New Year, more Vitality with Valerie

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Happy New Year readers! I hope you enjoyed your holiday season as much as I did, and your 2017 is off to a good start!

With the start of a new year comes many resolutions and goals to become the best version of yourself. I wanted my viewers to get a better glimpse into my past to learn more about me and my journey toward a better lifestyle. I hope this is something many of you can relate to because I want to assist you all on your health journeys as well. Everyone is different, but just recognizing the need for change is the hardest part in this process.

Enjoy the video, and allow me to help you live a life of Vitality- with Valerie! ūüôā

One Year Anniversary Top Ten Posts!

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Me and my babies 2015!

Me and my babies 2015!

Well, a year goes by so quickly, doesn’t it? I can’t believe it’s been a year since I began writing this blog. I have enjoyed writing it, and have truly loved all of the comments, enthusiasm and encouragement I have received from my readers. I have actually¬†met people during this¬†past year,¬†and when I’ve told them my name they’ve asked me if I write a blog! So the word is definitely getting out about what I do and I appreciate that. In honor of my one year blogiversary, I thought I would write a “best of” post, highlighting the 10 posts I have received the most positive feedback on, and the ones I think are the most reflective of my message. It’s a walk through memory lane for me, and I hope you have gotten something positive from them as well.¬† My list is displayed “Letterman style” starting with number 10 and working my way to number 1. To read the posts in their entirety, click on the link at the end of each section.

Lift Your Way to Health!

Lift Your Way to Health!

10. “Lift your way to weight loss- and a healthier body!”- This was a post I wrote about the benefits of lifting weights on the body. I am still enjoying my weights and just lifted this morning!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2015/02/05/lift-your-way-to-weight-loss-and-a-healthier-body/

Do what scares you!

Do what scares you!

9. “Why you MUST do what scares you!”- I really enjoyed writing this one, and had many tell me this was their favorite post I’ve written. I liked it because it was so indicative of positive changes I’ve made over the years, and zip lining was a blast!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/12/09/why-you-must-do-what-scares-you/

My Fitness Pal!

My Fitness Pal!

8. “My Fitness Pal is my fave fitness pal!”- This post is important because it focuses on the importance of journaling what you eat in order to maintain a healthy weight. Journaling is one of the keys to fitness success, and the My Fitness Pal app not only is a food journal, but also keeps track of the calories you expend through exercise, calories eaten, steps taken, nutritional breakdown of foods eaten each day, weight progress, and much more.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/10/15/my-fitness-pal-is-my-fave-fitness-pal/

Grow your own food!

Grow your own food!

7. “Grow your own food!”- This is one of my first posts and discusses my philosophy about the importance of growing your own vegetables and herbs. My vegetables and herbs have been planted already this year and are growing like crazy. I can’t wait to eat a tomato from my own garden again!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/05/27/grow-your-own-food/

Eggs- truly a bonanza of health benefits!

Eggs- truly a bonanza of health benefits!

6. “An EGGceptional protein!”- This post reflects my health philosophy about the importance of eating lean proteins, and eggs are one of my favorites! Eggs are versatile, full of nutrients and delicious- like I said, they’re EGGceptional!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/08/22/an-eggceptional-protein/

DON'T SIT TOO LONG!

DON’T SIT TOO LONG!

5. “Sitting is the new smoking!”- This was a post in which I talked about how bad it is for your health to sit for long periods of time, and alternatives to sitting at work and at home (I guiltily jumped off my chair just now and am standing while composing this post!). It’s a good reminder for all of us!

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/09/12/sitting-is-the-new-smoking/

Oh how I love the sun- and it's GOOD for you!

Oh how I love the sun- and it’s GOOD for you!

4. “Here Comes the Sun, and it’s Alright!”- One of my favorites because I believe it imparts critically important information that you won’t get from mainstream media. Many studies support what I’m saying about the sun and it’s role in vitamin D production. Email me if you’d like more in depth information.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/06/09/here-comes-the-sun-and-its-alright/

Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat!

Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat!

3. “Sugar- the new cigarette?!”- This is another post that most closely aligns with the message I’m trying to deliver about how terrible sugar and all non-whole grain carbs. Sugar truly is the new cigarette in terms of devastation to our bodies.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/07/09/sugar-the-new-cigarette/

This is how I eat!

This is how I eat!

