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)! 🙂 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!

 

 

 

It’s not good for you, don’t buy into the hype!

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Hello, my friends! Here’s what I’m feeling passionate about these days. Let me back up, last weekend Danielle was home and she was drinking a bottle of Minute Maid cranberry apple raspberry juice. It surprised me to see her drink that kind of thing because she and Jac are pretty well-trained in healthy eating from hanging out with me their entire lives. I commented that this particular drink was not a healthy choice for her. She looked at the label and was appalled to see how much sugar it contained. Let me show you the label so you will see for yourself.

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58 grams of sugar per serving! And there are two servings in a bottle! Now I don’t know about you but I could drink an entire bottle at one time if I was really thirsty. That’s 116 grams of sugar in the bottle. It’s not even that big a bottle.

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So when Danielle looked at the back of the bottle and realized how much sugar she was consuming in this “fruit juice” she said, “Mom, you need to write about this to help make people aware of the hidden sugar in fruit juice.” I thought that was a great idea so here I am today to talk to you about fruit juice, and to give you some healthy alternatives.

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Now you might say, “Why do I care about how much sugar I’m consuming?” That’s a great question and I’ll answer that for you. Because sugar leads to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In short, it’s the worst thing you can eat (or drink). And it’s in EVERYTHING! The second ingredient in this “juice” is high fructose corn syrup, AKA sugar. AKA, the worst form of sugar you can consume. This is not a healthy drink folks, in fact, it’s just as bad if not worse than soda pop.

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“What about 100% fruit juice”, you might ask, “that surely can’t be bad for you.” Wellll…. it actually is and here’s why. The juice from a piece of fruit is the most sugary part of the fruit, granted a natural form of sugar, but still very sweet. Now say you are eating the whole piece of fruit, like an orange or an apple. You would only eat one of them, right? But the problem with fruit juice is that you can drink the equivalent of 4 or 5 pieces of fruit, which is a lot of sugar. And when you eat a piece of fruit you get all of the fiber from the pulp and skin, which is super good for you and helps absorb the sugar. If you drink the juice you get no pulp or fiber. In conclusion, it’s always better to eat a whole piece of fruit than to drink the juice of said fruit.

Now I know that most people don’t just drink water with lemon all the time like I do, you want to drink something with flavor (I hear that all the time). Here are my suggestions for drinks with FLAVOR.

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Juice your own– Use a blender instead of a juicer to get all of the pulp from the fruit. That will help you to get the fiber you need. Also, don’t drink more juice than if you were eating the whole fruit. For instance, an orange typically contains half a cup of juice, so your intake should be no more than a half cup of FRESHLY SQUEEZED orange juice at a time.

Use fruit to sweeten– Instead of drinking pure fruit juice, add fruit juice to sweeten vegetable juice. Unlike fruit, vegetables are excellent to drink in juice form because it allows for faster, better digestion of the veggies. Fruit juice can be added to vegetable juice which will add sweetness and more nutrients. That’s a win-win!

Bai drinks– I always advocate fresh and homemade in favor of store bought products, however, I do like Bai brand beverages if you must drink something store bought. Most of their drinks are flavored with a combination of erythritol and organic stevia extract, which are natural sweeteners that have no calories or effect on blood sugar, ie safe for diabetics to drink. The drinks contain only 5 calories and 1 gram of sugar. Bai drinks are made from coffeefruit, the fruit from which coffee is extracted. It is full of antioxidants and polyphenols- lots of good, healthy stuff. Because of the coffeefruit it contains caffeine, about as much as a cup of green tea, so it gives you a little lift without giving you a total caffeine buzz. Bai drinks are gluten free, have a low glycemic index, non-gmo, kosher, vegan and soy free. As far as a store bought product is concerned, it’s pretty fabulous!

I tried the bubbles product in the Peru pineapple flavor. I am extremely sensitive to sugar substitutes so I was interested to see how I felt after I drank this one. It is slightly sweeter tasting to me than a drink that contains sugar, which is due to the stevia. Stevia is not sweet, but it makes your taste buds think that what you’re consuming is actually sweet when it’s not, as such to me it is sweeter than real sugar is. I probably thought it was sweeter than normal because I only drink water during the day. I liked the flavor of the drink, I really like pineapple and thought it had a nice, delicate pineapple flavor. It was fizzy but not super carbonated so that was pleasant. It didn’t have a lingering artificial aftertaste like some beverages not sweetened with sugar. All in all, I liked it a lot and would definitely drink it again if I wanted something besides water.

