Super Healthy Superbowl Sunday? It’s Super Easy!

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Ready for the Superbowl?!!

Ready for the Superbowl?!!

Ok, here’s the deal, did you know that Superbowl Sunday is the NUMBER ONE EATING DAY OF THE YEAR? Yes, that’s right! More food is eaten on this upcoming Sunday than any other day of the year! Even Thanksgiving is a distant second to Superbowl Sunday in terms of calories. And get this, OVER 6,000 CALORIES ARE CONSUMED!!! When I read that statistic I was stunned. I also read that the week before Superbowl Sunday is also at the top of the list in terms of calories. I guess anticipating the gorge fest brings on early pre-gorge fests.

The typical gathering!

The typical gathering!

I read this morning that the most popular food item served at Superbowl parties is vegetables! What?!!  I guarantee you that people aren’t eating 6,000 calories of veggies on Sunday! Though, vegetables are the most popular food item, we finally get to the root of the problem when you hear the most consumed food items on this day, which are chicken wings and pizza. According to Fox Sports, Pizza Hut will deliver 2 MILLION PIZZAS with 1,700 orders per minute occurring shortly before kickoff. One slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza is 350 calories and three chicken wings are approximately 255 calories so you can see how this meal is problematic calorically. That’s before the beer or margaritas are consumed, and the chips, dips, and desserts too! Can you see now how you can easily get to 6,000 calories with a four hour plus game?!!

So you see the concern that I have, don’t you? And you should be concerned too! With all of this in mind I began to think about my wonderful readers and how I could advise you to make good choices on Sunday (and every day, of course!). The first scenario is the easiest one, which is if you are the one hosting the Superbowl party. Then you can control the menu and preparations. You can also control what your guests bring, that is if they call to ask you.

The second scenario is more difficult- if you are someone else’s party guest. Then, you have MUCH less control over what is served and your choices will be more limited to what is available. However, I have a solution for you that I hope you’ll like (and it’s not to starve yourself by the way, I’d never say that!). The solution is CHILI!! Specifically, you call host of said party and ask him/her if you can bring something to contribute to the party and when he/she says yes then you offer to bring a pot of chili. It won’t be turned down because EVERYBODY loves chili! This is how you will eat safely and healthily on Sunday.

My yummy (and healthy chili)!

My yummy (and healthy chili)!

Why is chili such a good solution you ask? Well I’ll tell you, it’s because chili is healthy and filling! The beans and meat provide a nice serving of protein, the tomatoes and tomato sauce a great serving of vegetables, and the beans give you a nice punch of fiber which fills you up and helps you stay full. Calorie wise you’re better off with chili too because one serving (one cup) is only 259 calories and you will feel FULL after you eat it. If you have a cup of chili, one (only one!) beer, a handful of tortilla chips and guacamole you will only have consumed about 600 calories. That’s a FAR CRY FROM 6,000!! Plus all of the nutrition you will have gained from this meal is light years away from the nutritional wasteland of greasy pizza and fried chicken wings!

The best salad I've ever made- REALLY!

The best salad I’ve ever made- REALLY!

I’m going to share my recipe for chili, which I think is simple and fabulous. I’m also including the MOST DELICIOUS SALAD RECIPE EVER which I just made up the other night when I was in the mood for something different. I served the salad with my chili and I think the Mexican flavors in the salad really complemented the similar flavors in the chili. Bring the salad and the chili to the gathering and you will make some friends I promise you! If it’s your own gathering make my salad and chili, add some salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips and you’ve got a HEALTHY, DELICIOUS PARTAY!

My yummy chili con carne

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large can (28 oz) pureed tomatoes
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 big cans (28 oz) kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

First, sauté onions and minced garlic in a dash of extra virgin olive oil, then after about 3 minutes, add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Next add all the rest of the ingredients and either put that into a crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours, or leave it on the stove on low heat, stirring frequently until thick and bubbly. You may need to add more spices as it cooks so taste it every once in a while. And that’s all there is to it! Done!

Chili and Mexican salad- what could be better?!

