Poolside Healthy Choices!

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Hi friends! Do any of you belong to a community, subdivision, or private pool? We do because we don’t have a pool at our house. The upside is that it has a outdoor cafe where food can be ordered, but that’s the downside too. It is very difficult to make healthy food choices when confronted with chicken strips (ours are the best ever, unfortunately), French fries, huge cheeseburgers, and all other manner of deliciously, dangerously high caloric food options. 

Luckily our pool also offers healthy items and whether you have a pool, have joined a pool, or don’t care about pools, I’ll still try to offer some advice to assist you in making good food choices this summer. 

First and most important is to avoid the fried food. No matter how good it looks, believe me it’s not good for you. The oil used to fry food is artery clogging, and the food, once fried has virtually no resemblance to the healthy chicken or potato it started out as. This may seem obvious but once you start smelling the fries it’s so tempting to give in and order them, but not only are they bad for you, they’re very high in calories too. Not good for the bathing suit look!

  
Second, choose the healthiest protein you can. A large double cheeseburger, while full of protein, is not a healthy option due to the amount of calories contained within. Some large cheeseburgers have over 1,000 calories. Definitely not the way to go. Instead, I choose a Cobb salad (no blue cheese because I don’t like it), with tons of protein (turkey, bacon, feta cheese, hard boiled egg) and vegetables (cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce) to fill me up and keep me satisfied. A super choice! Also, don’t top your healthy salad off with an unhealthy dressing (no ranch or blue cheese), I love vinaigrettes of all kinds- and if they make them fresh there it’s an even better option!

  
Third, avoid the processed carbs. Those bags of Doritos and Fritos are full of empty calories and zero nutrition. If you want something crunchy and salty go for air popped popcorn. A new brand I’m digging is Sexy Pop- many flavors and under 100 calories per bag- it’s incredible! The Brazilian coconut flavor is to die for- and all natural too!  Or pop your own and bring it with you. I always think popcorn is better the next day so you can pop it ahead and bag it up for later. 

Fourth, don’t eat the ice cream sandwiches, or Chaco tacos (it’s really a thing and it looks sooo good), or huge ice cream cones- avoid the sugar!  Sugar is the source of many illnesses and should be avoided at all costs. A small fruit salad would be a healthy substitute. And I’ve seen people make all fruit Popsicles at home- better than processed ones, but still should only be an occasional treat.

  
These are my poolside tips for healthy eating in the summertime. Make sure to enjoy yourself no matter what and let me know what you do to stay on your healthy food path in the summer. Making healthy food choices will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

Eating Healthy Starts with this! Part Deux

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Good day, my friends! I’m now going to continue my healthy eating post by telling you the second thing you need to eat healthily at home. The first as you recall if you read part one, was a pantry stocked with lovely items to help you cook healthy meals. The second essential is a well stocked refrigerator/freezer. Or in my case refrigerators/freezers because I have two, one in my kitchen and one in the garage. They are both important to my healthy cooking strategy so I’ll talk about how I use them both. Again, please don’t judge my fridge organization or cleanliness, just the contents! In addition, all food mentioned is organic whenever possible.

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Fridge Essentials

1. Liquids for drinking- We don’t drink soda pop and I don’t have any in the house. Instead, I keep the fridge stocked with filtered alkaline water, chocolate milk, almond milk, healthy juices with no sugar or corn syrup, and half and half for my coffee.

2. Yogurt and hummus- We always have these two items, though I usually make my own hummus, for healthy snacking.

3. Cooking ingredients- I always have minced garlic, olives, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, Dijon and regular mustard, ketchup, salsa, hot sauces, and pickles to help add flavor to my meals.

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4. Vegetables and fruits- The vegetables I usually have on hand are romaine lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and peppers. The types of fruit are grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, and watermelon. Many meals and snacks can be made from these vegetables and fruit.

5. Deli meat and cheeses- Important items here are turkey lunch meat, salami, cheddar cheese- both sliced and shredded, as well as romano cheese and parmesan for pastas.

6. Wine- no explanation needed here! 🙂

7. Eggs- Eggs are one of the things we eat often in my house. I make hard boiled eggs, fried, scrambled, poached, and egg salad. There are so many awesome dishes that can be made with eggs. Eggs are a great ingredient in other dishes as well, making them one of the most versatile items in my fridge.

