share. The Brookshire's Blog

Healthy Living: Organic Apples

Organic ApplesOne day in the fall when I was growing up as a child, my mom announced an “adventure.” Adventures were the BEST. She’d whisk us off to somewhere secret, the destination unknown to us until our actual arrival. The suspense and anticipation were as much a part of the outing as the outing itself.

This particular day, we went to an apple orchard about an hour away from our house in Virginia, where you could pick your own apples and sample freshly-made apple sauce, apple butter and apple cider. The day was crisp and cool. The orchard was saturated with the hues of autumn. The air smelled like cinnamon and earthy tartness.

Picking our own apples was exhilarating. They tasted so much better, since we’d worked for them ourselves.

I get that same taste now whenever I eat an organic apple, knowing that someone else’s labor has benefitted my health.

Organic apples are grown with no chemicals or pesticides. They’re 100 percent as nature intended, just as if you’d eaten them off the tree right in the orchard.

Traditional apple orchards, grown for commercial purposes, are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, coating the leaves of the trees and the skins of your fruit. Pesticides aren’t good for you, for the workers in the orchards or for the trees themselves.

Organic apples are high in fiber, low in sugar and ready for you to eat, just like you would in an organic orchard.

Healthy Living: Thinner Thanksgiving

Thinner ThanksgivingHalloween is just a few days behind us, and I wonder how many of us are regretting the 27 bite-sized candy bars, two packages of candy corns, one candied apple and 16 sugar cookies we’ve eaten since trick-or-treating came to a close?

Never fear, it’s not too late to begin thinking about a thinner Thanksgiving (and beyond). Experts recommend having a few tricks up your sleeve to prevent the holiday pound creep.

First, be active. It’s cooler outside, and now is a great time to get in the habit of taking a walk. Go before dusk, and plan on longer walks during daylight hours on the weekends.

Eat breakfast! It revs up your metabolism and doesn’t leave you lunging for a huge snack before lunch.

Cut calories in your holiday meals where you can by using fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy; by using sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods; and by using plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes and casseroles.

Control your portions by using a lunch-sized plate. Don’t go back for seconds and skip the foods you can eat all year.

Eat slowly. Avoid the alcohol, which is empty-calories, slows your metabolism and could encourage you to eat more because you’re more relaxed and less inhibited.

Finally, focus on family and friends, not food.

Product Talk: Kiwi Berries

Kiwi BerriesPaul and I went shopping in Brookshire’s yesterday, and as we were almost finished and headed to the checkout, Paul wanted to go back to the produce section one more time. “I have to see if they have something,” he said.

He was looking for kiwi berries, a fruit I’d never seen before.

They look like a large grape and taste like a kiwi (without the fuzzy skin). They are delicious, and Paul eats them like candy. In fact, he said they usually don’t make it home from the grocery store. I think the only reason they did yesterday was that we wanted to share them with my older son who LOVES kiwi.

These are great for school lunches because I’ve been sending him with a whole kiwi and a plastic knife and spoon to eat it with (he cuts the kiwi in half horizontally and scoops out the green insides with his spoon), but schools these days frown upon knives of any kind, even the plastic ones. With kiwi berries, he can just pop them into his mouth!

Kiwi berries are high in vitamin C and naturally low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also high in fiber and a great source of potassium, vitamin E and magnesium. Kiwi berries are nutritionally dense and considered a super-food.

Kiwi berries should be stored in a cool, dry place and eaten soon after purchasing. Get them while you see them because their season is very short.

Healthy Living: Grilled Peaches

Grilled PeachesOne of my favorite healthy treats in the summertime is grilled peaches.

They’re a perfect summertime dessert or a healthy snack. Peaches are about 50 calories per fruit and have zero fat. They’re full of antioxidants and phytochemicals. They have lots of vitamins A and C, which are good for your skin. Peaches are also said to reduce anxiety! They have a diuretic effect, which is good for the kidneys and bladder.

Plus, they’re super-easy to grill.

Grilling a peach caramelizes it beautifully, bringing out all its natural sugars. If you use local honey, you get added sweetness and a crisp crust on your peach.

Slice your peach in half. Remove the stone. Brush cut-side with local honey. Place on grill, cut-side up, over medium heat; grill until it begins to soften. Flip over to cut-side, and grill until there are char marks and the honey has caramelized.

Serve immediately.

Healthy Living: Greek Chicken Pita

Greek Chicken PitaFueled by the introduction of two new restaurants in my city recently (one Greek and one Mediterranean), I’ve been cooking with lots of fresh flavors this summer.

Lots of cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, basil from my garden, lemon, red onion and meals that are more “small bites” instead of heavy feasts.

It reminds me of my visits to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The air is clean, the water is clear, the views are stunning and the food is some of the best in the world, in my opinion. Breakfast one morning was figs drizzled in local honey with whole-grain bread, freshly baked of course, and a selection of local cheeses. Then, lunch was a platter of olives, cured meats, cheeses, grapes and crostini. But dinner! Oh my! Dinner was a roasted chicken, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with just-picked oregano leaves, a block of feta cheese topped with slivered onions and drizzled with olive oil and lemons picked from the trees in the grove next to the hotel. It was sublime.

This dish reminds me of that meal, and even better, you can pack it for lunch.

