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Healthy Living: Natural help for colds

You know it’s coming – coughs, runny noses, sore throats, all the symptoms that signal the beginning of the winter cold and flu season in your house.

There’s often not a lot you can do for a common cold. The symptoms are going to hang around seven to 10 days, no matter what prescription or over-the-counter medicines you throw at them. The most you can often do is try to lessen the severity of that cough or sore throat. And that does not always have to mean conventional medicines. Here are some old-fashioned (and newer-fangled) home remedies to remember this season if you want to try something more on the natural side:

Honey: Nature’s sugar, honey does more than just help the medicine go down; it can help medicate some symptoms. A teaspoon or two of honey, alone or dissolved in a hot liquid, can help alleviate sore throat pain. Newer studies indicate it can also help soothe and diminish coughs, even nagging nighttime ones. Finally, honey has antioxidant properties, so it can help boost your body’s immune system, so you can fight off new colds better.

Zinc lozenges: Especially in the last few years, zinc has been hailed by some as a miracle cure for colds; fans claim that zinc lozenges, allowed to dissolve in the mouth, can reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms. The benefit is thought to be linked to zinc’s antioxidant properties, which help stave off infection and inflammation. And although the most recent studies have supported zinc’s usefulness in fighting off cold symptoms, other scientific reviews have been inconclusive. For the best chance of working, zinc should be taken at the first signs of a cold, and used no more than five days.

Chewable vitamin C: Again, scientific reviews are mixed. However, some studies have shown that taking extra vitamin C can shorten the duration of some cold symptoms. Also, vitamin C has antioxidant properties, which help your immune system in general

Fluids, fluids, fluids:  Stay hydrated.  You need to drink even more water than you normally do, to help your body flush out toxins, and aid in the production of mucus. If you like, clear juices, broths and tea, especially green tea, which has lots of powerful antioxidants, can also help. Stay away from coffee and caffeinated sodas, which dehydrate you. Finally, a hot toddy may relax you, but it may not be the best choice; alcohol is also a known dehydrating substance. Better to stick with plain, non-alcoholic drinks until you feel better.

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Dine-In: Benne Cheese Biscuit Bites

Charleston, South Carolina, is a fantastic food city. I lived there several years ago, before moving to Texas, and I still have many fond memories of living, cooking, and eating there. I even took my husband there on our honeymoon, and it helped him share my love of fresh seafood. (Charleston-style shrimp and grits– it doesn’t get better  than that!)

So for this weekend’s suggested dish,  I’ve chosen a delicious recipe that reminds me of Charleston. These savory little cheese bites are made with benne seeds – what most of us know as sesame seeds. In Charleston, however, they’re called benne, the word for sesame in Bantu, the language of the African people who introduced the seeds into the local cuisine hundreds of years ago.

These mini-biscuits are super-easy to put together, but they are great for a quick snack or side dish. If you’re making a weekend brunch, make a couple of batches, line a basket with your favorite team colors, and you’ve got a fresh-baked treat that the crowd will adore.

Benne Cheese Biscuit Bites

1 (8-count) refrigerated biscuits in a can (any brand)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup benne seeds (sesame)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 cup fresh chives (very thinly sliced)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cut biscuits into quarters.  Mix the cheddar, sesame seeds, garlic, salt, chives, and cayenne, in a dish.  Dip the biscuits in the butter, then roll in the cheese mixture.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for roughly 8 minutes, give or take.  Keep an eye on them as all ovens cook slightly differently, and you don’t want them to overbake.

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Autumn trail mix

After a long, hot – OK, super-hot – summer, we’re finally getting into the fall mood around my house. One of our favorite fall traditions for the past few years has been making seasonal goodies together. It’s just more fun to get in the kitchen when there’s a hint of cool air outside.

My daughter Grace’s favorite treat to make is a Harvest Trail Mix, good for Halloween or any fall occasion. Grace loves making this because there’s no real recipe to follow. She can mix-and-match, depending on what we have in the house and what she feels like snacking on. This is a good treat to take to fall parties or to let the kids munch on after school; Grace likes to include a small bag in her lunchbox, for a healthy treat.

