Zucchini #bebetter52

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Zucchini is a summer staple food, and there are tons of ways to add this powerhouse squash into your meals. Zucchini can be prepared in every way from sweet to savory so you can harness its benefits no matter your mood.  

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to fill up your plate with the summer squash, Zucchini. This nutrient-dense squash can help with weight loss, heart health, digestion, ridding the body of free radicals and inflammation, and lowering blood sugar, to name just a few benefits. While myriad recipes can be found in cookbooks or on the internet, our recommendation is to roast it in the oven or saute it with olive oil. It can be a substitute for pasta or meat in a chili or spaghetti sauce. And who doesn’t like zucchini bread with chocolate chips? Regardless of how you eat it, you can’t go wrong. 

Summer is the peak time for zucchini, which makes it a great addition to your summer barbeque or beach day picnic. Zucchini is also low in calories, so it is a super healthy substitute to high carb sides or as a gluten-free replacement for noodles. 

“Zoodles” (zucchini noodles) have become a fan favorite in the gluten-free community for good reason. They are an excellent pasta alternative that taste so good you almost forget how good they are for you.   

Try a caprese Zoodle dish for a delicious and super easy summer treat. 

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 lb. zucchini

12 oz. ripe tomatoes

8 oz. fresh mozzarella

1/2 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves

2 tbsp. capers

2 cloves garlic

1/4 c. roasted salted almonds

Directions:

1.    In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil on medium until hot. Add zucchini. Stir 1 to 2 minutes or until it just begins to soften. Remove from heat; transfer to large bowl.

2.    To the bowl with zucchini, add tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gently toss to combine. Serve immediately, topped with almonds.

Do you prefer to satisfy your sweet tooth? Zucchini bread is a delicious and sneaky way to incorporate this summer squash into your diet and even trick your kids into eating it!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 large eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (1 medium)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8 1/2" by 4 1/2" metal loaf pan. In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts.

2. In a medium bowl, with a whisk or fork, mix eggs, oil, zucchini, and orange peel. Stir zucchini mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened.

3. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.



Herbal Tea #bebetter5

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Herbal tea is the super hero of the drink world. It seems there are few things herbal tea cannot remedy. Herbal tea can help everything from sleep to inflammation to digestion. Whether you choose to start or end your day with it, we highly recommend incorporating herbal tea into your daily routine.  

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to fill up your cup with herbal tea. A loose definition of tea is a hot drink made by infusing natural ingredients such as dried leaves, roots, flowers, fruits, spices, bark and more. Try replacing your morning cup of coffee with herbal tea or drinking a cup to help you relax at the end of the day. Best benefits come from steeping loose tea as long as 10-15 minutes and using high quality ingredients.

Herbal tea is typically caffeine free, though there are exceptions, which make its benefits perfect for any time of the day. Take a moment to embrace the calming feeling of a hot mug in your hands and appreciate the sweet smells of the steam. Pick a tea like Chamomile to really embrace the calm.

While there are seemingly endless varieties of herbal teas, our current favorite is Bluephoria, found in this month’s subscription box. This entirely organic loose-leaf tea is ideal for summer – and with its blue tint even the kids will get a kick out of it. This minty, blue herbal tea is the perfect pick me up and is ideal in the morning or for that afternoon lull. Bluephoria is packed with antioxidants and is a great mood booster.

For a little added fun, stir in an acid (like lemon juice) and watch Bluephoria transform into a purple and pink color!

Pick out your favorite herbal tea, grab a mug, and embrace the healing powers of herbal teas!

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In The Box: Bluephoria Tea from Shop Mulberry Creek

Rich in antioxidants and nourishing, mood-lifting herbs, this is a great anytime blend for when you need a little boost (minus the caffeine). This delicious and refreshing, minty blue tea is the perfect pick-me-up during a long day. This tea brews a beautiful, vibrant blue color, and it changes to a pretty pink-purple when you stir in an acid such as lemon juice! Learn more about a My Be Better Box subscription




Eat Berries #bebetter52

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This week’s BeBetter Challenge is to incorporate berries into your diet! Aside from being refreshing and able to satisfy your sugar cravings, berries have a wide variety of health benefits.

Because berries are rich in antioxidants, they protect your body from free radicals that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA. A diet rich in antioxidants can not only protect against aging, but can also prevent the development of diseases like cancer that result from oxidative DNA damage. Blueberries are especially high in antioxidants and have been shown to directly increase antioxidant levels in the body.

Berries serve as a great snack, especially when dieting, because they are low in calories and high in nutrients. A serving of mixed berries is only 70 calories, so you can feel guilt-free when opting for a second serving! With a high fiber and liquid content, berries help you feel satiated longer than empty high calorie snacks. They can also aid in weight loss because they have high levels of phytochemicals, which also help protect cells from damage.

On top of being rich in antioxidants and nutrients, there are also some brain benefits that come with eating berries. Berries have been proven to keep us mentally sharp, as shown by studies published in the Annals of Neurology. Studies show women who eat about two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries a week experienced less mental decline over time than their peers who went without eating berries. Of the 16,010 women over age 70 that took part in this study, the women with the highest berry intake postponed cognitive decline by about two and a half years.

So, what are you waiting for? Buy some berries, either fresh or frozen, and enjoy!

Here are some ideas how you can incorporate berries into your diet:

Berry infused water

Gather your favorite combo of berries and place them in a glass bottle. Feel free to add some mint leaves if you’re feeling fancy! Add some water, cover the glass, and let the flavors sit for at least 30 minutes.

Berry salad

Fruit salad… yummy, yummy! Slice up some strawberries and combine them with fresh blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Mix them together and enjoy!

Frozen berries

Frozen berries are a great alternative for late night ice cream cravings! You can easily buy a premade mixture of frozen berries at the grocery store or buy some fresh fruit and freeze them yourself!

Smoothies

No smoothie is complete without some berries! Throw your favorite berry mix into the blender and top off with some nutrient-dense vegetables. Smoothies are a perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day.

Reach Out To An Old Friend #bebetter52

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Is there someone who comes to mind when you think of a past friendship that brought joy to your life? Friendships can fizzle out for a number of reasons, whether it’s because you’ve relocated to a new city, started a new chapter in your life, or got preoccupied with your career. However, many of these reasons don’t necessarily mean your friendship should be abandoned for good!

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to reach out to an old friend. Think of a friend with whom you’ve lost touch and would like to rekindle your friendship.

Make the first move! Give the person a call or set up a coffee date to catch up on each other’s lives! This friend will likely be pleasantly surprised to see your name pop up on their phone screen, and hopefully your reunion will re-spark your friendship and bring happiness to each of your lives.

Also, don’t take the easy way out. While it might be convenient for you to reach out via text message or to communicate through Facebook posts, it’s best to have a REAL conversation. In person meet-ups are your best option, with phone calls being a close second.

Do your best to be fully present in the moment when speaking to this friend. Enjoy sharing memories about your past experiences together, your current endeavors and future plans. You might pick up right where you left off with this friend, or there might be an entirely new dynamic to your friendship resulting from the time you’ve spent apart. Be open to whatever this encounter may bring!

This interaction doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Less than an hour of quality conversation will be enough for you to feel the joy that comes along with reaching out and putting yourself out there. We are confident that this interaction will bring a smile to your face, as well as to your friends!



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.