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Healthy Living: Healthy Dorm Room or Office Snacks

Healthy Dorm Room or Office Snacks My friend’s daughter came home from college over the holiday break with a few extra things: 25, to be exact, according to her.

She claims she packed on 25 pounds her first semester away at college. Between late-night pizza orders, buffet-style dining and an irregular exercise schedule, the pounds snuck up on her.

Her mom came up with some healthy snack ideas to send back with her. These would also work well in an office or even just at home:

  • Yogurt-covered raisins
  • Cucumber sandwiches (cucumber slice spread with tzatziki sauce then topped with another cucumber slice)
  • Spread a small, whole-grain tortilla with natural peanut butter. Place a banana on top; roll up and enjoy.
  • Top a whole-grain English muffin with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Toast and serve.
  • Toss Greek yogurt with blueberries. Freeze.
  • Toasted almonds
  • String cheese
  • 99% fat-free microwave popcorn
  • Fill the hollowed out part of half an avocado with tuna. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Celery or carrots with hummus
  • Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until they’re crispy.
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Freeze grapes for a sweet treat.
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Healthy Living: Avocado Toast

Avocado ToastSo, according to every other Instagram post, Avocado Toast is a thing now, a pretty big thing, judging by the sheer volume of Avocado Toast art.

It’s so deliciously simple. Toast a piece of bread of your choice, and smear it with smashed avocado when it’s fresh out of the toaster. The buttery texture of the avocado is a perfect complement to the crisp toast. Of course, you can adorn this in other ways, too, like with a piece of center-cut bacon, scrambled egg whites, tomato, slivers of onion or smoked salmon. You name it; the combinations are endless.

Aside from the wonderful play of avocado and toast, this is a great, healthy way to start your day (or for a light lunch that won’t leave you dragging).

Avocado is full of protein and good fats to help keep you full longer.

It’s packed with 20 vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins and vitamin E.

They’re also loaded with fiber.

Eating avocados regularly can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

There are so many great things about avocados that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, so grab some today.

Healthy Living: Fro-Yo Bites

Fro-Yo BitesMy boys love dessert.

Every evening after dinner, they’ll ask, “Can I have a dessert, Mama?”

I’m always conflicted. I don’t see harm in having a small sweet after dinner because I want my boys to learn moderation, and I don’t think it’s all bad to have a controlled treat once a day. On the flip side, they’ve gotten in the habit of needing a sweet after dinner, and this really isn’t the healthiest thing, either.

For now, the treat remains, but if I can make it a healthier option, I’m all for it.

They generally like ice cream or another frozen treat like that. This recipe is much healthier than ice cream, and I feel better about them eating it in the evenings after dinner!

Fro-Yo Bites

1 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup almonds, crushed
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup sliced strawberries, raspberries or blueberries

Line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners.

Pulse oats and almonds 2 or 3 times in the bowl of a large food processor. Add coconut oil; pulse until coarse clumps form.

Press a small spoonful of the crust into each paper liner. Top with the Greek yogurt, and then top with the berries.

Place tray in the freezer and freeze until set.

Store in the freezer.

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 86, Calories from Fat: 39, Fat: 4 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 6 mg, Potassium: 93 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 4 g.

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

Product Talk: Fresh Express Sweet Butter Lettuce

Fresh Express Sweet Butter LettuceSalads are a big mealtime staple in my house.

It’s the boys’ favorite way to eat vegetables, and while sometimes we don’t get much variety in our weekly menus, we definitely get variety in our salads, adding different vegetables, fruits and nuts for added nutrients, as well as colors, textures and flavors.

My favorite “base” to the salad is Fresh Express Sweet Butter mix. It’s a blend of green butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce. Green butter lettuce has a sweetness to it that I just love. I also love the crisp, soft texture.

This mix is a great source of vitamins A and K, and also chock full of folate. I’ll often mix this in with Fresh Express Baby Spinach for a punch of iron, too.

Fresh Express bagged salad mixes come in a stay-fresh bag, so your lettuce is crisp and clean when you are ready to eat. There’s no washing, tearing or chopping required, so it really is as simple as just opening the bag and pouring it into a bowl.

I especially like to use mandarin orange sections with sweet butter lettuce; I think the two flavors complement each other well.

You can find Fresh Express Sweet Butter mix and other varieties refrigerated near the produce section of Brookshire’s.

Healthy Living: National Frozen Foods Month

National Frozen Foods MonthMarch is Frozen Foods Month, and I love celebrating something that preserves all the farm freshness of fruits and vegetables in a convenient, easy-to-use way.

Believe it or not, two recent studies compared the nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables to their fresh counterparts and found that the frozen ones had MORE nutritional value than the fresh products.

Most frozen fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen, which means they are frozen rapidly to prevent ice crystals from forming. They are flash-frozen, either after a light steaming or immediately after being picked at the peak of freshness.

This method also keeps them safe from decay or from micro-organisms being able to grow on them. Frozen fruits and vegetables are transported to your Brookshire’s in a freezer truck, preserving their temperatures.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are also more economical than their fresh friends. Because they are preserved, you have little waste.

These days, you can find almost anything in the frozen food freezers at Brookshire’s, from broccoli florets to purple hull peas to chopped onions and green peppers to strawberries, mangos and blueberries. Check it out today.