Greek Chicken Pita

1 (6 1/2-inch) whole-wheat pita, cut in half to make pockets
3 oz cooked chicken breast, boneless, skinless and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup cucumbers, chopped
1 Tbs red onions, chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
2 Tbs crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 oz)

Combine chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil and lemon juice to combine. Add oregano and stir. Fold into chicken mixture and gently add cheese. Stuff into pita halves with romaine lettuce. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 245, Calories from Fat: 99, Fat: 11 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 43 mg, Sodium: 302 mg, Potassium: 269 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 18 g.

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

Product Talk: Special K with Red Berries

Special K with Red BerriesSchool has started and that means making sure my kids are getting a nutritious breakfast in the mornings. They’ve never been cereal types…until now, that is.

This year, I introduced them to one of MY favorite cereals, Special K with Red Berries.

They love how the red berries, dehydrated strawberries, plump up when they add milk, but they mostly love the taste!

Special K with Red Berries is a great source of fiber. It’s made with whole-grains including rice and wheat, and does not contain high-fructose corn syrup. At 110 calories per serving, it does not have any fat, and provides a lot of the vitamins and minerals kids need to get going every morning.

Healthy Living: Sweet Potato Slices

Sweet Potato SlicesI’m a sucker for any recipe that promises a secret ingredient.

Case in point, this sweet potato recipe.

If I’m browsing online, I have to click the link to find out what the secret ingredient might be. Call it a compulsion, but I have to do it.

In addition, sweet potatoes are one of those foods I know I SHOULD love, but I haven’t quite made it that far. That ambivalence fuels my determination to find the ultimate sweet potato recipe as well.

When I clicked on this link, I discovered the secret ingredient was kettle corn seasoning! Brilliant! That perfect balance of salty and sweet on a potato that needs both salty and sweet, in my opinion. I loved the result even more because sweet potatoes are SO GOOD FOR YOU. They are oozing with vitamins and nutrients, low in fat, high in potassium and often called “the perfect food.”

I’ll make this one again.

Sweet Potato Slices
Serves 6

2 to 3 large sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb
nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbs kettle corn seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash potatoes and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Lay flat on a baking sheet covered with tin foil or parchment paper. Spritz with nonstick cooking spray, and sprinkle with kettle corn seasoning and cinnamon. Bake for 12 minutes or until tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 123, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 41 mg, Potassium: 540 mg, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 2 g.

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

Product Talk: Planters Spicy Nuts & Cajun Sticks Trail Mix

Planters Spicy Nuts & Cajun Sticks Trail MixI’m sitting here on my couch on a Sunday afternoon, and my stomach is rumbling. I ate breakfast HOURS ago. I know I’m eating an early dinner, but I still need a little something to carry me through until the next meal.

I look over at my sweet boyfriend who is sitting next to me and reading me funny things from the Internet while I write these blogs. We seemed to have the same thought at the same time, and I jumped up to grab the bag of Planters Spicy Nuts & Cajun Sticks Trail Mix we bought yesterday.

I also grabbed some napkins because this snack is covered in Cajun goodness.
The snack mix hit the spot. A blend of peanuts, corn nuts, crunchy corn kernels, sesame sticks and corn sticks in a Cajun spice mix, this snack will set your lips on fire!

It didn’t take us long to make a dent in the 6-ounce bag.

This snack mix is 150 calories per 1/4 cup with 1.5 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein. You can find it on the aisle with cookies and crackers at your local Brookshire’s.

Healthy Living: Back-to-School Breakfasts

Back to School BreakfastThere’s no disputing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for our kiddos going off to school each morning. Eating breakfast stabilizes blood sugar, revs up the metabolism, and gives the body and mind fuel for the day ahead.

The best breakfasts are the ones that combine protein and a complex carbohydrate.

Here’s a list of breakfast ideas that will get your child powering through the school day:

  • Whole-grain waffles spread with natural peanut butter
  • Steel-cut oats with Greek yogurt and fruit
  • A whole-wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs and some cheese
  • A toasted, whole-grain English muffin with Canadian bacon and an egg
  • Scrambled eggs mixed with veggies like onions, peppers and mushrooms
  • An egg white omelet with zucchini, tomatoes and cheese
  • A fruit smoothie with a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread
  • Egg “Muffins.” Mix 6 eggs, 1 cup baby spinach, 1 cup black beans, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 4 ounces ham. Pour into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners. Bake at 350° F until set, about 12 minutes.
  • Breakfast roll-ups. Press refrigerated crescent roll dough into triangles. Top with sausage, ham or bacon, and scrambled eggs and cheese. Roll up; bake at 375° F for 8 minutes.
  • Peaches and cream: Slice peaches and top with Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
  • Oatmeal topped with blueberries and slivered almonds
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Yogurt parfaits. Layer yogurt, fruit and granola in a pretty glass.

Product Talk: Snack Time

Dried SnacksThey were there near the register, calling me like the siren’s song one evening at checkout.

Clear plastic packages of homemade snacks.

There was dried pineapple. Sesame sticks. Snack mix. Dried peas.

And, drum roll please, dried okra.

Holy, beautiful bite of deliciousness, Batman!

While I love all of Brookshire’s Snack Packs, I really, really love the dried okra. I guess they dehydrate it. Or bake it until its crisp. Or both. These little nuggets of happiness are crunchy, crispy and salty, all of my favorite things.

The okra is dried whole, so you can grab a piece just as you would a chip or a cheese puff. I can (and do) eat the whole snack container by myself at one sitting.

There are so many different snack packs at Brookshire’s. If dried okra isn’t your thing, try the dried mango or salty, crunchy peas.

Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong!

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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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