It’s an American meal staple, but did you know it’s healthy?!

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My Italian meatloaf is a family favorite!

My Italian meatloaf is a family favorite!

Hello my friends! I know all of you have this either in your refrigerator or freezer at home, or you’ve gone out and eaten it in the last week, but you didn’t know that what you’re eating is so HEALTHY. What I’m talking about is the humble, but nutritious ground beef.  However, make sure the ground beef you choose is local, grass fed, and has no antibiotics or hormones. This will make it a GREAT choice for you and your family/friends. And let’s face it, ground beef is pretty inexpensive so I can purchase the grass fed type, which is a little more expensive than regular ground beef, and still not break the bank! Plus, I will give you my recipe for yummy, easy Italian meatloaf so you can put a delicious meal on the table. Come along with me now!

Here’s why ground beef is GOOD for you:

1. It’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, including zinc, vitamin B6, and alpha lipoic acid. These are responsible for creating antibodies and keeping blood sugar levels in check.

2. A 3 oz. serving of 95% lean ground beef has just 164 calories and 4.5 grams of fat, but offers up 24 grams of protein.

3. Ground beef is rich in iron, a multitasking mineral that boosts energy and keeps muscles working properly.

4. As I’ve stated in my past blog post, “fat doesn’t make you fat”, fat is important for maintaining the health of our bodies. Ground beef gets a bad rap for being too high in fat and cholesterol, but fat is actually good for you, and cholesterol is necessary for our bodies to function properly.

5. Of course as with all types of meat, make sure you choose GRASS FED beef that hasn’t been given antibiotics or hormones. I also recommend purchasing from a local farmer if at all possible so that you can see exactly how they manage their farm and animals. I purchase from Royer Farms, which is a farm in southern Indiana. They bring their offerings to my local farmers market which makes it super convenient for me. However, they also have an online store and will ship anywhere in the US. It’s the best beef, pork, chicken and lamb I’ve EVER HAD. I highly recommend them.

Yay for ground beef! So now that you know ground beef is good for you,  I would like to share one of my favorite recipes for Italian meatloaf. I make it all the time for my family and they never get tired of it. It’s delish and easy too as you’ll see, so here we go!

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Valerie’s Italian Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs grass fed ground beef
  • 1 large can pureed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons each minced garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs, and salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ground pepper to taste
Ready for mixing- by hand is the ONLY way!

Ready for mixing- by hand is the ONLY way!

First, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare the meatloaf by combining the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs and salt. Mix with your hands until combined and then form into a loaf. Don’t over work the meat or it will become tough and dry. Then, add pureed tomatoes, the rest of the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs and olive oil in a bowl and stir until combined. Pour over the meatloaf and add the rest of the parmesan cheese to the top.

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!

Bake in a 350 oven for 50-60 minutes or until the ground beef is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving and add extra parmesan cheese if it needs it. Bon Appetit!

That was my meal, seconds before it was consumed!

That was my meal, seconds before it was consumed!

That’s my wisdom for the day- ground beef is healthy and can be used in SO many different dishes so experiment and be creative. I hope you try my Italian meatloaf and that you enjoy it. Let me know if you do. Eating my Italian meatloaf will help you live a long and healthy life of vitality- with Valerie!

Dont Be A Turkey- Make Turkey Burgers!

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My juicy, yummy turkey burgers!

My juicy, yummy turkey burgers!

Here’s the thing my friends, my title might imply a popular misconception about turkey that I plan to clear up for you right now. That is the following, that ground turkey is better for you than ground beef. I am not going to fill my post with untruths, I am here to clear up the untruths for my wonderful, loyal readers. So, when I tell you to use ground turkey it’s not because it’s better for you per se. Turkey is a lean form of protein which is why it got the rep for being healthier than ground beef. Here’s the problem with that though, first of all, ground turkey BREAST is lower in fat than lean ground beef, but as I wrote in my past blog “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat”, low fat is not necessarily a health benefit for us. Also, because ground turkey breast is low in fat it is also low in flavor and juiciness, so you have to add that back into the meat to make it taste good. Ground turkey usually contains a mix of turkey breast and dark meat, and usually has more fat than ground beef. Which as I told you earlier is not a bad thing for us, I’m just trying to lay out all the facts for you so you can be properly informed.

