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Healthy Living: Spicy Basil


I have two herbs that grow in containers on my back porch: rosemary and spicy basil.

I first purchased the spicy basil by accident, grabbing for regular basil and probably distracted by a kid or two. But, I love it and it’s now a favorite I won’t ever give up.

Spicy basil is basil that is…well, spicy. Profound, huh? Spicy basil, or “spicy globe basil,” can also be called “green basil” and is hugely popular in Europe, although it originated in India. It features small leaves, tender stems and huge flavor. You can use spicy basil in anything you’d use regular basil for and as Chef Emeril Lagasse says, it will “kick it up a notch.”

Studies have shown that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial properties, as well as a potential use in treating cancer. Basil is also traditionally used for herbal treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes.

Spicy Basil Chicken

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large shallot, minced
1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp chili paste, like sambal oelek
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp water
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup spicy basil leaves, sliced

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and garlic to pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, whisk the fish sauce and the next 6 ingredients (through cornstarch) together in a small bowl. Add fish sauce mixture to cooked chicken, and cook for 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring to coat chicken. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 340, Calories from Fat: 132, Fat: 15 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 127 mg, Sodium: 983 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 43 g



Dine In: Zucchini Treats


Whenever I get stumped for something new to make on a Friday night, I poll my friends via Facebook. I’m never disappointed with the variety of fun foods they can conjure up for a Friday night staycation.

My Facebook friend Lauren has been on an inspiring weight loss journey. In response to my latest query (which specified that friends could NOT list pizza as a Friday night favorite), she said she loves finger foods on Friday nights (me too!). She used to fry up jalapeno poppers or egg rolls, but now, after losing weight, beginning to exercise and remembering to treat her body as a temple, she prefers healthier fare. She’s discovered that you don’t have to give up fun finger foods for health. She reports that she recently made zucchini chips and was going to try zucchini tots this weekend!

With the abundance of this delicious vegetable this time of year, it’s easy to work these tasty treats into your weekend repertoire.

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:
3 medium zucchinis
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 275°F.
Slice the zucchini into 1/8″ slices.
Coat the slices with olive oil, salt and pepper.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, lay out the zucchini slices in a single layer.
Bake for 30 minutes, flip the zucchini slices over and bake for 30 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the oven, as cooking time varies depending on slice thickness. The chips should be golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 168, Calories from Fat: 131, Fat: 15 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1192 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 4 g

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Posted in: Dine In, Produce


Healthy Living: Grilled Tomatoes


I live in Tyler, birthplace of Brookshire’s, but I spend the majority of my time during the week in Jacksonville, home to the world’s largest bowl of salsa from 2010 and close runner-up to the title of “Tomato Capital of the World.”

Brookshire’s gets many of their tomatoes from Jacksonville farmers, and I buy them up as fast as they hit the shelves in the produce department.

Tomatoes are very high in lycopene, an agent thought to help ward off cancer. They’re also high in antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C. So, eat a lot of tomatoes while they’re at the peak of freshness this summer.

I’ve done all sorts of things with fresh tomatoes: canned them for the winter, used them in marinara sauce, stuffed them with tuna salad, used them in fresh salads and many other things. But, I’d never grilled them until last night. However, it won’t be long before I do it again. They were so delicious with a light char that caramelized the fruit beautifully. I just sliced my tomatoes into thick slices, sprinkled them with a teeny bit of salt and pepper, put them in the grill basket (with the fish I was already grilling) and put them on the grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, flipping once. I know I’m not going to be able to get enough of these grilled treats.



Healthy Living: Mint, Watermelon and Cucumber Salad


Ahhh…summertime…watermelon meets cucumber. Watermelon likes cucumber. Watermelon hops into salad with cucumber. Watermelon and cucumber live happily ever after.

Watermelon has been called one of the world’s healthiest foods. Along with tomatoes, watermelon is one of the foods highest in lycopene. Lycopene is a nutrient that’s especially important for our cardiovascular health, and many experts believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well. Watermelon is high in water content, and water is an essential element to make all of our body’s functions work more smoothly. Watermelon is full of beta-carotene, antioxidants and vitamin C.