Chili and Mexican salad- what could be better?!

The most delicious salad ever

  • 1 bag of organic lettuce greens of your choice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and with insides removed, chopped
  • 1 stalk of green onion chopped
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves, rough chopped
  • 1/2 avocado chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Take the first 6 ingredients and add them to a large bowl. Then in a smaller bowl take the next four ingredients and make the vinaigrette by squeezing one lime into the bowl and then whisking in the olive oil until the two ingredients are combined. Then add the salt and pepper, stir, add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss. This one’s done too! The creaminess of the avocado makes the salad so rich and the jalapenos, since they’ve been deseeded and the insides removed, are no longer really spicy, just fruity and flavorful. The cilantro adds that delicious freshness too. And the lime makes the vinaigrette really pop with flavor! It’s just really good!

And that’s how you avoid consuming 6,000 calories on Sunday, my friends! If you make a pot of chili and a delicious salad you will feel satisfied and know you’ve eaten something really good for your body. I know you can do it! Enjoy yourself in moderation and you’ll be living a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

 

Italian Chili? You Betcha!

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Can you make an Italian chili? I think you can!

Can you make an Italian chili? I think you can!

Hi Friends! Well, it’s still officially cold outside. I was hoping it would go away after a few days (every year I think this even though I’ve lived here all my life!), but it’s still hanging around. When it’s cold like it is here in the Midwest, I mainly want to eat warm, comforting food. I served this dish to my family the other night and my Honey asked me where I got the recipe. I told him that I sort of combined a couple of recipes and used what I had available to make up something new. He was amazed, pleasantly of course, so I’m really glad it was a successful experiment. It was easy too so I’m excited to share it with you today. I call it Italian chili because it has the beans, ground beef, and vegetables like a chili, but the taste is more like a thick minestrone. It’s flavorful and healthy too!

Here are your ingredients!

Here are your ingredients!

Italian “Chili”

1. Ingredients, 1 chopped onion, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 2 lbs grass fed ground beef, 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup red wine, 1 can white or red kidney beans, 1/2 package organic mixed vegetables, 1/2 cup gluten free elbow noodles, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Garlic and onions in olive oil smells soooo good!

Garlic and onions in olive oil smells soooo good!

2. Sweat the onions- First add your EVOO and warm it up a little, then add the onions and garlic and cook them over medium heat until the onions are soft- about 5 minutes.

Where's the beef? In the pan of course! :)

Where’s the beef? In the pan of course! 🙂

3. Brown the beef- Add the beef into the pan and sauté until browned. This should take about 10 minutes.

Throw the rest of the ingredients into the pot and that's it!

Throw the rest of the ingredients into the pot and that’s it!

4. Now here’s the fun part- This is the best step in the process, you just put all the rest of the ingredients into the pot, the frozen veggies, wine, crushed tomatoes, beans, water, pasta, and spices, clap the lid onto it, reduce the heat to simmer, and let it go! Just stir once every 10 minutes so the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom. After 20 minutes the pasta should be soft enough that you can serve it, but if you’re not going to eat until later you can leave it on simmer and it could sit on the stove for an hour or so. Just remember to stir every 10 minutes or most of your ingredients will be stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Voila! The finished product!

Voila! The finished product!

And that’s it! It’s a super easy recipe and it’s delicious too! With the beans, tomatoes and all the veggies it’s really healthy so you can feel good about what you’re eating. As always, buy organic ingredients whenever you can so that you can ensure you’re putting the best food possible on the table for you and your crew. This recipe makes plenty for a family of four with enough leftover for a lunch or two- yay! When you reheat the “chili” you may have to add a cup of water because it thickens upon standing. You can also add tomato juice or tomato sauce instead of water for a more tomato-y flavor. Make this recipe because I promise you’ll enjoy it! Eating these kinds of meals 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!

 

Happy (Healthy) Halloween!

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Cheerleaders in the making!

Cheerleaders in the making!