You might ask me at this point, “Then why are you telling us to use ground turkey to make turkey burgers?” Excellent question my amazing readers, you read my mind on this one! Here’s why.  When properly prepared they are light, juicy and flavorful- perfect for a spring meal. I’m going to walk you through the steps I used to make my delicious and juicy turkey burgers. Here we go!

Ingredients for making my turkey burgers!

Ingredients for making my turkey burgers!

My Flavorful, Juicy Turkey Burgers

First, the burger ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 small cans mild green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Next, the toppings:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • A slice of Colby jack or pepper jack for each burger
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed
  • A few pieces of romaine lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes sliced
  • Gluten free buns

Finally, the aioli:

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Pepper to taste

Remember how I said the turkey burgers would be dry and tasteless unless we add in fat and flavor? Even more so for me because I was using ground turkey breast the day I made this recipe for my family (and for my readers too!). At Fresh Market where I shop they grind it up fresh for you, and all they had was turkey breast so I used what they had. It was even more of a challenge for me to make them moist and full of flavor, but I like a challenge so that worked for me!

Meat and ingredients combined by hand, and NOT over mixed!

Meat and ingredients combined by hand, and NOT over mixed!

So what you do first is take all of the ingredients for making the burgers, put them in a large bowl, and mix them together USING YOUR HANDS. Hands are the best way to mix meat to properly combine the ingredients. Here’s an important tip from me to you, DON’T OVER MIX YOUR BURGERS- NO MATTER WHAT MEAT YOU ARE USING- IT WILL MAKE YOUR BURGERS TOUGH. Yuck, who wants that?!! Then, form your burgers into the size you’d like them to be, and put a thumb sized indentation into the center of your burger. I saw that on one of Bobby Flay’s cooking shows on the Food Network. Putting an indentation into the center of the burger patty keeps the burger from puffing up in the middle. It really does stay flat that way- of course he knows what he’s talking about, he’s an Iron Chef!

In the pan and ready to be cooked!

In the pan and ready to be cooked!

Next either grill or fry your burgers until the centers just turn the lightest pink. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the cheese slices to the burgers and put a cover on the pan so the cheese melts. Then put them on a platter and cover them to let them rest.

Sautee onions and peppers in a pan until they're soft!

Sauté onions and peppers in a pan until they’re soft!

Now, add a half teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to the turkey pan, add the onions and peppers, and sauté them until they’re soft and slightly browned. I pop the buns on top of the onions and peppers for the last few minutes to steam some flavor into the buns too. See, I’m always thinking about adding flavor!

Special turkey burger topping- easy and super good!

Special turkey burger topping- easy and super good!

While the onions and peppers are in the pan doing their thing, I prepare my aioli. It’s super easy, just add the mayo, Dijon, garlic salt and pepper to a bowl and combine. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Now the fun part, assemble the burgers! Spread the aioli on the buns, put a patty on the bottom bun, add the slices of avocado, onions, and peppers, and finish with sliced tomatoes and lettuce. I served the burgers with an old, secret family recipe for baked beans. That’s all there is to it! Obviously feel free to edit the ingredients based on your family’s tastes, but I promise they will be juicy and FULL of flavor. I love these burgers, not just because they taste good, but because they’re full of protein and vitamins. Try them and you’ll like them, I guarantee it! Meals like these will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland? How to Protect and Hydrate in the Cold!

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Stay warm and hydrated this winter!

Stay warm and hydrated this winter!

It’s cold out for many of us right now! Even if it’s not cold where you live, it’s probably still colder than it usually is. Therefore, you have the heat on in your house, you’ve got the fireplace going for warmth and atmosphere, or you’re going outside in the cold to enjoy outdoor activities and just walking to your car from work, a restaurant, the mall, etc. Did you know you can become just as dehydrated from the cold in the winter as you can from the heat in the summer? It’s true, we just aren’t as aware of our sweating when we are cold. Your skin and lips can become dried and chapped from the cold and wind too. I’ve got some healthy remedies to protect your body from the cold and I’d like to share them with you right now!

