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Healthy Living: Live Greener. Go Organic


April 22 is Earth Day, and millions of people across the world come together to celebrate our planet. 

As awareness of the need to care for our planet has grown over the past few years, I have also tried to do my part to become “greener.” I ride my bike or walk instead of driving short distances; I’ve planted a few trees; and I even started a compost pile. 

Two simple habits I have added to my life are using my reusable Brookshire’s bags and buying more organic foods. 

Organic doesn’t just mean “all natural” or “good for you.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, organic produce is grown without irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides and genetically modified organisms. This results in fewer chemicals in the air, earth and water. 

You may think going organic is expensive, but you don’t have to buy all things organic. The Environmental Working Group has a list of foods you don’t necessarily have to buy organic called “The Clean 15.” This list is of 15 produce items that have very little pesticide residue and are not necessarily better if you buy them organically. 

On the other hand, the group released a list called “The Dirty Dozen,” which are 12 produce items they encourage you to buy organic all the time. 

In addition to produce, I always buy organic milk and organic meat. This means the animals must have access to the outdoors and have been fed 100 percent organic food. The animals also can’t be injected with any growth hormones or antibiotics. 

It does not take a huge life change to become greener. It’s more about being aware and doing what you can do to help our planet stay healthy and strong for generations to come. 

Start using your reusable Brookshire’s bag and slowly start buying organic and you will be on your way to a greener life. 

The Dirty Dozen (Buy organic)

peaches • apples • celery • sweet bell peppers • strawberries • kale/collard greens         nectarines • spinach • lettuce • domestic blueberries • grapes • potatoes 

The Clean 15

onions • sweet corn • pineapples • avocado • asparagus • sweet peas • mangos • eggplant•cantaloupe • kiwi • cabbage • watermelon • sweet potatoes • grapefruit • mushrooms



Shop the Sale: For the Love of Strawberry Shortcake


When I was in second grade, I had a huge crush on one of my older brother’s friends. Let’s just call him Jack and hope this blog doesn’t make it all the way home to Mississippi. 

Jack was in sixth grade, and although I was 8 and he was 12, the age difference didn’t seem to faze me. I can clearly remember thinking through that my parents were five years apart and it seemed to be working well, so what’s the harm in four? 

Jack had been in our home countless times, and all I knew was I liked him. A lot. 

One Saturday, I painted Jack a Strawberry Shortcake paint-by-number picture – not the shortcake dessert, but the little doll we all played with back in the 1970s (along with Holly Hobbie). 

Our school was small enough where first through sixth grades were all on the same campus, and all weekend I thought of different schemes to get the painting to him at school Monday morning. The best plan I could come up with was to hide the painting between my piano books and make a quick stop in sixth grade on the way to my Monday music lesson. 

The moment came to go big or go home, and sure enough I ran to the sixth grade, knocked on the door, and asked for Jack. My mouth was completely dry, and my heart was pounding out of my little body when he came to the door. 

I shoved the painting at him and ran. Not a word. 

Here’s the best part. When my brother got home from school that day, he didn’t tease me at all. He just sweetly said, “Jack says thank you for the picture.” And a few weeks later at my brother’s skating party, Jack asked me to skate when it came time for the boys to ask the girls. 

These are moments a girl never forgets. 

So in honor of one of my sweetest early memories – and a boy and brother who were nothing but kind when they could have teased me for years – I think it’s just the right time to make a strawberry shortcake and celebrate the innocence of young sweet love. 

Strawberry Shortcake 

For the biscuits
Ingredients:
2 1/3 cups baking mix
3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup Food Club whole or low-fat milk
3 Tbs sugar plus more for sprinkling 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Using a wooden spoon, stir baking mix, melted butter, milk, and sugar in a mixing bowl until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 large spoonful’s on to a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. 

For the berries
Ingredients:
2 pints of fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced thinly
1/2 cup sugar 

Directions:
Place berries and sugar in a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Set aside to allow berries to soften and juices to form. If you like, you can use the back of a fork to slightly mash berries. 

For the whipped cream
Ingredients:
3 cups whipped cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs sugar 

Directions:
For the whipped cream, place cream, vanilla and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until soft peaks form. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

To serve, slice each biscuit in half. Place bottom of biscuit on a dessert plate. Ladle strawberries over the biscuit. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and the top half of the biscuit.



Shop the Sale: Grateful for Green Chiles


The other day, I went out to eat for lunch and ordered a green chile chicken sandwich. I’ve had green chile cheeseburgers before, but for some reason I had never thought to put it on my grilled chicken sandwiches. It was love at first bite, and I wanted more. 

