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Healthy Living: Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and GritsI may have mentioned before (like 97,000 times) that I’m on this new, doctor-driven diet. I didn’t exactly embrace it at first, but now I’m having a lot of fun trimming down recipes that might not otherwise be viable on a low-fat diet.

Right when I started this diet, I had a hankering for shrimp and grits. Before, that would have meant shrimp sautéed in butter over a bed of creamy grits laden with butter, cheddar cheese and bacon. Yep, I think I just felt my arteries constrict.

While that still sounds good to my palate, which hasn’t finished adjusting to the new way of eating, that isn’t good for my heart. And, I have to be good to my heart.

However, I still wanted the shrimp and grits, so I had to come up with a new way to make them. With the addition of some chicken stock, some herbs and some veggies, I didn’t even notice the absence of the fat. I grilled the shrimp instead of sautéing it in butter, and it tasted even better with the smoky flavor from the grill.

Shrimp and Grits

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs low-sodium Cajun seasoning
1 cup grits
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbs hot pepper sauce
1 Tbs fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Toss shrimp with Cajun spice. Thread onto skewers with space between each shrimp. Grill over medium heat until shrimp is pink and cooked through.

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add grits and stir, reducing heat to medium-low. Add salt and pepper. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, stir in pepper sauce, garlic and oregano. Stir well. When liquid is incorporated, remove grits from heat. Stir in tomatoes. Cover the pan and let stand for 3 minutes. Serve immediately with shrimp.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 197, Calories from Fat: 29, Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 239 mg, Sodium: 2678 mg, Potassium: 423 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 28 g.

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Healthy Living: Mediterranean Lettuce Tacos

Mediterranean Lettuce TacosToday is 11/11. You know how people always say to make a wish at 11:11 a.m. or p.m.? Well, I’m going to make a wish on the entire day for recipes that taste great and are good for you.

Luckily, they aren’t hard to find.

We put out many of our own here at Brookshire’s. From this blog to Celebrate Cooking magazine to recipe cards provided in stores, healthy and tasty recipes abound.

This recipe came about one night when I was scrambling for dinner on a “Taco Tuesday.” It’s an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe using things I had around the house that particular night. You might not have ready-made tzatziki, but just combine plain Greek yogurt with dill, lemon juice, garlic and chopped cucumber. Voila!

These lettuce tacos are a spin on Asian lettuce wraps using Mediterranean flavors. My boys like the filling in corn tortillas, but obviously eating them in lettuce is better for you.

Mediterranean Lettuce Tacos

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4-inch-long, 1-inch-thick strips
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
4 romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
1 Tbs red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette (or red wine vinegar)
12 butter lettuce leaves
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on grill. Cook, basting with balsamic vinaigrette and turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from grill; set aside.
Place shredded romaine lettuce and red onions in a medium bowl; drizzle with red wine vinaigrette and toss to combine. Divide mixture evenly among butter lettuce leaves, and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon tzatziki.

Top each taco with 1 piece of chicken, and garnish with chopped tomatoes, feta cheese and olives. Season with parsley, basil and oregano; serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 320, Calories from Fat: 169, Fat: 19 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 85 mg, Sodium: 646 mg, Potassium: 557 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 28 g.

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Healthy Living: Portobellos with Eggs

Portobellos with EggsI’d always heard things go “downhill” after age 40.

Sadly, I’ve found that isn’t as much of an exaggeration as I hoped it would be. It seems like all kinds of health issues started cropping up after I hit the big 4-0.

One of the ways I’m treating these issues is to try to consume as many whole foods as possible with lots of protein and fiber, and without preservatives or a lot of calories.

I also try to keep things simple, especially in the mornings. This dish is packed with protein, and the mushrooms, to me, make it feel substantial without adding a lot of extra calories. This comes together in minutes, and if you set your yolk more firmly, it can be eaten in the car on the way to work. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Portobellos with Eggs

2 portobello mushrooms, stems cut
2 large eggs
1 Tbs olive oil
fresh dill, rosemary and basil, chopped (to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

Drizzle olive oil on portobellos, and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the herbs on top. Crack open the eggs and carefully put one inside each mushroom. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 300° F.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 152, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 186 mg, Sodium: 70 mg, Potassium: 367 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Sucralose

Crustless Pumpkin PieWe’re caught between a rock and a hard place these days. Natural sugar is highly caloric; artificial sweeteners are, well, artificial. However, sucralose, often sold by the brand name Splenda, is a non-caloric sweetener first introduced in 1976. It is a good substitute for sugar in baked goods because it’s heat resistant and shelf stable. It doesn’t cause cavities; it’s safe for diabetics as a substitute for sugar and does not affect insulin levels. Sucralose is used as a replacement for other natural sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or high-fructose corn syrup.

This recipe uses Food Club Brand Sucralose instead of sugar, and when you serve it this holiday season, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 8

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/3 cup Food Club Sucralose
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup evaporated fat-free milk

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sucralose, honey and spices. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat lightly until just combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until center appears set when gently shaken. Cool for 1 hour on wire rack. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Calories Per Serving: 72, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 42 mg, Sodium: 46 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Healthy Halloween Treats

Healthy Halloween TreatsHalloween is all about candy, right?


Yep, I’m the mom who gives out the individual serving-sized bags of pretzels on Halloween. Laugh all you want, but in our house, we toss probably 85 percent of the candy. We just don’t eat it – or need it.

