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Shop the Sale: Ciabatta at home


Ciabatta artisan bread is a traditional Italian sandwich bread that has become popular the last few years in the United States.

Ciabatta has a thin crust with a light, airy, moist interior. It’s frequently used for panini sandwiches, the classic Italian pressed sandwich, and it’s also a perfect bread to pair with hearty soups and pastas.  It’s also delicious just served warm, with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping; you may have enjoyed it this way at an Italian restaurant.

Often, however, you have to enjoy this bread in a restaurant or at a specialty bakery. It’s hard to make, even for experienced home bakers.

But now you can enjoy fresh, traditional ciabatta bread at home – even if you are not a master baker. Our Full Circle Ciabatta bread and rolls are ready for you to take home and bake in 10 minutes or less for home-baked goodness.

And this week, it’s on sale at Brookshire’s, along with several other favorites from our Full Circle line, so there’s no reason not to enjoy some fresh-baked bread.

Like all our Full Circle breads, our Ciabatta is all-natural with no trans fats. You can bake your ciabatta bread the day you bring it home, or freeze it for later use.

Several other Full Circle breads are also offered at special prices this week, including French baguettes, country white, and honey whole grain. So you can feel like a professional baker, right in your own kitchen.

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Product Talk: Whole grains and General Mills


A new year often prompts us to make new pledges about living better and eating better – but we all know how hard those promises are to keep out in the real world.

So here’s some help, from some products that are probably already on your family’s table, Big G Cereals from General Mills.

Big G cereals include many favorite brands, such as Wheaties, Chex, Cheerios, Fiber One and Lucky Charms. Most cereals are already a low-fat, healthy breakfast option, but over the past few years, General Mills has been working hard to improve the nutritional content of their cereals. They’re boosting the whole grain content, lowering sugar, decreasing sodium, and adding ingredients with health benefits.

For instance:

  • All General Mills Big G Cereals now list whole grains as the first ingredient, and contain more whole grain than anything else. This is in keeping with a USDA recommendation that consumers look for products that list “whole grain” as the first ingredient listed on the nutrition information panel.
  • All Big G cereals advertised to children – like Trix, Reese’s Puffs and Cookie Crisp – now have 10 grams of sugar or less per serving. This reflects an ongoing effort to reduce sugar content in these products over the past five years. There has been an average sugar reduction of 14 percent on Big G kids’ cereals since 2007; some cereals have had their sugar content reduced by up to 28 percent. What’s more, General Mills continues these efforts, and is committed to reaching single-digit sugar levels on all its cereals advertised to children under age 12. And somehow, they’ve done this while maintaining the flavor and texture you and your children enjoy.
  • All Big G kid cereals provide a good source of calcium and many other vitamins, along with at least 8 grams of whole grain in every serving.

Why is this important to you? Well, you already know the importance of lowering your sugar consumption, and taking in the recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals. But whole grains are increasingly recognized as an important factor in healthy eating, and most Americans don’t eat enough.

Simply put, whole grain means the complete grain. When grains are refined, as in white flour, the bran and germ are removed, so you don’t get their nutritional benefits, which include B vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.

Recent USDA recommendations suggest adults should get about 48 grams of whole grains daily – which means whole grains should make up about half of all the breads, cereals and other such products you consume.

That sounds like a lot. But when you consider that a bowl of Big G cereal has at least 8 grams of whole grains – and often as much as 16 – you can get a good start on that daily requirement just by eating breakfast. And suddenly, that New Year’s resolution to eat better doesn’t seem quite so impossible.



Dine-In: Roasted carrot soup


If a big pot of soup is your family’s go-to meal during the winter, you are probably always looking for new recipes so you can mix it up a bit. Here’s an interesting variation on typical vegetable soup. It relies on roasted, pureed carrots for natural sweetness and a smooth, creamy, satisfying texture.

