Holiday Cranberry Mimosa!

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

Cranberry Sauce

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

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

Cranberry Mimosa

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

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

 

 

 

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!!

You should be doing these things right now!

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Hello, friends! Tis the season to be… Stressed out, frantically busy, exhausted, out of gas, and definitely no time to recharge the batteries. I find this time of year to be the most difficult. I feel stressed because I want to get the perfect gifts for my loved ones that reflects how much I love them, frantically busy as I decorate the house, buy the gifts, wrap them, bake cookies, plan, shop for and make the Christmas Eve meal, spend meaningful time with the kids, go out of town to visit family, and all the holiday obligations. This year it’s even more difficult because we are going through renovations on our new house. Life in the “Reno Zone” is difficult and stressful, which adds to the holiday burnout. 

My college student readers are going through similar experiences with studying for finals, writing papers, completing projects, giving presentations and finishing their semesters strong. My conclusion is that we are all STRESSED OUT these days. 

My goal with this post is to help give you ideas about how to de-stress and take care of yourself during timeframes when you have precious little time in which to do this. You can do little things that don’t take long, but will help you recharge your batteries and give you the energy to finish this year strong. I’ve got so many ideas for you that I will split it into two posts. Here we go!

  

  
 1. Take a replenishing salt bath– my new passion is bathing. There is nothing more luxurious than laying in the bathtub with the lights dim and soothing music playing. Here’s a way to take it up a notch, add bath salts, in particular pink Himalayan sea salts. Salt baths have been utilized for thousands of years as a way to detoxify the body, and salt in the bath actually ADDS moisture to your skin. Himalayan salts are also high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium and chloride which can be absorbed while in the salt bath. If buying pink Himalayan salt and adding it to your bath seems like too much work, there are ready made products out there that do the work for you. One product I like in particular is from a company called Me! Bath. They have “bath ice creams” that are all natural and contain oils, minerals, fragrances and salt, so you just have to drop one into your bath tub and get in for a nice, relaxing soak. Ahhhhh!

  
2. Glass of wine– This one works well in combination with number one, because having a glass of wine while soaking in the bath makes it even better. Wine (in moderation) is one of the healthiest ways to wind down after a long day. It contains potent antioxidants that are heart healthy and protect from many heinous diseases. Champagne is getting good press these days because it contains polyphenols that help lower blood pressure, natural trace elements that help boost your mood, and at 78 calories per 4 ounce pour it’s one of the least caloric alcoholic drinks in which you can indulge- in moderation of course. 

  
3. Listen to your favorite music– again works well in combination with the first two items on the list. Music helps you focus because it causes changes to the brain that help with attention and storing events into memory, makes you feel more cheerful due to the release of dopamine caused by listening to certain songs, and can calm you down by listening to soothing music during stressful events due to decreased cortisol levels . I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stressed and listened to one of my favorite playlists on my iPod which cheered me up immediately. Music can also rev you up and give you the energy you need to complete a challenging paper or project, because listening to up tempo music actually helps you use oxygen more efficiently, which can also get you through a tough workout as well. 

 LOL, Danielle took this picture of me while I was sleeping and cuddling with my Chewbacca! 
4. Cuddling with loved ones, furry and non– I’ve written about this in a previous post but think it bares repeating, physical touch, in particular hugging, is one of the best things we can do for good health. When you hug a loved one your body releases oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide which makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. It promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding. Hugs can also lower blood pressure. This happens because sensory receptors on the skin trigger the vagus nerve which is responsible for lowering blood pressure among other things. Hugs can be a potent destresser because when we hug we immediately reduce the amount of stress hormone cortisol produced in our bodies, which releases tension and sends calming messages to the brain. There is nothing more soothing to me than cuddling up with my pups and loved ones. Truly one of the best things in life!

 This is a picture I took at my local nail salon that serves wine while getting a manicure or pedicure. That’s a win-win to me! 
These are some of my favorite ways to recharge during busy times. What are yours? Living a calm, stress free life is a goal I’m always striving for, it will help you live longer and healthier too. So please my friends, luxuriate in the bath, drink a glass of wine or champagne, listen to music and hug your loved ones. Doing these things will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

New Year’s Resolution? Nah, just be good to you!

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My daughters jumping for joy! This is how I feel at the start of a new year!

