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Family Matters: Pet Loss

You can never imagine the pain that accompanies a loss of a pet until it happens to you.

Our pets are loyal companions who quickly turn into best friends. Many of us have bought clothes to keep our pet warm, made a special cupcake for their birthday, and even taken them on our family vacation. Why would we not grieve when we experience the loss of this treasured family member?

To an outsider looking in it may seem silly, but these feelings are normal. Talk to someone you’re comfortable with, like a family member or friend. Don’t bottle up your feelings, but express them. Like any other loss you may feel guilt, denial, anger and depression.

If you have children, pay special attention to their feelings, so they can understand and accept the loss, too. For many children, the loss of a pet may be the first experience they have ever had with serious illness and death.

Most grief experts suggest that you don’t try to “hide” the pet’s death from children but treat it honestly and openly. If you use vague terms or make up a false story about the animal’s disappearance, you will only create more stress, anxiety and sadness in the child.

Use simple, direct, but compassionate language that is appropriate to your child’s age and understanding. For instance, children under 5 do not understand that death is permanent, so you may need to explain simply that the animal can no longer move and will not wake up again.

No matter the age of your child, give them time to get over the loss. Let them talk about their pet, share stories together, and explain that it’s normal to miss them for a long time.

Finally, it’s important to pay extra attention to any other pets in your household, too. Your other pets will notice the loss of their companion and will grieve just like you. Losing a pet can be hard on your whole family. Just remember these feelings are normal and you need to express them.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Canola oil, a healthier alternative

I’m probably like a lot of you; the older I get, the more I try to eat healthier. But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally indulge in some of my favorite fried foods.

However, I do try to use the healthiest oil I can. So when it comes to frying, especially deep-frying, I stick with canola oil.

Canola oil is considered one of the healthiest oils you can use for cooking, especially frying:

  • Canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fat of all commonly used cooking and frying oils, including corn oil and vegetable oil.
  • It also has zero cholesterol, zero trans fat, and high levels of monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind of fat, which can help reduce cholesterol levels).
  • It even contains  omega-3 fatty acids. (Those are the beneficial fats, which help heart health, that are typically found in fatty fish like salmon.)
  • It’s a good source of Vitamin E.
  • The FDA has even reported canola oil can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, if used in place of saturated fats.
  • It rarely causes any sort of allergic reaction.

So where has canola oil been all your life?

It’s common on supermarket shelves now, but really only reached most consumers beginning in the early ‘80s.

Developed in Canada during the 1950s and 1960s, canola oil comes from a relative of the rapeseed plant, bred specifically to produce a healthier, milder-tasting cooking oil. It was christened “canola” in 1978, taking the name from the terms “Canadian oil, low acid” as producers began to mass-market the oil.

Canola oil has become popular not just for its health benefits but because it’s a good-tasting, all-around cooking oil. It’s especially good for frying because it can be used at temperatures up to about 450 degrees. (Extra virgin olive oil, another healthier oil, begins to burn at temperatures around 375 degrees, so it is not a good choice for many fried dishes.)

And good news: Kept in a cool, dark place, canola oil stays fresh for up to a year. So stock up this week while it’s on sale at your neighborhood store. Here’s to healthier frying!

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Spinach Lasagna

Spinach Lasagna
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 12

1 (8 oz) pkg whole-wheat lasagna noodles
8 oz 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
2 cups fat free cottage cheese
1 egg
1 tsp dried oregano
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) bag baby spinach
1 (26 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
Grated parmesan, to taste

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 12×8-inch oven safe baking dish with cooking spray. In a pot bring water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles; cook until al dente.

In a large bowl combine mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and cottage cheese; mix well. Mix egg into cheese mixture. Add oregano, basil and minced garlic; mix well.

In a skillet, over medium heat, cook spinach until slightly wilted. Layer noodles, cheese mixture, spinach and spaghetti sauce in baking dish. Repeat layering ending with sauce and grated parmesan. Bake for
30 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 396, Fat: 9 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 38 mg, Sodium: 5752 mg, Carbohydrates: 56 g, Fiber: 4 g, Protein: 23 g

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Posted in: Cooking

Caprese Salad

Simple and Classic!

Caprese Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tomatoes, sliced
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil
1/4 cup Food Club Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Food Club Balsamic Vinegar

In a row alternate tomato slices and mozzarella cheese. Garnish with basil leaves. In a small bowl combine oil, salt and pepper; mix well. Serve salad with oil and balsamic vinegar.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 203, Fat: 17 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 20 mg, Sodium: 299 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 10 g

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Posted in: Cooking, Produce

Healthy Living: Weight loss and your metabolism

How is your metabolism? This is a question I asked myself only last week. If you’re under the age of 30, you almost don’t have a care in the world, as far as your metabolism is concerned. For the rest of us however, long gone are the days of eating whatever we want and staying thin and healthy.

