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Healthy Living: Zucchini Tapenade Bites


Zucchini Tapenade BitesI seriously love appetizers. I like tapas. Small bites. Whatever you want to call it. I love grazing, trying new things.

It’s sometimes difficult to avoid heavy appetizers at parties. You can choose from the cheese dips, the pigs in a blanket, the brisket…none of which fit well into the “healthy” category.

Then, I tried this appetizer at a summer baby shower.

Delicious! Full of flavor! Relatively healthy, all things considered.

Zucchini Tapenade Bites

Ingredients:
1 (6-inch) zucchini, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup tapenade (black olive puree)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 large basil leaves, each torn into 4 pieces

Directions:
Arrange zucchini slices on a serving platter. Top each slice with 1/2 teaspoon of tapenade. Sprinkle the feta cheese over top of the platter. Drop the basil leaves over top and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 131, Calories from Fat: 91, Fat: 10 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 17 mg, Sodium: 615 mg, Potassium: 186 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Watermelon Salsa


Watermelon SalsaWhat’s more refreshing on a hot summer day than watermelon?

What’s tastier on a hot summer day than watermelon with a bit of a kick?

Combine the two and you have a delicious watermelon salsa that’s sure to please a crowd at a party, your family at dinner or just for a snack by the pool post-swim.

It’s healthy, tasty and easy!

Watermelon Salsa

Ingredients:
3 cups watermelon, pre-cubed and seeded
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well.

Let chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 26, Calories from Fat: 1, Fat: 0.1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Potassium: 81 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 0.7 g.

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Dine In: Fourth of July Strawberries


Fourth Of July StrawberriesMy friend, Amy, is one of those people who makes cute food for her kids.

You know the kind I mean.

Her hot dogs transform into an octopus.

Her sandwiches have cute faces on them with grapes and carrots.

Her cucumber spears are caterpillars and she always, always has celebratory foods for each holiday.

I’m lucky, some holidays, if I get traditional foods on the table, let alone something that screams “festive.”

That is going to change this Fourth of July. Amy sent me a super easy recipe that should have a huge “wow” factor on the picnic table.

It’s so simple that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it in years past.

I might have to try it at Christmas, too.

Fourth of July Strawberries

Ingredients:
1 pint strawberries, washed and dried
6 oz white chocolate
blue sugar, edible glitter or sprinkles

Directions:
Place blue sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir until the bowl is no longer warm. Then, microwave for 30-second intervals at 50 percent power, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted. Dip the lower two-thirds of the strawberries into the melted white chocolate. Then, dip the lower third of the strawberries in the blue sugar or spoon it onto the strawberries. Place on wax paper until completely cooled.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 203, Calories from Fat: 84, Fat: 9 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 6 mg, Sodium: 26 mg, Potassium: 172 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 28 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Posted in: Dine In, Produce


Healthy Living: Garden Alfredo with Chicken


Garden Alfredo with ChickenI think we all try to lighten up our meals in the summertime; there’s just something about warmer weather that makes a heavy meal feel even heavier. This is a great, healthy dish because it uses just a little pasta but a lot of vegetables for lots of flavor, without the calories. I’ve even made it omitting the pasta all together.

This recipe calls for a lot of vegetables, but I like to add tomatoes as well.

Garden Alfredo with Chicken

Ingredients:
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
5/8 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
cooking spray
6 oz uncooked pappardelle pasta
2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
2 tsp olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
5 oz thin asparagus spears, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tsp all purpose flour
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken across the grain into thin slices; keep warm. Reserve drippings in pan.

While chicken cooks, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.

