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Product Talk: Almond Milk Smoothie

Almond Milk“You’ve got to try this,” my friend said, handing me a glass with a suspiciously milky-looking substance in it.

Not that I have anything against milk: I grew up on 2 percent cow’s milk, and I think my mom served it at every meal until I left for college.

True story.

However, I can’t say it’s been my drink of choice since I moved out on my own. Still nothing against milk; it’s great for you and necessary for bone health, but I just don’t love it.

So, it was with great skepticism that I sipped from the glass she handed me.

It was good.

“It’s almond milk,” she said.

Milk? Out of almonds?


Almond milk is made from ground almonds and contains neither lactose nor cholesterol, which is another bonus for me as I’m trying to lower my total cholesterol.

It’s good for vegans and vegetarians, and it comes in flavors like vanilla or chocolate.

Although almond milk has less protein than cow’s milk, it is rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus, tryptophan, copper and calcium.

Try this smoothie made with almond milk. It tastes just like a Wendy’s frosty!

Almond Milk Smoothie

3/4 cup almond milk
about 15 ice cubes
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 of a banana

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until you’ve achieved desired consistency.
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 467, Calories from Fat: 393, Fat: 44 g (39 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 29 mg, Potassium: 700 mg, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 6 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

Healthy Living: Black Bean Burgers

My family loves to grill in the summertime. Once the weather begins warming up, we start grilling almost every Saturday and Sunday for lunch. Some of my favorite things to grill are salmon on a cedar plank, asparagus, corn, zucchini and onions.

Recently, I have fallen in love with grilling black bean burgers. Not only do I love them, but so does my meat-loving boyfriend. I know he is not too crazy about having meatless meals, so I was rather nervous about him liking them the first time I made them. He ate the first burger and then quietly said, “Could I have another one?” I was in shock! I thought, if he likes them, anyone would. We have now added black bean burgers into our meal rotation.

Black beans are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. They are also a good source of iron and protein with no saturated fat, making them a great substitute for meat in a vegetarian meal. Black beans get their black pigments from the flavonoid, anthocyanin. Anthocyanin aids in the prevention of cancer, inflammation and heart disease, and it helps protect your memory. So, with all these benefits, why not try a black bean burger?

Black Bean Burger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained, rinsed and dried, divided
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 egg
1/2 cup cooked corn, dried
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 hamburger buns
6 lettuce leaves
1 avocado, sliced

Heat grill or pan to medium-low heat. 

In a food processor, pulse onion, garlic and jalapeno until finely chopped. Add 1 can black beans (make sure beans have been dried completely or patties will not stick together). Add cilantro, cumin and egg; pulse until well combined. Add mixture to a large mixing bowl. Dry black beans and corn, removing any liquid from the surface. Add remaining black beans, corn, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper; mix until well combined. Divide mixture into 6 patties. Line grill with foil. Place patties on grill and cook 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown crust has formed. 

Toast hamburger buns on the grill. Add patties to hamburger with lettuce leaves and sliced avocado.

Serves: 6

Calories Per Serving: 400, Fat: 9 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 27 mg, Sodium: 943 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 11 g, Protein: 16 g

Healthy Living: Black Bean Burgers

One of my dearest friends had a heart attack last week at age 42 with no family history. She had 99 percent blockage in one of her arteries.

Luckily, she’s fine. She’ll be on medications the rest of her life, and she’s having to make drastic lifestyle changes, including an overhaul of her diet.

One of the things she has to do is cut out a lot of red meat. Even lean cuts of red meat aren’t always the heart-healthiest choices for cardiac patients.

These black bean burgers are hearty, but are full of fiber, protein and heart-friendly olive oil. 

Black Bean Burgers


3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 shallot, minced


Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium bowl with a fork until the breadcrumbs are evenly coated. Add the breadcrumbs to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally at first, then more frequently as they begin to brown. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

Add 2 1/2 cups of the black beans to a large bowl and lightly mash them with a fork or potato masher until they are almost smooth. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper together. Stir the egg mixture, breadcrumbs, remaining beans, red peppers, cilantro and shallots into the mashed beans until well combined. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.

Once chilled, shape the mixture into 6 patties (about 1/2 cup each). (At this point the patties can be refrigerated on a plate covered tightly with plastic wrap for 24 hours.) Chill the shaped patties until you’re ready to cook them.

Wipe out the original skillet, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and heat the oil over medium heat until it simmers. Working in two batches, carefully transfer 3 of the patties to the skillet.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, very carefully flipping halfway through (they will be slightly fragile), until both sides of the burgers are nicely browned. Repeat with the second batch of patties. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 611, Calories from Fat: 97, Fat: 11 g, Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 242 mg, Carbohydrates: 98 g, Fiber: 22 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 34 g 

Product Talk: Going Gluten Free

A lot of people these days are finding they are intolerant to gluten. Others are just avoiding it because they feel better without it.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

People with Celiac’s disease cannot process gluten and it causes all kinds of distress for their systems.

