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Healthy Living: Fresh Express Spinach


Rustic Grilled CheeseI was one of those rare kids who loved spinach from the get-go. When my mom would ask what vegetable I wanted with dinner, my answer was always an enthusiastic “spinach!” I still love it to this day and always, always have a bag of Fresh Express Spinach in my refrigerator. In fact, most days I eat it up to three times a day! I start at breakfast by adding fresh baby spinach leaves to an egg white scramble. Then at lunch, I use it in place of lettuce on my sandwich. At dinner, I mix spinach into butter or romaine lettuce for a salad. I love fresh spinach as a side dish to any meal. I gently sauté it until just wilted with a clove of freshly chopped garlic and finish it with a spritz of fresh lemon juice as soon as I take it off the heat. I LOVE this recipe idea from Fresh Express, as it combines so many of my favorite things!

Rustic Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:
8 slices rustic country sourdough bread
4 Tbs Dijon mustard
4 Tbs honey
24 baby spinach leaves from one bag of Fresh Express Baby Spinach
8 slices prosciutto, thinly shaved
8 slices Baby Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:
Heat panini press to medium heat, and spray with cooking spray (or you can use a grill pan on medium heat). Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on 4 slices of bread. On remaining undressed slices of bread, spread a thin layer of honey. Place 2 slices of Baby Swiss, 2 slices of prosciutto and 6 baby spinach leaves on 4 slices of bread. (Make sure each slice of cheese is on the side with the bread so it acts as the “glue” to holding the sandwich together.) Place the remaining slices of bread on the sandwiches. Grill the sandwiches until the bread is golden and cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 393, Calories from Fat: 103, Fat: 11 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 978 mg, Potassium: 272 mg, Carbohydrates: 55 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 21 g, Protein: 21 g

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Healthy Living: Watermelon Basil Popsicles


Watermelon Basil PopsiclesSummer is certainly a great time for frozen treats, but when you’re eating something like ice cream, you have to beware of the fat and calories you’re consuming. However, when you eat fruit, you can be a little more liberal with your portions and frequency.

These fun treats are frosty AND healthy, combining watermelon (which has tons of vitamins A and C) with fresh basil and lime juice. Then, you just pop them in the freezer.

As a working mom, I’m not home all day to monitor what my kids eat. I’d feel good about leaving these popsicles home unattended with two growing boys.

They’re quick and easy to make, too.

Watermelon Basil Popsicles

Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs honey
8 basil leaves, plus more for garnish
4 cups watermelon, cubed
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
10-count (3 oz) popsicle mold
10 wooden popsicle sticks

Directions:
In a saucepan, bring water and honey to a boil; stir to dissolve the honey. Remove from heat and add basil; allow to cool, then remove the basil.

In a blender, combine the basil simple syrup (the water and honey combo), watermelon and lime juice; puree until smooth.

Equally pour the mixture into popsicle molds, and insert an additional basil leaf or two for garnish. Next, cover with the top and insert popsicle sticks. Placing paperclips on the top end of the popsicle sticks will help them stay in place. Transfer to the freezer and freeze for 4 hours or overnight. Once frozen, remove the popsicles by running water over the molds and gently pulling on the sticks. Wrap in wax paper and store in the freezer for up to a month.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 38, Calories from Fat: 1, Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Potassium: 72 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 0.4 g

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Healthy Living: Peach Salsa


Peach SalsaEveryone in my family loves peaches, and they are at their sweet, juicy peak right now.

We eat them in our breakfast cereal, on salads, sliced, in pies, in cobblers, grilled and baked, but I’d never used them in a salsa before now.

This salsa is fresh and healthy, and it can be used so many ways. Eat it with pita chips or tortilla chips. Use it as a topping for grilled chicken, pork or fish. Serve it over greens for a peach salad.

Any way you use it, it’s simple and delicious.

Peach Salsa

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups ripe peaches, diced
1 cup tomato, diced
1 Tbs jalapeño, finely minced (about 1/2)
1/4 cup yellow peppers, small dice
1/4 cup red onions, finely diced
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp ancho chile powder or other chile powder
1 Tbs brown sugar, packed
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together well. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 33, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 3 mg, Potassium: 181 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 0.8 g



Healthy Living: Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato Skins


Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato SkinsI remember, back around the time I was in college, when potato skins were the big thing.

Maybe they still are, but I don’t see them around like I did then, on every restaurant appetizer menu and well-stocked in the frozen food section of the grocery store. However, I still like a good potato skin. Sadly, my metabolism isn’t the same as it was when I was in college, and the thought of eating something laden with cheese and bacon makes me gain weight.

