Healthy Smoothies #bebetter52

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The best way to trick yourself (or your kids) into healthy eating is by tossing your favorite veggies in a blender. Whether you are a green smoothie veteran or new to the smoothie game, adding a refreshing smoothie to your day will give you a nutrient boost. Smoothies are a quick and easy way to pack in the vitamins and minerals from all your favorite fruits and veggies!

The #bebetter52 challenge this week is to start the day off or replace dessert with a healthy and delicious green smoothie! This allows you to utilize all the nutrients you need to start your morning feeling energized and ready to go. Take the time to blend up the healthiest smoothie you can to make sure you’re getting the most out of this week’s challenge.

Healthy Smoothies Tips:

Blending up a great smoothie isn’t difficult. Pick a healthy recipe or get a little creative and combine all your favorite ingredients. Regardless of how you choose to do it, the key to a healthy smoothie is to add lots and lots of vegetables. Spinach and kale are the go-to veggies, but there is no need to stop there; romaine, cucumbers, and even avocados make great green additions to your smoothie.

Once you’ve chosen your green veggie base, be careful to pick low sugar options for the rest of your smoothie. Skip the yogurt or fruit juice base and go with a much healthier alternative like almond milk, coconut milk, or even water. Next, we suggest you pick low sugar fruit options, such as berries, to give some tasty flavor. Pro tip: use frozen fruits to give you that icy smoothie texture without watering your smoothie down with ice.

If you are feeling extra creative, add nuts, seeds, or nut butters for an extra dose of nutrients to your smoothie. Adding supplement powders is another great way to get the most out of this healthy treat.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try new things! As long as you start with healthy ingredients (and lots of veggies), you can’t go wrong.

Here are some of my personal favorite green smoothie recipes:

 Ginger Orange Smoothie

o   1 1/2 cups filtered water

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o   4 generous handfuls fresh spinach

o   4 romaine leaves (optional)

o   2 navel oranges

o   2 ripe bananas

o   1"-2" knob of fresh ginger

o   1 cucumber (optional), peel if not organic

 Blueberry Mint Smoothie

o   2 cups spinach (These will blend better if you freeze them beforehand)

o   2 cups blueberry (I’ve used 1 c. fresh and 1 c. frozen)

o   1 kiwi

o   3-4 large mint  leaves

o   1 cup coconut water

o   1 cup ice

Green Machine Smoothie

o   1 cup spinach

o   3 drops of peppermint oil (make sure it is high quality essential oil)

o   1/2 avocado

o   1 serving of protein powder

o   dash of almond milk

o  ice and water to blend

There are countless benefits of green smoothies and we are just scraping the surface! Post your green smoothie pictures with the #bebetter52 and remember for every completed challenge money will be donated to Every Mother Counts. If you post a picture on social media then extra money will be donated.



Be Creative #bebetter52

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Is your average day filled with constant consuming of information and fulfilling of responsibilities? In our hectic, always-connected world of television, social media, and on-demand everything, it can be increasingly easy to spend all of your time just getting by. Creative art offers an outlet and a break from all that noise. The power of art and creative thinking gives us time to ignore all incoming signals from the world and to embrace and express our internal thoughts and feelings instead. Art, when used as therapy, aids in the healing process, both physically and mentally.

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to make time to be creative through any medium of art you choose. The benefits of art are many and range from processing feelings, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem and improving your overall emotional happiness. Choose any creative art form, but we challenge you to try something new, something a little outside of your comfort zone. Whether it be painting, writing, drawing, sculpting, taking photographs, song writing or  singing, self-expression has the ability to give your minds a break from the constant responsibilities of everyday life. Our challenge isn’t as much about the finished project as it is about the therapeutic process of doing art.

Intuitively, we know creativity is good for us and our creative passions make us happy. Science also confirms the benefits of creativity. A 2010 article review published in the American Journal of Public Health called The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, set out to measure how art and creative thinking affect mental and physical health. The article’s findings revealed that art and creative thinking have strong connections to mental health benefits as well as physical benefits. Specifically, these researchers discovered how creativity affects the brain and body, leading to benefits such as increased mood, decreased anxiety, heightened cognitive function, reduced risk of chronic illnesses and improved immune health. If you’d like to read more about the benefits of art, here’s the link! (https://relaxtheback.com/blogs/news/health-benefits-of-creativity)

Benefits of creating art outlined by HealthBeatblog.org:

Reduces Stress by providing a healthy distraction.

Boosts Self-Esteem by giving a sense of accomplishment.

