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Family Matters: Caring for new pets at the holidays


What child hasn’t wished for a new puppy or kitten for Christmas?

Although some experts discourage giving animals as gifts, the holidays can also be a great time to adopt a new pet as a family: The children are home from school, and many of us have extra vacation time, so we’ll be home more to attend to the needs of a new pet.

If your holiday plans include adopting a new family member of the four-legged variety, here are some ideas to help ease the transition during this very busy time of year.

Introduce gradually to other animals in the household. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the best way to introduce your new pet to older dogs or cats, especially if the existing pet has lived alone for some time, or if your pet doesn’t always get along with new animals. At a minimum, be prepared to feed the new and existing pets on opposite sides of the room or in different rooms altogether; provide a new litter box for any new cat; and provide separate sleeping arrangements, whether in a kennel or in a quiet, closed rooms. Never leave the new animal alone with other pets until you’ve had a chance to observe them together, preferably several times.

Avoid adopting new pets right during the busiest part of the holidays.  New puppies, especially, need almost as much attention as a baby for the first few weeks, and during house training. Cats may not adjust well to a new home if there is a lot of commotion, whether from decorations, lights or parties. So, if you expect lots of guests, or if you plan to leave town for part of the holidays, ask the breeder or the animal shelter if you can pick up the animal later in the holidays. If you’ve intended the animal as a gift for your children or spouse, you can provide a photo and some of the gear, like a leash, bowl, toys, and bed, so there is something to unwrap on the holidays itself.

“Puppy-proof” the house first. Consider which rooms you’ll allow the new pet into, and then set about making them safe for a new dog or cat. Until you know how much of a “chewer”  the puppy is, you’ll want to limit the dog’s access to just about anything – electrical cords, shoes, remote controls, throw rugs, pillows. Cats tend to be less potentially destructive, but you’ll also want to secure cords, drapery pulls and other items that could present a choking hazard. Check the placement of houseplants; they can be poisonous to animals. Finally, get plenty of toys, even just some old socks, so the new animal has plenty to keep its attention, and will be less likely to be destructive.

Make sure they have the proper diet. Kittens and puppies aren’t just little versions of adults; they have their own special dietary needs. Puppies, especially, grow very fast, and need extra nutrients to build muscle, bone and organs. You should feed puppy formula, preferably one that matches the size of your dog’s breed, until the puppy has reached about 90 percent of his or her expected adult weight. (For small dogs, this will occur by the time the dog is one year old; for larger breeds, it might take up to 18 months.) Kittens should be fed kitten formulas to support their growth, for at least the first nine months of life and preferably for one year.

Finally, even though it’s tempting, do not feed table scraps, even as a treat. It’s hard to break eating habits learned young, and too much human food contributes to pet obesity and other health problems. If you want to provide treats – which can be a great tool while training your puppy – choose those that are appropriate to your pet’s size and breed, and limit them to special rewards.



Healthy Living: Safer toys for the holidays


How’s that holiday shopping going? If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably still got at least a few gifts to pick up. So this is a good time to remind you that December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month – a time set aside to help us focus on choosing safe, age-appropriate presents, especially for the youngest family members and friends in our lives.

Sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, the observation comes at a good time; most children receive more toys in December than they get the rest of the year! And, of course, many of those toys come from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and other family members and friends who may be unfamiliar with current toy safety standards and recommendations, and who may be years removed from buying toys on a regular basis.

