Creamy, Healthy, and Easy Soup du Jour!

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Hi friends! My second video blog is here for you today. I made a delicious, healthy, and easy soup that you will enjoy making almost as much as you’ll enjoy eating! Here’s the recipe:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

4 cups chicken stock

1 cauliflower

1 brick cream cheese

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 oz butter

Salt and pepper

1/2 lb bacon

Paprika

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Chop the cauliflower into small florets, add to the stock and boil until tender. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy. Drain and set aside. Add the mustard, cream cheese, and butter to the cauliflower in the stock. Use a hand mixer or a blender to combine until smooth. Add the bacon crumbles, paprika and walnuts as a garnish. It’s creamy and has so much flavor. You’ll love it! Eating low-carb soups like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

WATCH My Latest Recipes!

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Hi friends! It’s finally time to present my first video post on the blog. I’m so excited about this, and I hope you enjoy watching it. First, I want to give producing/directing credit to my baby, Danielle, and technical advising to my oldest, Jacqueline. I couldn’t do any of this without them. Next, I want to give a big thank you to all of my readers for your continued belief in me. I’ve included written versions of my recipes to make it easier when you’re making these delicious dishes.

Garlic Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5-10 sliced garlic cloves

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley

1 teaspoon dried herbs

4 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and place in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the garlic cloves and parsley on top of the chicken, and pour the olive oil and lemon juice on top. Bake the chicken for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown. So simple and soooo good!

Mashed cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower

4 oz grated Parmesan cheese

4 oz butter

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil them in plenty of salted water for a few minutes. Drain and discard the water. Then put them into a food processor or blender until mashed. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more butter to the top if you want. They are BETTER than mashed potatoes and so much healthier for you as well!

That’s all there is to these recipes! They are delicious, healthy and SIMPLE. Eating food like this will help you live a life of vitality-with Valerie! ūüôā

How Does Your Garden Grow? Deliciously!

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The outer edge of the garden is for my herbs, and the inside is full of vegetables! Chewie likes to sniff the herbs, as you can see!

 

Hello, friends! It’s a beautiful summer day here. How is it where you live? I hope it’s as gorgeous as it is here! Because we now have our forever home, I have FINALLY been able to have the vegetable and herb garden of my dreams. We decided to make raised beds so I wouldn’t have to stoop or kneel to weed or pick my veggies and herbs. Now I’m really glad we made that decision. We also decided to make the raised beds out of stone instead of wood, because stone lasts forever, and we knew we would have to replace wooden beds in 3-5 years. I actually had to make the footprint of the garden larger twice while it was being built because I didn’t want to outgrow it too soon. We used organic soil once the stone was in¬†place, and only use organic fertilizers on it as well. We never use pesticides or any chemicals of any sort on it, as there are lots of great natural ways to prevent infestations of bugs.

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This is my tomato section, you can see how tall and luscious they can get with organic fertilizer and soil!

 

Eventually I would like to have a massive garden, and grow veggies and herbs to sell to restaurants who are interested in providing their customers with organic, scrumptious and beautiful vegetables and herbs. For now, though, I am focusing on growing enough for our family. I am writing about this today because I want to encourage you all to grow your own vegetables and herbs. It’s astonishingly easy to do, and requires very little maintenance along the way to deliciousness. I also want to share my recipe for salsa from my home grown tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro.

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The back side of my garden with more herbs on the outside, and the inside has veggies, veggies and more veggies!

 

You don’t have to use stone, or make raised beds. Making a garden is as simple as clearing a spot for it, planting vegetables, adding organic fertilizer, watering every other day, picking weeds (I used to pull weeds every day and because they’re so small and tender they literally pull out in seconds, but now that the plants are so tall and well established they have pushed the weeds out), and enjoying the bounty of your garden. If you live in an apartment or condo (or like us were renting a home), you can grow your vegetables and herbs in pots on your patio.

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Ok, I admit, I already outgrew my raised garden and had to use the edge of the fenced in area to plant my melons, zucchini, and cucumbers.

 

The vegetables I am growing are onions, peppers, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, arugula, kale, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, and garlic. The fruit selection is strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes (they are a vegetable!8 different kinds!), blueberries, and watermelon. The herbs are 5 different kinds of basil, 4 different types of oregano, 6 different types of thyme, rosemary, French tarragon, lavender, 3 kinds of mint, curry, and probably a lot more that I can’t recall right now. As you can tell I love herbs!

