New Year, more Vitality with Valerie


Happy New Year readers! I hope you enjoyed your holiday season as much as I did, and your 2017 is off to a good start!

With the start of a new year comes many resolutions and goals to become the best version of yourself. I wanted my viewers to get a better glimpse into my past to learn more about me and my journey toward a better lifestyle. I hope this is something many of you can relate to because I want to assist you all on your health journeys as well. Everyone is different, but just recognizing the need for change is the hardest part in this process.

Enjoy the video, and allow me to help you live a life of Vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

If busy college students can eat like this, you can too!


Jandan cooking9

This post is credited completely to my wonderful daughters, Jacqueline and Danielle. It all started like this, the other day the girls were texting each other on the text group they created that includes me as well. Danielle asked Jacqueline if she could come over to her apartment for dinner the other night. Jac replied that she was just going to make a quick hot dog because she needed to work on a project that is due this week. I contributed to the conversation at that point (or butted in, depends on your perspective) and said that Jac should bring down some meat to defrost so they could have a proper dinner. Danz said she would cook for them because she really likes to cook. Jac put some chicken thighs in the fridge and off to class she went. I told Danzy to text me when she got to Jac’s apartment, and I would help her if she got stuck.

I know what ingredients Jac has available to cook with because I bought all her spices and herbs for her when she went to live in her apartment, so that was an advantage. I also know what my girls like to eat which made it easier to help them put things together. Jacqueline texted that she had spinach, white cannellini beans, and San Marzano canned tomatoes, so I knew with those ingredients a delicious meal could be made.

When Danielle got to Jacqueline’s apartment she texted me and said she didn’t know what to do with all these ingredients, so she waited her usual three seconds (she has her mother’s patience level), and when I hadn’t responded she called me and said HELP! Now it was Mom to the rescue, and I love to rescue people so I was in my element. I walked both she and Jacqueline through the recipe that I will share with you now, but the cool thing was that once I helped them get started, all the hours they’ve spent helping me in the kitchen kicked in. They knew exactly what to do, once they got over feeling overwhelmed. Here is what they created.

Jandan cooking4

Jandan cooking

Jac and Danz’ version of chicken, tomatoes, and beans  

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt/pepper/garlic powder/red pepper flakes to season chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can white cannellini beans, drained
  • handful of organic baby spinach
  •  1 teaspoon each salt/pepper/minced garlic/ red pepper flakes/ Italian seasoning for sauce

Jandan cooking3

First, Jacqueline chopped the onions, while Danielle was seasoning the chicken thighs on each side, and she warmed the EVOO in the pan too. Jac put her chopped onions into the EVOO and sautéed them for a few minutes until softened.

Jandan cooking2

Next Danielle browned the thighs for five minutes on each side. Then she added the tomatoes, beans and seasonings to the chicken, and simmered it all on medium heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Last, Jac added the baby spinach and cooked it for another few minutes until the spinach was soft.

Jandan cooking5

And that was all there was to it. The girls were ecstatic and said that it was one of the best meals they’d ever had. It tastes so good when you make something you didn’t think you could. Look at how healthy it was for them too, they had protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the chicken, beans, tomatoes, and spinach. Healthy, delicious and easy- what could be better than that?!!

So if Jacqueline and Danielle, two very busy college students can do this, you can definitely do it too! Try this recipe and let me know how you like it. Eating meals like this will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie (and Jacqueline and Danielle too)! 🙂

Spice up your meals with my secret ingredients!


Hi friends! I hope you are well today. It’s been a crazy week around here but today is fairly calm and peaceful, thus I have a moment to share my favorite meal saviors with you. 

Ok so yesterday was a frantic day. I had to take Chewie (my little dog) to the vet for tooth cleaning, mouth x rays and eventual removal of his two main chewing teeth on the top at 7 am (one hour round trip). Then I rushed back home to get Danielle’s breakfast before she went to her nannying job, did laundry, straightened the house, took care of Delilah (my golden) and went back to pick up Chewie after his procedure (one hour round trip). Came home, fed both dogs and took them out, gave Chewie his meds, and then thought, “What the heck are we having for dinner?”  