Cucumbers, with their high levels of vitamin B, are a quick pick-me-up (think afternoon snack). They are also full of water and help the body stay hydrated and eliminate toxins. Cucumbers contain high levels of lignans, which are associated with reducing the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate. Cucumbers also contain high levels of potassium, magnesium and fiber, which work effectively for regulating blood pressure.

So, when you put them together, what do you get? A marriage made in superfood heaven.

Mint Cucumber Watermelon Salad

Ingredients
8 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
2 medium English cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh mint
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumbers, onions and mint. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over watermelon mixture; toss to coat. Serve immediately, or cover and

Refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Serves 16

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 60, Fat (trans saturated fat): 3 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 78 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 1 g. 



Healthy Living: Asian Chicken Quinoa Salad


I’ve written before about quinoa, a super-duper healthy grain. Since then, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has deemed 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa.” Pretty cool, huh? 

Why does this grain deserve such a lofty designation?

Well, quinoa is tremendously high in flavonoids, which are great for many things including fighting allergies, viruses and carcinogens. Flavonoids may also have anti-allergenic, anti-microbial, anti-cancer and anti-diarrheal properties and serve as a high-powered anti-inflammatory.

Quinoa is also high in mono-saturated fats, found in a form that does not break down during the cooking process. Pair it with veggies and a lean protein and you have yourself a super meal. This recipe is from a blog I love, but I added chicken to make it a main course meal. This recipe provides 71 percent of the US Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A.

Asian Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and diced
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 cup shelled and cooked edemame
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup diced cucumber

For the dressing:
1/4 cup lite soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Add water, quinoa, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Grill chicken breasts. Let rest. Dice.

Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the chicken, cabbage, edemame, red pepper, carrots and cucumber. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 560, Calories from Fat: 183, Fat: 20 g, Cholesterol: 130 mg, Sodium: 1177 mg, Carbohydrates: 38 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 57 g



Shop The Sale: Mangoes


I’m trying to lighten up for spring and summertime, and I’m so excited that all the fruits I love the most are coming back into season. I’ve already seen them appearing on the shelves of Brookshire’s grocery stores.

I didn’t discover mangoes until fairly late in life, already in adulthood. But I love them now, and they’re a staple of my spring and summer fruit bowl.

Originally from South Asia, the mango is considered a tropical fruit. Placing under-ripe mangoes in brown paper bags can help them ripen. They will then keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about four or five days.

Use Greek yogurt in this recipe for extra protein, and enjoy it as a dessert, or as I do, breakfast.

Mango Yogurt Parfaits

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and cubed
3 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
6 Tbs low-fat granola

Directions

Purée one mango and spoon equal amounts into six clear plastic cups. Top each with 1/4 cup yogurt. Spoon cubed mango over the top, saving a few pieces for garnish.

Top with remaining 1/4 cup yogurt and reserved mango. (Recipe may be made ahead at this point. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.)

Top each serving with a tablespoon of granola just before serving.

Serves 6 

Nutrional Information: Calories per Serving: 162, Fat: 2 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 7 mg, Sodium: 72 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Fiber: 2 g 



Healthy Living: Homemade Fruit Leathers


When we were growing up, mom made our school lunches: one sandwich, one piece of fruit, one cookie or small dessert.

Then, dad took over the job of packing lunches.

Imagine our glee when we opened our lunch boxes at school to discover a sandwich, a fruit roll-up and a cookie. Two desserts! We’d hit the jackpot!

I think this newfound nirvana lasted maybe a week before someone slipped and ratted dad out. He honestly didn’t know that a commercially prepared fruit roll up did not count as a serving of fruits or vegetables. Bless his heart.

However, fruit roll-ups or fruit leathers are super easy to make at home, taste a lot better and don’t leave red dye No. 40 all over your hands.

And best of all, they probably do count as a serving of fruit.

Homemade Fruit Leathers

Ingredients:

3 cups ripe, chopped fruit (Strawberries and peaches are my favorite. I can’t get bananas to work right, but we also love raspberries.)

Sweetener, to taste (I use about 3 Tbs honey. You could also use granulated sugar).

Directions:

Preheat oven to 150° F or the lowest temperature your oven will go. Line a 11 x 17 baking sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.

