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Healthy Living: Cranberry Pear Crisp


Cranberry Pear CrispMy first thought after someone mentions “holiday meal” is usually “holiday desserts.”

I can’t help it; I love a sweet treat.

This holiday season, I’m going to try to eat fewer slices of pecan pie or bouche de noel and make healthier choices.

One thing I really love about the holidays is the abundance of fresh cranberries, so I like to incorporate those into my foods as frequently as humanly possible.

This dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth, but it won’t stack up the calories or amount of sugar you’re consuming. The tartness of the cranberry plays well against the sweet pear, and the crisp topping adds texture and pulls all the flavors together.

It’s also much healthier than eating something laden with chocolate and sugar.

Cranberry Pear Crisp

Ingredients:
For the filling:
2 Anjou pears, cored and diced
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar, or 2 Tbs Splenda Brown Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F, and spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
Roughly chop cranberries; toss them with diced pears, cornstarch, syrup and cinnamon.
In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle topping mixture over the filling, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve warm.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 375, Calories from Fat: 128, Fat: 14 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 7 mg, Potassium: 405 mg, Carbohydrates: 58 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 31 g, Protein: 6 g.

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Healthy Living: Chimichurri Hummus


Chimichurri HummusMy friend Paula is the one who introduced me to hummus while I was living in Germany, of all places.

Paula, of Middle Eastern descent, made all kinds of foods that were exotic to me: baba ganoush, tabouli, falafel. I loved them all.

While I’ve always loved food of any kind, the years I lived overseas really solidified my adventurous taste buds. It’s almost a necessity when burgers and pizza aren’t available on every corner.

Paula also introduced me to the benefits of a healthier Middle Eastern diet, much like the Mediterranean way of eating, full of whole foods and healthy oils.

Hummus was, from early on, my favorite thing she made.

Fast forward about 20 years (I’m not saying exactly how many!), and I still love hummus. I love to add different flavors into the base recipe and use it as a dip for my veggies.

I always hear people asking if they can skip the tahini (sesame paste) in hummus recipes. No, you cannot. It’s what gives the hummus that extra depth of flavor, umami, if you will, that makes it positively addictive.

This healthy recipe can be eaten in large quantities.

Chimichurri Hummus

Ingredients:
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked or canned
1 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 cup shallots, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Drain beans thoroughly.

Chop parsley and basil so that stems are removed.

Place beans, parsley, basil, tahini and shallots in a food processor and blend until smooth. Drizzle in oil and pulse until well incorporated. Add remaining ingredients except chili flakes and black pepper.

Blend until you reach the desired consistency, smooth and thick.

Top with chili flakes and black pepper.

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Serves 8 to 11, as an appetizer or snack

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 273, Calories from Fat: 118, Fat: 13 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 78 mg, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 10 g

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

 



Healthy Living: Using Hand Sanitizer


Using Hand SanitizerBack in the day, when my younger son was at that age, I taught preschool for two years. It was great because I got to go to work with him every day while still earning an income, but the downside was that I spent the first year teaching preschool sick. I mean, really sick. I not only contracted every cold that came through my classroom door, but I also battled a bout of strep throat and pneumonia. My immune system was the pits.

The next year, I invested in the industrial sized bottles of hand sanitizer for my classroom. The kids learned to apply some when they entered the room, when they came back from the bathroom (even after they washed their hands) and after recess.

I didn’t get sick that year.

Hand sanitizer is an easy and convenient way to help stay healthy on the go. An alternative to soap and water, hand sanitizer usually comes in liquid, gel or foam form. It contains a high level of alcohol. Alcohol rub sanitizers kill most bacteria and fungi and stop some viruses. Alcohol rub sanitizers containing at least 70 percent alcohol (mainly ethyl alcohol) kill 99.9 percent of the bacteria on hands 30 seconds after application and 99.99 percent in one minute, according to studies.

I have a small, travel-sized bottle in my purse, for on-the-go sanitizing. It really came in handy at the state fair, let me tell you.

I have another bottle on my desk and another in the boys’ bathroom in my home.

You can’t avoid all germs this fall and winter, so protect yourself the best way you can.