This year, instead of trick-or-treating, I’m hosting a backyard movie night for my boys and their friends. They’ve gotten to that age where trick-or-treating is a bit passé, but they still want to celebrate the holiday.

So, they will dress up, likely as zombies because that’s way cool, you know.

They’ll come here for dinner, pizza most likely because that’s delicious, you know.

Then, we’ll go to a haunted house.

Finally, we’ll come back to my house. I rented a projector to show a movie outdoors, so we’ll spread blankets in the backyard, watch a movie and enjoy some treats that are healthier than pizza.

I love the ghost bananas and the pumpkin tangerines! They’re super simple.

For the ghosts, peel a banana and cut it in half across the middle. Using chocolate chips, make a ghostly “face” on the banana, pressing the chips lightly into the fruit. For the pumpkins, peel a tangerine and insert a small piece of sliced celery into the top for a “stem.” Enjoy!

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Healthy Living: Cucumber Vegetable Cups

HealthyLiving_CucumberDipCups_228x173I’m throwing a bridal shower next week. My best friend’s daughter is getting married.

Did you read that correctly? My. Best. Friend.

If she’s MY best friend, this means I’m also old enough to have a daughter getting married.





For real.


It’s hard to acknowledge that we’re old enough to have children getting married and having babies, but we are, mostly.

I haven’t been to a shower in a while, I must admit, because my crowd is busy navigating the waters of middle school. We’re in that weird limbo between our own bridal showers and our children’s showers.

However, I DO have to admit that in all the showers I’ve been to recently, there hasn’t been much healthy food. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some cupcakes and some meatballs, but it’s always good to have a healthy option for a group gathering like a bridal shower or work event. So many people are eating gluten-free these days that it’s also important for them. These are a fun way to serve something artful and deliver a fun and healthy option, all in one.

Cucumber Vegetable Cups

2 large cucumbers (about 3 cups)

1 cup ranch dressing

2 cups carrots, sliced


Peel cucumbers.

Slice into 1/2-inch rounds.

Scoop out seeds, leaving a shell at the bottom of each round to be filled.

Fill with a teaspoon of ranch dressing.

Place carrot sticks inside cucumber cups.

Serve immediately.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 35, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0.2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 251 mg, Potassium: 194 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 1 g.

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Healthy Living: Crunchy Corn

Crunchy CornIt’s the season for candy corn. However, this is the Healthy Living blog, and we don’t recommend serving up a side of candy corn along with dinner. Yummy, yes. Healthy, no.

This roasted corn snack isn’t bad for your waistline, and it provides a big, bold taste and a satisfying crunch. I have a weakness for chips, and this is a great treat to have in place of calorie-laden potato chips or corn chips.

Of course, it’s gluten and dairy-free, as well.

Crunchy Corn

2 cups dried corn
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt

Soak dried corn in water overnight and then cook in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes.

Pat corn dry well.

Heat a nonstick pan and add olive oil.

Toss in corn and sprinkle chili powder and salt over corn.

Roast corn over high heat until crunchy and golden, shaking the pan occasionally.

Serves 1

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 512, Calories from Fat: 281, Fat: 31 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 2405 mg, Potassium: 862 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet PotatoesIf you could only eat one thing again and still stay healthy, a sweet potato is a pretty good bet.

Often called nature’s perfect food, sweet potatoes have a significant amount of beta carotene and can provide almost a day’s worth of the U. S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin A.

They are a complex carbohydrate and a good source of dietary fiber. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium.

You probably don’t want to eat a sweet potato raw, but that’s okay because cooking them actually gives them a higher level of vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are great baked, roasted, sautéed and pureed for soups and stews.

Healthy Living: Flu

Sneezing ChildIt starts with one sneeze, in an enclosed office.

Or a cough, in a classroom.

Suddenly, before you know it, the flu is everywhere.

People use the term “flu” to mean almost any sickness from a stomach ailment to a severe cold, but the actual illness is from the influenza virus. The most common symptoms are chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache (often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort. Nausea and vomiting may occur.

Typically the flu is transmitted through the air, by coughs and sneezes, but also through direct contact with the mucus membranes (ie, someone coughs into their hand, then shakes yours).

A blood test is used to determine if it’s actually the flu or not, but many physicians go ahead and treat the symptoms.

Flu vaccines are offered each season (flu is more virulent in the winter), but strains of the flu are constantly changing and becoming resistant to vaccines and medications.

The flu is treated with plenty of rest and fluids and over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

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Healthy Living: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels SproutsMy kids recently discovered a new favorite vegetable: Brussels sprouts.

It’s more accurate to say that I recently INTRODUCED them to Brussels sprouts. I was lazy and took it for granted that they’d hate them because all kids hate them, right?


My kids LOVE them now, as do several others I know. Brussels sprouts are a cultivar of German cabbage. One cup contains only 38 calories but has 342 grams of potassium, 3.3 grams of protein, dietary fiber and 3 grams of protein, plus 124 percent of the USDA for vitamin C.That’s a lot!

In addition, Brussels sprouts help you out with some cholesterol-lowering benefits, if you use a steaming method when cooking them. The fiber-related components in Brussels sprouts do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed.

So, steam them, roast them, grill them, bake them or enjoy them any way you like: they’re good for you!

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