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Just outside of the fenced in area of our yard, I am growing potatoes and garlic!

 

One of the main advantages to growing your own over buying store bought produce is price. For example, if you buy herbs from the grocery store it can cost anywhere from $3-6, and you can use them for 1-2 meals. Buying potted herbs costs $2.5-4.00, and they can last anywhere from 8 months to indefinitely. I have rosemary and parsley in pots that I brought with me from our old house that are going on 1 1/2 years old now. They wintered inside our house, I took them outside once it got warm enough, and they are flourishing now! That’s a great return on a $4.00 investment!

Another reason for growing your own is that you can control what goes into your food. You can use organic soil, fertilizer and pesticides like I do. For me it is such a relief to know how my food is grown, and what is used in the process. In addition, store bought produce is often picked half-ripe so that it can ripen once it gets to the grocery store, causing it to not grow to its full potential of nutritional¬†value.¬†Home grown produce can be picked at the peak of ripeness, thereby getting the full value of every single vitamin and mineral it contains. It’s also super convenient, instead of driving to the grocery store, you can walk out into your yard, snip off some basil, pick a few tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and you are on your way to a delicious homemade tomato sauce.

So with the bounty I currently have from my garden, I made my yummy salsa the other day. It is so easy to make fresh salsa, but it’s even easier when I can go into my yard to pick the ingredients for it. I will share it with you now!

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Valerie’s Fresh Garden Salsa

  • 4-6 large tomatoes chopped into smallish pieces FullSizeRender (210)
  • 1 medium size onion, finely chopped (I used two large green onions) FullSizeRender (212)
  • 2 jalapenos– seeded and insides removed if you don’t like much heat, I put them in intact because we love heat in our salsa! I also used sport peppers (heat index, somewhere between bell pepper and jalapeno) and banana peppers too!FullSizeRender (211)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro FullSizeRender (215)
  • 1/2 cup each extra virgin olive oil and vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

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Add extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the bowl and mix well. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. It tastes really good right away, but it’s even better the longer it sits. So if you make it¬†in advance¬†of the time you want to serve it, and let it sit and chill in the fridge that would taste extra amazing!

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And voila! The finished product! It tastes delicious and it’s so good for you too. It’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need to be healthy.¬†It also helps prevent all kinds of diseases like cancer and heart disease. So remember to grow your own herbs and produce, and make yummy things with that home grown produce like my salsa. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! ūüôā

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A Delish (and Healthy) Side Dish!

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Hello friends! I hope you’re enjoying a safe and healthy summer! It’s been crazy around here, even though the 4th has passed, we have continued to gather for cookouts. Must be due to living in our forever home- finally!

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We have 3 acres and a big pond, so we have plenty of backyard in which to enjoy these gorgeous summer evenings.

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We also like to gather around the fire pit after dinner to roast marshmallows. One last great part of our yard is my HUGE herb and vegetable garden, more on that in a later post!

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I wanted to share a GREAT side dish/salad to consume mass quantities of at your next cookout. I call it “Super Cabbage Slaw”, because it’s far more than just coleslaw. But did you know that coleslaw is really good for you? Coleslaw comes from the Dutch word Koolsla, which means “cabbage salad”. Traditionally coleslaw is made with raw, shredded cabbage and some combination of shredded carrots, jicama, raisins and other healthy ingredients. It’s usually made with a dressing of mayonnaise, or buttermilk with vinegar and spices.

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and they are renowned for their ability to protect against cancer. Recommendations are that you eat a minimum of 1 1/2 cups of cruciferous vegetables 2-3 times a week in order to reap the best benefits from this cancer fighter. Cabbage is an excellent source of a compound called sinigrin, which is particularly effective in helping to prevent cancer of the colon, prostate, and bladder. The health benefits of cabbage are greatest when it is eaten raw, as cooking it destroys much of it’s cancer fighting compounds, which is why coleslaw is such a great way to eat cabbage.

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Cabbage also is a good source of fiber, is¬†high in vitamin C and K, and is loaded with calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, manganese and folate. In addition, it’s high in glutamine, which is an amino acid with anti-inflammatory properties. To top it off, cabbage is low in calories, only 50 calories per cup!