Cut each zucchini and squash in half, crosswise. Cut 1/2-inch slices from outer “walls” of zucchini and squash; discard cores. Slice pieces lengthwise into thin strips.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add zucchini, squash, asparagus and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 3/8 teaspoon salt. Add garlic and tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Combine broth, half-and-half and flour; stir with a whisk. Add broth mixture to reserved drippings in skillet. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cheese; stir until cheese melts. Add pasta, vegetables and chicken; toss. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and parsley.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 456, Fat: 13.6 g (5.6 g Saturated Fat, 4.7 g Monounsaturated Fat, 1.2 g Polyunsaturated Fat), Protein: 38.7 g, Carbohydrates: 43.2 g, Fiber: 4.4 g, Cholesterol: 106 mg, Iron: 4 mg, Sodium: 718 mg, Calcium: 270 mg.

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Healthy Living: Watermelon Feta Bites


Watermelon Feta BitesI’m always looking for something different to serve as an appetizer, especially during the spring and summer. Dips and spreads are delicious. I’ve never been known to turn down a cheese-laden cracker, but sometimes you’re looking for something a little lighter and a little healthier.

My friend, Jenae, got married recently, and I helped throw a bridal shower for her and the wedding party, family and friends. While planning the menu, I came upon this recipe. I gave it a test run at a Girls’ Night In (ie, on my back porch), and it was proclaimed a hit. I also brought it to the shower, where it was the first dish completely devoured.
It’s light, refreshing and healthy!

Watermelon Feta Bites

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small bunch basil
5 oz feta cheese, cut into 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″ squares

Directions:
Drizzle a serving dish with balsamic vinegar.
Skewer one cube of watermelon, one basil leaf, one feta slice and another watermelon cube onto a decorative toothpick. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Place Watermelon Feta Bites on balsamic drizzled serving dish.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 94, Calories from Fat: 47, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 265 mg, Potassium: 136 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Avocado Caprese Salad


Avocado SaladI considered dialing back my avocado recipes, but after careful thought, I decided I’d just declare this summer the “Year of the Avocado.”

We will celebrate it as such, in my house at least.

I love a caprese salad. They remind me of Italy, in both the flavors and in the national colors in the salad itself. I love Italy almost as much as I love avocados. It’s a toss-up.

So, when I saw this recipe combining two of my loves, I knew I had to try it.

Spicy arugula is the key to this recipe. It’s both crunchy and has a spice to it that gives this salad incredible texture and flavor. Arugula is sometimes called the “salad rocket” because it really makes basic lettuce and other ingredients taste out of this world.

Arugula is low-calorie at 25 calories per 100 grams. However, it packs a powerful nutritional punch with many vital phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can benefit health. It’s also a great source of folates and vitamins A, B, C and K. Combine that with the heart-healthy fats in avocado, the vitamin C in tomatoes and the calcium in mozzarella, and you’ve got a wonderfully healthy meal.

Avocado Caprese Salad

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh arugula
1/2 avocado, pitted and sliced
3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar or honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Assemble the arugula, avocado slices, tomatoes and mozzarella in a serving bowl. Top with torn or slivered basil leaves. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar and sugar (or honey); season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and serve.

Serves 2 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 312, Calories from Fat: 222, Fat: 27 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 23 mg, Sodium: 1431 mg, Potassium: 558 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Shop the Sale: Peach and Pepper Preserves


Peach Pepper PreservesThere’s a produce stand not too far from where I live, on a farm-to-market road between Pittsburg, Texas, and Mount Pleasant.

It’s a huge, rugged, wooden structure that looks lifeless against a cold landscape.

All winter I watched it, boarded up, gray and deserted for the winter.

Not too long ago, it came to life.

The boards were taken down. The makeshift screens were replaced and freshened up. Most of all, the gray boards of the weathered wood became a backdrop for a rainbow explosion of color with fresh fruits and vegetables.

I love a good produce stand.

Up in East Texas, we pride ourselves on peach orchards, some of the best that don’t come out of the sunshine states.

Juicy and firm, sweet and tangy, our peaches are a summer staple of happiness.

I love to mix sweet and spicy, and these preserves are absolutely perfect.

Peaches and nectarines are on sale this week at Brookshire’s, so no matter where they come from, try this treat today.

