One of the healthiest things you can eat!

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Hello, friends! Well I have an abundance of tomatoes and peppers in my garden right now, and I’m always trying to think of ways to use the bounty of my garden before it goes bad. One of my absolute favorite ways to use my tomatoes and peppers is to make salsa. I make a delicious and easy salsa that my family raves about. In fact, they fight over it when I make it and it certainly doesn’t last very long in my house. The other day Jacqueline’s boyfriend texted me to ask if I had made any salsa and if so, could he come over and have some. He has eaten an entire bowl of my salsa at one sitting quite a few times! I have made it for years, and in doing so I’ve tweaked my recipe and now I think it’s perfect, but you can be the judge of that.

I have discussed the health benefits of tomatoes and peppers numerous times this summer but let’s review this. 

  
Tomatoes have fiber, potassium, choline, folic acid, vitamin C, lycopene and beta-caratine all of which help prevent heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. They lower blood glucose levels, improve overall skin texture, help with depression, etc etc etc. 

  
Peppers are full of vitamin C, capsaicin, B6, Folate, and carotenoids, which help with weight loss, controlling cholesterol, fighting against inflammatory disorders like arthritis, and lowering your risk for breast cancer and heart disease. The benefits are enormous!

  
Salsa also contains onions which have vitamin C and B6, folate, potassium, iron, and flavonoids quercetin and allyl disulphide.  They’re anti-allergic, anti-histaminic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant all rolled into one! 
Now are you convinced that salsa is good for you? Here’s the bonus- it also TASTES GOOD! It is one of my favorite things to eat and it’s so versatile. You can put it on tacos, eggs, chicken, and steak. You’re really only limited by your imagination. Without further ado, here we go!

Valerie’s kick butt salsa

  • 7-8 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  

First chop the tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro. Add them to a large bowl. If you want a mild salsa remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeños, but I left them in because we like a medium salsa. 

  

Add the garlic to the bowl with the tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro. Squeeze half a lime into the bowl. Add the garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Finally, add the salt and pepper and mix to combine all the ingredients. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

I like a rough chopped salsa, but if you life a smoother salsa you can always give it a quick mix in the blender to smooth it out a bit. 

  
That’s all there is to it! It’s healthy, easy and delicious! I’m eating it right now actually and it really is very tasty. If you try it, let me know how you like it. Eating food like this will help you live a healthy life, and a life of vitality-with Valerie!

One Fish, Two Fish… it’s good for you, Fish!

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Lenten ladies!

Lenten ladies!

It’s Lent for me, and many other Christians in the world. Lots of us follow the Lenten custom of not eating meat on Fridays until Easter. Now, not eating meat does not mean fish, because fish is not meat, even though fish is meaty. I get many questions about this from  people who don’t follow this custom, and I know it has a biblical foundation, though I’m not sure what it is exactly. Anyway, I think it’s a healthy habit to get into regardless of your religious affiliation, and I try to eat fish at least 2 or 3 times a week. In today’s post I wanted to let you know why fish is so great for you and then give you a REALLY SUPER EASY RECIPE FOR A SUPER DELISH FISH DISH- I’m so rhymey today, aren’t I?!

Salmon is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids- the good stuff!

Salmon is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids- the good stuff!

Ok, so why is fish so good for us you ask? Great question, my friends! Well, first it’s low in calories and high in protein, which is always a good thing. Mostly, though, the reason fish is so good for us is because of Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are fatty acids that improves the immune system, and helps prevent blindness, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, kidney disease and cancer.

Rainbow trout is another excellent source of Omega 3's- and it tastes good too!

Rainbow trout is another excellent source of Omega 3’s- and it tastes good too!

The fish with the highest amounts of Omega 3’s are farmed Atlantic salmon, tinned anchovies, sardines, Pollock, oysters, Albacore tuna, wild caught Salmon, farmed rainbow trout, and my old friend canned light tuna. However, even white fish has a significant amount of Omega 3’s, so if that’s the only kind of fish you like, eat it and enjoy the Omega 3’s! The recipe I’m going to share with you next can be made with any kind of fish that you would like to use. I just always say to use the freshest fish available in your area and don’t be afraid to ask the butcher which fish is most fresh. He/she will lead you in the right direction. Here we go!

 

Ingredients assembled for Easy, Delish Fish Dish!

Ingredients assembled for Easy, Delish Fish Dish!

Easy Peasy Fish and Salsa

  • 1/4 cup chopped, pitted green olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped
  •  Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh or pickled jalapenos chopped (optional)
  • 4 fish filets 4-6 oz each
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large sheets aluminum foil
Salsa ingredients in the bowl and ready to go onto the fish!

Salsa ingredients in the bowl and ready to go onto the fish!

1. Make the salsa first- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or heat your grill to medium low. In a mixing bowl, combine the olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, parsley or cilantro (cilantro is my personal choice), lime juice, olive oil and jalapenos if using.

 

Fish with salsa on top- ready to go into the oven!

Fish with salsa on top- ready to go into the oven!

2. Assemble the packets- Fold four sheets of aluminum foil in half lengthwise, and then unfold and lay them on the counter. Season each fish fillet with salt and place it on one side of the foil, parallel to the crease. Top each fillet with one quarter of the salsa. Fold the foil over so it covers the fish completely and then roll the edges tightly to seal the package.

 

Fishies in foil, cooking away in the oven!

Fishies in foil, cooking away in the oven!

3. Cook the fish- Place the packets on the grill or in the oven. cook the fillets until their done all the way through, about 8-10 minutes on the grill, 20 minutes in the oven. Slash the packets open just before eating.

All done and ready to plate!

All done and ready to plate!

