Holiday Cranberry Mimosa!

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Hi friends! Thanksgiving has passed and if you’re like me, you have lots of leftover cranberries. I like cranberries sauce more and more every year, and I make a very delicious and easy cranberry sauce. I came across a Food Network show about the holidays, and in it they discussed mimosas. I had a eureka moment and thought, “Wow, what if I use my delicious cranberries to make a mimosa!” Well, I have to tell you that we have enjoyed them so much that we drink them frequently (but responsibly)! ūüôā I have included the recipe for my cranberry sauce and cranberry mimosas. They are so pretty and festive, besides being really darn good. They make a nice centerpiece to your holiday table. The cranberry sauce itself is so flavorful and bright, and with no added sugar is a healthy addition to your meals. Bon appetite!

Cranberry Sauce

  • 2 -8 ounce packages cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Put all of the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes. serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Cranberry Mimosa

  • 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce
  • 1 glass decent quality champagne

Put the cranberry sauce into a champagne flute. Add the champagne to the glass and give it a quick stir. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

This symptom could negatively affect your health and safety- and it’s 100% preventable!

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Healthy, life-giving water!

Healthy, life-giving water!

Hello my friends! The topic I’m going to talk to you about today came about because of my concern that my daughter, Danielle, is not drinking enough water. I was sure that was really bad for her, and I started researching what and how much we should be drinking. The results were even more shocking than I thought, and not only did I share them with Danielle, I also wanted to share them with my readers as well.

Now we all know that if you’re dying of thirst while being stranded in the desert that is really bad, right? Well, the fact that really surprised me was that if you are 1 to 2% dehydrated, which would show as symptoms of mild thirst, that can cause problems like headaches, irritability, and impaired cognition.¬†A 2% dehydration level also leads to a 10% decrease in athletic performance, so make sure you’re hydrating before you exercise. Even more concerning, according to a recent Harvard study, more than half of American children are dehydrated and 1/4 of children do not drink water on a daily basis. Boys were 75% more likely to be inadequately hydrated than girls.

If your response is, “What’s the big deal about water, anyway?”, here’s the answer for you. Our bodies are made up of approximately 65% water, which is crucial for blood circulation, metabolism, regulation of body temperature, waste removal and detoxification.

Here’s another concern, children and the elderly have an underdeveloped thirst mechanism, which makes them more vulnerable to dehydration. Also, hunger and sugar cravings could be a sign that you are dehydrated so when you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first. Other dehydration symptoms are fatigue, dizziness, mood swings, foggy thinking and poor concentration, chills, muscle cramps, back or joint ache, dull, dry skin, pronounced wrinkles, constipation, infrequent urination, dark, concentrated urine, and¬†bad breath.

How much water should we drink a day in order to avoid the above symptoms? The Institute of Medicine recommends women drink 2.7 liters (91 ounces) a day, and men 3.7 liters (125 ounces). I don’t walk around with a device to measure how much water I’m drinking, I use the urine rule which means that if my urine is a light yellow color I’m drinking an adequate amount of water. One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin B2 (like most multivitamins) your urine will be a bright, fluorescent yellow after you take it. In that case, use the frequency rule. A healthy person urinates 7-8 times per day so if you are urinating a lot less frequently than that or if it’s just a super small amount, up your water intake.

Here’s a scary fact about dehydration that I uncovered, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Behavior, dehydrated drivers made twice the amount of errors in a two hour drive compared to hydrated drivers. That is similar to the results of a driver who is under the influence of alcohol- yes, that’s what I said! Frightening!

Need I say more?!

Need I say more?!

A comforting thought though, is that all of this is 100% preventable by simply rehydrating yourself and your children. However, not all beverages are equal. If you’re drinking energy drinks or soda, they are high in caffeine which acts as a diuretic that can dehydrate you. Stay away from those. Also, sodas, sports drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened beverages contain processed fructose which is one of the primary causes of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. One soda per day adds as much as 15 pounds to your weight per year, and it also increases your risk of diabetes by 85%.

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Sports drinks many people believe to be more important to drink when you’re dehydrated than water because of electrolyte replacement. However, most sports drinks contain¬†two thirds¬†or even more sugar than sodas, usually high fructose corn syrups. They also contain artificial colors and flavors which is also not good for your health. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and is the main cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Just like alcohol, your body turns fructose directly into fat, which cancels out the benefits of your workout.

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You may be drinking sugar free sodas or sports drinks and think you’re doing something healthy for your body, but that’s absolutely incorrect. Those sugar free drinks will contain artificial sweeteners, which may be worse for you than fructose. Also, many people think they need to drink sports drinks to replenish their electrolytes (salt) lost during exercise, but they usually just use processed salt to do that.

