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Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

Categories
Wednesday
Nov272013

Dine In: Friday After Thanksgiving

I know.

I know!

You’re all turkeyed out.

You got up early to prep the bird. You spent all day cooking it. You ate a few bites between juggling the gravy thickening process and washing a mountain of dishes, but you still have enough of the BIG BIRD leftover that you don’t want to waste.

Well, you don’t have to.

This luxurious lasagna utilizes turkey leftovers AND makes a seriously succulent date-night meal for you and your love after all the family has gone home and you need some alone time!

Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp margarine or butter
10 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups 1 percent milk, warmed
1 (14- to 14.5-oz) can chicken broth (1 3/4 cups)
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups leftover cooked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Directions:
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of margarine on medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic, and cook about 8 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 4-quart saucepan, melt remaining margarine on medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, broth and red pepper until well-blended; cook until sauce thickens and boils, stirring frequently. Boil for 2 minutes. Set sauce aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray an 8 x 8 glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of baking dish; arrange 2 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Top evenly with half of spinach, half of turkey, then 1/2 cup sauce; sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan. Top with 2 noodles, mushroom mixture, 3/4 cup mozzarella, then 1/2 cup sauce. Top with 2 noodles, remaining spinach and turkey, then 3/4 cup sauce and 1/4 cup parmesan. Arrange remaining noodles on top; spoon remaining sauce over noodles to cover. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

Spray sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray (or use nonstick foil); cover baking dish, sprayed (or nonstick) side down. Bake lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer, or until hot and bubbly in the center and lightly browned on top. Let stand 15 minutes for easier serving.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 445, Fat: 18 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 57 mg, Sodium: 740 mg, Carbohydrates: 36 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 0 g, Protein: 33 g

Tuesday
Nov262013

Family Matters: Black Friday

I never participated in Black Friday.

You know, that day every year that used to be the day after Thanksgiving, that became midnight on Thanksgiving and that is not the DAY OF THANKSGIVING, thank you very much.

Ok, well that’s not true, entirely.

I’m a stickler for shopping LOCAL, to buy to support local business owners.

However, I have been known to shop ONLINE on Black Friday.

I regret it! Fine! Yes, I do.

I want to shop local.

All.

The.

Time.

I can’t always, though.

If you’re out shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving, between Thursday and Monday, you’re going to need a battle plan while you’re SHOPPING LOCAL AND PUMPING MONEY INTO YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY. (Yes, I’m passionate about that.)

My best friend is a dogged Black Friday shopper. She plans out her route on Thanksgiving Day and has a battle plan ready to execute.

Coffee?

Coupons?

Cellphone?

Check!

When you’ve spent the entire day after an exhausting holiday shopping, it’s good to have dinner waiting on you when you return. Try this meal in your slow cooker!

SLOW COOKER BEEF AND BROCCOLI

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips

1 cup beef consommé
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar or honey
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cooled sauce from the slow cooker after being cooked
fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
hot, cooked rice (brown rice or riced cauliflower)

Directions:
Place beef in a slow cooker.

In a small bowl, combine consommé, soy sauce, brown sugar/honey, oil and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

In a cup, stir cornstarch and sauce from the slow cooker together until smooth. Add to slow cooker. Stir well to combine. (If your sauce is not thickening, try bringing your sauce to a boil on the stovetop with the cornstarch mixture. Boil until the desired consistency is reached.)Add broccoli to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high heat. (The sauce has to boil for it to thicken.)
Serve over hot, cooked rice.

Tuesday
Nov262013

Mi Blog Hispano: Medidas a Tomar en el Invierno

Con la llegada del invierno no solo llega el Día de acción de Gracias y la la Navidad, sino también las bajas  temperaturas, la lluvia  y la nieve. Durante este tiempo es fácil enfermarnos, aumentar de peso y hasta nuestro estado de ánimo cambia ya que algunos por la falta de sol tienden a deprimirse.