Now my first instinct was that I definitely wasn’t cooking, I mean, I was tired and stressed from worrying about my little dog and all the running around. But I immediately reversed my thinking because I’m trying not to eat out as much these days. Eating out, even when you make healthy choices, results in higher caloric intake from larger portions and things like a basket of bread on the table than eating at home. So, I pulled my secret ingredients out of my back pocket (or out of my pantry and fridge), and put them together for an easy, tasty and healthy meal which I’m going to share with you right now. I made this recipe up one day out of desperation, and it has become one of my family’s favorite meals. It’s easy enough for my college aged readers to make in their apartments too. Come on and follow me, here we go!

Valerie’s Chicken, Chorizo and Black Bean Tacos

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs and 2 boneless skinless breasts
  • 2 cans organic black beans
  • 1 jar of Herdez Verde Sauce
  • 1 lb Mexican Chorizo sausage
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

First, sauté an onion in a bit of oil in a big pot on the stove over medium heat until softened and translucent. Next, add the chicken, cumin, salt and pepper, and cook until it’s no longer pink. Take the chicken out of the pot and chop it into small pieces. (This step is optional, if you want large pieces of chicken and have no time to chop, skip this step.) 


Next, add the chorizo and cook until it is browned. Add the chicken back into the pot.

Last, add the entire jar of verde sauce, drain the black beans, and add them to the pot. Heat for a minute or so until warmed. 

And that’s it! This is such a flavorful and versatile mixture. It can be served on tortillas, tortilla chips or in burritos. You can eat it by itself too, as I usually do with a little shredded cheese on top. The chicken, chorizo, and beans are an excellent source of protein, and the verde sauce is full of vitamin C. It’s flavorful without being too spicy and it’s SO EASY! Plus I always enjoy a one pot meal because the clean up is a snap. Actually, the pot is chilling in my second fridge right now, just waiting for me to use the leftovers for a few more meals because it makes about 10 servings. AND, all of those ingredients are pretty inexpensive too. I love to save a buck where I can.


Since I always have chicken and chorizo in my freezer, and cans of black beans and jars of verde sauce in my pantry, this meal is always on hand for me to make at the last minute, like last night. So try it, you’ll like it! Eating meals like these will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

No Sugar, No Gluten- Nothing but Happiness!

No sugar, gluten free amazingly easy and yummy banana nut muffins! P.S. It's already been consumed as I write this!

No sugar, gluten free amazingly easy and yummy banana nut muffin slathered with sweet, creamy butter! P.S. It’s already been consumed as I write this!

Hello my friends! How have you been lately? As for me, it seems my girls have been home more often these days, and in two weeks they’ll be home for the summer which will make me the happiest Mom on the planet! There’s nothing I like better than to have my chickadees back in the nest. I also love to cook for them when they’re home, and they beg for me to cook as often as I can because they’re homemade meal deprived college students.

They are desperately grateful for anything I make them to eat, but we are especially happy sitting in our pajamas eating breakfast and sipping our coffee/tea together. I would have to say that breakfast is my favorite meal to make, no matter what it is I’m cooking. I guess because I have the best memories of my mom making pancakes and bacon on the weekends, and my dad making waffles, eggs, and bacon.

If you’ve read my blog in the past you know that I have pretty much cut sugar completely out of my diet because sugar is a toxic poison to the body, and since my youngest has a gluten allergy and the rest of us seem to do better without it too, I don’t use gluten in my cooking either. That makes sweet breakfast foods particularly challenging. I mean, I do lots of eggs, bacon and sausage which covers the protein end of the breakfast, but sometimes in the morning you just want a muffin, doughnut, waffle or pancake, ya know?!

