Eat Oats #bebetter52

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Love oatmeal? How about granola? You’re in luck because this week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to eat oats! Oats can be eaten in a variety of ways, the most popular being oatmeal and granola, but have you ever wondered why eating oats is beneficial for you?

Oats are nutritious, made up of high amounts of carbs and fiber, and they are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. In addition, oats are high in antioxidants, especially the antioxidant avenanthramides. Avenanthramides help lower blood levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps dilate blood vessels which leads to better blood flow. On top of that benefit, avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties. Finally, oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. This is particularly important because it lowers cholesterol levels, reduces blood sugar, and increases the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract.

There are many ways to create nutritious oat-packed meals, but one favorite recipe is this Banana Oatmeal Protein Pancake!

You will need:

  • 1 medium ripe banana

  • 2 large eggs

  • ½ oats

  • ¼ tsp of cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Put the banana in a bowl and mash with a fork

  • Add the eggs and mix until well combined

  • Put the oats and cinnamon in a blender (or you can add whole oats)

  • Heat a skillet over a medium heat and dash of vegetable oil

  • Pour ¼ cup of mixture into the skillet, cook on one side for 1.5 minutes and other side for about 1 minute (until golden brown).

  • Serve (with or without peanut butter and maple syrup) and enjoy.

So whether you enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning, a granola bar on the go, or our suggested banana oatmeal protein pancakes, be sure to incorporate oats this week.



Quality Time #bebetter52

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The Holiday Season is meant to be a time we spend with family and loved ones. We know, however, how difficult it can be to make that happen during this busy time. Whether it’s running around the shops to find the perfect present, or decorating the house masterfully for the holidays and visitors, we can forget to be in the moment and to remember what the holidays are supposed to enhance: quality time with loved ones.

The holidays offer a great opportunity to create memorable activities with family and friends! With the chillier weather outside, it’s the perfect chance to bundle up inside for some fun time. Make a family dinner with everyone, light some candles or the fireplace to make it cozy inside, and play a card game or board game with the family. There are myriad ways to have fun and connect with your loved ones. It’s really up to you!

Serious benefits come from spending quality time with others. Close relationships help our overall health, and we all want to be the healthiest we can be, right? The United States Institute of Health actually points out how social relationships “affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk.” And keeping social connections continually active is not only beneficial to our minds and bodies but also to our hearts, literally and figuratively. This site also discusses how having close and trusting relationships help us feel more comfortable and confident in our lives.  Life Advancer augments this point by explaining how quality family time together builds up confidence in children. Having family dinner together, playing games around the table, or simply talking around a fire with hot chocolate on a cold winter's night are all perfect ways to bond over the holiday season!

We know how stressful the holiday season can be. This year, though, we’d love you to take a step back from perfecting every one of your holiday traditions and focus on your relationships. We’ve come up with some fun holiday ways to do this, too!  Baking is an activity that can be shared with the whole family. Make a gingerbread house together or have a gingerbread-house-making competition. Decorate sugar cookies with colored frostings and sprinkles to share with an elderly family on your street. Do some creative art projects. Google how to make cards and wrapping paper using potato prints. Try your hand at stringing popcorn and cranberries to decorate your tree or mantle. Cut out snowflakes for your windows. Other possibilities: Pile into the car and drive around the neighborhood to admire the holiday lights and decorations. Ask friends to join you for an evening of caroling. Encourage your kids to go through their toys and find a favorite one to donate to a family in need. Going back to popcorn, make a huge batch to enjoy while watching your favorite holiday movie with loved ones. No matter which event you choose, having this special time together with family and friends is the best way to enjoy this holiday time.

For this week’s #bebetter52 challenge, we’d like you to take at least an hour this week-- when you’d usually be running errands or doing chores--and relax a little and enjoy time with family and friends. You can let those dirty dishes sit for a bit, or skip those multiple trips to every mall in the area to find that perfect present, and instead refocus your energy on spending quality time with your family.

We know how crazy this time is, and we can see it in the craze of Black Friday shopping in November all the way to the last minute shopping in December. We hope you’ll be able to take a step back from the stress, and work on being present with your loved ones.


