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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

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

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.

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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

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

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.

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Healthy Living: Flu Season

Flu SeasonThe dreaded flu season is upon us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get sick.

The last time I got the flu, which was luckily about 7 years ago, I was unlucky enough to have it at the same time as both of my children. There is nothing worse than taking care of sick kids when you’re sick yourself.

Each year, over 200,000 Americans get sick with the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but this season, I plan to stay healthy.

I got my flu shot, as did my sons. Shots are available at Brookshire’s Pharmacy locations and only take a minute. Plus, it didn’t hurt at all.

I am vigilant about washing my hands. Proper washing techniques are proven to help stop the spread of the flu virus. Use warm water and soap, and be sure to get each crevice between your fingers and everything, especially if you’ve been in a public place.

Speaking of public places, avoid going anywhere if you’re sick or suspect you’re coming down with something. Never go to work when you’re sick. Your co-workers will thank you for it.

Wipe down surfaces with a bleach wipe or other disinfectant wipe proven to kill germs on a regular basis, especially after you’ve been sick. Be vigilant about shared surfaces like office telephones or doorknobs.

Include a good amount of vitamin C in your diet to help you ward off illnesses.

Finally, see your doctor immediately if you suspect the flu. He can prescribe Tamiflu® or a similar drug to help lessen the effects of the disease.

Healthy Living: Stuffed “Pumpkins”

Stuffed “Pumpkins”It’s never too early to trot out the fall treats!

These fun and fanciful “pumpkins” don’t have to wait until Halloween to make an appearance, and they might even entice your kids to devour this healthy meal.

You can stuff the bell pepper “pumpkins” with almost anything you want: a mixture of ground turkey, quinoa and corn; this chicken mixture; or even make it all veggies and grains.

Your family will get vitamin C and antioxidants from the peppers. The chicken and black beans provide protein, and there’s lots of beta-carotene in the tomatoes in the salsa.

Plus, you can make these in advance, and just pop them in the oven for dinner when you get home in the evening. They’re a fun and healthy way to feed your family!

Stuffed “Pumpkins”

4 large orange bell peppers
4 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 Tbs cumin
1/2 Tbs garlic salt
1/2 Tbs chili powder
1/2 to 1 cup salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Slice the tops off of the orange peppers, removing seeds and pith. Using the sharp tip of a paring knife, “carve” faces into the peppers, small enough that filling won’t come out but large enough to see a pumpkin “face.”

In a large bowl, mix together shredded chicken, black beans, onions, spices, salsa (to taste) and cheese. Stuff 1/4 of mixture into each pepper, and cap with the top of the pepper.

Place in a baking dish with a lid or cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover, and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 568, Calories from Fat: 138, Fat: 15 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 137 mg, Sodium: 480 mg, Carbohydrates: 46 g, Fiber: 12 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 61 g.

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Healthy Living: Stuffed Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed Breakfast Sweet PotatoesGetting out the door in the morning is no easy task.

There’s the first school pre-dawn run to get the older kid to cross country practice. I fuel up with a can of LaCroix bubble water during that trip.

Then, it’s back home to get myself and the younger kid ready for the day.

That includes showers and breakfast.

This simple and healthy meal, packed full of vitamins and nutrients, needed to get us through a day of work, school, sports and homework. It can bake while you shower, and then voila! It’s ready to go when you’re ready to eat. You can even prep the potatoes the night before. Just heat them for a few minutes in the microwave to get them ready to go back in the oven the second time.

Stuffed Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
toppings such as shredded cheese, green onions, chives, salsa, avocado, etc.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Pierce sweet potatoes; bake for about 1 hour, or until soft and tender. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.

Slice each potato lengthwise, and then scoop out most of the soft flesh, leaving about a 1/2-inch shell intact. Save the potato for a future use or mash to eat as a “side dish” with the baked eggs.

Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.

Carefully crack 1 egg into each sweet potato shell. Season with salt and pepper; bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until egg white has set. Top with shredded cheese. Return to the oven until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven, and top with items of your choice. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 249, Calories from Fat: 47, Fat: 5 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 186 mg, Sodium: 84 mg, Carbohydrates: 42 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Back to School Breakfast Baked Oatmeal Cups

Back to School Breakfast Baked Oatmeal CupsBack to school breakfasts are wreaking havoc with my psyche this year.

I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and my personal favorite), and the PRESSURE to deliver a nutritious, delicious, easy and convenient back to school breakfast is mounting.

I haven’t stressed out about breakfast in the past, but this year, one of my kids will need to take his breakfast to school. For whatever reason, this is throwing a kink in my best-laid breakfast plans.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for his school breakfasts.