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Also, fruit juices are not a healthy option either. Fruit juices can contain more sugar than soda. For example, one 8 ounce glass of orange juice has 8 teaspoons of sugar, at least 50% of that is fructose. Many fruit juices contain high fructose corn syrup, just like soda. And many fruit juices are made by the same parent companies that make soda pop, so keep that in mind. Now, eating a whole fruit is hydrating like an orange or watermelon, but just remember to eat the fruit, not buy the juice from the grocery store, because the whole fruit contains a lot of fiber too.

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Ok, so what should we be drinking, you ask? Well, of course the answer is WATER. But all water is not created equally and I want to address that as well. First of all, please please please don’t drink bottled water! Those bottles are clogging up our landfills and the plastic contains industrial chemicals like bisphenol-A, bisphenol-S (BPA/BPS) and phthalates which leach from the plastic. Also, just because you’re drinking bottled water, it doesn’t mean it’s any more pure than the tap water you’re drinking, and often times it’s more contaminated.

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Tap water can have many contaminants as well, so the best choice is FILTERED tap water. And use a glass water bottle instead of a plastic one to make sure fewer contaminants get into your water. Filters are inexpensive to buy, and can be easily installed on your kitchen faucet. The best one is a reverse osmosis water filtration system because it removes almost everything bad from your water. Those systems are a bit pricier, but are definitely worth it. If you need a little flavor in your water, like Danielle does, I recommend putting an organic lemon into your water. It makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE TASTE OF THE WATER.

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Danielle drinking coconut water as I write this post!

Also, another¬†healthy alternative I¬†found for my family¬†to drink¬†is organic coconut water. It’s very hydrating and has no sugar, or artificial colors or flavors. It’s also packaged in a paper carton so it’s more environmentally friendly and there are no chemicals to leach into your beverage. It tastes a bit like a pina colada but with no sugar. It has electrolytes too and at only 43 calories per cup, is a great bang for your nutritional buck. I think it’s a great alternative for those who need a bit more after a workout.

So that’s my wisdom for the day. Get hydrated by drinking filtered water, coconut water, or whole fruit, and avoid sports drinks, fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks. Look for frequency of urination and urine color as signs of dehydration, and be alert for the symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, thirst, etc. If you feel hungry or have a sugar craving and you’ve just eaten, make sure you have a glass of water before reaching for the cookies or candy, it could be thirst at work. Also, urge your children or elderly family members to drink more pure water, because they may not be as aware of their dehydration as you are. Every time I grab my glass of water I remind Danielle to drink her coconut water because I realize she doesn’t get the thirst signal like she should. Drinking pure water or other healthy options is SO GOOD for you, and will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

A healthy way to start your day? Oats of course!

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Warm, creamy, yummy- and good for you! :)

Oatmeal- warm, creamy, yummy- and good for you! ūüôā

What is your typical breakfast like? Do you grab a quick bowl of cereal before running out the door? I used to eat cereal in the morning too. Here’s the thing though, that isn’t your healthiest option and here’s why. While it seems to be something good (and quick) to eat in the morning, cereal is loaded with fillers that add no nutrition, it’s processed which is never good, and has additives that can be harmful to your mood, behavior and biochemistry. And that is NO GOOD! Breakfast cereals can¬†also contain numerous chemicals, gluten, casein, trans fat, sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and genetically modified flavor enhancing compounds. Yikes, none of that stuff is the kind of thing I want to put in my body!

So what do you eat when you want a HEALTHY START to your day, and you need it quickly too? Why, oats of course! Oatmeal or granola with oats is one of the best ways to start your day, and I will show you how to make it so that you can have a delicious, nutritious,¬†and quick breakfast. My daughters are obsessed with this meal, and ate it twice while they were home for Thanksgiving. It’s easy, warm, comfort food that’s healthy- win win! Oats are low calorie, one cup of oatmeal cooked with water has about 166 calories, add 40 calories if you cook them with milk (like I do), and if you top with fruit add another 40 calories. Oatmeal provides about 4 grams of fiber per cup, which makes it filling and adds to the satiety of oatmeal. It’s considered a low-energy density food, which means that there are relatively few calories compared to the bulk of the food. In a 2010 study published in the “Journal of American Dietetic Association”, people who ate oats in the morning lost weight and enjoyed a greater decrease in their waist circumference measurement than those who ate the same number of calories in a low fiber food. So are you sold on the idea of eating oats in the morning? Good! Then stick with me and I’ll show you how it’s done!

