Atchoo! Here’s what you can do!



Spring comes to my backyard!

Hello, friends! Ahhh, spring has come to our beautiful country, such a relief from winter. The flowers are blooming, the grass is turning green, the leaves are budding on the trees and my allergy symptoms have usually returned in full force. In past years, my nose is runny, I’m sneezing my head off, my eyes are itchy and I’ve got that nagging  post nasal drip cough. Sounds lovely, right? But not this year, yay for me!

Are any of you suffering from seasonal allergies? If so fear not my lovely readers because I’ve got some highly effective supplements to help you deal with your symptoms. As always I keep it as natural as I possibly can.  Primarily so you don’t have to worry that what I have advised you to take will have more side effects than the symptoms you’re trying to eliminate! Remember not to take anything without first checking with your physician. 

Here are my top three go-to seasonal allergy fighters.


1. Allervene/D-Hist Jr.- Allervene is made by Guyer Institute. It’s primary ingredient is Quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid, and research is now uncovering just how effective it is at minimizing allergic reactions. Here’s how- when we absorb allergens into our body (pollen, dust, grass, pet hair) we go into histamine overload with histamine flowing into our blood. This triggers the familiar responses I detailed above, sneezing, runny nose, etc. Quercetin stabilizes mast cell membranes preventing them from allowing histamine to pour into tissues and blood. Without the histamine entering your blood stream you will not have allergy symptoms, even though you’ve inhaled that dust, dirt or cat hair. I’ve been taking Allervene since last spring when I started suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms, and I haven’t had a single one! I take 2-4 in the morning, and the same dose in the evening. I take 4 when allergens are at their height, and I literally have no symptoms at all. It’s life changing! 

D-Hist Jr. is the chewable version of Allervene for children. I used it when the girls were little and it really works!

2. Homeopathic histamin-Homeopathics work by giving the body an infinitesimally small amount of whatever is causing you problems, thereby turning it into a source of healing for your body. There is a homeopathic for seasonal allergies called histamin and I’ve used it numerous times to great effect when my allergy symptoms are at their height. It can be used while taking Allervene. 

3. Xclear-The primary ingredient in this nasal spray is xylitol, a sugar alcohol, the same ingredient found in many types of chewing gum. The spray washes allergens out of your nose, cleanses your nasal passages of harmful bacteria, and clears the nose of salt, which can cause problems in the nose- a main reason why saline sprays are ineffective. Using this spray twice a day can help eliminate nasal allergy symptoms. It can also be used along with the Allervene to control some of the worse sneezing, runny nose, and post nasal drip during allergy season.

My rescue babies!

My big three allergy control go-to’s can also be used to eliminate allergies to pet hair. Therefore, those of you who can’t have pets due to allergies can use these products year round, and can have that dog or cat you’ve always dreamed of! Remember to adopt your animals- don’t shop for them! Public service announcement for the week! 

So that’s my advice for the week, wonderful readers. All of the above mentioned products can be purchased from Guyer Institute online pharmacy, or by calling/ emailing them. Allervene should be your number one line of defense for anyone who suffers from allergies, and the other products should be used for times when you need a little extra help with your symptoms. They really worked and have changed my life, so try them you’ll like them. Having an allergy free life will allow you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

One of the healthiest things you can eat!


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!

A less than 30 minute recipe featuring beans, beans- they really are good for your heart!

This is a pot of deliciousness bubbling on your stove!

This is a pot of deliciousness bubbling on your stove!

I’ve got the quickest, easiest recipe for my wonderful readers that I’ve ever published on my blog. Believe me, it does not get any easier than this! And the results are DELICIOUS! What is the recipe for, you ask? It’s bean soup! Or some people call it “ham and beans”. Oh, and that less than thirty minutes timeframe also includes making corn muffins too. What a deal!

Beans, as the children’s rhyme implies, are good for your heart and other parts of your body too. They are a very healthy food choice.  Beans, or legumes, are the best non meat source of protein out there. They are made up of high quality carbohydrates and are rich in folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin B6, quercetin, zinc, vitamin C, and soluble fiber (which can sometimes lead to the rest of the children’s rhyme! :)). These nutrients help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, and can help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Soluble fiber helps keep you fuller for longer, thus aiding in weight loss. That’s a big bang for your nutritional buck! Beans are one of the most important weapons in my nutritional arsenal, and most importantly I think they taste really good when prepared properly.

