Holiday Cranberry Mimosa!



Hi friends! Thanksgiving has passed and if you’re like me, you have lots of leftover cranberries. I like cranberries sauce more and more every year, and I make a very delicious and easy cranberry sauce. I came across a Food Network show about the holidays, and in it they discussed mimosas. I had a eureka moment and thought, “Wow, what if I use my delicious cranberries to make a mimosa!” Well, I have to tell you that we have enjoyed them so much that we drink them frequently (but responsibly)! ūüôā I have included the recipe for my cranberry sauce and cranberry mimosas. They are so pretty and festive, besides being really darn good. They make a nice centerpiece to your holiday table. The cranberry sauce itself is so flavorful and bright, and with no added sugar is a healthy addition to your meals. Bon appetite!

Cranberry Sauce

  • 2 -8 ounce packages cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Put all of the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes. serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Cranberry Mimosa

  • 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce
  • 1 glass decent quality champagne

Put the cranberry sauce into a champagne flute. Add the champagne to the glass and give it a quick stir. Serve and enjoy!




This symptom could negatively affect your health and safety- and it’s 100% preventable!

Healthy, life-giving water!

Healthy, life-giving water!

Hello my friends! The topic I’m going to talk to you about today came about because of my concern that my daughter, Danielle, is not drinking enough water. I was sure that was really bad for her, and I started researching what and how much we should be drinking. The results were even more shocking than I thought, and not only did I share them with Danielle, I also wanted to share them with my readers as well.

Now we all know that if you’re dying of thirst while being stranded in the desert that is really bad, right? Well, the fact that really surprised me was that if you are 1 to 2% dehydrated, which would show as symptoms of mild thirst, that can cause problems like headaches, irritability, and impaired cognition.¬†A 2% dehydration level also leads to a 10% decrease in athletic performance, so make sure you’re hydrating before you exercise. Even more concerning, according to a recent Harvard study, more than half of American children are dehydrated and 1/4 of children do not drink water on a daily basis. Boys were 75% more likely to be inadequately hydrated than girls.

If your response is, “What’s the big deal about water, anyway?”, here’s the answer for you. Our bodies are made up of approximately 65% water, which is crucial for blood circulation, metabolism, regulation of body temperature, waste removal and detoxification.

Here’s another concern, children and the elderly have an underdeveloped thirst mechanism, which makes them more vulnerable to dehydration. Also, hunger and sugar cravings could be a sign that you are dehydrated so when you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first. Other dehydration symptoms are fatigue, dizziness, mood swings, foggy thinking and poor concentration, chills, muscle cramps, back or joint ache, dull, dry skin, pronounced wrinkles, constipation, infrequent urination, dark, concentrated urine, and¬†bad breath.

How much water should we drink a day in order to avoid the above symptoms? The Institute of Medicine recommends women drink 2.7 liters (91 ounces) a day, and men 3.7 liters (125 ounces). I don’t walk around with a device to measure how much water I’m drinking, I use the urine rule which means that if my urine is a light yellow color I’m drinking an adequate amount of water. One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin B2 (like most multivitamins) your urine will be a bright, fluorescent yellow after you take it. In that case, use the frequency rule. A healthy person urinates 7-8 times per day so if you are urinating a lot less frequently than that or if it’s just a super small amount, up your water intake.

Here’s a scary fact about dehydration that I uncovered, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Behavior, dehydrated drivers made twice the amount of errors in a two hour drive compared to hydrated drivers. That is similar to the results of a driver who is under the influence of alcohol- yes, that’s what I said! Frightening!

Need I say more?!

Need I say more?!

A comforting thought though, is that all of this is 100% preventable by simply rehydrating yourself and your children. However, not all beverages are equal. If you’re drinking energy drinks or soda, they are high in caffeine which acts as a diuretic that can dehydrate you. Stay away from those. Also, sodas, sports drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened beverages contain processed fructose which is one of the primary causes of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. One soda per day adds as much as 15 pounds to your weight per year, and it also increases your risk of diabetes by 85%.

Healthy drinks1

Sports drinks many people believe to be more important to drink when you’re dehydrated than water because of electrolyte replacement. However, most sports drinks contain¬†two thirds¬†or even more sugar than sodas, usually high fructose corn syrups. They also contain artificial colors and flavors which is also not good for your health. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and is the main cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Just like alcohol, your body turns fructose directly into fat, which cancels out the benefits of your workout.