I ran across a really cool recipe for a gluten free, no sugar muffin that sounded intriguing because it contained no flour or any weird ingredients. Sometimes with gluten free baking the recipes call for obscure flours or strange ingredients like xanthan gum. Who has that sitting around in their pantry? Not me for sure. Plus, I’m not much into baking so another reason I really like the recipe is that it was simple and I had all the ingredients. So I decided to give it a try and my family LOVED them! You can’t tell they are gluten free or sugar free, and I’m not even sure how they are actually muffins since they contain no flour, but they’re so good! I made some adjustments that work better for my family, and I think they’re easy and delicious so I’d like to share them with you now.

Here are the ingredients!

Here are the ingredients!

Easy Peasy Banana Nut “muffins”

  • 1/2 cup all natural almond butter
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans
Sprayed- got it!

Sprayed- got it!

Preheat oven to 375 and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Throw everything in there!

Throw everything in there!

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend it up until batter is smooth and creamy. I had to use the tool that came with my blender to tamp all the ingredients down by opening the clear plastic part in the center of the blender lid and smushing everything down until it blended.

Now just pop them into the oven and wait to smell the amazing aromas that will begin to emanate!

Now just pop them into the oven and wait to smell the amazing aromas that will begin to emanate!

Pour the batter into the muffin tins to about 3/4 full and bake for about 15 minutes or until the tines of a fork when inserted into the muffins come out clean.

Makes 9 muffins but they don't last long at my house!

Makes 9 muffins but they don’t last long at my house!

The muffins are loaded with fiber from the oats, flaxseed, apple, banana, nuts and nut butter. They also have protein from the nuts, flaxseed, and nut butter, and tons of vitamins and antioxidants from the fruit. As far as I can calculate they have approximately 120 calories per muffin. That’s a great bang for my caloric buck!

When I’m serving these muffins or any other sweet baked good for breakfast I always make sure I serve plenty of protein with it. Usually I will make scrambled eggs and bacon with these muffins. If I’m making pancakes or waffles I make fried eggs and bacon or sausage (because I like to break my fried egg yolk all over my pancakes and waffles, and eat them all together). Protein is key to give you energy for your busy day!

Anyway, there you go my friends! I hope you try them and if you do I know you’ll like them! They’ll help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

A Few of my Favorite Things!



In my last post, I mentioned that I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. So often, it seems a resolution is yet another thing on a much too long to do list, and when it is not followed through with, it leads to a sense of sadness and failure. Definitely not the way to go into a new year! Now that’s not to say that I don’t advocate eating healthily and exercising regularly, if you’ve read my past blog posts you know I am all about that. It’s just more about being good to myself, and setting aside regular time for ME! I’m definitely not very good at that. Are there any others out there who are the same? It seems I’m so good at being there for others, but not so good about that for myself. With that in mind I am trying to be better about doing things just for me, and I mentioned a few things on my list of things I love to do in my last post, “New Year’s resolution? Nah, just be good to you!”. Listening to music, reading my Kindle, and taking a luxurious bath were some of them, but there’s more, my friends, and I want to share some more with you now.

Ashes with my Jac!

Ashes with my Jac!

1. Spending spiritual time- In past posts, I have discussed my time spent each morning in meditation. I try to do that every morning without fail and most days I achieve that- at least 5-10 minutes worth. That’s only part of my spiritual time though. My favorite way to deepen my faith is by attending church services at my parish, Holy Spirit Geist (HSG).

Jac took this pic of our church and I think it's awesome!

Jac took this pic of our church and I think it’s awesome!

It is a young, vibrant parish and has rejuvenated my faith. I especially like to attend with my daughters, but that isn’t always possible these days since they’re attending church in their college town now. Still, they come back to go to church with me as often as they can, because they find the atmosphere at HSG as uplifting and inspiring as I do. I especially love the Sunday 5 pm mass, because they have a band and they play contemporary Christian music which I really like. My advice would be that no matter what beliefs you have, spend time with other people who believe similarly because it really helps me feel in communion with humanity and with a higher power too.

