My Oh My, Healthy Pie!

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Hi friends! Well, it’s almost Thanksgiving here, and in my third video blog I demonstrate how to make a super delish and healthy pie crust recipe that you have to try! There’s no flour, so it’s gluten free and low carb. In the video I show you how to make the crust, but I also am including my healthy pumpkin pie filling recipe that has NO SUGAR! Top it with some cinnamon whipped cream and you’ll have a wonderful Thanksgiving dessert that is easy to make! Here we go!

Gluten free, low carb pie crust

1 cup walnuts, ground

1 cup pecans, ground

4 tablespoons organic butter

2 teaspoons organic cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind the walnuts and pecans in the food processor, and add the cinnamon. Melt the butter in the microwave, then add it to the food processor and pulse for a few more seconds until combined. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cans organic pumpkin purée

3 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup REAL maple syrup

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each of ginger, cloves and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk eggs together and then add the rest of the ingredients. Beat until combined and bake for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake for 45-60 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let sit until cooled. Garnish with cinnamon whipped cream and enjoy!! Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful readers!!

40 million Americans suffer from this. Here are natural remedies!

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Hello, friends! Well, it’s been quite a stressful time for me lately. We’ve recently had a death in the family, another family member’s serious illness, and my oldest is graduating from college this weekend. Combine that with traveling for Mother’s Day, and you have one very stressed out Valerie. If you’re like me and 18% of our population, you also struggle with anxiety disorders. It’s the most common mental illness in the U.S.

Anxiety is characterized by the same fight or flight response as stress which means increased heart rate, circulation and reflexes so as to fight off or escape a potential threat. It’s actually a normal stress response that spirals out of control, so that even if it’s not a situation that would provoke anxiety, like flying in an airplane (one of my favorite former sources of anxiety!), we still feel those same fight or flight responses. The problem is, we get so used to these feelings of anxiety that we don’t realize there is a problem and suffer in silence. As anxious feelings intensify, it can lead to social isolation, physical symptoms, and related mental health problems, like depression.

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So how do we combat this anxiety thing without using prescription meds? That’s a great question, and there are some really easy fixes that can substantially change your life, as they have changed mine. Read on for my list of natural anxiety remedies.

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1. Refocus your mind- Chronic anxiety is an internal process and it can actually change your brain. If you grew up in an environment in which there was frequent yelling or abuse your brain can become “wired” for anxiety, so one of the remedies involves rewiring your brain by focusing your mind on positive outcomes. Saying the words, “I’m so excited!” out loud to yourself is one of the ways to rewire your brain. Even if you don’t believe it at first, it increases authentic feelings of excitement and can reduce anxiety.

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2. Exercise- Exercise boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress. It also creates new neurons, including those that release the calming neurotransmitter GABA. Exercise is also addictive in a good way, as I well know, because even though sometimes I don’t want to exercise I know it feels so GOOD to get my heart rate up and my body moving. It’s good for mind, body, and spirit. It’s a win-win-win!

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Jac and Danz made my favorite breakfast for Mother’s Day- omelet, bacon and coffee!

 

3. Start your day with BREAKFAST- I didn’t know this but many people with anxiety disorders skip breakfast. I used to be one of those people until I realized that I was depleting my body of energy and GAINING WEIGHT because of it. Eating my favorite breakfast of EGGS is especially helpful because they are satiating (make us feel satisfied when eating) and a filling source of protein, as well as nature’s top source of choline. Low levels of choline are associated with increased anxiety. In fact, any time we feel anxious, eating is one of the most effective ways to reduce it. Now, of course I mean eating HEALTHY foods like nuts is a must, but even a square of dark chocolate is an effective anxiety reducer.

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4. Yoga breathing- Yoga is super good for relieving stress and anxiety, but did you know that yoga breathing is also effective at lowering stress and anxiety? In his bestselling 2011 book Spontaneous Happiness, Andrew Weil MD introduced a classic yoga breathing technique called 4-7-8 breathing. One reason it works is because you can’t breathe in deeply and be anxious at the same time. Here’s how it goes, exhale completely through your mouth, then inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, now let it out slowly through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat at least twice a day. I’ve done a form of this for the last few years during my morning prayers and meditation time, and it really does help.