To make this a completely vegetarian version, use vegetable stock for the entire amount called for, omitting the chicken stock. If you are watching fat and calories, you can substitute milk or even skim milk for the half-and-half; just use slightly less. The texture won’t be as creamy, but the caramelized flavor of the onions and carrots will still really shine through.

I like to serve this with some crusty bread and a couple of croutons on top, as a garnish.

Roasted Carrot Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. carrots (about 8 medium), peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth or stock (I like Kitchen Basics brand)
1 3/4 cup unsalted vegetable broth or stock
3/4 cups half-and-half
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots, onion, 1 teaspoon of the oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt on a rimmed baking sheet and then spread in an even layer. Roast until the vegetables are well browned and softened, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not burn the vegetables, as this will cause the soup to be bitter.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a large saucepan. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, cover, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the carrots soften further, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and bay leaf; cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the broths. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the soup is flavorful, about 5 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender (or food processor) until smooth, and return to a clean saucepan. (You may need to do this in two or three batches, to avoid overfilling blender container.) Add the half-and-half and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Thin with extra broth if needed. (The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: New Year…New You


As we celebrate the New Year, let us all take a few minutes to reflect on the past year and look ahead at what we want to accomplish this year.

Whether you focus on marriage, family, friends, work, or life in general, there are things we can do (without much effort) that would make a difference in all of areas of our lives.

Think about compassion, patience, generosity, respect, kindness, self-control, integrity, gratitude, faithfulness and, most importantly, love.

When is the last time you showed compassion, had patience, expressed generosity, practiced respect, acted out of kindness, used self-control and upheld integrity?  What about showing gratitude, faithfulness and expressing love to others?

Everyone likes to receive these types of things, but we ourselves often fall short of extending them to others on a daily basis.  There are no greater attributes we can teach our children or accomplish as a family than having a passion to make the world around us a better place to live.  We are all extended mercy and grace daily, and we receive blessings we never acknowledge.

My prayer, for you and your family, is that you to find joy, hope and the courage to be different and to make a difference, in the lives of others this year. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you have to share with your family.



Shop the Sale: Naturally low-fat chicken breasts


If you overindulged both diet-wise and budget-wise over the holidays, it’s time to get back on track. So we are helping out with some terrific buy-one, get-one-for-1-cent deals this week at your neighborhood store.

And that includes some staples that will help both your wallet and your waistline, like Pilgrim boneless skinless chicken breasts. Buy a package, get another for a penny. And because the skin – by far the fattiest, most calorie-laden part of poultry – has already been removed, you start out with a lean, protein-dense main ingredient.

Need some inspiration? Search for some on our recipe database, on our newly redesigned website.  You’ll find hundreds of easy, delicious recipes to jumpstart your menu planning, like this chicken and brown rice pilaf , ready in just 20 minutes!

Or, here’s a simple baked chicken recipe that gets lots of flavor, but not too much fat, from Parmesan cheese and garlic. Pair with rice pilaf, a green vegetable, and fruit for dessert, and you won’t break the budget OR your diet.

Parmesan-lemon chicken
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
Juice of three lemons
6 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded or grated, divided
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add minced garlic and saute until soft, two-three minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Add lemon juice, four tablespoons parmesan, parsley, chili flakes if using, and a dash of salt and pepper. If mixture is too thick, thin with a little water or chicken broth.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken breasts in pan and pour butter-lemon-parmesan mixture over them. Bake for about 20-25 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining two tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 165 to 170 degrees.



Healthy Living: Smart snacks


Losing weight and getting fit always seem to be at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. After a month of holiday merrymaking, even if you’re not actively trying to lose weight, you’re probably ready to start returning to a healthier way of eating.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up little treats like the occasional snack.

In fact, I just ran across an idea from our friends at Kellogg’s that could help you snack and STILL lose weight: Substitute their healthy Special K snacks for higher-fat, higher-calorie snacks, and you could save from 246-306 calories per day.

Over a week’s time, that adds up. In fact, it would be enough of a calorie savings for the average adult to lose at least half a pound.

