Healthy, Homemade Hummus- an EASY Snack!

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Healthy, Homemade Hummus- both easy and delicious!

Healthy, Homemade Hummus- both easy and delicious!

I must admit that I REALLY REALLY LOVE HUMMUS. I love it so much it deserves all caps! It’s creamy and rich but not heavy and it pairs well with vegetables like carrots, celery, and peppers.

It’s super, super healthy too, which makes me REALLY REALLY LOVE IT even more.  A 2 tablespoon serving has only 50 calories, but provides you with 2 grams of fiber AND 2 grams of protein. The fiber/protein combo helps to keep you feeling full longer than if you had eaten a snack that only contained carbs. Also, it has 5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which is the fat that is very good for your heart and the rest of your body. Remember, “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat”- and you can read about that in one of my previous blog posts for more information.

A serving of hummus has 6 % of your daily value for folate and 4% for vitamin B-6 and thiamine. Folate helps prevent birth defects and is super important for pregnant women. All of these B vitamins give you energy and help keep your skin, liver, hair and eyes healthy, as well as your brain and nervous system too. Also, it has 6% RDA for phosphorus and magnesium, and 4% for iron and zinc. Phosphorus repairs cells and tissues, and magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function, healthy immune system and strong bones. Iron is essential for cell growth and oxygen transport, and zinc is necessary for wound healing, immune function and the creation of DNA and proteins. Does this convince you to eat hummus? It should and if it doesn’t its deliciousness should really change your mind..

I also admit that I’ve always eaten store bought hummus until recently. It just seemed easier to grab a tub of it in the grocery store rather than make my own. However, with the recent bacteria laden problems that have occurred with my favorite store brand of hummus, I decided it had to be safer to make my own. Therefore, I went on a search for different hummus recipes and tried a few before coming up with my own that tasted better and was easier for me. Here’s what I came up with and I hope you like it!

Ingredients assembled and ready to go!

Ingredients assembled and ready to go!

Healthy, Homemade Hummus

Assemble ingredients and get out your blender-

You can use a food processor also, but I don't know how to use mime (too many blades and attachments) so I always use my blender!

You can use a food processor also, but I don’t know how to use mime (too many blades and attachments) so I always use my blender!

  • 2 cans organic garbanzo beans- drain one can (IF USING NON ORGANIC BEANS YOU MUST RINSE THEM FIRST BEFORE USING)
  • 1 lemon- zest and juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

First, put your garbanzos in your blender. Next, zest (use a micro plane to remove the peel from the lemon WITHOUT ALSO INCLUDING THE WHITE PART OF THE PEEL INTO THE HUMMUS) the lemon. The white part (pith) is very bitter and should never be used. Then squeeze the lemon juice into the blender.

Great squeezing technique, right?!!

Great squeezing technique, right?!!

Now, add the parsley, minced garlic salt and pepper to the blender, and blend on medium speed until ingredients are combined. The last step is to add the extra virgin olive oil into the top of the blender while it is blending on low speed until it is fully incorporated into the hummus. Keep the lid on the blender so it doesn’t splash, and remove the plastic center part of the lid to add the olive oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed and THAT’S IT!

That's me dipping a carrot into the hummus!

That’s me dipping a carrot into the hummus!

This hummus tastes good as a dip for carrots, celery, pita or tortilla chips, but remember pita and tortilla chips are carbs so go easy on those dippers! It’s also delicious as a substitute for mayo on a sandwich and as a layer in a layered salad. You can add black, green or Greek olives, roasted red peppers, jalapenos or anything you can think of to the hummus to make different varieties of it very easily. Olives are my favorite addition but since some members of my family don’t like them I usually just serve it plain.

Well, that’s it for today, my friends! I hope you try to make your own hummus since it is an easy to make and yummy snack. Let me know how it turns out if you do! Eating healthy snacks like hummus will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland? How to Protect and Hydrate in the Cold!

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Stay warm and hydrated this winter!

Stay warm and hydrated this winter!