Luckily, the number of gluten-free products available at Brookshire’s these days is phenomenal.

This is a quick and easy snack recipe to make with a gluten-free product you can find on any grocery store shelf.

Gluten-Free Ginger Rice Crunch
Serves: 24

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger or cardamom
6 cups Rice Chex cereal (gluten-free)
1 cup dried banana chips
1 cup unblanched whole almonds
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries or dried pineapple

Heat oven to 250° F. Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray. In 1-quart saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter, honey and ginger to boiling. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
Into roasting pan, mix cereal, banana chips, almonds and coconut. Stir in brown sugar mixture until evenly coated.

Bake 50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper or foil; cool about 15 minutes. Place in serving bowl; stir in cranberries. Store in airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 140, Calories from Fat: 70, Total Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 85 mg, Total Carbohydrate: 18 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 2g

Healthy Living: Holiday Calorie Savers

Many people around the holiday season start to notice their clothing getting a little snug. With all the Christmas parties full of rich foods and sweet treats those extra pounds tend to just sneak right up on us. Not to mention we just celebrated a holiday that is centered around a feast, Thanksgiving. With simple substitutions and an eye for smart choices you can survive the holiday season by leaving those extra few pounds behind.  

Who doesn’t love homemade cake around Christmas time? When baking your family’s favorite cake, cut the calories by reducing the oil. If your cake recipe calls for 1 cup of oil you can get away with just using 2/3 cup. If you’re feeling brave substitute the oil with unsweetened applesauce. Not only will this cut the calories, but it will also cut down on the fat. 

Sometimes those sweet treats are a little too sweet. Reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by 1/4 to 1/2 cup. A simple tip when using sweetener is for every cup of flour you should have 1/4 cup sweetener. If you’re worried about the flavor, add a little more cinnamon or vanilla to your recipe. If you want to replace the sugar in your recipe with a sweetener, like agave nectar, replace every cup of sugar with 2/3 cup agave nectar. 

Get sneaky by adding more nutrients to your sweet treats. Make black bean brownies or brownies with pureed pumpkin, applesauce or mashed banana. Add berries to a slice of angel food cake or go for the dark chocolate dipped strawberries. Try making cookies with almond flour. Almond flour is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates and high in protein.  

Do you want to experiment with whole-wheat flour in one of your favorite recipes? Instead of going all the way whole-wheat do 50% whole-wheat flour and 50% all-purpose flour. 

Not many of us look at a cookie and think of sodium. Try not to use more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt per a batch of cookies. If you can, only use 1/4 teaspoon. 

Other simple substitutes include using fat-free or 2% milk in the place of whole milk. If a recipe calls for heavy cream use fat-free evaporated milk. For every egg in a recipe use 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute. Instead of using chocolate chunks in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe use the mini chocolate chips or use dark chocolate instead. If your recipe calls for shortening don’t fret use a trans fat free and saturated fat free margarine.

Ask Leigh

Question:  I can’t eat any gluten and have the hardest time finding good gluten-free snack foods. Do you have any easy recipe for gluten-free snacks? 

Answer:  My mother maintains a gluten-free diet and has built up quite a wonderful recipe collection of delicious gluten-free ideas.

Our whole family loves to snack, and to be honest, everyone thinks this is one of the best – with or without a gluten allergy! 

Gluten-Free Snack Mix 

3 cups gluten-free rice cereal squares
3 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup mixed nuts (without peanuts)
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp chili powder 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine cereal, popcorn and nuts in a large bowl.  Drizzle with oil and stir to coat. Sprinkle with cheese, garlic salt and chili powder, stirring to coat evenly. Spread mixture on large ungreased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, stirring and turning pan once.  Let cool and store in airtight container. Makes about 6 servings.

Healthy Living: Vegetarian Awareness Month

Growing up becoming a vegetarian always interested me. I have never been one who really liked meat; I know it’s weird. In college I would frequently make a meal without meat and my roommates would look at me weird. I would never think twice about a meatless meal. October is Vegetarian Awareness Month and I challenge you to have a meatless meal once a week. 

There are a variety of types of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs only excluding meat. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat any meat or eggs, but do consume dairy. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but not dairy product and meat. Vegans exclude all animal products including honey, gelatin and dairy products. Fruitarians only eat fruit, nut and seeds. Pescetarians avoid meat, but eat seafood. Flexitarians only eat meat on occasion. 

Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol reducing the risk of developing heart disease. The vegetarian diet can also be lower in iron, calcium, protein, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with a variety of foods a vegetarian diet can meet all the recommendations of these nutrients. 

Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. Plant sources of iron, non-heme iron, are harder to absorb than heme-iron, which is found in meat. Non-meat sources of iron are iron-fortified breakfast cereal, cooked spinach, chickpeas, lentils, dried beans, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and blackstrap molasses. Iron is more readily absorbed when consumed with vitamin C. Foods high in vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli. 