Their plan goes like this: The average adult, ages 20 to 70+, eats an average of 486 calories per day in snacks, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  Healthy Special K snacks – like multigrain snack crackers, strawberry fruit crisps, or sour cream and onion cracker chips – contain an average of 105 calories per serving.

So, even if you eat two Special K snacks every day, you’d still consume an average of only about 210 snack calories. Choose the lowest-calorie snacks, like Special K cereal bars, which contain only 90 calories per bar, and you’ll save even more calories.

Cutting calories, eating a balanced diet and exercising is the time-honored way to lose weight, of course. But, by the way, even the American Dietetic Association believes snacks have their place in a healthy diet for most people. Their caveats:

• Snack only if you’re truly hungry. Don’t eat out of habit or boredom.

• Treat your snacks like nutritious mini-meals, and include their calories in the day’s overall calorie limit.

• Exercise portion control. You should always serve yourself an individual portion, rather than eating directly from the container, which makes it easy to overeat. Individually wrapped snacks are the way to go if you lack willpower.

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Posted in: Healthy Living


Product Talk: Darling clementines


Don’t confuse a clementine with an orange.

Yes, they’re part of the same family; a clementine is just a tiny type of mandarin orange, small enough to eat in just a few bites. But they are very sweet, juicy, have virtually no seeds and a very thin edible membrane. Plus, their thin peel just slides away with almost no effort. They are the perfect citrus fruit for kids – small enough to fit in little hands, and so easy to peel that children can do it themselves.

Only a few years ago, clementines weren’t that easy to find in supermarkets. Up until about a decade or two ago, most clementines we got here were imported, often from Europe, where their growing season is short and sweet.

But  once U.S. consumers started getting their hands on clementines, the demand grew. U.S. growers began planting more, especially in California. Today, at Brookshire’s, we carry two main brands of clementines:

Bagu: These are Spanish-grown clementines, and come in a five-pound wooden crate. Consistently sweet, and you’ll almost never run across a seed. Their season, however, is shorter, lasting only through January or February.

Cuties: California-grown, these are mandarin oranges, available in three-pound bags. Cuties have been developed to have a slightly longer harvesting season, and will likely be available through April. (Later in the season, Cuties are actually Murcott mandarins, which have the same small size, sweet flavor, thin skin and virtually seedless interior as the clementine.)

Which type you like better is largely a matter of taste. I’m partial to the Spanish ones, because I think they’re slightly sweeter, but either type makes a great snack or light dessert, especially this time of year, when you may be trying to atone for weeks of holiday indulging.

As a matter of fact, clementines are a great fruit to add to your diet. They are low in calories and high in Vitamin C. Eat three of them (and believe me, that’s not hard to do) and you will take in only about 100 calories, but you’ll meet your daily recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.



Dine-In: New Year’s Eve snacks


I’m going to sound like an old fogey, but I don’t really like going out on New Year’s Eve anymore.

Actually, what I’ve always preferred –  even back in the day when I could actually stay up past midnight without feeling it the next morning – is just staying in with friends. Now that’s become our family tradition. All the guests bring an appetizer or two, we make a fire, turn on some music, and bring in the New Year the best way – with good friends and good food.

If that’s more your speed, too, here is a very simple but flavorful dip recipe for your New Year’s Eve spread. It goes well with vegetables (sliced raw carrots, broccoli and bell peppers) but I prefer it with pita chips, bagel chips, or hearty crackers.

Chipotle Green Onion Dip
Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3 green onions, green tops only, sliced thin
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
3 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon  grated lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Transfer dip to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until flavors are blended, at least 1 hour. Serve cold. (can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 days.)

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Posted in: Dine In


Family Matters: Beech-Nut Stage 2.5 baby foods


As every parent and grandparent knows, babies change so fast it’s hard to keep up, and it’s all completely on their own schedule. One week you’re elated when you catch a rare smile from your baby; then the next, she’s giving you belly laughs. One week, he can’t sit up on his own; in no time, he’s crawling and climbing. And you can never predict a baby’s development based on what his sister or brother achieved at the same age.