Healthy drinks2

You may be drinking sugar free sodas or sports drinks and think you’re doing something healthy for your body, but that’s absolutely incorrect. Those sugar free drinks will contain artificial sweeteners, which may be worse for you than fructose. Also, many people think they need to drink sports drinks to replenish their electrolytes (salt) lost during exercise, but they usually just use processed salt to do that.

Healthy drinks3

Also, fruit juices are not a healthy option either. Fruit juices can contain more sugar than soda. For example, one 8 ounce glass of orange juice has 8 teaspoons of sugar, at least 50% of that is fructose. Many fruit juices contain high fructose corn syrup, just like soda. And many fruit juices are made by the same parent companies that make soda pop, so keep that in mind. Now, eating a whole fruit is hydrating like an orange or watermelon, but just remember to eat the fruit, not buy the juice from the grocery store, because the whole fruit contains a lot of fiber too.

Healthy drinks5

Ok, so what should we be drinking, you ask? Well, of course the answer is WATER. But all water is not created equally and I want to address that as well. First of all, please please please don’t drink bottled water! Those bottles are clogging up our landfills and the plastic contains industrial chemicals like bisphenol-A, bisphenol-S (BPA/BPS) and phthalates which leach from the plastic. Also, just because you’re drinking bottled water, it doesn’t mean it’s any more pure than the tap water you’re drinking, and often times it’s more contaminated.

Healthy drinks6

Tap water can have many contaminants as well, so the best choice is FILTERED tap water. And use a glass water bottle instead of a plastic one to make sure fewer contaminants get into your water. Filters are inexpensive to buy, and can be easily installed on your kitchen faucet. The best one is a reverse osmosis water filtration system because it removes almost everything bad from your water. Those systems are a bit pricier, but are definitely worth it. If you need a little flavor in your water, like Danielle does, I recommend putting an organic lemon into your water. It makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE TASTE OF THE WATER.

Healthy drinks9

Danielle drinking coconut water as I write this post!

Also, another¬†healthy alternative I¬†found for my family¬†to drink¬†is organic coconut water. It’s very hydrating and has no sugar, or artificial colors or flavors. It’s also packaged in a paper carton so it’s more environmentally friendly and there are no chemicals to leach into your beverage. It tastes a bit like a pina colada but with no sugar. It has electrolytes too and at only 43 calories per cup, is a great bang for your nutritional buck. I think it’s a great alternative for those who need a bit more after a workout.

So that’s my wisdom for the day. Get hydrated by drinking filtered water, coconut water, or whole fruit, and avoid sports drinks, fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks. Look for frequency of urination and urine color as signs of dehydration, and be alert for the symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, thirst, etc. If you feel hungry or have a sugar craving and you’ve just eaten, make sure you have a glass of water before reaching for the cookies or candy, it could be thirst at work. Also, urge your children or elderly family members to drink more pure water, because they may not be as aware of their dehydration as you are. Every time I grab my glass of water I remind Danielle to drink her coconut water because I realize she doesn’t get the thirst signal like she should. Drinking pure water or other healthy options is SO GOOD for you, and will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Brace Yourself- A GREAT Way to Treat Migraines!

Weird cheesy grin?! Here's why!

Weird cheesy grin?! Here are my teeth post braces!

I admit it, I wore braces for over two years, from July of 2012 to December 2014. I still wear my retainer most of the day now. You might think, wow what a vain woman to wear braces at almost 50 years old! Well, first you have to¬†hear my story and then you’ll understand.

Before braces!

Before braces!

It all started about 10 years ago, I was washing my face one night before bed and I felt this strange tingling on the right side, around my eye. It was the weirdest sensation, like the tingling you get when a limb that fell asleep is waking up. It kept doing that every time I touched it. It didn’t really hurt (at the time) but it felt so odd. I didn’t really think anything of it, but I noticed over the next few months that it¬†kept coming back from time to time and felt about the same.

Over the next year, it got worse and worse. The pain felt like zapping and prickling, what I would imagine it would feel like if you stuck your fingers in an electrical outlet. And it HURT! Anything would start up the pain, from the wind blowing on my face, to smiling, laughing, and even eating would cause this unimaginable pain. Sometimes it would come upon me while I was talking and it would literally render me speechless. I would have to stop and wait until the pain passed to finish speaking. I didn’t know when it would happen either, there seemed to be no pattern to it, sometimes I could eat and not have pain and then the next meal it would be so excruciating that I couldn’t even eat. I would go months without experiencing it, and then out of nowhere it would come roaring back to life. It was a hellish nightmare and I endured it for a while before going to my doctor about it.