Making trail mix is so easy that even very young children can help. For younger kids, you can put a small quantity of each ingredient in a large bowl and let them scoop as much as they want of each into the container, rather than turning them loose with big, spillable bags and boxes. Let them mix it with their (well-washed) hands! Then, store in a tightly covered container.

If you’re taking it to a party, older kids can also help you package it in individual packs. You can just use sandwich bags, or for a themed event, buy individual goodie bags and secure with black-and-orange ribbon or raffia.

Your ingredients can vary, but here are some ideas for a simple autumn mix:

  • Popcorn
  • pretzels
  • goldfish (any flavor)
  • Cheerios
  • raisins
  • candy corn
  • M&Ms (fall colors are fun)
  • Peanuts (plain or honey-roasted)
  • Yogurt-covered or chocolate-covered raisins
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Buy One, Get One Vitamins

Your mother always told you to take your vitamins, and like most things Mom said, you probably should have listened to her. Especially if you are like most of us, and your busy life means it’s sometimes hard to eat the balanced diet, full of fruits, vegetables and lean protein, that you know you need.

Vitamin supplements can help fill in the gaps between the nutrients your body needs and what you give it in the form of nutritious foods. This week, we’re offering a great chance for you to pick up vitamin supplements for the whole family, with a Buy One, Get One event on Nature’s Bounty nutritional supplements.

Nature’s Bounty has been supplying consumers with vitamin supplements for decades, and the company offers a dizzying array of supplements to meet your nutritional needs. In fact, if you haven’t been taking your vitamins, despite Mom’s advice, it can be hard to narrow down which of their products you need most.

A good multi-vitamin is a good starting point for most healthy adults and children. That way, you’ll be sure to get the “letter” vitamins that are so important for your overall health.  Here’s a review of the primary benefits of the letter vitamins, which may help you determine which additional vitamin supplements to consider:

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is mostly associated with maintaining vision, and yes, that’s why you were also always told to eat those carrots; they are a good source. Vitamin A also helps maintain healthy skin, teeth and your immune system.
  • Vitamin B: The B complex has a wide array of benefits, mostly to do with your nervous system, circulation, heart health and metabolism. The newest thing in B vitamins has been the introduction of sublingual tablets, which dissolve under your tongue and quickly reach your circulatory and nervous system.
  • Vitamin C: A natural antixodant, Vitamin C provides a big boost to the immune system, protecting your body from disease and helping it heal when it is ill or wounded.
  • Vitamin D: Your body produces Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, so in the winter, more people experience a deficiency. Vitamin D is important because it promotes healthy bones and teeth, and also helps your body absorb calcium.
  • Vitamin E: Another effective antioxidant, Vitamin E is necessary for a good immune system, and helps your heart and circulatory system work more efficiently.
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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Healthy Living: Fall Allergies

When the leaves begin to change colors we all rejoice! The hot summer months are over and fall is finally here.

But if you’re one of the people whose seasonal allergies kick into high gear in the fall, this time of year isn’t quite so carefree. It’s hard to feel excited about cooler weather when you’re dealing with a runny nose, sneezing bouts, and itchy, watery eyes.

We often assume that allergies strike only in the spring, but fall has its own set of allergens. Ragweed is one of the most prevalent this time of year, and it can pose problems until November, or the first frost.

If you suffer allergy symptoms in cooler weather, here are a few tips to help you enjoy fall again:

  • When you first experience a runny nose, watering eyes and sneezing, it’s best to go to the doctor. The doctor can determine if you’re suffering from allergies, a cold or the flu. Your doctor will also be able to suggest the best allergy medication for your symptoms.
  • When searching for allergy medication, make sure to read the labels. Some medications may cause drowsiness, so reserve those for nighttime use. By the same token, some “all-day” medications can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep at night. Again, consult your doctor if your medicine seems to be affecting your sleep patterns.
  • If you’re working in your yard, wear a mask that covers your month and nose.
  • The fall weather may feel great and you may be tempted to open your windows, but if fall means allergies, keep your windows closed. Unfortunately, that also means in your car; keep windows and sunroofs closed, and don’t lower the top on a convertible.
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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product Talk: The great pumpkins

If you consider pumpkins one of the sure signs of fall, you need to start pulling out your sweaters. Fresh, colorful pumpkins have started arriving in our stores, ready to be turned into jack-o-lanterns, seasonal centerpieces, or pies.