5. Take your supplements- Taking probiotics, omega-3 fats, and magnesium helps me reduce anxiety. Probiotics have a marked effect on GABA levels in certain brain regions and lower stress induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression related behavior. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA play an important role in emotional well-being, aned research has shown a dramatic 20% reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3s. Magnesium is a mineral that is present in many foods, unfortunately millions of people have a very low level of magnesium intake, because it has been essentially stripped from most modern diets due to farming and food production practices. Low levels of magnesium are not responsible for anxiety but for some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, like unusual feelings in the body. Anxiety can actually decrease your magnesium levels, as magnesium is burned up during times of stress. As I’ve said before, make sure you are taking pharmaceutical grade supplements and don’t buy them at a big box or grocery store.

There are so many other things you can do to reduce anxiety, drink chamomile tea, take herbal remedies like valerian root, passion flower, lavender, lemon balm, and my favorite that I take every day for energy and anxiety ashwagandha. Anxiety is a complex issue so please consult with your doctor before taking anything. However, as a lifelong anxiety sufferer myself I can tell you that the above listed remedies really do work, and you can live a life free of most of the effects of it. Utilizing natural remedies to reduce anxiety will definitely help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

 

 

 

Colds or Flu? This is for you!

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Hello, my friends! Anyone feel like I do today? I have cold symptoms- runny nose, scratchy throat, aches, exhaustion, along with stomach virus symptoms as well. I won’t fill you in on those, just suffice to say I feel pretty miserable today! However, I’m planning to feel much better tomorrow because I have too many things to do to let this slow me down for long. How am I planning to feel better in one day, you ask? Good question, my wonderful readers! I am utilizing all of my home remedies, along with my healthy eating habits to make a (close to) full recovery. Then I thought that I probably have readers who are suffering right along side of me now who could use this advice to feel better too. Obviously check with your own physician before using these or any homeopathies or medications. I’m going to share my remedies with you so you can be up and running soon. Read on, here we go!

The strategy is 3 fold, first treat the immune system, second treat the symptoms, and third use food for minimization of symptoms and for comfort. I will discuss each area individually. I always try to choose the healthiest, most natural remedies that I can find to put in my body, because I feel it speeds up the healing time. Sometimes when using cold medicines, you can have more disturbing side effects than the symptoms you are trying to treat! So for me, natural is the best strategy, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

First, to treat the immune system I utilize four really important products, Transfer Factor, Reboost (sometimes called oscillococcinum), 100% raw Manuka honey, and Imu-Max. All of these products help boost the immune system so that your body can heal itself. See my previous post entitled “Healing Cold Remedies” for more information about how to utilize these super amazing products.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/10/24/healing-cold-remedies/

Second, I treat my symptoms. Now, obviously it depends upon the symptom as to how it is treated. Right now I’m taking Cocculus compositum, which is a homeopathic, for my nausea and dizziness, nux vomica, also a homeopathic, for nausea, and Mucalyxir for my runny nose. If I had a stuffy nose I’d also take a nasal decongestant. The Manuka honey also helps the scratchy throat as well as the immune system so it does double duty! Follow the directions on the packaging for instructions about how to take these products. See my previous post entitled, “A Honey Of A Cure” for more info on one of my favorite natural remedies of all time, Manuka honey! You can get any of the products listed in number one and two at a good health food grocery store, as well as some wonderful organic fruits, vegetables, and proteins for number three.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/09/05/a-honey-of-a-cure/

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Now on to the third phase of treatment, which is food. My main healthy food remedy for colds and the flu is chicken soup. I have a great recipe for chicken soup and you can see it in my past blog post entitled, “From Soup to Nuts, Soup’s Got It All!”