It’s cold out for many of us right now! Even if it’s not cold where you live, it’s probably still colder than it usually is. Therefore, you have the heat on in your house, you’ve got the fireplace going for warmth and atmosphere, or you’re going outside in the cold to enjoy outdoor activities and just walking to your car from work, a restaurant, the mall, etc. Did you know you can become just as dehydrated from the cold in the winter as you can from the heat in the summer? It’s true, we just aren’t as aware of our sweating when we are cold. Your skin and lips can become dried and chapped from the cold and wind too. I’ve got some healthy remedies to protect your body from the cold and I’d like to share them with you right now!

Simple, easy and inexpensive!

Simple, easy and inexpensive!

1. Carmex- Boy, I hate chapped lips, don’t you?! Carmex is my favorite remedy for healing chapped lips and preventing them as well. I’ve tried other lip balms but I feel Carmex coats and protects my lips the best. I prefer the Carmex in the little jar to the one in the tube because it’s thicker and coats better. Before bed, I coat my lips with Carmex, especially in the winter because I hate awakening with that chappy lip feeling. My niece, Alison, loves Carmex so much that not only does she receive cases of it for gifts, but she also dressed up as a tube of Carmex for Halloween one year. I guess it runs in the family as I’ve been using it since I was in middle school!

Ali the tube of Carmex! :)

Ali the tube of Carmex! 🙂

LOL! If you have another lip balm that works for you go for it! Make sure, however, that you coat your lips not only at night but whenever you’re going outside for a walk, ice skating, skiing, or any activity that will take you outdoors for a long period of time on a cold or windy day.

My favorite lotion, it Kisses my Face with moisture!

My favorite lotion, it Kisses my Face with moisture!

2. Kiss My Face-  Lotion is another one of my secret winter weapons, and I particularly like “Kiss My Face” lotion, both because of the silkiness of it and the smell. I use it all over my body, not just on my face though, does that break the rules?!! The coconut scent smells like heaven to me! My hands and face get particularly dry in the winter so the one thing that I do is to coat my hands with lotion before putting on my gloves to go outside. That way it helps the lotion to absorb better instead of evaporating in the wind. I also coat my hands before putting on my kitchen gloves. The warm water outside the gloves really helps the lotion to absorb into my hands. They feel so soft when I remove the gloves, and it really makes doing the dishes a bit more enjoyable! Before bed, I once again coat my hands with lotion, and I do my face at that time too. It seems like a lot but it’s worth it not to have chapped hands and a chapped face!

Alkaline water is a great way to hydrate in the winter!

Alkaline water is a great way to hydrate in the winter!

3. Alkaline water- Any filtered water is great for you at any time of year, however I have been enjoying the benefits of alkaline water lately. It contains more minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, and it helps digest acidic food more easily. Also, since it contains 5-6 water molecules per cluster it penetrates our tissues more easily and hydrates 3 times more efficiently than normal, filtered water. In addition, it eliminates free radicals that can cause cancer, and because it has a PH of 8.5-9.5 it maintains the body in a healthy (ie, non acidic) state. It’s like water on steroids! It is important to stay hydrated. I read a study that said 80% of our feelings of hunger are really related to  THIRST instead. Water plumps up the skin and makes it glow as well so make sure to drink your water!

Love me some leave in conditioner!

Love me some leave in conditioner!

4. Leave in conditioner- Leave in conditioner is my best friend during the winter when my hair is so dry. I use it after I wash and condition my hair in the shower, but before I use my styling products. It coats my hair and moisturizes so I don’t get flyaways. Static cling in the hair is just no fun so I always make sure I use it. It’s one of my favorite winter remedies!

Don't forget your healthy fats!

Don’t forget your healthy fats!

5. Healthy Fats- It sounds strange but to keep your body properly moisturized in the winter it is important to get your healthy fats. Organic Fish, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter, lard, etc, all help to bring moisture to the body, and help battle against the dryness of winter. It really does work!

There you have it- my tips for keeping moisturized in the winter. It’s a challenge in Indiana where I live, especially with all of the wind, snow and ice we usually experience. That’s why I make sure to use my Carmex, lotion, leave in conditioner, and to drink my alkaline water and eat my healthy fats. I get a lot of positive comments on my skin so these remedies seem to work. Let me know what your winter remedies are, and how you like the ones I’ve presented to you here today. These remedies will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

 

 

A Healthy way to Drink in the New Year!