This is flavorful and simple, however it will definitely impress whoever you’re serving. It seems like a much more complex dish because of the flavors, but because of the quick prep and cook time you can seriously be ready to eat in 25 minutes, no joke. Make some brown rice to go along with this, serve with guacamole and you’re done!

This will be my lunch and I CAN'T WAIT TO DIG IN!

This will be my lunch and I CAN’T WAIT TO DIG IN!

So there you go, my friends, a little info about fish and one super tasty recipe for a simple fish dish. Remember to eat fish at least once or twice a week, and not just because it’s Lent. Fish is high in protein, low in calories, and it is full of Omega 3’s to protect you from some heinous illnesses. Enjoy your fish, it will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

 

Super Healthy Superbowl Sunday? It’s Super Easy!

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Ready for the Superbowl?!!

Ready for the Superbowl?!!

Ok, here’s the deal, did you know that Superbowl Sunday is the NUMBER ONE EATING DAY OF THE YEAR? Yes, that’s right! More food is eaten on this upcoming Sunday than any other day of the year! Even Thanksgiving is a distant second to Superbowl Sunday in terms of calories. And get this, OVER 6,000 CALORIES ARE CONSUMED!!! When I read that statistic I was stunned. I also read that the week before Superbowl Sunday is also at the top of the list in terms of calories. I guess anticipating the gorge fest brings on early pre-gorge fests.

The typical gathering!

The typical gathering!

I read this morning that the most popular food item served at Superbowl parties is vegetables! What?!!  I guarantee you that people aren’t eating 6,000 calories of veggies on Sunday! Though, vegetables are the most popular food item, we finally get to the root of the problem when you hear the most consumed food items on this day, which are chicken wings and pizza. According to Fox Sports, Pizza Hut will deliver 2 MILLION PIZZAS with 1,700 orders per minute occurring shortly before kickoff. One slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza is 350 calories and three chicken wings are approximately 255 calories so you can see how this meal is problematic calorically. That’s before the beer or margaritas are consumed, and the chips, dips, and desserts too! Can you see now how you can easily get to 6,000 calories with a four hour plus game?!!

So you see the concern that I have, don’t you? And you should be concerned too! With all of this in mind I began to think about my wonderful readers and how I could advise you to make good choices on Sunday (and every day, of course!). The first scenario is the easiest one, which is if you are the one hosting the Superbowl party. Then you can control the menu and preparations. You can also control what your guests bring, that is if they call to ask you.

The second scenario is more difficult- if you are someone else’s party guest. Then, you have MUCH less control over what is served and your choices will be more limited to what is available. However, I have a solution for you that I hope you’ll like (and it’s not to starve yourself by the way, I’d never say that!). The solution is CHILI!! Specifically, you call host of said party and ask him/her if you can bring something to contribute to the party and when he/she says yes then you offer to bring a pot of chili. It won’t be turned down because EVERYBODY loves chili! This is how you will eat safely and healthily on Sunday.

My yummy (and healthy chili)!

My yummy (and healthy chili)!

Why is chili such a good solution you ask? Well I’ll tell you, it’s because chili is healthy and filling! The beans and meat provide a nice serving of protein, the tomatoes and tomato sauce a great serving of vegetables, and the beans give you a nice punch of fiber which fills you up and helps you stay full. Calorie wise you’re better off with chili too because one serving (one cup) is only 259 calories and you will feel FULL after you eat it. If you have a cup of chili, one (only one!) beer, a handful of tortilla chips and guacamole you will only have consumed about 600 calories. That’s a FAR CRY FROM 6,000!! Plus all of the nutrition you will have gained from this meal is light years away from the nutritional wasteland of greasy pizza and fried chicken wings!

The best salad I've ever made- REALLY!

The best salad I’ve ever made- REALLY!

I’m going to share my recipe for chili, which I think is simple and fabulous. I’m also including the MOST DELICIOUS SALAD RECIPE EVER which I just made up the other night when I was in the mood for something different. I served the salad with my chili and I think the Mexican flavors in the salad really complemented the similar flavors in the chili. Bring the salad and the chili to the gathering and you will make some friends I promise you! If it’s your own gathering make my salad and chili, add some salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips and you’ve got a HEALTHY, DELICIOUS PARTAY!

My yummy chili con carne

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large can (28 oz) pureed tomatoes
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 big cans (28 oz) kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

First, sauté onions and minced garlic in a dash of extra virgin olive oil, then after about 3 minutes, add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Next add all the rest of the ingredients and either put that into a crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours, or leave it on the stove on low heat, stirring frequently until thick and bubbly. You may need to add more spices as it cooks so taste it every once in a while. And that’s all there is to it! Done!

Chili and Mexican salad- what could be better?!

Chili and Mexican salad- what could be better?!

The most delicious salad ever

  • 1 bag of organic lettuce greens of your choice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and with insides removed, chopped
  • 1 stalk of green onion chopped
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves, rough chopped
  • 1/2 avocado chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Take the first 6 ingredients and add them to a large bowl. Then in a smaller bowl take the next four ingredients and make the vinaigrette by squeezing one lime into the bowl and then whisking in the olive oil until the two ingredients are combined. Then add the salt and pepper, stir, add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss. This one’s done too! The creaminess of the avocado makes the salad so rich and the jalapenos, since they’ve been deseeded and the insides removed, are no longer really spicy, just fruity and flavorful. The cilantro adds that delicious freshness too. And the lime makes the vinaigrette really pop with flavor! It’s just really good!

And that’s how you avoid consuming 6,000 calories on Sunday, my friends! If you make a pot of chili and a delicious salad you will feel satisfied and know you’ve eaten something really good for your body. I know you can do it! Enjoy yourself in moderation and you’ll be living a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