Stimulates problem-solving because it encourages out-of-the-box thinking and there is no right answer.

Increases mobility and fine motor skills by repetitive eye-hand movements and stimulated brain connection.

We look forward to seeing your creative masterpieces. Remember though, it is the therapeutic process of doing art that is more important than the finished piece. Have fun, try something new, and do not become paralyzed by the false voice in your head that tells you, “I am not creative” or “I am not an artist.”



Avocados #bebetter52

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Avocados are pictured everywhere right now, from t-shirts, to reusable grocery bags, and even in house decor!  There is good reason for all the hype! With so many health benefits to eating avocados and over 100 ways to use them in delicious dishes, this weeks #bebetter52 challenge is to incorporate avocados into your diet.  It is your job to explore different ways to cook and bake with them. You can put them on top of toast in the morning, in your green smoothies, or mix them into a salad for some added yummy greens. So go to your local grocery store or farmer’s market and pick up some ripe avocados.

Did you know that avocados are actually considered a fruit? Avocados are full of healthy fats and over 20 vitamins unlike most fruits which contain more carbohydrates. The healthy fats, which take longer for our bodies to digest, help lower our appetites. So when hunger strikes, that is why avocados are a great food to eat and don’t want to eat empty calorie snacks. Additionally this fruit has monounsaturated fatty acid which is believed to be responsible for reduced inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Avocados are a great source of chlorophyll which helps to lower cholesterol. They are also good for organs, cells, and your immune system because of the high amounts of vitamin C. An added bonus is they taste delicious!

We are excited to see how you put avocados into your meals this week. By Sunday you should feel refreshed and energized from all the nutrients pumping through your system. Just remember by eating avocado this week as self improvement you are increasing global improvement too!

Here are some avocado ideas for every meal, including dessert!

Breakfast: Avocado Toast with Bacon and Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece thick cut bread

  • 1/2 avocado

  • freshly squeeze lemon juice

  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

  • 1 egg, scrambled

  • 1 piece bacon, cooked

  1. Now’s the fun part! Add any toppings you like! Sliced tomato, radish,  sprouts, or a sprinkle of cheese

  2. Top it off with seasoning such as salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, hot sauce for an added spice, or get creative!

Lunch: Avocado Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

1/4 avocado

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup shredded chicken, precooked

1 whole wheat English muffin

Handful of lettuce or sunflower sprouts

2 slices tomato

Dinner: Avocado Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces dry elbow macaroni

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 avocados, peeled and pitted

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Fresh avocado chunks, for garnish, if desired

  1. Make the avocado sauce by placing the garlic, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

  2. To make the cheese sauce, place butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. When butter is melted, whisk in flour to create a paste. Whisk in milk until smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce starts to thicken. Add in Pepper Jack cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.

  3. Place macaroni in a large bowl. Pour the avocado sauce over the macaroni and stir until well coated. Add the cheese sauce and stir until macaroni is coated and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh avocado chunks, if desired.

Dessert: Avocado ice cream.

(It is yummy and helps to curb our sweet tooth that seems to strike at night!)

    1. All you need is half an avocado, half a banana, a splash of milk, and honey to taste

    2.  Blend in a blender, freeze for an hour, and enjoy!

Below are a few more avocado ideas: 

Use avocado oil when cooking (tip: they make this in spray form!)

You can also substitute avocado oil for butter in baking

Or even add a little salt and pepper to eat avocado as a great snack by itself!

Take one or two of these fun ways to incorporate avocado into your diet and you will probably become one of the many avocado lovers, too!

Print Photos #bebetter52

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“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is a phrase we’ve been hearing for as long as we can remember. Three hundred million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily, but how many of those photos are ever printed? Here at Be Better, we believe there is something special about physically holding a memory in your hand or honoring a photo by displaying it in a special location. It’s a great way to remind yourself of the people, pets, places and things that matter most in your life.

That is why this week’s challenge is to set aside time to print a couple of your most-treasured photos from your phone or hard drive. What you do with them next is your choice. You can put them in a photo album, hang a few on your refrigerator or display one of your favorite’s on the cute easel that comes in your My Be Better Box.

Whether it’s a picture of you with your family or a landscape you snapped while on a trip, don’t hide your photos away in digital form. Tangible photographs have great value. Choosing which photos to print from so many good ones can be challenging, but this week we want you to set aside some time to enjoy looking through your hard drive or phone.  Don’t overcomplicate which ones to print. If one in particular brings a smile to your face or a feeling of overwhelming love to your heart, print it. You do not need to frame every print or find a place within your house to hang every photo. You can simply put a few on the refrigerator for a month. When done, find a special box to store them that is easily accessible for family, friends and kids to look through. The best memories are ones we can relive again and again!