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A good glass of wine makes everything fine- Thanksgiving 2013!

A good glass of wine makes everything fine- Thanksgiving 2013!

So the holidays are upon us, aren’t they? 9 more days until Christmas and a little over two weeks from the big drinking holiday, New Year’s Eve. Pretty much every adult I know over 21 will ring in the new year with a cocktail or two. Being an advocate for healthy living, I wanted to let you know what I feel are the five healthiest alcoholic beverages to drink, not just on New Year’s Eve, but any time of the year. Now, healthy to me means that not only is the cocktail low in calories, but it also has positive health benefits, and it tastes good too. That’s why you won’t see VODKA TONIC on my list. Yes, it is low in calories, but other than that it basically has no nutritional value and no flavor. Hence it is not a healthy cocktail in my book.

Here’s the thing though, QUALITY IS BETTER THAN QUANTITY when it comes to the healthiness of an alcoholic beverage. No cocktail is healthy if you have more than 2 of them, and if you get to four or more than it becomes toxic to your body. So my advice to you is, BE A MODERATE DRINKER. That’s the best thing you can do for your health. With that in mind, I will share my healthy cocktail list with you.

Number one healthiest alcoholic drink and my personal favorite- WINE!

Number one healthiest alcoholic drink and my personal favorite- WINE!

1. Red or White Wine- This one is one of the healthiest and my favorite so I’m going to call it the number one on the healthiest cocktail scale. First, it contains 5% of your daily nutritional requirements for iron, 9% potassium, 5% magnesium, and antioxidants like flavonoids and nonflavanoids. Resveratrol, which is a nonflavanoid, reduces blood clots and lowers bad cholesterol. Calories range from 110-130 per glass so it’s not a highly caloric option. Taste wise you have many options in flavor. Whether you like dry or sweet, red or white, you can find a flavor that pleases your palate.

Michelada- a recently tasted cocktail and a good one too!

Michelada- a recently tasted cocktail and a good one too!

2. Michelada- I recently tried one of these cocktails at a delicious Mexican restaurant near my daughters’ university and I loved it. It’s a much more interesting and flavorful twist on a Bloody Mary (which is also a healthy cocktail option for you!). It’s spicy, salty, and so refreshing! The ingredients are beer, limes, Worcestershire sauce, Valentina hot sauce, black pepper, sea salt, and ice. Now, beer is not the healthiest ingredient in a cocktail (beer= carbs), but if a light beer is used it’s not too bad since most come in at under 100 calories. The Michelada I had was made with Modelo Especial which though it isn’t a light beer is really delicious, and I only had one cocktail. I don’t even like beer but I really liked this alcoholic beverage. It also contains lime juice which has tons of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your immune system and neutralizes free radicals that damage our tissues. The hot sauce in this cocktail is made from chili peppers, which contain capsaicin (helps in fighting certain cancers). Chilis are used to aid digestion, reduce appetite, and increase metabolism. The sea salt in the drink helps replenish electrolytes, and the Worcestershire sauce has vitamin B6 (builds red blood cells and maintains nervous system function) in it from the molasses, garlic, cloves and chili pepper extract contained within the sauce. It also has antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K (protects against hemorrhaging and bone loss), and niacin, which aids in digestion. Try it, you’ll like it!

Manhattan- not the city but the cocktail!

Manhattan- not the city but the cocktail!

3. Manhattan- I’m not much of a mixed drink girl, but I know many of you are out there so in honor of all of you mixed drink fans, I’ve included the Manhattan as one of the best tasting and healthiest mixed cocktails. The ingredients are bourbon, sweet vermouth and Angostura Bitters. Bourbon is flavorful and only 97-110 calories per 1.5 ounces, vermouth is a wine fortified with herbs and contains 45 calories per ounce, and bitters are alleged to have restorative properties and are used to calm an upset stomach. It’s strong so only one cocktail will be plenty in this case. If you like a mixed drink, this is the one for you!

