Simple Salad Dressing #bebetter52

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We’re always looking to spice up those leafy greens and create tastier salads. Our favorite way is to add homemade salad dressing. 

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to make your own salad dressing. You can cut out the added sugars and extra calories found in store-bought dressings. Making your own salad dressing is a healthy alternative that is easier than you think!

If you don’t fancy yourself a chef - no problem! There are some seriously simple ways to dress your salads with items you may already have in your kitchen. A tried and true favorite is olive oil with lemon or various vinegars We suggest you add a little salt and pepper on top of the dressing to bring out the flavor. 

Another way to keep your greens interesting is by digging into your spice drawer. We season everything from chicken to avocado toast so why don’t we season our veggies? Our favorite is Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning. This spice mix is sure to take your salad and oil combo to the next level.

If you can’t give up a classic dressing, try this Chili-Lime Salad Dressing from Wholefully.com. All you need to do is combine the ingredients in a blender and chill for 30 minutes before serving. Bonus, this dressing has about half the calories as a typical store-bought Caesar. 

For Chili-Lime Salad Dressing

  • Zest and juice of 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons juice and 3 teaspoons zest)

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced OR 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other delicious, healthy recipes can be found at https://wholefully.com/healthy-salad-dressing-recipes/

We hope you will get creative in the kitchen and have some fun with your salad!



Guided Meditation #bebetter52

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“I don’t have time to mediate” is a lie, no matter how busy you are.

Some people mistakenly think meditation is a time-consuming, mentally-draining practice when in reality it’s quite the opposite. Meditation can take as little as five minutes each day and might actually help you gain some extra downtime because it is proven to increase your productivity. 

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to practice guided meditation. There are several apps available, such as Headspace or Calm, to help you get started with your meditation practices. 

Just five minutes will be enough to expose you to the many benefits of meditation, including lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure, increased immunity, reduced pain, and improved heart health. Heightened happiness, productivity, and concentration are also sure to follow your implementation of guided meditation.

If you are new to meditation, keep in mind it is a skill you can improve upon the more you practice. Like other skills, such as riding a bike or playing an instrument, meditation takes time to master! Do not become discouraged; if you find yourself struggling to quiet your thoughts and sit still, then you are likely the type of person who can benefit the most from meditation!  Keep trying, and remember that meditation will become easier over time.

Here are three skills you can improve upon with the practice of guided meditation, as found on unifiedmindfulness.com:

Concentration Power: 

Concentration Power is a skill that allows you to focus on what’s most important in a given moment. Have you ever been preoccupied with thoughts unrelated to the task you’re trying to accomplish? Perhaps you find yourself distracted by relationship drama at work. Maybe you worry about situations over which you have no control.  Concentration power helps you to focus on what you need to get done and then to efficiently shift your focus to something else when it’s time to do so.

Sensory Clarity:

Sensory Clarity is the ability to explore and track your day-to-day experiences in real time, which is a basic skill of mindfulness that can ultimately prevent overcrowded thoughts and overwhelmed feelings. This skill helps you to determine what sights, sounds, and feelings make up your life experiences.

Equanimity:

Equanimity gives you the ability to experience life, while allowing your feelings and emotions to come and go to their full expression. Developing this skill leads to emotional intelligence, self-exploration, and inner harmony.



Roasted Vegetables #bebetter52

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“You’re not leaving the table until you eat your greens!”  Growing up, many of us have heard variations of this threat from our parents when faced with the dreaded task of eating those bland, soggy vegetables piled on our plate. Eating vegetables will become less of a chore and more of a treat if you start implementing this week’s Be Better challenge: roasting vegetables!

Roasted vegetables are not only delicious, but also healthy and easy to make! While some nutrients, like vitamin C and some B vitamins, are slightly compromised by cooking with high heat, other nutrients actually become easier for the body to absorb. For example, tomatoes, when roasted, have higher levels of lycopene, an antioxidant with many cardiovascular benefits. Cooked carrots have higher levels of carotenoids, which decrease the risk of disease, particularly certain cancers and eye disease. Despite losing some nutrients, roasted vegetables are still full of fiber, low in calories, and rich in minerals.

Roasting vegetables requires minimal ingredients; all you really need is some olive oil, salt and pepper, and any additional seasonings of your choice. Simply choose your vegetables, spread them out on a cooking sheet, add your oil and spices, and stick them in the oven. 