My personal fitness routine as of late has been solely comprised of weightlifting and eating, not much cardio. Once I reached a point where my pants started to get tight, I started running. In the past this was an easy fix, and I would lose a  few pounds quickly, but this time around, I actually gained weight! This is when I asked myself the question: How is your metabolism?

Metabolism, by definition, is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to sustain life. The speed of metabolism, usually called the metabolic rate, influences how much food an organism will require, and also affects how it is able to obtain that food, or for us, our physical fitness level.

My metabolism has begun to slow down drastically due to my less strict eating habits, my lack of cardio, and my age. By boosting your metabolism, you boost the rate at which your body burns through its fuel, your food. Unfortunately, there is no magic way to just increase your metabolism, but a few simple things can help you get your metabolism where you want it.

Exercise is just one part of the equation. You must exert some energy! Your food, however, is the foundation. Small healthy meals and snacks throughout the day will help to increase your metabolism better than starving yourself all day, then pigging out. Eat a very light breakfast like an egg or a piece of wheat toast, a snack at around 9:30 like an apple or another type of fruit, a light lunch around noon or so, like a salad or something high in protein, and then another veggie or fruit snack at around 2:30. This  will definitely kick start your metabolism. This way of eating also allows you to cheat a little bit for dinner! And the beauty of boosting your metabolism is that when you do have a cheat dinner or meal, your body burns through it better!

Weight loss is not as easy as it was when we were in high school;  it does take work. But it is easier to maintain than to lose, and once you reach your target weight, maintaining a good metabolism will go a long way in helping you stay thin and healthy!

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product Talk: Understanding pomegranates

It seems like pomegranate is the fruit flavor of the moment. You can find it juices, smoothies, yogurts, granola bars, cereal, salad dressings.

If you like the tart-sweet flavor of pomegranate, you ought to try the crop of fresh pomegranates arriving in stores now. (Fresh pomegranate is also super-healthy, providing lots of fiber, Vitamin C, and cancer-preventing antioxidants.)

But a fresh pomegranate can look a little scary. What do you do with all those seeds? And that bright red skin looks pretty tough.

The folks at PomWonderful, which produces pomegranate juices, fresh pomegranates, and other pom products, tell me that pomegranates are a piece of cake to eat fresh, once you know how.

The seeds and juice are the part that you eat. The seeds are hard, but edible, and are surrounded by a little sac of juice, called an “aril.” Each pomegranate contains hundreds of these juicy little seeds. The pomegranate’s inner membrane and rind, however, are bitter and generally not eaten.

The easiest thing to do is to juice them. Just cut the fruit in half, like a grapefruit, then juice by hand or using an electric juicer.

But if you want to use the seeds, use this six-step process developed by PomWonderful.

1) Cut – Use a sharp paring knife to cut off the top about a half inch below the crown.

2) Score – Four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by white membrane will be visible. With the knife’s point, score the skin along each section.

3) Open – In a bowl of water, carefully separate the sections underwater.

4) Loosen – Underwater, loosen the arils and allow them to drop freely into the bowl. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top.

5) Scoop – Scoop out the pieces of white membrane.

6) Strain – Pour the arils and remaining liquid through a strainer.

That’s it! More good news about fresh pomegranates: They  come to the supermarket fully ripe, and can stay fresh for up to two months if stored in the refrigerator.

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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine In: Game-day, low-fat chili

Are you ready for some football?

Well, this time of year, that’s a silly question, especially here in the south. So this weekend, whether you’re headed to a Pop Warner Saturday-afternoon  game or a high school matchup under the Friday night lights, or just huddling in front of the TV to catch your favorite pro or college team, you need a meal that’s hearty and easy to eat, yet doesn’t require hours in the kitchen – so the cook doesn’t miss kickoff, either.

Chili is my go-to dish for game days. But in September, while the weather is still more on the summer end  of the temperature gauge than things than fall, I prefer a lighter, healthier version of the winter classic. This Turkey, Corn and Black Bean chili ( fits the bill.

It’s naturally lower in fat, thanks to the use of ground turkey. It gets added fiber from corn. And thanks to shortcuts like prepared salsa and canned chicken stock, it can get thrown together in just a few minutes, and can be ready to serve in less than an hour. (Like all chilis, however, this one is even better after the flavors have melded, so if you have time, make it the night before you plan to serve it, and simply reheat before gametime.)

At mealtime, make it a buffet! Let everyone serve themselves by setting out bowls of shredded cheese, sour cream, lightly crushed corn chips, chopped onions, sliced jalapenos salsa and hot sauce, along with some warmed flour tortillas or a pan of cornbread.  After all, the game’s on!

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Family Dinner Night

Your smooth, slow summer schedule turns fast and furious as soon as the school bells ring. Getting the kids to soccer practice and dance lessons can quickly bump a nutritious family dinner down on the priority list.

The solution? At least once a week, make family dinner night a priority – no excuses.