The same is true with your baby’s eating habits. Babies may seem to go almost instantly from breast milk or formula to solid foods, but as you probably know, learning to eat solid foods is a huge milestone for infants, best accomplished in small steps, and taken at the child’s own pace.

That is why Beech-Nut has expanded their “stages” of baby and toddler food, and has introduced a new “intermediate” stage of solids, Stage 2.5. The longtime baby-food maker now offers six stages, geared to the specific needs and likes/dislikes of babies and toddlers, from about 4-6 months to 24 months and up.

As you’d guess, Stage 2.5 foods are meant to be introduced after Stage 2 foods (fairly smooth foods, either single ingredient or simple combinations) and just before Stage 3 foods (more complex infant foods with slightly more texture.)

These Stage 2.5 foods are designed for babies who are ready for slightly more texture than the plainer Stage 1 and Stage 2 foods, and are intended to help babies explore more  complex, sophisticated flavors. The flavor combinations include a mixture of things your baby may have already tried and enjoyed, like apple and pears, with slightly more unusual flavors like zucchini and mango. To help babies’ sensitive palates adjust to the new flavors, Beech-Nut often combines the new flavor with at least one familiar one, so you get combos like apple, mango and carrot; banana and mixed berries; squash and apples; and sweet potato and zucchini.

Of course, exactly when and how you begin introducing solid foods to infants depends on their individual development, your feeding preferences, and your doctor’s advice. Beech-Nut recommends Stage 2 foods for babies 6 months and older, so they suggest you consider adding in the Stage 2.5 foods when your baby is about 8 months or so.

But aside from age, you can also judge your child’s readiness for Stage 2.5 by his or her behavior and development. You can give these foods a try when he or she eats most or all of the solid food offered at any given meal, and even indicates a desire for more; is beginning to have some success with self-feeding; is able to easily chew (or gum!) the foods you’ve already been feeding; and/or has begun sprouting teeth.



Shop the Sale: Pita Pal Hummus


Our buy-one, get-one offer this week on Pita Pal hummus is really outstanding: You’ll be supporting a Texas company that makes its products from scratch. You’re getting a super deal. (Just $3.99 for the first container, and the second one I And, oh, yeah, this is terrific hummus, too.

Pita Pal hummus is so good because of the way they make the Mediterranean-style chickpea dip. They use all natural ingredients, and avoid genetically modified ingredients, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial colors and artificial flavors.

Plus, the natural creaminess of this hummus comes primarily from tahini, a sauce/dressing made from ground sesame seeds. The only oil used is a small dollop of extra-virgin olive oil, placed on top of each carton as a natural garnish.

That means on average, Pita Pal hummus has less fat and calories than many other commercially prepared hummus spreads, and most other types of dip.

A two-tablespoon serving of the original flavor has 60 calories, two grams of fiber and three grams of fat. Let’s see your regular dip compare to that. (Actually, we’ll do it for you: A similar amount of sour-cream based onion dip has 100 calories, 7 grams of fat, just 1 gram of fiber, and more sodium, to boot.)

For this BOGO offer, you have five flavors to choose from: Original; Jalapeno Cilantro; Roasted Garlic: Sesame Pine Nut; and Spicy Red Pepper.

Serve your favorite flavor with pita bread, bagel chips, pita chips, or your favorite kind of chips or crackers. It’s also a good addition to wrap sandwiches, in place of mayonnaise or dressing.

One last note: As a Texan-owned company, creating its products in Houston, this company is part of the Go Texan program, run by the Texas Department of Agriculture. So you’ll be supporting a regional business that honors the agricultural traditions of the South.

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Posted in: Shop the Sale


Copyright © 2010-2014, Brookshire’s. All rights reserved.
The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

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