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!!

WATCH My Latest Recipes!

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Hi friends! It’s finally time to present my first video post on the blog. I’m so excited about this, and I hope you enjoy watching it. First, I want to give producing/directing credit to my baby, Danielle, and technical advising to my oldest, Jacqueline. I couldn’t do any of this without them. Next, I want to give a big thank you to all of my readers for your continued belief in me. I’ve included written versions of my recipes to make it easier when you’re making these delicious dishes.

Garlic Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5-10 sliced garlic cloves

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley

1 teaspoon dried herbs

4 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and place in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the garlic cloves and parsley on top of the chicken, and pour the olive oil and lemon juice on top. Bake the chicken for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown. So simple and soooo good!

Mashed cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower

4 oz grated Parmesan cheese

4 oz butter

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil them in plenty of salted water for a few minutes. Drain and discard the water. Then put them into a food processor or blender until mashed. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more butter to the top if you want. They are BETTER than mashed potatoes and so much healthier for you as well!

That’s all there is to these recipes! They are delicious, healthy and SIMPLE. Eating food like this will help you live a life of vitality-with Valerie! ūüôā

Make THIS Today!

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Hello, friends! It’s a gloomy day in Indiana, and looking at the forecast for the coming week fall weather has returned! I LOVE fall. There are so many wonderful things about fall. Warm days, crisp evenings, apples, bonfires, sweatshirts and jeans are just some of the many things I enjoy about fall. Another thing I like about fall is the return of comfort food to my menus. Don’t get me wrong, I love homegrown produce and grilling in the summer. However,¬†after a while I’m ready for soups, stews and pot roast.

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Can you smell the deliciousness?!!

 

Pot roast is the focus of my blog today, but not just any old pot roast, my yummy, warm, comforting Mexican pot roast. I used my homegrown tomatoes, onions, and peppers, as well as my homemade Mexican tomato sauce to make it.¬†See my previous post,¬†“Roast These For Optimal Nutrition!”¬†to make¬†my delicious sauce,¬†read to¬†the end¬†for the Mexican version! ¬†https://vitalvaldecap.com/2016/08/12/roast-these-for-optimal-nutrition/¬†If you don’t grow your own veggies, you can easily use produce from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Just make sure to use organic¬†products whenever possible.

When I made my pot roast the other day, it was so delicious that I forgot to take pictures of the finished product;¬†I was busy shoveling it into my mouth!¬†Because Danielle is now in her own apartment, I’ve been diligently freezing leftovers for her to take¬†with her for days when she doesn’t have time¬†to cook. I ¬†froze the leftovers and sent them with Danielle to her apartment, and she was kind enough to take pictures of the plating for me. This roast is EASY to make, just use your crockpot and assemble the ingredients in the morning, and by the time you’re ready to eat it will be done. The smell in your house/apartment by the time you return will be to-die for!

Crockpot Mexican Pot Roast

  • 2.5-3 lb chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion rough chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, any color
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 2 cups Mexican flavored tomato sauce or red enchilada sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

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Place the chuck roast into your crockpot. I¬†used one of these cool crockpot liners that I found at¬†Target, you just line your crockpot with one, add the¬†ingredients, cook, and after you serve your meal you can just throw away the liner. No clean up- fab! ūüôā¬†Add half of the chile powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper directly to the meat. Next,¬†include the extra virgin olive oil.¬† Pour the sauce on top of the meat.¬†Sprinkle the rest of the chile powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper¬†on the sauce.

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Chop onions, peppers and tomatoes, and then place them on top of the meat and sauce. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or 4-5 hours on high. Serve with green beans, potatoes, or tortillas. Olé!

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Thanks for the pictures, Danzy! ūüôā

 

This roast is protein rich, as well as full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so it’s super healthy, and the flavor is warm, juicy and bursting with deliciousness.¬†¬†You’ll love it, I promise! It’s also inexpensive to make, as chuck roast is one of the cheapest cuts of meat, and the vegetables are not expensive either. Eating food that is good tasting and good for you like my Mexican pot roast will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! ūüôā

Yet ANOTHER Source of Cancer Prevention For You!

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Wild and crazy garden!