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/08/06/from-soup-to-nuts-soups-got-it-all/

Chicken soup is hot, which acts as a natural nasal decongestant, it’s full of chicken and vegetables, so it’s got protein and antioxidants that help with healing, and it’s gentle on the stomach for those with flu or stomach symptoms. It’s the thing I CRAVE when I am sick, and right now I’m definitely having a chicken soup craving. If you don’t have the energy to make your own, check out your local Vietnamese restaurant. I have one near my house called Sandra’s Rice and Noodles and they have really good chicken and rice soup. It’s almost as good as mine. 🙂 If you don’t have a Vietnamese restaurant near you, canned chicken soup has been found to be almost as good for you as homemade. Just make sure it’s organic and has minimal ingredients and processing.

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Another food I really like when I’m sick is eggs. They are full of protein and vitamins so they help boost the immune system, and they’re pretty bland so they’re gentle on the tummy. I prefer scrambled or soft boiled eggs when I’m sick. I’ll make some scrambled eggs as soon as I am done writing. Read more about eggs in my post entitled, “An Eggceptional Protein!”

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/08/22/an-eggceptional-protein/

Of course vitamin C is critical to the immune system, so if you can tolerate it eat foods like red bell peppers, broccoli and kiwi. Read my previous post, “Beyond the Orange, Better Sources of C!” for more information. I won’t be eating those foods yet because my stomach is not ready for it. However, if yours feels good then go for it!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/11/07/beyond-the-orange-better-sources-of-c/

Finally, and this isn’t a food source but something you definitely shouldn’t neglect, and that’s to get plenty of rest when you’re feeling flulike symptoms. As soon as I eat my scrambled eggs I’m going to lay down because rest allows the body to heal more quickly. See my blog post, “Nap Your Way To Success!” for more information about the healthy benefits of napping.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/09/03/nap-your-way-to-success/

So when you’re feeling flulike symptoms make sure to first treat your immune system, second treat your symptoms, and third use healthy foods to minimize yucky cold and flu symptoms. And don’t forget to rest to let your body heal itself! Taking care of your symptoms as naturally as possible will allow you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

 

 

Brain Food- Really!

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Hello friends! Are you busy with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season? Are you attempting to juggle all of your various responsibilities? Afraid you will allow one of the MANY balls you keep in the air to drop because you’ve forgotten to do something, or buy that perfect present for Aunt Sally and therefore feel her wrath for the rest of your life? Or are you one of my many college student readers, and you’re trying to cram tons of knowledge into a brain that feels much too insufficient? Well, if you are feeling like this right now, (ME!!!!) take heart dear readers because I am going to impart some critical information that will help you deal. This post was written at the request of my stressed out college senior daughter, Jacqueline, who would love some nutritional help for her brain going into finals week. 

The answer to improving brain health lies in the food we eat. Yes, that’s what I said, plain and simple food. However, it’s not just any food that will help your brain, but some specific foods which I’m going to share with you right now. Come along for the ride, I promise this will help you!

Top Brain Foods

  

1. Blueberries– I researched many resources in coming up with this list, and blueberries were at or near the top of every one. One reason is that they contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin which is thought to cross the blood brain barrier, protect brain cells from oxidation and boost communication between brain neurons. A Harvard University study found that women over 70 who consumed 1/2 cup of blueberries twice a week remained sharper mentally than women who didn’t eat berries. Short term memory, navigational skills, balance and coordination are all improved by eating blueberries. 

  
2. Fatty fish-For two reasons, vitamin D and omega 3’s. Omega 3’s contain EPA and DHA which are highly concentrated in the brain and are critical for optimal brain function. Vitamin D, a nutrient plentiful in fatty fish like salmon, protects the brain. A Tufts University study found that people who ate fish like tuna, salmon and halibut 3 times a week reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s by 40%.

  
3. Avocados– are high in monounsaturated fatty acids which help promote healthy brain blood flow and benefits healthy brain function. And they’re good for your heart too because they’re loaded with potassium. That’s a win-win!

  
4. Nuts-Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats and Vitamin E, both contributing to better brain function. Also, almonds, pecans, and walnuts are thought to prevent cognitive decline. 