Healthy Living: Healthy Food Trends for 2016

Healthy Food Trends for 2016I’ve been reading a lot about the trends in health and fitness for 2016. Since we’re already almost 3 weeks into the year, you might have seen some of those already!

A few key points have caught my eye:

First of all, fat is back. We’re not talking about pile-driving a box of doughnuts, though. Instead, “low-fat” products with artificial ingredients are being kicked to the curb. This means we can embrace salmon, but we don’t have to sauté it in a stick of butter. Naturally-occurring fats (eaten in moderation) are okay again, while artificial fillers, sweeteners and fat substitutes are not okay.

That leads right into the new diet trend: mindfulness. Weighing your food and counting your calories are out, while eating consciously is in. Sure, eat the cookie but savor it, which promotes the mind-body connection of eating just one, instead of mindlessly snacking on the whole package. Do you want the cookie? Be mindful that you might have to give something else up to keep balance.

“Biodynamic” is a word you might be seeing a lot this year. It’s like “organic” on steroids. No pesticides, no chemicals, sustainable, local and everything that goes into pure, whole-foods are what goes into the term “biodynamic.” Look for it when you’re shopping!

Plant-based diet has been clarified as well. No, it doesn’t mean going vegan; it means choosing the majority of your foods from the earth, not from the processing center.

So, happy eating in 2016!

Product Talk: Clementines

ClementinesI was thrilled to walk into Brookshire’s last week and see a bag of tiny, tender, juicy clementines!

I love this winter citrus and so do my kids (they’re so perfect for school lunches).

A clementine is sort of a cross between a tangerine and an orange. It’s Spanish in origin and features a dark, glossy orange skin that is easy to peel with super-juicy segments inside.

Less acidic than oranges, a clementine is very sweet and sometimes hard to distinguish from a mandarin orange.

At only 35 calories per fruit, it provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

One of the greatest things to do with a clementine this time of year is to peel it, eat the flesh and simmer the peel, along with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, in some water on your stove for a wintry aroma.

Healthy Living: Organic Apples

Organic ApplesOne day in the fall when I was growing up as a child, my mom announced an “adventure.” Adventures were the BEST. She’d whisk us off to somewhere secret, the destination unknown to us until our actual arrival. The suspense and anticipation were as much a part of the outing as the outing itself.

This particular day, we went to an apple orchard about an hour away from our house in Virginia, where you could pick your own apples and sample freshly-made apple sauce, apple butter and apple cider. The day was crisp and cool. The orchard was saturated with the hues of autumn. The air smelled like cinnamon and earthy tartness.

Picking our own apples was exhilarating. They tasted so much better, since we’d worked for them ourselves.

I get that same taste now whenever I eat an organic apple, knowing that someone else’s labor has benefitted my health.

Organic apples are grown with no chemicals or pesticides. They’re 100 percent as nature intended, just as if you’d eaten them off the tree right in the orchard.

Traditional apple orchards, grown for commercial purposes, are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, coating the leaves of the trees and the skins of your fruit. Pesticides aren’t good for you, for the workers in the orchards or for the trees themselves.

Organic apples are high in fiber, low in sugar and ready for you to eat, just like you would in an organic orchard.

Healthy Living: Thinner Thanksgiving

Thinner ThanksgivingHalloween is just a few days behind us, and I wonder how many of us are regretting the 27 bite-sized candy bars, two packages of candy corns, one candied apple and 16 sugar cookies we’ve eaten since trick-or-treating came to a close?

Never fear, it’s not too late to begin thinking about a thinner Thanksgiving (and beyond). Experts recommend having a few tricks up your sleeve to prevent the holiday pound creep.

First, be active. It’s cooler outside, and now is a great time to get in the habit of taking a walk. Go before dusk, and plan on longer walks during daylight hours on the weekends.

Eat breakfast! It revs up your metabolism and doesn’t leave you lunging for a huge snack before lunch.

Cut calories in your holiday meals where you can by using fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy; by using sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods; and by using plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes and casseroles.

Control your portions by using a lunch-sized plate. Don’t go back for seconds and skip the foods you can eat all year.

Eat slowly. Avoid the alcohol, which is empty-calories, slows your metabolism and could encourage you to eat more because you’re more relaxed and less inhibited.

Finally, focus on family and friends, not food.

Product Talk: Kiwi Berries

Kiwi BerriesPaul and I went shopping in Brookshire’s yesterday, and as we were almost finished and headed to the checkout, Paul wanted to go back to the produce section one more time. “I have to see if they have something,” he said.

He was looking for kiwi berries, a fruit I’d never seen before.

They look like a large grape and taste like a kiwi (without the fuzzy skin). They are delicious, and Paul eats them like candy. In fact, he said they usually don’t make it home from the grocery store. I think the only reason they did yesterday was that we wanted to share them with my older son who LOVES kiwi.

These are great for school lunches because I’ve been sending him with a whole kiwi and a plastic knife and spoon to eat it with (he cuts the kiwi in half horizontally and scoops out the green insides with his spoon), but schools these days frown upon knives of any kind, even the plastic ones. With kiwi berries, he can just pop them into his mouth!

Kiwi berries are high in vitamin C and naturally low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also high in fiber and a great source of potassium, vitamin E and magnesium. Kiwi berries are nutritionally dense and considered a super-food.

Kiwi berries should be stored in a cool, dry place and eaten soon after purchasing. Get them while you see them because their season is very short.

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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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