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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 Tbs 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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Dine In: Primavera Potato Salad


Primavera Potato Salad

Primavera usually goes with pasta, so I was totally smitten when I saw this recipe for potato primavera. It’s not a pasta dish or a potato salad, but it’s a wonderful combination of both of them.

Friday nights in the spring and summer find me on the back patio, nine times out of 10. I love to grill a steak, pork loin or chicken, and this dish is a great side. I love how it gets a carbohydrate and veggies into one delicious dish.

You can make it before your steak grills and let it sit out, or prepare it in advance and bring it to room temperature. If you make it early, don’t add the vinaigrette until right before you serve it, as the potatoes will absorb most of the dressing.

Primavera Potato Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 1/2 lb small new potatoes, unpeeled
5 oz green beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced diagonally
2 cups baby spinach, lightly packed
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced diagonally

Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Directions:
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Add green beans and carrots; cook 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with fork. Drain; cool under cold running water.

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl until well-blended.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, quarter larger ones and halve small ones. Place in large bowl, along with beans, carrots, spinach, radishes and green onions. Toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Serve at room temperature.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 208, Calories from Fat: 113, Fat: 13 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 350 mg, Potassium: 736 mg, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Posted in: Dine In, Produce


Shop the Sale: Avocado Chicken Salad


Avocado Chicken SaladSpring salads and grilled chicken just seem to go together. I adore this version with an abundance of veggies, tangy vinaigrette, salty feta, savory chicken and fresh garlic.

I feel like I get lazy in the spring and summer. I want to come home from work and plop on the patio and not slave over the stove. 

For this salad, I chop the vegetables in advance. I also usually grill more chicken than we need for a weekend meal, then parcel out the rest for my lunch or weeknight meals to save time.

This recipe calls for pipette pasta, but any short tube pasta, macaroni or farfalle would work.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
1/3 cup bottled vinaigrette salad dressing
6 oz uncooked pipette pasta, or your favorite pasta
1 lb cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sweet red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup red onions, cut into small, thin strips
1/2 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 avocado, pitted, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Place in large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the pasta. Toss and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Once pasta is at room temperature, add cooked chicken, both peppers, onions, olives, garlic and parsley. Toss to combine.

Gently add avocado and toss. Top with feta cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 533, Calories from Fat: 213, Fat: 24 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 145 mg, Sodium: 743 mg, Potassium: 672 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 45 g.

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Healthy Living: Frozen


Frozen Vegetables

The Disney movie, “Frozen,” is an undisputed hit and so is the chilly aisle in your local Brookshire’s.

I didn’t even know vegetables and other foods came in a can until I was an adult out living on my own. Luckily, my mom knew what we hope you know, too: frozen produce is a heck of a lot healthier than canned goods.

Freezing is a natural preservative that upholds quality, prolongs shelf life and retains nutritional value by immediately locking in freshness. There’s no added salt or sugar. Produce and other quality items don’t sit around; they’re frozen at the peak of freshness after they’re picked, harvested or prepared. So many quality frozen products are chef-prepared fresh then flash frozen to seal in quality and flavor.

In addition, many frozen foods have far fewer calories, fat and sodium than restaurant options and offer an additional benefit of portion control. It’s easy to reheat one burrito instead of going through the drive through.

Frozen foods are economical and practical for a family of any size. I can buy a 5-lb bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts and take out three if I want to grill for my whole family or just one if I’m home alone. For single servings or large parties, frozen foods can be the easy way to go.

So, take a stroll down that icy aisle today and see what kinds of treats you can find. 



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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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