I spent some time playing in my kitchen, trying to perfect the flavors of the sandwich I had enjoyed at the restaurant, which of course involved a return visit or two for “research.”  After a few more sandwiches, I think I’ve gotten fairly close to recreating the delicious marinade, which provides the perfect balance to the green chiles and cheese. 

I’ve also thrown in a great oven-baked potato wedge recipe for you. I love French fries but try hard not to fry food very often. These satisfy my craving for French fries without too much guilt. I like to dip mine in spicy ketchup or spicy Ranch dressing. The spicier, the better! 

And the best part of this meal just may be the price. This week at Brookshire’s, the three-pound bag of Pilgrim’s boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale, as well as the Wright Brand Sliced Bacon, a 10-pound bag of Harvest Club Russet potatoes, Kraft Mayonnaise and Food Club Charcoal Briquets. This is definitely the time to try something new! 

Enjoy! 

Green Chile Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges 

Ingredients:
4 Pilgrim’s boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 /4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
4 slices Wright brand sliced bacon, cooked and cut in half
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
Toppings: Kraft Mayonnaise, avocado, leaf lettuce, ripe tomato, red onion 

Directions:
Place one chicken breast at a time in a large resealable plastic bag and close. Gently pound chicken to flatten to 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with each breast and then place all four breasts back in the bag. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey and olive oil and mix well. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade and pour the rest over the chicken. Seal bag and make sure chicken is coated well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. Meanwhile, prepare grill with Food Club Charcoal Briquets to medium heat. 

Remove chicken from refrigerator and discard marinade and plastic bag. Grill chicken, turning and basting with reserved marinade until juices run clear, about  7 minutes.  Remove from grill and place on platter. Top each breast with 1/4 of the green chiles, one slice of bacon cut in half, and one slice of cheese. Tent with foil to allow cheese to melt. When ready to serve, top each sandwich as desired with mayonnaise, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve warm with Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges. 

Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges 

Ingredients:
4 large Harvest Club Russet potatoes, washed and dried
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for less spicy version)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each potato into about 8 long wedges.  Place oil, smoked paprika, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Toss in potatoes and seal. Shake well to evenly coat potatoes. Transfer potatoes to baking sheet, making sure the peel is on the pan. Bake until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, about 40 minutes. Serve hot. 



Shop the sale: Pears


A very simple pear-blue-cheese-and-pecan salad  was one of the most popular dishes on my menu when I owned a restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico.

No one ever seemed to figure out the secret ingredient in the dressing (maple syrup!) but everyone loved the texture and contrast of sweet, juicy, crisp pears to the salty, savory cheese and nuts.

Both green D’Anjou and Bosc pears are at special prices this week at your neighborhood store, so when you’re buying some for lunchboxes, get a few extra for this salad. You can use either one, as it’s a matter of taste and appearance preferences. Personally I find the brown-skinned Bosc tend to be a little sweeter, so you may find they present a little better contrast to the strong blue cheese flavor.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 small container spring mix lettuces  (or any lettuce mix of your choosing)
1 large or two small pears, halved, cored, and sliced thinly lengthwise
4 to 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup salted or candied pecans
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, optional

For dressing:
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh only (do not use bottled)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
For dressing: In a squirt bottle or sealable plastic container, combine maple syrup, lime juice and olive oil. Seal container and shake well to combine. Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste. Shake again and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a med.-large mixing bowl, combine spring lettuce mix, pear slices, blue cheese and pecans. Toss to combine. Remove dressing from refrigerator and shake well to recombine.  Add about ¼-1/2 cup of dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Divide onto salad plates and serve immediately.



Product Talk: Yukon Gold potatoes


Restaurant consultants and food writers are calling 2012 the “Year of the Potato.” Well, personally, I think pretty much every year is the potato’s year, at least in the United States. Year in and year out, we eat more potatoes than any other vegetable.

Of all the potatoes out there, however, the one that is probably getting the most attention right now is the Yukon Gold. And there’s a good reason for that. These yellow-skinned, yellow-fleshed potatoes are naturally buttery and creamy, and are good just about any way you cook them.

You may have just heard of these golden potatoes in the last few years, as chefs and restaurants have discovered them, but they are not all that new. In fact, in much of the rest of the world, yellow potatoes have been the gold standard for centuries.

In the U.S., however, we have traditionally preferred potatoes with white flesh. That began to change only about a generation ago, after Canadian researchers developed the Yukon Gold by crossing North American white potatoes with yellow varieties from South America.

The result was a yellow-fleshed potato with skin so thin you don’t really have to peel them, and a tender flesh that is especially good for pan-frying, boiling, and mashing.

