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Healthy Living: Slow Cooker Lean, Clean Chili

I find it more difficult to be healthy during the colder months.

Well-protected by a camouflaging layer of sweaters, jackets and scarves, it’s easy to curl up by the fire and fantasize about cinnamon rolls, baked potato soup, chicken and dumplings, cheesy lasagna and warm apple pie.

However, those aren’t always the healthiest options and can easily result in layers of fat camouflaging lean muscle mass!

It’s often easy to slim down your favorite recipes, like the slow cooker chili. The recipe calls for lean ground beef. I honestly prefer the turkey and have even used ground chicken as well.

One of the keys to this recipe is making sure you drain the fat from the meat, no matter how lean, before adding it to the slow cooker. You won’t have a lot, but it will save calories and fat.

You can also use organic canned beans and tomatoes, if available.

I’ve found this is actually better the second day, so double the recipe if you want an abundance of delicious leftovers.

Slow Cooker Lean, Clean Chili

1 large onion, chopped
2 small green bell peppers, chopped
olive oil cooking spray
1 lb extra lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tsp chili powder

Add chopped onions and green peppers to medium-sized pan sprayed with olive oil spray, and cook until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add ground beef, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sauté until beef is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. Drain any fat.

Add beef mixture to slow cooker. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Cook on high setting for 4 hours or low setting for 6-8 hours.

Serve with plain non-fat Greek yogurt.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 694, Calories from Fat: 56, Fat: 6 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 43 mg, Sodium: 343 mg, Potassium: 2957 mg, Carbohydrates: 110 g, Fiber: 28 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 51 g.

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Healthy Living: Greek Yogurt

Cream Cheese Marbled Chocolate BrowniesGreek yogurt is quite possibly the best thing to come out of the Mediterranean country since the Olympics.

OK, not really, but Greek yogurt definitely deserves a gold medal.

Greek yogurt is made from goat’s milk, which has been strained through a cloth, paper bag or other filter to remove the whey, resulting in a relatively thick texture while not altering the taste.

Greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates, more protein and about equal the number of calories as regular yogurt. You can substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream, mayonnaise or even oil in a variety of dishes. One trick is to add 1/4 cup Greek yogurt to a boxed chocolate cake mix to make it taste more “homemade.”

Cream Cheese Marbled Chocolate Brownies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 24

2 oz fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 Tbs sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
4 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs

In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese and 1/4 cup yogurt until completely smooth. Add sugar and egg yolk; whisk and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Coat a 13 x 9 dish lightly with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.

In a large heat-proof bowl, combine butter and chocolate. Set over saucepan of barely simmering water, and stir often until melted and combined. Remove from heat.

Whisk sugar into chocolate mixture, then whisk in 1/2 cup yogurt and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in flour mixture until well-blended. Scrape butter into prepared dish. Spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture on top, and swirl with spoon or spatula to create marbled effect. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center come out with only a few crumbs. Set on wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares.

Calories Per Serving: 184, Fat: 8 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 52 mg, Sodium: 49 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Original Greek Yogurt Where to Swap

1 cup sour cream 1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • baked potato
  • tacos
  • dips
  • quick breads
    & cakes 

1 cup mayonnaise 1/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • dips
  • sauces
  • coleslaw 

1 cup butter 1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • mashed potatoes
  • cookies
  • cakes 

1 cup oil 1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • brownies
  • cookies
  • cakes
  • pancakes 

1 cup heavy cream 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • cream-based soups
  • soups
  • frosting 

1 cup milk or
half-and-half or
light cream
3/4 cup milk or half-and-half or light cream
1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • mashed potatoes
  • cereal
  • doughs 

1 cup buttermilk 1/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • biscuits
  • bread
  • pancakes 

8 oz cream cheese  4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • cheesecake
  • frosting
  • dips 


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Healthy Living: Shrimp and Grits

I may have mentioned before (like 97,000 times) that I’m on this new, doctor-driven diet. I didn’t exactly embrace it at first, but now I’m having a lot of fun trimming down recipes that might not otherwise be viable on a low-fat diet.

Right when I started this diet, I had a hankering for shrimp and grits. Before, that would have meant shrimp sautéed in butter over a bed of creamy grits laden with butter, cheddar cheese and bacon. Yep, I think I just felt my arteries constrict.