Here are some of the most commonly roasted veggies, along with the amount of time that best suits them (cooked at 400-425 degrees):

  • Asparagus – 20 minutes

  • Bell Peppers – 20 minutes

  • Broccoli – 25 minutes

  • Brussels Sprouts (halved) – 25 minutes

  • Butternut Squash – 30 minutes

  • Cabbage (cut into 1-inch thick slices) – 30 minutes

  • Carrots (cut into 1-inch chunks or baby carrots)- 30 minutes

  • Cauliflower – 25 minutes

  • Corn (cobs left whole with husks) – 40 minutes

  • Green Beans – 20 minutes

  • Kale – 15 minutes (it doesn’t need to be in a single layer)

  • Onions – 35 minutes

  • Potatoes (russet, red, yukon) – 45 minutes

  • Sweet Potatoes – 30 minutes

  • Tomatoes (grape or cherry) – 15 minutes

  • Yellow Squash – 20 minutes

  • Zucchini – 20 minutes



have a Picnic #bebetter

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Who doesn’t love the word “picnic”?  It conjures up warm feelings of delicious food, beautiful natural settings, quality time with loved ones and friends, and maybe a romantic outing or two with your significant other.  You can soak in your daily dose of vitamin D and inhale nature’s clean fresh air. This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to have a picnic!

Grab your picnic basket and a blanket to sit on, and head to a nearby park, beach or other scenic spot.  If you know there are picnic tables where you are heading, you might want to bring a colorful table covering of some kind. Be sure to clear your schedule ahead of time so you are not rushed preparing the food or gathering what you need. You want to be fully present in the moment. (However, sometimes a spontaneous picnic is just what you need to de-stress and leave the world behind for a few hours.) It’s also a good idea to leave your phone behind or at least to silence your notifications because the purpose of a picnic is to enjoy a pleasant change of scenery without the typical distractions of daily life. Enjoy quality conversation with those around you. Maybe consider bringing a bluetooth speaker, a deck of cards or a frisbee as bonus outlets of entertainment. If it’s a large gathering, who doesn’t love a game or two of volleyball or tag football? 

When it comes to choosing food for the picnic, many people automatically think cold fried chicken, hamburgers/hot dogs barbequed on a portable hibachi, a good potato salad, some chips and dip, and maybe a pie or cobbler for dessert. If you want to go in a healthier direction and need a little inspiration, here is a list of some of our favorite picnic foods:

  • Sandwiches/wraps of any kind!

  • Pasta salad

  • Hummus (w/ Pita chips or vegetables to dip)

  • Salad of your choice

  • Vegetable platter

  • Fruit platter, especially watermelon if in season

  • Wine or other beverages

  • Brownies/cookies (dessert of your choice)

  • Whatever menu you choose, allow some time to prep your food and snacks beforehand and be creative!



Coconut Oil #bebetter52

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When many people think of coconut oil, they may only consider its beauty benefits on the skin and hair. Did you know that coconut oil helps weight loss, reduces risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, strengthens your immune system, and minimizes stress? The list of benefits for this simple, organic ingredient seems to be endless, and all it takes to access these benefits is a quick trip to the grocery store.

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge: Use Coconut Oil. Whether it be incorporated into your cosmetic routine or daily diet, coconut oil can be a solution to numerous issues many individuals face every day. Go buy a bottle or jar of coconut oil, and you’ll be surprised at just how many uses it serves!

Coconut oil contains unsaturated and saturated fats, polyphenols, numerous acids, vitamins, and minerals. These components combine together to create a healthy and tasty oil that is easy to digest and versatile to fit various roles. Most stores offer six main types of coconut oil; be sure to research which type you need for your category of usage.

Coconut oil is known around the world for its effective cosmetic benefits. To soften dry skin and prevent premature aging, buy a lotion, cream, or moisturizer that contains coconut oil as the main base. Alternatively, you can buy coconut oil at the store and make your own moisturizer at home. Coconut oil also repairs damaged hair and restores your hair’s shine due to its abundance of essential proteins. Purchase pure coconut oil and massage through your scalp to keep your hair healthier than ever. Coconut oil can even act as a tooth whitener--swish it around in your mouth to prevent plaque buildup and increase calcium levels.

Surprisingly, coconut oil has more health benefits than cosmetic benefits. A unique and tasty way to harness some of these health benefits is to include a splash of coconut oil in your coffee. Replacing milk with coconut oil can improve digestion, strengthen bones, and reduce the risk of liver and kidney disease. To boost weight loss, use coconut oil in place of other oils during any type of cooking. Coconut oil contains far fewer calories and boosts your energy and stamina for intense workouts. In addition, applying coconut oil over infected cuts and bruises can hasten the healing process due to its chemical composition, which is shown to protect damaged parts of the body. Add a bottle of coconut oil to your kitchen cabinet as a wise investment for resolving many daily and long-term problems while benefiting your health!