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Healthy Living: Berry Avocado Salad


Berry Avocado SaladIt’s officially springtime and time to lighten up our eating.

I can eat avocado in almost anything. The beauty of this power-packed fruit is that it takes on the flavor of almost anything you serve it with, kind of like tofu but better.

This salad packs in vitamins and antioxidants from the fruit, and you get good fats and protein from the avocado. I usually swap the iceberg lettuce for spinach, but you can do it either way. Just remember iceberg lettuce, while giving a crunchy contrast texture, doesn’t add much in the way of nutrition.

Berry Avocado Salad

Ingredients:
1/4 wedge iceberg lettuce, chopped or whole (or baby spinach)
6 strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella chunks
1 avocado, sliced

For the Dressing:
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place lettuce in a salad bowl.
Add strawberries, blueberries, mozzarella and avocado slices.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Pour over salad and gently mix it all together.
Serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 687, Calories from Fat: 535, Fat: 60 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (14 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 477 mg, Potassium: 1335 mg, Carbohydrates: 36 g, Fiber: 21 g, Sugar: 12 g, Protein: 13 g.



Healthy Living: Cinnamon Pecan Oatmeal


OatmealI’ve been eating a lot of eggs for breakfast recently.

Recently, as in, oh, the past year or so. I love eggs. They’re good for you, but variety is the spice of life and the key to good health.

So, I searched for other recipes that are easy, healthy and delicious.

This recipe for oatmeal is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. It doesn’t take too much time, and it will fill your belly all morning long. The whole grains and the fruits are delicious together. 

Cinnamon Pecan Oatmeal

Ingredients:
2 cups purified water
2 cups rice milk
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup pecans
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp raisins
2 Tbsp cacao nibs
1 Tbsp flax seeds, ground
Pinch of sea salt

Directions:
In a medium pot on the stovetop, bring water and rice milk to a boil. Add oats; cook over medium heat until oats are tender, approximately 20 minutes. Add in remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat; transfer to four bowls. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 205, Fat: 10.4 g, Sodium: 103 mg, Carbohydrates: 25.8 g, Fiber: 6.7 g, Sugar: 8.8 g, Protein: 9.6 g.

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Healthy Living: Riding Bikes


BikesMy boys got bikes for Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to get a bike as well so we could pedal around the neighborhood and local parks together.

I had grandiose visions of strapping the bikes to the back of the car and heading out for a day at the state park.

The boys will ride their bikes around the neighborhood every afternoon, weather permitting. They got little odometers for Valentine’s Day so they can tell how far they went, and it’s almost become a competition, right down to who rode one-tenth of a mile farther.

I love that because it gets them out and moving.

After a long winter, nothing feels better than stretching your legs.

Of course, I say that in theory. I did finally get my bike, and the first time I took it out for a spin, I could hardly keep up with my 10-year-old. However, riding bikes together is a great way to get healthier as a family, and I intend to not only keep up but to also outlast him someday soon.

Then, we’ll take that long ride in the state park. 



Healthy Living: Roasted Okra


Roasted OkraI have this thing about okra.

I know it’s healthy. I know it’s good for me, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the texture.

I basically cut it out of my diet, which is rather shocking considering it’s a staple of Southern cuisine.

Recently, I had the best bowl of gumbo I’d ever eaten in my life, and it featured a generous amount of okra. The okra was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of tenderness.

I decided to give okra another chance, and I’m so glad I did because I found this recipe.

Roasting the okra gives it the perfect texture, in my opinion, and the coconut oil just increases the health factor!

Roasted Okra

Ingredients:
1 lb okra
2 Tbsp coconut oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Wash and thoroughly dry the okra. Once dried, roughly chop okra, and toss with coconut oil and seasoning. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, stirring the mix once about halfway through. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Serves 2
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 192, Calories from Fat: 126, Fat: 14 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 16 mg, Potassium: 678 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Blood Orange Quinoa Salad


Orange SaladCitrus season in this part of the country lasts as long as a Southern afternoon sitting on the porch sipping tea.

Thank goodness it does because there are so many delightful and healthy ways to enjoy citrus fruits. The best benefit, in my opinion, is the amazing amount of vitamin C it adds to your diet. I know for the past three months I’ve changed the expression from ‘an apple a day’ to ‘an orange a day keeps the doctor away.’ I think I’ve eaten an orange or a grapefruit (my personal favorite) at least once a day since flu season started!

There’s no reason to stop eating citrus when the weather warms. This refreshing salad features the best and brightest of what both seasons have to offer.

Blood Orange Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
3 blood oranges, peeled, seeds removed and cut into slices
2 navel oranges, peeled, seeds removed and cut into slices
1 pink grapefruit, peeled, seeds removed and cut into slices
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup honey lemon dressing
2 cups broccoli sprouts

Directions:
Cook quinoa, let it cool and fluff with a fork. Trim fruit into pretty pieces, discarding seeds. Stir salad dressing into quinoa. Carefully fold in citrus, feta, green onion and avocado. Top with broccoli sprouts.

Honey Lemon Dressing

Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey
sea salt
ground black pepper

Directions:
Shake olive oil, lemon juice and honey in a jar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 475, Calories from Fat: 144, Fat: 16 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 25 mg, Sodium: 341 mg, Potassium: 983 mg, Carbohydrates: 74 g, Fiber: 12 g, Sugar: 38 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Healthy Living: Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


Southwest SaladA few Monday mornings ago, I was describing my weekend to my best friend. The conversation went something like this:

“On Friday night, we ate Cajun food and I tried fried alligator for the first time. It was in a tempura batter and was so good. On Saturday, we made a roast. Oh, the meat just melted in your mouth. Then, we went out for dessert. He got strawberry cake and I had creme brulee. It was so good. On Sunday, we ate Mexican food at this cute little place I’d never been to before. Their chile rellenos were out of this world.”

