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Healthy Living: The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen


There’s been a lot of hype in the news the past two years over the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen.”

The Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), has studied which fruits and vegetables are grown exposed to toxins such as pesticides.

They put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.

The Clean 15 are a list of fruits and vegetables that, when conventionally grown, bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form. This list includes:

  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions
  • onions

The Dirty Dozen tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, experts recommend that you buy organic produce, which should be pesticide free. The Dirty Dozen are:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

Now that you know, it’ll help you make the choice between organic or non-organic when you’re doing your family’s grocery shopping.



Product Talk: Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


When picking your pumpkin for Halloween, you might want to select one that is just as delicious to eat as it is scary on your porch! Not surprising, the “Jack-O-Lantern” pumpkin is the perfect one for carving, and if you save the seeds, you can make these delicious Spicy Pumpkin Seeds!

Now I admit, it’s a lot of work to clean and shell those seeds, so you can just as easily pick them up at Brookshire’s – already ready to go!

Another helpful hint for cooking with pumpkins: Look for the “Sugar Pie” pumpkin to make the most delicious bread and pies this holiday season!

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
1 tsp Food Club salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs Food Club olive oil
2 cups unsalted shelled raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbs Food Club sugar

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together salt and cayenne pepper; set aside. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat oil. Add pumpkin seeds and cook for 5 minutes, or until evenly toasted. Seeds should pop. Sprinkle seeds evenly with sugar, salt mix and pepper; mix well. Transfer pumpkin seeds to baking sheet to cool. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information: Calories per serving:  417, Fat: 35 g, Cholesterol, 0 g, Sodium 594 mg, Carbohydrates 16 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 17 g

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



ASK LEIGH


Question:   What is the difference between all the different types of olive oil you can buy? Does it matter if you use extra-virgin or not? How are they used? 

Answer:  I get this question more often than you think. There are SO many different ones now, and yes, it does affect the taste of your dish according to which type of olive oil you select.

First of all, olive oil is the oil that is pressed from ripe olives after harvest. The first pressing is called “virgin” olive oil. “Extra virgin” just means this olive oil is from the first pressing – and has less than 1 percent acidity. Extra virgin olive oil is probably considered the finest choice, along with exceptional fruity flavor. A lot of the middle-of-the-road olive oils are a blend of both “virgin” and “extra-virgin.”

Any olive oil that comes after the first pressing can be classified as “light” or “pure.” This doesn’t mean it has fewer calories, it really means you will most likely have a lighter color and less flavor. A lot of people use this one when they want just a hint of flavor but not be overwhelmed. But for recipes that showcase the oil (such as a salad dressing or dipping sauce for bread), stick with the finest you can afford.

One last thing. Olive oils have a low smoking point, which means they are best used for sautés or in sauces, but not suitable for high-temperature frying.

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Posted in: Cooking


Dine-In: Family Movie Night


We happened to have a night free last week, and I really wanted to spend some time with the boys at home – together. I do love it when we are all under one roof, but a lot of nights, they might be doing homework or playing video games and we end up in separate rooms. Usually, the smell of something delicious simmering on the stove is enough to draw them to the table, and I use this tool unashamedly. I am all about parenting by bribe.

Somehow the table conversation drifted from the day’s events to a movie they had seen over the weekend. I don’t remember what it was now, but it was something with weapons and blood and gore. I love watching movies, and thought maybe – just maybe – I could convince them to watch a DVD that night someone had recently given me.

Living in East Texas – not too far from Carthage – I was really excited to hear about the movie, “Bernie.” If you don’t know the movie, it’s based on the story of the local mortician, Bernie, who strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow. I can’t really tell you much more without giving it away, but it does turn out to be a dark, dark comedy – and an interesting study of people and why we do the crazy things we do.

“Bernie” is definitely not for little kids, as I think it’s Rated PG-13. But it is hysterically funny and fascinating, especially for those of us who understand this Southern culture and can relate to most all of the quirky personalities in the film. I kept thinking, “I know someone just like that!”