Para sobrellevar estos malestares les traigo algunos consejos que he tenido que aprender estos últimos tiempos:

1.- La Higiene es clave

Las bajas temperaturas causan resfríos y gripes y en estos tiempos la posibilidad de contagio es mayor, también esto sucede porque los ambientes son más cerrados y la ventilación no es posible. Es importante lavarse las manos frecuentemente ya que esta es la mejor forma de evitar el contagio. También es recomendable taparse la boca cuando se estornuda o se tose,  para evitar propagar los gérmenes.

2.- Extra precaución en el hogar

En estos tiempos es cuando más accidentes de incendios ocurren en el hogar, ya que se usa más la calefacción, se tiene la chimenea encendida y el uso de velas. Hay más riesgos de intoxicación por el monóxido de carbono y la combustión en el hogar, así que, es importante  que usted contrate a un especialista para que haga las debidas revisiones de estos equipos y evitar una desgracia.

3.- Cuidado con los cambios de temperatura

Los extremos de temperatura son peligrosos, asegúrese de siempre tener un abrigo al alcance y también que la calefacción de su auto este en buenas condiciones. Si se sufre de un cambio de temperatura brusco y no se está preparado se puede pasar un muy mal rato.

4. No desatender la protección solar

Los rayos de sol pueden quemar la piel durante esta época del año, especialmente para aquellos que practican deportes invernales o al aire libre o en lugares con alto reflejo de los rayos del sol (como agua y nieve). Por eso, es necesario aplicar protección solar con altos índices de protección UV (ultravioleta) en las zonas de la piel que no se encuentren cubiertas por la ropa.

5. Aumentar la ingesta de vitaminas

Para combatir los malos efectos del invierno es necesario aumentar la ingesta de vitaminas A, C Y D mediante los alimentos apropiados (cítricos, verduras de hoja, lácteos, etc.). La vitamina A evita la resequedad del cutis y las grietas en los labios. Por su parte, la vitamina C ayuda a aumentar las defensas y a prevenir resfríos.

6. Cuidar el estado de ánimo

Los meses de frío representan para muchos tiempos de estrés y de tristeza. De hecho, algunas personas son diagnosticadas con el denominado Trastorno Afectivo Estacional. Por eso, es importante mantener una actitud y una disposición mental positiva. Por otro lado, resulta de gran ayuda descansar y dormir en un ambiente agradable y con temperatura adecuada.

Tuesday
Nov262013

Healthy Living: Holiday Baking Substitutions

Around the holiday season, many people 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 up on us, not to mention we just celebrated a holiday that is focused on food, Thanksgiving. With simple substitution and an eye for smart choices, you can survive the holiday season 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 rule with using sweetener is for every cup of flour you should have 1/4 cup of 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, do 50% whole wheat flour and 50% all purpose flour.

 Other simple substitutes can be using fat-free or 2% milk in the place of whole milk. If a recipe calls for heavy cream, use evaporated skim 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.

Follow these simple tips to prevent those extra pounds from creeping up on you. 

Tuesday
Nov262013

Product Talk: Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners

These are the best thing since sliced bread. I promise.

If you use your slow cooker as much as I do, you know how hard it is to get them clean sometimes, especially after a long-cooked meal.

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners prevent a cooked-on mess and eliminate soaking and scrubbing slow cookers.

They feel like plastic, but they aren’t going to melt, I promise. They’re a mixture of nylon resins, and they’re BPA free and approved by the FDA for cooking.

They’re also tough. I’ll create my meals in the liner itself then freeze them, only to partially thaw them out, pop them in the slow cooker and carry on. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

When you’re done cooking, simply remove the liner (don’t spill the leftovers or you’re back to square one!) and throw it away.

It’s almost a miracle.

Friday
Nov222013

Dine In: Mississippi Roast

My son had a soccer tournament last weekend which means a lot of time sitting around between games we play. All the parents tend to congregate and the conversation is usually about soccer or our kids.  Saturday, it turned to cooking. I’m pretty sure we were all hungry waiting for the 11:30 a.m. game to start so we could go to lunch afterward.