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8. Leftovers- My outside fridge is mostly for leftovers, drinks and yogurt. I love leftovers and have written about that in many past posts. I eat them for lunch the next day or repurpose them into future meals. They are one of my favorite things in my fridge so don’t throw out the leftovers, this is your chance to be creative!

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Freezer Essentials-

1. Frozen vegetables- I always have frozen mixed vegetables on hand, mostly to make soups and stews, but I do like to have them for lunch sometimes.

2. Breakfast meats- We love breakfast in this house so I stock my freezer with bacon, breakfast sausage and chorizo to thaw for delicious breakfasts.

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3. Leftovers- Sometimes we don’t eat all of the leftovers in the fridge, despite my best attempts to polish them all off, and I definitely don’t want them to go to waste. I put them in the freezer, making sure to label the type of food and the date on the freezer bag, so I can ensure that when I defrost them I know what it is and how long it’s been in there. It’s so handy when I don’t have anything planned to cook. I just thaw the food item, and dinner is served!

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4. Meat- This is the heart of my outdoor freezer. I have different cuts of chicken in one section, beef in another, and lamb and pork in a separate area. I use the outdoor fridge to thaw the frozen meat a night or two before I am ready to cook, and then it’s ready to prepare.

5. Frozen fruit- I have frozen blueberries to make blueberry pancakes, and strawberries for smoothies.

Well, that’s what I consider essential for storing in the refrigerator and freezer. I hope you will stock what you like to eat and serve to your family and friends in your fridge/freezer. Eating at home is the best way to eat healthily. Eating healthy foods is the best way to live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Dont Be A Turkey- Make Turkey Burgers!

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My juicy, yummy turkey burgers!

My juicy, yummy turkey burgers!

Here’s the thing my friends, my title might imply a popular misconception about turkey that I plan to clear up for you right now. That is the following, that ground turkey is better for you than ground beef. I am not going to fill my post with untruths, I am here to clear up the untruths for my wonderful, loyal readers. So, when I tell you to use ground turkey it’s not because it’s better for you per se. Turkey is a lean form of protein which is why it got the rep for being healthier than ground beef. Here’s the problem with that though, first of all, ground turkey BREAST is lower in fat than lean ground beef, but as I wrote in my past blog “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat”, low fat is not necessarily a health benefit for us. Also, because ground turkey breast is low in fat it is also low in flavor and juiciness, so you have to add that back into the meat to make it taste good. Ground turkey usually contains a mix of turkey breast and dark meat, and usually has more fat than ground beef. Which as I told you earlier is not a bad thing for us, I’m just trying to lay out all the facts for you so you can be properly informed.

You might ask me at this point, “Then why are you telling us to use ground turkey to make turkey burgers?” Excellent question my amazing readers, you read my mind on this one! Here’s why.  When properly prepared they are light, juicy and flavorful- perfect for a spring meal. I’m going to walk you through the steps I used to make my delicious and juicy turkey burgers. Here we go!

Ingredients for making my turkey burgers!

Ingredients for making my turkey burgers!

My Flavorful, Juicy Turkey Burgers

First, the burger ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 small cans mild green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Next, the toppings:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • A slice of Colby jack or pepper jack for each burger
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed
  • A few pieces of romaine lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes sliced
  • Gluten free buns

Finally, the aioli:

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Pepper to taste

Remember how I said the turkey burgers would be dry and tasteless unless we add in fat and flavor? Even more so for me because I was using ground turkey breast the day I made this recipe for my family (and for my readers too!). At Fresh Market where I shop they grind it up fresh for you, and all they had was turkey breast so I used what they had. It was even more of a challenge for me to make them moist and full of flavor, but I like a challenge so that worked for me!

Meat and ingredients combined by hand, and NOT over mixed!

Meat and ingredients combined by hand, and NOT over mixed!

So what you do first is take all of the ingredients for making the burgers, put them in a large bowl, and mix them together USING YOUR HANDS. Hands are the best way to mix meat to properly combine the ingredients. Here’s an important tip from me to you, DON’T OVER MIX YOUR BURGERS- NO MATTER WHAT MEAT YOU ARE USING- IT WILL MAKE YOUR BURGERS TOUGH. Yuck, who wants that?!! Then, form your burgers into the size you’d like them to be, and put a thumb sized indentation into the center of your burger. I saw that on one of Bobby Flay’s cooking shows on the Food Network. Putting an indentation into the center of the burger patty keeps the burger from puffing up in the middle. It really does stay flat that way- of course he knows what he’s talking about, he’s an Iron Chef!