 

Hello, friends! Happy late summer to you! We had some MUCH NEEDED rain this week, and my garden is growing like crazy with the added moisture. The herbs, tomatoes, onions and peppers are even more plentiful than they were! Another thing in my garden that is exploding right now is my tomatillo plant. I’ve never grown tomatillos before, but we found a plant when we were looking at tomatoes. I decided to get one to¬†see what I thought about it. Now, I’m so glad I did! They are a delicious change from tomatoes, and I’ve made some great meals including them. I want to share what I’ve learned about tomatillos, and two different ways to utilize them in dishes.

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My tomatillo plant, with little tomatillos on it!

 

The tomatillo is actually not a tomato, it is a vegetable from the nightshade family, and is actually related more closely to cape gooseberries. Their scientific name is Physalis philadelphica and they are a staple in Central and South America. They have a light brown husk that will eventually break off when the tomatillo is ripe. The tomatillo has a tart flavor, rather than a sweet flavor like tomatoes.

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Tomatillos in their husks!

 

Tomatillos have high levels of dietary fiber, very few calories (approximately 11), moderate levels of vitamin C, A, K, niacin, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. They also have withanolides and flavonoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene.

Because tomatillos have high levels of fiber they are excellent for digestive health, as fiber can help add bulk to foods and speed their transit through the digestive tract, thereby eliminating constipation, excess gas, bloating, cramping, and even colon and gastric cancers. Fiber is also good at regulating the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thereby regulating blood sugar levels, which is important for people with diabetes.

They also contain phytochemicals called withanolides, which have been directly linked to anti-cancer and antibacterial functions. Antioxidants help combat the effects of free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular reproduction, that can kill or mutate healthy cells and turn them into cancerous cells. In addition, the vitamin A, C, and other flavonoids within tomatillos provide other cancer-protective effects, particularly lung and oral cancers.

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This is what they look like once they have been peeled!

 

The vitamin C in tomatillos is good for the immune system and collagen production, and the vitamin A and beta carotene helps with our vision and eye health. The high nutrient, low calorie and low fat in them also help with weight loss, because they help us feel full, acquire the necessary nutrients, and reduce the chances of overeating. The niacin helps us to increase energy, and the potassium is heart healthy. Did I convince you to try them?!!

I made two sauces with my tomatillos, one in which I roasted the tomatillos, and one with raw tomatillos. They’re both easy to make, but the raw tomatillos give the sauce a bright and vibrant flavor, and the roasted tomatillos make the sauce deeper and more intensely flavored. I loved them both, and I can’t decide which one I like better so I’m sharing them both with you.

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Roasted tomatillo Sauce- See the blackened bits in the sauce?! They add such a nice, smoky flavor!

 

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

  • 10 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and cut in half
  • 5 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed for a milder sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat broiler in oven. Peel tomatillos and MAKE SURE TO RINSE THEM AFTER PEELING. Tomatillos are very sticky and must be rinsed to remove the stickiness.

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Make sure you rinse them, to remove the sticky film!

 

Chop them in half and put them on a baking sheet with the chiles. Roast them 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side, 4-5 minutes more. They will be splotchy and blistered, and that’s perfect.

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Looks wrong, but it’s oh so right!

 

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chiles, juice from the baking sheet, cilantro, water, onion, and salt until it’s a rough puree. Serve immediately or store it in the fridge.

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I served the sauce over a pork tenderloin I made in the crockpot. I added shredded Mexican cheese, and served with corn tortillas. It was smoky and yummy!

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To make the sauce without roasting the tomatillos, just throw all the ingredients into the blender or food processor, and blend until coarsely pureed.

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Raw tomatillo sauce, brightly colored and flavored!

 

The sauce is a brighter green when the tomatillos are left raw, and it has a more tart,¬†mild vinegar¬†flavor, but it’s still really, really good. I served it over ribeyes we had made, and added black beans on the side.

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That’s all there is to it! It’s a versatile sauce, whether raw or roasted, and can be used on tacos, nachos, burritos or enchiladas, on pork, chicken, beef or seafood; really any way you can think to use it. It’s delicious and healthy too, what more could you want?!! Eating tomatillo sauce is so good for you, and will help you lead a life of vitality- with Valerie! ūüôā

Roast these for optimal nutrition!

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A cornucopia of tomatoes!

 

Hello friends! These are the “dog days” of summer, aren’t they? At least they are in Indiana. According to dictionary.com, dog days are “the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the dog star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11. A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.” Well since most of the children are back in school, I’d say the inactivity part has passed, but the heat certainly causes me to feel a bit lethargic!