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I still feel the best option is filtered water infused with lemon, orange, lime, etc, but I know a lot of you need to drink something with more pizazz than water, so I’ve given you some suggestions to help you drink healthier. Make your own juice using a blender to get all the pulp, add fruit juice to vegetable juice as a natural sweetener, or drink a healthy store bought beverage like Bai if you need a drink with more flavor than water. Any of these are healthier options than the “fruit drink” full of high fructose corn syrup that Danielle was innocently drinking, or 100% fruit juice or of course soda pop. What you drink really matters to your overall health, so please pay attention because it can make a big difference. Drinking healthy beverages like the ones I’ve suggested can help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

TEQUILA!!

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Is the song going through your head right now? It is in mine! On my recent trip to Mexico I realized how much I like tequila. After all, when we got to our hotel room there was a big bottle of tequila waiting with the instructions for us to finish it all before we left.  We didn’t do that, but we did drink a few glasses while we were there. I found that I really enjoy tequila, I mean I’ve always loved margaritas, but the taste of tequila itself is really mellow and smooth.Besides it’s delicious taste, I’ve learned that it’s also very good for you. That came as somewhat of a surprise. We brought back a few bottles of tequila with us, and I set out to make a healthy margarita with it.

I have a love/hate relationship with margaritas. I love the taste of a margarita but I hate the unhealthy qualities of most of them. Many are made with mixes that contain sugar, as well as weird chemicals I can’t even name. My goal was to make a margarita with healthy ingredients that tasted good too. I succeeded because my SO and Jacs both LOVED them. I’d like to share my findings about the healthiness of tequila with you, as well as the recipe for my healthy margarita.

Tequila comes from the agave plant and contains agavins, which is a type of natural sugar that may help control weight. Tests showed that consuming agavins lead to eating less overall and produced a hormone that kept the stomach fuller for a longer time. Consuming agavins also helps produce insulin and lowered blood sugar levels, which could really help people who suffer from diabetes. Also, agavins in tequila lower triglycerides in the blood.

In addition, people suffering from IBS and Crohn’s disease could benefit from tequila. The problem is that drug delivery to the colon can be challenging since stomach acids often destroy drugs before they reach the intestine. Scientists in Mexico have found that certain tequila compounds can be used as drug carriers, resisting destruction by stomach acids. Fructans in the agave plant may boost the body’s absorption of calcium, protecting against osteoporosis. Additionally, fructans are associated with a 50% boost in levels of a protein associated with the buildup of new bone tissue. Pretty cool, huh?!!

So now that you know how good tequila is for you, I’m sure you’re more than ready for my healthy margarita recipe, right? Here we go!

Valerie’s Healthy Margarita

  • 2 ounces GOOD tequila
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce organic agave nectar
  • 8-10 ice cubes

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First, juice your limes. I utilized my assistant, Jacqueline, for this endeavor. She used my electric juicer.

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Next measure out your tequila and agave nectar. I put them in a measuring cup and stirred them together with a spoon to combine.

Take a cocktail shaker (I used two cups that fit on the end of each other), put the ice cubes, tequila/agave mixture, and lime juice into one of the cups and shake well. Then, pour the mixture into a chilled (I put the glasses into the fridge for five minutes), salt rimmed glass and garnish with a fresh lime wedge. This cocktail weighs in at 160 calories, versus 300 for a traditional margarita, and it’s full of healthy ingredients, nothing processed or fake about this drink.

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I’d love it if you’d try my healthy margarita, I think you’ll really like it because it’s delicious- cold, smooth, and sweet but not too sweet- the perfect margarita! Or just drink your tequila straight because it’s super healthy for you. However, remember to have one shot of tequila not 6 because nothing is healthy in excess. Moderation is the key to healthy eating, and drinking! Drinking tequila in moderation 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!