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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”

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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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Product Talk: Libby’s Pumpkin – Pumpkin Spice Rice Cereal Treats


Libby’s Pumpkin – Pumpkin Spice Rice Cereal TreatsIt’s time for all things pumpkin spice.

Whether it’s your coffee, your creamer, your doughnuts or your pies, pumpkin spice reigns supreme during this time of year.

That’s where Libby’s comes in. A division of Nestle, Libby’s pumpkin products are a great way to get quality pumpkin without having to process it yourself.

I love the pumpkin puree, which comes in a variety of sizes from 8 ounces and up to fit your fall cooking needs. It also comes in organic, which is all-natural with no preservatives. Libby’s also offers a canned pumpkin pie filling and boxed mixes for breads and cheesecake.

Pumpkin is full of vitamins A and C, and it’s a great source of beta-carotene.

Enjoy pure pumpkin in this fun fall treat today!

Pumpkin Spice Rice Cereal Treats

Ingredients:
3 Tbs butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/8 cup Libby’s Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
6 cups rice cereal

Directions:
Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by greasing it liberally with butter or line with parchment paper.

In a heavy stockpot, melt butter on low heat, and add mini marshmallows. Stir in pumpkin puree, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

Add rice cereal and stir.

Working quickly, press mixture into prepared pan.

Allow the treats to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Makes 16

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 351, Calories from Fat: 80, Fat: 9 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 6 mg, Sodium: 282 mg, Carbohydrates: 66 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Posted in: Kids, Product Talk


Family Matters: Souper Meals


Souper MealsWhen I was little, one of my favorite meals was grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Truth be told, it’s still one of my favorites.

I must have passed that down to my sons because when we’re menu planning, one of them will often suggest grilled cheese and tomato soup.

One of the things that made having soup such a treat was that my mom let us add things to the soup. For example, I always wanted to add carrots to chicken noodle soup, so my mom taught me how to dice the pieces I wanted and add it to my can of soup.

With tomato soup, we added all kinds of things. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t make some of those choices today, but it sure sounded good at the time. We added croutons, Goldfish crackers, chunks of cheese (it was on the sandwich, so why not?), a tablespoon of heavy cream, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and whatever we thought would make it taste great. As an adult, I’ve been known to add diced avocado to my tomato soup.

Soups are a great way to share a warm meal with your family, especially during colder weather. For me, soup is comfort food, and if you can get your kids to eat it by adding their own special touch, that’s all the better.



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

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

Directions:
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

Ingredients:
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.)

Directions:
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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Dine In: Power-Packed Pasta


Power-Packed PastaMy sons are both running competitive cross country this year with their respective schools, and I couldn’t be more excited for the change in pace from the Saturday soccer games we’ve (gladly) attended for the past 10 years.

Their first meet is coming up, and we’re going to be prepared by carb-loading the night before, for energy, because it never seems like teenage boys have enough fuel to get them through the day, let alone an athletic event.

For the night before a race, a cross country runner should eat a meal high in carbs and moderate in fat and protein. They should also drink a lot of water, or “camel up” as the saying goes.

Since our meets are on Saturdays, Friday nights are the perfect time for a power-packed meal.

Power-Packed Pasta (i.e. Spaghetti and Meatballs)

Ingredients:
1 lb whole-grain spaghetti

Meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef
2 Tbs whole milk
2 Tbs parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbs panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbs parsley, chopped
1 Tbs dried oregano

Sauce:
1 white onion, diced
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (48 oz) can tomato sauce
2 (14.5 oz) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
1 (4 oz) can tomato paste
fresh parsley, oregano and basil, to taste
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Start your sauce first. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it starts to become fragrant and shimmers, sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic, and stir for 1 more minute. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and all spices. Stir together. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to medium-low to let simmer.

While your sauce is simmering, prepare the meatballs. Preheat oven to 400° F. In a small bowl, combine milk and breadcrumbs. In a large bowl, place ground beef, cheese and spices. Add in moistened breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly. Shape into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Bake at 400° F until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add meatballs to sauce immediately.

Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Add whole-grain spaghetti; cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well. Serve with sauce and meatballs, with a side salad and garlic bread.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 524, Fat: 12 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 123 mg, Sodium: 1616 mg, Carbohydrates: 69 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 17 g, Protein: 38 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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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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Family Matters: Back to School


Back to SchoolGet your kids ready for back-to-school by engaging them in the process of making their own lunches.

School-age children can definitely pitch in when it comes to school lunches. Older kids, in high school perhaps, can be completely responsible for their school lunch. Younger kids can help with all the prep work, and they can have an investment in a healthy diet by helping to choose some options.

Take your kids grocery shopping with you on the weekends, and let them pick out some proteins, some fruits, veggies and maybe a snack or two for a treat.

When you get home, go ahead and package a lot of those items into individual serving sizes. For example, lunch meat can be rolled into rollups and saved in small, zipper-lock bags. Carrot sticks and celery can be cleaned, cut and packaged into bags as well.

Your kids can create trail mix with nuts, popcorn, pretzels and chocolate chips, and store in baggies, too.

Then, on school mornings, all you need to do is have them grab a protein, a fruit (whole, cleaned fruits like bananas, apples, peaches, pears, plums and grapes are great) and a veggie. Drop it in a bag with a bottle of water and a napkin, and voila! Lunch is served.



The Importance of Playtime


The Importance of PlaytimeWhen I was in elementary school, the clock would tick the seconds by toward one of my favorite times of the day – recess. I would immediately run outside and scope the scene: four square, tetherball, basketball, jungle gym, field games, swing set, rocking horses and more – so many fun possibilities.

We moved around a lot while I was growing up, so I was fortunate enough to experience different cultures and different playgrounds. Some were massive with tons of activities; others were very simple. One was next to a graveyard.

In seeing these various playgrounds, I sometimes felt badly for the kids who didn’t get to experience the large playgrounds with the oodles of games to play. Now that I’m older, I notice that kids the same age as I was then would prefer to sit on the bench or not even leave the building and play on their phones instead. Where I was learning Cat’s Cradle with string, they’re on social media posting how-to videos about things above their years.

Children will continue to find ways to better themselves through technology, and I admire that. However, they also need to look up and experience real life! Put the phone down, grab a ball and get some Vitamin D!

Though I have no children of my own, my nieces and nephew are extremely important to me. Playtime is essential for them, and there is always an opportunity to learn (yes, even while playing). I love teaching them neat things like how to build a Rube Goldberg machine or give a “Did you know?” like how tortoises can live longer than humans. Children are more alert when they play, so they’re more prone to remember things later on.

Playtime develops things like social skills and hand/eye coordination, and it helps them to stay fit. It promotes confidence, creativity, optimism, stress relief and many other forms of cognitive development needed for a happy and healthy kid. This helps a lot with schoolwork!

Next time you see your child on their phone or in front of the television, give them an activity to do outside. Then, join them! You need this, too!

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Posted in: Kids


Healthy Living: Pokemon Go


Pokemon GoYes, yes, I know people have fallen down cliffs, tripped on snakes and stepped out into traffic, but we have common sense and know how to take advantage of a gaming app that gets you out and moving.

Pokemon Go, if somehow you haven’t heard of it, is an app for your phone where you chase Pokemon figures to different locations and “catch” them, earning points, fighting battles, gaining strength and moving ahead to win the game.

Emphasis on moving.

No matter the downsides to the game (because some people can make anything good bad), this is a great way to get out and active with your kids.

I went out with my kids the other evening (supervision is key because no one wants their kids wandering around alone). We ended up walking five miles that night, just chasing little animated critters. While we were out (our local park and running trail seemed to have a lot of things to catch!), we saw lots of other families out chasing Pokemon. Not only were they out walking, but they were talking, laughing, joking and having fun. Yes, we also saw people with their faces buried in their electronic devices, but they were still out walking.

We found several landmarks in our town that we didn’t know existed, including a beautiful fountain that we pegged as a great location for a future picnic.

It was fun. We laughed a lot, and we walked a lot. We got moving as a family and had a good time. That was a win in my book.



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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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