Two printing options we love:

Artifact Uprising Prints

Artifact Uprising Prints

-Artifact Uprising for high quality prints on cardstock recycled material. You can upload the images directly from your phone.

-Chatbooks for 60 prints selected and placed in a 8 X 8 book. One of their most appealing features is that books can be automatically created from your instagram feed or by “favoriting” a photo on your iPhone. When 60 pictures have been taken, the book ships automatically to your house.

In The Box:

This wooden easel is a unique and creative way to display your photos and perfectly fits the Artifact Uprising prints from the voucher. They are providing you with 10 free prints--just pay shipping and handling-- that you can upload and have mailed to your door. These photos,  printed on high quality card stock made from recycled materials, create a sustainable way to use products that benefit the earth to make sure we can keep making more joy-filled memories.



Plant Herbs #bebetter52

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It doesn’t matter if you live in a farmhouse or a towering skyscraper, planting an herb garden is possible for everyone. Herbs do well in almost any kind of soil, demand little fertilizer, and are rarely affected by pests. That means the health benefits of herbs and gardening can be yours with only a little bit of effort.

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to plant herbs. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. You can even start with just one. Buy the herb and then plant it directly in the soil or in a pot. Whether you choose to plant rosemary, basil, mint or an alternative, you cannot go wrong. Not only will you gain the benefit of fresh herbs at your fingertips, gardening has been proven to improve physical and mental health.

Benefits of Growing an Herb Garden

Envision yourself on a Saturday morning, outside in the fresh air, growing your own herbs. You decide to pick fresh rosemary to roast with vegetables that night for dinner.  The evening before you needed a few sprigs of thyme to add to the chicken and kale stew. Not only are you more creative in your meal choices and preparations, but you also save money. Next time you are at the grocery store, check out the prices for fresh, and sometimes not so fresh, herbs.

Benefits of Eating Herbs

Fresh herbs not only taste good but also have beneficial health effects. Their multiple benefits range from enhancing the taste of food to improving digestionlowering blood pressurereducing inflammation, and more! Herbs contain a bevy of disease-fighting nutrients, including antioxidants, which battle cancer and heart disease; essential oils, which can kill germs; vitamins, which also aid against heart disease; and phytosterols, which help lower cholesterol.

Herbs also are used as remedies for a variety of ailments.  For example, rosemary, oregano and chamomile all relieve digestive ailments. Rosemary also soothes sore muscles when rubbed onto the skin, and chamomile can relieve diaper rash when applied topically. Camomile can also be used as a sedative. Oregano relieves respiratory problems and also treats yeast infections. Fennel can be used to treat colic and gas. It also serves as a diuretic.

A Couple of  Things to Know Before You Plant:

Before planting, evaluate your needs, the climate in which you live,  and how much room you have available to see whether growing herbs indoors or outdoors is best for you. Both have their benefits – planting indoors will grant you easier access, produce year-round growth and eliminate the need to weed. On the other hand, planting outdoors will give you more room, produce more herbs, and boost their flavor. Since the majority of herbs are indigenous to the Mediterranean, they will grow best if planted in a comparable environment with an abundance of sunlight.

Watering Tips:

When caring for herbs, soil should be kept relatively moist. As a rule of thumb, herbs like parsley and mint do best in moist soil; sage, rosemary and thyme do best in less-saturated soil. If herbs are being kept indoors, be especially careful not to overwater them because the roots will rot if they are waterlogged.  Instead, wait until the top layer of soil is dry before rewatering.

Fertilizer Tips:

The majority of herbs produce their own natural, pest-repelling oils, meaning that fertilizer is not always 100% necessary. However, adding a little organic fertilizer is never a bad thing. Beware of adding too much, though, as an abundance of fertilizer might weaken the fragrance and flavor of the herbs.

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Harvesting Tips:

To harvest your herbs, simply cut off as much of the herb as you want to use. For maximum flavor, herbs should be picked right before they are used. If necessary, though, they can be dried or frozen for later use.

Be Better by planting and enjoying herbs this week! We can’t wait to see what you are able to produce with those green thumbs of yours.

In the Box: Garden in a Box from Recycled Ideas

Using 100% biodegradable materials, Recycled Ideas has created this little paper leaf that can be planted to create your own herb plant! By putting it in some soil and then adding water, in no time (even in the cold), you’ll have a plant to spice up your meals in the freshest way possible.