Simple, easy and inexpensive!

Simple, easy and inexpensive!

1. Carmex- Boy, I hate chapped lips, don’t you?! Carmex is my favorite remedy for healing chapped lips and preventing them as well. I’ve tried other lip balms but I feel Carmex coats and protects my lips the best. I prefer the Carmex in the little jar to the one in the tube because it’s thicker and coats better. Before bed, I coat my lips with Carmex, especially in the winter because I hate awakening with that chappy lip feeling. My niece, Alison, loves Carmex so much that not only does she receive cases of it for gifts, but she also dressed up as a tube of Carmex for Halloween one year. I guess it runs in the family as I’ve been using it since I was in middle school!

Ali the tube of Carmex! :)

Ali the tube of Carmex! 🙂

LOL! If you have another lip balm that works for you go for it! Make sure, however, that you coat your lips not only at night but whenever you’re going outside for a walk, ice skating, skiing, or any activity that will take you outdoors for a long period of time on a cold or windy day.

My favorite lotion, it Kisses my Face with moisture!

My favorite lotion, it Kisses my Face with moisture!

2. Kiss My Face-  Lotion is another one of my secret winter weapons, and I particularly like “Kiss My Face” lotion, both because of the silkiness of it and the smell. I use it all over my body, not just on my face though, does that break the rules?!! The coconut scent smells like heaven to me! My hands and face get particularly dry in the winter so the one thing that I do is to coat my hands with lotion before putting on my gloves to go outside. That way it helps the lotion to absorb better instead of evaporating in the wind. I also coat my hands before putting on my kitchen gloves. The warm water outside the gloves really helps the lotion to absorb into my hands. They feel so soft when I remove the gloves, and it really makes doing the dishes a bit more enjoyable! Before bed, I once again coat my hands with lotion, and I do my face at that time too. It seems like a lot but it’s worth it not to have chapped hands and a chapped face!

Alkaline water is a great way to hydrate in the winter!

Alkaline water is a great way to hydrate in the winter!

3. Alkaline water- Any filtered water is great for you at any time of year, however I have been enjoying the benefits of alkaline water lately. It contains more minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, and it helps digest acidic food more easily. Also, since it contains 5-6 water molecules per cluster it penetrates our tissues more easily and hydrates 3 times more efficiently than normal, filtered water. In addition, it eliminates free radicals that can cause cancer, and because it has a PH of 8.5-9.5 it maintains the body in a healthy (ie, non acidic) state. It’s like water on steroids! It is important to stay hydrated. I read a study that said 80% of our feelings of hunger are really related to  THIRST instead. Water plumps up the skin and makes it glow as well so make sure to drink your water!

Love me some leave in conditioner!

Love me some leave in conditioner!

4. Leave in conditioner- Leave in conditioner is my best friend during the winter when my hair is so dry. I use it after I wash and condition my hair in the shower, but before I use my styling products. It coats my hair and moisturizes so I don’t get flyaways. Static cling in the hair is just no fun so I always make sure I use it. It’s one of my favorite winter remedies!

Don't forget your healthy fats!

Don’t forget your healthy fats!

5. Healthy Fats- It sounds strange but to keep your body properly moisturized in the winter it is important to get your healthy fats. Organic Fish, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter, lard, etc, all help to bring moisture to the body, and help battle against the dryness of winter. It really does work!

There you have it- my tips for keeping moisturized in the winter. It’s a challenge in Indiana where I live, especially with all of the wind, snow and ice we usually experience. That’s why I make sure to use my Carmex, lotion, leave in conditioner, and to drink my alkaline water and eat my healthy fats. I get a lot of positive comments on my skin so these remedies seem to work. Let me know what your winter remedies are, and how you like the ones I’ve presented to you here today. These remedies will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