  
5. Eggs-Saturated fat and choline are both contained in eggs. They help boost memory skills and overall brain health.

  
6. Olive oil, coconut oil-Both oils are healthy fats which contain polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can help prevent or even reverse dementia and cognitive decline and help improve memory.  

  
7. Green leafy veggies-which are loaded with Vitamin K, like kale, collards and spinach, have been shown to slow cognitive decline. People who consume 1-2 servings a day have the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger who consumed none.

So eat your healthy fats, like avocados, fatty fish, eggs, olive and coconut oils, your dark green leafy veggies like kale, collards and spinach, and your blueberries to help you get through finals, or for us older folk to get through the Christmas season (or life!). You’ll live a brain healthy life if you do, what could be better than that? Foods like this will help you live a life of vitality, with Valerie! 

The Final Word On BACON!

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Hello my friends! You know I’m here to give you the straight up facts and wade through all of the misinformation running rampant in the nutrition industry. Today I am going to talk to you about one of my favorite things to eat, something that is being currently vilified, and that is bacon.

All I’ve seen on the news lately is how bacon causes cancer, that it reduces your life by 25%, and how you shouldn’t eat it. Well, anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows that bacon is life to me, and that I’ve discussed how bacon is not bad for you, so I was determined to get to the bottom of this issue. I mean, I am more than willing to admit I’m wrong if I am, but I didn’t think I was, and I did some research to see what the media was talking about. And whatever I find I want to share with you, my wonderful readers so that you won’t read what’s out there and think of it as fact.

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Here’s the scoop on bacon. Bottom line, it’s where and how the bacon or any other processed meat is produced that is the key to whether it is dangerous or not. As I just said, it’s not just bacon we are talking about here, friends, it’s any processed meat, like sausage, lunch meat, and hot dogs. Bacon just seems to be the processed meat every media outlet is talking about.

When I say where and how it is produced here’s what I mean, ANY meat that you eat (or eggs for that matter) should be organically pasture-raised, and the animal should eat an appropriate diet as well. In addition, the how it’s produced part means that your bacon or other processed meat should be preservative free, and the primary preservative we are talking about here is nitrates. Nitrate free bacon is easily found in health food grocery stores and your local farmer’s market, as is pasture raised bacon or other processed meats.

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That being said, mass produced bacon, like grocery store bacon, is not cured in the appropriate way. Refer to my previous blog post, “Bacon is my favorite healthy thing!” for more information about curing and other bacony facts. Avoiding bacon from the grocery store would be a very good rule of thumb to making bacon eating a healthy experience.

I feel like I don’t need to say this, but you shouldn’t eat processed meat 3 times a day, even if it is pasture raised and nitrate free. Exercising good judgment and restraint is the way to go here. I eat processed meat twice a week at the most, and that’s probably an appropriate amount to stick with.

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The real key to being able to eat processed meat safely lies in your gut however. If your gut is full of friendly bacteria it will be a healthy environment in which to digest your food, especially food that is potentially harmful. Make sure you are taking an excellent quality probiotic. I take ultrabiotic capsules made by Guyer Institute which contain very high amounts of friendly bacteria to ensure my gut is in perfect health.

Last but not least lies in the way your processed meat is prepared. Grilling and frying are the least healthy ways to prepare processed meat due to the carcinogens produced. Here’s an important point though, make sure not to BURN your processed meat no matter what you do. And for those of you who like crispy bacon, that’s a no-no. It is far healthier to eat your bacon less done, when grilling or frying.

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Those are the straight up facts for you, lovely people. Make sure your processed meats are pasture-raised, appropriately fed, nitrate free, not crispy or burned, and eaten only a few times a week. And make sure your gut is healthy too so your body can handle anything that comes its way. Most importantly when you’re eating bacon or anything you love ENJOY IT! That’s how you live a life of vitality-like Valerie!

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! 🙂

  
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!