This version with sweet potatoes contains two “super foods” that are tremendously healthy and that help our bodies ward off diseases. Spinach and sweet potatoes provide so many vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay strong, like vitamins A, B, C, D, E and B-12, along with iron, potassium and magnesium. The chicken provides lean protein, and you can always skip the cheese if you’re really wanting to be super-healthy. I love the flavors of the chipotle peppers and the sweet potatoes together. Delish!

Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato Skins
Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 medium sweet potatoes
3/4 lb (about 2 small) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
3 whole chipotle peppers, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
2 cups spinach
5 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
chopped cilantro, for garnish
Greek yogurt, for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Wash the sweet potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Place in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until fork tender. Place the chicken in a baking dish and rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven with the potatoes and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool and shred the chicken with a fork or your hands. When the sweet potatoes are done, cut in half and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and wilt the spinach (this can also be done in the microwave). Toss the spinach and shredded chicken together; set aside and keep warm.

Turn the oven up to 400° F. Scrape the sweet potatoes out of the peeling, leaving a medium-sized layer of flesh inside with the peeling so that it can stand up on its own (I reserved the remaining flesh for another use). Place potatoes in a baking dish. Brush the skins with a little of the chipotle sauce and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until nice and crisp. While the skins bake, mix the spinach, chicken and chipotle sauce together.

Remove skins from the oven and stuff with the chicken mixture. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the skins are hot and crisp. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro and Greek yogurt, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 549, Calories from Fat: 171, Fat: 19 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 73 mg, Sodium: 341 mg, Potassium: 2105 mg, Carbohydrates: 68 g, Fiber: 11 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 29 g

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Healthy Living: Blackberries


BlackberriesBlackberry season makes me happy.

I love these luscious fruits, juicy and bursting with flavor.

Besides being delicious, they’re really good for you, too. In addition, you can buy all you can carry this summer and freeze them for use in the winter. Just make sure they’re washed and COMPLETELY dried, then pop them into a freezer bag and break out again to beat the winter blues in January.

The health benefits of blackberries are myriad, according to the Huffington Post:

“Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, but other nutritional benefits include a very low sodium count and having only 62 calories to a cup.

Their dark blue color shows that blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants lower the risk of cancers if the berries are eaten in their natural state.

Eating blackberries is said to promote the healthy tightening of tissue, which is a great non-surgical procedure to make skin look younger.

The high tannin content of blackberries provides a number of benefits to reduce intestinal inflammation, alleviate hemorrhoids and soothe the effects of diarrhea.

The leaves of blackberries, which are consumable, have been used to treat mild inflammation of the gums and sometimes even sore throats.

The astringent tannins are effective in oral hygiene when used as a gargle or mouthwash.”

So, run, don’t walk, out to get some blackberries now!



Healthy Living: LouAna Coconut Oil


Chicken with Tomatoes and OkraThere is a difference between good fats and bad fats.

For example, you could eat a deep-fried Twinkie OR you could scramble some egg whites in a bit of coconut oil.

Obviously, one is healthier.

LouAna Coconut Oil is 100 percent pure. It contains zero grams of trans fats per serving, and it is a cholesterol-free food that contains non-hydrogenated fats.

Coconut oil is a non-GMO derived food, and it is great for sautéing, baking, cooking and making popcorn.

If you’re like me, the first thought you had about coconut oil was, “I don’t really like coconut.” I promise you, there is no flavor and no aroma of coconut with this oil. Coconut oil can be substituted in recipes for butter, margarine or shortening.

To me, it has a lighter flavor without the heavy oil taste. It comes in a solid form at room temperature (makes for easy measuring) and becomes liquid very quickly when heated.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Okra
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/3 cup LouAna Coconut Oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (1/2 inch-thick) sliced okra
1 (14.5 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Season chicken evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side or until browned.

Remove chicken from pan. Add okra to pan; cook 2 minutes. Stir in okra, broth, tomatoes and sugar; bring to a boil.

Gently place chicken in tomato mixture. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally.

Remove about 1/4 cup hot broth from pan; stir vinegar and flour into broth mixture.

Return broth mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thickened.

Recipe from LouAna

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 682, Calories from Fat: 475, Fat: 53 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (26 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 190 mg, Sodium: 1193 mg, Potassium: 120 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 42 g.

