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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!



Family Matters: Kids and Crafts


Kids are naturally creative. They’re not restricted by the rules of what ‘should’ be matched and how we arrange designs. If they like it, they do it! With such a liberating view of the world, it’s no wonder kids never run out of things to create.

As a parent, you balance the creativity with a little bit of order. You encourage bold, exciting ideas, but you also make sure that safety comes first. Safety often means organization. Here are some ideas for organizing your kids’ craft activities: 

  • Put materials where they’ve visible and accessible. Labeled boxes and colorful folders help children see the value in keeping everything in its place.
  • Less can be more. Stacks and stacks of paper, and boxes and boxes of crayons just get overlooked. Stock a good amount of inventory, but don’t overwhelm with too much.
  • Craft together. Kids watch how adults do things and take hints from that. If you demonstrate scissor safety and how to squeeze the most glue from a nearly-empty bottle, little ones will learn a lot.
  • Let the process guide the project. If there’s only one correct way to create a project, it can be frustrating. But if just about anything will work, that encourages expression and creativity. This isn’t about scoring points or winning. It’s about having fun!


Family Matters: Juice, Juice, Juice!


How much juice should you give to your baby, and when? Mothers and pediatricians have debated this for ages. Interestingly, opinion is shifting on the matter. While fruit juice is extremely healthy, it’s also extremely sweet, so should actually be given in moderation. After all, it takes a good 10 oranges to make a cup of orange juice. That’s a lot of oranges to be consuming—and a lot of calories!

Pediatricians generally agree that before age 6 months, babies should only receive breast milk or formula, because those are complete foods. (source: American Academy of Pediatrics) After 6 months, if your baby is drinking from a cup, you can introduce some juice into his or her diet. Don’t give juice in a bottle and never put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice. The natural sugars can lead to cavities. Four to six ounces a day is plenty. An option to juice is mashed or pureed whole fruits and vegetables.

As your baby gets older, his or her needs will change. Fruit juice is sweet and many toddlers will overindulge if given the chance. Don’t give your toddler a sippy cup full of juice, or a juice box, to walk around with all day. The prolonged exposure to natural sugars can cause dental problems. Use juice, instead, as a treat or a snack.

When it comes to beverages, babies and toddlers do just fine when introduced to water as the drink of choice. And as always, discuss food concerns with your family doctor or pediatrician.



Family Matters: Compromise, Not Sacrifice!


My kids are much older now, but when they were little, I was a real fanatic about serving only the most-healthy foods possible. Compromise was out of the question. In the years since then, I’ve softened my position, and while my family still eats healthier than most, sometimes you have to give a little here and there. And it’s compromise, not sacrifice. We stay true to the most important aspects of our food plan, but there are some areas where a little splurge now and then can be a good thing!

For instance, in their lunch boxes, or in the snack bag when we went to visit friends, I used to insist on ultra-healthy, ultra-natural foods. And I’m still not going to put cookies and chips in the bag, but I have decided that some of the pre-packaged items I’d always boycotted weren’t really that bad! Crust-less sandwiches, frozen yogurt tubes and juice boxes were still a lot cheaper than buying fast food, and they weren’t as pure as foods I prepared myself, but you know what? They’ll still work just fine. Kids do like to fit in with their friends, and the convenience of ready-to-use items is really handy. At home, they’re happy to eat what they’ve always eaten, but when it’s a special time, the food can be special, too.

We saved these items for play dates and lunch boxes, and it turned out to be a compromise that worked.



Family Matters: Parakeet Health


Sometimes toddlers like to eat the same food, day after day after day. Mothers wonder what’s wrong with them—because most folks like a little variety in their diet. 

It’s the same with birds, too.  If you have a parakeet, do you offer a variety of foods? It’s easy to fall into the pattern of the same foods, but your bird will thank you for switching things up a little. 

Many experts say that instead of a seed diet, parakeets do better with a diet of special bird pellets. It’s a lower fat diet that keeps birds more active and healthy. If your bird is currently eating a seed diet, you may want to talk to your vet or pet care provider about making a gradual switch to the pellet food plan. 

Pellets (or seeds) should make up about 60 to 70 percent of your parakeet’s diet. The rest can be a mixture of fruits and vegetables, including grated carrot, raw broccoli, apple slices and leafy greens. Vets recommend no fruit seeds, avocados, chocolate, alcohol or caffeine. Remove uneaten food every day and replace with fresh. Birds also need clean water, changed daily. 

You’ll know you have a healthy parakeet if you see alert, sociable activity, dry nostrils and bright eyes, and a body full of smooth, well-groomed feathers. 

(Material collected from the ASPCA Complete Guide to Pet Care)



Family Matters: Take ‘Em Along!


Do you dread taking your kids along to the grocery store? I have to admit, it’s always easier when I’m alone, and I definitely stick to my list better when there’s nobody else along to sneak forbidden foods into the buggy. But what about when there’s no choice and the kid(s) will be joining you? Don’t groan; you CAN make this work!

And of course, the key element is to plan ahead. Sometime, totally unrelated to the shopping trip, gather a few tools that will make grocery trips more do-able. Depending on the age of your children, maybe you can make up a bingo card of items to spot in the store; maybe you can have your child match up coupons with products; younger children can help make veggie choices—like broccoli over carrots, or red grapes instead of green. Kids are great at matching colors—even the youngest child can help you look for the reddest bell pepper, or the largest beet.

Does your child pester for treats and candy? How about making a coupon, one per child; once they find what they want, they redeem their coupon to you, and that’s it. Whenever they see a great potential snack item, you can ask your children if they feel this is the best choice for their coupon….often they’ll reconsider!

In short, the success of your shopping trip will depend on a positive attitude all around, as brief a trip as possible, and if you know of any trouble areas (the candy aisle, perhaps?), discuss them before you ever enter the store.

Grocery shopping with kids is a great educational opportunity. You can learn about fractions, budgets, prioritizing, nutrition and making change. It really is worth it!



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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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