Eating Healthy Starts with this! Part Deux

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Good day, my friends! I’m now going to continue my healthy eating post by telling you the second thing you need to eat healthily at home. The first as you recall if you read part one, was a pantry stocked with lovely items to help you cook healthy meals. The second essential is a well stocked refrigerator/freezer. Or in my case refrigerators/freezers because I have two, one in my kitchen and one in the garage. They are both important to my healthy cooking strategy so I’ll talk about how I use them both. Again, please don’t judge my fridge organization or cleanliness, just the contents! In addition, all food mentioned is organic whenever possible.

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Fridge Essentials

1. Liquids for drinking- We don’t drink soda pop and I don’t have any in the house. Instead, I keep the fridge stocked with filtered alkaline water, chocolate milk, almond milk, healthy juices with no sugar or corn syrup, and half and half for my coffee.

2. Yogurt and hummus- We always have these two items, though I usually make my own hummus, for healthy snacking.

3. Cooking ingredients- I always have minced garlic, olives, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, Dijon and regular mustard, ketchup, salsa, hot sauces, and pickles to help add flavor to my meals.

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4. Vegetables and fruits- The vegetables I usually have on hand are romaine lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and peppers. The types of fruit are grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, and watermelon. Many meals and snacks can be made from these vegetables and fruit.

5. Deli meat and cheeses- Important items here are turkey lunch meat, salami, cheddar cheese- both sliced and shredded, as well as romano cheese and parmesan for pastas.

6. Wine- no explanation needed here! 🙂

7. Eggs- Eggs are one of the things we eat often in my house. I make hard boiled eggs, fried, scrambled, poached, and egg salad. There are so many awesome dishes that can be made with eggs. Eggs are a great ingredient in other dishes as well, making them one of the most versatile items in my fridge.

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8. Leftovers- My outside fridge is mostly for leftovers, drinks and yogurt. I love leftovers and have written about that in many past posts. I eat them for lunch the next day or repurpose them into future meals. They are one of my favorite things in my fridge so don’t throw out the leftovers, this is your chance to be creative!

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Freezer Essentials-

1. Frozen vegetables- I always have frozen mixed vegetables on hand, mostly to make soups and stews, but I do like to have them for lunch sometimes.

2. Breakfast meats- We love breakfast in this house so I stock my freezer with bacon, breakfast sausage and chorizo to thaw for delicious breakfasts.

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3. Leftovers- Sometimes we don’t eat all of the leftovers in the fridge, despite my best attempts to polish them all off, and I definitely don’t want them to go to waste. I put them in the freezer, making sure to label the type of food and the date on the freezer bag, so I can ensure that when I defrost them I know what it is and how long it’s been in there. It’s so handy when I don’t have anything planned to cook. I just thaw the food item, and dinner is served!

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4. Meat- This is the heart of my outdoor freezer. I have different cuts of chicken in one section, beef in another, and lamb and pork in a separate area. I use the outdoor fridge to thaw the frozen meat a night or two before I am ready to cook, and then it’s ready to prepare.

5. Frozen fruit- I have frozen blueberries to make blueberry pancakes, and strawberries for smoothies.

Well, that’s what I consider essential for storing in the refrigerator and freezer. I hope you will stock what you like to eat and serve to your family and friends in your fridge/freezer. Eating at home is the best way to eat healthily. Eating healthy foods is the best way to live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

One Year Anniversary Top Ten Posts!

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Me and my babies 2015!

Me and my babies 2015!

Well, a year goes by so quickly, doesn’t it? I can’t believe it’s been a year since I began writing this blog. I have enjoyed writing it, and have truly loved all of the comments, enthusiasm and encouragement I have received from my readers. I have actually met people during this past year, and when I’ve told them my name they’ve asked me if I write a blog! So the word is definitely getting out about what I do and I appreciate that. In honor of my one year blogiversary, I thought I would write a “best of” post, highlighting the 10 posts I have received the most positive feedback on, and the ones I think are the most reflective of my message. It’s a walk through memory lane for me, and I hope you have gotten something positive from them as well.  My list is displayed “Letterman style” starting with number 10 and working my way to number 1. To read the posts in their entirety, click on the link at the end of each section.

Lift Your Way to Health!

Lift Your Way to Health!