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However, I have no time for lethargy because my garden is producing in full abundance right now. It is certainly not lethargic either! I have more tomatoes, peppers and onions than I know what to do with, and I am very determined not to waste one thing that comes from my garden.

So, I’ve gotten creative at different ways to utilize all of my fruits and veggies, because there¬†are only so many sliced tomatoes you can eat before you get tired of them. I started thinking about making my own tomato sauce. However, I wanted to roast them because I thought it would add a depth of flavor that non-roasted tomato sauce would not have. I began to look around for recipes and combined a few to create my own version of roasted tomato sauce.

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But here is another benefit to roasting the tomatoes to make a sauce besides taste, they are MORE NUTRITIOUS than an unroasted tomato! I’m totally serious! I didn’t know that, I only knew I liked the taste better. When tomatoes are roasted or cooked in a sauce, it helps to break down the plant cell walls, allowing us to better absorb the antioxidant lycopene. This nutrient helps safeguard our cells from environmental damage, may protect us from certain cancers, and¬†is heart-friendly. Tomatoes do lose about 10% of their vitamin C from the cooking process, however the benefits of the increased absorption of lycopene far outweigh the loss of vitamin C. Some vegetables like peppers and broccoli are healthier when eaten raw, because cooking causes them to lose essential nutrients. This is not the case with tomatoes, as they are best for you when eaten roasted or cooked.

Now that you know how good roasted tomatoes are for you, I’m going to share my roasted tomato sauce recipe with you. It is SO AMAZING, if I do say so myself. I’m eating it right now over an Italian sausage with a piece of Colby Jack cheese melted on it. The sauce is creamy and it’s flavor can best be described as spunky! Please enjoy!

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My trusty sous chef, Danielle! ūüôā

 

Valerie’s Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 30 tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the halved tomatoes, core them, remove the seeds, and place them on 2 large sheet pans halved side up.¬†Coring and¬†removing the seeds¬†is optional, and makes a more concentrated sauce. If you’re short on time, just halve the tomatoes and place them on¬†the sheet tray. Make sure you add a half hour more to the cooking time because the tomatoes with the seeds and cores will have A LOT more juice to them, and therefore will need to cook a half hour longer. I sprayed my trays with organic olive oil cooking spray so the tomatoes wouldn’t stick, which would aid in my clean up.

Next, get a big bowl and add the rest of the ingredients to it. Microwave the bowl for 2 minutes and pour the contents equally over the tomatoes. Use your hands to make sure the oil mixture gets all over the tomatoes.

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Bake the tomatoes for 2 hours (2 1/2 hours if you didn’t remove the seeds and cores). Rotate the pans halfway through the baking process. Then, turn the oven up to 400 degrees and roast them for another 30 minutes. They will turn kind of blackened but that is PERFECT. You won’t believe how wonderful your house will smell while you’re doing this.

Now you have two options, you can either use a food mill and pulverize the tomatoes that way, or use a blender or food processor to beat up the tomatoes. I started using my food mill, but I felt it was leaving too many tasty bits unused, so I switched to using my trusty Vitamix. What I did was pour all the tomatoes into my blender, and blend on medium for about 20 seconds. Then, I poured the blended tomatoes into a pot, and cooked the roasted tomato sauce until thickened, about 15 minutes. I tasted it, added a 1/2 cup of red wine, and another 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

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Here’s a cool thing, the trays will have all kinds of bits on them and you may think, “oh my goodness, clean-up will be a huge ordeal!” but fear not, dear readers, I have a great and easy clean-up method that adds to the flavor of the sauce too. Take a cup of water and microwave it for 2 minutes, pour it onto the sheet pan, and wait a minute. Then, take a spatula, scrape off the bits, and pour the water/tasty bits into the sauce. It definitely adds flavor and makes clean-up easier too! That’s a win-win, my friends!

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This sauce is so versatile, you can use it on pasta, to make Italian sausage sandwiches, as a sauce for steaks, or the way I used it the other night, over my healthy chicken Italiano. I took chicken thighs, salted and peppered them, and cooked them on the stove in a little EVOO. After they were cooked through, I added a piece of prosciutto and provolone cheese to the top and cooked for another minute until the cheese melted. Then, I poured the sauce over the top and served with fresh green beans- DELIZIOSO!