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Healthy Living: Summer Water


Summer WaterI’ll admit it: I have a hard time drinking water (except carbonated water, which is a whole other blog post).

So, to entice myself to drink more water, I like to flavor it, especially in the summertime.

You can flavor your water with just about any fruit or vegetable under the sun. It’s a natural and healthy way to boost your water without adding sugar or extra calories.

My favorite combination is cucumber, lime and mint.

I just add it to the jug of water I keep in the fridge, let it sit overnight and the water is deliciously infused the next morning. Cucumber lime mint is tangy; it helps your system detox and is incredibly refreshing.

Try it with watermelon, strawberries, mangos, kiwis and lemons. You can also use celery, kale, spinach, basil or squash.

My kids even drink it up quickly!



Healthy Living: Refrigerator Pickles


Refrigerator PicklesI got this recipe from a blog site called “The Foodie Physician,” so it has to be good for you, right?

All joking aside, homemade pickles ARE healthy for you. What better way to get a few extra servings of veggies than in pickled form. (I’ve seen a recipe for pickled peaches I want to try this year, too.)

I’ve always been fascinated by the pickling process. My mom had this amazingly large pressure cooker. She sterilized all the jars, filled the jars and then did something with them in the pressure cooker. I was always certain they were about to explode, and we were one step away from being bread-and-butter homeless.

It never happened, but that image certainly deterred me from wanting to can my own foods.

This method is super easy. No threat to the house blowing up at all.

Super Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Serves 5

Ingredients:
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
2 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
12 sprigs fresh dill
1 Tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 lb Kirby, mini or Persian cucumbers, cut into spears (I used English hothouse with complete success.)

Directions:
Heat the vinegar, water, salt and sugar together in a medium saucepan until the salt and sugar are dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

Divide the garlic, chili flakes, dill, coriander seeds and mustard seeds between two standard (1 1/2 cup) Mason jars. Place the cucumber spears in the jars, packing them in to fit. Pour the brine mixture into the jars. Add water as needed to cover the cucumbers with liquid. Close the jars and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Store pickles in a sealed jar in the fridge.

Calories Per Serving: 41, Fat: 0.4 g (0.1 g Saturated Fat), Protein: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 8.2 g, Fiber: 1 g

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Product Talk: Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free, Cheddar-Style Shreds


Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free, Cheddar-Style ShredsI think I’ve mentioned before that I have a son with autism.

Back when he was being diagnosed and we were beginning our journey in the world of the neurotypical 10 years ago, there was a lot of advice out there about dietary plans for children on the autism spectrum.

The gluten-free, dairy-free diet was the biggest one, the theory having something to do with leaky gut and intestinal issues that cause children to process foods differently, adversely affecting the way their brains process information. So many of my friends with children on the autism spectrum had tried it with great success.

However, back in those days, the gluten-free, dairy-free products on the market weren’t…let’s say…the tastiest. We loved our family tradition of pizza on Friday nights. Well, let me just tell you, 10 years ago, gluten-free, dairy-free pizza wasn’t the most delightful way to end a week.

All that has changed with products like Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free, Cheddar-Style Shreds and other cheeses.

All Daiya products are dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free.

They mimic the texture and taste of regular cheese beyond the shadow of a doubt, but still with the dairy-free promise.

Swap it out for your cheese products today and see what lactose-free living is all about, without sacrificing taste and texture.



Healthy Living: Roasted Golden Beets


Roasted Golden BeetsI recently blogged about the Wish Night Gala we attended in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole hotel and how delicious the beef tenderloin tasted. I also warned you that I wasn’t done blogging about the amazing food at that event.

The beef tenderloin that night was served with a side of roasted spring vegetables, a healthy side that complemented the rich main course.

The best part of the vegetable medley was the roasted golden beets. I had never had them before and wasn’t sure I’d like them. They were so delicious. The lemon really brings out the flavor of the beets, and these are so simple, so bright and so healthy that they’re the perfect side dish for a heavier main course.

Roasted Golden Beets

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb golden or red beets, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces or wedges
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 Tbs chopped fresh or 2 tsp dried herbs, such as marjoram, oregano and/or rosemary
1 tsp lemon zest, freshly grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450° F.

Combine oil, herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add beets; toss to coat with the seasoning mixture.

Spread the beets evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast, stirring once or twice, until the beets are tender and browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Toss the roasted vegetables with lemon juice.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 118, Fat: 5 g (1 g Saturated Fat, 4 g Monounsaturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Protein: 3 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sodium: 423 mg, Potassium: 564 mg

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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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