Some ideas before heading out to buy presents for the kiddos:

  1. Take a minute to research toys that have been recalled recently.  www.cpsc.gov/  is a great place to start. Although most retailers do their best to pull recalled items promptly, sometimes there can be a brief period between the announcement of a recall and the time the item is removed from shelves.
  2. Buy toys that are age-appropriate. Read the age recommendations and warnings on the toy package and follow them, even if you think the intended recipient is mature for her or his age. This is especially important for younger children; there’s a huge developmental difference between a two-year-old and children even a year or 18 months older, which is why so many toys carry warnings that they are not to be used for children under three. But even for older children, it can prevent frustration or boredom; few six-year-olds will be able to understand or build a toy or game meant for eight- or 10-year-olds.
  3. Choose sturdy toys. Lightweight plastics can break into shards that could cut a child; toys with many parts can easily break or quit working. You can look for the letters ASTM on the label; this means the toy has met national safety standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
  4. Avoid loud toys. The parents will thank you, for one thing. But also, some toys, especially toy guns, phones and electronic toys, can emit sounds as loud as 120 decibels – loud enough to permanently damage a child’s hearing.
  5. Read video game labels and ratings. For children, the EC (early childhood) or E (everyone) rating is recommended, but be careful; some E games contain some violence or even mild language. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, read some reviews before buying.
  6. Check on food allergies. Candy and nuts may seem like harmless stocking stuffers – unless the recipient has allergies! If you’re unsure, use stocking stuffers like  hard candy or popcorn that are unlikely to prompt an allergy, or stay away from food entirely and choose inexpensive items like colorful pencils or markers, stickers or temporary tattoos.
  7. If in doubt, ask the parent. If you’re buying for someone else’s child and unsure if your choice is suitable, be sure the parent will approve of your selection. For instance, chemistry sets, certain video games, and BB guns may have been great gifts for your child, but another parent may feel his or her child isn’t sufficiently mature, even if they meet the age guidelines.


Family Matters: Homemade Ornaments


Does it feel like the holidays rush by every year, and they’re over before you’ve even had a chance to relax and enjoy them?

This year, make a promise to slow down and create some special holiday memories with your family – in the kitchen, of course. These old-fashioned dough ornaments are fun for the whole family to make, and easy enough that even the littlest kids can get in on the act. Double or triple the recipe and you’ll have enough dough to invite friends, neighbors and cousins for an ornament-making party. While the ornaments are baking, serve hot chocolate and play board games, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

The basic dough recipe is below, but you can find illustrated step-by-step directions in the December issue of Celebrate Cooking. You can pick up your free copy at your local store, or view the digital edition online at brookshires.com.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Dough Ornaments

Ingredients:
4 cups Food Club Flour
1 cup Food Club salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Red and green food coloring

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead by hand until elastic and smooth.

Divide dough into roughly three equal pieces. Leave one portion white. In the other two portions, work in red and green food coloring by kneading,  adding color until you reach the desired hue.

Roll small pieces of dough into long, thin ropes and twist together to form candy canes and wreaths. Hand-cut small bows of red or green dough to decorate wreaths. Place ornaments on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake until hard, about one hour.



Family Matters: Gerber’s squeezable fruits & veggies


If you are the parent or grandparent of a toddler, you know these two things about their eating habits:

  • They want to do it themselves.
  • And their version of “doing it themselves” often involves getting more of the food on their hair, clothes, and chair than into their little bellies.

So here is a way they can achieve their first objective, without you having to clean up the second one: Gerber’s new Graduates Grabbers . These  squeezable, healthy fruits and vegetables come in a pouch that’s easy for little ones to handle themselves.

The new foods, just widely available this fall, come in five flavors. Many children will think they’re getting a juice pouch – but you’ll  know they’re really getting real, pureed fruit and vegetables. In fact, those of you who are always trying to get your kids to eat more vegetables will be pleased to note that, unlike many other pouch products, two of these flavors include veggies in the mix. (The flavors include Banana Blueberry; Apple, Pear & Peach; Apple & Sweet Potato with Cinnamon; Pear & Squash; and Apple, Mango & Strawberry.)

The contents of each pouch are made with 100 percent natural produce, and without any fake colors or flavors. There’s no extra sugar or salt added, either. Each contains two servings of pureed fruit and/or vegetables, and a good helping of Vitamins E and C.

