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Family Matters: Baby Wearing


When I had my first son, I knew everything about parenting.

Cough.

Choke.

Snort.

Sputter.

OK, I didn’t. I didn’t know a thing.

Phew. There, I admitted it.

But when I had my second son, 17 months later, I knew all there was to know about parenting.

**crickets**

Busted.

I’m not going to pretend I knew everything then, either, but I did do things a bit differently with son number 2 than I had with son number 1.

One of the biggest things I did differently was embrace babywearing.

What’s that, you ask?

Babywearing simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier.

My friends wanted to buy me a ticket to Woodstock and make sure I had some recycled sandals.

It’s not like that at all, people!

And truth be told, it was as much as having my hands free for my 17-month old as it was having my newborn up close next to my body. We called my sling, the cloth wrap I wore Luke in, the “papoose.” Luke was often not happy at all if he wasn’t in the blue denim sling I wore him in for hours and hours every day.

(Before you argue with me, he’s 9 and has no attachment issues, thank you very much)

Experts say some of the benefits of baby wearing include:

• Happy Babies. It’s true carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours.

• Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.

• Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.

• Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you.

•Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier.

But of course, never put safety second.

Some tips:

Make sure your baby can breathe. Baby carriers allow parents to be hands-free to do other things, but you must always remain active in caring for your child. No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that’s your job.

1. Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest. This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation. This position can restrict the baby’s ability to breathe. Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways. They need good back support in carriers so that they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position.

2. Never allow a baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric. Covering a baby’s head and face can cause her to “rebreathe” the same air, which is a dangerous situation. Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her. Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow. Check on her frequently.

3. Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing motion. “This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,” explains the American Chiropractic Association.

4. Never use a baby carrier when riding in a car. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.

5. Use only carriers that are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers but aren’t appropriate for babies who can’t sit unassisted for extended periods. Front packs usually have a weight range of eight to 20 pounds; smaller babies may slip out of the carrier, and larger babies will almost certainly cause back discomfort for the person using the carrier.

Baby wearing was such a great experience for us that I highly recommend you try it. Bottom line, you have to do what works for you.



Shop the Sale: Roast Pork Loin With Garlic and Rosemary


I can remember the precise moment I fell in love with rosemary.

It was in Germany, in the fall of 1994, just after I moved to the country for what would be a three-and-a-half year adventure.  My birthday fell three weeks after I moved overseas, far away from family and friends. I didn’t speak the language and, truth be told, I felt pretty alone at first.

All government employees – and soldiers – were required to take a two-week German language immersion course upon arrival in Germany. Our teacher was Greta, and she looked like she just dropped out of an ad for the German National Tourism Board. She was robust and no-nonsense, but very kind, patient and funny.

When she discovered it was my birthday, the second to last day of the class, she invited us all to bring treats for lunch and she would provide the main course.

When she walked into that classroom that morning, bearing a large platter covered with a soft towel, I was hooked.

The smell of rosemary wafted from under the towel and permeated the classroom throughout the morning’s lesson. Mine wasn’t the only stomach growling in eager anticipation of the mid-day meal.

When our clumsy lessons finally wrapped up for the day and we reconvened at the work table – transformed into the lunch table – and Greta uncovered that platter, I knew I was in love.

She’d prepared a roast pork loin with rosemary and garlic. Although I’d had rosemary in other dishes, Greta had used entire fresh sprigs of what is now my favorite herb and skewered them into the pork like wands. The effect was stronger than what it would have been if she’d just chopped the leaves and the woodsy flavor carried through the entire roast.

Pork tenderloin is on sale this week at Brookshire’s, and I know one girl who will be recreating this magical dish in her own (American) kitchen.

Roast Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary
Serves 8

Ingredients:
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 (2 1/2 lb) boneless pork loin roast, well-trimmed
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line 13×9-inch roasting pan with foil. Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Rub garlic mixture all over pork. Place pork, fat side down, in prepared roasting pan. Roast pork 30 minutes. Turn roast fat side up. Roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 155° F, about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. 

