SHAKE Your Way to a Life without Sugar!

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Angels anxiously awaiting their shake!

Angels anxiously awaiting their shake!

Did you eat sugary desserts during the holidays? I know I ate more of those kinds of foods than I usually do. Christmas cookies are delicious, especially when homemade by a talented baker, and it’s really hard to resist them, isn’t it?

But, the downside to this is that sugar is just not good for you, in fact, sugar is considered more toxic for your health than smoking! Besides the weight gain issue, the reality is that sugar is considered to be the number one culprit in causing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other deadly diseases. See my previous blog post, “Sugar- the new cigarette?!” , for more details about the dangers of consuming sugar. The problem is that sugar isn’t just in baked goods and sweets, sugar is in ALMOST EVERY PROCESSED FOOD we eat, so even though we as a nation are using less sugar from the sugar bowl, we are consuming more sugar through processed foods than ever before.

True!

True!

So what is the solution to this problem and how do we eliminate sugar from our diets? I believe the answer is to avoid as much processed food as possible by cooking almost every day, and then utilizing the leftovers on the days I don’t cook. Also, choosing organic and local foods whenever possible for the freshest meats, fruits, and vegetables helps create food with lots of flavor so I don’t have to used processed items to enhance the taste of my dishes. Another solution is to patronize restaurants that serve local, fresh and in house made food items, which ensures that the food you’re eating when going out for dinner doesn’t contain sugar.

I recently attended a conference and heard a speaker named JJ Virgin who was talking about the dangers of consuming sugar and how prevalent sugar is in many foods we eat. I really liked her as a speaker and felt her message mirrored many things I’ve posted about in my blog. She had a recipe for a shake she called “Sugar Impact Shake” that I have used as a model for my shake recipe, with a few modifications. I’ve been making this shake and I really like it, both as a healthy meal replacement, and as a way to detox from all the sugar. The shake contains no sugar or fruit, but it tastes really good. Here’s the recipe!

Sugar free Protein Shake

1. Start with 1 cup of almond, coconut or cashew milk, and pour it into your blender.

1. Start with 1 cup of almond, coconut or cashew milk, and pour it into your blender.

2. Add one scoop of high quality protein supplement. Mine is from Guyer Institute and contains many vitamins and minerals in addition to the 10 grams of protein per scoop.

2. Add one scoop of high quality protein supplement. Mine is from Guyer Institute and contains many vitamins and minerals in addition to the 10 grams of protein per scoop.

3. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil.

3. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil.

4. 1-2 tablespoons of NATURAL ground flax, chia, hemp or nut butter (not peanut). I used freshly ground almond butter.

4. 1-2 tablespoons of NATURAL ground flax, chia, hemp or nut butter (not peanut). I used freshly ground almond butter.

5. Add 1 teaspoon of a good quality probiotic. This one is from Guyer Institute and contains 600 billion healthy bacteria per serving.

5. Add 1/2 teaspoon of a good quality probiotic. This one is from Guyer Institute and contains 600 billion healthy bacteria per serving.

6. Add as much ice as you'd like and blend until smooth. Then pour and drink!

6. Add as much ice as you’d like and blend until smooth. Then pour and drink!

This shake tastes so nutty and fresh with the almond butter/milk, and coconut oil. I like a lot of ice so it’s super cold too because I think it’s even better that way. I don’t miss the sugar in this shake and I don’t think you will either. I drink it as a meal substitute and it’s very satisfying as such. It has only 405 CALORIES PER SHAKE TOO!! It also contains healthy fats from the almond butter and coconut oil, fiber from the almond butter, 17 grams of protein from the almond butter and protein powder, 180 mg protassium and 10% RDA for calcium from the almond milk, additional calcium, iron and vitamins from the Guyer Institute protein powder, and 600 billion friendly bacteria from the Guyer Institute Ecobiotics. Try this no sugar shake to help detoxify from all the sugar in your life, and try to avoid processed food as much as possible. Avoiding sugar and drinking this shake will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

My Favorite Crockpot Meal!

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My favorite crockpot meal, and it's easy and so delish! Read on and see for yourself!

My favorite crockpot meal, and it’s easy and so delish! Read on and see for yourself!