Ashes with Danz!

Ashes with Danz!

Another thing that uplifts me is to pray a daily rosary. For those of you who aren’t Catholic, the rosary is a series of prayers to Mary. We do not WORSHIP Mary, which is a popular misconception about Catholics, we only worship God but we do hold Mary in reverence as the mother of God. We pray the rosary for her to intercede for us to God on our behalf. I use a rosary made of Swarovski crystals that my Mama gave me, and it gives me such a loving feeling to use this gorgeous rosary given to me by MY beloved Mom to pray to Jesus’s beloved Mom!

That perfectly sums up my feelings about praying the rosary!

That perfectly sums up my feelings about praying the rosary!

Anyway, I began praying a daily rosary about 10 years ago and I prayed it with my daughters on the way to school. It’s a rhythmic series of prayers (1 Our Father and 10 Hail Mary’s followed by a Glory Be and a Fatima prayer- 5 times), and each day corresponds to a different set of mysteries about Jesus. I truly love to pray my rosary, and now I usually do it as I first awaken and am laying in bed trying to wake my brain up. Praying the rosary brings me so much comfort and peace. There have been MANY times in which I awaken in the middle of the night, and all my fears and concerns keep me from going back to sleep. I pray my rosary, and before I know it I’m calm and comforted back to sleep. I also say my prayers every day. I used to pray with my girls, and now I pray by myself in the morning after my daily rosary. I pray for just about everyone I can think of, all my family members, friends, and all of the sick and suffering I know about. It’s my way of helping those I love, and it makes me feel really good about myself.

Wine and a good meal!

Wine and a good meal!

2. A good meal and glass of wine- As you know if you’ve read my past posts, I LOVE a good meal accompanied by a nice glass of wine. I love to make the meals usually, however I’m a sucker for a delicious dinner that someone else has made. Since I cook so much, it is the ultimate luxury to have someone else cook for me, or to go out for a nice meal. Now, I said go out for a nice meal, not fast food which I in no way consider a nice meal. However, it doesn’t have to be FANCY to be a nice meal. I also love Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Sushi, etc, etc, etc which are more simple meals. The only requirement is that the food HAS to be delicious! One of my favorite meals in Indianapolis is at a Vietnamese restaurant called Sandra’s Rice and Noodles. My roommate from college, Terri, took me to this restaurant the first time, though now I’ve been there many times. Their Pho is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, granted everything there is wonderful and I’ve never ordered anything I haven’t loved! It’s a very simple restaurant in which you can enjoy the most amazing meals! Eating is one of my greatest pleasures and even though I eat mostly healthy food I find that I savor and enjoy my food more now than I did when I ate less healthily. I go more for flavor and quality rather than quantity, which means that I eat less than I did and I enjoy it more. That’s a win-win!

Also, the wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be delicious, and I’ve had many great $10 bottles of wine that I’ve really savored. One of my favorite $10 bottles of wine is Kris Pinot Grigio and if you like Pinot Grigio I think you’ll enjoy this brand. Plus you can’t beat the price!

My favorite wine!

My favorite wine!

My favorite Pinot Grigio however is Santa Margherita which my stepmom introduced me to. It’s more like $22 for a bottle so I don’t drink it every day, but when I do I’m in heaven! It is truly a fine glass of wine. And remember, when you’re eating or drinking the really good stuff a little bit goes a long way, so a glass or two is all you need to satisfy.

So these are some of my favorite things- my church Holy Spirit Geist, my Swarovski crystal rosary beads given to me by my mom, praying my daily rosary, a delicious meal like I’ve had at Sandra’s Rice and Noodles, and a good glass of wine like Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. These are things that give me comfort and help me be good to myself. I’ve got more for you so tune in for my next post to see what else I have. I hope you are good to yourself today. Doing so will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!