Pour any juices from roasting pan into small saucepan; set over low heat to keep warm. Cut pork crosswise into 1/3-inch thick slices. Arrange pork slices on platter. Pour pan juices over. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 200, Total Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 100 mg, Protein: 27 g, Sodium: 246 mg, Fiber: 0 g



Healthy Living: Holiday Calorie Savers


Many people around the holiday season start to notice their clothing getting a little snug. With all the Christmas parties full of rich foods and sweet treats those extra pounds tend to just sneak right up on us. Not to mention we just celebrated a holiday that is centered around a feast, Thanksgiving. With simple substitutions and an eye for smart choices you can survive the holiday season by leaving those extra few pounds behind.

Who doesn’t love homemade cake around Christmas time? When baking your family’s favorite cake, cut the calories by reducing the oil. If your cake recipe calls for 1 cup of oil you can get away with just using 2/3 cup. If you’re feeling brave substitute the oil with unsweetened applesauce. Not only will this cut the calories, but it will also cut down on the fat.

Sometimes those sweet treats are a little too sweet. Reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by 1/4 to 1/2 cup. A simple tip when using sweetener is for every cup of flour you should have 1/4 cup sweetener. If you’re worried about the flavor, add a little more cinnamon or vanilla to your recipe. If you want to replace the sugar in your recipe with a sweetener, like agave nectar, replace every cup of sugar with 2/3 cup agave nectar.

Get sneaky by adding more nutrients to your sweet treats. Make black bean brownies or brownies with pureed pumpkin, applesauce or mashed banana. Add berries to a slice of angel food cake or go for the dark chocolate dipped strawberries. Try making cookies with almond flour. Almond flour is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

Do you want to experiment with whole-wheat flour in one of your favorite recipes? Instead of going all the way whole-wheat do 50% whole-wheat flour and 50% all-purpose flour.

Not many of us look at a cookie and think of sodium. Try not to use more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt per a batch of cookies. If you can, only use 1/4 teaspoon.

Other simple substitutes include using fat-free or 2% milk in the place of whole milk. If a recipe calls for heavy cream use fat-free evaporated milk. For every egg in a recipe use 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute. Instead of using chocolate chunks in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe use the mini chocolate chips or use dark chocolate instead. If your recipe calls for shortening don’t fret use a trans fat free and saturated fat free margarine.



Product Talk: Candy Cane Christmas


Peppermint RoundsCandy canes and Christmas go hand in hand. The red and white striped delights are everywhere during the holiday season — in chocolate bark, marshmallows, milkshakes, coffee and most anywhere else you can imagine a sprinkling of crushed Christmas candy canes!

One of my favorite Christmas cookies has a peppermint flavor, both in the cookie and the delicious icing. I first had this cookie decades ago at a neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange, and it was like no other cookie I had eaten before. I was delighted to get the recipe and to be able to share it with you!

The addition of oats might sound a bit heavy with peppermint, but it gives the cookie a bit of depth and texture you don’t find in a regular sugar cookie. And the “drizzle” icing is foolproof for people who, like me, always have trouble making decorated Christmas cookies look like you see in all the food magazines. A drizzle works every time!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Peppermint Rounds
Makes 36

Ingredients:

COOKIE:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup regular oats
1/3 cup hard peppermint candy, crushed

ICING:
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1/4-1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp peppermint extract
Red food coloring

Directions:
Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour and salt; add to butter mixture. Stir in oats and candy. Cover and chill 1 hour. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion to 1/8-inch thick on surface dusted with powdered sugar. Cut with 2-inch cookie cutter; place on greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for 8 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.

For the icing combine powdered sugar and salt. Add half-and-half to desired consistency. Add extract. Remove 1/4 cup icing and stir in 1 to 2 drops of food coloring for pink color.

Spread cookies with white icing. Before icing sets, drizzle lines of pink icing across the top of each cookie.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 165, Total Fat: 6 g, Sodium: 81 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Protein: 2 g

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



Dine-In: Do You Have an Elf on the Shelf?


Austrian ShortbreadDo you have an Elf on the shelf?

We do.

Ok, not the “official,” trademarked Elf on the Shelf, but his cousin, Saxon.

Saxon comes to visit sometime soon after Thanksgiving and stays for the holiday season. He gets into a lot of mischief.

Last year, he took the flour out of the baking cupboard and tried to make a cake, but he only succeeded in spreading flour all over my black, granite countertops.

Not only that, but Saxon tried to bring a feeling of the North Pole to our Southern home by making snowflakes one night. Guess who had to clean up all the little paper clippings in the hallway?

