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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.



Dine In: First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken Soup


First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken SoupThe first week of school did me in.

Phew.

Between wrangling school supplies, gym clothes, homework, backpacks, instruments, equipment and early mornings, I’m done with a capital “D.” Done.

It was imperative that I serve an easy but healthy meal to cap off the first week of school.

This chicken soup fit the bill perfectly. It slow cooks all day, so you don’t have to wrangle dinner, on top of everything else Friday afternoon. It’s also Paleo, low-fat and full of flavor. Don’t skip the bones or the skin; they add flavor and nutrients to the soup. If you can make a clean cut, you can even cut through the bone with a cleaver (like I said, clean cut so there’s no shards in your soup), so the bone marrow can leach into your soup and infuse it with flavor and health benefits.

It’s a great meal for a Friday night or any school night.

First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs basil
1 Tbs oregano
2 organic chicken breasts, bone-in and skin-on
2 organic chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups filtered water

Directions:
Layer onions, celery, carrots and chicken in the slow cooker, ensuring chicken is bone-side down on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with spices and apple cider vinegar. Add water to cover the vegetables, and come up to the midway point of the chicken, between 3 to 4 cups.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Remove meat; discard skin and bones. Shred the chicken meat, and add back to the slow cooker.

Add more seasoning, if desired; heat through and serve.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 462, Calories from Fat: 153, Fat: 17 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 202 mg, Sodium: 704 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 67 g.



Healthy Living: Super Simple Marinara Sauce


Super Simple Marinara SauceSummer is the perfect time to make a healthy and hearty marinara sauce, using the freshest of summer vegetables and herbs.

It comes together quickly, and it is so fresh and tasty that simmering and stirring on a stove all day is not required (but it sure smells great if you do!).

Right now, tomatoes are at their peak, so grab some for your sauce today. You could also use a hybrid combination of fresh and canned like I do.

The beauty of a marinara sauce is that you can combine any herbs you like, not just limiting yourself to what’s traditional. Everything is at the peak of freshness and flavor right now.

Today, I have some simmering with Cuban oregano from my friend’s garden. She gave me a sprig last week that I’m trying to root hydroponically, but in the meantime, it smelled too good not to use. I also have fresh basil from my garden as well as locally grown onions and tomatoes.

I like a chunky marinara, but you could always give this a whirl in the food processor if you want it to be smoother.

The tomatoes are full of antioxidants and cancer-fighting agents. Make a huge batch of this, and freeze what you don’t use for later use.

Toss with a rigatoni pasta, or serve over slices of eggplant (my plan).

Super Simple Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
1 lb local tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
2 oz tomato paste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Spread tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges turn dark, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a large pot.

Add garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Process in food processor until smooth, if desired.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 57, Calories from Fat: 5, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 406 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 2 g.

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



Dine In: Stuffed Mushrooms


Stuffed MushroomsOn some Friday nights, I just don’t feel like cooking an elaborate meal, but luckily “appetizer night” always works well in my house.

These stuffed mushrooms are always one of my favorites. You can also vary this recipe easily, swapping out sausage for bacon or red onions for green onions, or adding hot sauce, bleu cheese and a variety of other ingredients.

They cook up quickly in the oven, and they are great with a meat and cheese board, an antipasto platter or just by themselves.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
8 oz large button mushrooms, stems removed and brushed clean
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
4 Tbs green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine the cream cheese, bacon, green onions, and salt and pepper.

Remove stems from mushrooms and brush clean. You might need to scoop out some of the mushroom gills if the caps aren’t big enough to hold the filling. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in each mushroom.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place mushrooms on a baking sheet, and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 266, Calories from Fat: 197, Fat: 22 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 743 mg, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 15 g.

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Healthy Living: Zucchini Lasagna Rolls


Zucchini Lasagna RollsI may have mentioned (97 times) that I’m eating low-carb.

I resisted trying to modify any kind of pasta dish because, let’s face it, pasta is pasta, and I’m Italian and we don’t mess with pasta.