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You can also turn this sauce into a Mexican sauce by adding chili powder, cumin, and jalapenos, and use it on enchiladas or¬†in a taco sauce. Another variation is that you could add croutons, and turn¬†it into a tomato soup. This sauce is so amazing, the sky’s the limit with it. You should definitely make this sauce, and if you make something super cool with it, let me know! Remember, cooked or roasted tomatoes are healthier than uncooked tomatoes, and far more delicious too! Eating like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! ūüôā

Delish One Skillet Meal!

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Hello friends! Do I have a great one for you today?!! Why, yes I do! Danielle was home this past weekend and loves to cook, so we decided to make a recipe she had come across a while ago. It’s very enjoyable time for us to spend together, and a lovely meal comes out of it for all to¬†devour, so that’s a win-win for me. Here we go!

One Skillet Chicken with Lemon

  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon slices for garnish

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees and pound chicken out to 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat EVOO in a large, oven proof skillet and brown chicken over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side.

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Transfer chicken to a separate plate and saute the onions for 3-4 minutes in the pan or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Then, pour in chicken broth, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.

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Reduce heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Scrape up bits at bottom of the skillet. Those add lots of flavor.

Remove skillet from heat and whisk in cream. Return to low heat and cook for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.

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Return chicken to pan and cover in sauce.

Place skillet in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through completely.

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Remove from oven and top with lemon slices and basil. And that’s it!

I made a side dish of roasted sweet potatoes, onions, red peppers, and asparagus which teamed nicely with the chicken. The flavor of this chicken is incredible, and the cream gives it that slightly creamy flavor that just adds to the other ingredients in the dish.

The dish has approximately 300 calories and 22 grams of protein. I highly recommend cooking with your children if they’re enthusiastic about the idea because it’s so much fun. Plus it’s very rewarding for them to cook something for themselves and others to enjoy. Cooking a delicious and healthy dish with your children will allow you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

If My College Students Can Do This, You Can Too!

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Hello my friends! Life is pretty cool in Indiana, well actually it’s pretty cold to be honest but it is pretty with the sun, snow and ice.¬† Here’s what my backyard looks like right now.

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Snowy but pretty, right? Anyway, when it’s cold and snowy outside I long for warm, comfortingly delicious¬†but healthy food. My girls texted that they wanted to make dinner together in Jac’s apartment, and did I have any ideas for a good recipe for them? Did I ever! Danzy’s been a bit under the weather since going back to school, so I wanted to give them something that was healing and soothing too. A top priority though was something easy to make for them. I think we succeeded, so come and join me for another episode of “Cooking with Jac and Dan!”

Baked Chicken and Rice

  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 of a¬†large container of organic low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

First, make 2 cups of organic brown rice according to package instructions.

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Preheat oven  to 375 degrees. Chop onion, carrots, and celery.

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Add the evoo to a large frying pan and add the carrots, celery, and onions. Saute until softened. Then, salt and pepper each side of the chicken thighs and add them to the pan.

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Brown for 5 minutes on each side. Add minced garlic and the remainder of the salt and pepper.

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Add the rice to the pan and chicken broth. Stir until combined.

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Pour that all into a baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the broth is absorbed. Enjoy with a salad of mixed greens lightly tossed in a vinaigrette.

IMG_6977That’s all there is to it! The chicken is loaded with protein, has 30% RDA for niacin, 15% of phosphorus, vitamin B6, and Zinc, and 10% of riboflavin. It’s high in healthy monounsaturated fats, and has 6% of your RDA for iron. The chicken and broth are known to have medicinal properties to help fight colds and infections, and the carrots, celery and onion have tons of vitamins as well. The brown rice is a great source of fiber, and protein, along with magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, vitamin B6, niacin, iron and zinc.

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If my college students can make this, I know you can too! It’s delicious, warm, comforting, and healthy. This dish has it all! Jac and Dan’s opinion was that it was easy to make, but they didn’t like how long the rice took to cook (45 minutes!). My suggestion for that is to make a double batch every time you’re making rice and put the extra in the fridge. It will keep for a week so when you need to make dishes that contain rice, it’s ready and waiting for you! They thought it was delicious which is the most important part! Eating food like this will help you live a life of vitalty- with Jac, Danz, and Valerie! ūüôā

 

 

 

EVERYONE should know how to make this- and it’s so easy!¬†

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Hello friends! Well life is so busy lately getting settled in the new house and doing some minor renovations, mostly redecorating really. It’s fun to “feather the nest” of our forever home, but the process can be exhausting! 