Links:

Social Relationships and Health

Importance of Spending Time with Family



Spaghetti Squash #bebetter52

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Spaghetti Squash is quite possibly one of Mother Nature’s greatest inventions. With a texture similar to spaghetti, calories much lower and health benefits much higher than pastas, this vegetable makes the best meal! Here at The Be Better Movement, we are obsessed with Spaghetti Squash and all of the fun recipes we can make with it!

For this week’s challenge, we’d simply like you to make and eat spaghetti squash for one meal this week. We’ve even added some fun recipe recommendations that might appeal to you and your family.

Why did we choose Spaghetti Squash? Well, Spaghetti Squash has health benefits that greatly outweigh that of any pasta, so this substitute is perfect for eating healthier! Also for people who want to eat gluten-free, this food is wonderful (not to mention so yummy). For instance, spaghetti squash is a low-carb, low-calorie vegetable, which when cooked properly, creates strands similar to that of spaghetti. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of vegetables and fruits, which also includes Pumpkin, Cucumber, Acorn Squash, Zucchini and Melons.

Nutrition and You states that in 100 grams of spaghetti squash, there are only 31 calories. There are no saturated fats or cholesterol in this food, and it’s rich in fiber. Also, spaghetti squash actually contains Calcium, Iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, to name a few of the many vitamins and minerals inside this powerful food.

While tons of delicious recipes can be found with Spaghetti Squash, the first step is always to cook the actual squash to achieve those spaghetti-like strands. This part seems a little daunting, but is actually easy! There are various ways people like to cook Spaghetti found on the internet, such as fully microwaving or fully baking, but we’ve written down a bit of a hybrid that is our favorite.

Our favorite way to cook Spaghetti Squash:

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

  • Poke holes with a fork all throughout the Spaghetti Squash.

  • Set in microwave for 4 minutes to help soften the spaghetti squash so it is easier to cut in half.

  • After the microwave, cut the Spaghetti Squash in half lengthwise so that each side looks like an oval. If too hot, use a heat pad over the squash when handling it.

  • Time to scoop out the guts! Similar to gutting a pumpkin, grab a spoon and remove the seeds and loose strands until all the seeds are gone.

  • Put the two halves on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet.

  • Drizzle olive oil on top. I prefer to brush it all around so that the olive oil covers the entire inside of the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Flip the squashes upside so the skin of the spaghetti squash is upright, and the cut side is upside down.

  • Put into heated oven and cook for 1 hour.

  • Pull out squash, and grab your trusty fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” noodles!

Voila! You have delicious spaghetti noodles that are low-calorie, low-carb, and vitamin packed! Now is the time for fun ways to dress it up!

There are so many ways to enjoy Spaghetti Squash. Some of our favorites include:

Garlic Parmesan Noodles:

  • Heat minced garlic and olive oil in pan until golden (3 minutes). Add in desired amount of spaghetti squash noodles and toss while heating (5 minutes).  Add freshly grated parmesan into pasta and enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Marinara or Bolognese  

  • This pasta is so easy. Simply add your favorite Marinara or Bolognese sauce (homemade or store bought) onto your heated up pasta! You could serve with meatballs for the perfect twist of these Italian favorites.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

  • Heat tablespoon of olive oil in pan. Put in desired amount of spaghetti squash and pesto sauce. Heat for 3-4 minutes. Add in grilled chicken, parmesan, and sprinkle with pine nuts for this delicious dish!

Overall, this challenge has so much variety! With nearly endless possibilities for spaghetti squash dishes, you can’t go wrong! Maybe switch up a family pasta recipe by adding spaghetti squash, or create a new favorite. Whichever direction you decide to go, you’re sure to have fun doing it and have a delicious meal afterwards!

Links:

Spaghetti Squash Nutrition


LIST OF GRATITUDE #bebetter52

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Its the week of Thanksgiving and we are reminded to reflect on what we are thankful for. It’s a special time spent with loved ones where we remember blessings in our lives, express gratitude to family and friends and, of course, stuff ourselves with delicious home-cooked food.

For this week’s challenge, we’d like you to focus on gratitude and to specifically write a list of 50 things for which you have been grateful this past year. It can be written in a journal, in an email, in a letter to yourself. We chose the number fifty purposely. Yes, a list of 50 is a long list, but that is what makes it so beneficial. It presses you to think of things for which you are thankful in all walks of your life--a new friend, a new hobby, a compassionate act, a forgiving heart, or simply the love of your family. Try to be as specific as possible.