Mmmm Mimosa!

Mmmm Mimosa!

4. Mimosa/Bellini- Mimosas are champagne and orange juice, and Bellinis are champagne and peach juice. Now these are not particularly low cal drinks because of the juices, but they are delicious and satisfying, therefore one cocktail will be plenty. I had a cocktail while in Las Vegas that contained an Italian champagne called Prosecco, berry puree, and lemon juice that was delicious and so pretty. it was called Berry Prosecco Fizz so I’m including that drink in this category too. All of these drinks contain champagne, which is sweet and slightly caloric at 90-110 calories per glass, but champagne is a wine so it contains a ton of antioxidants. Orange juice and peach juice contain many vitamins and minerals that are great for you. One tip I got was to make the Mimosa with grapefruit juice instead of orange, because grapefruits have more fat burning properties than oranges do. Sounds delish to me!

Guiness is a healthy beer!

Guiness is a healthy beer!

5. Guinness- I’m not much of a beer fan as I said above, but I know many beer fans, so folks this one’s for you! Guinness is low in calories despite how thick it is, 128 calories for 12 ounces. Also, Guinness is made from more whole grains than most regular beers so it’s full of nutrients. Guinness is shown to have similar antioxidant properties to red wine, and a University of Wisconsin study showed that drinking it helps reduce blood clots and heart problems. Good deal!

Some others healthy alcoholic beverages that could’ve made my list are Sangria (wine and fruit), Bloody Mary (vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, celery, salt, pepper), and bourbon/whiskey and soda, all healthy drink choices. Remember though, that moderation is the way to go here, and please don’t excessively drink on New Year’s Eve or at any time. 2 drinks or less is the way to go, and the drinks that are on my list are so flavorful that you don’t need to drink a lot to get a delicious flavor and be satisfied. Enjoy your holidays with a healthy drink or two at the most. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

Beyond the Orange; Better Sources of C!

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A Vitamin C cornucopia of colors and flavors here!

A Vitamin C cornucopia of colors and flavors here!

I have to say that I love Vitamin C, it makes me think about tropical climates, sunshine, vibrant colors and happiness! It also makes me think about oranges, as it does for most people I would imagine. Many people think oranges are the best way to get vitamin C, and they do have 69.7 mg for a medium sized orange, but did you know there are other far better ways to get vitamin C naturally? You didn’t know that? Well, I’m going to tell you about it today!

Vitamin C is such an important nutrient for us in many ways. Not only does it shorten the duration of colds/flu, but it also helps repair/regenerate tissues, aids in the absorption of iron, helps delay or prevent cataracts, supports healthy immune function, protects against heart disease, prevents scurvy, protects against a variety of cancers by fighting free radicals, and helps neutralize the effects of nitrites (preservatives found in some packaged foods that can contribute to certain kinds of cancers). That’s quite an impressive list!

So how much do we need and how do we get it? According to the National Institutes of Health, men need 90 mg per day, and women need 75 mg per day, however if you’re a smoker you need even more Vitamin C (250 mg!) because smoking disrupts the absorption of it by the body. Toddlers 1-3 years old need 15 mg per day,  children 4-8 years old need 25 mg, children 9-13 need 45 mg, male teens 14-18 need 75 mg, and females of that age need 65 mg. However, if you have a cold you will need much more to help fight the virus, 250 mg per day.

Now, you can take a supplement and I’ve referred to supplemental sources of Vitamin C in my previous post “Healing Cold Remedies”, but I always prefer to get my vitamins in food if possible. Know though, that if you have a cold/flu or are healing from an injury you probably will need to supplement your diet with other sources to get as much as you need to help your body heal. However, if you’re a healthy, happy human like I am right now, you can get your C naturally. And the great thing about Vitamin C is that there’s no such thing as getting too much C because our bodies will release it into our urine when we’ve had enough. So consume your C, guilt free! With that in mind, here’s a list of the fruits and vegetables with the most Vitamin C, so you can get the biggest bang for your nutritional buck.

