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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.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



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.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



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.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



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.



Family Matters: Beating Summertime Boredom


Beating Summertime BoredomI don’t know about what’s happening in your house, but summer has been a bit rocky in my home.

My kids are at an awkward age. They’re too old for traditional day camps and too young to be gainfully employed. The result is a lot of boredom. While I’m not usually the type to abide boredom, I get it in this case.

They can’t roam the neighborhood like I did when I was a kid because I’ve watched too many episodes of “Forensic Files.” There’s no neighborhood swimming pool where they can ride their bikes and wear themselves out every afternoon, like I did as a kid. Not to mention, the summer activities that are available for their age are expensive, and they need braces and to go to college.

They spend too much time in front of a screen. Go ahead, call CPS now.

So, this summer I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with things they can do to stay occupied while not spending a fortune.

One thing I did was buy a mega jigsaw puzzle. I set up a card table in a spare corner and just kind of left it there. They proclaimed it “lame.” Guess what? It’s about half-finished, and I haven’t touched a single piece. Maybe it was the dog. I don’t know.

Occasionally, I’ll leave them a recipe to try for lunch, with clear instructions on where to find the ingredients and how not to burn the house down when they prepare it. It also ensures I won’t spend the entirety of the middle of the day answering texts about where to find the burrito-sized tortillas. (In the pantry, on the same shelf I’ve stored them the entire 8 years we’ve lived in this house.)

Then, there’s exercise. They do go running and biking (with strict instructions to text me both when they leave and as they return.) Sometimes, I leave them challenges for the day: Do 40 sit-ups and 22 push-ups. Record it on video. Text it to me, because accountability, you know.

They’ve also enjoyed pet-sitting for neighbors. You want your dog played with for two hours while you’re lounging on the beach in Cabo? Call my kids. Our dog never gets played with for two hours, but yours surely will.

Chores, or as I call them, “Jobs You Do Because You Live Here.” They each get one a day. Vacuum house. Clean your bathroom. Laundry as needed. I love ‘vacuum house’ days.

So, if you have any more tips on keeping teens and tweens occupied for the summer, please let me know!



Product Talk: Richmond Farms Mozzarella Sticks


Richmond Farms Mozzarella SticksMy kids are mozzarella sticks monsters. Seriously, if we go out to eat, they BEG, CRY, PLEAD and CAJOLE for mozzarella sticks.

Then, once that plate hits the table, they divide the sticks with lightning speed, setting the dipping ramekin of marinara sauce down in between them, and they inhale them. The mozzarella sticks are gone before they even cool down enough to eat.

Richmond Farms makes mozzarella sticks that the boys can inhale at home. Made with 100 percent real mozzarella cheese, these appetizers, snacks or even a small meal are breaded and then frozen. They are good sources of calcium and protein, and they come in two sizes: 10 ounces for normal kids and 52 ounces for my kids.

You can heat them in the oven, toaster oven, microwave or a home deep-fryer. We usually use the toaster oven. My boyfriend deep-fries them.

Any way you heat them, mozzarella sticks are a fun snack that kids – and adults – can enjoy.

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Posted in: Kids, Product Talk


Shop the Sale: Strawberry Crumble Muffins


Strawberry Crumble MuffinsStrawberries are available today at Brookshire’s, but I may have overdone it just a bit.

I’m not sure how we’re humanly going to eat all of these strawberries, so I polled my kids, asking “What’s your favorite way to eat strawberries?” and thinking I’d get creative in the kitchen.

Plain.

Plain.

That was their answers.

My younger son’s BFF, who happened to be sitting at my kitchen table when I asked, chimed in with “Chocolate-covered!”

Well, that wasn’t helpful.

My favorite way to eat strawberries is with sour cream and brown sugar. Yes, I said SOUR cream, not whipped cream. Just try it, I promise you.

Back to what I was going to do with pounds and pounds of strawberries…

My mom makes a blueberry crumble that I adore, so I went in search of a similar recipe using strawberries. I found a strawberry crumble muffin recipe instead, and it’s sufficient to say that a good portion of our strawberry haul was happily devoured in this form!

Strawberry Crumble Muffins

Ingredients:
MUFFINS:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, diced

CRUMBLE TOPPING:
1/4 cup butter, cold
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line muffin tins with paper liners, or coat thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray. (The liners are more effective.)

Cream butter and sugar together in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and the egg.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in half the strawberries.

Fill muffin liners with about 2 heaping tablespoons batter. Top with remaining strawberries.

To make the crumble, combine all topping ingredients until mixed. Spoon over each muffin. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F and immediately put muffins in the oven. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 215, Calories from Fat: 75, Fat: 8 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 34 mg, Sodium: 169 mg, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 21 g, Protein: 3 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



Product Talk: Brookshire’s Ice Cream Color Cups


Brookshire’s Ice Cream Color CupsOne of my favorite things as a child was when we’d have ice cream cones for our cold, tasty treats. I don’t know why I thought ice cream tasted so much better in a cone, but it just does. It tastes even better in a cone that’s a fun color, like Brookshire’s Ice Cream Color Cups.

Now, I know there’s a debate over whether an ice cream “cup” is supposed to be called a cone, but if you can hold it in your hand and eat it, I call it a cone, even if it’s not pointed at one end.

These ice cream cups are just FUN. I saw them in the freezer at Brookshire’s packed in with the ice cream not too long ago, and my son, who was with me, practically demanded we buy them. Fine with me!

Now, he claims that he can taste flavors among the green, pink and brown cones. I’m not so sure about that, but they do make a festive presentation for your ice cream.

These cups add fun and flair to family gatherings, cookouts, parties, pool time or just dessert after dinner on a hot summer night.

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Posted in: Kids, Product Talk


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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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