It was a wonderful evening. Bowls of White Chicken Chili, hot buttery cornbread and “Bernie.” The boys enjoyed it almost as much as I did, but I think some of the old-timey humor escaped them. (Spoiler Alert: There is a murder, and this is when teenage boys start paying attention.)

My favorite line of the night wasn’t from the movie, it was from my older son. Now, remember we live about an hour from where the movie took place. He said, “I am just SO glad we don’t live in a small town like that!”

I had to laugh under my breath. Small-town America – wherever it is – is just like that, for better or worse! 

White Chicken Chili
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 rotisserie-style chicken, skinned and shredded or 1 ½ lbs cooked, chopped chicken breasts
3 (15-oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained
14 oz chicken broth
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes: Sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeno

Directions:
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions in hot oil for 10 minutes until tender. Stir in garlic, green chiles, cumin, oregano, cloves and cayenne pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add beans and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may prepare to this point up to 1 day in advance and store, covered, in refrigerator. Bring to simmer before continuing recipe. Add chicken and 1 cup of cheese to bean mixture and mix well. Simmer until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls. Garnish with remaining cheese, sour cream, salsa, cilantro and jalapeno. 



Family Matters: Baby Fever


My older son, Will, celebrated his 16th birthday recently. I was his biggest cheerleader when it came time to get his driver’s license that day – until seeing him pull away from the curb and drive away. Alone.

I was not expecting the huge wave of emotion that hit me down to my core – almost instantly. And before I knew what was happening, I was crying and reminiscing about the day Will was born, his first day of preschool, the day he learned to ride his bike, and on and on. Why I tortured myself with all of the sweet memories I have with him, I’ll never know. I acted like he had driven off into the sunset never to return.

Of course, that is almost true. It was 4 p.m. when he drove away, and several hours passed before he decided he might want to think about coming home. Needless to say, his newfound keys to freedom came and disappeared all in the same day.

While he was gone that afternoon and I wasn’t frustrated with him yet, I decided to pull out some of his old baby photos and scrapbooks and reminisce even more, as if this somehow was going to help the pain.

I found a photo of Will exactly one week old. This would be the same time I took him to our pediatrician with his first “fever.”

I was hysterical that September day. Will was flushed and sweating and overheated, and I was certain he was on the brink of death. I raced to the doctor, without any appointment of course, and rushed in the office. I don’t know how the receptionist even understood what I was saying through my post-partum crying fit.

In just a moment or two, Will and I were back in the doctor’s private office. After looking at Will wrapped in a blanket, hat, gloves, socks and head-to-toe sleeper, the doctor wisely just suggested we take off some of Will’s wintry layers and let him enjoy the September 100-degree sunshine.

Miraculously, Will’s “fever” disappeared.

Will’s Favorite Sweet Potato Apple Baby Food

Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes
3 organic apples

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash and cut apples and sweet potatoes. Place in a baking pan and cover with foil. Bake until soft, about 45 minutes. Peel apples and place in food processor. Remove sweet potato from the skin and add to food processor. Puree. You can add water if you want a thinner puree. Makes 6 baby servings.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 136, Total Fat: 0.3 g, Sodium 8 mg, Carbohydrates 33.5 g, Fiber: 5.3 g, Protein: 1.4 g



Shop the Sale: Mushroom Risotto


Once upon a time, I was too scared to attempt to make risotto.

The Italian rice dish of my dreams was supposed to be creamy, complex and time consuming.

Admittedly, it is creamy. It is complex in its developed flavors and it does take some time to reduce the cooking liquids into a delicious bath of thick broth. But actually risotto is an amazingly simple dish with spectacular results.

Harvest Club White Mushrooms are on sale at Brookshire’s this week. The addition of this simple ingredient elevates the flavors of risotto to angels-singing-at-the-gates-of-heaven proportions. While you do have to give yourself some time to bring this dish together, the minutes will be well spent. I promise.

No fear involved.