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? The weather, though beautiful here in Indiana, is starting to get crispy, the leaves are changing, and we are already in October! Time flies for sure. This is the time of year when I begin using my crockpot again. Now some of you may think that crockpots are old fashioned and everything you make gets all mushy, but I’m here to tell you that is not true. Crockpot cooking is my favorite way to cook because it’s so easy, convenient, and versatile. You can pretty much use any kind of meat, spices, and sauces to make whatever you want. I’ve gotten really creative with it and had a lot of fun making Italian, Mexican, and Mediterranean style meals. There is literally no limit to what I can make! The crockpot is convenient because you can throw your ingredients in there in the morning, and when you return home from work you have a delicious meal waiting for you. And the smell in the house when you get home is to die for! It’s easy too, 6 hours on high cooks most any meat thoroughly, or if you’re going to be gone all day put it on low and it will be perfectly cooked when you get back home. Easy Peasy!

Though there are many different meals I make with my crockpot, I have one favorite that I make most often. It’s my family’s favorite too, and it’s very homey and comforting. especially when the weather starts to get cold. The recipe follows and I hope you’ll enjoy making it as much as I did!

VALERIE’S VERSATILE AND VERY DELICIOUS BEEF ROAST IN THE CROCKPOT

Ingredients assembled and ready to go!

Ingredients assembled and ready to go!

Ingredients:

  • At least 3 lb chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 16 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 32 oz can crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
  • Onion (chopped roughly)
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper- chopped
  • tablespoon minced garlic
  • teaspoon better than bouillon
  • tablespoon salt
  • teaspoon pepper
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves (must be removed before serving)
  • tablespoon of chopped fresh basil- I picked mine from my garden
  • 1/2 cup of good red wine
Rub meat with olive oil and dry ingredients!

Rub meat with olive oil and dry ingredients!

The first thing you do is rub the roast on both sides with the olive oil and the following dry ingredients- salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, and oregano, use half of the amounts I listed in the recipe above and reserve the rest for the sauce. Put the roast in the crockpot and then add the onion, crushed tomatoes, roasted red pepper, and chopped tomatoes. Add to that the better than bouillon, red wine, and remaining salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, and the bay leaves and fresh basil.

All ingredients in crockpot and ready to go!

All ingredients in crockpot and ready to go!

The picture above is what it looks like when all the ingredients have been added to the crockpot and it’s ready to cook. Depending on how much time I have I either put it on high for 6 hours or put it on low all day. When I made the roast yesterday I cooked it on high for 6 hours, and then switched it to low for another half hour because we weren’t ready to eat yet. I also have a “warm” setting on my crockpot so when I was getting ready to serve it I changed the setting to warm so it would cool down enough to eat the roast without burning us, but it wouldn’t get cold.

The thing I really love about this recipe is its versatility. Last night when I served it I made baked potatoes, sliced the roast and poured the “gravy” on top of the meat. I’ve also served it with quinoa or mashed potatoes on the side. However, my favorite way to serve it is to shred the meat and mix the “gravy” into the meat, then make pasta (gluten free of course) and combine the meat, gravy and pasta together to make the most delicious crockpot pasta meal ever! It is just so good I can’t even tell you in words. You’ll have to make it and see for yourself!

Voila! Crockpot beef roast pasta! So yummy!

Voila! Crockpot beef roast pasta! So yummy!

The roast brings a richness to the sauce and because the meat has been slow cooked it falls apart. It is truly a wonderful meal, my Honey calls it comfort food, and he said it made his day yesterday. What could be better than that?! I will be sharing other crockpot meal recipes throughout the winter months, but I started with my favorite. Let me know how you like it if you make it, or share your favorite crockpot meal with me. Remember to use organic, local ingredients whenever possible, and meat that is humanely raised without hormones or antibiotics. I hope you enjoyed my recipe and pictures, and that you try to make my favorite crockpot meal. It will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Bad A%# Breakfast!

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My usual morning "meal"!

My usual morning “meal”!

