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Family Matters: Queso Dip with Tortilla Stars


Cut your tortillas with a cookie cutter—it makes them extra special!

Makes about 2 1/2 cups or 18 servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs water

1 (15 oz) can stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

3 oz fat-free cream cheese, cubed

3 oz regular cream cheese, cubed

Tortilla Stars (see below)

Directions:  In a 2-quart sauce pan, combine onion, garlic and water. Simmer over medium heat until water evaporates. Add tomatoes, chili, chili powder and optional hot sauce. Cook and stir until heated through. Add cheddar and cream cheese and stir over low heat to melt. Serve with star shaped chips or fresh vegetables.

Tortilla Stars: Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes from flour tortillas.  Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes—until dry and crisp. Store in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature.



Family Matters: Healthy Eating Basics


It’s such a vague concept: a healthy diet. What makes up a healthy diet? What are the basics of eating healthy—especially when it comes to our children? We want them to be healthy and strong, but we also know that it’s hard to stick to a restrictive eating plan.

  

 

Healthy Eating Basics: 

1. Give kids a healthy variety of foods and let them make choices from that group.

2. Tune into hunger cues. Teach kids to eat when they’re hungry, job just because it’s a habit (like while watching TV)

3. Eat until you’re satisfied—don’t insist on a clean plate.

4. Make sure everyone eats breakfast.

5. Keep snacks, like cut up veggies, fruit and whole-grain crackers in easy-to-reach spots.



Family Matters: Shopping Tips for People on the Run


Doesn’t just about everybody complain about how busy they are? I mean, really. How often do you hear anyone say they have free time and nothing to do with it? It happens; but not often. So for all you busy folks, here’s a list of time-saving grocery-shopping tips!

 The Top Ten Ways to Save Time on Groceries 

10. Try liquid egg replacer (like Egg Beaters) instead of in-the-shell eggs. They’re quick easy and lower in fat and calories! Omelets, anyone?

9. Canned beans are a quick and healthy alternative to meat. It’ll save you time as you add them to soup, chili, pasta sauce and salads. Black beans, salsa, shredded cheese….wrapped in a tortilla….yum!

8. Visit the deli. Besides a great selection of meats and cheeses, our prepared foods are better, easier and cheaper than takeout. You can get anything from fried chicken to eggplant parmagiana.

7. Try a bagged salad or slaw mix for quick and easy fresh veggies. Slaw mix + ranch salad dressing = instant cole slaw!

6. Ready-to-use pizza shells are found by the deli or dairy section. Load them up with cheese, sauce and toppings and dinner’s ready!

5. Frozen fruits and vegetables make it easy to eat healthy. Throw the veggies into casseroles and soups, or get the ready-to-steam variety that can be on your table in 5 minutes.

4. Whole-grain pita, wraps and English muffins are great sandwich alternatives.

3. Pre-marinated and pre-seasoned meats, vegetable, chicken and seafood skewers save prep and cooking time.

2.Pre-shredded cheeses save prep time.

1. Single-serve dairy products, like yogurt, cottage cheese and puddings make it easy to snack and run!



Family Matters: Super Cereal!


One of Baby’s first foods is cereal—baby cereal. It’s mushy and soft, just like a First Food should be. Once babies get a bit bigger and have a tooth or two, they once again begin cereals: real cereals. They make great finger foods and are easy to digest. Until recently, many of the well-known varieties have been full of sugar. It really limited the options for health-minded parents. 

 

Just recently, General Mills announced that it will lower the sugar content of its children’s cereals to 10 grams per serving (it used to be 25% higher!). This is good news for families who like familiar brands, but want to eat a bit healthier! The General Mills announcement follows a similar one by Kellogg’s. 

Isn’t it interesting to see how manufacturers actually DO respond to customer demand? Never hesitate to let a company know how you feel about their products. Since you’re responsible for their profit or loss, they WILL listen!



Family Matters: Hosting a Cheap Holiday Party


Parties are fun. But parties can be expensive! Do you need some ideas on hosting an inexpensive party?

Here are some starters for great holiday parties—on a shoe string.  

 

 

  • Just have appetizers and dessert. Lots of people enjoy the more casual feel of snacking and nobody will miss the rest.
  • Do brunch. Eggs are one of the best bargains in the store, so take advantage of them with a casserole or omelets.
  • Stick to one drink. You don’t need to have a professional bartender serving exotic cocktails. Instead, mix up a pitcher of something that fits your theme—that’s enough!
  • Make it BYO. Whether they bring their own cooler of beer, or a bottle of nice red wine, let everyone know that they can add to the stash—and everybody enjoys!


Family Matters: Food Hazards


Pets are curious , and pets love to eat. That can make a dangerous combination any day of the year, but especially so around Christmas. With so many new and interesting scents and sights, most cats and dogs just have to investigate. Do you know what hazards to watch for? You might be surprised at the items that are dangerous for pets, but fine for humans. 

