Creamy, Healthy, and Easy Soup du Jour!

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Hi friends! My second video blog is here for you today. I made a delicious, healthy, and easy soup that you will enjoy making almost as much as you’ll enjoy eating! Here’s the recipe:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

4 cups chicken stock

1 cauliflower

1 brick cream cheese

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 oz butter

Salt and pepper

1/2 lb bacon

Paprika

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Chop the cauliflower into small florets, add to the stock and boil until tender. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy. Drain and set aside. Add the mustard, cream cheese, and butter to the cauliflower in the stock. Use a hand mixer or a blender to combine until smooth. Add the bacon crumbles, paprika and walnuts as a garnish. It’s creamy and has so much flavor. You’ll love it! Eating low-carb soups like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

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

Herbaceous, Wondrous Herbs! DRY THEM, YOU’LL LIKE THEM!

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These were my herbs at their peak last summer!

These were my herbs, purple basil and oregano,  at their peak last summer!

Hi All! Well I’m super excited today because spring is here and it’s almost time to plant my herbs and veggies for the year. But, I get super frustrated because it seems to take FOREVER for them to grow enough so that I can pick the leaves to use in my cooking. So, you know what I did this past fall? I¬†dried my own herbs and used them in my cooking all fall and winter long. In fact, I’m still using them as I have plenty to last me until my fresh ones are ready this summer! And here’s the thing, my friends, it’s SO EASY TO DO- otherwise I wouldn’t do it :). I wanted to share with you today how I dried my own herbs so that as you’re planning your spring gardens you can think about growing enough herbs to dry for your families. Even if you don’t grow herbs, you can use the organic dried herbs from the grocery store and that’s just fine, but the taste of the ones you dry yourself is SO SUPERIOR to the taste of the grocery store version, it’s not even close. Again I reiterate that It’s super simple, in fact, read on and see!

Basil happily drying in my basement!

Basil happily drying in my basement!

1. Pull the plants out of the ground BEFORE THE FIRST FROST and store them in a cool, dry place. I used my basement and I laid down paper grocery sacks so the plants wouldn’t make a mess on the counters while they were drying.

2. This is the easiest step- leave the plants alone for about 2-4 weeks until the leaves are completely dry and brittle to the touch. I would check them every week until I felt they were dry enough.

Basil all dried and ready to go!

Basil all dried and ready to go!

3. Next take the plant and pick all the leaves off of it. I did green and purple basil, rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme. Make sure to¬†keep the sticks and dirt¬†out of the dried herbs. I picked VERY GENTLY so as not to add stuff into¬†my herbs that wouldn’t taste good. Then, you discard all the sticks, dirt and things you don’t need anymore.

All bagged up and ready to be used in my cooking!

All bagged up and ready to be used in my cooking!

4. Take the herbs and bag them up, putting the date and type of herb on the baggie, because believe me they all start to look alike after a while and you’ll be glad you did. Now just use them in your cooking where the recipes call for dried herbs and you won’t believe how much more flavor you will get from these herbs.

Oregano is one of my favorite dried herbs, it's so flavorful!

Oregano is one of my favorite dried herbs, it’s so flavorful!

Each plant yielded about 2 cups of dried herbs which has been more than enough for my fall, winter and spring cooking. Since this was my first time doing this and I didn’t realize how much each plant produced, next year I’ll definitely have enough to share so if you want some, let me know! But really, if you grow your own herbs, you should try drying the plants in the fall, it’s just so easy and the taste is far superior to anything you can buy. In addition, because I grew and dried them myself I know there¬†are no pesticides or herbicides used on my herbs ever, which helps promote the health and welfare of my family. Try it and let me know how you do! Or as I said in the title of this post, dry them, you’ll like them! Drying your own herbs will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

 

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

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Lenten ladies!

Lenten ladies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ingredients assembled for Easy, Delish Fish Dish!

Ingredients assembled for Easy, Delish Fish Dish!

Easy Peasy Fish and Salsa

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Fishies in foil, cooking away in the oven!

Fishies in foil, cooking away in the oven!

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

All done and ready to plate!

All done and ready to plate!

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

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

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

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