This week we are having the interior of the house painted because it was really white inside, which is not my preference, so we are warming it up with a grey/beige palette. Everything is all over the place right now, it’s almost like when we first moved in. It’s going to look great though. I’ll share pictures when it’s completed.

 Anyway, before the painting started and I couldn’t use my kitchen I wanted to roast a whole chicken. I love to do this because it reminds me of Thanksgiving, even though it’s a chicken not a turkey. The house smells the same and it’s a lot quicker and easier to do! I believe that everyone should know how to roast a chicken because it’s an elegant dish to make for company or for a family dinner. If you want to impress a boyfriend or girlfriend, this is the meal to prepare because it looks like you spent hours on it and it’s really just so simple! I’m going to show you exactly what to do so keep on reading and I’ll prove it to you. 

Instead of my usual recipe form I’m going to walk you through this step by step so I’ll be right next to you throughout the journey. 

Here’s what you need to buy or gather- one chicken 5ish pounds, one onion, one lemon, 2 stalks of celery, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 medium potatoes, 2 stalks of fresh thyme or rosemary, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. For the gravy, 2 cups low sodium chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of rice flour. 

  
First you preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the chicken by rinsing and patting it dry with paper towels. 

  
Take the lemon, cut it in half, the two cloves of garlic whole, and the two sprigs of rosemary or thyme and stuff them into the cavity of the chicken, making sure to take the giblets out of it first. 

  
Cut up the potatoes, onion and celery and lay them in a baking pan. Put the stuffed chicken on top of the vegetables, and pour the olive oil on top of the chicken, and add salt and pepper to taste. 

  
Place the chicken in the 425 degree oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. When it’s done, take it out of the oven and remove it and the vegetables from the pan and onto a serving platter. 

  
Pour the pan drippings into a pot on the stove and add the rice flour to it and stir until combined. 

  
Then add the chicken broth and cook the gravy over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. 

  
That’s all you do! Just carve the chicken, pour some gravy over the meat and vegetables and eat all you want of this delicious meal! It’s healthy too because the chicken is full of lean protein, and the vegetables are full of fiber and both are chock full of vitamins! Oh, and because I used rice flour the gravy is GLUTEN FREE too- yay! Simple, elegant AND healthy! Can’t beat that! So that’s my recipe that EVERYONE should be able to make. Making and eating meals like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

A little bit of this, a little bit of that….

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So the song goes, but did you know that a bit of this and a bit of that can make a wonderful meal? Read on, my dear readers, and you will see. 

  
Here’s how it all started, a few days ago I made gluten free pasta with meat sauce. We ate all the sauce but you know how there always seems to be more noodles than sauce left? That’s how it is around here at least. So anyway, I put a bag of penne noodles in my fridge and figured I would use them for something later. Then, I made meatloaf the next day. Meatloaf is something you can only eat for a day or two and, ugh, you can’t even look at it anymore. However, it was really good and I didn’t want to waste it so I stuck that in the fridge with the noodles, and didn’t think about it until two days ago.  I didn’t feel like cooking a new meal, and I was once again pondering the noodles and meatloaf in my fridge.

  
I make an Italian style meatloaf, as I wrote about in my blog post, “It’s an American meal staple, but did you know it’s healthy?!”. So that was my inspiration as I thought, “meatloaf, pasta, baked ziti!” Well it wasn’t quite that quick, but I though about making some kind of baked pasta dish using the meatloaf as kind of a meatball, so I started looking around on the Internet for ideas. 

Oh I also didn’t tell you that I hadn’t been to the grocery store since I moved, actually I hadn’t been to the store since a few weeks before we moved because I was trying to have less food to move. Therefore I was limited to what I could make. I saw a lasagna recipe using meatloaf but since I didn’t have ricotta cheese I decided to turn it into a baked pasta dish. It is quick, easy and delicious, take a look!

  
Leftover Baked Pasta

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 14 ounce can tomato pur√©e
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 one inch slices leftover meatloaf
  • 4 cups cooked pasta- any kind
  • 1 8 ounce bag of shredded mozzerella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat your EVOO in a pan on the stove and chop your onions and garlic. Add the onions and sauté until softened, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute. Next, pour the tomatoes and tomato purée into the pan and let that warm up for a minute or two. Salt and pepper to taste.