Why I call my side dish “Super cabbage slaw” because in addition to the cabbage, I make a vinaigrette as the sauce instead of a creamy dressing. The vinaigrette¬†pickles the cabbage, which is great for the digestive system (see my previous post, “Peter Piper knew what he was talking about” ¬†https://vitalvaldecap.com/2015/07/16/peter-piper-knew-what-he-was-talking-about-heres-why-you-should-do-it-too/ ). Also, remember that extra virgin olive oil is a healthy fat (monounsaturated fatty acid or MUFA), which adds even more good health to this dish. And it tastes delicious too!

It’s super easy to make, too, so it won’t take much time away from sitting outside and celebrating these beautiful summer nights. To borrow a phrase, it’s “semi-homemade”. All you need is a bowl and a knife to make this so here we go!

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Valerie’s Super Cabbage Slaw

  • One cabbage chopped finely or shredded (Or if you want to save time use a bag of already prepared coleslaw mix from the grocery store)
  • 1/2 of a red onion (provides pretty color) finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds if you don’t want a spicy slaw)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Fresh herbs- I used basil and chives- about a tablespoon each

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First, chop the cabbage (or open the bag of already prepared mix), and add to a large bowl. Next chop the onion and jalapeno, and add to the cabbage. Then, prepare the vinaigrette.

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Combine the last 6 ingredients in a smaller bowl and whisk. The last step is to add the vinaigrette to the vegetables and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Taste, and if it needs more salt, go for it.

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If you are not a coleslaw person, you will like my version, I promise you. It’s crunchy, light and flavorful. This is not your grandmother’s coleslaw! Danielle and I are actually making another batch right now as we speak (or as I write) with cabbage, onions and peppers I grew in my garden. It is addictive and we really can’t get enough of it!

So try this recipe, and you’ll like it. Oh by the way, you can add whatever healthy ingredients that you enjoy eating to this super slaw; you really can’t mess it up. Eating my super cabbage slaw will help you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie! ūüôā

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust- REALLY?!!

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The finished cauliflower crust pizza. Read on to see my opinions on it!

The finished cauliflower crust pizza. Read on to see my opinions on it!

Ok, so I’ve been reading a few different recipes for a pizza crust made from CAULIFLOWER instead of flour. What, what? It seemed strange, but I’ll admit I was intrigued. After all, not only¬†do my children both have gluten allergies which necessitates substituting¬†for flour/wheat, but I try not to eat gluten¬†or most carbs either because carbs are what cause weight gain and lead to many diseases/illnesses.¬†In addition, cauliflower is a very, very good for you vegetable which also interested¬†me in the idea of a cauliflower crust. In fact, I love cauliflower and appreciate it’s advantages so much that I’m going to spend a paragraph talking to you about how super duper it is!

Crunchy, delicious, healthy cauliflower!

Crunchy, delicious, healthy cauliflower!

Cauliflower¬†is a cruciferous vegetable that contains many vitamins and minerals that help us lead a healthy life. It contains sulforaphane, which is a sulfur compound that slows tumor growth in cancer stem cells. Also, that same sulforaphane helps improve blood pressure and kidney function. Cauliflower contains anti-inflammatory nutrients like indole-3-carbinol or I3C, which helps prevent inflammatory responses on a cellular level. In addition, one serving of cauliflower contains 77% of your RDA for vitamin C, which I wrote about in my past post, “Beyond the Orange, Better Sources of C”. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. It’s an important source of fiber, which aids in digestion, and it’s full of antioxidants and phytonutrients which protect cells against attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cauliflower is truly a super food!

So, with all that in mind and after looking at multiple recipes I decided to try one to see whether a cauliflower pizza crust could: 1. Taste delicious, ¬†2. taste similar to a regular pizza crust, and 3. Be easily prepared with few ingredients. I chose Katie Lee’s recipe from http://www.foodnetwork.com because it seemed the most straight forward in terms of preparation and ingredients.

I have to say that I really liked it! It met my three criteria above and my family also liked it a lot. They said that you can taste the cauliflower in the crust,¬†however the flavor is not totally in your face but more subtle, especially with the pizza toppings added.¬† I think even non-cauliflower fans would like it, and you can eat your pizza mostly guilt free because you are taking away bad carbs and adding in vitamins and fiber- that’s a win-win! I’ll share the recipe and my tips now. Try it and I’m sure you’ll like it!

Ingredients for cauliflower pizza crust!

