Grill Your Way to a Healthy 4th!


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Hello, dear friends! Yes, it has been a while since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that. I have been a frantic person lately trying to finish the renovations to our forever home in time for Jacqueline’s graduation party, which was this past weekend. I am relieved to say that all of that is over, it went without a hitch, and I am ready to get back to writing my blog again.

So, an important topic is our upcoming 4th of July holiday. I recently developed a recipe that would be PERFECT for the fabulous 4th; marinated and grilled sirloin steak. I just sort of stumbled upon the idea for this because I was buying meat from my favorite Royer farm at the Fishers farmers market and I thought, “I haven’t used sirloin because it’s a tougher cut of meat, but I know it’s flavorful so I want to see what I can do with it.” It was a challenge to myself which I always love, kind of like Chopped (that’s a cooking competition show on Food Network for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about).

Here’s the good thing about sirloin, it’s a lean and nutritious cut of beef. It’s very high in protein, a 3 ounce portion has 25 grams of complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. This macronutrient is essential for cell rebuilding, immune function, and muscle growth. Protein has a high satiety rating, ie it makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Sirloin is also low in calories; a 3 ounce portion has only 180 calories. Sirloin contains 33 percent of the RDA for niacin, 26 percent of B-12, 30 percent of selenium, 30 percent of zinc, and 19 percent of phosphorus. Selenium boosts the immune system and is important for thyroid function. Zinc is also an immune booster, and it helps with wound healing and cell production also. Phosphorus works in concert with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth, and it also helps to filter waste through the kidneys.

Another advantage to sirloin is that it is a relatively inexpensive cut of beef. It is around $6 per pound as compared to New York strip which is $9.50 per pound.

Now here’s the not so good thing about sirloin, it can be a very tough cut of meat unless it is prepared properly.  However, never fear my wonderful readers because I’m going to tell you my secret to tender sirloin every time. It involves preparing and cooking the meat in just the right way so that it turns out perfectly. Here we go!

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  • Prepare the marinade- This type of meat needs to be marinated for 24 hours in the fridge before cooking it. My marinade is very simple, 1 cup of Dale’s steak seasoning (can purchase in any grocery store), 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons herbs of your choice, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoons of red wine vinegar for approximately 3 pounds of sirloin. The acid in the vinegar helps break down the fibers in the meat, lending to a more tender steak, but too much and the meat can get mushy, so a little bit definitely goes a long way. FullSizeRender (180)
  • Dry the meat- After the sirloin sits in the marinade for 24 hours it will be super moist, and it needs to be dried so a good sear can be developed on the outside. Blot the meat with paper towels until the meat is dry.
  • Seasonings-Now more seasonings can be added to develop more flavor. I use 1 tablespoon dried herbs, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. I rub the dried seasonings on the steaks, and then combine the wet ingredients to use on the steak as it cooks.
  • Grilling is the preferred cooking method- Here’s why: in order to develop the best flavor, you will need to use an extremely hot grill to sear the meat, followed by grilling at a moderate temperature to cook the meat. Instructions for grilling:
    • Turn all the burners on high and preheat with the lid closed for about 15 minutes.
    • Turn one burner down to medium.
    • Place the steak on the hot burner. Grill until well browned on one side for about 2-3 minutes. This is important to develop the crust. Flip the steaks and grill on other side for 2-3 minutes.
    • Move steaks over to cooler side of the grill. Put the lid down and grill for 5-6 minutes for rare meat, 6-7 minutes for medium rare, and 7-8 minutes for medium. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE MEAT. Overcooking leads to tough meat and remember all we did to try to make our meat tender? Let’s not blow it in the grilling phase!FullSizeRender (186)
  • Let it rest- It is important to allow the steak to rest before cutting so the juices settle back into the meat. Let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  • Cut the Steak- For maximum tenderness cut the sirloin against the grain. The grain is the direction that the muscle fibers are aligned. To cut against the grain means that if the grain runs left to right you would cut up and down, across but not parallel to the grain. Cutting through the fibers shortens them and makes it easier to chew through, since a lot of the hard work of breaking up the muscle fibers has already been done for you.

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Now comes the easy part- eat and enjoy! I served my sirloin with white cannellini and pinto beans (more vitamin B for us!), and a vinegar salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, and jalapeno peppers. We had grilled barbequed chicken thighs and beets too. Lots of protein and vegetables in this meal! Eating a meal like this abounding with healthy foods will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂


One of the BEST ways to start your day!



Hello friends! I wanted to let you in on my latest healthy find, and give you some info about why it’s my new favorite thing to eat in the morning. Now before I tell you what it is, you have to promise not to say, “EW” and stop reading. You have to keep on reading to get in on this because it’s delicious as well as healthy, I promise! Ok, so here we go, my latest new yummy thing is… plain Greek yogurt. Wait, wait, wait, let me explain. Because I agree with you, plain yogurt is, well, sour. However, I turned plain yogurt into a yummy beginning of the day dish so keep the faith my readers, I’ll get you there too!