Some of the best food sources of legumes are black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, lima beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, lentils, soybeans (edamame), and black-eyed peas, and I love them all. My favorite, though, is pinto beans and that’s what I used to create this super easy recipe that I’m going to share with you right now!

Valerie’s less than 30 minute bean soup and corn muffins

  •  1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ham steak chopped
  • 2 ham shanks
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 large jar pinto beans (you can use other beans but I think pintos make a more flavorful soup)
  • 1 cup of water (I added the water to the jar and swished it around to get out all the bean remnants)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Box of corn muffin mix
Sautéed onions and ham in the pot ready to go!

Sautéed onions and ham in the pot ready to go!

So the first thing you do is preheat the oven for the corn muffins following the directions on the box. Then I add the olive oil to the pot and sauté the onions until soft. Next, add the ham steak pieces and sauté those for about a minute. Then, add the ham shanks for another minute.

These are the beans I used for my soup!

These are the beans I used for my soup!

To the pot that has the onions and ham, I added the pinto beans and all the liquid in the jar. Then, I added about a cup of water to the jar and swirled it around to get all of the juices out of it and tossed it into the pot. Last, I added the minced garlic, salt and pepper, put the flame on low medium, clapped the lid on the pot and that’s it! Oh, make sure to stir the beans around occasionally to get all the flavors to mix and prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Corn muffin mixes I had on hand- one gluten free and one regular!

Corn muffin mixes I had on hand- one gluten free and one regular!

Next I prepared the corn muffins. I followed the directions on the box, which consisted of adding 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of milk to the mix, stirring, and adding the mix to the muffin tins I had prepared already with muffin liners. I also spray my tins with coconut oil spray even though I lined the tins because I don’t like when the tops of my muffins stick to the edges of the pan as they rise during baking.

Corn muffins ready for the oven!

Corn muffins ready for the oven!

These muffins baked at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. While they were baking I stirred the beans a couple more times to make sure they didn’t stick and turned the flame under the beans down to low at that point. Then, I took the muffins out of the oven and dished out the soup.

Ready to eat! Yummm!

Ready to eat! Yummm!

The bean soup is salty, warm and flavorful, and the muffins are slightly sweet with a nice corn flavor that complements the soup. And that all happened in under thirty minutes! Yay! Better yet, the beans are so good for you, they provide you with potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, folate, iron, B6, zinc, quercetin and soluble fiber to help your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, osteoporosis, diabetes and weight loss. They taste really delicious too! I hope you enjoyed this recipe and let me know if you try it, or if you have other bean recipes you’d like to share! Please eat delicious meals like this, they really satisfy you and will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!



An apple a day- makes applesauce!

My dear friend and mentor, Chris, with Danielle when she was a fourth grader!

My dear friend and mentor, Chris, with Danielle when she was a fourth grader!

It’s definitely apple time, isn’t it? Cooler days and crisp evenings make me think about fall, and fall makes me think about apples. Now we all know that apples are good for us, right? The saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” came from the knowledge that apples are a healthy choice that we can enjoy every day for maximum benefits. However, I didn’t realize just how good apples are for us until I began to do research on the topic for this post. My research findings give me a new appreciation for apples that I want to share with you. I also want to show you a quick and easy applesauce recipe that was given to me by my dear friend and co-teacher Chris Dowling, who passed away too many years ago. I make her applesauce every fall in memory of her and because it’s DELICIOUS AND EASY.

So what’s in an apple that makes it good for us? Thanks for asking, I’ll tell you! Well first of all, apples are full of vitamin C, B complex vitamins, dietary fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. All of these important nutrients do some amazing things for us. One cool thing apples do for us is to help improve our neurological health thanks to an antioxidant called “quercetin” which helps our cells not to die off from oxidation and inflammation of neurons. Another thing apples do is to help prevent dementia because of that whole antioxidant keeping our cells from dying thing. That’s obviously a very good thing that apples do! Apples also help reduce our risk of stroke. In a study done over a 28 year period involving 9208 men and women, they found that people who ate the most apples over that period of time had the lowest risk for stroke. Wow! Would you like to reduce your risk of diabetes? Then eat three servings per week of apples! In a study of 187,382 people they found that people who ate apples had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t eat them. Another awesome thing about apples is they may help ward off breast cancer by eating one per day. Are all of these compelling reasons for you to eat an apple every day?! They are for me!