As a family, plan your menu for the upcoming week.  Let your children have input on what they want for dinner. If your children’s favorite food is pizza, plan a night the whole family gets together to make a nutritious homemade pizza.

Take your kids to the grocery store. Let them have a choice in what foods they eat. Ask questions: Do you want carrots or broccoli? Give them the power on what they want to eat. Teach your kids how to use the NuVal scoring system. Make a game out of picking the most nutritious scores.  Pick a lower scoring item in a category and see if your kids can pick out a higher score than you. Teach your kids the higher the score of the product the more nutritious it is for them.

Prepare the family meal together. When the kids get involved in the meal preparation, they appreciate the meal more. Let the younger kids count ingredients out,  and wash and dry the produce. The teenagers can actually start participating in the cooking of the meal. Let them sauté the onions or brown the chicken. 

Make cooking educational. Have your child work on their reading by letting them read the recipe to you. Have them measure ingredients and teach them that two half cups equal one whole cup. Show your kids that cooking is a science. Let them see that oil and vinegar don’t mix on their own or what happens when vinegar and baking soda are combined.

At the dinner table, turn off your electronics. We have become so accustomed to having our cell phone sitting on the table while we eat. Turn the ringer off on your phone and set it in another room. Turn your TV off and talk to each other about your day. Ask your family what the best and worst parts of their day were or something new they learned that day. If your family is trying a new food that night, talk about the taste, texture and appearance of the food.

For busy evenings, plan ahead. If you know Tuesday nights are busy, prepare a casserole in advance, freeze it, and heat it up for Tuesday’s dinner.  If you find a recipe that requires a lot of preparation, do some prep work the night before. Find creative ways to use your leftovers, like adding the leftover taco meat to your macaroni and cheese. If you see canned or frozen vegetables are on sale, stock up. Whenever a busy night comes up, those vegetables will come in handy.

Make family dinner night fun and exciting. Have themes for family night; like Fiesta night or Italian night. You can choose a night where the kids are in charge. Let the kids make the menu, help your kids prepare the food and let them serve the food. Make family dinner night a night your family looks forward to.

Dinner time is not only a time to share a meal with your family, but a time to share a part of your life.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Morrell smoked meats

Fall’s officially still more than a week away, but I can already feel the (OK, just barely) cooler temperatures in the air.

And that’s enough to make me start thinking of suppers built around some of my fall and winter favorites:  smoked sausage and bacon. So I’m going to stock up this week on a couple of these favorites, on sale at your neighborhood store – John Morrell smoked sausage and thick-cut bacon.

Smoked meats are homey and hearty, and they make great comfort food in cooler weather. Think about red beans and rice with big chunks of sausage, or bacon-wrapped pork chops with applesauce, or even a BLT with thick, crisp bacon.

But that hearty flavor and satisfying heaviness is not the only reason we seem to like these meats best in fall and winter.  Back before there was reliable refrigeration, people learned to smoke meat as a method of preservation. Our ancestors would smoke whole hogs in the early fall, and the meat was enough to last them through winter. We’re practically hard-wired to crave bacon and sausage in the fall!

Speaking of tradition–that sums up John Morrell & Co. This company is based in Cincinnati, which was once known as Porkopolis because of its tradition of making great smoked pork, and it is one of the nation’s oldest food companies. Founded in England in 1827, John Morrell has now been making meat products for 184 years. It has facilities across the country where it makes all its own meats, including its hardwood-smoked bacon and many other pork specialties.

So pick up a few packages this week, and be ready when that cool weather finally arrives!

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Healthy Living: Smarter, safer cosmetics

Take a look in your makeup bag. Do you have any idea how long some of that stuff has been in there?

If you can’t guess, it may well be time to toss some of it out. Although cosmetics are not required to be labeled with a “use-by” date, most makeup products are designed with a shelf life of one to two years.

This isn’t just so that the colors stay true – it can be important to your health and your skin.

In some items, creams and oils may go rancid after a certain length of time. And in others, contamination by germs from your mouth, eyes or fingers is possible, especially after some period of use. This is especially true of mascara; the Food and Drug Administration, along with most manufacturers, suggests that you keep mascara just two to four months.

These recommendations are a great incentive for you to try some cosmetics from one of the newer companies on the market, e.l.f.

e.l.f., which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face and has been around for less than a decade, specializes in smaller-sized, lower-priced products. In fact, they’re so small that you may use them up well before it’s time to throw them away.

And at such low prices – many items cost just one dollar! – even if you don’t use them up in the recommended timeframe, you won’t feel ripped off if you have to discard an eyeshadow or mascara.

The low prices also make e.l.f. a great starter line for younger girls, rather than getting them hooked on expensive department store lines. And, it’s a fun way to experiment with that crazy shade of nail polish or an unusual color of eye shadow that you might not splurge on if it cost $10 instead of just a buck.

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Posted in: Healthy Living

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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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