Healthy Living: Perimeter Shopping


Perimeter ShoppingI ran into one of my uber-healthy friends while grocery shopping this morning. In addition to the fact that she’s beautiful, fit and ENJOYS eating celery, I was wearing scuzzy clothes and didn’t have on any makeup. Of course, that’s pretty much the law when you leave the house in a state of disrepair. The best I had going for me is that I was clean.

However, makeup and T-shirt aside, I found myself wanting to hide my shopping cart from her. Oh yeah, I had salmon, broccoli, zucchini and grapes, but I also had frozen waffles and ice cream. Hey, they are for my KIDS, okay?

Then, I started thinking that I should probably shop so that I don’t feel the need to hide my cart when a healthy eater walks by. My next thought was that I should do a better job of emphasizing healthy choices to my kids.

I put the frozen waffles back. My son will be just as happy with Greek yogurt for protein and dairy, and a banana for fruit and fiber. The other son can have real scrambled eggs instead of a frozen breakfast pastry.

I left the ice cream because I think it’s fine for growing, active kids to have a treat every once in a while.

One of the best ways to shop in a healthy way is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the fresh fruits and vegetables are stored, along with the meats and dairy. I really do love walking through the Brookshire’s produce department and seeing the beautiful displays of colorful fruits and veggies.

Maybe next time I run into her, I won’t feel the need to hide my cart.

I’ll try to be wearing some makeup as well.

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Food Watch: Prepping for Natural Disasters


Prepping for Natural DisastersOn a venture to visit friends during what seemed to be a light rain, I came to find how unprepared you can be going into natural disasters. My drive was great until I reached the road before theirs. My phone made a resounding alarm that made me jump: “TORNADO WARNING IN THIS AREA. TAKE SHELTER NOW.” I looked toward the direction in which I’d be going, and I saw dark, swirling clouds starting to rotate around each other.

Once I arrived, everyone was on their phone trying to figure out what was going on. The wind picked up, and then it was silent. Next, quarter-sized hail showered down around the house, followed by a torrent of wind and rain. At that moment, we decided to run to the storm shelter. We went to the storm shelter twice that night – six of us along with the family dog – and the realization of how much we lacked set in.

It was a great opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of storm shelter use. However, since I work in grocery, I thought mostly of what foods could keep for extended periods of time to not only prepare for such an event, but to help keep you alive if you were trapped. Food should have a long shelf life with little to no cooking required, and it must meet the needs of all family members (including pets).

Canned meats and vegetables can keep a few years on average depending on the product. Highly acidic canned goods like fruit and juice store well for less time (12 to 18 months). Water can also last quite a long time.

Thankfully, Brookshire’s has a plethora of high-quality canned products that will help you stock up if need be. I really like their vegetable assortments, which are picked at the peak of freshness and come with a handy pop top. No can opener needed!

Also, consider how your food is stored. If you’re preparing for a natural disaster, make sure that your food and water are stored away from the outside door, away from the elements. Keep these items elevated and, if possible, in a storage area of their own.

You most likely won’t need to hide in your storm shelter for years at a time, but you never know when a natural disaster may hit. It’s best to prepare in advance, and that will be one less thing to worry about when the time comes.



Healthy Living: Baked Spinach and Eggs


Baked Spinach and EggsI love a hot, cooked breakfast.

I try to make do with cold hard-boiled eggs because I can make those in advance, or with Greek yogurt or, occasionally, breakfast cereal and milk, which are all healthy choices. I love a hot breakfast and try to make sure I get up early enough so that I’m organized and prepared enough to enjoy my favorite meal of the day.

I love this dish because it’s so simple. It comes together so quickly, and it can bake while I finish getting ready in the morning. The spinach is packed with iron, and the fiber helps keep you full. The eggs are also full of iron and protein, and they also help ward off the mid-morning munchies. I love the salty taste of the feta, which adds a little more fat to the mix for a satisfying, healthy morning meal.

I’ve been known to eat this for dinner, too, with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Baked Spinach and Eggs

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh baby spinach, firmly packed
4 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbs feta cheese, crumbled
nonstick cooking spray or 1 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray or rub olive oil into individual glass ramekins, individual cast-iron skillets or other small oven-proof bakeware. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, wilt the spinach over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Distribute the spinach evenly into baking containers.

Crack one egg over spinach in each container. (If using one baking dish, just distribute the eggs evenly over the spinach.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper; top with crumbled feta. Place the baking dishes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked though and the yolks are set to your preference.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 98, Calories from Fat: 59, Fat: 7 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 172 mg, Sodium: 202 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 8 g.