My wonderful friend's recipe written by her! One of my most precious posessions!

My wonderful friend’s recipe written by her! One of my most precious possessions!

Every year Chris Dowling’s fourth grade classes made applesauce in the fall after a visit to the apple orchard. I was blessed to help in her classroom as she taught both of my daughters, to teach with her for 2 1/2 years, and to call her my friend and mentor. After she passed I made applesauce with my classes as well. This recipe is so easy even a fourth grader can follow it. I made some slight changes based on my feelings about sugar (remember sugar=bad!) which I’ll share with you now.

My ingredients are gathered. Let the peeling begin!

My ingredients are gathered. Let the peeling begin!

The first thing I do is wash the apples with Veggie Wash. I know we are peeling but I like to make sure no residue accidentally ends up in my applesauce. Oh, and I make sure that my apples are local and organically grown if possible. Then, I start peeling, and peeling, and peeling! I know some people have those fancy gadgets that peel and core apples at the same time and if you don’t want to peel then go for it. I don’t mind peeling apples though so that’s how I roll. I’ve also made this applesauce by not peeling the apples, just chopping them and throwing them in. I couldn’t tell the difference, but if you or your family is picky about peels (Like Danielle is) then get rid of them. What I do is peel 5 at a time, and while my hand is recovering from all of that peeling I chop the apples and add them to the crockpot. Then, I can make sure I don’t peel more than I need to. I also discard the core and seeds because no one wants to find hard core pieces and seeds in their applesauce!

After peeling the apples, chop them into small pieces to add to the crockpot!

After peeling the apples, chop them into small pieces to add to the crockpot!

After you’ve peeled and chopped a crockpot full of apples, then you can pat yourself on the back because the hard part is done! Peeling and chopping can be made easier by having helpers for that part of the chore. As they say, “many hands make light work” or in this case “many hands make yummy applesauce” but at any rate if you can browbeat, umm I mean convince your family to help you out with this activity, it will definitely be easier for you and go faster too.

Apples are in, ingredients added, and it's ready for cooking!

Apples are in, ingredients added, and it’s ready for cooking!

Now is the time to add the other ingredients and this is where I’ve taken a slight detour in the recipe. I don’t add sugar and here’s why. I think the applesauce doesn’t need the sugar, the apples are sweet enough on their own, and I always try to save calories when I can. I add a tablespoon of honey instead of the sugar, but you really don’t need any sweetener in there. If you want to skip all sweeteners I promise you won’t be disappointed! I add a hefty amount of cinnamon though because I really like the flavor of it in the applesauce. And then, guess what? That’s it! Cook the applesauce on high for 5 or 6 hours and stir often. The reason I like to stir it is that when I lift the lid the most delicious aroma of cooking apples and cinnamon comes wafting out of the crockpot. It is a mouthwatering smell, let me tell you. Your entire house will smell like baking apples and cinnamon and it’s truly a wonderful thing.

The finished product- sooooo delicious!

The finished product- sooooo delicious!

Here’s the great thing about this applesauce, it’s so versatile. I use it as a warm sauce over vanilla frozen yogurt, as a chunky topping for pancakes, on top of oatmeal, or just by itself. It tastes good hot or cold, but I prefer it warm. I’ve sprinkled nuts on top of it which adds a crunchiness to it, and Danielle likes to top it with whipped cream. The possibilities are endless! Another great thing about this applesauce is that a half cup of unsweetened applesauce is only 50 calories! Wow, that’s great bang for your caloric buck! If you make Chris’ applesauce recipe let me know how you like to eat it. So now you know that apples are really good for you, that they’re rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, that you can avoid diabetes, breast cancer, stroke, dementia, and have improved neurological health by eating apples. I’ve also shared a quick and delicious applesauce recipe that I hope you’ll try at home some time. Eat an apple a day which will keep the doctor away, and allow you to live a life of vitality- like Valerie! 🙂

Snacking for a Vital Life


Eating healthy snacks is an important part of my daily diet. I say healthy because if I don’t chose the right kinds of things to snack on I could be adding needless calories and fat into my diet. Not to mention if I eat processed snacks, chemicals and preservatives are entering my body which can lead to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses I definitely want to avoid at all costs. So I stick to my fab five snacks that make me feel satisfied and keep me healthy.