2. “Mediterranean “diet” is the way I eat!”- I love this post because it delivers a very important message about not following diets, but adopting a healthy way of eating. That’s the way to get to a healthy weight and stay there. Eating like the people who live along the Mediterranean Sea is known to be a way to long term good health, and is the way I’ve been eating since becoming an adult.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/07/15/mediterranean-diet-is-the-way-i-eat/

It really doesn't!

It really doesn’t!

1. “FAT doesn’t make you fat!”- My favorite post, and the one I’ve gotten the most comments on. Again, it’s a message I feel compelled to deliver because I don’t feel the mainstream media is delivering it. This post discusses carbohydrates and their role in weight gain for the body. I also discuss how fat is really good for you, and essential in the maintenance of good health. This is so critical for my for my readers to know that I’m going to repeat it, FAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FAT, EXCESSIVE NON WHOLE GRAIN CARBOHYDRATES DO! Read the post for more information.

https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/09/19/fat-doesnt-make-you-fat/

And that’s my top ten list of posts for my one year anniversary. It has been an honor to provide information for my readers, and I have appreciated all the support and positivity I have received. I also want to give an enormous shout out to my amazing daughters who have helped me with technical issues, proof reading, post ideas, cooking prep, editing, etc, etc, etc. They’ve been my biggest cheerleaders (imagine that!)! Also, thanks to my family and friends who have shared my posts on their Facebook pages, and been so supportive to me and my blog.I hope you’ve read¬†something that helps change your life for the better on this page. I write for this reason. So again thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love. I return that love to you tenfold which will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Four Reasons I’m Zealous about Zucchini!

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Gorgeous, grilled zucchini!

Gorgeous, grilled zucchini!

My new love these days is zucchini. It’s a vegetable I haven’t been all that excited about in the past, but lately it’s been calling my name! I’ve been cooking with it and trying new recipes for my family. Now we are all loving zucchini. My favorite new zucchini dish that I’m sharing with you today is a recipe for lasagna made with zucchini instead of pasta noodles. The advantage is that with the zucchini replacing pasta, there are¬†much fewer carbs in this dish. Remember that carbs turn into sugar in your body and cause weight gain and other illnesses like cancer, heart disease and a whole host of other awful things. Also, replacing the super carby pasta with a cool vegetable like zucchini means gaining lots of nutritional advantages which I will highlight for you next. Last, I will share my zucchini lasagna recipe with you.

1. NutritionРZucchini and all summer squash is 95% water, which is naturally low in calories (33 for a medium zucchini), a gram of protein and less than a gram of fat. It has 6 grams of carbohydrates but two of them are fiber, this makes it a low glycemic food which will not spike blood sugar, but will instead provide a steady source of glucose to your system.

2. Vitamins– Zucchini is a great source of two antioxidant vitamins which help boost immunity and supports healthy aging, 35 milligrams of vitamin C (between 39-46% RDA for adults) and 392 IU of vitamin A (13-27%).

3. Potassium– One of the main electrolytes in your body needed in proper balance (2 to 1) with sodium . The typical American diet tends to be very high in sodium which throws the balance off and leads to high blood pressure. A medium zucchini has 512 mg of potassium, or 11% of your daily needs.

4. Very versatile vegetable– Raw zucchini gives an extra crunch to salads, It can be cut into strips or rounds for dipping in hummus. It’s great in stir fries and soups. Also, who doesn’t love zucchini bread or muffins? I definitely do! In about a month, they¬†will be¬†abundant in backyard gardens, so you’ll have plenty of this veggie to work with soon.

Delicious, nutritious zucchini lasagna!

Delicious, nutritious zucchini lasagna!

Zucchini Lasagna

  • 1 LB ground beef
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Slice and salt your zucchini first!

Slice and salt your zucchini first!

The first thing you want to do is thinly slice your zucchini lengthwise with a mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin (I don’t) slice it as best as you can. Lightly salt the zucchini and set aside for 15 minutes to get as much of the water out of it as you can. Then blot with paper towels.

Brown your ground beef!

Brown your ground beef!

In a large pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil, and then add the ground beef and brown. Add the tomatoes, basil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes.

Gotta grate the cheese, please!

Gotta grate the cheese, please!

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella and egg.

Grill the zucchini and start the layering of the lasagna!

Grill the zucchini and start the layering of the lasagna!