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Healthy Living: Healthy Habits for Every Day


Healthy Habits for Every DayPut down the Halloween candy!

I know it’s hard to resist sneaking a bite-sized Heath bar from your son’s trick-or-treat bag, and certainly one isn’t going to hurt. However, now that fright night is over and Thanksgiving is not yet upon us, here are a few things to make a habit of daily for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

I saw 27 versions of this same list online, so I’m not really sure where it came from originally. Of course, add something special for you to make it something you can stick with!

By the Numbers
0 empty calories/processed foods daily
1 hour of exercise and/or reading per day
2 liters of water per day
3 cups of green tea/green juice per day
4 mental and stretch breaks per day
5 things you’re grateful for every day
6 A.M. meditation daily
7 minutes of belly laughs daily
8 hours of sleep nightly
9 thousand steps every day
10pm nightly bedtime

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Healthy Living: Easy Cure for What Ails You


Easy Cure for What Ails YouDid you know there’s an easy, natural and healthy way to ease congestion or a sore throat during this season of sickness?

You simply make a “tea” of one cup warm water, one tablespoon honey and some lemon to help chase away the chills, congestion and sore throat. You can add cinnamon, too, as cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that effectively prevent colds.

Honey has been shown to contain antioxidants, and it offers antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help fight against the virus, bacteria and fungus to treat the cold and its underlying symptoms.

In addition, it will help boost the immune system, which lessens the severity of the cold and helps to prevent future colds.

It will also help soothe a sore throat naturally, and it relieves irritation.

You can also take a tablespoon full of straight honey when you feel a cough coming on to help fight that ailment as well.



Healthy Living: Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese


Greek Yogurt Mac and CheeseI love mac and cheese.

It’s one of my favorite dishes, and I try to make it as often as possible.

I even make a mean Cauliflower and Cheese dish, also featured on this blog.

While I love the cauliflower variety, sometimes you just want some pasta.

Even while eating pasta (use whole-grain for added fiber and health benefits), you can make a healthier sauce for the mac and cheese using Greek yogurt instead of butter and cream for the base.

This is so creamy and tangy that you don’t even miss the added fat.

The Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, and it gives the sauce a rich, full flavor.

Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
8 oz whole-wheat macaroni or other small pasta
8 oz sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cups fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions:
Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions (about 8 minutes).

Drain the pasta well, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and toss with spinach to wilt the spinach. Return the pasta and spinach to the pot.

Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved water to the pot, and stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in the Greek yogurt and all the spices; stir until smooth and creamy. Thin with remaining reserved water, if necessary. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 321, Fat: 5 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 13 mg, Sodium: 373 mg, Carbohydrates: 45 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 25 g.

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



Healthy Living: Autumn in a Skillet


Autumn in a SkilletLast week, my aunt from Maine flew down to visit my mom in Virginia.

I was a little jealous. My aunt is one of the most amazing people I know and certainly one of the strongest women (aside from my mom) in my life.

They had four days filled with fun sister time (again, I was a little jealous). They walked through a designer house, took in the sights and sounds of Richmond, and finally went to western Virginia to visit some historical sites and go apple picking.

Going apple picking is one of my favorite memories from this time of year in Virginia. We did it as a family growing up, but I even went a few times in college, since the picturesque mountain where the orchard was located was also close to the school I attended.

The cool air, crisp fruits and distinctly fall aromas made for the perfect day. There’s nothing like apple picking in the fresh air except maybe turning those apples into delicious treats. This dish combines protein, good fiber, and a ton of vitamins and nutrients in one quick and easy skillet dinner.

Autumn in a Skillet

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock, divided

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet until fragrant and shimmering. Add chicken, salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the bacon; cook until the bacon is crisp. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon, and add to the same plate as the chicken.

Turn the heat to medium-high. Add Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and onions. Cook and stir until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the onions are translucent. Stir in the apples, garlic, thyme and cinnamon. Stir in 1/2 cup of the broth. Bring the broth to a boil, stirring often, and cook down until the broth has evaporated. Add in chicken, bacon and the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 425, Fat: 20 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 106 mg, Sodium: 1250 mg, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 38 g.

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



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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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