I'm nuts for nuts!

I’m nuts for nuts!

1. Nuts- they’re one of my daily snacks and I can’t live without them. They fill me up because of the fiber and they have healthy monounsaturated fat that can reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease. Here’s another awesome thing about nuts- because the protein and fiber are relatively hard to digest, about 1/4 of the calories in nuts don’t get digested. That’s like free calories! And here’s the best thing, after eating a handful of nuts, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the next three percent of calories you ingest in 24 hours are indigestible. So say you consume another 1000 calories during the day, 30 of them won’t be ingested. That’s awesome, isn’t it? Nuts are my absolute favorite healthy snack!


2. Bananas and peanut butter-I love this snack choice and actually eat this for breakfast quite often. Half a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter has 140 calories and 4.5 grams of protein. Bananas are a nutritional power house being very high in vitamin B6 and high in vitamin C, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, biotin and copper. Here’s the thing about peanut butter for me, I’ve tried to love all natural types of peanut butter and almond butter and I just don’t like it. I’ve probably tried 10 different brands, and the only one I like is Smart Balance. It tastes the most like the Skippy I grew up on. Experiment and see if you can find one you like. If you can’t find one and you have to eat your Skippy, as long as you carefully measure your tablespoon (because I tend to eat a huge spoonful if I don’t measure) and stick to it you should be fine.


3. Tortilla chips and salsa- I probably eat this snack 4 or 5 times a week because I’m more of a salty and spicy food lover. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post I always make sure that I use gluten free, non gmo, organic tortilla chips and again watch your portion size. One serving, serving size varies according to which chips you eat, contains approximately 140 calories and 2 grams of fiber. The salsa is the real healthy star of this snack though. A cup of salsa, which sounds like a lot I know, provides 57% daily intake of vitamin C, 71% vitamin A, and 10 grams of fiber. I either make my own or in a pinch I use the Herdez medium salsa. I portion out a cup of salsa in a bowl, crumble the tortilla chips on top and eat it like gazpacho with a spoon. That way I’m filling up on the super healthy part which is the salsa, but still getting the salty crunch of the tortilla chips. It’s really good too!


4. Apple and peanut butter- This is similar to the previously mentioned banana and peanut butter. Apples are one of the healthiest fruits around when consumed whole with the skin on. However, they are also one of the most pesticide laden of the fruits so I only eat organic apples. Apples have a good amount of fiber- 4 grams, they’re low calorie with only 95 calories for a medium apple, provide 17% US RDA of Vitamin C, have the highest amount of antioxidants of any fruit (which lowers your risk of heart disease), and have quercetin, which is an antioxidant that is thought to boost your workout endurance if an apple is eaten prior to a workout.


5. Popcorn- I love popcorn as anyone who knows me can attest. It’s got fiber, 4 grams in 3 cups, but the best thing about it is the polyphenols in it. They exist in plant foods and help neutralize free radicals, which are the bad things that damage cells and contribute to rapid aging. Popcorn has more polyphenols than any other plant food including most fruits- impressive! I purchase organic popping corn in bulk from my local healthy food grocery store and it’s relatively inexpensive. Key to keeping popcorn healthy though is in the preparation. I NEVER eat microwave popcorn as I’ve heard enough bad things about it to scare me off, I always pop it on the stove with canola oil, which adds good heart healthy monounsaturated fat to popcorn. I never use flavored salts because they tend to have chemicals in them, I just use sea salt and sometimes add a little butter. I have this gadget my step mom got me years ago called a Whirly Pop that is a metal pot with a handle that turns the popcorn inside so it doesn’t burn the kernels. It makes me feel like a professional to use it so I use it all the time. I probably eat popcorn 3-4 times per week, and I love every bite of it. One cup has approximately 78 calories which makes it a low calorie snack. That makes me love popcorn even more if that is possible.

I hope this list of snacks helps give you some ideas when you’re hungry and need a quick, delicious and healthy snack.

Happy snacking!