Yet ANOTHER Source of Cancer Prevention For You!

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Wild and crazy garden!


Hello, friends! Happy late summer to you! We had some MUCH NEEDED rain this week, and my garden is growing like crazy with the added moisture. The herbs, tomatoes, onions and peppers are even more plentiful than they were! Another thing in my garden that is exploding right now is my tomatillo plant. I’ve never grown tomatillos before, but we found a plant when we were looking at tomatoes. I decided to get one to see what I thought about it. Now, I’m so glad I did! They are a delicious change from tomatoes, and I’ve made some great meals including them. I want to share what I’ve learned about tomatillos, and two different ways to utilize them in dishes.

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My tomatillo plant, with little tomatillos on it!


The tomatillo is actually not a tomato, it is a vegetable from the nightshade family, and is actually related more closely to cape gooseberries. Their scientific name is Physalis philadelphica and they are a staple in Central and South America. They have a light brown husk that will eventually break off when the tomatillo is ripe. The tomatillo has a tart flavor, rather than a sweet flavor like tomatoes.

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Tomatillos in their husks!


Tomatillos have high levels of dietary fiber, very few calories (approximately 11), moderate levels of vitamin C, A, K, niacin, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. They also have withanolides and flavonoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene.

Because tomatillos have high levels of fiber they are excellent for digestive health, as fiber can help add bulk to foods and speed their transit through the digestive tract, thereby eliminating constipation, excess gas, bloating, cramping, and even colon and gastric cancers. Fiber is also good at regulating the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thereby regulating blood sugar levels, which is important for people with diabetes.

They also contain phytochemicals called withanolides, which have been directly linked to anti-cancer and antibacterial functions. Antioxidants help combat the effects of free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular reproduction, that can kill or mutate healthy cells and turn them into cancerous cells. In addition, the vitamin A, C, and other flavonoids within tomatillos provide other cancer-protective effects, particularly lung and oral cancers.

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This is what they look like once they have been peeled!


The vitamin C in tomatillos is good for the immune system and collagen production, and the vitamin A and beta carotene helps with our vision and eye health. The high nutrient, low calorie and low fat in them also help with weight loss, because they help us feel full, acquire the necessary nutrients, and reduce the chances of overeating. The niacin helps us to increase energy, and the potassium is heart healthy. Did I convince you to try them?!!

I made two sauces with my tomatillos, one in which I roasted the tomatillos, and one with raw tomatillos. They’re both easy to make, but the raw tomatillos give the sauce a bright and vibrant flavor, and the roasted tomatillos make the sauce deeper and more intensely flavored. I loved them both, and I can’t decide which one I like better so I’m sharing them both with you.

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Roasted tomatillo Sauce- See the blackened bits in the sauce?! They add such a nice, smoky flavor!


Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

  • 10 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and cut in half
  • 5 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed for a milder sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat broiler in oven. Peel tomatillos and MAKE SURE TO RINSE THEM AFTER PEELING. Tomatillos are very sticky and must be rinsed to remove the stickiness.

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Make sure you rinse them, to remove the sticky film!


Chop them in half and put them on a baking sheet with the chiles. Roast them 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side, 4-5 minutes more. They will be splotchy and blistered, and that’s perfect.


Looks wrong, but it’s oh so right!


In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chiles, juice from the baking sheet, cilantro, water, onion, and salt until it’s a rough puree. Serve immediately or store it in the fridge.

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I served the sauce over a pork tenderloin I made in the crockpot. I added shredded Mexican cheese, and served with corn tortillas. It was smoky and yummy!

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To make the sauce without roasting the tomatillos, just throw all the ingredients into the blender or food processor, and blend until coarsely pureed.

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Raw tomatillo sauce, brightly colored and flavored!


The sauce is a brighter green when the tomatillos are left raw, and it has a more tart, mild vinegar flavor, but it’s still really, really good. I served it over ribeyes we had made, and added black beans on the side.

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That’s all there is to it! It’s a versatile sauce, whether raw or roasted, and can be used on tacos, nachos, burritos or enchiladas, on pork, chicken, beef or seafood; really any way you can think to use it. It’s delicious and healthy too, what more could you want?!! Eating tomatillo sauce is so good for you, and will help you lead a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

Dark Chocolate- A HEALTHY Indulgence!

My oldest angel!

My oldest angel!