There's the sneaky, painful culprit, the trigeminal nerve!

There’s the sneaky, painful culprit, the trigeminal nerve!

I went to¬†my long time¬†doctor and he told me I had Trigeminal Neuralgia. It’s like a migraine that has gone rogue, attacking the trigeminal nerve that runs¬†all over¬†your face and forehead. This is sort of a complication from the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I’ve suffered from for the last 18 years. It’s considered one of the most painful conditions you can suffer from because of the extreme¬†zapping, tingling sensations¬†you experience. I can definitely say that is true!

This condition really flared up in January of 2011 and I had to leave my teaching job because the pain was unimaginable. I could not speak, eat, even move my head. I went back to the doctor. We had some strategies for treating it that definitely helped, which included special pain cream, drops, and a nasal spray which have improved my ability to manage the pain once it begins, and nutritional IV’s to help build up my adrenal and immune systems. We also do a special type of injection called neural therapy which is a focused pain treatment, along with Botox to freeze the nerves in my forehead. All of these strategies got me to 90% of my pre Trigeminal Neuralgia self over a course of a year, which was a definite relief. It would flare up but the pain was lesser and the flare ups fewer in number.

Pic 1- Before braces. Pic 2- Midway through.

Pic 1- Before braces.
Pic 2- Midway through.

My doctor also suggested I go to a dentist with a more holistic approach to dentistry, Dr. Gary Walton, in Indianapolis. I didn’t understand then how a dentist could help my head, but I agreed to give it a try. When I saw him and told him my story, to my relief he said he could help me¬†with a three step approach. First, he removed all of the mercury fillings in my mouth that were leaking poison into my body,¬†and replaced them with a composite material that is non toxic. I went straight to my doctor after that for chelation therapy, which is an IV to remove metals from the body.

This is what they look like out of the mouth!

This is what they look like out of the mouth!

The next step was to get braces. He really had to talk me into this one. I had never worn braces in my life and couldn’t imagine wearing them at 46 years old. I said the only way I would do it was to wear the clear braces, called Clear Correct or Invisiline. He said the braces would properly align my jaw and bite, which were so crooked and not at all in alignment, and that would put less pressure on the trigeminal nerve which would cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia.

How clear braces fit on the teeth!

How clear braces fit on the teeth!

The takeaway from all of this is that not only did it cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia, but braces are now an acceptable¬†treatment for migraine headaches. The improper alignment of the jaw and teeth, and¬†TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome¬†are a common cause of migraines. Here’s why, if the cranial bones are distorted for any reason, like misalignment of the teeth and jaw, then changes in pressure from weather fronts, ascending and descending in an airplane, hormonal changes, etc can trigger the migraine pain, along with nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Finished product!

Finished product!

So that’s why I wore braces for over two years and I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a Trigeminal Neuralgia flare up since I got about a year into wearing braces. It’s no less than a miracle to me. The reason I’m writing this though, is that even if you’ve worn braces when you were younger, you could still have misalignment of your jaw and teeth. If you’re experiencing migraines it would be a great idea to find a dentist who is knowledgeable about these kind of issues, and have your mouth evaluated. It’s been life changing for me. The third part of the three steps for me included wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent grinding of the teeth, which can also cause the bite and jaw to be knocked out of whack. Since I’m wearing a retainer at night for the braces, it also serves as a bite guard as well.

My smile doesn't hurt anymore! :)

My smile doesn’t hurt anymore! ūüôā

Another positive outcome is that my teeth are so nice and straight. I never noticed how crooked they were. My dentist said, “You always had a pretty smile, but now your teeth make your smile even prettier.” That’s so sweet! I find that I smile more now because I love my teeth. I also smile more because I know that smile will not cause a horrible zap of pain to run up my face anymore. It’s been¬†a blessing¬†for me, and I’m so glad I did it even though I was very apprehensive about it. It cost around $4,000, which is not cheap believe me, but it was money very well spent in terms of my health. I was a fairly advanced case because my teeth and jaw were so out of alignment, and I know of people who have worn them for more mild corrections that have cost a lot less. Now when you see me smile, know that there is no pain hiding behind that smile anymore. If you don’t have head pain, consider yourself very blessed because the pain is so debilitating, and if you do, consider visiting the dentist to talk about teeth and jaw alignment. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!