Peach and Pepper Preserves

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups peaches, peeled and diced (about 2 1/2 lb)
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 (1.75 oz) pkg powdered fruit pectin

Directions:
Stir together all ingredients in a 4-quart microwave-safe glass bowl.

Microwave on high 8 minutes (mixture will boil). Stir mixture, and microwave on high 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Cool mixture completely (about 2 hours). Serve immediately, or cover and chill preserves in an airtight container until ready to serve. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Serves 24

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 73, Calories from Fat: 1, Fat: 0.1 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 3 mg, Potassium: 66 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 0.5 g, Sugar: 18 g, Protein: 0.3 g.

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Healthy Living: Banana Beet Smoothie


Banana Beet SmoothieI’ll confess: the first thing that drew me to this recipe was the pretty pink color in the picture on the recipe!

I’m easy that way.

Then, I read that it contained beets, and I wasn’t going to try it. However, beets are often called one of the world’s healthiest foods. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties.

They are high in folate, manganese and potassium. They also provide significant fiber and copper!

I can’t even taste “beets” in this smoothie recipe. Try it and you’ll see! 

Banana Beet Smoothie

Ingredients:
4 small raw beets, peeled and cut in bite-sized pieces (if your blender is not strong enough, steam beets first for easier blending)
1 small banana (for a thicker smoothie, use a frozen banana)
1 small green apple, chopped
1 small sweet Meyer lemon, juice only
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions:
Place all ingredients in the blend. Blend until smooth.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 407, Calories from Fat: 11, Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 317 mg, Potassium: 2027 mg, Carbohydrates: 97 g, Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 70 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Pesto Squash Boats


Squash BoatsRecently, I made the decision to try a diet with fewer processed foods. I have a few health issues that I think can be solved with better eating habits instead of medicines.

However, every Thursday is “Pasta Thursday” at my house and my kids love it. I didn’t want to change that for them.

So, I thought I’d try spaghetti squash. Even more daringly, I thought I’d try it with them. I made this version tossed with pesto, and they loved it. Even better, they thought eating it right out of the “shell” was fun and different.

You can top it with any sauce you want, too.

Pesto Squash Boats

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash, halved and deseeded
4 garlic cloves , minced
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided use
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce

Directions:
Cut squash in half and scoop seeds out with spoon.
Toss olive oil and garlic in squash; place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 350° F for about 1 hour, until soft.
When soft, “rake” the squash with a fork, which will make a spaghetti texture. Pull the flesh of the squash up off the shell.
Toss pesto with squash and replace in shell half. 

Serve immediately.
Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 100, Calories from Fat: 68, Fat: 8 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 18 mg, Potassium: 133 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Protein: 1 g.  

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Healthy Living: Chickpea Salad


Chickpea SaladI love salads in the spring and summer. Why is it that they taste so much better when the weather is warm? This salad is filled with chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans. The original recipe calls for dried beans, which you boil until tender. I used canned (rinsed) beans, and it turned out just fine.

Chickpeas, a member of the legume family, are a great source of vegetarian protein; each cup provides 15 grams of protein. They are also a great source of dietary fiber and significantly boost your intake of manganese and folate. The mineral manganese helps support bone development and wound healing, and it also helps carry out chemical reactions important to your metabolism. A one-cup serving of chickpeas contains 1.7 milligrams of manganese, approximately 94 percent of the recommended daily allowance for women or 74 percent of the recommended daily allowance for men.

Of course, this salad also has tomatoes rich in vitamin C and olive oil, which is a heart-healthy oil. So, enjoy all the health benefits of this delicious salad this summer.

Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 green onion, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh dill, chopped

Dressing:
half lemon, juice only
2 Tbsp tahini
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika powder
pinch of salt

Directions:
Put chickpeas, chopped tomato, onion and greens in a bowl. Mix with a spoon.
For dressing, mix all ingredients in a cup. Pour it on your salad and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 349, Calories from Fat: 95, Fat: 11 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 32 mg, Potassium: 882 mg, Carbohydrates: 50 g, Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 17 g.

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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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