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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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Healthy Living: Truvía Sweetener


Cranberry-Orange Muffins Made with Truvía SweetenerYou know the expression “sweet as sugar?” Well, this is but without the calories!

Truvía® Natural Sweetener continues to serve as a great-tasting, zero-calorie sugar substitute for people looking to reduce calories and/or sugar in their diets. That’s me! That’s me!

Truvía® is made from the stevia plant, which grows naturally. The extract comes from the leaves of the stevia plant, which was discovered hundreds of years ago in Paraguay and has been used worldwide for decades. Truvía® stevia leaf extract is a high-purity and consistent sweetener containing the best-tasting parts of the stevia leaf.

Truvía® sweeteners were created to help people maintain a balanced lifestyle while retaining the same sweetness they love in their beverages and recipes. Thank goodness for products like this, where you can still enjoy a treat without breaking the calorie bank.

To learn more about Truvía® Natural Sweetener, be sure to check out truvia.com or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Truvia. You’ll also find lots of great-tasting, reduced-calorie Truvía® brand recipes to try at truvia.com/recipes.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1⁄3 cup Truvía® Baking Blend
1 Tbs orange zest
1⁄2 cup Brookshire’s orange juice
2 Brookshire’s eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup skim milk
1 1⁄2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen), chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Prepare muffin tin by using paper liners or greasing cups.

In a large bowl, add baking powder, flour, salt and baking soda. Mix together with a fork.

In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, Truvía® Baking Blend, orange zest, eggs, orange juice, vanilla and milk.

Stir the wet mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

Fold in chopped cranberries and fill each muffin cup about 3⁄4 full.

Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean (20 to 25 minutes).

Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 190, Fat: 9 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 50 mg, Sodium: 210 mg, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g

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Healthy Living: Best Pizza Sauce EVER


Best Pizza Sauce EVERThe other night, Paul and I made homemade pizza.

It was outstanding for many reasons, including the fact that we made our own crust, grew our own basil for garnish and topping, used fresh mozzarella for the cheese, and made a so-simple-you-won’t-believe-it-sauce for the fresh pie.

It all started when Paul gave me an autographed copy of a Julia Child cookbook. Autographed by hand not a stamp, mind you. I stroked the pages lovingly and did not let anyone touch it for days on end.

Until I wanted to read it, that is.

Paul got me the cookbook because he knew I LOVE cooking, and I LOVE to read cookbooks. This masterpiece was meant to be read.

The first recipe in the book was for pizza, an incredibly simple recipe that let all the ingredients shine.

Easiest of all was the sauce, which is a great base a child can have fun helping you make. It’s made with a can of fresh whole, peeled plum tomatoes with only a few extra ingredients. It’s bright, tasty, fresh and healthy.

This would also be good tossed with fresh pasta, ravioli or tortellini, or used on top of a bruschetta.

Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:
1 (48 oz) can peeled Italian whole plum tomatoes
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper

Directions:
With your hands, crush tomatoes in a large bowl until pulverized. Add spices. Add olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Spread onto pizza crust; add toppings. Bake.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 149, Calories from Fat: 64, Fat: 7 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1231 mg, Potassium: 22 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 14 g

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Healthy Living: Zucchini Pizza Bites


Zucchini Pizza BitesI was browsing Pinterest over the weekend (I was looking for healthy recipes, and recipes for s’mores kept popping up. I’m not sure how that happened) and noticed something on my feed: There were six or seven pins for “Foods You Should Never Eat.” Each one pictured bread, then several of the remaining pins on the page were for foods you could substitute for breads or other heavy starches.

I love my bread, but I know that it’s often “empty calories,” especially if I’m eating white bread or something similar. I know a lot of people find it hard to escape the clutches of white flour and processed carbs.

Let’s take pizza, for example. I’ve made pizza with the cauliflower crust. It was delicious, but it wasn’t “real” pizza crust.

Still, though, I’d like to enjoy the taste of pizza without the carbs and calories from the crust.

These zucchini bites are the perfect solution. They give you the added benefit of fiber and the vitamins of veggies without the calories.

Plus, you can just pop ‘em in your mouth!

Zucchini Pizza Bites

Ingredients:
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella, finely grated
1/4 cup pepperoni minis
1 Tbs Italian seasoning

Directions:
Preheat oven to broil.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add zucchini and cook, flipping once, until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place zucchini rounds onto a large baking sheet. Top each zucchini round with marinara, mozzarella and pepperoni minis.

Place into oven and cook until the cheese has melted, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with Italian seasoning, if desired.

Note: For some added texture, place the pepperoni minis on a paper towel; place in microwave and cook for 30 seconds. They’ll become crispy and render some of their fat onto the paper towel. Remove them from the paper towel, blotting grease before you add them to the top of the zucchini pizza bites.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 190, Calories from Fat: 125, Fat: 14 g, Trans Fat: 0.2 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 32 mg, Sodium: 455 mg, Potassium: 222 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 12 g

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Healthy Living: Sautéed Shrimp


Sautéed ShrimpAs I said last week, I just got back from the beach, and I’m sitting at my desk daydreaming about fresh seafood. We’re lucky that Brookshire’s seafood tastes like it just came off the boat because I’ve got seafood on the brain.

While I was at the beach, I think I was able to sample most seafood known to man. Okay, so not even close, but I did give it a valiant effort.

The great thing about seafood is that it’s good for you. It’s low in calories, low in fat, and rich in good fats and vitamins that your body needs.

Shrimp is so low in calories that you could eat until you were full without doing your body much damage, just skip the butter and deep-frying.

This sautéed shrimp recipe is reminiscent of my beach trip but without some of the extra calories I consumed while I was there. I can enjoy this at home, guilt-free!

Sautéed Shrimp
Yields about 3 ounces of shrimp per serving.

Ingredients:
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt-free lemon and herb seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and sauté 1 minute. Add lemon juice, lemon herb seasoning, salt and pepper; stir to coat shrimp. Sauté until shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 103.1, Calories from Fat: 30, Fat: 3.4 g (0.4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 142.9 mg, Sodium: 933.7 mg, Carbohydrates: 1.8 g, Fiber: 0.1 g, Sugar: 0.2 g, Protein: 15.5 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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