Now, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, spray your baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, grill the zucchini for 2 minutes each side to make it less soft, and start layering the lasagna. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the zucchini, and 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Then, 1/3 zucchini, 1/3 cheese, 1/3 meat sauce and repeat one more time until the pan is full. Cover with foil.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil, and bake 20 more minutes uncovered. Add some more grated parmesan to the top and bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes and serve.

Beautiful piece of lasagna!

Beautiful piece of lasagna!

Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you that it was DELICIOUS! in fact, my family ate it in 1 sitting! They kept going back at it like savages until it was gone. According to my calculations one slice is 300 calories, compared to 400 calories for a slice of regular lasagna. And the health benefits are by far greater than the caloric savings as I mentioned above. It’s a win-win, my friends! Try it and let me know how you like it! Eating foods like this will help you live a life of vitality-¬†with Valerie!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust- REALLY?!!

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The finished cauliflower crust pizza. Read on to see my opinions on it!

The finished cauliflower crust pizza. Read on to see my opinions on it!

Ok, so I’ve been reading a few different recipes for a pizza crust made from CAULIFLOWER instead of flour. What, what? It seemed strange, but I’ll admit I was intrigued. After all, not only¬†do my children both have gluten allergies which necessitates substituting¬†for flour/wheat, but I try not to eat gluten¬†or most carbs either because carbs are what cause weight gain and lead to many diseases/illnesses.¬†In addition, cauliflower is a very, very good for you vegetable which also interested¬†me in the idea of a cauliflower crust. In fact, I love cauliflower and appreciate it’s advantages so much that I’m going to spend a paragraph talking to you about how super duper it is!

Crunchy, delicious, healthy cauliflower!

Crunchy, delicious, healthy cauliflower!

Cauliflower¬†is a cruciferous vegetable that contains many vitamins and minerals that help us lead a healthy life. It contains sulforaphane, which is a sulfur compound that slows tumor growth in cancer stem cells. Also, that same sulforaphane helps improve blood pressure and kidney function. Cauliflower contains anti-inflammatory nutrients like indole-3-carbinol or I3C, which helps prevent inflammatory responses on a cellular level. In addition, one serving of cauliflower contains 77% of your RDA for vitamin C, which I wrote about in my past post, “Beyond the Orange, Better Sources of C”. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. It’s an important source of fiber, which aids in digestion, and it’s full of antioxidants and phytonutrients which protect cells against attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cauliflower is truly a super food!

So, with all that in mind and after looking at multiple recipes I decided to try one to see whether a cauliflower pizza crust could: 1. Taste delicious, ¬†2. taste similar to a regular pizza crust, and 3. Be easily prepared with few ingredients. I chose Katie Lee’s recipe from http://www.foodnetwork.com because it seemed the most straight forward in terms of preparation and ingredients.

I have to say that I really liked it! It met my three criteria above and my family also liked it a lot. They said that you can taste the cauliflower in the crust,¬†however the flavor is not totally in your face but more subtle, especially with the pizza toppings added.¬† I think even non-cauliflower fans would like it, and you can eat your pizza mostly guilt free because you are taking away bad carbs and adding in vitamins and fiber- that’s a win-win! I’ll share the recipe and my tips now. Try it and I’m sure you’ll like it!

Ingredients for cauliflower pizza crust!

Ingredients for cauliflower pizza crust!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

  • One head cauliflower, stalk removed
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break the cauliflower into florets and either chop them finely, pulse in food processor, or grind them up in your blender, a few at a time (that’s what I did).

Cauliflower in steamer basket on stove.

Cauliflower in steamer basket on stove.

Then, steam them in a steamer basket until they’re tender and drain WELL. I suggest preparing the cauliflower a good hour before serving it so it really has time to drain. If it’s well drained the crust will get crispy like a thin pizza crust. Or wring the cauliflower in a towel if you don’t have that much time; anything to get out all the water.

All ingredients combined and ready for the baking pan!

All ingredients combined and ready for the baking pan!

In a bowl, add the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and eggs to the cauliflower.

Next, the oven!

Next, the oven!

Now, transfer the mixture to your baking pan and spread it into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Make sure to spread it evenly so it will cook evenly.

Done and out of the oven it goes- ready for toppings!

Done and out of the oven it goes- ready for toppings!

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until it’s browned on the edges, and the center is firm. Last, add your toppings and bake for an additional 10 minutes. And voila, it’s done!

My mouth is watering just thinking about this pizza!