Ingredients for cauliflower pizza crust!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

  • One head cauliflower, stalk removed
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break the cauliflower into florets and either chop them finely, pulse in food processor, or grind them up in your blender, a few at a time (that’s what I did).

Cauliflower in steamer basket on stove.

Cauliflower in steamer basket on stove.

Then, steam them in a steamer basket until they’re tender and drain WELL. I suggest preparing the cauliflower a good hour before serving it so it really has time to drain. If it’s well drained the crust will get crispy like a thin pizza crust. Or wring the cauliflower in a towel if you don’t have that much time; anything to get out all the water.

All ingredients combined and ready for the baking pan!

All ingredients combined and ready for the baking pan!

In a bowl, add the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and eggs to the cauliflower.

Next, the oven!

Next, the oven!

Now, transfer the mixture to your baking pan and spread it into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Make sure to spread it evenly so it will cook evenly.

Done and out of the oven it goes- ready for toppings!

Done and out of the oven it goes- ready for toppings!

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until it’s browned on the edges, and the center is firm. Last, add your toppings and bake for an additional 10 minutes. And voila, it’s done!

My mouth is watering just thinking about this pizza!

My mouth is watering just thinking about this pizza!

The toppings I added were mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage, crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup mozzarella, oregano and a little more garlic powder, but you can add whatever toppings you like. The best part is that this pizza crust weighs in at about 60 calories per slice (not including toppings) instead of 285 calories per slice of a 14 inch regular crust. That’s pretty incredible! And then when you add in the nutrient value, it’s a homerun, my friends! I guarantee you will like it, and best of all you won’t feel like you’re eating a “diet” food. I’m definitely not into deprivation, and you won’t feel deprived with this pizza. Let me know if you try it, and how you like it. Eating foods like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Spring Into Weight Loss- Low/No Carb Of Course!

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Low/No carb cornucopia!

Low/No carb cornucopia!

Well friends, spring is coming to the Midwest, I can feel it now and it feels SO GOOD! The snow is melting, the air is warming, and the sun is finally shining- to which I have to say, thank goodness! Along with this feeling of utter joy that the weather is so much nicer, I am also feeling the need for spring house cleaning. No, not in my actual house, but in my life. I realize that as the winter seemed to drag on forever, my eating habits got as heavy as my mood and I was eating more pastas, breads, and potatoes. Right after Valentine’s day I got on the scale and much to my dismay I had gained 5 pounds since early December. That happens a lot easier now as I grow older!

So I decided to follow my own advice and do some spring cleaning to my diet. Conveniently for me I gave up all sweets and snack foods for Lent so those things were the first to go. I’m not much of a sweets eater however I do love my dark chocolate so I’m really missing that right now. I also don’t eat a lot of snack foods but¬†occasionally I really enjoy chips and other salty foods. So that was a first step but I still wasn’t seeing much improvement- probably because I don’t eat too much of those kinds of foods anyway. I decided to practice what I preach and take the next step toward “decluttering” my body by cutting WAY back on carbs.

Hummus and vegetables is a great low carb snack!

Hummus and vegetables is a great low carb snack!

If you refer back to one of my past blog posts, “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat”, you will see that contrary to popular opinion fatty foods like butter and bacon do not make you gain weight.¬†It’s difficult¬†even to overeat those foods because they are SO rich they will make you feel sick if you eat too much of them. What does cause major weight gain and belly fat is carbohydrates. Did you read that? It’s so important I’m going to repeat it: WHAT DOES CAUSE MAJOR WEIGHT GAIN AND BELLY FAT IS CARBOHYDRATES. Period. End of story.

It’s so hard for people to grasp though. They think, “Well I eat only 1600 calories every day and I should be able to lose weight, but I can’t.” What they don’t realize is that a calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. In other words, all calories are not created the same. As I explained in my past blog post, the reason that carbs make you fat is that they overload the liver and then the liver turns the carbs/sugar into fat. Now you might say, “wait, I don’t eat sugar so I’ll be fine.” That’s untrue because carbs like potatoes, pasta, bread, muffins, etc etc etc, turn to sugar in your body, and then that sugar overloads the liver and turns to fat. Specifically it turns to belly fat, especially if you’re over 40. You don’t even need to eat many carbohydrates to overload your liver. Any small amount will cause this to happen. That’s why you get that ANNOYING muffin top that laps over the top of your pants, it’s because of carbs. Don’t forget too, that sugar hides in processed food so even if you’re cutting out sugar and carbs, you could still be gaining weight if you’re eating a ton of food that comes out of a box.