The pouch is smartly designed, too. It’s just the right size to fit in little hands, but the twist-off cap is large enough that it does not present a choking hazard, a potential problem with some brands of pureed foods geared to toddlers. And they will fit nicely into diaper bag or backpack when you’re running out and would like to take a snack beyond Cheerios.

As with any food, you’ll want to supervise your child while they eat a Grabber. But thanks to this self-contained packaging and the child-friendly flavors, you don’t have to worry so much that your child will end up wearing their snack instead of eating it.



Dine-In: Pumpkin Pudding


I love pumpkin! On cool fall mornings, I enjoy a warm pumpkin spice latté, and on Thanksgiving, you’d better be prepared to fight me for the last piece of pumpkin pie. 

What can you not like about pumpkin when it has a NuVal score of 94! (That’s just six points away from the perfect NuVal score of 100, meaning it’s about a nutritious a food as you can get.) One cup of pumpkin has 763% of your daily recommendation of vitamin A.  Vitamin A not only helps fight infections, but it helps prevent night blindness and contributes to red blood cell production, growth and development. Pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, iron, potassium and fiber. 

When Thanksgiving rolls around, skip the 316 calories, 14 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat in a slice of pumpkin pie and go for a lower-fat pumpkin treat. This year, I’ve been asked to make this pudding instead of the traditional pie. Serve this pumpkin pudding over crushed gingersnaps and you won’t even miss your pumpkin pie.  

Easy Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus refrigerating   

Ingredients:
2 (1.34 oz) boxes Food Club Sugar Free Instant Vanilla Pudding
4 cups Full Circle Fat Free Milk
1 cup Food Club Canned Pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup Food Club Fat Free Whipped Topping
1/4 cup pecan, chopped

Directions:
In a large bowl prepare pudding with milk. In a medium bowl, mix together pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Fold pumpkin into pudding. Spoon filling into glasses. Refrigerate glasses for 1 hour. Garnish with whipped topping and pecans. 

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 114, Fat: 3 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 496 mg, Carbohydrates: 19 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 5 g 

© 2011, Brookshire Grocery Co.  Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number.  All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician. 



Family Matters: Cold-weather flea protection


True or false: Pet owners don’t need to worry about fleas in the winter. 

False! While this may have once been commonly accepted, we now know that fleas can and do survive in colder weather – especially indoors, and especially in the milder climates of the southern U.S. 

In fact, fleas may even be a bigger threat in the cooler months, as many pet owners slack off on the preventative measures for dogs and cats in the fall and winter – meaning more fleas are breeding and just itching to get into your home and onto your pet. 

So, to keep fleas at bay, veterinarians and pet experts advise that pet owners treat their four-legged friends all year long. Otherwise, you’ll risk flea infestations, which can lead to more than just nasty little fleas on the carpet and annoying flea bites. Flea bites can cause allergies, infections, and skin disorders. They can also spread tapeworms, tularemia (a disease spread by fleas and ticks that causes headache, fever, and fatigue), and even Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a potentially fatal illness that can affect both dogs and humans. 

These flea-prevention tips are courtesy our friends at Sergeant’s, which makes many effective flea- and tick-control products for pet and home. 

Prevention goes a long way: Follow your veterinarian’s advice and treat every pet in your household every month, all year long. If you keep fleas from getting a foothold in your home in the first place, you won’t have the more-difficult task of getting rid of them later.  

Treat each pet monthly – preferably on the same date so you don’t forget a dose. Bathe your pet to remove dirt and as a first step in treating flea or tick infestations. A flea comb removes flea dirt (flea feces) and dead fleas. 

Treat the home, too. Regularly wash pet bedding. If you have or suspect an infestation, wash pet bedding again, then vacuum carpets, and treat your home with a household spray, powder or fogger. 

Don’t forget the yard. Spray your yard and your home’s foundation, to kill fleas lurking outside. 

