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Healthy Living: Zucchini Tapenade Bites


Zucchini Tapenade BitesI seriously love appetizers. I like tapas. Small bites. Whatever you want to call it. I love grazing, trying new things.

It’s sometimes difficult to avoid heavy appetizers at parties. You can choose from the cheese dips, the pigs in a blanket, the brisket…none of which fit well into the “healthy” category.

Then, I tried this appetizer at a summer baby shower.

Delicious! Full of flavor! Relatively healthy, all things considered.

Zucchini Tapenade Bites

Ingredients:
1 (6-inch) zucchini, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup tapenade (black olive puree)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 large basil leaves, each torn into 4 pieces

Directions:
Arrange zucchini slices on a serving platter. Top each slice with 1/2 teaspoon of tapenade. Sprinkle the feta cheese over top of the platter. Drop the basil leaves over top and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 131, Calories from Fat: 91, Fat: 10 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 17 mg, Sodium: 615 mg, Potassium: 186 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Watermelon Salsa


Watermelon SalsaWhat’s more refreshing on a hot summer day than watermelon?

What’s tastier on a hot summer day than watermelon with a bit of a kick?

Combine the two and you have a delicious watermelon salsa that’s sure to please a crowd at a party, your family at dinner or just for a snack by the pool post-swim.

It’s healthy, tasty and easy!

Watermelon Salsa

Ingredients:
3 cups watermelon, pre-cubed and seeded
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well.

Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 26, Calories from Fat: 1, Fat: 0.1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Potassium: 81 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 0.7 g.

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Healthy Living: Avocado Shrimp Cocktails


Avocado Shrimp Cocktails in a Jar

I had these shrimp appetizers at a party. They were served in small Mason jars and were cute as can be.

I make them for snacks at work, or as part of my lunch. They’re light on calories but high on protein and flavor. I can’t resist making them in Mason jars, either, but you can make it in a bowl and serve it as a side salad for dinner, too.

Avocado Shrimp Cocktails in a Jar

Ingredients:
1 lb medium cooked shrimp
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 Tbs capers
2 Tbs fresh basil
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs horseradish
1 1/2 Tbs ketchup
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs tomato juice
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup baby romaine lettuce, very thinly sliced
6 croutons, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Put first 7 ingredients into a large bowl and set aside. Whisk together the next 7 ingredients. Slowly add olive oil and continue to whisk until the olive oil is combined with the other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour dressing over the shrimp and vegetables; toss. Set aside.

Put a bit of the sliced romaine lettuce in the bottom of each of six 8-ounce Mason jars. Top each jar with the shrimp and vegetable mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 156, Calories from Fat: 74, Fat: 8 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 119 mg, Sodium: 254 mg, Potassium: 358 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Healthy Living: Garden Alfredo with Chicken


Garden Alfredo with ChickenI think we all try to lighten up our meals in the summertime; there’s just something about warmer weather that makes a heavy meal feel even heavier. This is a great, healthy dish because it uses just a little pasta but a lot of vegetables for lots of flavor, without the calories. I’ve even made it omitting the pasta all together.

This recipe calls for a lot of vegetables, but I like to add tomatoes as well.

Garden Alfredo with Chicken

Ingredients:
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
5/8 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
cooking spray
6 oz uncooked pappardelle pasta
2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
2 tsp olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
5 oz thin asparagus spears, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tsp all purpose flour
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken across the grain into thin slices; keep warm. Reserve drippings in pan.

While chicken cooks, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.

Cut each zucchini and squash in half, crosswise. Cut 1/2-inch slices from outer “walls” of zucchini and squash; discard cores. Slice pieces lengthwise into thin strips.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add zucchini, squash, asparagus and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 3/8 teaspoon salt. Add garlic and tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Combine broth, half-and-half and flour; stir with a whisk. Add broth mixture to reserved drippings in skillet. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cheese; stir until cheese melts. Add pasta, vegetables and chicken; toss. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and parsley.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 456, Fat: 13.6 g (5.6 g Saturated Fat, 4.7 g Monounsaturated Fat, 1.2 g Polyunsaturated Fat), Protein: 38.7 g, Carbohydrates: 43.2 g, Fiber: 4.4 g, Cholesterol: 106 mg, Iron: 4 mg, Sodium: 718 mg, Calcium: 270 mg.

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Healthy Living: Natural Mosquito Repellant


Natural Mosquito RepellantI don’t know if you’ve seen the news yet that the mosquitoes this year are “super mosquitoes.”

While the drought has reduced the number of mosquitoes buzzing around, the ones who are menacing tender flesh everywhere are more virulent than their forefathers. Made stronger by surviving the dry season, the super mosquitoes bite more frequently, according to reports.

We love to sit outside, but I do not love to be riddled with itchy mosquito bites.

I also don’t love slathering chemicals all over my body unless it becomes absolutely, positively necessary.

This simple, natural trick helps keeps mosquitoes at bay while you’re enjoying dinner outside or simply relaxing with a cup of coffee and a book. The bonus is that it looks pretty and smells good, too!

Slice limes in half and stud cut half with about a dozen whole cloves. Mosquitoes don’t like the smell and will stay away from your party. Problem solved, no chemicals involved.

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Healthy Living: Crunch Lovers’ Chicken Salad


Crunch Lovers' Chicken SaladSummer is the time for salads, and one of the things that I think makes them fun, as well as healthy and delicious, is when my salad is a rainbow of colors and a variety of textures.

This salad fills all those requirements and is healthy as well.

The recipe calls for red apples (I use Honey Crisp), but I’ve also made it with green Granny Smith apples as well. Either way, it’s delicious. 