 

This is EXACTLY the way I feel at the beginning¬†of a¬†new year. I am always very energized by the start of something new. There is so much hope looking forward to the unknown. It can be a little scary too, so for me, though I’m excited I am also in need of comfort. Especially after the end of the holidays which are so HECTIC and crazy, I’m definitely¬†in need of some ME TIME. Let me tell you though that about five years ago,¬†I was so stressed out and burned out that I sat down to make a list of the things I enjoyed and that give me comfort BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SO LONG THAT I’D DONE ANYTHING FOR MYSELF THAT I HAD TO MAKE A LIST TO REMIND MYSELF OF WHAT I LIKED TO DO!.I don’t want that for any of you, so I’m going to share my list with you now. However, I urge you to make your own list, I’m just giving you a jump start with mine!¬†As we begin a new year and a new chapter in our lives, I wish you a cozy new year! Here we go!

One of my favorite things- my Bose Bluetooth speaker!

One of my favorite things- my Bose Bluetooth speaker!

1. Music- My sister and I were talking on the phone this morning and she was mentioning how important music is to her, and she suggested I write about how HEALTHY music can be for you. Now you might think, “How is music healthy for you?”, but it really is. I always say that music soothes the savage beast in me, and I believe it to be true. There have been MANY days when I’m sad or upset, I turn on my music and feel SO much better. My Honey bought me my Bose Bluetooth speaker, which goes wherever I do because it’s cordless, and I link it to all the songs on my phone (over 2,000 at current count), and I have instant uplifting music. I make different song lists and depending on my mood I can “Pump Up”, listen to my “Faves”, or be inspired by my “Inspirational” list. I always say that I don’t collect things, that’s my Mama’s passion, not mine, but I do collect songs!

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Another thing I really like to do associated with music is to attend concerts of my favorite singers/bands, and I’ve seen quite a few of them. As much as I enjoy listening to my music at home, I love hearing live music a hundred times more. There is an energy and electric feeling at a live music show, and it is¬†awesome for me. Besides seeing famous bands, I also like to see local bands and musicians around Indy. My Honey and I share a love of classic rock music, and have spent many fun evenings rocking out near home. It’s great couple time too!

 

Jacsy loves her bath time!

Jacsy loves her bath time!

2. Baths- This is a newly acquired love for me. I’ve always been a showerer- you know, get in quickly, get out quickly. My older daughter, Jacqueline, loves to bathe and her enjoyment is so infectious that I was inspired to try it. I downloaded some classical music to my phone, lit some candles, put in some wonderful bath products and soaked. I LOVED IT! It was so relaxing and soothing!

Lush bath products are environmentally sound and wonderfully luxurious!

Lush bath products are environmentally sound and wonderfully luxurious!

Jac loves Lush bath products and when I got some for Christmas for her I also tried them myself. The bath bombs rule! You drop them into your bath and they sparkle and fizz. They are all natural and have different aromas too. They make bathing even more fun! I highly recommend them!

 

Love my Kindle and my doggie!

Love my Kindle and my doggie!

3. My Kindle- I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall a time in my life¬†in¬†which¬†I didn’t have a book in my hand. Reading gives me comfort, a sense of peace, and a satisfaction I don’t get from any other past time. Something else I collect besides songs are books on my Kindle. I got a Kindle about five years ago, after being VERY resistant to the idea of reading on an e-reader type device. I’m an avid reader, and rarely does a day go by that I don’t read something. I also read my morning mass readings and devotions each day. So when going out of town I’d be dragging around tons of books. That’s what convinced me to get a Kindle, for the ease and convenience of transporting and reading books. I read some pretty big books and instead of holding up a weighty book, I am using my very light Kindle.

This is from my new Kindle Paperwhite!

This is from my new Kindle Paperwhite!

This Christmas my Mama got me a new Kindle Paperwhite with the built in light and I LOVE IT even more than my old one. I can store tons of books on it and the battery lasts forever! I currently have around 120 books on my Kindle waiting to be read, and probably 300 in the archives that I’ve already read. I told you I collect books! I also save inspirational phrases and things that move me in some way by taking a picture and storing them on my phone like the two pictures above. Reading is life!

So, these are a few of my favorite things, and I’m going to share some more with you in the next few posts. I challenge you to think of some of your favorite things, and ENJOY THEM EVERY DAY! Life is too short to wait for time to do the things that comfort you and bring you peace. I’m going to be reading, listening to music, and taking baths because these things make me feel cozy and comforted. Try these things¬†and you’ll be living a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Holiday overeating/overdrinking? Healthy remedies for indigestion!

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Cooking at my sister's house over the weekend!

Cooking at my sister’s house over the weekend!