While that still sounds good to my palate, which hasn’t finished adjusting to the new way of eating, that isn’t good for my heart. And, I have to be good to my heart.

However, I still wanted the shrimp and grits, so I had to come up with a new way to make them. With the addition of some chicken stock, some herbs and some veggies, I didn’t even notice the absence of the fat. I grilled the shrimp instead of sautéing it in butter, and it tasted even better with the smoky flavor from the grill.

Shrimp and Grits

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs low-sodium Cajun seasoning
1 cup grits
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbs hot pepper sauce
1 Tbs fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Toss shrimp with Cajun spice. Thread onto skewers with space between each shrimp. Grill over medium heat until shrimp is pink and cooked through.

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add grits and stir, reducing heat to medium-low. Add salt and pepper. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, stir in pepper sauce, garlic and oregano. Stir well. When liquid is incorporated, remove grits from heat. Stir in tomatoes. Cover the pan and let stand for 3 minutes. Serve immediately with shrimp.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 197, Calories from Fat: 29, Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 239 mg, Sodium: 2678 mg, Potassium: 423 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 28 g.

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Healthy Living: Mediterranean Lettuce Tacos

Today is 11/11. You know how people always say to make a wish at 11:11 a.m. or p.m.? Well, I’m going to make a wish on the entire day for recipes that taste great and are good for you.

Luckily, they aren’t hard to find.

We put out many of our own here at Brookshire’s. From this blog to Celebrate Cooking magazine to recipe cards provided in stores, healthy and tasty recipes abound.

This recipe came about one night when I was scrambling for dinner on a “Taco Tuesday.” It’s an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe using things I had around the house that particular night. You might not have ready-made tzatziki, but just combine plain Greek yogurt with dill, lemon juice, garlic and chopped cucumber. Voila!

These lettuce tacos are a spin on Asian lettuce wraps using Mediterranean flavors. My boys like the filling in corn tortillas, but obviously eating them in lettuce is better for you.

Mediterranean Lettuce Tacos

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4-inch-long, 1-inch-thick strips
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
4 romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
1 Tbs red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette (or red wine vinegar)
12 butter lettuce leaves
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on grill. Cook, basting with balsamic vinaigrette and turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from grill; set aside.
Place shredded romaine lettuce and red onions in a medium bowl; drizzle with red wine vinaigrette and toss to combine. Divide mixture evenly among butter lettuce leaves, and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon tzatziki.

Top each taco with 1 piece of chicken, and garnish with chopped tomatoes, feta cheese and olives. Season with parsley, basil and oregano; serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 320, Calories from Fat: 169, Fat: 19 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 85 mg, Sodium: 646 mg, Potassium: 557 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 28 g.

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Healthy Living: Portobellos with Eggs

Portobellos with EggsI’d always heard things go “downhill” after age 40.

Sadly, I’ve found that isn’t as much of an exaggeration as I hoped it would be. It seems like all kinds of health issues started cropping up after I hit the big 4-0.

One of the ways I’m treating these issues is to try to consume as many whole foods as possible with lots of protein and fiber, and without preservatives or a lot of calories.

I also try to keep things simple, especially in the mornings. This dish is packed with protein, and the mushrooms, to me, make it feel substantial without adding a lot of extra calories. This comes together in minutes, and if you set your yolk more firmly, it can be eaten in the car on the way to work. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Portobellos with Eggs

2 portobello mushrooms, stems cut
2 large eggs
1 Tbs olive oil
fresh dill, rosemary and basil, chopped (to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

Drizzle olive oil on portobellos, and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the herbs on top. Crack open the eggs and carefully put one inside each mushroom. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 300° F.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 152, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 186 mg, Sodium: 70 mg, Potassium: 367 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Sucralose

Crustless Pumpkin PieWe’re caught between a rock and a hard place these days. Natural sugar is highly caloric; artificial sweeteners are, well, artificial. However, sucralose, often sold by the brand name Splenda, is a non-caloric sweetener first introduced in 1976. It is a good substitute for sugar in baked goods because it’s heat resistant and shelf stable. It doesn’t cause cavities; it’s safe for diabetics as a substitute for sugar and does not affect insulin levels. Sucralose is used as a replacement for other natural sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or high-fructose corn syrup.