Saxon was known to log on to our family laptop and change the screen saver message. One night he wrote, “Cookies for breakfast!” Guess what we had for breakfast the next morning?

I remember one morning when I woke up and staggered to the boys’ rooms to get them out of bed. Saxon had hung twinkle lights all over their bedrooms!

Silly elf!

Since Saxon usually finds his way to our house right after Thanksgiving, but just before we decorate the Christmas tree, usually the first weekend in December, there’s usually a little anticipatory celebration (although we never know for sure when Saxon will show up, he’s a very silly elf).

Of course, it never hurts to leave a little treat to entice a silly elf to come to your house.

This is my favorite shortbread recipe. Freezing the dough and grating it makes it melt in your mouth and lighter than air.

Austrian Shortbread
Makes 24 bars

Ingredients:
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Optional additions: 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup raspberry jam, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:
Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) until soft and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well.

Mix the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to the butter and egg yolk mixture and mix just until incorporated and the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and form into 2 balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours or overnight (or as long as a month, if you like).

Heat the oven to 350° F.

Remove 1 ball of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it by hand or with the grating disk in a food processor into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan or a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure the surface is covered evenly with shreds of dough.

With a piping bag with a wide tip or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off, squeeze the jam over the surface as evenly as possible, to within 1/2 inch of the edge all the way around. Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it over the entire surface.

Bake until lightly golden brown and the center no longer wiggles, 50 to 60 minutes. As soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Cool on a wire rack, then cut in the pan with a serrated knife. I find that chilling the pan in the fridge makes it a lot easier to get clean crust.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 285 Calories from Fat: 147 Total Fat: 16 g Saturated Fat: 10 g Cholesterol: 76 mg Sodium: 134 mg Total Carbohydrates: 33 g Dietary Fiber: 1 g Sugars: 17 g Protein: 3 g

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Ask Leigh


Question:  Do you have any interesting recipes for avocadoes that are not just guacamole?

Answer:  The avocado is power-packed with more than 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E and folic acid. They are also packed with fat, but at least it’s the good kind. A really good, buttery avocado doesn’t need much adornment, but I do like this Blue Cheese Avocado Dip recipe a friend gave to me years ago.  Just combine 2 tablespoons chopped white onion and 2 ripe avocadoes with 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ cups sour cream and ¼ cup blue cheese. Puree it all together and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for one hour before serving with Fritos or raw vegetables.

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Posted in: Produce


Family Matters: Dinner on the Table. Done!


“What’s for dinner?” is such a hard question to answer day after day. It’s hard enough to come up with new and interesting recipes that each family member will eat and enjoy, but today’s fast-paced lifestyle leaves little time for creativity and leisurely cooking in the kitchen.

Before we go any further, I need to dispel any false ideas you have about mealtimes in my home. I’m a full-time working mom and have two teenage sons who play sports and live very full lives. Our time is jam-packed, every day, but I would like to pretend that mealtime at our house happens every night, and is peaceful.

In my dreams, I imagine we all sit down happily at the kitchen table while I serve my family a hot meal. We hold hands, take turns thanking God for his blessings, chew with our mouths closed and embrace each other before leaving for school or work.

Of course it’s absolutely fine to order a pizza for dinner every now and then! But preparing food at home has never been more important to the family’s sense of well-being. Research from places such as Columbia University shows that eating as a family at least three times a week significantly reduces a child’s likelihood to end up on drugs. Eating together as a family also reduces the rate of teen suicide, depression, pregnancy and poor academics, just to name a few.

In our home, we try to make the evening meal our time to unwind and discuss the remains of the day. It takes work to get everyone’s schedule to somehow align and get food on the table. And of course, like I said earlier, many nights it doesn’t work out as planned.

But we try, even if it means having a simple soup night, I don’t think it matters what the meal is as long as you are eating together, sitting down, with as few interruptions as possible.

I have seen that the more often we make time to eat together, the better our family relationships become. We have learned to work together to get the food on the table; the boys open up about their day and their thoughts more easily, and even their manners have improved. And I love the laughter that comes from full stomachs and the sense of security a family dinner can give. The sharing, laughing, relating to one another that naturally will come…it’s priceless.