Use an effective anti-flea treatment. Squeeze-on, topical treatments are easy to use and very well tolerated by pets. You can now purchase topical treatments at grocery stores and other retailers, eliminating an extra trip to the veterinarian’s office. For instance, Sergeant’s™ Flea and Tick Squeeze-On protects pets against adult fleas and ticks and prevents eggs and larvae from developing into adults. It contains Bitrex, a bittering agent, to help prevent ingestion. Sergeant’s Evolve™ Flea and Tick Squeeze-On is specifically formulated for the weight of your pet, both in dosage and active ingredients. It not only protects against adult fleas, but also prevents infestation and protects against flea eggs and larvae for up to nine weeks.



Family Matters: Refocus on the Holidays


The holidays are fast approaching and with the weight of the economy, many people are struggling with family, finances and job situations.  Sometimes we get overwhelmed with things that matter only to the outside world and lose focus of what is really important for our family. 

Make this holiday season a time to refocus on your kids and family: 

1. Plan holiday meals and let your children help prepare the food.  Kids love to cook but a lot of times not given the opportunity to learn especially during the holidays when “everything has to be perfect”.  The perfect meal is one prepared by the entire family…when everyone is involved there is love, laughter and memories being made.  Yes, the kitchen will probably be a mess after you all get through, but is that what really matters?  Don’t let these times pass without enjoying your family to the fullest and teaching your kids the importance of working together to make something special.  Teaching your child to cook is a life lesson in more ways than one.

2. Sit and talk to your children about making gifts this holiday season for family and friends instead of purchasing them. Something made, you will find is priceless to the ones receiving it…the thought counts for so much more than the amount of money spent.  There are so many great things you can work together as a family to make that will be treasured for years to come by those receiving them (or enjoyed immediately if eaten).  Part of the fun of working together, as a family, is figuring out just the right item(s) you can make. You will find that making special gifts will require lots of “together time” as a family…a wonderful added benefit! 

3. Find a family who might be struggling this holiday season, purchase food items from Brookshire’s and prepare a meal and deliver to them. One warm meal can make a difference; just ask someone who has had to do without one.  The cost is not much…the return is invaluable.  Teach your children the true joy of giving…it is the small things that make the largest impact in someone life.  Let your family be a blessing to someone else this holiday season.

Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!  



Family Matters: Safe cold and flu relief for babies


As a parent, it’s heartbreaking when your baby is coughing, sneezing, crying and clearly suffering from the symptoms of a bad cold.

Of course you want to offer relief. But even though it may seem tempting to give a suffering baby just a tiny bit of cough or cold medicine intended for older children, there are extremely good reasons you should never do so without seeking the advice of your doctor first.

First, a refresher is in order, especially if you did not have an infant at the time the rules changed: Over-the-counter cough and cold products for infants under age 2 were voluntarily removed from the market by manufacturers in 2008, responding to concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration. Now, even cold medicines for older children carry a warning that they are not to be used in children under age 4.

The new rules apply to products containing these decongestants:

  • Ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Phenylephrine

They also apply to these antihistamines:

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Brompheniramine
  • Chlorpheniramine

There had been numerous reports of illness and even some deaths in children under age 2 who had been given these products, according to FDA reports. Often, this was due to misuse or over-dosage by caregivers who may have misunderstood label instructions.  In addition, these medications have little effect on the duration or severity of an infant’s cold symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It is important that parents do not attempt to modify doses of medications meant for older children and give them to infants anyway. For instance, do not attempt to guess what a “safe” dose of a children’s cough medicine would be for your six-month-old. 

Instead, seek a physician’s advice for any symptoms that seem particularly severe, especially for infants under three months of age. For babies three months and over, you should probably call your doctor if a cough lasts more than a week, a fever hovers at 102 degrees or your child refuses fluids.

In the meantime, attempt to bring relief with other, safer remedies, approved by the FDA:

Infant formulas of acetaminophen or ibuprofen: Usually provided in a liquid form administered by droppers, these medicines can be used to reduce fever, aches and pains. Choose your favorite name brand, or select store brands/generics that provide precisely the same medication at a cost savings. Acetaminophen is considered safe for babies over three months, and ibuprofen is considered OK for those over 6 months.