However, this dish is an exception. I didn’t really go into it thinking of it as a pasta dish; I went in with the full knowledge I was eating a vegetable, not a piece of pasta. I also knew that swapping out the pasta for a veggie was so much healthier for me.

I grilled my zucchini on the grill instead of in the grill pan because I love the smoky flavor that you get from a grill. You can do either. I also rewrote the original recipe will full-fat ingredients. If you want to substitute lower-fat ricotta, cottage and mozzarella cheeses, you can certainly do that as well.

Zucchini Lasagna Rolls

Ingredients:
8 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz cottage cheese
3 Tbs parmesan cheese
2 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs fresh basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
black pepper, to taste
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 8 (1/4-inch thick) slices
1 mild Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:
For the filling, stir together ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, salt, garlic, red pepper and black pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

For the zucchini, spray slices with nonstick cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Prepare grill pan to medium heat. Grill zucchini for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until flexible but still firm. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Spray a casserole or other dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread 1/4 cup marinara evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Blot zucchini dry. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the zucchini, and spread in an even layer. Top with a tablespoon of cooked sausage crumbles. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Place seam-side down in prepared pan.

Top with remaining marinara and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 184, Calories from Fat: 97, Fat: 11 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 33 mg, Sodium: 597 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Shop the Sale: Grilled Chicken Peach Salad


Grilled Chicken Peach SaladSummer is prime time for a salad supper, which is super easy when Fresh Express Salad mixes are on sale this week at Brookshire’s. For $6, you get three bags of crisp, fresh lettuce mixes, and you have the base for three fabulous summer salads.

I love to offer this meal at parties. Make up three salads, and let guests mix and match. It keeps guests cool and keeps prep work simple.

I was picking up a few Fresh Express salad mixes recently when a Brookshire’s employee in the produce department gave me a helpful tip.

When buying Fresh Express salad mixes, choose the flattest bags. That means most of the air was squeezed out of them at processing for the crispest, freshest leaves inside.

Thanks for that!

Grilled Chicken Peach Salad

Ingredients:

MARINADE:
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

VINAIGRETTE:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SALAD:
10 oz Fresh Express Spring Mix or Spinach
1 lb peaches, sliced (about 3 small)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup) and soaked in ice water for 30 minutes to remove harshness
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:
For the marinade, whisk olive oil, basil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl, muddling the basil as you stir to help flavor seep from the leaves.

Place chicken breasts between sheets of waxed paper, and pound each to about 1-inch uniform thickness. Place chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag, and pour marinade over chicken. Place bag with chicken in refrigerator, and let it marinade at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest. When chicken is well-cooled, slice into strips or dice.

Blend all vinaigrette ingredients well. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. This can be made ahead of time.

In a large serving bowl, toss Spring Mix, peaches, pecans, onions and chicken together. Sprinkle with vinaigrette, and top with goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves 5

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 534, Fat: 37 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 105 mg, Sodium: 215 mg, Carbohydrates: 16.5 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 12 g, Protein: 36 g.

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



Family Matters: Berry-licious BlackBerries


Skinny Blackberry MuffinsSummer is the perfect annual permission slip for lazy Saturdays, staying in your pajamas all day, breakfast at 11am, hanging out around the pool with friends and eating blackberries. Yes, blackberries! My family just loves blackberries, and on lazy Saturday mornings, their request is for blackberry pancakes, blackberry muffins or even blackberry smoothies.

To try and fulfill their blackberry requests, this year we planted a few blackberry bushes of our very own! Sadly, we’ll have to wait about two years before they produce their first harvest. Oh well! In the meantime, Brookshire’s carries local Texas blackberries that are delicious and perfect for my recipes.

Being the health-nut mom that I am, I always try to twist recipes to be a little “better for you” than the traditional recipes our moms baked up for us. So, if you are feeling the lazy summer Saturday, bake up these Skinny Blackberry Muffins the night before, so you can sleep in and enjoy your lazy summer Saturday!