The pumpkin patches sprouting up at our stores offer a variety of fall classics:

Magic Lantern: These medium-sized pumpkins are great for carving or decorations. They’re uniform in size, usually 20 pounds or less, and have a beautiful, deep orange skin and a thick, sturdy stem. Although these are edible, they don’t make pies as good as some other, smaller varieties; their flesh tends to be more watery and stringy than a pie pumpkin.

Mini-pumpkins: A pumpkin in miniature scale, these are mostly used as fall decorations. Use them in a centerpiece, spilling out of a cornucopia or artfully arranged in a basket, with some colorful Indian corn.  Or hand them to your children, along with markers, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and yarn, and see what art projects they create.

Mystic Pie: Grown mostly in New Mexico and Texas, these gorgeous, small pumpkins are bred for cooking. They have a sweet, smooth flesh that cooks up into a rich, flavorful texture that’s perfect for pie, breads, cakes or any other recipe that calls for pumpkin or even squash.

If you’ve never tasted a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin, make this the year you try it. Using fresh pumpkin can be little messy and time-consuming, but the flavor is absolutely worth it. Fresh pumpkin tastes a little brighter, a little more intense, and really magnifies the flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and other spices.

We asked Barb Grey of GWR Produce, a major pumpkin distributor, how to handle a soft-shelled pumpkin like the Mystic Pie. She swears it’s easy, if you follow her directions:

  • Cut the top off the pumpkin.
  • Scoop out seeds and set aside. (These can be roasted separately.)
  • Pour about an inch of water in a sturdy baking dish, like a brownie pan or cake pan.
  • Place the pumpkin in the pan, upside down. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size of pumpkin, or until flesh is soft.
  • Remove from oven and scoop out flesh.
  • Place cooked pumpkin in a colander, and let the watery juice drain away. The cooked, solid pumpkin that remains is ready to use in your favorite recipe.
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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine-In: Easy goulash

Goulash is a comfort food for me. Growing up with a mother from the Old Country – Germany – my family ate it a lot in the winter, because it reminded her of home. It’s warm, hearty and makes the house smell wonderful as it slowly cooks.

In this country, goulash has become kind of a catch-all term for a lot of dishes, usually involving beef, some sort of tomato or stew base, and usually noodles. But real European goulash is just a rich, thick beef soup with lots of paprika. It can be served over noodles, but it doesn’t have to be.

Goulash apparently originated in Hungary, but variations are found all over Europe. This version is based on the German-ized dish I ate as a child, but because it’s made in a slow cooker, it’s a good weeknight supper. Turn it on before you leave for work, and you’ll return to a home that smells fragrant and warm – and a dinner that will be ready with just a few minutes of final cooking.

Slow-cooker Goulash
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  tsp pepper
1 cup water
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs sweet paprika
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
Cooked egg noodles

Place beef in pot cover with water and bring to boil. Drain, rinse and place in slow cooker. Add onion, garlic. and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk together 1/2 cup of water, tomato paste, and paprika; pour over beef mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours.

Combine flour, remaining water, and sour cream; stir into meat mixture. Cook, uncovered, on HIGH for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Serve with egg noodles.

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Giving up the pacifier

When your baby was little, a pacifier may have been his or her – or your– best friend.

But if your baby is approaching a year and still using a binky, you may feel it’s time to take it away. And even if you don’t care, you may be feeling outside pressure, from well-meaning family or friends.

