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Healthy Living: Pesto Squash Boats

Pesto 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
Serves 2

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

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.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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.

Healthy Living: Berry Avocado Salad

Berry Avocado SaladIt’s officially springtime and time to lighten up our eating.

I can eat avocado in almost anything. The beauty of this power-packed fruit is that it takes on the flavor of almost anything you serve it with, kind of like tofu but better.

This salad packs in vitamins and antioxidants from the fruit, and you get good fats and protein from the avocado. I usually swap the iceberg lettuce for spinach, but you can do it either way. Just remember iceberg lettuce, while giving a crunchy contrast texture, doesn’t add much in the way of nutrition.

Berry Avocado Salad


1/4 wedge iceberg lettuce, chopped or whole (or baby spinach)
6 strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella chunks
1 avocado, sliced

1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place lettuce in a salad bowl.
Add strawberries, blueberries, mozzarella and avocado slices.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Pour over salad and gently mix it all together.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 687, Calories from Fat: 535, Fat: 60 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (14 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 477 mg, Potassium: 1335 mg, Carbohydrates: 36 g, Fiber: 21 g, Sugar: 12 g, Protein: 13 g.

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Shop the Sale: Bell Peppers

Bell Pepper Slaw

My mom used to grow the most magnificent garden.

I say this in past tense, but she really she still grows a garden, I just don’t live close enough to benefit from it.

I remember summers spent going out to her garden to harvest fresh green beans, cucumbers, corn and bell peppers for dinner. I don’t think I can choose a favorite, but her stuffed bell peppers made from fresh produce straight out of our back yard was pretty delicious.

I have loved bell peppers ever since. I love the earthy flavor of the green ones and the sweet flavor of red, yellow and orange varieties. I make stuffed peppers frequently, but I also found this slaw recipe last summer. I’m not a huge coleslaw fan, but this side dish is positively delicious! Bell peppers are on sale this week at Brookshire’s, so try this today.

Bell Pepper Slaw

1 (10 oz) bag angel-hair slaw mix
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1 large green bell pepper, julienned
1 large yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano

Place slaw mix, peppers and tomatoes in a large glass jar with lid. Shake to combine; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, basil and oregano, whisking well. Pour mixture over peppers. Close lid and shake well to coat.

Serve slaw from jar, if desired. Store covered in the refrigerator. Slaw is best when made a day before serving.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 242, Calories from Fat: 157, Fat: 17 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 490 mg, Potassium: 595 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 14 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Shop the Sale: Hasselback Potatoes with Bacon

Hasselback Potatoes with BaconI had to do a little digging to find out the origin of the Hasselback potato.

Google didn’t yield information as quickly as I’d hoped for, but I finally found an entry that read, “Named after the Stockholm restaurant that first introduced them, Hasselback potatoes have been adopted widely by other European cuisines. They are known as ‘accordion potatoes’ in Ireland’s version of the dish.”

So, there you have it.

These potatoes are so thinly sliced, although not all the way through, that they collect the buttery goodness and other flavors between the velvety slices for a flavor that runs deeply through the dish. This version has bacon!

Great with a steak or as a side dish for a crowd, try this version while potatoes are on sale at Brookshire’s.

Hasselback Potatoes with Bacon

4 slices thick-cut bacon, each cut crosswise into 9 pieces
kosher salt
12 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 stick unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Lay the bacon pieces on a baking sheet and freeze until hard, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Using a sharp knife, make crosswise cuts in each potato (about 1/8 inch apart), stopping about 1/4 inch from the bottom.

Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and carefully transfer to a baking sheet; let cool slightly. Pat the potatoes dry, then insert 3 pieces of the frozen bacon into the cuts of each potato, spacing the bacon evenly and letting it poke out of the top. Melt 5 tablespoons butter, and brush generously over the potatoes and in the cuts. Reserve any excess butter for basting. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Transfer the potatoes to the oven and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp (about 2 hours), basting halfway through with the reserved melted butter.

When the potatoes are almost done, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and mix with the scallions, parsley and garlic. Spoon over the potatoes and roast 5 more minutes. Transfer to a platter and season with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 204, Calories from Fat: 75, Fat: 8 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 22 mg, Sodium: 487 mg, Potassium: 745 mg, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Roasted Okra

Roasted OkraI have this thing about okra.

I know it’s healthy. I know it’s good for me, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the texture.

I basically cut it out of my diet, which is rather shocking considering it’s a staple of Southern cuisine.

Recently, I had the best bowl of gumbo I’d ever eaten in my life, and it featured a generous amount of okra. The okra was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of tenderness.

I decided to give okra another chance, and I’m so glad I did because I found this recipe.

Roasting the okra gives it the perfect texture, in my opinion, and the coconut oil just increases the health factor!

Roasted Okra

1 lb okra
2 Tbsp coconut oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Wash and thoroughly dry the okra. Once dried, roughly chop okra, and toss with coconut oil and seasoning. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, stirring the mix once about halfway through. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Serves 2
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 192, Calories from Fat: 126, Fat: 14 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 16 mg, Potassium: 678 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Frozen Banana Bites

Frozen Banana BitesI’m always on the quest to get my kids to make better choices when it comes to snacking. Being honest, I could make better choices as well.

When they ask for a snack, I tend to say, “Get a piece of fruit.

Well, I made these and now they’re all about getting a “piece of fruit!”

Frozen Banana Bites
Serves 4

2 large bananas
1/3 cup carob (or chocolate) chips
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
unsweetened coconut flakes

Set out a large plate or bowl with a piece of parchment or wax paper on it. Cut up the bananas into good-sized chunks. Each banana should give you around 5 to 6 pieces. Heat the peanut butter and carob chips in the microwave on HIGH for about a minute; stir until smooth.

Dip the banana pieces in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Lay them out, leaving some space between them on the parchment/wax paper. Then, sprinkle the unsweetened coconut flakes on top. Transfer to the freezer and freeze overnight.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 422, Calories from Fat: 206, Fat: 23 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 35 mg, Carbohydrates: 48 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 25 g, Protein: 11 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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