First let me say that breakfast is my favorite meal that I don’t eat! What? That makes no sense! Well, the truth is that I don’t eat breakfast most days. I know, I know, many doctors and nutritionists say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I’m going to be nutritionally deficient if I don’t eat it, but I haven’t eaten breakfast for 10 years and I don’t miss it. I came across an article in Dr. Mercola’s newsletter 6 months ago about a concept he believes in called “Intermittent Fasting”, and I realize that is what I have done for years and it really works for me. The deal is this, you eat moderately for say, 7 hours a day- like noon to 7 pm, and before and after that time you eat nothing. That’s 17 hours without eating and your body starts to burn more calories and fat than it would if you ate for a longer period of time during the day. He explains it all scientifically, so google “Mercola Intermittent Fasting” and read all about it. I didn’t know anything about Dr. Mercola or intermittent fasting when I began to skip breakfast, I just wasn’t hungry in the morning and since I’m an avid calorie counter I could save up my calories for later in the day when I was really hungry. I also don’t like to eat late at night so once again I would save calories by not eating at that time. It works for me!

My favorite breakfast foods together in one skillet! Definite happy face time! :)

My favorite breakfast foods together in one skillet! Definite happy face time! 🙂

 

Anyway, you might be thinking, “Then how can you say that breakfast is your favorite meal?” Good question, my wonderful readers! The reason is that I eat breakfast foods ALL the time, I just don’t eat them during normal breakfast hours. My first meal of the day is never before noon-1:00 pm, but it often contains traditional breakfast foods because I love them best of all! I guess that makes it more bad a%& brunch than breakfast! Now, many of you may have to eat as soon as you awaken, I know my significant other does, and that’s ok it’s whatever works for you. Some days I have to eat right away too, though that doesn’t happen to me very often. When I feel the need to eat in the morning I will eat a half banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter. My significant other has a carton of yogurt and a spoonful of almond or cashew butter. Of course I always begin my day with my cup of coffee, and I can’t live without it. Dr. Mercola says if you have coffee in the morning with intermittent fasting, the coffee should be without cream or sugar. I have a bit of half and half and a teaspoon of honey so I guess I don’t follow his rules exactly, but I can’t drink my coffee black!

Bad A@# Breakfast in the making!

Bad A@# Breakfast in the making!

So back to my bad a@% breakfast, I call it egg, potato and chorizo skillet. I have made some form of this breakfast for 15 years and my family loves it! Chorizo is a Mexican spiced pork sausage that my family really enjoys but if that isn’t a favorite for your family, you can substitute breakfast sausage or bacon, or both! Here’s how it’s done: first take a half cup of diced onion, half cup of any kind of peppers you like, and sweat them in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. While that’s happening, wash 4 medium sized potatoes and throw them in the microwave for 5 or 6 minutes until they are softened but not all the way cooked. Let them cool a bit and then dice them. Once the onion and peppers are softened, take a pound of chorizo and throw it in the pan where the onion and peppers are, and cook until browned. Drain the grease and add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper, garlic and any other herbs and spices you like. Cook the potatoes for 5 minutes until lightly browned.

I always use organic cheese and local eggs in my recipes!

I always use organic cheese and local eggs in my recipes!

While that’s all going on, crack 6 eggs into a bowl, add a 1/4 cup of milk, and beat with a fork until blended. When the potatoes are browned, add the egg mixture to all the other ingredients in the pan and turn the heat onto medium low. Add a half cup of shredded cheese (any kind you want) to the top of the mixture in the pan and let it all sit in there for about a minute. After that, stir the mixture around in the pan until the eggs are light and fluffy. DON’T LET THE EGGS GET HARD AND TOUGH! That’s why the heat under the pan needs to be medium low and you need to stir constantly so the eggs don’t cook too quickly. Nobody likes hard eggs! Salt and pepper the eggs at the very end before serving because if you salt the eggs too soon the salt could also harden the eggs. I also love this recipe because everything cooks in one skillet which makes clean up much easier. I HATE to clean up the kitchen as anyone who lives with me knows very well!

I chowed down on this breakfast- not much left!

I chowed down on this breakfast- not much left!

I topped the breakfast skillet with my homemade guacamole and sliced up some tomatoes on the side. I’ve got a lot of tomatoes right now and I serve them for all meals! You can also serve with salsa as well. I had a little bacon left over from the other day and I crumbled that over the top too. It’s really whatever you want to add to it that makes it yummy. If you have some of the skillet left over just cover it and store it in the fridge. Believe it or not it tastes delicious heated in the microwave the next day too! That’s what I made this past weekend for brunch. Let me know what you like to eat for brunch and give me feedback if you make this for your family. I hope you like it and that it helps you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!