Purée the fruit and sweetener in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour fruit mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread to about a 1/8″ thick. Tilt the sheet back and forth to evenly distribute the fruit mixture.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 6 to 8 hours, until fruit mixture is set and the center is not sticky. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Gently peel off the fruit leather from the Silpat mat or parchment paper. Cut into squares or strips (I’ve found a pizza cutter is great for this). If you want to make fruit roll-ups, roll the strips in parchment paper. Store in an airtight container. 

Serves 10

Calories per serving: 34 g, Calories from fat: 0 g, Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Sugars: 8 g, Protein:0 g. 



Healthy Living: Asparagus


It’s finally spring, when the new crops of vegetables start to appear. Springtime is peak season for one of my favorites – asparagus.

I literally cannot eat enough of these green stalks (or yellow, if you buy the“white” variety). Apparently that’s a good thing, because asparagus is super-duper healthy.

First of all, it’s a great source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that helps process glucose.

Secondly, it’s high in glutathione, a compound that breaks down carcinogens and free radicals.  Long words short: eating asparagus helps protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.

Asparagus is rich in antioxidants. Who doesn’t love to slow the aging process?

It’s a natural diuretic.

It’s packed with B12 and folate. Asparagus is brain food too!

Tarragon Steamed Asparagus

Ingredients:
1 lb asparagus, woody stalks snapped off
1 cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup water

Directions:

Remove bottoms of stalks of asparagus. Using a peeler, lightly peel stalks lengthwise.

Combine tarragon vinegar and water in the bottom of a large pot or saucepan. Place asparagus in a steamer basket, above liquid level.

Cover. Bring to a boil.

Steam asparagus for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve immediately. The tarragon vinegar infuses the asparagus with a light, woody flavor.

Serves 4
Nutritional Information: Calories: 35, Calories from Fat: 1, Total Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 5 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 5 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars; 2  g, Protein; 3 g


Family Matters: A Touch of Strawberry


Our family loves strawberries and we are always looking for new ways to prepare them.   We experiment to see how they taste in different recipes or prepared with different toppings.   Our favorite recipe is for Strawberry Bread…it is delicious for breakfast, snack time or a bedtime treat.  

You can heat a slice in the microwave and add a little butter – my husband’s favorite thing to do!  A friend shared this recipe with me back in 1986, and I have been making it ever since.  It is a family tradition each year to bake loaves of the Strawberry Bread and give as gifts to close friends, teachers, and serve at family gatherings.   If you enjoy strawberries, this is a must try recipe!

Strawberry Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs Beaten
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
2 – 10 oz. Strawberries

Directions:
Mix sugar, eggs and oil well and then add strawberries.  Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon and then add to the mixture.  Add nuts (optional) and stir together until moist.  Put in greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  After it is cooled sprinkle top with a little powdered sugar (optional). 

When strawberries are in season, it is nice to use fresh strawberries mashed up in place of the frozen.  Also, you can bake it in a Bundt pan for a fancy look and it is a great party item.  

Take time and try this bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your kids is an opportunity to talk and bond with them.  It may become a family tradition that you can pass on for generations to come as I have with my girls.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!      



Ask Leigh


Question:  We ate at a restaurant recently where the salsa was just delicious. Our server said they roasted the tomatoes and jalapenos first. Do you have a recipe like this? 

Answer:  Definitely! This one is fairly spicy, so if you want a milder flavor, make sure you remove all the jalapeno seeds after roasting. 

 

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, preferably plum 
2 to 3 fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed
½ white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick 
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar 

Directions:
Heat the broiler of your oven to high. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapeños on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted — even blackened in spots — on one side. With a pair of tongs, flip over tomatoes and chiles and roast other side for another 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

Change the oven temperature to 425˚F. Separate onions into rings. Place onion and garlic on another baking sheet. Roast in the oven, stirring carefully every couple of minutes, until the onions are browned, and the garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. 

In a food processor, pulse the jalapeños with onion and garlic until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed to keep it all moving around. Remove to a big bowl. Without washing the processor, coarsely puree tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Stir in enough water to give the salsa a spoonable consistency. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and season with salt and vinegar. Refrigerate it covered and use within 5 days. 

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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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