My mouth is watering just thinking about this pizza!

The toppings I added were mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage, crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup mozzarella, oregano and a little more garlic powder, but you can add whatever toppings you like. The best part is that this pizza crust weighs in at about 60 calories per slice (not including toppings) instead of 285 calories per slice of a 14 inch regular crust. That’s pretty incredible! And then when you add in the nutrient value, it’s a homerun, my friends! I guarantee you will like it, and best of all you won’t feel like you’re eating a “diet” food. I’m definitely not into deprivation, and you won’t feel deprived with this pizza. Let me know if you try it, and how you like it. Eating foods like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Spring Into Weight Loss- Low/No Carb Of Course!

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Low/No carb cornucopia!

Low/No carb cornucopia!

Well friends, spring is coming to the Midwest, I can feel it now and it feels SO GOOD! The snow is melting, the air is warming, and the sun is finally shining- to which I have to say, thank goodness! Along with this feeling of utter joy that the weather is so much nicer, I am also feeling the need for spring house cleaning. No, not in my actual house, but in my life. I realize that as the winter seemed to drag on forever, my eating habits got as heavy as my mood and I was eating more pastas, breads, and potatoes. Right after Valentine’s day I got on the scale and much to my dismay I had gained 5 pounds since early December. That happens a lot easier now as I grow older!

So I decided to follow my own advice and do some spring cleaning to my diet. Conveniently for me I gave up all sweets and snack foods for Lent so those things were the first to go. I’m not much of a sweets eater however I do love my dark chocolate so I’m really missing that right now. I also don’t eat a lot of snack foods but¬†occasionally I really enjoy chips and other salty foods. So that was a first step but I still wasn’t seeing much improvement- probably because I don’t eat too much of those kinds of foods anyway. I decided to practice what I preach and take the next step toward “decluttering” my body by cutting WAY back on carbs.

Hummus and vegetables is a great low carb snack!

Hummus and vegetables is a great low carb snack!

If you refer back to one of my past blog posts, “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat”, you will see that contrary to popular opinion fatty foods like butter and bacon do not make you gain weight.¬†It’s difficult¬†even to overeat those foods because they are SO rich they will make you feel sick if you eat too much of them. What does cause major weight gain and belly fat is carbohydrates. Did you read that? It’s so important I’m going to repeat it: WHAT DOES CAUSE MAJOR WEIGHT GAIN AND BELLY FAT IS CARBOHYDRATES. Period. End of story.

It’s so hard for people to grasp though. They think, “Well I eat only 1600 calories every day and I should be able to lose weight, but I can’t.” What they don’t realize is that a calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. In other words, all calories are not created the same. As I explained in my past blog post, the reason that carbs make you fat is that they overload the liver and then the liver turns the carbs/sugar into fat. Now you might say, “wait, I don’t eat sugar so I’ll be fine.” That’s untrue because carbs like potatoes, pasta, bread, muffins, etc etc etc, turn to sugar in your body, and then that sugar overloads the liver and turns to fat. Specifically it turns to belly fat, especially if you’re over 40. You don’t even need to eat many carbohydrates to overload your liver. Any small amount will cause this to happen. That’s why you get that ANNOYING muffin top that laps over the top of your pants, it’s because of carbs. Don’t forget too, that sugar hides in processed food so even if you’re cutting out sugar and carbs, you could still be gaining weight if you’re eating a ton of food that comes out of a box.

And by no sugar I mean all things that you eat that turn to sugar in your body!

And by no sugar I mean all things that you eat that turn to sugar in your body!

So, I went back to basics, no bread, pasta, or tortilla chips (my personal favorites), and VERY limited amounts of potatoes (obviously no French fries or mashed potatoes), brown rice and quinoa. I would only have ONE SERVING A DAY of the carbs on my very limited list. Here’s the deal, my friends, I lost that 5 pounds that I had gained over the past few months in three weeks! I also lost my muffin top in the process and found my abs!

I thought I would give you a sample of a day of eating for me, so you can see how to do this low/no carb thing, and then I will share a recipe for a delicious low carb chicken stew that you will love! Now obviously the amount of calories each person needs to consume in order to lose weight will vary from person to person, depending on your weight and how much you want to lose. With my size, I needed to eat approximately 1400 calories per day to lose weight. In my past post, “My Fitness Pal is my favorite Fitness Pal” I discussed my use of the app as a way to journal the foods I eat in order to better control my eating. In my post I relayed the information that journaling is known to be one of the most effective ways to lose weight and maintain that loss over the long haul. So I can look back at what I’m eating to see where I need to improve.