After you write it, store it in a special place. A place that you can revisit when necessary or reopen every November. We encourage you to make this week’s challenge a special tradition to continue every year during Thanksgiving. Your gratitude list becomes a documented journal reminding you of all you have to be grateful for.  

It’s incredible how much can happen in a year: new challenges, new loves, new accomplishments. By reading last year’s Thanksgiving letter, you can reflect on how your life has changed. You could even challenge family members to write gratitude letters and share every year as a Thanksgiving tradition. Overall, we want you to have fun with this challenge! Actively thinking about what you are thankful for increases a positive outlook and attitude and helps you feel better overall.

From all of us here at the Be Better Movement, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and enjoy the food and company!


Cabbage #bebetter52

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If asked what particular foods you’d most like to see on your dinner plate tonight, it’s very doubtful cabbage would be one of them. Cabbage is not generally thought of as an exciting food choice, but we’re here today to promote cabbage as a great food to bring into your diet and to show you creative ways to do so! Cabbage comes in all different shapes and colors-- round, pointed and pumpkin shaped, purple, green, white, and red. Each type has a slightly different taste and texture. Some cabbage leaves are smooth while others are crinkly (Healthline).

This week’s challenge: Simply try to incorporate cabbage into your diet. Whether it be in a specific type of sautéed dish, or added to a family favorite to change things up, we’d like for you to challenge yourself to go outside the box with the addition of this nutritious vegetable.

A huge benefit of cabbage is that it is packed full of nutrients with very few calories. In fact, one cup of green cabbage has roughly 22 calories, with nutrients galore. Cabbage contains protein, fiber, vitamins K and C, Calcium, Folate, Potassium, and Magnesium, to name a few. An even greater benefit is that it’s rich in Folate and Vitamin B6, which helps keep the metabolism going and keeps the nervous system functioning properly. Also, cabbage can help improve digestion since it is rich in fiber, so it keeps the body working smoothly.

Now, all of this information about cabbage is awesome with perhaps one small downfall: Not everyone is a huge fan of its rather bland taste. So we’ve collected a few recipes that showcase cabbage as an exciting and fun vegetable to bring into your life!

Sautéed Cabbage, from Good Dinner Mom

·      2 tablespoons olive oil

·      1 medium yellow onion chopped

·      2 cloves garlic minced

·      1 medium head green cabbage

·      2 tablespoons butter

·      salt and pepper to taste

·      red pepper flakes, optional

o   Heat medium skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until softened (3--4 min). Add garlic and stir (30 sec)

o   Turn heat to med-high and add 1/3 of cabbage. Stir into mixture of onions and garlic. Let it sit and brown, being careful to not let it burn. Use a spatula to slightly turn over cabbage and season with salt

o   Add another 1/3 of cabbage and 1 tablespoon butter. Flip again and let brown.

o   Finish the last 1/3 of cabbage and last tablespoon butter. Once cabbage is browned add salt, pepper and optional red pepper flakes to taste.

Cabbage Stir Fry, from Recipezazz

·      8 ounces ground turkey

·      6 ounces cabbage (green and purple)

·      6 green onions, finely chopped

·      1 clove garlic, minced

·      2 tablespoons peanut oil

·      2 teaspoons sesame oil

·      2 teaspoons rice vinegar

·      1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

·      salt and pepper to taste

o   Heat peanut oil with 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

o   Add the ground turkey, cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and cook until turkey is no longer pink and cabbage starts to stick to pan.

o   Stir in remaining sesame oil and rice vinegar and taste and adjust seasoning.

Bacon Curry Coleslaw, from Genius Kitchen

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon curry powder

3 cups cabbage, shredded

1⁄4 cup raisins

2 tablespoons green onions, sliced

4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled

1⁄4 cup peanuts, salted

  1. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and curry powder. Cover and chill.

  2. Combine cabbage, raisins and green onions: cover and chill.

  3. Just before serving, combine cabbage mixture, bacon and peanuts in a bowl.

  4. Add the mayonnaise mixture to this and toss well to coat.

There are many different and delicious recipes for cabbage. Use as a base for a fish dish, or add into a salad or find your favorite Thai Cabbage Wrap recipe online. Cabbage is a great way to add more nutrients into your diet.

Links:

9 Impressive Health Benefits of Cabbage

Sautéed Cabbage

Cabbage Stir Fry