 

  • Onions and garlic: They contain sulfur compounds that can cause digestive problems and harm red blood cells. While few of us would ever feed a cat or dog onions or garlic, they are often ingredients in many soups, roasts and casseroles.
  • Grapes and Raisins: Yummy and healthy for people, grapes and raisins can be deadly to dogs. They can trigger vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure.
  • Macadamia nuts: Just a handful can cause real problems. There’s a toxin that can lead to muscle weakness, sometimes paralysis, vomiting and diarrhea. Macadamia nut poisoning isn’t fatal, though, and most pets recover within 48 hours.
  • Medications: Nobody would deliberately leave medications out for a  pet to eat, but if left out, dogs can crush the bottle easily and get to the contents inside. Keep pets away from all medications—keep the bottles in a drawer or cabinet.
  • Plants: a surprising number of plants are poisonous to cats and dogs, including lilies, poinsettias and others.
  • Sugar substitutes: Xylitol is a common sweetener used in many sugar-free candies, gums, baked goods and toothpastes (it’s sometimes listed as a sugar alcohol) and can cause low blood sugar and liver damage in dogs. Small amounts can cause big trouble, so resist the urge to give your dog a bite of Christmas cookie!

Often, pets find the dangerous materials by rooting through the trash. Make sure tempting scents aren’t available, and keep the trash can secured in an area where it’ll stay safe.



Family Matters: Christmas Prep


It’s that time of year again: it’s the time when there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done; when there are too many conflicting commitments; and when there are too many opportunities to pig out on food that’s not good for you.

We can’t help with the time management part, but we do have a few ideas for when it comes to food.

Overindulging: you can’t really get around it, but you can limit the damage. Consciously choose to eat small portions and skip the things that aren’t irresistible.

But for kids, one of the big issues is all those parties and events. You’ll almost always find candy, cookies and treats at these events. Lots of them. And most kids can’t resist.

Your job, as a parent and as part of a caring family, is to make the at-home times a bit healthier, to help balance out all those not-so-healthy events.

Keep good snacks readily available. In the pantry, set up a basket with ready-to-eat good treats.



Family Matters: Baby’s First Christmas


Merry Christmas! Is this the first time your baby has experienced the excitement of Christmas? How do you know how much celebration is the right amount?

A lot depends on how old your baby is. If your little one is 11 ½ months old, the celebration will be different than if he’s just a newborn. Newborns hardly notice the event, and all observations really benefit everyone else. A baby who is nearly a year old will often be walking, babbling and into everything. They can really enjoy the lights and packages and songs!

Moderation usually works well, no matter what age your child is. Over-stimulation often results in fussy crying and sleepless nights. Space out the big events, skip the unimportant ones, and think about making your own family traditions. When you have a little one, long trips to visit relatives might not be the wisest choice; how about if the relatives come to visit you, instead?

If your baby is mobile this Christmas—either walking or crawling—you’ll want to keep safety in mind. Make sure dangerous plants and objects are out of arm’s reach, and take precautions to be sure your Christmas tree is safely anchored.

Happy Holidays—and for Baby, too!



Family Matters: Carrots, Carrots, Carrots!


Carrots are a family-favorite vegetable. Stores recognize this, and Brookshire’s is no exception. If you cruise the produce section you’ll find full-sized carrots, baby carrots, petite baby carrots, shredded carrots and raw carrot chips.

Kids and carrots go together well. But have you ever wondered what to do with carrots other than eat them straight from the bag?  How about roasted carrots? Toss them lightly in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and cumin and cook in a 350 oven until tender and caramelized. Heat brings out the natural sweetness of carrots! You can also make glazed carrots by cutting up carrots and simmering with butter, sugar, salt and just a bit of water. When carrots are tender, uncover the pan and let the liquid reduce to a syrup.

But if your children only like raw carrots, there’s nothing wrong with that! Carrots are full of antioxidants and raw carrots maintain the vitamin A and other healthy goodness. Here are a couple of ideas that use uncooked carrots:

  • Julienned: mix up a vibrant, spicy salad of julienned (shredded) carrots seasoned with an Italian vinaigrette dressing. Toss in a few sliced almonds.
  • Sliced: Slice carrots into thin rounds. Serve alongside ranch or other dip, with toothpicks to make the dunking fun.
  • Shredded: marinate shredded carrots and dried cranberries in orange juice with a dash of vinegar.
  • Carrot-Raisin Salad: toss shredded carrots, raisins and crushed pineapple with enough mayonnaise to moisten. Chill and enjoy.


Family Matters: Kittens? What Do I Do?


You don’t know how or when it happened, but somehow your cat is expecting kittens. Mark your calendar for four months from now: your cat needs to be spayed! But in the meantime, what do you do to help things go smoothly?

Here’s the good news: you really don’t have to do much. Cats rely on instinct and they’re pretty good at just knowing what to do. Mother Nature is pretty amazing! It takes 9 weeks (rather than 9 months) from start to finish and in that last week, your cat will need extra food and water. You’ll also want to provide several secluded nesting areas, complete with soft, cozy towels. At the same time, be prepared for the fact that your kitty might prefer to make your bed her home base.

The birthing process usually only lasts an hour or so, but if you see any signs of distress, call your veterinarian for help. And once those kittens are born and weaned, be vigilant! Cats can mate several times a year; don’t forget to schedule that appointment with the vet!



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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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