Gluten free oats are a must for my family!

Gluten free oats are a must for my family!

First, things first, it’s all about the oats you choose. There are different kinds of oats on the market, whole oats that still have their hard outer hull, oat groats that have their outer hull removed, steel-cut oats, which are roughly cut groats with an intact bran, and rolled oats, which are steamed, flattened groats. The less processed oats are better for you (naturally) so make sure to avoid instant oatmeal which has added sodium, and oatmeal with flavors added because it’s usually not added naturally. Something I didn’t know until my daughter had a gluten allergy is that NOT all oats are gluten free so I have to make sure to purchase gluten free oats for Danielle. However, I also have steel cut oats at home, they just require a longer cooking time, and I can’t make them when Danzy is in da houz!

Cooking the oats on the stove!

Cooking the oats on the stove!

I usually cook the oats on the stove using milk as shown in the above pic, however, if you don’t have time to cook the oats in the morning here’s a tip for you. Cook the oats in a slow cooker the night before! Take¬†one cup of¬†steel cut oats, 1 1/2 cups milk or if you’re dairy free you can¬†use almond milk, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and FIRST SPRAY THE INSIDE OF THE SLOW COOKER WITH ORGANIC NONSTICK SPRAY (or¬†the oatmeal will¬†stick like glue), and add all the ingredients. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approximately 7 hours. But remember cook times can vary, so¬†if you have a programmable slow cooker make sure¬†to use the timer feature. You can put the ingredients in¬†your¬†slow cooker the night before and¬†awaken to the amazing smell of oats and apples! Either way you cook them, the leftovers store well in the¬†fridge and will even freeze well too.

Homemade applesauce mix in- it's amazing!

Homemade applesauce mix in- it’s amazing!

For me, the key to delicious oatmeal is the mix-ins ingredients with which I choose to flavor the oats. Pictured above is my favorite mix-in, my homemade applesauce. I shared the recipe in my previous post, “An Apple a Day- Makes Applesauce!”, and when added to oatmeal it tastes like healthy apple pie- scrumptious! Just add a few tablespoons of applesauce to your oatmeal (or more if you really like it, like I do) for great flavor with no sugar added.

Pecans- my favorite nut!

Pecans- my favorite nut!

My next favorite mix-in for my oatmeal is nuts, specifically pecans. Pecans are my favorite nuts and I add them to many of my recipes. I chop them and add a sprinkle to my oatmeal. The nuts add a nice crunch and additional fiber and protein too. Definitely a healthy add-in!

Love, love, love raisins!

Love, love, love raisins!

Another flavorful and healthy add-in is raisins. Organic raisins add natural sweetness, fiber and iron to the oatmeal. Plus I love when I put them in the oatmeal and the heat and moisture makes them plump up and get really juicy. So very good!

A great addition to oatmeal!

A great addition to oatmeal!

I love adding maple syrup to oatmeal instead of sugar. It adds a deep, rich flavor that I think tastes better than sugar and goes well with the cinnamon rich applesauce that I’ve already added to my oatmeal. As you can tell we like maple syrup so much that we used it all that morning!

It's a honey of a mix-in!

It’s a honey of a mix-in!

Honey is another great addition to oatmeal. It definitely adds a natural sweetness that substitutes for sugar and tastes light and sweet in the oatmeal.¬†It is always my go-to natural sweetener as I discussed in my post, “A Honey of a Cure!”. Try it, you’ll like it!

I always add a pat of butter to my oatmeal for decadent richness!

I always add a pat of butter to my oatmeal for decadent richness!

Butter is another essential for my oatmeal. It adds a creaminess to it and in my opinion nothing else adds that same richness that butter does. And now that we know butter is good for us as I wrote in my past blog post, “Fat doesn’t make you Fat!”, I can eat my butter and be happy! It’s a yummy mix-in!

Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add tons of flavor and are good for you too!

Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add tons of flavor and are good for you too!

Don’t forget your spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc, can add substantial flavor to your oatmeal and are non-caloric. It’s like loads of flavor for zero calories! I always add cinnamon to my oatmeal (and many other things as well). It really gives it a warmth that makes it delicious.

So that’s how I make amazing oatmeal! I make it either on the stove or in the slow cooker, but it’s¬†super both ways¬†thus it really doesn’t matter how you cook it. Make sure you don’t use processed oatmeal with artificial flavors, and make your mix-ins healthy and flavorful without adding sugar if possible. Let me know what mix-ins you like to use. You’ve got it now? Ditch the cereal and eat oatmeal. It will help you to live a life of vitality- like Valerie!