Skinny Blackberry Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp Brookshire’s Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup Brookshire’s Sugar or Splenda
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blackberries tossed in 2 Tbs flour

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a 12-cup regular muffin pan with cooking spray. Dust pan with flour; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to combine and set aside.

In another large bowl, combine egg, sugar, almond milk, oil, yogurt and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring gently until smooth and combined without over-mixing. Add blackberries, folding in gently.

Evenly distribute batter into cups of prepared pan, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes. Lower temperature to 375° F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tops are set and lightly golden. Allow muffins to cool in pan on top of wire rack for about 10 minutes.

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Shop the Sale: Summer Salad


Summer SaladBack when I was growing up, we always ate dinner on our screened-in back porch during the summertime.

We had a long, wooden picnic table on the porch, and all seven of us would snuggle in with only minimal complaints of “He’s touching me” or “She kicked me when she got up!” By the time dinner rolled around on a summer evening, we were all pretty tired from an afternoon at the pool and a day of playing with the neighborhood kids in the fort my father built in the backyard.

Mom would set the table with a vinyl tablecloth, which we’d scour clean after every meal, and it was my job to lay out the plates, forks, spoons, knives and napkins in the proper positions. It was also my job to either “wipe” or “sweep” after each meal, alternating the task with the brother next in the birth order.

About once a week, Mom would bring a large bowl of “Summer Salad” to the table. Years later, I’ve realized summer salad was pretty much a very clever way to use a lot of leftovers from earlier in the week, and I learned that preparing dinner in the early morning hours before it got so hot was a chore, not a joy. Summer Salad had various combinations: pasta with ham from Sunday dinner, potatoes with bacon from breakfast or another type of pasta with leftover grilled chicken. Throw in the cold peas from Sunday supper or the steamed broccoli from Tuesday then add a little cheese and dressing, and you had yourself a main course meal in one bowl. It was cool, filling and refreshing on a hot, summer night.

Since we’ve had a big problem with not eating leftovers this summer, I think there’s a Summer Salad in my near future. You can use any pasta, any protein and any add-ins you want!

One thing that always tastes good in Summer Salad, no matter what else you put in it, is bacon! Brookshire’s Bacon is on sale this week. So, after you buy it, cook some for breakfast, and then crumble the extra into the salad. (Is there such thing as extra bacon? You probably should plan to cook a few extra slices!)

Summer Salad

Ingredients:

SALAD:
12 oz spiral pasta, uncooked
3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
6 pieces Brookshire’s Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

DRESSING:
1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta to al dente, and let cool completely. Combine chicken, bacon, tomatoes, zucchini and cheese in a large bowl with pasta.

Mix all dressing ingredients thoroughly. Pour dressing over the salad; toss to coat.

Refrigerate for several hours for flavors to blend.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 421, Calories from Fat: 192, Fat: 21 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 93 mg, Sodium: 610 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 24 g.

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



Healthy Living: Garlic-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli


Garlic-Parmesan Roasted BroccoliI LOVE broccoli, but I get so tired of just steaming it and plopping it onto my plate.

Broccoli is super healthy. It’s rich in vitamin D, which helps keeps our metabolism in balance. It’s also rich in vitamins A and K.

Broccoli helps the body detox. We all want that unwanted sludge out of our bodies, don’t we? Broccoli helps move unwanted contaminants from our systems. It’s a great antioxidant with its concentrated vitamin C. Broccoli has the most vitamin C of any of the cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli also has concentrated lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.

If you steam or roast broccoli, the fiber provides a benefit against cholesterol. Using heat to start to break down the fibers helps your body use it more effectively than if you eat it raw.

It’s great for your heart as an anti-inflammatory and how it lowers cholesterol. It’s also good to support eye health and to help regenerate sun-damaged skin.

Garlic-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:
24 oz (about 5 cups) broccoli florets
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil or coat with nonstick spray.

Spread broccoli florets in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan and lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 162, Fat: 11 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 14 mg, Sodium: 213 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 9 g.

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



Shop the Sale: Strawberry Crumble Muffins


Strawberry Crumble MuffinsStrawberries are on sale at Brookshire’s this week, 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.



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