In the pan and ready to be cooked!

In the pan and ready to be cooked!

Next either grill or fry your burgers until the centers just turn the lightest pink. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the cheese slices to the burgers and put a cover on the pan so the cheese melts. Then put them on a platter and cover them to let them rest.

Sautee onions and peppers in a pan until they're soft!

Sauté onions and peppers in a pan until they’re soft!

Now, add a half teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to the turkey pan, add the onions and peppers, and sauté them until they’re soft and slightly browned. I pop the buns on top of the onions and peppers for the last few minutes to steam some flavor into the buns too. See, I’m always thinking about adding flavor!

Special turkey burger topping- easy and super good!

Special turkey burger topping- easy and super good!

While the onions and peppers are in the pan doing their thing, I prepare my aioli. It’s super easy, just add the mayo, Dijon, garlic salt and pepper to a bowl and combine. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Now the fun part, assemble the burgers! Spread the aioli on the buns, put a patty on the bottom bun, add the slices of avocado, onions, and peppers, and finish with sliced tomatoes and lettuce. I served the burgers with an old, secret family recipe for baked beans. That’s all there is to it! Obviously feel free to edit the ingredients based on your family’s tastes, but I promise they will be juicy and FULL of flavor. I love these burgers, not just because they taste good, but because they’re full of protein and vitamins. Try them and you’ll like them, I guarantee it! Meals like these will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Being Thankful is GOOD for your Health! And Turkey Leftovers Part 2!

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I'm so thankful for these two!! xoxo

I’m so thankful for these two!! xoxo

Since the holiday centered around thankfulness is tomorrow I started thinking about being thankful. I did some research and did you know that being thankful is actually good for your health? Yes, it’s true! People who have social connections- through family, friends or even companion animals- have longevity, survive serious diseases, and have better health than those who have no social connections. Also, the act of “being grateful” is associated with better physical and emotional health, which makes sense, doesn’t it?! People who have social support are found to have more of the immune system natural killer cell activity, and even people who care for companion animals get sick less and recover faster than those who don’t have animals. It makes me doubly thankful for my family, friends and animals this Thanksgiving! I’m also thankful for my love of cooking which comes in handy during this food centered holiday! Tomorrow I’ll be cooking turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and asparagus for my family and though it’s exhausting I’ll enjoy every minute of it.

A long ago Thanksgiving- I'm so thankful for my family!

A long ago Thanksgiving- I’m so thankful for my family!

So you’re done with all the cooking and you’re left with a mountain of turkey meat, what do you do with it all? My family will eat turkey in the traditional Thanksgiving way for maybe one more meal after that before they are sick of it and I’m forced to be creative. In my last post “Leftovers you’ll love, what to do with all that turkey part 1”, I shared a recipe for leftover turkey (or any kind of meat) enchiladas which I hope you enjoyed reading about. Today, I’m going to share with you a recipe for turkey hash that is delicious, easy, and will get rid of more of that turkey in a different way.

Ingredients gathered and ready to go!

Ingredients gathered and ready to go!

Leftover Turkey Hash– ingredients, 2 cups of leftover turkey (or any) meat, 6 small potatoes, minced garlic, one small onion, 5 small red, orange and yellow peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Nuke the potatoes first!

Nuke the potatoes first!

1. Microwave 6 small potatoes for 5 minutes or until slightly soft. I like to microwave my potatoes first so that they will mostly cook before I put them in the pot. It saves a little time for me, which is always a good thing.

Chop your veg next!

Chop your veg next!

2. Prep your veggies next by chopping them so they’re ready to go in the pan.

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3. Heat your pan, add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and toss your veggies in until they’re softened. Then, add a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Chop potatoes when they come out of the microwave!

Chop potatoes when they come out of the microwave!

4. After the potatoes come out of the microwave, cut them in half to let them cool for a minute or two, then chop them into small pieces and add them to the pot with the other vegetables. Also, at this time add a teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste at this time as well.

Everything happily cooking in the pot!

Everything happily cooking in the pot!

5. Add two cups of turkey meat next. In this case I was using a ham I had made the previous night for my hash. I’ll be using turkey after tomorrow!