 

Happy Halloween, my friends! Now you knew I’d have to write about healthy Halloween treats, didn’t you? Well, I do because that’s how I roll, but I also want to communicate the importance of having fun and not limiting yourself or your family tonight. I am not one of those people who give out raisins or toothbrushes. Oh, and I also never believed in only letting my kids have one treat and giving the rest of it away. I’d call my beliefs along those lines, “moderate indulgence”. That is, “I will indulge tonight but tomorrow I will get back on my healthy way of living.” Here are my tips for a moderately indulgent trick or (not too many) treat!

My fave! And the fun size only has 80 calories!

My fave! And the fun size only has 80 calories!

1. Go ahead and get your faves to hand out, but not TOO MANY- I always get my favorite candies to hand out. For me that is Snickers bars, Almond Joy, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Charms Blow Pops, Tootsie Pops, and Payday. I don’t open the bags of candy until Halloween afternoon that way I’m not tempted to start indulging two or three days before Halloween. I also don’t buy too many bags of candy. Since I’ve lived in this neighborhood for a few years I know how many bags I need to adequately serve the kids and I don’t buy more than that. That way there will be very little candy left over for me to be tempted by.

My second favorite Halloween candy!

My second favorite Halloween candy!

2. Get the miniature candy bars, not the big ones- The miniature candy bars allow for a moderate indulgence, as long as I don’t eat 20 of them! It’s better for the kids diets too. After all, if you have to open all those little candy wrappers it takes longer to ingest all the calories. But by all means, have three or four of them on Halloween night, just make sure to budget those calories a head so you won’t go over by too much.

My third fave Halloween candy!

My third fave Halloween candy!

 

3. Budget the leftover candy wisely- When my kids were trick or treating, I would have them choose 20 or so pieces of candy from the vast amount that they gathered. I would put them in a Ziploc bag and the rest I would donate to my daughters’ school. The teachers would use them as treats throughout the year so I didn’t feel too bad because I knew the girls would end up eating some of the donated candy anyway!

Loved these as a kid- and as an adult too!

Loved these as a kid- and as an adult too!

 

4. Hard candy may be the way to go- Here’s the thing about suckers like Charms Blow Pops (my personal fave as a kid, and you get gum to chew as an added bonus), Tootsie Pops, or hard candies like Jolly Ranchers, they take a LONG time to eat. Since it takes a while to consume, you won’t be as tempted to eat more candy after that! Plus they have few calories so it won’t totally “blow” (get it, Blow Pops?!!) your caloric budget.

Doesn't everyone love a Reese's cup?!!

Doesn’t everyone love a Reese’s cup?!!

5. Limit sugar in other ways- When you know you and/or your kids will be eating candy more than usual, like around Halloween, then limit the other kinds of sugar you’re eating. This is not the time to bake a batch of cookies or brownies. You’ll be getting enough sugar with the extra candy you’re eating.

Danzy and Jacsy many years ago! I think Danz has a Blow Pop!

Danzy and Jacsy many years ago! I think Danz has a Blow Pop!

So that’s my list of tips to enjoy a moderately indulgent Halloween. In addition, always make sure to brush your teeth after consuming all the sugar so that your teeth won’t suffer in the process. I also find it helpful if I eat plenty of protein before eating sugar to help balance the sugar spike that will result from the candy eating. I made a pot of chili tonight so all the meat and beans will help me not to go into sugar overload. I hope everyone enjoys Halloween tonight and by utilizing my tips for moderate indulgence you will live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

Healthy College Meals?!

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Unfortunately true more often than not!

Unfortunately true more often than not!

Now some of you may see this topic and think that it doesn’t apply to you. After all you’re well removed from your college years and your children are a few years from being there. I guarantee you have a niece/nephew, a friend’s child, or just know someone who’s in college right now, and they could use some guidance on how to eat healthily while there. You can be very helpful to them, and believe me they need it.

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS!!!

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS!!!

I know from my four years on a college campus, and from the girls experiences, that eating in a healthy way is VERY difficult to do. However, it’s not impossible and I’m here to help you! Whether you’re in the dorm, a sorority or fraternity, or an apartment it is possible to make healthy choices that provide nutrition for your body to flourish while you’re there. The pictures that precede each section are taken by Jacqueline and Danielle from healthy meals they’ve had while at Purdue.

