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Healthy Living: Healthy Oat Cookies


Healthy Oat CookiesMy 13-year-old son told me he wants to eat healthier.

Big picture, he IS a healthy eater, but that kid can also put away some junk food after school.

We had to come up with a solution that would still let him feel like he was having some of the treats he likes but in a healthier way. Now, after school, he reaches for fresh fruit instead of the little, square, orange crackers he used to favor. I love that he’s doing this, and it’s motivated the rest of us to reach for more fresh fruit and vegetables, too.

Every once in a while, he wants a cookie or something sweet.

These are the perfect solution. Originally they were called “Three-Ingredient Cookies,” but I throw in some extra ingredients!

Healthy Oat Cookies

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or nuts, crushed

Directions:
Mash bananas in a large bowl. Stir in oats, raisins, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds or nuts.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Scoop dough into 16 balls, and place evenly around a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Makes 16

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 60, Calories from Fat: 12, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 2 g.

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



Healthy Living: Pomegranates


PomegranatesPomegranates are one of the healthiest fruits on earth, and they’re still in season now.

Pomegranates are red and are about the size and shape of an apple, but really only their seeds (and the pulp and juices attached) are edible.

One cup of pomegranate arils (seeds) contain 7 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C, 36 percent for vitamin K, 16 percent for folate and 12 percent for potassium. That’s a lot. Also, one cup contains only 144 calories which is not a lot at all.

Pomegranates contain two compounds other fruits do not: punicalagins and punicic acid.

Punicalagins are the powerful antioxidants found in the juice and peel of a pomegranate, providing three times the antioxidant power of red wine or green tea. Punicic acid, or pomegranate seed oil, is the fatty acid from the arils, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Pomegranates can help fight against heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. It can also help fight prostate and breast cancers as well as lower blood pressure and fight arthritis. It improves memory, helps fight fungal and bacterial infections and can improve erectile dysfunction. It has also been shown to improve exercise performance.

Whether you eat the seeds or drink the juice, pomegranate packs a mighty punch.



Family Matters: Peanut Butter for the Win


Peanut Butter for the WinBrookshire’s Peanut Butter makes snack time more fun.

Peanut butter is a great source of protein for little ones who often don’t like – or have a hard time chewing – meat. Peanut butter to the rescue!

Tasty, delicious, nutritious and just plain fun, peanut butter can be the star of your kids’ snacks.

  • Dip apple slices into peanut butter or sandwich peanut butter between two thin slices of apple.
  • Spread peanut butter on celery and top with raisins.
  • Combine peanut butter with chia seeds, oats and mashed banana for high-powered energy bites.
  • Add peanut butter to your smoothie for extra protein.
  • Mix into plain Greek yogurt for a yummy fruit dip.
  • Drizzle over apple slices and sprinkle with toasted coconut to make apple “nachos.”
  • Use as a topping on pancakes.
  • Slice a banana in half lengthwise and spread each half with peanut butter, topping with granola.
  • Slice bananas into rounds, spread with peanut butter and make little banana “sandwiches.”
  • Flatten a slice of sandwich bread with a rolling pin. Spread with a thin layer of peanut butter and jelly. Roll into a log; slice into rounds for a PB&J roll-up.
  • Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with peanut butter. Top with thin slices of banana. Roll up; slice into rounds.
  • Peel a banana and freeze it. Spread with peanut butter, and roll in sunflower seeds. Store in freezer for a banana pop.


Healthy Living: Staying Healthy


Staying HealthySo far this year, I’ve had strep throat twice and a wicked cold in between.

That’s not a great way to kick off the winter holidays.

Sometimes, you can’t help catching a virus, but there are everyday ways you can help keep yourself healthy and better your odds of not getting sick.

First of all, if you ARE sick, limit your exposure to healthy people. Don’t go to work. I repeat, do not go to work. Chances are that you can stay home until you’re not contagious. Don’t cough your way through the grocery store, the library, your kids’ school, church or any place else where large groups of people congregate.

Now that we’ve made that point, wash your hands frequently and often. Wash them in the warmest water you can stand with soap, and dry them with a paper towel or air blower. Avoid touching common areas that might breed germs, and know that it’s perfectly acceptable to decline a handshake at a business meeting when the other person has just sneezed or coughed into their hand.

Use hand sanitizer. Carry it with you.

If you’ve been sick or someone you know has been sick, use disinfectant wipes or sprays on areas they’ve touched. Keep them handy.

Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning properly and helps to ward off colds and viruses.

Get plenty of sleep. Exhaustion leaves you susceptible to illness.

Eat foods dense with nutrients and vitamins like brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Avoid alcohol or sugary foods and drinks.

Now, back to the first point. Stay home if you are sick, and don’t spread germs!



Healthy Living: Winter Fruit Salad


Winter Fruit SaladFresh fruits and veggies define the summertime months, but you don’t have to, nor should you, give up your fruits just because the weather is colder.

Fruits provide some vital nutrients that help you through the winter months, most notably vitamin C, which helps you fight off colds. They also provide vitamin A, an important antioxidant; zinc, which also helps prevent colds and fights germs; and vitamin D, which we usually get from sunshine.

I’ve found fruit salad, using fruits that are suited to the winter for becoming ripe, is a great way to get vitamins and nutrients when the skies are gray and cloudy. This is almost like sunshine in a bowl.

You can even skip the “dressing” and just eat this medley of super fruits plain.

Winter Fruit Salad

Ingredients:
2 red apples, cored and diced
2 pears, cored and diced
4 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented
3 kiwifruit, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 Tbs fresh lime juice

Directions:
Combine all the fruit in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together lime juice and maple syrup. Pour dressing over salad, and toss to coat. If delaying serving, toss dressing with fruit immediately before serving.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 317, Calories from Fat: 35, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 6 mg, Carbohydrates: 80 g, Fiber: 13 g, Sugar: 56 g, Protein: 4 g.

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



Food Watch: Prepping for Natural Disasters


Prepping for Natural DisastersOn a venture to visit friends during what seemed to be a light rain, I came to find how unprepared you can be going into natural disasters. My drive was great until I reached the road before theirs. My phone made a resounding alarm that made me jump: “TORNADO WARNING IN THIS AREA. TAKE SHELTER NOW.” I looked toward the direction in which I’d be going, and I saw dark, swirling clouds starting to rotate around each other.

Once I arrived, everyone was on their phone trying to figure out what was going on. The wind picked up, and then it was silent. Next, quarter-sized hail showered down around the house, followed by a torrent of wind and rain. At that moment, we decided to run to the storm shelter. We went to the storm shelter twice that night – six of us along with the family dog – and the realization of how much we lacked set in.

It was a great opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of storm shelter use. However, since I work in grocery, I thought mostly of what foods could keep for extended periods of time to not only prepare for such an event, but to help keep you alive if you were trapped. Food should have a long shelf life with little to no cooking required, and it must meet the needs of all family members (including pets).

Canned meats and vegetables can keep a few years on average depending on the product. Highly acidic canned goods like fruit and juice store well for less time (12 to 18 months). Water can also last quite a long time.

Thankfully, Brookshire’s has a plethora of high-quality canned products that will help you stock up if need be. I really like their vegetable assortments, which are picked at the peak of freshness and come with a handy pop top. No can opener needed!

Also, consider how your food is stored. If you’re preparing for a natural disaster, make sure that your food and water are stored away from the outside door, away from the elements. Keep these items elevated and, if possible, in a storage area of their own.

You most likely won’t need to hide in your storm shelter for years at a time, but you never know when a natural disaster may hit. It’s best to prepare in advance, and that will be one less thing to worry about when the time comes.



Healthy Living: Easy Cure for What Ails You


Easy Cure for What Ails YouDid you know there’s an easy, natural and healthy way to ease congestion or a sore throat during this season of sickness?

You simply make a “tea” of one cup warm water, one tablespoon honey and some lemon to help chase away the chills, congestion and sore throat. You can add cinnamon, too, as cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that effectively prevent colds.

Honey has been shown to contain antioxidants, and it offers antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help fight against the virus, bacteria and fungus to treat the cold and its underlying symptoms.

In addition, it will help boost the immune system, which lessens the severity of the cold and helps to prevent future colds.

It will also help soothe a sore throat naturally, and it relieves irritation.

You can also take a tablespoon full of straight honey when you feel a cough coming on to help fight that ailment as well.



Healthy Living: Flu Season


Flu SeasonThe dreaded flu season is upon us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get sick.

The last time I got the flu, which was luckily about 7 years ago, I was unlucky enough to have it at the same time as both of my children. There is nothing worse than taking care of sick kids when you’re sick yourself.

Each year, over 200,000 Americans get sick with the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but this season, I plan to stay healthy.