And by no sugar I mean all things that you eat that turn to sugar in your body!

And by no sugar I mean all things that you eat that turn to sugar in your body!

So, I went back to basics, no bread, pasta, or tortilla chips (my personal favorites), and VERY limited amounts of potatoes (obviously no French fries or mashed potatoes), brown rice and quinoa. I would only have ONE SERVING A DAY of the carbs on my very limited list. Here’s the deal, my friends, I lost that 5 pounds that I had gained over the past few months in three weeks! I also lost my muffin top in the process and found my abs!

I thought I would give you a sample of a day of eating for me, so you can see how to do this low/no carb thing, and then I will share a recipe for a delicious low carb chicken stew that you will love! Now obviously the amount of calories each person needs to consume in order to lose weight will vary from person to person, depending on your weight and how much you want to lose. With my size, I needed to eat approximately 1400 calories per day to lose weight. In my past post, “My Fitness Pal is my favorite Fitness Pal” I discussed my use of the app as a way to journal the foods I eat in order to better control my eating. In my post I relayed the information that journaling is known to be one of the most effective ways to lose weight and maintain that loss over the long haul. So I can look back at what I’m eating to see where I need to improve.

This is what the diary looks like on My Fitness Pal!

This is what the diary looks like on My Fitness Pal!

For instance, on Tuesday of this week I started the day with my typical cup of coffee with coconut creamer and cinnamon. For lunch I had chicken salad with mayonnaise, celery and onion on lettuce and a half cup of steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots with a teaspoon of butter. For dinner I had a slice of meatloaf, made with no breadcrumbs, 2 glasses of Pinot Grigio (it’s a must), a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and a homemade vinaigrette, and caprese tomatoes made with extra virgin olive oil, slices of mozzarella, and basil. That day I consumed 1503 calories but burned 201 calories with exercise, so I had 258 calories remaining. I left those calories on the table, so to speak. My Fitness Pal app tells me that I consumed 53% of my calories from fat, 29% from protein, and 18% from carbohydrates. That’s a really good nutritional breakdown for a day of eating, especially if weight loss is the goal.

The best part is that because I’ve pretty much replaced the carbs with vegetables I find that I feel more full after I eat, because vegetables are full of fiber and fiber fills you up. Plus vegetables are¬†also full of vitamins and antioxidants¬†so I’m getting a big bang for my nutritional buck! That’s a win-win!

With that in mind, I made a chicken stoup (Rachel Ray term for a dish that’s somewhere between a stew and a soup) that I really like. It’s low carb and full of flavor. I had it for lunch yesterday and it was so delicious and satisfying.¬†I think you’ll really like it and I’d love to share it with you now.

 

Chicken “Stoup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 chicken leg quarters (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
  • 1 15 oz can organic kidney beans, drained
Veggies, chicken broth and chicken into the pot!

Veggies, chicken broth and chicken into the pot!

First, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the celery, onion and carrot. Saute the vegetables until the onion is transluscent. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme. Add the chicken leg quarters and press to submerge them into the broth.

Getting all warm and bubbly in the pot! The smell is to die for!

Getting all warm and bubbly in the pot! The smell is to die for!

Next, bring the cooking liquid to simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chickien to a plate and let it cool for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaf from the broth. Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Chicken out of the pot and ready to be de-boned and skinned!

Chicken out of the pot and ready to be de-boned and skinned! I was pulling the meat from the chicken bones when I got called to the door. When I returned most of the chicken had disappeared, including the bones and skin, and there were two very guilty looking but satisfied dogs sitting nearby. Luckily, they left me enough to finish the stoup with!

Discard the skin and bones from the chicken. Shred or cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and return the chicken meat to the stoup. Bring it back to a simmer, hit it with a little salt and pepper, and you’re ready to serve it.

My delicious chicken stoup ready to eat and it is DELISH!

My delicious chicken stoup ready to eat and it is DELISH!

Well that’s it for today, my friends. I’m here to tell you it really does work for sure to cut out most of the carbs you eat. You will not miss them and you also won’t miss the pounds you lose as well. Message me if you have any questions about your own diet that you’d like me to help with. Eating like this is so much better for your body and will help you live a life of vitality- with 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!