While a little less healthy, my kids like when I marinate my chicken in root beer overnight before I grill it. You can also use the breast from rotisserie chicken, plain grilled chicken, poached chicken or chicken cooked any way you like it. I’ve also swapped the peanuts for almonds. 

Crunch Lovers’ Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
1 (12 oz) bag Dole Chopped Asian Blend salad mix
1 cup chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1 red apple, chopped
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
3 Tbsp salted peanuts, chopped
2 white corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips lengthwise then cut in half
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime
chili powder and salt

For the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette:
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F then add tortilla strips to a bowl. Mist or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray. Drizzle with lime juice, and season generously with chili powder and salt. Toss to coat then spread out on a baking sheet and bake until crunchy, about 7-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, combine ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or in a bowl, then shake or whisk to combine.

Combine the rest of the ingredients with the vinaigrette then toss to coat. Add baked tortilla strips, then toss again and serve. 

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 959, Calories from Fat: 649, Fat: 72 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (11 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 64 mg, Sodium: 119 mg, Potassium: 1202 mg, Carbohydrates: 59 g, Fiber: 13 g, Sugar: 28 g, Protein: 32 g. 

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Healthy Living: Watermelon Feta Bites


Watermelon Feta BitesI’m always looking for something different to serve as an appetizer, especially during the spring and summer. Dips and spreads are delicious. I’ve never been known to turn down a cheese-laden cracker, but sometimes you’re looking for something a little lighter and a little healthier.

My friend, Jenae, got married recently, and I helped throw a bridal shower for her and the wedding party, family and friends. While planning the menu, I came upon this recipe. I gave it a test run at a Girls’ Night In (ie, on my back porch), and it was proclaimed a hit. I also brought it to the shower, where it was the first dish completely devoured.
It’s light, refreshing and healthy!

Watermelon Feta Bites

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small bunch basil
5 oz feta cheese, cut into 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″ squares

Directions:
Drizzle a serving dish with balsamic vinegar.
Skewer one cube of watermelon, one basil leaf, one feta slice and another watermelon cube onto a decorative toothpick. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Place Watermelon Feta Bites on balsamic drizzled serving dish.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 94, Calories from Fat: 47, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 265 mg, Potassium: 136 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Avocado Caprese Salad


Avocado SaladI considered dialing back my avocado recipes, but after careful thought, I decided I’d just declare this summer the “Year of the Avocado.”

We will celebrate it as such, in my house at least.

I love a caprese salad. They remind me of Italy, in both the flavors and in the national colors in the salad itself. I love Italy almost as much as I love avocados. It’s a toss-up.

So, when I saw this recipe combining two of my loves, I knew I had to try it.

Spicy arugula is the key to this recipe. It’s both crunchy and has a spice to it that gives this salad incredible texture and flavor. Arugula is sometimes called the “salad rocket” because it really makes basic lettuce and other ingredients taste out of this world.

Arugula is low-calorie at 25 calories per 100 grams. However, it packs a powerful nutritional punch with many vital phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can benefit health. It’s also a great source of folates and vitamins A, B, C and K. Combine that with the heart-healthy fats in avocado, the vitamin C in tomatoes and the calcium in mozzarella, and you’ve got a wonderfully healthy meal.

Avocado Caprese Salad

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh arugula
1/2 avocado, pitted and sliced
3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar or honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Assemble the arugula, avocado slices, tomatoes and mozzarella in a serving bowl. Top with torn or slivered basil leaves. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar and sugar (or honey); season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and serve.

Serves 2 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 312, Calories from Fat: 222, Fat: 27 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 23 mg, Sodium: 1431 mg, Potassium: 558 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Healthy Living: Organic Supply Milk


Organic Milk

I always try to do best by my family, especially when it comes to their health.

There’s so much in the news these days about what’s healthy, what’s safe, what’s harmful or what could be bad for you that it’s hard to make sense out of it all sometimes.

Brookshire’s likes to take the guesswork out of healthy living by offering products you can trust and will feel comfortable serving to your babies and grandbabies.

Our Organic Supply milk is one of those products.

Our Organic Supply comes from a dairy farm in the panhandle of Texas, and it is bottled in Tyler, Texas by Brookshire Grocery Company employees. This milk does not contain any artificial growth hormones (rBST), antibiotics, aflatoxins or genetically modified organisms (GMO). It is also certified kosher by Dallas Kosher.

Organic milk comes from livestock that are allowed to freely graze, are fed an organically-certified feed, are not treated with most drugs including growth hormones and are treated humanely. In terms of quality, safety and nutrition, there’s no difference between organic and regular milk. Both contain the same combination of vitamins and nutrients.

I definitely feel great about serving organic milk to my growing boys!

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Healthy Living: Banana Beet Smoothie


Banana Beet SmoothieI’ll confess: the first thing that drew me to this recipe was the pretty pink color in the picture on the recipe!

I’m easy that way.

Then, I read that it contained beets, and I wasn’t going to try it. However, beets are often called one of the world’s healthiest foods. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties.

They are high in folate, manganese and potassium. They also provide significant fiber and copper!

I can’t even taste “beets” in this smoothie recipe. Try it and you’ll see! 

Banana Beet Smoothie

Ingredients:
4 small raw beets, peeled and cut in bite-sized pieces (if your blender is not strong enough, steam beets first for easier blending)
1 small banana (for a thicker smoothie, use a frozen banana)
1 small green apple, chopped
1 small sweet Meyer lemon, juice only
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions:
Place all ingredients in the blend. Blend until smooth.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 407, Calories from Fat: 11, Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 317 mg, Potassium: 2027 mg, Carbohydrates: 97 g, Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 70 g, Protein: 9 g.

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