Time for the eggs!

Time for the eggs!

6. Now is the time to make your fried eggs because hash is best when it’s covered with a delicious egg. All that gooey yolk runs over the hash to add a level of unctuousness to it! I just add a bit of butter to a fry pan, crack my eggs in, and cook them until the white is solid. The secret to delicious fried eggs is to cook them low and slow- slowly over a low heat- in order to keep them tender.

Yummmmm!!

Yummmmm!!

The only thing left to do at this point is to plate the hash, add the egg to the top of it, and eat! Add a few drops of hot sauce if you want a little extra kick, like I do. This meal can be eaten any time of the day or night because in my opinion eggs and hash are not just for breakfast. The picture at the beginning of this post shows my daughters digging in to this meal yesterday afternoon and they thought it was really great! So that’s it for today, and I hope you will try this recipe because it really is easy and delicious. I just want to say that I soooooo appreciate all of my readers, and know that when I count my blessings, you are one of them! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and sharing my blog, it has been a life changing experience for me in every way! As I said earlier, being thankful is good for your health so take some time in the next few days to count your blessings as I will be. Being thankful will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Leftovers you’ll love! What to do with all that turkey part 1.

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Turkey Enchiladas!

Turkey Enchiladas!

Ok, so once Thanksgiving is over and you have mountains of turkey left- or you’re a college student and your mom has sent you back with piles of turkey- what do you do with it? I mean, there are only so many days you can eat turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy before you get truly sick of it! Well, I am here to help you! I will be sharing my favorite turkey leftover recipes with you this week so you can mix it up with some different meals you will enjoy. They are easy too, so you can spend time with family and friends without toiling for hours in the kitchen, we already did that on Thanksgiving and we need a break! The great thing about these recipes that I’m sharing is that you can use any leftover meat to make these recipes great, so if you made a ham, steaks, or any meat they’ll taste delish!

Easy Turkey Enchiladas

Leftover pork roast, but any meat will make this recipe delicious!

Leftover pork roast, but any meat will make this recipe delicious!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then, warm up leftover turkey (or any meat) in the microwave to get it warm.

Simmer some tomato sauce.

Simmer some tomato sauce.

2. Take a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes, add a teaspoon of cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and simmer until thickened and bubbly- 10 minutes.

Pork with tomato sauce added!

Pork with tomato sauce added!

3. Take half of the tomato sauce mixture and a cup of shredded cheese, and add it to the warmed meat- I also added some black beans to it but if you don’t like them, they are optional. Give this a quick stir to combine the ingredients.

Pan is ready to receive the enchiladas!

Pan is ready to receive the enchiladas!

4. Prepare the pan by swiping a little tomato sauce across the bottom. I do this so that the enchiladas won’t stick to the bottom of the pan when I try to remove them after baking.

Roll the enchiladas and place them in the pan.

Roll the enchiladas and place them in the pan.

5. Next, take tortillas, put 1/4 cup of meat mixture into them, and place them with the opening side down into the pan. Fill them until the pan is full, as you can see the meat I had made 6 enchiladas.

Baking in the oven- yay!

Baking in the oven- yay!

6. Cover the enchiladas with the rest of the tomato sauce and a half bag of shredded cheese, whichever kind you like the best. Bake the enchiladas for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. When they’re done, take them out and let them cool for a few minutes so you can lift them from the pan without the cheese sliding all over. There’ s nothing worse than an enchilada with no cheese on it- no fun!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

7. I topped the enchiladas with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro for freshness before serving but that is also optional. Add a salad to get your veggies in and you’re good to go!

So that’s it. A super easy and delicious enchilada recipe for you to enjoy with your leftover turkey, or any leftover meat. Let me know what you like to do with your leftover turkey, and look for another leftover recipe later this week. I hope you try my enchiladas because they’ll help you to live a life of vitality- like Valerie! 🙂

 

Stay perky while eating your turkey! Healthy Thanksgiving eating tips part 2.

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Making stuffing is a team effort during my family Thanksgiving!

Making stuffing is a team effort during my family Thanksgiving- lol!