I was referred to this recipe on a blog called “Flex with Faith Fitness,” written by a super mom, teacher and fitness instructor committed to a healthy lifestyle. It fits all my requirements for a fabulous school morning breakfast: it’s healthy, easy and can be made ahead of time. It’s also delicious.

I can’t wait to try these!

Baked Oatmeal Cups

coconut oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large bananas (or 2 cups unsweetened applesauce)
1 Tbs raw honey
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
pinch of cloves
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
toppings of your choice (such as fresh berries, chunks of fresh fruit, nuts, pure maple syrup, chocolate chips, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat muffin tin with coconut oil or nonstick cooking spray, or use paper liners. Paper liners tend to work best if you’re freezing these.

Combine eggs, vanilla, bananas and honey in a large bowl. Mash bananas and mix well. Set aside.

Combine oats, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir well and combine with banana mixture. Stir in almond milk and mix well.

Divide oatmeal evenly between prepared muffin cups, and add toppings of your choice.

Bake for 26 to 30 minutes or until golden-brown.

Serve immediately or freeze.

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 175, Fat: 4 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 35 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 6 g.

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Healthy Living: Kid-Friendly Breakfast Sushi

Kid-Friendly Breakfast SushiSchool started last week, and I’m up against an added challenge this year: getting a kid to an athletic practice in the morning before school.

He’s STARVING by the time he finishes practice, but he can’t eat anything heavy before he goes to the workout.

We came up with breakfast sushi, a “roll” that gives him some energy, but it doesn’t weigh him down. It has protein, potassium to help rebuild muscles, and “good” carbs that he can burn during practice.

Bonus points: my other son loves them, too.

Breakfast Sushi

1 large, firm banana
1 Tbs plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs natural peanut butter
2 Tbs granola or other whole-grain breakfast cereal, crushed
1/4 cup strawberries, finely chopped

Peel banana.

Mix together Greek yogurt and peanut butter. Roll banana in mixture, and then coat with a layer of crushed cereal. Sprinkle with strawberries. Refrigerate overnight, and serve first thing in the morning.

Serves 1

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 262, Calories from Fat: 145, Fat: 16 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 17 mg, Carbohydrates: 50 g, Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 24 g, Protein: 13 g.

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Healthy Living: Healthy Fats

Healthy FatsIf those two words don’t seem to go together to you, you’re not alone.

When I first heard of a “low carb, high fat” diet, I thought to myself, “That’s a heart attack waiting to happen.”

Then, I realized that you’re not eating your body weight in Cheetos and ice cream; you’re opting for HEALTHY fats and HEALTHY carbohydrates.

Healthy fats include things like olive oil, avocados and nut butters. Healthy fats are great for your skin and hair, and they keep you feeling full longer. They’re also good for your heart.

Monounsaturated fats, like the ones found in olive oil and avocados, raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol). Canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are good sources of healthy fats. Salmon is another good source of healthy fats.

Healthy fats help your body absorb nutrients, and they help your food digest more effectively.

Don’t go overboard, though. Fat is fat. Read labels and pay attention to serving sizes! Remember that a serving size of almonds is an ounce, not a can.

Healthy Living: Super Simple Marinara Sauce

Super Simple Marinara SauceSummer is the perfect time to make a healthy and hearty marinara sauce, using the freshest of summer vegetables and herbs.

It comes together quickly, and it is so fresh and tasty that simmering and stirring on a stove all day is not required (but it sure smells great if you do!).

Right now, tomatoes are at their peak, so grab some for your sauce today. You could also use a hybrid combination of fresh and canned like I do.

The beauty of a marinara sauce is that you can combine any herbs you like, not just limiting yourself to what’s traditional. Everything is at the peak of freshness and flavor right now.

Today, I have some simmering with Cuban oregano from my friend’s garden. She gave me a sprig last week that I’m trying to root hydroponically, but in the meantime, it smelled too good not to use. I also have fresh basil from my garden as well as locally grown onions and tomatoes.

I like a chunky marinara, but you could always give this a whirl in the food processor if you want it to be smoother.

The tomatoes are full of antioxidants and cancer-fighting agents. Make a huge batch of this, and freeze what you don’t use for later use.

Toss with a rigatoni pasta, or serve over slices of eggplant (my plan).

Super Simple Marinara Sauce

1 lb local tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
2 oz tomato paste

Preheat oven to 450° F. Spread tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges turn dark, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a large pot.

Add garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Process in food processor until smooth, if desired.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 57, Calories from Fat: 5, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 406 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 2 g.

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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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