After I finished talking, I think I realized I didn’t eat one single truly healthy thing all weekend. Then, everything that tasted so good didn’t feel so good. Have you ever had a weekend like that?

On Monday morning, I felt sluggish and tired.

My body needed some premium fuel, not just the cheap stuff. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that if you put junk in, you get junk out.

This salad was a delicious, healthy way to get back on track.

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad:
5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced

Cilantro Lime Dressing:
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Top lettuce with tomatoes, corn, black beans, cilantro and avocado.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Serve over salad.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 594, Calories from Fat: 207, Fat: 23 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 267 mg, Potassium: 1983 mg, Carbohydrates: 45 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 22 g, Protein: 56 g.

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Healthy Living: Peach Mango Butter


Peach Mango ButterI’m always looking for a healthier alternative to using butter or nut spreads on toast or sandwiches. I love apple butter, but when I discovered this peach-mango “butter,” I was hooked. It has such a fresh, Spring-like taste and bright flavor. I’ve made many a Crock-Pot full. I’ve even given it as gifts.

After you make it, you can either can it and store at room temperature, or you can put in a cute jar and store in the refrigerator for several weeks.
I’ve been able to make this successfully with fresh or frozen peaches, so don’t let the fact it’s still winter stop you from trying this!

Peach Mango Butter

Ingredients:
2 lb peaches, peeled and quartered (5-6 large peaches)
1 lb mango, peeled and sliced (about 2 mangos)
1 cup sugar
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup V8 V-Fusion Peach Mango juice (or use 1/2 cup water)

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook for 2 1/2 hours on low heat setting with lid on. Then, prop open the lid (use a wooden spoon laid across the edge), and cook for another 2-3 hours or until the fruit mixture is soft. Use an immersion blender or process the mixture in a blender until smooth and thick. Ladle into jars and refrigerate.

Makes 4 pints

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 62, Calories from Fat: 1, Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 2 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 15 g, Protein: 0 g.

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Healthy Living: Frozen Banana Bites


Frozen Banana BitesI’m always on the quest to get my kids to make better choices when it comes to snacking. Being honest, I could make better choices as well.

When they ask for a snack, I tend to say, “Get a piece of fruit.

Well, I made these and now they’re all about getting a “piece of fruit!”

Frozen Banana Bites

Ingredients:
2 large bananas
1/3 cup carob (or chocolate) chips
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions: 
Set out a large plate or bowl with a piece of parchment or wax paper on it. Cut up the bananas into good-sized chunks. Each banana should give you around 5 to 6 pieces. Heat the peanut butter and carob chips in the microwave on HIGH for about a minute; stir until smooth.

Dip the banana pieces in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Lay them out, leaving some space between them on the parchment/wax paper. Then, sprinkle the unsweetened coconut flakes on top. Transfer to the freezer and freeze overnight.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 422, Calories from Fat: 206, Fat: 23 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 35 mg, Carbohydrates: 48 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 25 g, Protein: 11 g 

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Healthy Living: Grilled Potatoes


Grilled PotatoesI got a grill recently.

A real grill.

A big girl grill.

Not the little propane camping grill I’d been using for the past 2.5 years.

A real, honest-to-goodness, black steel grill with multiple cooking decks, a side burner and a warming plate.

Heaven.

Since then, I’ve been grilling everything that can move, or can’t move, as the case may be.

I’ve been having so much fun experimenting with this fun, delicious, healthier cooking style.

Last night, I tried my hand at potatoes.

Potatoes, while they come from the ground, are one of those foods that are somewhere in between healthy and unhealthy. Surely, it’s not healthy to fry them, but they can’t be all bad if they possess a ton of potassium and fiber.

They’re certainly not something you expect to grill.

If you parboil the average Yukon Gold potato, you’re into grilling gold.

Grilled Potatoes

Ingredients:
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into ¾-inch rounds
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp seasoned salt
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

Directions:
Slice potatoes, drop into a large pot of boiling water and boil until softened, about 7 minutes or until fork tender.

Drain. Let cool.

Toss potatoes with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt.

Grill over medium-high heat about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from grill. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Let stand for about 2 minutes.

Serve.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 141, Calories from Fat: 64, Fat: 7 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 2286 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 2 g

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Healthy Living: Scrambled Egg Muffins


Egg MuffinIt’s February! Have your resolutions to eat better and be more healthy gone by the wayside? I’ve been trying to stick with mine, but I’ll admit that breakfast is one of the biggest challenges. I don’t usually sit down at the breakfast table in the morning to eat; I eat whatever I’ve grabbed in the car after I drop the kids off at school. So, a steaming hot bowl of steel-cut oats is out of the question most mornings.

I wanted something that was both portable and healthy. I saw a recipe for a breakfast “muffin” and by modifying the recipe a bit (replacing pork sausage with turkey sausage, swapping out half the eggs for egg whites and skipping the hash browns and adding veggies), I think I came up with a healthier version. I’ll bake a dozen of these on a Sunday evening and toss two in the microwave each morning on the way out the door.

Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients:
6 eggs
12 Tbsp egg whites
1 lb turkey sausage
3 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners or spray generously with nonstick cooking spray.

Brown sausage and drain. Toss with spinach, bell pepper and onion; stir over medium heat until spinach is wilted and onions are opaque.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with egg whites then add crumbled cheese. Add sausage and vegetables to the bowl and stir well to combine.

Fill cupcake liners almost full.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until knife inserted in the center of each comes out clean.

Note: You can use almost any vegetables or cheese that you like!

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 187, Calories from Fat: 129, Fat: 14 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 119 mg, Sodium: 415 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 13 g



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