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 cups chicken broth, divided
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 lb portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lb white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbs finely chopped chives
4 Tbs butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information: Calories 654; Calories from Fat 176;Total Fat 20 g;Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 966 mg;Total Carbohydrates 85 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 29 g

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



Healthy Living: Vegetarian Awareness Month


Growing up becoming a vegetarian always interested me. I have never been one who really liked meat; I know it’s weird. In college I would frequently make a meal without meat and my roommates would look at me weird. I would never think twice about a meatless meal. October is Vegetarian Awareness Month and I challenge you to have a meatless meal once a week.

There are a variety of types of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs only excluding meat. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat any meat or eggs, but do consume dairy. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but not dairy product and meat. Vegans exclude all animal products including honey, gelatin and dairy products. Fruitarians only eat fruit, nut and seeds. Pescetarians avoid meat, but eat seafood. Flexitarians only eat meat on occasion.

Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol reducing the risk of developing heart disease. The vegetarian diet can also be lower in iron, calcium, protein, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with a variety of foods a vegetarian diet can meet all the recommendations of these nutrients.

Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. Plant sources of iron, non-heme iron, are harder to absorb than heme-iron, which is found in meat. Non-meat sources of iron are iron-fortified breakfast cereal, cooked spinach, chickpeas, lentils, dried beans, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and blackstrap molasses. Iron is more readily absorbed when consumed with vitamin C. Foods high in vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.

Calcium is important to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Most American’s get their calcium from milk and dairy products, which presents a problem in Americans following a vegan, fruitarians or ovo-vegetarian diet.  Sources of calcium are calcium fortified orange juice and green leafy vegetables like turnip greens, collard greens, kale and broccoli.

Protein is important for healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Good sources of protein are nuts, nut butters, beans, seed, lentils and whole grains. Quinoa, a whole grain, has all the essential amino acids making it one of few plant-based complete proteins.

Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal products, but can be found in fortified cereals.

Zinc is essential component of many enzymes and plays a roll in cell division and the formation of protein. Zinc can be found in fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts and whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acid which is important in a heart healthy diet is found in fish and eggs. Other sources of omga-3 fatty acids are canola oil, walnuts and ground flaxseeds.

With a diet in a variety of fruits and vegetables a vegetarian diet can meet all of your dietary recommendations. Here is one of my favorite meatless recipes:

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 8

1 tsp Food Club Canola Oil(NuVal 24)
1 onion, chopped (NuVal score 93)
3 garlic cloves, minced (NuVal score 91)
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (NuVal score 91)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (NuVal score 91)
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (NuVal score 99)
1 avocado, diced (NuVal score 89)

Directions:
In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; sauté until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in corn and black beans; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and avocado.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 398, Fat: 9 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 297 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 15 g, Protein: 20 g



Product Talk: Deli and Produce Platters


What do you get when 12 of your closest friends decide to move the football party to your house because the previous hostess had a plumbing leak?

Panic. That’s what you get. Sheer panic.

I know because this happened to me not too long ago.  Luckily, I had about 48 hours advance notice. Unluckily, about 46.5 of those hours were already committed to things other than party preparation.  That’s where Brookshire’s comes in. Let’s be honest: that’s where Brookshire’s saved my sanity.

A quick call to the closest store and I was not only in business, but would be proclaimed the hostess with the mostess after my friends saw the spread.  My secret? Deli and produce platters from your nearest Brookshire’s store.

I ordered the Fruit and Cheese explosion, a beautifully decorated platter chock full of baby Swiss, cheddar, Jackby and Muenster cheeses, green and red grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple and strawberries. It has a little something for everyone.

I also got the Drum Drums, where spicy chicken wing drumettes and crispy celery sticks are lined up and ready to be dipped in creamy ranch dressing.

To round off the meal, I ordered the Rounders, a tray piled high with slightly-sweet Hawaiian rolls filled with turkey breast, cooked ham, roast beef and yellow American cheese.

I could have also chosen from platters of fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, finger sandwiches, sandwiches on buttery croissants, snack wraps, salads, just meats and more. The options are endless and your deli staff can even work with you to create a custom offering.

“How did you pull this off?” my friends wondered.