It’s not easy to get dinner on the table; I struggle with it just like you do. But I’m convinced more than ever that it’s one of the best things we can do to guard the hearts and minds of our children.

Easy Weeknight Three-Cheese Broccoli Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 Tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
Dash ground thyme
1 (13 3/4 oz) can chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk
3 cups bite-size broccoli florets
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Havarti or Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Directions:
Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour and seasonings. Gradually add broth and milk; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in broccoli; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Add cheeses; stir until melted.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 560, Total Fat: 45 g, Sodium: 723 mg, Carbohydrates: 19 g, Protein: 22 g



Shop the Sale: Eckrich Smoked Sausage Casserole


I don’t know about you, but I loved every minute of the Thanksgiving holiday.

I also know that I’m done with turkey and leftovers, at least until Christmas rolls around.

So when planning my menus this week, I was looking for something that didn’t involve, well, turkey.

I was glad to see Brookshire’s has Eckrich smoked sausage on sale. I love sausage of any kind and when you combine sausage with pasta and cheese, I’m in heaven. This is a great dinner on a cool fall night.

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Casserole
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 1/2 cups cheddar french-fried onions, divided
1 (4 oz) cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup frozen peas

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat for 5 minutes; drain. In a large bowl, combine milk and soup. Stir in 1/2 cup onions, 1/2 cup cheese, peas and sausage. Drain pasta; stir into sausage mixture.

Transfer to a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Cover and bake at 375° F for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining onions and cheese. Bake, uncovered, 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 525, Calories from Fat: 264,Total Fat: 29 g, Cholesterol: 117 mg, Sodium: 1072 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 36 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 4 g,Protein: 28 g



Healthy Living: Salmon Florentine


It’s fairly common knowledge now that salmon is good for you. In fact, salmon is considered a “superfood” which simply means it is “super” healthy for your body in one way or another. Most superfoods help ward off heart disease or cancer, lower your cholesterol and lots more.  Superfoods include blueberries, walnuts, dark chocolate and of course, salmon.

Salmon is rich in the essential fatty acid, omega-3s, which helps to lower heart disease risk, prevent arthritis, and may possibly help with neurological function and memory loss. Most experts recommend 2 to 3 servings of foods rich in omega-3s each week.

You’ll be hooked on the delicious taste of salmon and spinach in our healthy Salmon Florentine, not to mention it provides a hefty 8 grams of heart-protective polyunsaturated fats.

Salmon Florentine
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tsp minced garlic
2 (10 oz) pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets, patted dry

Directions:
Heat oven to 350° F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, and let cool 15 minutes. Then add ricotta cheese and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pack 1/2 cup spinach mixture on top of each fillet, covering to the edges. Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet or in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake until cooked through,  about 15 minutes. 
 

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 334, Fat: 14 g, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 4, Protein 43 g



Product Talk: Brookshire’s Bacon


Jalapeño Popper Chicken I’ve tried a lot of bacon in my day (Who hasn’t? Just admit it!) and hands down, Brookshire’s brand original sliced,  hickory smoked is my favorite.

It crisps nicely when cooked, either in the microwave or on the stovetop, it’s not too salty, it’s full of hickory flavor and it doesn’t tend to burn.

I could probably write 97,351 blog posts using bacon, but this is one I made last week and my family has already asked for it again.

It combines the flavor of a jalapeño popper with chicken and, of course, bacon. The traditional jalapeño “popper” is a deep-fried, breaded jalapeño stuffed with cream cheese. This take on it makes a mouthwatering meal that would be great for a family dinner or  a special occasion.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/3-inch
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese
2 jalapeño peppers, diced
1 Tbs hot sauce
12 strips Brookshire’s Original Sliced, Hickory Smoked Bacon
Toothpicks

Directions:
Pound chicken breasts until they are about 1/3-inch thick.  Soften cream cheese. Add cheddar, jalapeño and hot sauce. Mix well.

Place about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture on one end of chicken. Roll chicken around filling. Wrap chicken with three slices of bacon, secure with a toothpick.

Bake at 400° F for 25 to 30 minutes (I had to finish mine under the broiler to “crisp” the bacon).

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 614, Calories from Fat: 366 g, Total Fat: 41 g,Saturated Fat: 20 g, Cholesterol: 213 mg, Sodium: 1069 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 2 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 58 g

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



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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.

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