Protein, protein, protein!

Protein, protein, protein!

1. Always go for the protein- Now I know that protein is expensive which is why most college food choices are so carb heavy. The secret is to make choices that incorporate as much protein as possible. Here, Danielle had nachos, which are readily available on most college campuses. The key though, is that she had beans, chicken, bacon, cheese, and ground beef on them, all loaded with protein. She also had strawberry yogurt- another protein filled choice. She doesn’t like very many vegetables so instead she chose orange juice and added an Emergen-C packet to it for more vitamin C. Danielle has a gluten allergy so she has the additional challenge of trying to make healthy choices and avoid gluten. Very challenging endeavor on a college campus, believe me! If you live in an apartment, nachos are very easy and inexpensive to make and the clean up is a synch!

Salads are your friend! Baked potatoes too!

Salads are your friend! Baked potatoes too!

2. Veggies, veggies, veggies- If you have a choice, always choose the vegetables. This meal was Jacqueline’s, we knew that because it included vegetables, right? It includes half of a baked potato topped with chili, bacon bits, sour cream and green onions. She also has a spinach salad with eggs, chicken breast, sunflower seeds, and chick peas. Lots of protein and vegetables give you energy and make you feel full. She needs it with all of the cheer practices and morning workouts! Jacqueline lives in a sorority so unlike Danielle, who lives in a dorm and has the advantage of all the different dining courts on campus, Jac has a more limited set of options from which to choose. However, her sorority has many fresh and healthy meals so she has really enjoyed the food available. Apartment dwellers can utilize bagged salads for a quick meal. Also, the microwave is your best friend for quickly making a baked potato or reheating the leftovers from dinners out with your parents! 🙂

Brown rice!

Brown rice!

3. Whole grain carbs are a great choice- As I’ve said in past posts, carbs are essential for our diets. However, the problem with carbs is that all carbs are NOT created equal. College students eat too many empty carbs, and I say that from experience! Bread sticks, French fries, pizza, cheesy bread, cookies, soda pop, etc, etc, etc, are all examples of carbs that have little or no nutritional value. Not only that, but because they have very little fiber they do not fill you up and you’re hungry again a little while later. This is how the “freshman 15” is gained. Also, because of the lack of nutrients, this is not a healthy way to eat, and can lead to more frequent illnesses. What Danielle has on her plate is a chicken thigh, blackened Tilapia, brown rice, yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and honey, and water with a lime. I’m really glad that she chose brown rice because as a whole grain carbohydrate, it has fiber and nutrients which will fill her up and help her to be healthy. Other examples of whole grain carbs are WHOLE WHEAT bread and pasta, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, popcorn, barley, wild rice, and bulgur to name a few.

Fish is outside the box for Danielle!

Fish is outside the box for Danielle!

4. Be flexible- To eat nutritiously you will have to be prepared to be a little more adventurous than you were when you lived at home. In the above plate, Danielle chose white fish, brown rice, stir fry veggies, yogurt with berries and water with lemon. She has only recently begun to eat fish, but because she knows she needs as much protein as possible she chose the fish and found that she really liked it. She also chose stir fry veggies which wouldn’t have been her first choice but she knows vegetables will give her nutrients and fill her up, and she does not want to fall victim to the freshman 15, so she made the healthy choice. She wants to keep looking good in that cheer uniform too! You may have to try new things, but you could find that you really like something you would’ve never tried!

College9

So those are my healthy college eating tips. It goes without saying that everything in moderation, from late night cheesy bread fests to alcohol, make sure you balance that with healthy eating and living. Oh, and the mom in me says to make sure you do your homework, wash your hands, and go to bed at a reasonable time! My college years were such a wonderful time of fun and hard work, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. I want everyone to enjoy this time in their lives because believe me it goes by so fast, and soon you’ll be old like me. However, if you can follow my tips you’ll be an old person who is living a life of vitality- like Valerie!