Here’s how this whole Greek yogurt thing started with me. I’ve been reading for years about yogurt, in particular Greek yogurt, and how great it is for you. I mean, it is loaded with probiotics which helps to promote a healthy gut and immune system among many other things, it’s higher in calcium than a glass of milk which gives us strong bones and teeth, it has a high satiety rating, meaning that it makes us feel SATISFIED longer which helps us eat less, so it is good for weight loss. Greek yogurt is 30% protein which is great for our muscles, and it’s relatively bland flavor makes it a perfect vehicle for different dishes.

Greek yogurt is by far a better choice than regular yogurt because it has more protein, less natural sugar (about 4 grams in Greek yogurt versus 7 grams in regular), lower carbohydrates per cup, less lactose so it’s easier to digest, and a thicker, smoother texture that helps us feel more satisfied. That’s because Greek yogurt is strained to remove the whey. When whey is removed, so is the water, resulting in a thicker, more substantial yogurt product.


HOWEVER, and this is a big however, most yogurt products out there, whether Greek or regular, are NOT A HEALTHY CHOICE FOR US. Most yogurts sold at US grocery stores are more of a dessert than a health food. This was my constant problem with yogurt. For years, I would go to the grocery store peruse the yogurt aisle and the backs of the containers of yogurt (remember it’s critically important to read your labels in the grocery store before you make your buying decisions), and be appalled at how much sugar is in these small containers of yogurt. For instance, one six ounce container of Yoplait yogurt may contain 26 grams of sugar (for the red raspberry flavor). General Mills announced last year it would reduce the amount of sugar in their yogurts by 25%, but even so their yogurt products will still have close to 20 grams of sugar in one container.

This amount of sugar would negate the health benefits that the yogurt would provide. Remember to have a healthy gut it is important to avoid sugar as it can cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial gut flora. Other problems with yogurt is that it can contain artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and additives, yet it masquerades as health food.

Another really important point is to eat full fat yogurt, as opposed to low or no fat versions, because low or no fat yogurt does not contain the same levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) or other high quality fats like the omega 3’s found in most whole milk yogurt. Let me tell you why that’s important, CLA helps prevent cancer and aids in weight loss too! Also, vitamins A and D, which are critical to metabolism and good immunity, are fat soluble. So you need to ingest them with fat in order for your body to absorb them.


There are very few yogurts on the market that make FULL FAT plain Greek varieties with no added sugar, artificial flavors or sweeteners. There are only two that I know of-Fage and Wallaby Organic. However, I’ve read that Fage could possibly come from cows fed with GMO feed. I think that for me though the full fat option is the most important benefit, so I have chosen to use this brand because it’s readily available in most grocery stores. It contains only Grade A Pasteurized milk and cream, and Live active yogurt cultures (L. bulgaricus, S. thermophiles, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casel). That’s all it contains. It has 220 calories per cup, with 25% RDA of calcium, 20 grams of protein, and only 9 grams of naturally occurring sugar.


Now to the fun part, how did I make it into something that tasted delicious without adding a lot of sugar or calories?!!! The answer came to me one morning when I was searching for something to eat that was full of protein and not too caloric. My S.O. had a container of Fage plain full fat yogurt in the fridge. I looked at the protein level and saw that it had 20 grams per cup and only 9 grams of sugar and I was sold. The challenge was to find something to pair with the yogurt that wasn’t too sugary and would make the plain yogurt taste good. The answer was sitting in a jar right in front of me- peanut butter! I looked at the plain yogurt and I looked at the peanut butter and I thought, “what the heck, let’s try it!” And it was AWESOME! It tasted sweet- but it wasn’t, creamy, and had a wonderful texture. The peanut butter only added 1 additional gram of sugar, and just like that it became my new go-to morning meal. Here’s how I did it:

Take a cup of Fage full fat yogurt, add a teaspoon of peanut butter, and a few shakes of organic cinnamon and mix it all together. Eat immediately. It has 283 calories, 22.3 grams of protein, 10 grams of sugar, 11 grams of fat (and remember that fat is GOOD FOR YOU)and 25% of your calcium for the day. It will keep you full and satisfied. In fact, I usually make a cup of this and then only eat half of it, and store the rest in the fridge for the next day. It is a healthy and delicious way to start your day, I promise!


And that’s all there is to it! I hope you’re now a believer about plain, full fat Greek yogurt, like I am now. You really can add anything to it, but remember to watch the sugar of whatever you’re adding to keep it really healthy. Since it has a flavor like sour cream you can also use it wherever you would use sour cream, because it’s a lot healthier. Eating plain, full fat Greek yogurt will help you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂


PULL your way to great health!