This is what the diary looks like on My Fitness Pal!

This is what the diary looks like on My Fitness Pal!

For instance, on Tuesday of this week I started the day with my typical cup of coffee with coconut creamer and cinnamon. For lunch I had chicken salad with mayonnaise, celery and onion on lettuce and a half cup of steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots with a teaspoon of butter. For dinner I had a slice of meatloaf, made with no breadcrumbs, 2 glasses of Pinot Grigio (it’s a must), a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and a homemade vinaigrette, and caprese tomatoes made with extra virgin olive oil, slices of mozzarella, and basil. That day I consumed 1503 calories but burned 201 calories with exercise, so I had 258 calories remaining. I left those calories on the table, so to speak. My Fitness Pal app tells me that I consumed 53% of my calories from fat, 29% from protein, and 18% from carbohydrates. That’s a really good nutritional breakdown for a day of eating, especially if weight loss is the goal.

The best part is that because I’ve pretty much replaced the carbs with vegetables I find that I feel more full after I eat, because vegetables are full of fiber and fiber fills you up. Plus vegetables are¬†also full of vitamins and antioxidants¬†so I’m getting a big bang for my nutritional buck! That’s a win-win!

With that in mind, I made a chicken stoup (Rachel Ray term for a dish that’s somewhere between a stew and a soup) that I really like. It’s low carb and full of flavor. I had it for lunch yesterday and it was so delicious and satisfying.¬†I think you’ll really like it and I’d love to share it with you now.

 

Chicken “Stoup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 chicken leg quarters (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
  • 1 15 oz can organic kidney beans, drained
Veggies, chicken broth and chicken into the pot!

Veggies, chicken broth and chicken into the pot!

First, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the celery, onion and carrot. Saute the vegetables until the onion is transluscent. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme. Add the chicken leg quarters and press to submerge them into the broth.

Getting all warm and bubbly in the pot! The smell is to die for!

Getting all warm and bubbly in the pot! The smell is to die for!

Next, bring the cooking liquid to simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chickien to a plate and let it cool for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaf from the broth. Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Chicken out of the pot and ready to be de-boned and skinned!

Chicken out of the pot and ready to be de-boned and skinned! I was pulling the meat from the chicken bones when I got called to the door. When I returned most of the chicken had disappeared, including the bones and skin, and there were two very guilty looking but satisfied dogs sitting nearby. Luckily, they left me enough to finish the stoup with!

Discard the skin and bones from the chicken. Shred or cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and return the chicken meat to the stoup. Bring it back to a simmer, hit it with a little salt and pepper, and you’re ready to serve it.

My delicious chicken stoup ready to eat and it is DELISH!

My delicious chicken stoup ready to eat and it is DELISH!

Well that’s it for today, my friends. I’m here to tell you it really does work for sure to cut out most of the carbs you eat. You will not miss them and you also won’t miss the pounds you lose as well. Message me if you have any questions about your own diet that you’d like me to help with. Eating like this is so much better for your body and will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

 

SHAKE Your Way to a Life without Sugar!

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Angels anxiously awaiting their shake!

Angels anxiously awaiting their shake!

Did you eat sugary desserts during the holidays? I know I ate more of those kinds of foods than I usually do. Christmas cookies are delicious, especially when homemade by a talented baker,¬†and it’s really hard to resist them, isn’t it?

But, the downside to this is that sugar is just not good for you, in fact, sugar is considered more toxic for your health than smoking! Besides the weight gain issue, the reality is that sugar is considered to be the number one culprit in causing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other deadly diseases. See my previous blog post, “Sugar- the new cigarette?!” , for more details about the dangers of consuming sugar. The problem is that sugar isn’t just in baked goods and sweets, sugar is in ALMOST EVERY PROCESSED¬†FOOD we eat, so even though we as a nation are using less sugar from the sugar bowl, we are consuming more sugar through processed foods than ever before.

True!

True!