One of the moms on my son’s team was lamenting the fact that her husband will only eat meals with meat as the main course.

“I don’t always want to eat meat,” she said.

He just laughed.

“If I’m going to eat, it’s going to have meat,” he retorted.

So, we started swapping recipes.

“Oh, tell her about that roast,” the husband said.

Once she started describing it, I realized I’d seen it going around various social media sites.

This family was so enthusiastic about what they call the “Mississippi Roast,” I think I’m going to try it this Friday night! It’ll be perfect if you’re a little tired of turkey and don’t feel like tackling leftovers just yet.

Mississippi Roast

Ingredients:
3 to 4 lbs chuck roast
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 packet dry McCormick Au Jus mix
1 stick of butter
5 pepperoncini peppers

Do Not Add Water

Directions:
Trim the chuck roast of any excess fat and place it in a slow cooker. Sprinkle the chuck roast with the Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix and Au Jus mix. Place the whole stick of butter on top of the roast and add the pepperoncini. Cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours or high heat for 3 to 4 hours.

This recipe makes its own gravy and is great served over rice, noodles, potatoes or your favorite starch. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and a salad. Leftovers make great sandwiches.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 542, Calories from Fat: 242, Fat: 27 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 203 mg, Sodium: 3495 mg, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Protein: 57

Thursday
Nov212013

Family Matters: Spending the Holidays with 'Family'

As families gather around holiday tables, I’ll be enjoying a different kind of family.

You see, my parents live in Richmond, Va., along with one brother and his family. My other brother lives in northwestern Virginia. One sister lives in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., and my other sister lives near San Diego, Calif. We’re quite spread out.

Not a single one of them live near my headquarters in East Texas, and that makes me sad.

What makes me happy is that I also have a “family” that doesn’t consist of any blood relatives but people I love and who love me. It’s my best friend Connie, her daughter and her mother; my best friend Kim and her little girl; and my best friend Nicholas and the assorted firefighters he adopts at the holidays, too.

It’s fun spending holidays with non-family “family members” because you’re not stuck with the same traditions your family has had in place for the past 52 years and counting. We might have grilled turkey this year for Thanksgiving, and Christmas might bring a silly Christmas Eve pajama-clad gift swap. You just never know.

So, don’t fret if your family is far away; make a new one where your heart is!

Wednesday
Nov202013

Shop the Sale: Hungarian Potato Goulash

During the almost four years I lived in Germany, I had the amazing opportunity to travel all over Europe.

I quickly discovered that all my preconceived notions of fabulous cities overseas were just that, notions. Sure, Paris was awe-inspiring. Where else can you stroll by the Mona Lisa, then take a boat ride down the Seine to Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower? Rome was thought-provoking with St. Peter’s Square, the Coliseum and Vatican City. London was distinguished and noble. Amsterdam was eclectic and innovative.

However, the city I fell in love with was Budapest.

Budapest, Hungary, straddles the Danube River with “Buda” on one side and “Pest” on the other. When I lived overseas, in the mid-to-late 1990s, Budapest was largely untouched by Western civilization. In fact, I went in 1994 and again in 1996. When I went in 1996, there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Nike store opening just a stone’s throw from one of the historic markets where you could bargain for hand-embroidered linens and pungent paprika near one of the ancient opera houses (which was still in use). It made my heart hurt.

The beauty of Budapest, to me, was that it was untouched by American influence, at least it was then.  As always, the food of a particular city, country or region captured my heart. I loved the hearty flavors of Hungarian cuisine.

I found this recipe recently that seems to mimic some of my Hungarian favorites closely.

Try it with russet potatoes, on sale this week at Brookshire’s.