I got my flu shot, as did my sons. Shots are available at Brookshire’s Pharmacy locations and only take a minute. Plus, it didn’t hurt at all.

I am vigilant about washing my hands. Proper washing techniques are proven to help stop the spread of the flu virus. Use warm water and soap, and be sure to get each crevice between your fingers and everything, especially if you’ve been in a public place.

Speaking of public places, avoid going anywhere if you’re sick or suspect you’re coming down with something. Never go to work when you’re sick. Your co-workers will thank you for it.

Wipe down surfaces with a bleach wipe or other disinfectant wipe proven to kill germs on a regular basis, especially after you’ve been sick. Be vigilant about shared surfaces like office telephones or doorknobs.

Include a good amount of vitamin C in your diet to help you ward off illnesses.

Finally, see your doctor immediately if you suspect the flu. He can prescribe Tamiflu® or a similar drug to help lessen the effects of the disease.



Healthy Living: Back to School Breakfast Baked Oatmeal Cups


Back to School Breakfast Baked Oatmeal CupsBack to school breakfasts are wreaking havoc with my psyche this year.

I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and my personal favorite), and the PRESSURE to deliver a nutritious, delicious, easy and convenient back to school breakfast is mounting.

I haven’t stressed out about breakfast in the past, but this year, one of my kids will need to take his breakfast to school. For whatever reason, this is throwing a kink in my best-laid breakfast plans.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for his school breakfasts.

I was referred to this recipe on a blog called “Flex with Faith Fitness,” written by a super mom, teacher and fitness instructor committed to a healthy lifestyle. It fits all my requirements for a fabulous school morning breakfast: it’s healthy, easy and can be made ahead of time. It’s also delicious.

I can’t wait to try these!

Baked Oatmeal Cups

Ingredients:
coconut oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large bananas (or 2 cups unsweetened applesauce)
1 Tbs raw honey
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
pinch of cloves
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
toppings of your choice (such as fresh berries, chunks of fresh fruit, nuts, pure maple syrup, chocolate chips, etc.)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat muffin tin with coconut oil or nonstick cooking spray, or use paper liners. Paper liners tend to work best if you’re freezing these.

Combine eggs, vanilla, bananas and honey in a large bowl. Mash bananas and mix well. Set aside.

Combine oats, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir well and combine with banana mixture. Stir in almond milk and mix well.

Divide oatmeal evenly between prepared muffin cups, and add toppings of your choice.

Bake for 26 to 30 minutes or until golden-brown.

Serve immediately or freeze.

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 175, Fat: 4 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 35 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 6 g.

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



Dine In: Power-Packed Pasta


Power-Packed PastaMy sons are both running competitive cross country this year with their respective schools, and I couldn’t be more excited for the change in pace from the Saturday soccer games we’ve (gladly) attended for the past 10 years.

Their first meet is coming up, and we’re going to be prepared by carb-loading the night before, for energy, because it never seems like teenage boys have enough fuel to get them through the day, let alone an athletic event.

For the night before a race, a cross country runner should eat a meal high in carbs and moderate in fat and protein. They should also drink a lot of water, or “camel up” as the saying goes.

Since our meets are on Saturdays, Friday nights are the perfect time for a power-packed meal.

Power-Packed Pasta (i.e. Spaghetti and Meatballs)

Ingredients:
1 lb whole-grain spaghetti

Meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef
2 Tbs whole milk
2 Tbs parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbs panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbs parsley, chopped
1 Tbs dried oregano

Sauce:
1 white onion, diced
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (48 oz) can tomato sauce
2 (14.5 oz) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
1 (4 oz) can tomato paste
fresh parsley, oregano and basil, to taste
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Start your sauce first. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it starts to become fragrant and shimmers, sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic, and stir for 1 more minute. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and all spices. Stir together. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to medium-low to let simmer.

While your sauce is simmering, prepare the meatballs. Preheat oven to 400° F. In a small bowl, combine milk and breadcrumbs. In a large bowl, place ground beef, cheese and spices. Add in moistened breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly. Shape into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Bake at 400° F until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add meatballs to sauce immediately.

Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Add whole-grain spaghetti; cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well. Serve with sauce and meatballs, with a side salad and garlic bread.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 524, Fat: 12 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 123 mg, Sodium: 1616 mg, Carbohydrates: 69 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 17 g, Protein: 38 g.

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



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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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