Hello my friends! Danielle was the inspiration behind my post this week. I had been reading about something called “oil pulling” and how great it was for not only your teeth but your overall health, however I hadn’t gotten to the point of trying it. Danielle did and she was SO impressed with the benefits of it that I was inspired to actually try it myself. It’s been so amazing for me that I thought I would tell all of my readers about my experience. 

First let’s talk about what oil pulling is and why it’s good for you. Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic dental technique also known as gundusha or kavala, that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil, preferably coconut oil, in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Swishing the oil pulls toxins out of your body and improves not just your dental health, but your overall health. The main benefit of oil pulling is that it decreases the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria makes a film on the teeth, which is plaque. Excess plaque can cause bad breath, yellowing teeth, gum inflammation, gingivitis and cavities. 

Harmful bacteria in your mouth spreads to the body and can cause inflammation which can lead to heart disease, cancer, and all sorts of other bad things. Therefore, less harmful bacteria through oil pulling can help protect against some really bad stuff. 

Also, using coconut oil in particular is even healthier because coconut oil is antibacterial AND anti-microbial, which means it can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. So my recommendation is to use coconut oil versus other oils. In addition, I like the flavor of coconut oil and I don’t think I’d like to swish vegetable oil in my mouth for 20 minutes!

It’s really easy to do. You take a tablespoon of coconut oil, put it in your mouth, and push and “pull” it around and around for 15-20 minutes. Then, you spit it out, but not in the sink because it can clog your pipes, and rinse your mouth with water. Then brush your teeth as normal. Try not to swallow any of it because remember the oil pulls toxins out of your mouth as you’re swishing. I definitely don’t want any of you swallowing those toxins that you worked so hard to remove from your mouth! 

I use Skinny and company’s coconut oil- peppermint oil pulling. It has a slight peppermint flavor which is a nice, refreshing taste. The complaints I’ve heard about oil pulling are that the taste is really thick and oily. That’s why I chose Skinny and company’s peppermint oil pulling, first because of the great flavor and second because Skinny and company is the only raw and alkaline coconut oil on the market, according to their website. It has a natural and delicious taste that isn’t fake or weird tasting. I don’t think it would give anyone an upset stomach from the flavor! 

Here’s a tip, start with 5 minutes at first and GRADUALLY build up to 15-20. At first, the sensation of holding the liquid in your mouth can be disconcerting and starting with 5 minutes can help build up your comfort with the process before moving up to a longer period of time.

So here’s what I do, I get up in the morning, take out my retainer, and put a tablespoon of the Skinny peppermint coconut oil in my mouth. Skinny and company is located in Broad Ripple, which is near me, and I visited their shop recently. They gave me a scoop to use with the coconut oil, which is convenient. I scoop it out, put it in my mouth, and swish as I go about my morning routine. I get dressed, feed my dogs, and take them out while I’m swishing and pulling the oil around in my mouth. By then it’s been 15-20 minutes, and I come back in, spit it out in my kitchen sink, run the disposal so it doesn’t clog the drain, rinse my mouth, and brush my teeth. 

I’ve been doing this for a week now and have really seen a difference in the whiteness of my teeth. Plus they FEEL cleaner too, very smooth and slick. I guess I will have to wait to see if I’m healthier overall from doing it, but I’m hopeful about that! 

Here’s a picture of my teeth after a week of coconut oil pulling and they look pretty white. The picture at the beginning of my post shows Danielle’s white teeth from oil pulling, but mine weren’t as white as they are now because I wasn’t pulling then. 

I will definitely continue to practice oil pulling because I really like how clean and fresh my mouth feels after I’m done. Coconut oil certainly can’t hurt me, now can it?!! 

So that’s what I’m doing these days and I am so excited to share it with my readers. Try oil pulling and I think you’ll see the benefits like I do. Doing health things like oil pulling will help you like a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

Brace Yourself- A GREAT Way to Treat Migraines!

Weird cheesy grin?! Here's why!

Weird cheesy grin?! Here are my teeth post braces!

I admit it, I wore braces for over two years, from July of 2012 to December 2014. I still wear my retainer most of the day now. You might think, wow what a vain woman to wear braces at almost 50 years old! Well, first you have to hear my story and then you’ll understand.

Before braces!

Before braces!

It all started about 10 years ago, I was washing my face one night before bed and I felt this strange tingling on the right side, around my eye. It was the weirdest sensation, like the tingling you get when a limb that fell asleep is waking up. It kept doing that every time I touched it. It didn’t really hurt (at the time) but it felt so odd. I didn’t really think anything of it, but I noticed over the next few months that it kept coming back from time to time and felt about the same.