So what is the solution to this problem and how do we eliminate sugar from our diets? I believe the answer is to avoid as much processed food as possible by cooking almost every day, and then utilizing the leftovers on the days I don’t cook. Also, choosing organic and local¬†foods whenever possible for the freshest¬†meats, fruits, and vegetables¬†helps create food with lots of flavor so I don’t have to used processed items to enhance the taste of my dishes. Another solution is to patronize restaurants that serve local, fresh and in house made food items, which ensures that the food you’re eating when going out for dinner doesn’t contain sugar.

I recently attended a conference and heard a speaker named JJ Virgin who was talking about the dangers of consuming sugar and how prevalent sugar is in many foods we eat. I really liked her as a speaker and felt her message mirrored many things I’ve posted about in my blog. She had a recipe for a shake she called “Sugar Impact Shake” that I have used as a model for my shake recipe, with a few modifications. I’ve been making this shake and I really like it, both as a healthy meal replacement, and as a way to detox from all the sugar. The shake contains no sugar or fruit,¬†but¬†it tastes really good. Here’s the recipe!

Sugar free Protein Shake

1. Start with 1 cup of almond, coconut or cashew milk, and pour it into your blender.

1. Start with 1 cup of almond, coconut or cashew milk, and pour it into your blender.

2. Add one scoop of high quality protein supplement. Mine is from Guyer Institute and contains many vitamins and minerals in addition to the 10 grams of protein per scoop.

2. Add one scoop of high quality protein supplement. Mine is from Guyer Institute and contains many vitamins and minerals in addition to the 10 grams of protein per scoop.

3. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil.

3. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil.

4. 1-2 tablespoons of NATURAL ground flax, chia, hemp or nut butter (not peanut). I used freshly ground almond butter.

4. 1-2 tablespoons of NATURAL ground flax, chia, hemp or nut butter (not peanut). I used freshly ground almond butter.

5. Add 1 teaspoon of a good quality probiotic. This one is from Guyer Institute and contains 600 billion healthy bacteria per serving.

5. Add 1/2 teaspoon of a good quality probiotic. This one is from Guyer Institute and contains 600 billion healthy bacteria per serving.

6. Add as much ice as you'd like and blend until smooth. Then pour and drink!

6. Add as much ice as you’d like and blend until smooth. Then pour and drink!

This shake tastes so nutty¬†and fresh with the almond butter/milk, and coconut oil. I like a lot of ice so it’s super cold too because I think it’s even better that way. I don’t miss the sugar in this shake and I don’t think you will either. I drink it as a meal substitute and it’s very satisfying as such. It has only 405 CALORIES PER SHAKE TOO!! It also contains healthy fats from the almond butter and coconut oil, fiber from the almond butter, 17 grams of protein from the almond butter and protein powder, 180 mg protassium and 10% RDA for calcium from the almond milk, additional calcium, iron and vitamins from the Guyer Institute protein powder, and 600 billion friendly bacteria from the Guyer Institute Ecobiotics. Try this no sugar shake to help detoxify from all the sugar in your life, and try to avoid processed food as much as possible. Avoiding sugar and drinking this shake will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

FAT doesn’t make you fat!

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This meal WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT!

This meal WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT!

Does that surprise you, my wonderful readers?!! Well it’s true! Now that you know, you can enjoy those cheeseburgers without guilt. With one exception- it’s not the burger that makes you fat, IT’S THE BUN. And the fries, and the rice, and the pasta, and the bread, and the biscuits, and the cakes, and the cookies, and the pancakes, etc etc etc. Get my point? Fats don’t make you fat, carbs make you fat, and many people do not know this. The focus of this post is to better inform you so you can make intelligent choices knowing the truth about the food you eat.

LOL! But unfortunately, true!

LOL! But unfortunately, true!

The popular misconception is that the more fatty foods you eat, the more weight you gain. Right? We all grew up seeing images of big people eating big steaks or other big slabs of meat, and hearing that is what causes weight gain. Then, low fat everything hit the grocery stores and cutting out fat was thought by some to be “the great weight loss solution”. The thing is, that’s not true. Most fat is actually good for your body, with the exception of trans fats. Trans fats are the fats that exist in processed foods like vegetable oils, cookies, brownies, and many different types of processed foods. These fats should be avoided at all costs, which can easily happen by not purchasing processed food from the grocery store. If you must buy processed food, become an informed label reader, and if you see the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”, “trans fats”, “partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil”, or anything like that know there are healthier choices you can make.

Homemade with avocado- a healthy fat!

Homemade with avocado- a healthy fat!