That probably has a lot to do with the unique texture and starch content. Yukon Golds do not have quite as much starch as a traditional baking potato like an Idaho or a russet, but they have a little more starch than a red potato, which is often boiled or mashed. They cook fairly quickly, so you do have to watch them, as they can get too soft and fall apart if overcooked.

Also, unlike some potatoes, they don’t turn grayish when cooked. In fact, they often turn a little more golden, so your mashed potatoes will have a pretty golden hue, even if you don’t use much butter to flavor them. 

Which, right there, is part of the reason potatoes are popular again in some circles. Now that the “low-carb” diet fad has died down, more people have realized that potatoes can actually be pretty good for you, as long as you don’t overload them with fat and salt. (A medium uncooked potato has only about 100 calories, but good chunks of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.)

And that is where the Yukon Gold really stands out. You may find you that Yukon Golds have a richer flavor and creamier texture than other potatoes, so you can get by with less butter, cream, cheese or bacon in your favorite potato dishes. 

 

 



Product Talk: Darling clementines


Don’t confuse a clementine with an orange.

Yes, they’re part of the same family; a clementine is just a tiny type of mandarin orange, small enough to eat in just a few bites. But they are very sweet, juicy, have virtually no seeds and a very thin edible membrane. Plus, their thin peel just slides away with almost no effort. They are the perfect citrus fruit for kids – small enough to fit in little hands, and so easy to peel that children can do it themselves.

Only a few years ago, clementines weren’t that easy to find in supermarkets. Up until about a decade or two ago, most clementines we got here were imported, often from Europe, where their growing season is short and sweet.

But  once U.S. consumers started getting their hands on clementines, the demand grew. U.S. growers began planting more, especially in California. Today, at Brookshire’s, we carry two main brands of clementines:

Bagu: These are Spanish-grown clementines, and come in a five-pound wooden crate. Consistently sweet, and you’ll almost never run across a seed. Their season, however, is shorter, lasting only through January or February.

Cuties: California-grown, these are mandarin oranges, available in three-pound bags. Cuties have been developed to have a slightly longer harvesting season, and will likely be available through April. (Later in the season, Cuties are actually Murcott mandarins, which have the same small size, sweet flavor, thin skin and virtually seedless interior as the clementine.)

Which type you like better is largely a matter of taste. I’m partial to the Spanish ones, because I think they’re slightly sweeter, but either type makes a great snack or light dessert, especially this time of year, when you may be trying to atone for weeks of holiday indulging.

As a matter of fact, clementines are a great fruit to add to your diet. They are low in calories and high in Vitamin C. Eat three of them (and believe me, that’s not hard to do) and you will take in only about 100 calories, but you’ll meet your daily recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.



Shop the Sale: Apples galore


It may be almost Christmas, but apple season is still in full swing, and we’re still bringing in the best of the fall’s crop.

Just in time for last-minute baking or stocking stuffers, we’re offering special prices this week on some of our most popular varieties.

There’s an apple to suit every taste among this selection:

Jonagold: A cross between the Jonathan and the Golden Delicious, this apple carries the best traits of both its “parents:” It’s big like the Golden Delicious, but has a nicely tart flavor and crisp texture like the Jonathan. Particularly good in applesauce, but they also make a fine pie.

Gala: Originally developed in New Zealand, these are firm, crisp apples with a lot of juice and a flavor that’s on the sweet side of sweet-tart. To me, these are best eaten fresh, or made into a Waldorf salad with grapes, walnuts and a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing.

Ambrosia: These are very sweet, firm apples which are not as acidic as many other varieties, so children often particularly enjoy these. A good all-around apple for snacking, baking or cooking.

Pink Lady: Thought to be a cross between the old favorite Golden Delicious and a Lady William, an apple popular in Australia but not in the United States, this is the brand name for a variety also known as Cripps Pink. The Pink Lady is more sweet than tart, but juicy and very firm. They’re best eaten out of hand or tossed into a salad, but they make a perfectly respectable pie.



Shop the Sale: Hass Avocados


Hass avocados are the Mercedes of avocados – beautiful  and consistently high-quality. But they’re also an affordable luxury, especially this week, as we’ve just started a special 5-for-$5 deal on large Hass avocados in our produce sections.

These avocados are highly recognizable because of their dark green, pebbly skin, sometimes with a deep purple or blackish tinge. But the color of the rind isn’t the best way to choose them, according to the experts at the Hass Avocado Board.