Over the next year, it got worse and worse. The pain felt like zapping and prickling, what I would imagine it would feel like if you stuck your fingers in an electrical outlet. And it HURT! Anything would start up the pain, from the wind blowing on my face, to smiling, laughing, and even eating would cause this unimaginable pain. Sometimes it would come upon me while I was talking and it would literally render me speechless. I would have to stop and wait until the pain passed to finish speaking. I didn’t know when it would happen either, there seemed to be no pattern to it, sometimes I could eat and not have pain and then the next meal it would be so excruciating that I couldn’t even eat. I would go months without experiencing it, and then out of nowhere it would come roaring back to life. It was a hellish nightmare and I endured it for a while before going to my doctor about it.

There's the sneaky, painful culprit, the trigeminal nerve!

There’s the sneaky, painful culprit, the trigeminal nerve!

I went to my long time doctor and he told me I had Trigeminal Neuralgia. It’s like a migraine that has gone rogue, attacking the trigeminal nerve that runs all over your face and forehead. This is sort of a complication from the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I’ve suffered from for the last 18 years. It’s considered one of the most painful conditions you can suffer from because of the extreme zapping, tingling sensations you experience. I can definitely say that is true!

This condition really flared up in January of 2011 and I had to leave my teaching job because the pain was unimaginable. I could not speak, eat, even move my head. I went back to the doctor. We had some strategies for treating it that definitely helped, which included special pain cream, drops, and a nasal spray which have improved my ability to manage the pain once it begins, and nutritional IV’s to help build up my adrenal and immune systems. We also do a special type of injection called neural therapy which is a focused pain treatment, along with Botox to freeze the nerves in my forehead. All of these strategies got me to 90% of my pre Trigeminal Neuralgia self over a course of a year, which was a definite relief. It would flare up but the pain was lesser and the flare ups fewer in number.

Pic 1- Before braces. Pic 2- Midway through.

Pic 1- Before braces.
Pic 2- Midway through.

My doctor also suggested I go to a dentist with a more holistic approach to dentistry, Dr. Gary Walton, in Indianapolis. I didn’t understand then how a dentist could help my head, but I agreed to give it a try. When I saw him and told him my story, to my relief he said he could help me with a three step approach. First, he removed all of the mercury fillings in my mouth that were leaking poison into my body, and replaced them with a composite material that is non toxic. I went straight to my doctor after that for chelation therapy, which is an IV to remove metals from the body.

This is what they look like out of the mouth!

This is what they look like out of the mouth!

The next step was to get braces. He really had to talk me into this one. I had never worn braces in my life and couldn’t imagine wearing them at 46 years old. I said the only way I would do it was to wear the clear braces, called Clear Correct or Invisiline. He said the braces would properly align my jaw and bite, which were so crooked and not at all in alignment, and that would put less pressure on the trigeminal nerve which would cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia.

How clear braces fit on the teeth!

How clear braces fit on the teeth!

The takeaway from all of this is that not only did it cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia, but braces are now an acceptable treatment for migraine headaches. The improper alignment of the jaw and teeth, and TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome are a common cause of migraines. Here’s why, if the cranial bones are distorted for any reason, like misalignment of the teeth and jaw, then changes in pressure from weather fronts, ascending and descending in an airplane, hormonal changes, etc can trigger the migraine pain, along with nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Finished product!

Finished product!

So that’s why I wore braces for over two years and I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a Trigeminal Neuralgia flare up since I got about a year into wearing braces. It’s no less than a miracle to me. The reason I’m writing this though, is that even if you’ve worn braces when you were younger, you could still have misalignment of your jaw and teeth. If you’re experiencing migraines it would be a great idea to find a dentist who is knowledgeable about these kind of issues, and have your mouth evaluated. It’s been life changing for me. The third part of the three steps for me included wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent grinding of the teeth, which can also cause the bite and jaw to be knocked out of whack. Since I’m wearing a retainer at night for the braces, it also serves as a bite guard as well.

My smile doesn't hurt anymore! :)

My smile doesn’t hurt anymore! 🙂

Another positive outcome is that my teeth are so nice and straight. I never noticed how crooked they were. My dentist said, “You always had a pretty smile, but now your teeth make your smile even prettier.” That’s so sweet! I find that I smile more now because I love my teeth. I also smile more because I know that smile will not cause a horrible zap of pain to run up my face anymore. It’s been a blessing for me, and I’m so glad I did it even though I was very apprehensive about it. It cost around $4,000, which is not cheap believe me, but it was money very well spent in terms of my health. I was a fairly advanced case because my teeth and jaw were so out of alignment, and I know of people who have worn them for more mild corrections that have cost a lot less. Now when you see me smile, know that there is no pain hiding behind that smile anymore. If you don’t have head pain, consider yourself very blessed because the pain is so debilitating, and if you do, consider visiting the dentist to talk about teeth and jaw alignment. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!