Calcium is important to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Most American’s get their calcium from milk and dairy products, which presents a problem in Americans following a vegan, fruitarians or ovo-vegetarian diet.  Sources of calcium are calcium fortified orange juice and green leafy vegetables like turnip greens, collard greens, kale and broccoli. 

Protein is important for healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Good sources of protein are nuts, nut butters, beans, seed, lentils and whole grains. Quinoa, a whole grain, has all the essential amino acids making it one of few plant-based complete proteins. 

Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal products, but can be found in fortified cereals. 

Zinc is essential component of many enzymes and plays a roll in cell division and the formation of protein. Zinc can be found in fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts and whole grains. 

Omega-3 fatty acid which is important in a heart healthy diet is found in fish and eggs. Other sources of omga-3 fatty acids are canola oil, walnuts and ground flaxseeds. 

With a diet in a variety of fruits and vegetables a vegetarian diet can meet all of your dietary recommendations. Here is one of my favorite meatless recipes: 

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa
Serves: 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes 

1 tsp Food Club Canola Oil(NuVal 24)
1 onion, chopped (NuVal score 93)
3 garlic cloves, minced (NuVal score 91)
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (NuVal score 91)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (NuVal score 91)
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (NuVal score 99)
1 avocado, diced (NuVal score 89)

In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; sauté until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in corn and black beans; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and avocado. 

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 398, Fat: 9 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 297 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 15 g, Protein: 20 g 

Healthy Living: Cutting back on salt

Most of us probably eat more salt than we should. It’s hard not to; processed and convenience foods, fast foods, and the salty snacks that we love are all packed with sodium.

Too much sodium can cause us to retain fluids and end up with higher blood pressure – which can lead to heart disease and stroke. But if you don’t have any of those problems, you’re free to eat as much salt as you want, right?

Not necessarily. Earlier this year, the federal government released new dietary guidelines that recommend many of us eat less salt. 

The new rules suggest a daily salt intake of 1,500 milligrams per day for anyone who is 51 and older and all black persons, in addition to anyone who has already been diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. That is just a bit over a half-teaspoon or about the amount in many frozen dinners. Everyone else is supposed to take in just 2,300 milligrams daily, or about a teaspoon.

Since the average American now takes in about 3,400 milligrams of sodium, it would do us all good to review some ways to reduce salt in our daily diet:

Recognize how much sodium you’re eating: For a few days, note the sodium content of as much of your daily diet as you can. Does the total surprise you?

Cook from scratch: This is obvious, but if you start with raw foods, you retain total control over the amount of sodium you use. Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables naturally contain little sodium; fresh and dried herbs, chills and fresh-squeezed citrus juice can punch up flavor in place of salt.

Read labels: Sodium is often hidden in ingredient lists, and there can be a wide variation in sodium content for any given food, even seemingly innocuous foods like bread or pasta. In addition to plain salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate, and sodium nitrate are common ingredients that can lead to higher sodium levels.

Understand salt-free vs. low sodium vs. “lite.” Lots of products advertise their sodium content, but are careful. Sodium-free means each serving has 5 mg. of sodium or less. Very low sodium products contain 35 mg or less. Low sodium products can contain as much as 140 mg of sodium. However, reduced-sodium products or even “light” in sodium products are not necessarily all that low in sodium. They simply have a salt content that has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the original product. With some items, like soups, chips13 or frozen meals, these products may still be quite high in sodium.

Season with hard cheeses: Just a pinch of parmesan or other hard, intensely flavored cheese can add a lot of savory flavor; just don’t season with it AND salt.

Switch to coarse-grained kosher salt or sea salt: Kosher and sea salts have the same amount of sodium as regular table salts by weight – but not by volume. So, a teaspoon of coarse salt contains less sodium than fine salt, because the teaspoon contains fewer grains. Some people also find that they naturally use less coarse salt at the table, because they can see and taste the individual grains more easily.

Cut back gradually: You have probably become slowly used to saltier and saltier foods. So, first, reduce the sodium by about one-quarter when you’re cooking. After a few weeks, take away the salt shaker at the table. Once you’re used to that, reduce salt in recipes by another quarter. Eventually, you’ll wonder how you managed to eat all that salt.

Healthy Living: Fiber

Eating foods that are high in fiber not only keep your intestinal track healthy but it also lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Fiber is an important element in a weight loss regiments because fiber helps you feel full longer. Fiber cannot be broken down by human enzymes but soluble fiber can be broken down by bacteria in your intestine.

Some foods that are high in fiber are fruits, vegetables, beans, oats, barley, and whole grains. Next time you want something fruity, skip the fruit juices and go for the actual fruit. When you drink fruit and vegetable juices, you are losing fiber that you would get from the actual fruit or vegetable.

Healthy Living: Eating Fiber

In planning your diabetic menu it is important to not just look at sugars but also look at fiber. Foods that are high in fiber are whole-grain products, some cereals, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables.  Fiber will help you control your blood sugar, help you feel full longer, and help lower your risk of heart disease. 

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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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