Healthy fat options are: Olives and olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, butter made from organic milk, raw nuts, organic pastured egg yolks, avocados, grass-fed meats, palm oil, and unheated organic nut oils. And we need a lot more of these healthy fats per day than you think. Dr. Mercola recommends 50-70% of your diet consist of healthy fats. Most experts now agree with this recommendation.

The amazing thing about fats is this, unlike popular misconception,¬†CUTTING fat from your diet can actually make you fat. Yes, it’s true and here’s why. There is a concept called satiety, and it’s very important for our diets. Basically, if we are satisfied by what we eat, we will eat less food than if we are not satisfied. Healthy fat foods have a high satiety rating, therefore we need to eat less of it to be satisfied. “Carby” foods¬†have a low satiety rating, so we have to eat more of it to be satisfied.¬†Thus, low fat diets cause us to gain weight because we have to eat more carbs to be satisfied. It’s like when I’m eating potato chips, which I love but don’t eat very often anymore, I could literally sit there and eat an entire big bag because I never feel full when I’m eating them. That’s why I don’t eat them very often anymore! However, I can’t imagine consuming a big bowl of guacamole (avocado is a healthy fat), because it doesn’t take as much to make me feel satisfied.

 

See? Told ya! ;)

See? Told ya! ūüėČ

So if fats don’t make you fat, what is making us fat? Certainly as a nation we are getting fatter every day so there must be some cause. The answer is…. (drum roll happening in my mind now) CARBS! Actually, low fiber carbohydrates¬†are causing our nation’s weight gain. There are good carbs and every diet needs them so I’m not advocating the elimination of all carbs, just of bad carbs. Let me differentiate: high fiber carbs provide a rich source of fiber. The best high fiber carbs are minimally processed, or unprocessed plant-based foods. The best examples of high fiber carbs are beans, whole grains like barley, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, rye, brown rice, wheat, millet, fruits and vegetables. These are good things your body needs, but the current recommendation if you’re not a body builder (because they need a lot of carbs) is no more than 20% of your daily nutrition in carbs, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Bad carbs are soda, candy, artificial syrups, sugar, chips, white rice, white bread, white pasta, potatoes (technically a complex carb but actually act more like simple carbs in the body), pastries and desserts.

Yes this is true, as a nation we've never been unhealthier and carbs are the reason!

Yes this is true, as a nation we’ve never been unhealthier and carbs are the reason!

Now you may be wondering, why are carbs so bad for us? Why are they making us fat? I’m going to explain that to you right now. The reason is that carbs trigger the insulin cycle. I’m no doctor so I’m going to give you a “common man” explanation. Basically, when you overconsume carbs this drives up your blood sugar. In order to prevent dangerously elevated blood levels, our bodies convert excess carbohydrates to excess body fat, primarily in the belly. The carbs turn into glycogen and there are two places glycogen is stored in our body, in our liver and muscles. Once glycogen levels are filled in the liver and muscles, the only place left for the carbs is our fatty (adipose) tissues. So, when you consume a lot of carbs, you’re sending a message to your body, via the hormone insulin, to store more fat. The bad part about this (it gets worse!) is that fewer carbs are then needed to cause fat storage, so more fat is gained over time. It’s a vicious carb cycle!

Well, this doesn’t give us all carte blanche to gorge ourselves on a 24 ounce rib eye, with the knowledge that carbs make us fat. Too many calories, even of healthy things, can still¬†cause us to gain weight. This¬†is why I utilize the My Fitness Pal app on my iphone to help keep track of my calories, exercise and nutrition. That way I know how much fat, protein and carbs I’m eating each day, and I make adjustments as needed. I use it to keep track of my weight too so if I start to gain weight I can go back and look at how many calories I’m eating, and what kind of food my calories are coming from, to make the necessary shifts to get back on track. I’ve been able to maintain my weight for many years so I know this is working for me.

What the My Fitness Pal app looks like! I highly recommend downloading it!

What the My Fitness Pal app looks like! I highly recommend downloading it!

In conclusion, I want my¬†amazing readers to know that fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs do. With that in mind, try to keep your carb consumption to no more than 20% of your daily diet. I would like you to eat healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, olive oil, etc, and healthy carbs like quinoa, fruits and vegetables. Try to keep track of your calorie consumption and weight to more easily make changes in your diet. If you do these things I promise you’ll be living a life of vitality- like Valerie!