Hi All! So earlier in the week we talked about different ways to eat in a healthy way during MY FAVORITE EATING DAY OF THE YEAR! I love it so much it deserves all caps! I also shared my recipe for the most delicious, healthy and easy turkey and gravy in part 1. Today I want to focus on my healthy side dishes and dessert. Now, I love all the ooey, gooey side dishes at Thanksgiving- mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, green been casserole, corn pudding, etc, etc, etc… However, those side dishes are full of calories and all kinds of badness, so I’m giving you some alternates to bring to someone else’s gathering, or to serve at your own.

So first we go to the stuffing- Ok, I have to admit that I LOVE stuffing!! I’m not much of a bread person but when it’s all mushed together and baked it becomes delectable! A healthy swap for all that bread though is my stepmom, Karen’s wild rice stuffing and I want to share that with you now.

Delish!

Delish!

Wild Rice Stuffing

  • 1 small bag of gluten free stuffing (or rip up 1/2 loaf of gluten free bread)
  • 2 boxes of Long grain and wild rice
  • 32 oz. container of organic free range chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (I don’t like big chunks of onion in my stuffing)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme, rosemary and sage
  • Teaspoon each of salt and pepper

First, sauté onions and celery in a dab of butter or EVOO, in a big pot that you’ll make the stuffing in. Then, make the stuffing according to package directions. In a separate pot make the rice according to the directions. When the rice is done, add it to the stuffing, onions and celery, and add the chicken broth to make it super moist. Last, put the mixture into a greased baking pan and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is crusty but the inside is still soft- and that’s it! No sausage or any meat in it, no stuffing it into the turkey (that thought makes me nauseous), and no big hunks of bread. It’s just one small bag of stuffing and most of the recipe is long grain rice which is whole grain. Yay! By the way, it is completely delicious too and you’ll really like it.

Next up are my wonderful Brussels sprouts. Now you may hate Brussels sprouts, as many in my family did before this dish, but these will turn you into a believer in the sprouts from Brussels!

They are really good- I promise!

They are really good- I promise!

Brussels sprouts with bacon

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound organic Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, cook the bacon in the same skillet you’ll make the Brussels sprouts. Place the bacon on a plate with a paper towel to rid of grease, and chop it. Drain the fat from the skillet but leave the bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the butter to the pan and sauté until melted. Then add the onion and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, or approximately 8-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, and then put the bacon back into the pan and give it all a toss to combine. Then, serve. The sprouts get this golden brown crust that is so delicious and the bacon and onions give them such a great flavor. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Can you see how this is a healthier dish than green bean casserole in which most of the ingredients come from a can?!! Yes, I thought you would!

Now I know that when everyone thinks about dessert and Thanksgiving they think about some kind of pie, apple, pumpkin, pecan, etc,etc, etc., and I think of them too. But instead I make a gluten free berry crisp and let me tell you why. You get all the flavor of a pie without all of the calories. One slice of pecan pie is approximately 520 calories versus my berry crisp which comes in at 295 calories. And it’s really good too! Here we go!

I love me some gluten free berry crisp!

I love me some gluten free berry crisp!

Gluten Free Mixed Berry Crisp

 

  •  1 medium sized package frozen mixed berries thawed
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey
  • 2 cups gluten free baking flour
  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 1/2 cups packed organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups butter

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, combine the berries and the honey in a large bowl and set it aside. In another bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients except for the butter. Then, cut in the butter by using two knives and cutting until the mixture is crumbly. Last, you take half of the crumbly mixture into a 9 by 13 baking pan, then add the berries, and top with the other half of the mixture, and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is brown. It’s just sooo good and far better for you than pecan pie!

So that’s what I’ll be making next Thursday, what will you be making? Let me know what you like to make, and I hope you try some of my recipes. Drop me a note if you do. Food like this will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

Tasty, terrific turkey day part 1! How to eat healthy on Thanksgiving.

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Most of my clan at Thanksgiving last year!

Most of my clan at Thanksgiving last year!

Wow that time is already here, isn’t it? Now I don’t know about you but in the past I’ve had a difficult time sticking to my healthy eating plan on Thanksgiving. It’s so easy to eat a lot and all the wrong things too. It’s like carb fest day! I’ll tell ya what I’m going to do! The goal of this post is to give you my healthy eating tips and recipes so that you can eat and enjoy, but not gain 5 pounds in the process. Stick with me, and I’ll get you through it!