For some babies, that’s easier said than done. That’s because the pacifier is often one of the earliest and best ways a baby learns to soothe himself. To a young child, it often represents familiarity and security and helps them calm down and even fall asleep. No wonder some don’t want to give it up without a fuss!

If your baby still has a binky habit, however, there’s some good news.

  1. Most give it up on their own – when they’re good and ready. For most  toddlers, it will happen naturally between the age of one and two years – even if you don’t do a thing.
  2. There’s no rush to eliminate it by age 1, no matter what the neighbor or your mother-in-law says.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry doesn’t think you really need to worry about it until about age three. If your child is still relying on one after that, however, you should step in to help eliminate the habit. Otherwise, your child may develop teeth, gum, and bite problems.
  3. Relying on a pacifier is no worse than sucking a thumb – and it might be better. For one thing, it’s often easier to get a child to give up a pacifier than to quit sucking his thumb, which, after all, is always right there.
  4. If you’ve decided the time has come to banish the binky, many choose to go the cold-turkey method. Depending on your child’s age and personality, you may choose to make a big deal of it, explaining that they are now a big boy or girl and don’t need a paci anymore. You might even make a celebration of it, gathering up all the binkies in the house and making a show of tossing them away. For other toddlers, a less-direct approach might work better: During naptime, hide all the pacifiers, and then play dumb when your child asks for one. Either way, experts say, most children will be upset for only a day or two before moving on.
  5. For other toddlers, a weaning approach works best. First, limit pacifier use to your home; then to just naptime and bedtime; and finally just bedtime. After a few weeks, the habit will be less ingrained, and your child will probably quit on his or her own.
  6. Don’t stress!  Your baby won’t go off to college – or, most likely, even preschool – still using a pacifier. If your family is going through some other stress, like a move, a family illness or a job loss, postpone the pacifier problem a few weeks until the other situation is under control.
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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Honeycrisp apples

It’s officially fall, and that means apple season. Fresh, crunchy, juicy apples from this fall’s crop are starting to arrive in our stores daily – including one of my favorites, the Honeycrisp.

The Honeycrisp is a newer variety, developed about 20 years ago by University of Minnesota researchers. They’ve only been widely available for a few years, and have started to become as popular as other newer, well-liked varieties including Gala, Fuji and Pink Lady.

If you haven’t tried a Honeycrisp yet, here’s your chance: these gorgeous apples are on sale this week at Brookshire’s.

Once you try one, I’m pretty sure you ‘ll like it. Honeycrisp apples are aptly named. They are almost as sweet as honey, with  just enough of a tart edge to keep them from being too sugary or bland. Their texture is crisp and crunchy, yet juicy and smooth, so they’re not too hard, dry or grainy.

And unlike many other apples, which are good for either eating fresh or cooking, but not both, Honeycrisp apples are great either way. They’re simply delicious tucked into a lunchbox or sliced for an after-school snack, but they’re just as good cooked up into apple sauce, cobbler, or pie. (Not a big baker yourself? Try our bakery’s Brookshire’s Best Honeycrisp Apple Pie, with real, juicy Honeycrisp apples baked up in a buttery, flaky crust.)

Like most apples, Honeycrisp will stay fresh and crisp for a relatively long time, as long as you store them in a cool, dark place. So you can enjoy the taste of fall for a long time to come.

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

German Chocolate Pie

German Chocolate Pie
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus refrigeration
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 12


2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup marshmallows
3/4 cup Full Circle Fat Free Milk
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
4 oz German chocolate baking squares
1 tsp Food Club Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Food Club Fat Free Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 350° F. Press coconut into 9-inch pie pan; bake 8 to 10 minutes.

In a double broiler, over medium-low heat, add marshmallows, milk, salt and chocolate; stir until chocolate and marshmallows are melted. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in vanilla. Once chocolate is cool fold in whipped topping. Pour mixture into pie crust and refrigerate for 1 hour. Top pie with whipped topping and chocolate curls.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 153, Fat: 8 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 110 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 2 g

© 2011, Brookshire Grocery Co. Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number.  All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician.

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Posted in: Cooking

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.

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