Cool mist humidifier: This can help baby’s swollen nasal passages shrink, allowing for easier breathing.

Plenty of clear fluids: Staying well-hydrated will help flush cold viruses out of your baby’s system faster.

Saline nose drops or spray: Helps relieve stuffy noses by thinning out mucus. In children under one year, you can try combining nasal drops with a bulb syringe or aspirator, to suck out excess mucus. (Children over about age 1 often actively protest any attempt at suctioning.)



Product Talk: Orville Redenbacher Lives!


There really was an Orville Redenbacher. That wasn’t just a funny name that some marketing guys dreamed up to sell popcorn.

If you’re old enough, of course, you already probably knew that, because you remember the TV commercials ol’ Orville used to make in the ‘70s and ‘80s, wearing his trademark bowtie and glasses and talking a mile a minute about popcorn. He really was an Indiana popcorn farmer, who had started out as a popcorn-obsessed kid and then set out to develop the world’s best, fluffiest popcorn. He launched his self-named company in the 1970s, and the rest was TV, and grocery store, history.

Mr. Redenbacher passed on about 15 years ago, but the popcorn brand he started is still one of the best-loved in the U.S.  And just like the entrepreneur who started it, the brand keeps managing to reinvent one of our favorite snacks – with new ideas like their single-packet Flavors.

These flavor singles come in three varieties –Extra Cheese, White Cheddar, and, taking a cue from a popular potato chip flavor, Sea Salt and Vinegar. Each comes with a separate seasoning packet, so you can decide if you want just a light sprinkle of seasoning or an intense flavor. And, because they are sold individually, not in a multi-pack box, you can try all three, or stock up on each family member’s favorite flavor.

The new flavors join a big lineup of Orville Redenbacher’s products, including microwave popcorn in kettle corn, caramel corn, nacho cheese,movie-theater butter, and light varieties.

I understand why Orville’s popcorn has such staying power – it really is good, popping up big and fluffy and with few inedible widows, and with true, bright flavors.

And, of course, it’s benefited from our growing awareness that when it comes to snacks, popcorn is a pretty healthy choice. It’s a whole grain, so it delivers more fiber than the average salty snack food. And years ago, Orville Redenbacher’s ditched the trans fats and lowered the salt content in its leading variety.  So you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging. Seems that even back in the day, Orville Redenbacher was really onto something.

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Family Matters: Table Manners


The holidays are stressful! All that last-minute cleaning, cooking, and preparing for guests, so take care of something now that doesn’t need to wait till the last minute – improving your children’s table manners. 

Holiday dinners can be stressful for kids too – all those adults at the table, all that fancy food. And, you can’t expect your children to have perfect manners overnight. You must work with your kids now to teach them good manners. As parents, you must lead by example. If your elbows are on the table and you’re talking with your mouth full, don’t expect your children not to do the same. 

Don’t make dinner a time of lectures and scolding. Praise your children for doing the right things instead of scolding them for doing the wrong. The key is to praise and reinforce. Here are a few table manners you and your family can work on now so they are ready for the holidays: 

  • Before and after meals, make sure to wash your hands.
  • No pet, toys or electronics should be brought to the table. This includes cell phones.
  • Remove any hats before coming to the dinner table.
  • Place your napkin in your lap.
  • Wait until everyone is seated at the table before eating.
  • Ask politely if you need anything passed at the table. Don’t forget to say please and thank you.
  • Remember eating is not a race. Take your time and chew your food.
  • Don’t stuff your mouth. Only eat what you can.
  • When eating your food, keep your mouth closed.
  • If someone asks a question while you have food in your mouth, wait until you have swallowed before answering.
  • Avoid eating with your hands, unless appropriate.
  • Bring your food to your mouth rather than leaning too far into your plate..
  • Leave a little liquid in your glass to prevent slurping.
  • Ask to be excused before leaving the table.


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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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