7 mg of Vitamin C. It also has 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein too. I love it raw or steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper.

Green bell peppers, not as much C as the reds but they still have tons!

Green bell peppers, not as much C as the reds but they still have tons!

6. Green Bell Peppers- They have 120 mg of Vitamin C per cup, which is not as much as their red headed mates but they still have far more than the recommended daily requirement. They also have 200% of the RDA for fiber. I always put them in my chili, soups, stews, omelets, etc.

Chili peppers- Ole!

Chili peppers- Ole!

7. Chili Peppers– bring on the heat! Chili peppers come in next at 107.8 mg of Vitamin C per 1/2 cup. They’re also loaded with capsaicin which helps to relieve joint and muscle pain. I love chilies and I add them to many dishes because I like their heat, not too intense, but super flavorful.

Papaya- it's poppin'!

Papaya- it’s poppin’!

8. Papaya- A cup of papaya has 88.3 mg of Vitamin C. Papaya also has nutrients that brighten skin, strengthen bones, and clear sinuses. Love!

Yummy strawberries!

Yummy strawberries!

9. Strawberries– Love me some strawberries, especially with 84.7 mg Vitamin C per cup! They also have folate which is good for heart health. They’re a natural teeth whitener too. Strawberries are readily available and they’re sweet and delicious. They are my favorite fruit, and I think they are best enjoyed plain. Just clean them and pop them into your mouth. Amazing!

Kale- a superfood!

Kale- a superfood!

10. Kale- One cup of Kale has 80.4 mg of Vitamin C. It also contains twice the RDA for Vitamin A, 7 times the Vitamin K, numerous minerals and fatty acids. It really does it all! I love Kale chips and I also like it in salads and soups.

These are the top 10 fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C, but remember lots of other ones do too, like Brussels sprouts (74.8 mg per cup), and pineapple (78.9 mg per cup) , they just don’t have as much as the top 10. However, it’s important to eat what you like, in addition to eating what’s good for you, so feel free to eat other fruits and veggies if you don’t like any on the list, because any Vitamin C is better than none. Also, I want to emphasize the need to purchase organic fruits and vegetables to ensure they’re responsibly grown and handled. An important point is that if you’ve taken Acetaminophen, antacids that contain aluminum, aspirin, or Warfarin, there could be adverse effects so keep that in mind. In addition, nicotine products, tetracycline’s, barbiturates, and oral contraceptives may decrease the effects of Vitamin C. Just writing this post makes me want to go eat some fruits and veggies that contain Vitamin C. How about you? Make sure to get your Vitamin C naturally. It will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

The “Eyes” have it!

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I am committed to do whatever I need to so these eyes last me the rest of my life!

I am committed to do whatever I need to so these eyes last me the rest of my life!

This post isn’t like my usual ones and some of you may stop reading because you’ll think, “my eyes are fine” or “this doesn’t pertain to me, I’m a young person”. But here’s why you should read this, because we all have eyes and we all want to be able to see with them for our entire lives, right? Here’s another surprising fact, more people are having problems with their eyes as they grow older; macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts are all becoming more and more common in Americans. A lot of this has to do with the way we eat, because we eat more junk and processed food in this country, and we are gaining more weight than ever, diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure are more prevalent. THESE DISEASES AND MANY OTHERS IMPACT OUR VISION. So it stands to reason that if we can clean up the way we eat, we can help prevent the diseases that affect our eyes. After all, our eyes are our windows to the world, are they not? Can you imagine not being able to see? I sure can’t!

Well, I have to admit I’m getting old. I guess we all are, aren’t we? Anyway, I went to the optometrist the other day and while my eyes are pretty healthy for my age, I learned that I have the beginnings of cataracts in my left eye and “cloudy areas” in my right one, which is a pre-cataract condition. I will need cataract surgery in a few years. WOW, WHAT A SOBERING THOUGHT! Also, my mom has glaucoma in her left eye and macular degeneration in her right one, probably due to her diabetes, so I have a genetic predisposition to these diseases of the eye as well. My mom’s eye issues are under control due to her careful management of her illnesses, but my goal is to do what I can so I don’t ever get those very serious conditions. My dad, stepmom and stepdad have all had cataract surgery, so what I’m saying is that¬†MOST OF YOU READING THIS¬†WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH SOME FORM OF EYE DISEASE IN THE FUTURE¬†unless we do what we can now to “feed our eyes” the best things we can to optimize our vision.

One of the best, and easiest, things you can do for your eyes, wear a pair of polarized sunglasses!

One of the best, and easiest, things you can do for your eyes, wear a pair of polarized sunglasses!

One of the best things we can do for our eyes is a very easy one,¬†wear a pair of polarized sunglasses when you’re outside in the sun. There is a link between sun exposure and cataracts so no one should go outside without a decent pair of sunglasses. They don’t have to be expensive ones either, just look for a polarized pair because they help cut down on the glare from the sun. Easy peasy right?!

Great sources of Vitamin A!

Great sources of Vitamin A!

Remember how moms in the old days would say to eat carrots because it helps your eyes? Well it turns out mom is always right. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A which is an essential nutrient for your eyes. Other sources of vitamin A are fish oils, eggs, milk, but mostly in leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits and some vegetables.

Promising minerals to help keep eyes healthy!

Promising minerals to help keep eyes healthy!

New research has pointed to some minerals that are more promising for helping to prevent diseases of the eye than vitamin A. These¬†are carotinoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. Food sources with the highest amount of lutein and zeaxanthin are egg yolks, corn, orange peppers, kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, orange juice, zucchini and squash. There are also supplements you can purchase containing these nutrients, but as I’ve said before make sure you are purchasing PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE SUPPLEMENTS, not supplements purchased from a grocery store or big box store. That way you ensure you are putting pure nutrients into your body with no fillers or other mysterious additives. Other nutrients that are helpful are Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been found to help prevent macular degeneration. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in the highest concentrations in flax seeds, walnuts, sardines, salmon, beef, soybeans, tofu, shrimp, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Vitamin E Tocotrienols are found to delay the onset and progression of cataracts. and your best food sources are rice bran, barley, annatto seeds, and palm oil. However, by far the best way to get your tocotrienols is in supplement form.

So, as a result of my research and the findings from my visit to the Optometrist, I’m going to begin eating more leafy green, orange and¬†yellow vegetables. I will also begin taking a lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin E tocotrienol supplement daily to help slow the progression of my cataract condition. I want my eyes to be healthy until I take my last breath and it doesn’t seem that difficult to do. Take care of your eyes, my friends, and you’ll live a life of vitality- like Valerie!