Hungarian Potato Goulash

Ingredients:
olive oil
salt
1 (14 oz) smoked sausage, sliced on the bias into thin medallions
2 Tbsp butter
2 onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed through garlic press
3/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
6 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick circles (about 2 3/4 lbs)
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
Place a large, deep, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and add in about 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the smoked sausage medallions, and caramelize them for a few minutes until they become a deep brown color. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

To the same pan or pot, add in the butter and allow it to melt. Add in the sliced onions, and caramelize those in the butter and sausage drippings until a rich, golden-brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, a couple pinches of salt, the freshly cracked black pepper and the paprika, and stir to combine with the onions. Sauté just until the garlic becomes aromatic.

Next, add in the sliced potatoes and fold them into the caramelized onions/garlic to coat them well. Add in the chicken stock and stir to combine, then push the sliced potatoes down into the stock/onion mixture as much as possible to allow them to cook evenly. Cover the pan/pot with a lid that is askew to allow some steam to escape, and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring gently once or twice during this time. Uncover the pan/pot and allow the potatoes to continue simmering for another 10 minutes, or until they are tender and the sauce is a bit thickened, stirring once or twice during that time. (It's perfectly fine for some of the potatoes to break up in the sauce as it helps to thicken it, just take care not to break them too much.)

Finish the goulash by adding the caramelized smoked sausage back into the pan/pot, as well as the parsley, and gently fold those in to incorporate. Add a little drizzle of olive oil, and add a couple more pinches of salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve hot with bread, if desired.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 663, Calories from Fat: 342, Fat: 38 g, Trans Fat: 0.2 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 99 mg, Sodium: 1090 mg, Carbohydrates: 55 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 26 g

Wednesday
Nov202013

Healthy Living: Outside

It’s dark earlier now.

It’s already pitch-black as I gaze out my window this evening.

Here in the South, the darkness is also a trade-off for the oppressive heat.

In the summertime, it’s almost impossible to exercise during daylight hours. Truth be told, it’s not even safe a lot of the time, with temperatures and humidity topping out at 100 degrees or percent – take your pick.

So, during the fall and winter here in the South, take advantage of the gorgeous weather. Run or walk outside. Enjoy the crunch of the leaves, the crisp air and the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Count your blessings. Play flag football with your kids. Rake leaf piles and jump in them. Grow pumpkins and squash. Eat them. Sign up for a Turkey Trot 5k. Involve the whole family. Run or walk; it doesn’t matter as much as the time spent together.

Find a state park. Explore it inside and out.

Make leaf art. Place leaves you find during your walks under a sheet of paper, color over it with the side of a crayon. Use them for placemats on Thanksgiving.

When you’re outside, remember the majesty of God’s creation. Give thanks.

Monday
Nov182013

Product Talk: Peanut Butter and Brie

Say what?

Peanut butter goes with jelly, not cheese, right?

Or, so I thought.

My parents went to California last week to visit my sister and her family. When I talked to my mom on the phone today, she told me about an appetizer my sister made for a party they threw when my parents were visiting.

Peanut butter and brie, as in the cheese.

Uh…

We all know peanut butter is food from the gods. Food Club peanut butter is creamy, rich, delicious and packed with protein. It’s also packed with deliciousness.

My sister assures me it’s addictive.

This sandwich recipe has the most unlikely ingredients, but it works. Trust me. Slice them into slivers and serve as an appetizer.

Grilled Peanut Butter and Brie

Ingredients:
(Per sandwich. Each sandwich makes 4 servings)
2 slices sandwich bread
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 oz brie, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar

Directions:
Set oven to broil.

Toast one side of each piece of bread. (If using a sandwich thin, toast the inside.)

Spread peanut butter on the toasted side of one slice of bread.

Place brie slices on top of peanut butter.

Put the second piece of bread, toasted side down, onto the sandwich.

Return the sandwich to the oven, toasting one side then the other until the cheese is melted and both sides of the sandwich are golden-brown.

While the sandwich is toasting, combine Dijon mustard and cider vinegar in a small ramekin for dipping.