This recipe uses Food Club Brand Sucralose instead of sugar, and when you serve it this holiday season, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 8

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/3 cup Food Club Sucralose
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup evaporated fat-free milk

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sucralose, honey and spices. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat lightly until just combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until center appears set when gently shaken. Cool for 1 hour on wire rack. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Calories Per Serving: 72, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 42 mg, Sodium: 46 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Healthy Halloween Treats

Halloween is all about candy, right?


Yep, I’m the mom who gives out the individual serving-sized bags of pretzels on Halloween. Laugh all you want, but in our house, we toss probably 85 percent of the candy. We just don’t eat it – or need it.

This year, instead of trick-or-treating, I’m hosting a backyard movie night for my boys and their friends. They’ve gotten to that age where trick-or-treating is a bit passé, but they still want to celebrate the holiday.

So, they will dress up, likely as zombies because that’s way cool, you know.

They’ll come here for dinner, pizza most likely because that’s delicious, you know.

Then, we’ll go to a haunted house.

Finally, we’ll come back to my house. I rented a projector to show a movie outdoors, so we’ll spread blankets in the backyard, watch a movie and enjoy some treats that are healthier than pizza.

I love the ghost bananas and the pumpkin tangerines! They’re super simple.

For the ghosts, peel a banana and cut it in half across the middle. Using chocolate chips, make a ghostly “face” on the banana, pressing the chips lightly into the fruit. For the pumpkins, peel a tangerine and insert a small piece of sliced celery into the top for a “stem.” Enjoy!

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Healthy Living: Cucumber Vegetable Cups

I’m throwing a bridal shower next week. My best friend’s daughter is getting married.

Did you read that correctly? My. Best. Friend.

If she’s MY best friend, this means I’m also old enough to have a daughter getting married.





For real.


It’s hard to acknowledge that we’re old enough to have children getting married and having babies, but we are, mostly.

I haven’t been to a shower in a while, I must admit, because my crowd is busy navigating the waters of middle school. We’re in that weird limbo between our own bridal showers and our children’s showers.

However, I DO have to admit that in all the showers I’ve been to recently, there hasn’t been much healthy food. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some cupcakes and some meatballs, but it’s always good to have a healthy option for a group gathering like a bridal shower or work event. So many people are eating gluten-free these days that it’s also important for them. These are a fun way to serve something artful and deliver a fun and healthy option, all in one.

Cucumber Vegetable Cups

2 large cucumbers (about 3 cups)
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cups carrots, sliced

Peel cucumbers. Slice into 1/2-inch rounds.

Scoop out seeds, leaving a shell at the bottom of each round to be filled.

Fill with a teaspoon of ranch dressing. Place carrot sticks inside cucumber cups. Serve immediately.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 35, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0.2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 251 mg, Potassium: 194 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 1 g.

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Healthy Living: Crunchy Corn

It’s the season for candy corn. However, this is the Healthy Living blog, and we don’t recommend serving up a side of candy corn along with dinner. Yummy, yes. Healthy, no.

This roasted corn snack isn’t bad for your waistline, and it provides a big, bold taste and a satisfying crunch. I have a weakness for chips, and this is a great treat to have in place of calorie-laden potato chips or corn chips.

Of course, it’s gluten and dairy-free, as well.

Crunchy Corn

2 cups dried corn
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt

Soak dried corn in water overnight and then cook in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes.

Pat corn dry well.

Heat a nonstick pan and add olive oil.

Toss in corn and sprinkle chili powder and salt over corn.

Roast corn over high heat until crunchy and golden, shaking the pan occasionally.

Serves 1

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 512, Calories from Fat: 281, Fat: 31 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 2405 mg, Potassium: 862 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Sweet Potatoes

If you could only eat one thing again and still stay healthy, a sweet potato is a pretty good bet.

Often called nature’s perfect food, sweet potatoes have a significant amount of beta carotene and can provide almost a day’s worth of the U. S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin A.

They are a complex carbohydrate and a good source of dietary fiber. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium.

You probably don’t want to eat a sweet potato raw, but that’s okay because cooking them actually gives them a higher level of vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are great baked, roasted, sautéed and pureed for soups and stews.

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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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