10. “Lift your way to weight loss- and a healthier body!”- This was a post I wrote about the benefits of lifting weights on the body. I am still enjoying my weights and just lifted this morning!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2015/02/05/lift-your-way-to-weight-loss-and-a-healthier-body/

Do what scares you!

Do what scares you!

9. “Why you MUST do what scares you!”- I really enjoyed writing this one, and had many tell me this was their favorite post I’ve written. I liked it because it was so indicative of positive changes I’ve made over the years, and zip lining was a blast!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/12/09/why-you-must-do-what-scares-you/

My Fitness Pal!

My Fitness Pal!

8. “My Fitness Pal is my fave fitness pal!”- This post is important because it focuses on the importance of journaling what you eat in order to maintain a healthy weight. Journaling is one of the keys to fitness success, and the My Fitness Pal app not only is a food journal, but also keeps track of the calories you expend through exercise, calories eaten, steps taken, nutritional breakdown of foods eaten each day, weight progress, and much more.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/10/15/my-fitness-pal-is-my-fave-fitness-pal/

Grow your own food!

Grow your own food!

7. “Grow your own food!”- This is one of my first posts and discusses my philosophy about the importance of growing your own vegetables and herbs. My vegetables and herbs have been planted already this year and are growing like crazy. I can’t wait to eat a tomato from my own garden again!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/05/27/grow-your-own-food/

Eggs- truly a bonanza of health benefits!

Eggs- truly a bonanza of health benefits!

6. “An EGGceptional protein!”- This post reflects my health philosophy about the importance of eating lean proteins, and eggs are one of my favorites! Eggs are versatile, full of nutrients and delicious- like I said, they’re EGGceptional!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/08/22/an-eggceptional-protein/

DON'T SIT TOO LONG!

DON’T SIT TOO LONG!

5. “Sitting is the new smoking!”- This was a post in which I talked about how bad it is for your health to sit for long periods of time, and alternatives to sitting at work and at home (I guiltily jumped off my chair just now and am standing while composing this post!). It’s a good reminder for all of us!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/09/12/sitting-is-the-new-smoking/

Oh how I love the sun- and it's GOOD for you!

Oh how I love the sun- and it’s GOOD for you!

4. “Here Comes the Sun, and it’s Alright!”- One of my favorites because I believe it imparts critically important information that you won’t get from mainstream media. Many studies support what I’m saying about the sun and it’s role in vitamin D production. Email me if you’d like more in depth information.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/06/09/here-comes-the-sun-and-its-alright/

Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat!

Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat!

3. “Sugar- the new cigarette?!”- This is another post that most closely aligns with the message I’m trying to deliver about how terrible sugar and all non-whole grain carbs. Sugar truly is the new cigarette in terms of devastation to our bodies.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/07/09/sugar-the-new-cigarette/

This is how I eat!

This is how I eat!

2. “Mediterranean “diet” is the way I eat!”- I love this post because it delivers a very important message about not following diets, but adopting a healthy way of eating. That’s the way to get to a healthy weight and stay there. Eating like the people who live along the Mediterranean Sea is known to be a way to long term good health, and is the way I’ve been eating since becoming an adult.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/07/15/mediterranean-diet-is-the-way-i-eat/

It really doesn't!

It really doesn’t!

1. “FAT doesn’t make you fat!”- My favorite post, and the one I’ve gotten the most comments on. Again, it’s a message I feel compelled to deliver because I don’t feel the mainstream media is delivering it. This post discusses carbohydrates and their role in weight gain for the body. I also discuss how fat is really good for you, and essential in the maintenance of good health. This is so critical for my for my readers to know that I’m going to repeat it, FAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FAT, EXCESSIVE NON WHOLE GRAIN CARBOHYDRATES DO! Read the post for more information.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/09/19/fat-doesnt-make-you-fat/

And that’s my top ten list of posts for my one year anniversary. It has been an honor to provide information for my readers, and I have appreciated all the support and positivity I have received. I also want to give an enormous shout out to my amazing daughters who have helped me with technical issues, proof reading, post ideas, cooking prep, editing, etc, etc, etc. They’ve been my biggest cheerleaders (imagine that!)! Also, thanks to my family and friends who have shared my posts on their Facebook pages, and been so supportive to me and my blog.I hope you’ve read something that helps change your life for the better on this page. I write for this reason. So again thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love. I return that love to you tenfold which will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

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!

No Sugar, No Gluten- Nothing but Happiness!

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No sugar, gluten free amazingly easy and yummy banana nut muffins! P.S. It's already been consumed as I write this!

No sugar, gluten free amazingly easy and yummy banana nut muffin slathered with sweet, creamy butter! P.S. It’s already been consumed as I write this!

Hello my friends! How have you been lately? As for me, it seems my girls have been home more often these days, and in two weeks they’ll be home for the summer which will make me the happiest Mom on the planet! There’s nothing I like better than to have my chickadees back in the nest. I also love to cook for them when they’re home, and they beg for me to cook as often as I can because they’re homemade meal deprived college students.

They are desperately grateful for anything I make them to eat, but we are especially happy sitting in our pajamas eating breakfast and sipping our coffee/tea together. I would have to say that breakfast is my favorite meal to make, no matter what it is I’m cooking. I guess because I have the best memories of my mom making pancakes and bacon on the weekends, and my dad making waffles, eggs, and bacon.

If you’ve read my blog in the past you know that I have pretty much cut sugar completely out of my diet because sugar is a toxic poison to the body, and since my youngest has a gluten allergy and the rest of us seem to do better without it too, I don’t use gluten in my cooking either. That makes sweet breakfast foods particularly challenging. I mean, I do lots of eggs, bacon and sausage which covers the protein end of the breakfast, but sometimes in the morning you just want a muffin, doughnut, waffle or pancake, ya know?!

I ran across a really cool recipe for a gluten free, no sugar muffin that sounded intriguing because it contained no flour or any weird ingredients. Sometimes with gluten free baking the recipes call for obscure flours or strange ingredients like xanthan gum. Who has that sitting around in their pantry? Not me for sure. Plus, I’m not much into baking so another reason I really like the recipe is that it was simple and I had all the ingredients. So I decided to give it a try and my family LOVED them! You can’t tell they are gluten free or sugar free, and I’m not even sure how they are actually muffins since they contain no flour, but they’re so good! I made some adjustments that work better for my family, and I think they’re easy and delicious so I’d like to share them with you now.

Here are the ingredients!

Here are the ingredients!

Easy Peasy Banana Nut “muffins”

  • 1/2 cup all natural almond butter
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans
Sprayed- got it!

Sprayed- got it!

Preheat oven to 375 and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Throw everything in there!

Throw everything in there!

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend it up until batter is smooth and creamy. I had to use the tool that came with my blender to tamp all the ingredients down by opening the clear plastic part in the center of the blender lid and smushing everything down until it blended.

Now just pop them into the oven and wait to smell the amazing aromas that will begin to emanate!

Now just pop them into the oven and wait to smell the amazing aromas that will begin to emanate!

Pour the batter into the muffin tins to about 3/4 full and bake for about 15 minutes or until the tines of a fork when inserted into the muffins come out clean.

Makes 9 muffins but they don't last long at my house!

Makes 9 muffins but they don’t last long at my house!

The muffins are loaded with fiber from the oats, flaxseed, apple, banana, nuts and nut butter. They also have protein from the nuts, flaxseed, and nut butter, and tons of vitamins and antioxidants from the fruit. As far as I can calculate they have approximately 120 calories per muffin. That’s a great bang for my caloric buck!

When I’m serving these muffins or any other sweet baked good for breakfast I always make sure I serve plenty of protein with it. Usually I will make scrambled eggs and bacon with these muffins. If I’m making pancakes or waffles I make fried eggs and bacon or sausage (because I like to break my fried egg yolk all over my pancakes and waffles, and eat them all together). Protein is key to give you energy for your busy day!

Anyway, there you go my friends! I hope you try them and if you do I know you’ll like them! They’ll help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!