Easy. Brookshire’s.



Dine-In: Update to an Old Classic Casserole


Creamy Chicken Pasta with SpinachThe cooler weather recently not only put an extra skip in my step, it had me craving s’mores, pumpkin bread and my grandmother’s hearty casseroles! It’s amazing what a little cooler temperature can do to bring a lift in your heart and much more energy than I’ve had the past few months of sweltering, humid air.

As I put on my fleece jacket to go walk my dog (yes, I tend to overdo my excitement. I think the temperature was actually about 85°F.), I decided to pull out my old family notebook of generations of recipes that have been passed down throughout the years. These recipes are quite comforting, bringing back old memories of visiting with my grandmother while she cooked away in her tiny little kitchen in Grenada, MS.

One of my favorites was her creamy pasta casserole she made with canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and elbow macaroni. I’ve updated it a little here and there over the years to suit my family’s taste, dropping the tuna and replacing it with leftover rotisserie chicken. I’ve also added a bit of spinach and taken the time to make a homemade sauce instead of the canned soup.

This is a perfect Friday night family-pleasing dinner, and so easy to do before you head out to the football game or head to your sofa to catch your favorite shows! Be sure to save the leftovers; the flavor gets even better the next day!

Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low-fat milk (not skim)
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 slices of any kind of bread, torn into pieces
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 (10-oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid removed
2 cups leftover shredded cooked chicken
12 oz of your favorite pasta shells, cooked according to instructions on package

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°. Heat oil in a medium pot on the stove. Add onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add flour, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine bread, Parmesan cheese and seasonings in a food processor, and pulse to make crumbs.

Add chicken and spinach to the cooled sauce. Gently fold in cooked pasta shells. Taste again for salt and pepper. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with breadcrumb mixture.

Bake until bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories per serving: 704, Fat: 32 g, Carbohydrates: 63 g, Protein: 42 g

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Balance


I don’t know about you, but there are times I really struggle with balance in my life. Right now is one of those times.

The beginning of the school year is always hectic. There are new class routines for my two boys, getting back into the habit of doing homework and studying math facts, spelling and vocabulary and starting activities again. Luke plays soccer. This year Curt wanted to try karate. In the meantime, I’m short-staffed at work and have been very involved in planning and executing an awesome event that takes place this weekend – Girl Power.

In short, all balance in my life has gone right out the window.

I have to actually remind myself to stop, slow down and not get (too) stressed out.  Because when I’m stressed, my kids are stressed, and that’s not good for anyone.

Here’s a few of the things I’ve found has helped my family achieve balance during the hectic, chaotic times:

1. I use the crock pot several times a week. With karate at 6 p.m. and soccer at 6 p.m. and not leaving work until after 5 p.m., if I hold on to any hope of getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour, it’ll be something I’d prepared in the crock pot. Plus my house smells so good when we walk in that I’m convinced the added bonus is aromatherapy.
2. When I can’t use the crock pot, I’ve decided that tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich are a perfectly acceptable dinner.
3. I read the Brookshire’s circular and the Shop the Sale blogs and make my grocery list so not only am I saving money, but saving time by only shopping once during the week.
4. I turn off the car radio during my late afternoon commute and either ride in silence, which helps me unwind, or plug my iPhone into the car’s radio auxiliary and only listen to music – no talking. (Recent favorites: Amos Lee, Mumford & Sons, Iron and Wine, the soundtrack to The Hunger Games, The Decemberists and The Civil Wars).
5. Family Reading Time! The boys are required to read AT LEAST 20 minutes a night, so we turn off all electronics and all spend time with our books. We usually all end up curling up on the couch together and it’s quiet, it’s cuddly and we can all escape into our books together. (It’s also a good way to wind down before bedtime).
6. Remembering not to sweat the small stuff. Easier said than done. But in all actuality, washing the bed sheets can wait until the weekend and not every piece of mail has to be attended to immediately.
7. Oh, and did I mention tomato soup?



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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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Shop the Sale

On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

Family Matters

Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

Dine In

Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

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