Instead, you should gently squeeze the avocado in the palm of your hand, without using your fingertips (to avoid bruising the fruit), to determine if it will be ready when you are. (You don’t want the disappointment of bringing home a bunch of beautiful avocados and realizing they haven’t ripened enough for the guacamole you planned for supper!) Here’s their guide to choosing:

Firm avocados: If the avocado will not yield at all to gentle pressure, they’re not ready to eat. They will ripen at room temperature in up to four-five days, so buy these if you’re not planning to eat right away.

“Breaking” avocados: Avocado isn’t rock hard, but doesn’t quite yield to gentle pressure. These will be ready to eat in two or three days.

Ripe avocados: These yield to gentle pressure, but don’t feel too mushy or soft. You can eat these right away. Store them in the fridge to keep them from softening too much.

Hass avocados make great fresh guacamole, of course, but there’s so much else you can do with fresh avocados. Make a BLA sandwich – bacon, lettuce, and slices of creamy avocado.  Puree them into soup or salad dressing. Make a chunky pico de gallo for fish or shrimp, or just to serve with chips.

Or try this recipe for an out-of-the ordinary vegetable dish, an interesting side dish idea for the holidays, from the Hass Avocado Board. (They have lots of other recipes, which you can find here. (hyperlink to http://www.avocadocentral.com/avocado-recipes)

Holiday Vegetable and Hass Avocado Saute

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ripe fresh Hass avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks (about 8 ounces)

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot and thyme, sauté for 3 minutes.

Mix in zucchini, bell pepper and lemon peel, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Lower heat and cover, cooking for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice with avocado. Add to skillet and gently mix. Cook for 2 minutes to allow flavors to blend.



Product Talk: The gift of fruit


The tradition of giving fruit as a holiday gift is an old one, but it’s just as good an idea today as it was 50 years ago. In these days, when everybody seems to be avoiding sugar, developing food allergies, or going on a diet, fruit is one food gift that just about every person on your gift list will appreciate.

We are making it even easier this year to finish your holiday shopping, by carrying fruit gift packs that are ready to give to family, friends, clients or neighbors. Most of our stores have several gift ideas available, so look for these in your neighborhood store or ask your produce manager to see what gift packs may be available this season:

Spanish Clementines: Sweet, seedless and easy to peel, clementines have a smaller window of availability than most other citrus fruits. They’re at their peak from about November through January – which might be why they’re sometimes called “Christmas oranges.” Available in five-pound gift crate.

California Navel Oranges:  Perhaps because they were once available only to the wealthy, oranges continue to be associated with prosperity and luxury, and remain a traditional Christmas treat. Of course, oranges are also at their peak, and most delicious, at this time of year.   Available in gift crate, approximately 24 to 36 count.

Texas Rio Star Grapefruits: Texas’ shining contribution to the citrus industry, these are the sweetest, juiciest grapefruit you can find; the kind that even people who swear they don’t like grapefruit end up loving. Available in holiday gift pack, approximately 12-18 count.

Red Delicious Apples: Shiny, picture-perfect red apples are always a good gift-giving choice; have you ever heard of anyone who didn’t like apples?  Didn’t think so. Available in holiday gift pack, featuring Washington-grown apples, approximately 18-22 count.



Product Talk: Pomelos


If you’ve noticed the giant, greenish pomelos in the produce department, you may have just thought these citrus fruits were just freakishly large, unripened grapefruit.

Actually, the pomelo is just a distant cousin of the grapefruit – but you may find you like them even better.  Most people will find them juicier, sweeter and milder than most grapefruit.

In fact, if it weren’t for pomelos, we probably wouldn’t even have grapefruit today. Pomelos (sometimes called “pummelos” ) are native to southeast Asia, and were particularly common in  Malaysia, Indonesia and southern China, even as far back as thousands of years ago.

According to the authoritative Oxford Companion to Food, food historians believe that sailors brought pomelos to the Carribbean West Indies in the 17th century. There, they were cultivated, cross-bred and refined until the modern grapefruit was produced.

Only in the last few years have pomelos been common in U.S. supermarkets again. Maybe that’s because of appearances: The pomelo does look like an ungainly stepsister to more common, petite citrus fruits. Its skin is usually green or yellowish-green, and slightly rough.  Pomelos are usually at least an inch or two larger in diameter than even the largest grapefruit.

The skin, or rind, is also very thick and soft, with a thick white pith. Rather than eating it on the half-shell like a grapefruit, it’s easier to eat a pomelo like an orange, by peeling away the rind and separating the fruit into sections. The flesh doesn’t have the tart edge of a grapefruit or the high acidity of other citrus fruits.

You can use pomelo in just about the same way as you would a grapefruit, in a salad or by itself. Peak season is now through late winter.



Copyright © 2010-2014, Brookshire’s. All rights reserved.
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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