  

Chop your meatloaf slices or pull them apart with your fingers and add them to the pan for about 3 minutes. Stir the pasta and 1/3 of the cheese in until they are combined with the sauce and meatloaf. Then, pour all of that into a baking pan. I sprayed the pan with a bit of organic olive oil cooking spray first though so the baked pasta wouldn’t stick. 

  

Add the rest of the cheese to the top and bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned. If you’re so inclined, sprinkle Parmesan cheese on before serving. I made a salad, poured the wine and that was it! 

It really tasted yummy and it was pretty amazing that I made that out of leftovers. In addition, the ground beef has plenty of protein and iron, the tomatoes have lycopene and other antioxidants, and the cheese has calcium and other vitamins so you’re eating something that’s good for you too. 

  
So try it next time you’ve got meatloaf sitting around, I’m sure you like it. Eating meals like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

It’s an American meal staple, but did you know it’s healthy?!

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My Italian meatloaf is a family favorite!

My Italian meatloaf is a family favorite!

Hello my friends! I know all of you have this either in your refrigerator or freezer at home, or you’ve gone out and eaten it in the last week, but you didn’t know that what you’re eating is so HEALTHY. What I’m talking about is the humble, but¬†nutritious ground beef.¬† However, make sure the ground beef you choose is local, grass fed, and has no antibiotics or hormones. This will make it a GREAT choice for you and your family/friends. And let’s face it, ground beef is pretty inexpensive so I can purchase the grass fed type, which is a little more expensive than regular ground beef, and still not break the bank! Plus, I will give you my recipe for yummy, easy Italian meatloaf so you can put a delicious meal on the table. Come along with me now!

Here’s why ground beef is GOOD for you:

1. It’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, including zinc, vitamin B6, and alpha lipoic acid. These are responsible for creating antibodies and keeping blood sugar levels in check.

2. A 3 oz. serving of 95% lean ground beef has just 164 calories and 4.5 grams of fat, but offers up 24 grams of protein.

3. Ground beef is rich in iron, a multitasking mineral that boosts energy and keeps muscles working properly.

4. As¬†I’ve stated¬†in my past blog post, “fat doesn’t make you fat”, fat is important for maintaining the health of our bodies. Ground beef gets a bad rap¬†for being too high in fat and cholesterol, but fat is actually good for you, and cholesterol is necessary for our bodies to function properly.

5. Of course as with all types of¬†meat, make sure you choose GRASS FED beef that hasn’t been given antibiotics or hormones. I also recommend purchasing from a local farmer if at all possible so that you can see exactly how they manage their farm and animals. I purchase from Royer Farms, which is a farm in southern Indiana. They bring their offerings to my local farmers market which makes it super convenient for me. However, they also have an online store and will ship anywhere in the US. It’s the best beef, pork, chicken and lamb I’ve EVER HAD. I highly recommend them.

Yay for ground beef! So¬†now that you know ground beef is good for you, ¬†I would like to share one of my favorite recipes for Italian meatloaf. I make it all the time for my family and they never get tired of it. It’s delish and easy too as you’ll see, so here we go!

Meat1

Valerie’s Italian Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs grass fed ground beef
  • 1 large can pureed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2¬†teaspoons each minced garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs, and salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2¬†teaspoons olive oil
  • ground pepper to taste
Ready for mixing- by hand is the ONLY way!

Ready for mixing- by hand is the ONLY way!

First, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare the meatloaf by combining the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs and salt. Mix with your hands until combined and then form into a loaf. Don’t over work the meat or it will become tough and dry. Then, add pureed tomatoes, the rest of the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs and olive oil in a bowl and stir until combined. Pour over the meatloaf and add the rest of the parmesan cheese to the top.

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!

Bake in a 350 oven for 50-60 minutes or until the ground beef is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving and add extra parmesan cheese if it needs it. Bon Appetit!

That was my meal, seconds before it was consumed!

That was my meal, seconds before it was consumed!

That’s my wisdom for the day- ground beef is healthy and can be used in SO many different dishes so experiment and be creative. I hope you try my Italian meatloaf and that you enjoy it. Let me know if you do. Eating my Italian meatloaf will help you live a long and healthy life of vitality- with Valerie!