For those of you reading this who know me personally you know that I’ve just moved both of my daughters into their college and as such am a first time empty nester. Now some parents look upon that with a bit of relief, like “whew I did my job and I’m ready to move on!” That’s not me. I have truly enjoyed every second of my parenting job. Spending time with my daughters is a pleasure and I miss them a lot. The dogs even seem bummed!

My baby angel!

My baby angel!

Well anyway, I’ve noticed during my adjustment to this new phase of my life that I’ve been craving chocolate more than usual. I’ve mentioned in past blog posts that I love chocolate and that it is a regular part of my healthy way of eating- dark chocolate, that is. But I wanted to write a bit more about chocolate so you’d know how healthy it really is. Let’s call it “My Ode to Chocolate”.

LOL- True!

LOL- True!

Chocolate, oh chocolate, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways you are healthy and good for me!

1. Chocolate is heart healthy– According to an article in Women’s Health magazine, a study was done in Germany this year and it said that eating a square of dark chocolate a day lowers the risk for a heart attack or stroke by 39 percent and lowers blood pressure too! What a great deal! It’s because of the flavonoids dark chocolate contains, which are antioxidants that make your veins and arteries more flexible. Chocolate contains 5 times the flavonoids of an apple- wow! Now remember it has to be DARK CHOCOLATE NOT MILK CHOCOLATE because milk chocolate contains very little actual chocolate. The experts recommend not eating chocolate that contains any less than 70% cocoa so I eat the darkest chocolate I can because it makes me feel like I’m indulging in a healthy way! Also, chocolate contains sugar, milk, butter, etc so if you eat a lot of it you will gain weight. I eat ONE SQUARE OF DARK CHOCOLATE AND NO MORE!

I'm eating Godiva 72% dark chocolate almond right now!

I’m eating Godiva 72% dark chocolate almond right now!

2. Weight loss– Can you believe that if you eat chocolate you will lose weight? I didn’t believe it but a University of Copenhagen study showed that DARK CHOCOLATE makes you feel more full and satisfied than milk chocolate, and it lessened the craving for salty, fatty and sweet foods. Shut the front door, are you serious?!! That’s awesome! And a study out of Australia showed that people who eat chocolate high in antioxidants reduced the blood pressure raising effects of exercise in people that are overweight. So eat your dark chocolate and exercise safely, my friends!

Fran's Coconut Gold Bars are a far more delicious version of an Almond Joy!

Fran’s Coconut Gold Bars are a far more delicious version of an Almond Joy! Bobby Flay recommended them on the Food Network and we love them! They’re always a part of my girls Valentine gifts and I give them to myself as a birthday gift!

3. A Stress Reducer– Swiss (of course, Swiss!) scientists found that people who ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate after an emotional experience (like sending their youngest child off to college!) every day for two weeks, had their stress hormone levels reduced SIGNIFICANTLY, and the metabolic effects of stress on the body were partially reduced too. In addition, stress makes you gain weight because of the increased cortisol levels associated with it, so eating chocolate reduces stress which helps us stay slim and trim. Yay! I am almost required to eat dark chocolate now, right?! 😉

Dark chocolate dipped strawberries are another of my chocolate laden indulgences. Since the chocolate covers fruit it's even healthier! Win-win!

Dark chocolate dipped strawberries are another of my chocolate laden indulgences. Since the chocolate covers fruit it’s even healthier! Win-win!

4. Chocolate prevents diabetes– Wait, so eating candy helps to prevent diabetes? Makes no sense, does it? But here’s the thing, in an Italian study people ate a candy bar’s worth of chocolate every day for 15 days and saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by nearly half. How, you ask? Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production which helps control insulin sensitivity. Mom, this one’s for you!


As I've said before I shave a bit of Mexican hot chocolate into my coffee each morning for a bit of chocolately, cinnamony goodness every day!

As I’ve said before I shave a bit of Mexican hot chocolate into my coffee each morning for a bit of chocolately, cinnamony goodness every day!

5. Higher intelligence– An Oxford University study of over 2,000 people looked at the long term effects on the brain of chocolate. They studied people over 70 years old and found that people who ate flavonol rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored higher on cognitive test than those who didn’t. I feel a lot smarter now that I eat dark chocolate almost every day!

Dark chocolate can also give you sun protection, cough relief and diarrhea relief as well. It’s truly incredible how something so delicious can be so good for you. Now remember to eat DARK CHOCOLATE with at least 70% cacao for maximum benefits, and don’t eat more than one square per day. Let me know what kind of dark chocolate you like to eat and thanks for reading my blog. It will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!