Nutritional Yeast #bebetter52

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Maybe you have seen these golden flakes at your local health food store and wondered what they might taste like or what they are good for. As to taste, the flakes are nutty, cheesy and delightfully creamy. For your health, half a tablespoon of this week's Be Better Challenge provides you with a day's worth of B vitamins? This week's Be Better Challenge is to use nutritional yeast.  

Nutritional yeast is high in protein and fiber; one serving is equal to 6 grams of protein!  It is made from an organism grown on sugarcane and beet molasses, which is then harvested and dried to deactivate the yeast. It is different from Brewer's yeast or Baking yeast, so be sure to read the label carefully. It can be found in most health food stores like Trader Joe's and New Seasons, and it can also be found online.

It's easy to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet! You can use it instead of Parmesan cheese on pasta, on roasted veggies, in soups, stews, and salads or on popcorn. Many vegans use it as a cheese-flavoring substitute. Its nutty, cheesy flavor isn't overpowering, so you and your family can reap the benefits without anyone even noticing!  Use #bebetter52 to see how others are completing their challenges and get ideas for incorporating nutritional yeast into your diet this week.

Cinnamon #bebetter52

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The answer to your health woes might just be in your spice drawer.  This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to add a dash of cinnamon to your diet.  

 Did you know that as little as 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon daily can have positive effects on your well-being? It helps to control blood sugar (so it's great for diabetics or those with prediabetes), eases menstrual pain, and is a high source of antioxidants. If that isn't enough for you, it is also antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antiseptic, which means it's effective in fighting colds, yeast infections, stomach ulcers, head lice, and more. Cinnamon reduces risk factors for heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and it is also a source of fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese. Who knew that such a common spice had so many benefits? 

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Cinnamon is also beneficial for skin because of its antimicrobial properties. Honey and cinnamon are frequently used together to treat acne, rosacea, eczema, and the combination can even treat skin infections. A hair treatment including cinnamon could help to stimulate hair growth as well. For a face mask to treat acne, mix 3 tablespoons of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon and apply to your face. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes then wash off with warm water. (Before you do the face mask, try it on a small patch of skin first! Some people experience burning from the cinnamon.)

With so many ways to benefit from cinnamon, we are excited to see the creative ways you use cinnamon this week! You can sprinkle it on a baked sweet potato, stir some into your oatmeal, or snap a pic of your acne-fighting face mask. Use the hashtag #bebetter52 to share your completed challenge!

Shop with Meaning #bebetter52

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It’s the most magical time of the year! Many people are shopping for the perfect gifts for friends and family, and gift giving should be embraced! Studies show simple acts of generosity actually boost our immune systems, relieve pain and even make our hearts stronger. If these reasons are not enough to give, give, give, how about knowing a particular gift could directly impact the life of a female artisan and her family thousands of miles away?

The way we shop and the goods we purchase have a lasting impact on the global economy. As consumers when we shop more responsibly, we have the power to change the way our products are made. With the holidays approaching, this week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to spread the cheer near and far by shopping in a socially responsible way and supporting small and local businesses or products certified fair trade.

One way to shop responsibly is to seek fair trade companies and products. Fair trade certification helps to address the injustices of low prices and wages by guaranteeing that producers and workers receive fair terms of trade and fair price no matter what the conventional market is. Shopping fair trade protects the farmers, workers, and fisherman who produce goods for us from businesses who drive down cost and leave the producers without a livelihood. When you shop fair trade, you support producers who protect the environment, work in safe conditions, build sustainable livelihoods, and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities. The Little Market and similar fair trade organizations help artisans fine-tune designs, market their products and teach them to cover basic costs of materials, transportation and labor – with the end goal of empowerment and improved livelihoods for female artisans and their families. This season shop with this fair trade goal in mind to complete this week's be better 52 challenge!

Another way to complete this challenge is to shop locally at small businesses this week. By shopping at a small business, you are supporting a person’s or a family’s dream from your community. You are helping a student through college, a family pay its mortgage, or a mom give her daughter dance lessons. You're also creating jobs in the community and are more likely to find a unique product since product diversity and options are often greater at small businesses versus chain stores. Don't assume the price is automatically higher simply because it's a small business either! Although there are some unique small businesses, there are also those that sell what you would normally get at your local grocery store or Target. We challenge you to shop in a socially responsible way this week by either purchasing fair trade products or buying locally!


 

 

Epsom Salt/Magnesium #bebetter52

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Do you have trouble with sleeping, stress, or high blood pressure? This week's Be Better Challenge could help you with all three and more!

This week's Be Better Challenge is to incorporate magnesium into your life. You can take an epsom salt bath, use magnesium oil, take a supplement, or eat foods rich in magnesium.

Magnesium helps to calm nerves, prevent migraines, avoid osteoporosis, relieve muscle aches and spasms, aid digestion by relieving constipation, improve mood, alleviate PMS, increase energy, and also to treat insomnia. Stress, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar deplete magnesium which means many of us might have a magnesium deficiency and not even know it.

Luckily, there are many ways to incorporate magnesium into your life this week. Adding 2-3 cups of epsom salt to a warm bath and soaking for around 20 minutes is an easy way to complete this week's challenge. If you're feeling under the weather, a detox bath might be helpful with 2 cups of epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda in a warm bath. If you're struggling with restless legs or not sleeping well, a topical magnesium oil or lotion might be a good option for you. You can make these yourself by dissolving 1/2 cup of epsom salt into 3/4 cup hot water. Magnesium oil can be added to a thick lotion and used on your feet and calves before bed. There are also magnesium oils and lotions on the market you can purchase. (Be careful not to get the oil on cuts or freshly shaved legs as it might sting a little.)

Another way to complete this week's challenge is to eat foods that are rich in magnesium. Banana, squash, broccoli, spinach, dark chocolate, kale, pineapple, strawberries, figs, red meat, corn, potatoes, nuts, yogurt or kefir, and seeds are all options rich in magnesium. Pumpkin seeds are an especially good source of magnesium, so keep the seeds when you cook a pumpkin for your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie! Post a picture of your completed challenge on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #bebetterchallenge to earn more toward charity.

 

 

Gratitude Tree #bebetter52

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November, the season of Thanksgiving, gives us a special chance to focus on gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation for life. We are often encouraged at this time to think about people, memories, situations and circumstances for which we are thankful and to share them with friends and family. This week's #bebetter52 challenge  gives you the opportunity to display your gratitude by making a gratitude tree.

A gratitude tree could be a construction paper tree taped to your window, some sticks in a vase with leaves tied on with ribbon, or it could be a tree you print out and stick on your fridge. You can either write down what you're thankful for all at once, or you can fill in a leaf each day with something new for which you're grateful.  If you want to involve your family, ask your kids to draw pictures of what they're thankful for while you reflect with your family on gratitude and it's importance.

Some benefits to expressing gratitude are feeling happier and more optimistic, feeling less materialistic, and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It lowers the risk of major depression and improves self-esteem as well. If you find yourself in a rut and can't think of much to be grateful about, below are some prompts for your gratitude tree. Remember, the more you add to your gratitude tree, the more you will find to be grateful for!

  1. What tradition are you grateful for?

  2. What talent or skill do you have that you're grateful for?

  3. What book are you grateful for?

  4. What struggle are you grateful for?

  5. What friend or family member are you grateful for?

Rita Schiano, resilience strategist and life coach, said that talking about our problems is one of our greatest addictions. Break the habit, by talking about your joys. Post a picture of your gratitude tree with the hashtag #bebetter52 and earn more money toward charity!

Examples of gratitude trees: