Two of the healthiest things you should be eating!

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

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

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

  
Avocado and Egg Bake

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

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

  

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

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

Healthy, Homemade Hummus- an EASY Snack!

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Healthy, Homemade Hummus- both easy and delicious!

Healthy, Homemade Hummus- both easy and delicious!

I must admit that I REALLY REALLY LOVE HUMMUS. I love it so much it deserves all caps! It’s creamy and rich but not heavy and it pairs well with vegetables like carrots, celery, and peppers.

It’s super, super healthy too, which makes me REALLY REALLY LOVE IT even more.¬† A 2 tablespoon serving has only 50 calories, but provides you with 2 grams of fiber AND 2 grams of protein. The fiber/protein combo helps to keep you feeling full longer than if you had eaten a snack that only contained carbs. Also, it has 5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which is the fat that is very good for your heart and¬†the rest of your body. Remember, “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat”- and you can read about that in one of my previous blog posts for more information.

A serving of hummus has 6 % of your daily value for folate and 4% for vitamin B-6 and thiamine. Folate helps prevent birth defects and is super important for pregnant women. All of these B vitamins give you energy and help keep your skin, liver, hair and eyes healthy, as well as your brain and nervous system too. Also, it has 6% RDA for phosphorus and magnesium, and 4% for iron and zinc. Phosphorus repairs cells and tissues, and magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function, healthy immune system and strong bones. Iron is essential for cell growth and oxygen transport, and zinc is necessary for wound healing, immune function and the creation of DNA and proteins. Does this convince you to eat hummus? It should and if it doesn’t its deliciousness should really change your mind..

I also admit that I’ve always eaten store bought hummus until recently. It just seemed easier to grab a tub of it in the grocery store rather than make my own. However, with the recent bacteria laden problems that have occurred with my favorite store brand of hummus, I decided it had to be safer to make my own. Therefore, I went on a search for different hummus recipes and tried a few before coming up with my own that tasted better and was easier for me. Here’s what I came up with and I hope you like it!

Ingredients assembled and ready to go!

Ingredients assembled and ready to go!

Healthy, Homemade Hummus

Assemble ingredients and get out your blender-

You can use a food processor also, but I don't know how to use mime (too many blades and attachments) so I always use my blender!

You can use a food processor also, but I don’t know how to use mime (too many blades and attachments) so I always use my blender!

  • 2 cans organic garbanzo beans- drain one can (IF USING NON ORGANIC BEANS YOU MUST RINSE THEM FIRST BEFORE USING)
  • 1 lemon- zest and juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

First, put your garbanzos in your blender. Next, zest (use a micro plane to remove the peel from the lemon WITHOUT ALSO INCLUDING THE WHITE PART OF THE PEEL INTO THE HUMMUS) the lemon. The white part (pith) is very bitter and should never be used. Then squeeze the lemon juice into the blender.

Great squeezing technique, right?!!

Great squeezing technique, right?!!

Now, add the parsley, minced garlic salt and pepper to the blender, and blend on medium speed until ingredients are combined. The last step is to add the extra virgin olive oil into the top of the blender while it is blending on low speed until it is fully incorporated into the hummus. Keep the lid on the blender so it doesn’t splash, and remove the plastic center part of the lid to add the olive oil.¬†Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed and THAT’S IT!

That's me dipping a carrot into the hummus!

That’s me dipping a carrot into the hummus!

This hummus tastes good as a dip for carrots, celery, pita or tortilla chips, but remember pita and tortilla chips are carbs so go easy on those dippers! It’s also delicious as a substitute for mayo on a sandwich and as a layer in a layered salad. You can add black, green or Greek olives, roasted red peppers, jalapenos or anything you can think of to the hummus to make different varieties of it very easily. Olives are my favorite addition but since some members of my family don’t like them I usually just serve it plain.

Well, that’s it for today, my friends! I hope you try to make your own hummus since it is an easy to make and yummy snack. Let me know how it turns out if you do! Eating healthy snacks like hummus 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Furry Stress Reliever!

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Lap time with Chewie makes me happy! And I'm not the only one- read on!

Lap time with Chewie makes me happy! And I’m not the only one- read on!

Hello friends! As I said in a previous post I’m a brand new empty nester and am still adjusting to this new phase of my life. It is very gratifying to see how well my daughters are doing, and in particular my first time college student! So it’s all good for them which definitely helps my adjustment process, but it’s a process and I have moments in which I kind of look around like something is missing. Well, in this case it’s two SOMEONE’S who are missing, and as I tell people it’s just WEIRD. That’s the word that best describes my feeling about this new phase.