The King (or Queen) of Vitamin C!

The King (or Queen) of Vitamin C!

1. Red Bell Peppers– They have the most Vitamin C with 190 mg per cup. They’re also a great source of Vitamin A which is good for your eyes. Add them to salads, dip them, add them to stir fries, soups, omelets, and crock pot meals. They are one of my favorite vegetables because I like their bright and mild flavor, and as such they’re extremely versatile.

The Prince, or Princess, of Vitamin C!

The Prince, or Princess, of Vitamin C!

2. Kiwi2 Kiwi fruit give you 137.2 mg of Vitamin C. They’re also a great source of potassium and copper too. I love to slice them into a fruit salad, or just grab a spoon and scoop them into my mouth. They’re so refreshing!

I heart broccoli!

I heart broccoli!

3. Broccoli- Broccoli has 132 mg per cup, it is also full of fiber, which is why they’re called colon’s broomsticks! At just 30 calories per serving you can’t beat this nutritional powerhouse. They’re also one of those superfoods thought to help prevent cancer. I love to add a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven on broil for 10 minutes. But watch them, or they could burn! Lots of yum!

Tropical tasting Mango!

Tropical tasting Mango!

4. Mango– Oh I love me some Mango! It has 122.3 mg of Vitamin C per cup, it’s also loaded with Vitamin A, which is great for the eyes. I love mango in a fruit salad or added to a salsa for a fruity twist.

Crunchy cauliflower!

Crunchy cauliflower!

5. Cauliflower- A small head of cauliflower has 127.7 mg of Vitamin C. It also has 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein too. I love it raw or steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper.

Green bell peppers, not as much C as the reds but they still have tons!

Green bell peppers, not as much C as the reds but they still have tons!

6. Green Bell Peppers- They have 120 mg of Vitamin C per cup, which is not as much as their red headed mates but they still have far more than the recommended daily requirement. They also have 200% of the RDA for fiber. I always put them in my chili, soups, stews, omelets, etc.

Chili peppers- Ole!

Chili peppers- Ole!

7. Chili Peppers– bring on the heat! Chili peppers come in next at 107.8 mg of Vitamin C per 1/2 cup. They’re also loaded with capsaicin which helps to relieve joint and muscle pain. I love chilies and I add them to many dishes because I like their heat, not too intense, but super flavorful.

Papaya- it's poppin'!

Papaya- it’s poppin’!

8. Papaya- A cup of papaya has 88.3 mg of Vitamin C. Papaya also has nutrients that brighten skin, strengthen bones, and clear sinuses. Love!

Yummy strawberries!

Yummy strawberries!

9. Strawberries– Love me some strawberries, especially with 84.7 mg Vitamin C per cup! They also have folate which is good for heart health. They’re a natural teeth whitener too. Strawberries are readily available and they’re sweet and delicious. They are my favorite fruit, and I think they are best enjoyed plain. Just clean them and pop them into your mouth. Amazing!

Kale- a superfood!

Kale- a superfood!

10. Kale- One cup of Kale has 80.4 mg of Vitamin C. It also contains twice the RDA for Vitamin A, 7 times the Vitamin K, numerous minerals and fatty acids. It really does it all! I love Kale chips and I also like it in salads and soups.

These are the top 10 fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C, but remember lots of other ones do too, like Brussels sprouts (74.8 mg per cup), and pineapple (78.9 mg per cup) , they just don’t have as much as the top 10. However, it’s important to eat what you like, in addition to eating what’s good for you, so feel free to eat other fruits and veggies if you don’t like any on the list, because any Vitamin C is better than none. Also, I want to emphasize the need to purchase organic fruits and vegetables to ensure they’re responsibly grown and handled. An important point is that if you’ve taken Acetaminophen, antacids that contain aluminum, aspirin, or Warfarin, there could be adverse effects so keep that in mind. In addition, nicotine products, tetracycline’s, barbiturates, and oral contraceptives may decrease the effects of Vitamin C. Just writing this post makes me want to go eat some fruits and veggies that contain Vitamin C. How about you? Make sure to get your Vitamin C naturally. It will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!