Whew, what a busy long holiday weekend! I had the kids come back from college, I hosted and cooked Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then went to my sister’s for a big family celebration over the weekend! I ate a lot of food and, by the time I returned home, ended up with a case of indigestion. I used my favorite remedies and feel better now, but then I thought, “Wait! I need to share these remedies with my wonderful readers!”¬†So that’s what I’m going to do today. Especially with two more big “stomach ache” holidays coming up, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I thought it particularly timely to help you avoid stomach discomfort in a healthy way! These remedies are particularly¬†helpful when we occasionally over imbibe in food and drink. So without further ado, here are my top 5 healthy stomachache remedies.

My favorite stomach remedy!

My favorite stomach remedy!

1. Nux Vomica- This is a homeopathic remedy made from the seeds of the strychnos tree and it’s mainly used for nausea, indigestion, and hangovers. It works really well for all of those digestive issues. Use as recommended on the package instructions and DON’T TAKE MORE THAN THE RECOMMENDED DOSAGE AS IT CAN BE TOXIC IF TAKEN AT EXTREMELY HIGH LEVELS. Nux Vomica can be purchased at any health food store. It’s my favorite stomach remedy and has saved my life a number of times! They are tiny pellets that are held under the tongue until dissolved, and they have no flavor which is very helpful when your stomach is upset.

My number 2 stomach remedy!

My number 2 stomach remedy!

2. Sunmark Anti-nausea liquid- The active ingredients in my second favorite stomach remedy are glucose, fructose and phosphoric acid, and it’s effective for “nausea due to stomach upset from flu, food or drink indiscretions”, according to the label and I agree with their assessment of that. You just take one to two tablespoons and don’t drink any liquids before or after because it could dilute the effectiveness of the medicine. It has a pleasant cherry flavor, which goes down well when you’re stomach hurts. I love this anti-nausea liquid and I find it very successful at eliminating my symptoms. This product can be purchased at health food stores.

Works on adults too- teehee! :)

Works on adults too- teehee! ūüôā

3. Little Remedies Gripe Water- Don’t be fooled by the label, it’s not just for children but works on people of any age. One day I had a really bad case of indigestion and the only place we had time to stop at was a CVS because we were in a hurry to go somewhere, and there was no health food store near. So I ran in and looked at the stomach remedies and tried to find something that wasn’t full of chemicals, which was very difficult to be honest. I picked up this one on the advice of my significant other (who is a doctor). ¬†I was doubtful since it’s for babies,¬†but it REALLY WORKED WELL! It’s used for colicky babies, but it worked for my tummy too. It works by breaking down the bubbles that cause gas naturally. I have to admit I take a few swigs of it right out of the bottle instead of measuring when I need it so I’d say taking a tablespoon or two would be about right. It’s great!

Love me some peppermint capsules!

Love me some peppermint capsules!

4. Peppermint Capsules- This is one I particularly love and here’s why. These are pure peppermint capsules from Guyer Institute, however you can purchase other brands from health food stores. The EC stands for enteric coated, which is advisable because it helps keep the peppermint oil from being released in the stomach which could cause heartburn and indigestion. Instead it goes to the digestive system where it is released and helps relieve symptoms of gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, colds, and flu. This remedy works very well and as a pleasant side benefit it makes your bowel movements smell like peppermint. In other words you will have minty smelling doo doo! That’s definitely not a bad thing! Another way I like to use it is to break a capsule open, squeeze it into my water, and drink my peppermint water. It tastes really great and soothes my stomach too. Now don’t take it this way if you have reflux or esophagus issues because it could upset those conditions. A super healthy remedy!

Ginger gum!

Ginger gum!

5. Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum- Ginger is a long time remedy for gastrointestinal upset- I remember my Mama giving me ginger ale when I was a child with a flu bug. This ginger gum (can be purchased at health food¬†stores)¬†is a healthy way to deliver ginger in a more effective way than drinking an entire can of pop. It definitely has a strong ginger taste, so if you like ginger you’ll love this gum. I’m not a real fan of ginger so I only chew it for a few minutes before spitting it out, but it really helps calm the stomach in a natural way!

So these are some healthy remedies for overeating and overdrinking, which is very typical for this time of year. As always, please consult your physician before utilizing any of these products, especially if you are having severe symptoms for an extended period of time. Make sure to eat and drink safely, and use good judgment always! However, for the inevitable times when you aren’t feeling good, these natural products will definitely help. Using these tummy remedies will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!