My first dog, Princess, with my girls when they were little! They loved cuddling with her!

My first dog, Princess, with my girls when they were little! They loved cuddling with her!

So anyway, as I go through this process of getting used to life without my girls I find that I am getting a lot of comfort from my dogs. That’s not unusual for me, I’m a crazy dog lady after all, but I have been comforted by their presence even more than usual. Just looking at them helps me to feel better. I was surfing around on the internet the other day and I came across an article in Dr. Becker’s newsletter that talked about that very topic. Dr. Becker is a holistic veterinarian who has teamed up with Dr. Mercola (a holistic doctor) to dispense advice and sell products. In fact I highly recommend both doctor’s¬†newsletters! Dr. Becker’s article talked about the emotional benefits of owning a dog and here they are!

Still getting comfort from her dog, in this case our current Golden, Delilah!

Still getting comfort from her dog, in this case our current Golden, Delilah!

1. Dogs relieve our stress- Dr. Becker mentions how many hospitals now have dogs come in to visit with patients, and schools that bring dogs in during finals to help relieve stress associated with both hospital stays and exams in schools. Last spring Purdue University had dogs and their handlers come in during finals week for students to come and pet/cuddle. Jacqueline went over and spent time with the dogs and she said it really helped her feel better and less stressed. She got straight A’s last semester so clearly the dog cuddling time helped her rock her exams!

My dogs encourage me to keep moving!

My dogs encourage me to keep moving!

2. They encourage us to exercise- Dogs need more exercise than just letting them out¬†to do their business and wander¬†your backyard. I don’t care how big or small they are, and how many other dogs or cats they have to run around with, they still need to exercise or¬†they will become overweight and bored. Our little dog, Chewie, is a perfect example of that. He started to gain weight over the winter when I wasn’t walking him as much, but worse than that he got bored. Now, for Chewie boredom is NOT a good thing. He started to chew on things, get into things he wasn’t supposed to, and in general¬†he became a nuisance. I learned that I HAD to take him on a walk each day to really wear him out so he wouldn’t get into trouble. The benefit of that was that I got out and walked with them, because they obviously can’t walk themselves. Now, if walking isn’t your thing you can throw a Frisbee with your dog, throw a ball, run, swim, and pretty much anything active that you like to do your dog would LOVE to do with you. If your dog moves and you move with him/her, it’s a win-win!

Chewie loves to cuddle with his sissies!

Chewie loves to cuddle with his sissies!

3. Dogs increase our “happy” hormone- Dr. Becker quoted a study in which they tested dog owner’s amount of oxytocin when they looked into their dog’s eyes. Oxytocin is the hormone that increases when we kiss or hug a loved one. It’s also stimulated during breast feeding, sex, and giving birth. What they found in this study was that the amount of oxytocin in dog owners continued to INCREASE the longer they gazed into their dog’s eyes. No wonder I like to look at my dogs all the time!

My mom even enjoys her cuddle time with my dogs!

My mom even enjoys her cuddle time with my dogs!

4. Dogs have the ability to heal us- Dogs are known to be helpful in those suffering from PTSD, depression, autism and various disabilities. Therapy dogs are utilized to aid those with various ailments. The number of illnesses that dogs can bring about healing for hasn’t been fully explored yet, and new ways dogs can help heal us are still to be discovered. The bond between human and dogs is very complex and in some ways deeper than the relationship between humans. I could’ve told you that!

They are definitely buddies!

They are definitely buddies!

5. Dogs help us in our relationship with other humans- A study showed that when you bring your dog along with you to different places, you are more appealing to others. It showed that 95% of study participants found people in the company of their dogs to be more approachable to members of the opposite sex. Guys did you hear that? Bring your dog along if you want to meet girls! I always meet people when I’m out walking with my dogs in the neighborhood. In fact, I just met a nice woman and her bichon this morning on our walk and we exchanged numbers to go on future walks together. I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my dogs with me. Thanks Chewie and Delilah!

So anyway, the upshot is that dogs are a great source of comfort and love for us, especially when going through stressful events. If you’re going through some stress, gaze into your dog’s eyes and feel your oxytocin levels rising! Also, just a 10 minute walk with your dog can ease your stress and give you some exercise too! Enjoy your dog, get some exercise, ease your stress and live a life of vitality- like Valerie!