1. Be miserly with the unhealthy stuff- That includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, casseroley type dishes, creamy dishes, desserts, etc. Make sure you eat these types of dishes very sparingly, but do have a taste of the ones you like because I don’t believe in deprivation.

2. Eat lots of vegetables- Unless the vegetables are covered in cream, make your plate mostly veggies and you’ll be full and satisfied, because they have lots of fiber. I have a great recipe for Brussels sprouts that even a veggie hater will love. I will include that in part 2 coming later this week.

3. Watch the salt- I’m a big believer in salt so some of you who know me may be shocked to hear me say this, but here’s why. Salt helps to retain water and makes you feel bloated. Some of the dishes you’re eating may already have a lot of salt added, so skip the salt shaker at Thanksgiving and you won’t bloat up that night or the next day.

4. Bring your own dessert- If you’re going somewhere for Thanksgiving bring a fruit based dessert like a cobbler or a crisp because they’re lower calorie than something like pecan pie. I will show you a healthy way to make berry cobbler in part 2 of my post.

5. Take a walk or do something exerting after your meal- Even a ten minute walk will help you work off some of your meal and aid in digesting your food faster. Take your dog with you because dogs tend to get overwhelmed with all the guests, and said guests might have slipped them a bit of turkey too!

Ok, but what if you’re the one hosting the meal? That’s kind of awesome because you can control what you serve and which ingredients you use, thus ensuring you’ll be eating healthy food. I’m going to show you how to make my really easy, delicious and healthy turkey and gravy today. Later in the week I will share my easy, delicious and healthy side dishes and cobbler so you can host the perfect Thanksgiving. And even if you’re not hosting I’ll give you recipes so you can take a healthy dish, thus ensuring you’ll at least eat one healthy thing on the big day!

Love me some turkey!

Love me some turkey!

Easy and Delicious Turkey and Gravy

  • 1 organic, fresh 15 lb turkey (feeds 8-10)
  • 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 onion cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, rosemary and sage chopped (In a pinch you can use dried herbs de Provence)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper each
  • 6 cups organic, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup gluten free rice flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and position the rack to the lowest position in the oven. Rinse the turkey, pat it dry, and place it in the baking pan after removing the giblets from inside the turkey (funny story about that between my sister and I, remind me and I’ll tell you about it later). Take the oranges, lemons and onion and put them in a bowl. Sprinkle a bit of the fresh herbs, EVOO, salt and pepper, stir them a bit, and then stuff them into the main turkey cavity. Cover the entire turkey with EVOO, the rest of the fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

Cover the turkey breast with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits. Roast the turkey for 40 more minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, remove the foil from the breast, add another cup of broth to the pan,, and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserting in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165-175 degrees, or about 1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer the turkey to a platter, tent with foil and let stand for 30 minutes while making the gravy.

Glorious gravy!

Glorious gravy!

For those of you who’ve read my past blog on roasted chicken, “The Easiest Roasted Chicken, I Promise!”, I shared my gravy recipe and if you haven’t read it, you should! But, I’ll share it again for you now because it’s essentially the same for turkey as it is for chicken. Take the 5 tablespoons of butter and melt it in a large pan, then add the 1/3 cup of gluten free rice flour and stir until combined. the reason I use rice flour is partly because Danielle can’t eat gluten, but what I’ve discovered is that I prefer using it over regular flour because it’s very fine and doesn’t clump up so makes for a nicely textured gravy. And it tastes better too! Stir for another minute to cook the flour.

Next, strain the pan drippings through a sieve to get rid of the chunks and pour it into a large measuring cup or something with a spout so the drippings won’t spill all over your stove. Add 1/3 of the drippings, stir, stir, stir until combined, and continue until all the pan drippings have been incorporated into the gravy. If you run out of pan drippings and the gravy still has a thick consistency you can add chicken broth, if it’s not thick enough, add more flour but don’t add it straight into the gravy or it will clump. In that case, combine 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/4 cup chicken broth in a lidded Tupperware container, shake the heck out of it until combined, then add it to the gravy. Finish the gravy with a little salt and pepper to taste, and continue to let it cook on the stove until thickened and bubbly. Pour it into a gravy boat and it’s good to go!

In my next post I will share my favorite side dishes and my go to dessert. I hope you enjoy my turkey and gravy if you try it, and let me know if you do! Let me know if you have any healthy go-to Thanksgiving dishes. A healthy Thanksgiving will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!