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First up, don't skip this article because you aren't a fan of beans.  (It's not really about the beans and rice, but the bigger picture).  This challenge will allow you to:

- Save Money

- Help the Environment

- Support a Cause YOU Care about

- Promote Health (& Weight Loss)

No way? Yes way! 

April is Earth Month.  It's a great time to make some easy commitments that will provide benefit all around.  Here's what I propose - and it's so very simple. . .

Make a commitment to eat a simple, inexpensive, whole food, plant-based meal and vow to do something worthy with that money you save
— The B&R4B Challenge

Why should I?

You'll eat a meal that costs a fraction of what you might normally eat - and not because it's subsidized or full of chemicals and fake foods.  You'll eat foods that have a minimal impact on the environment.  You'll enjoy foods that are similar to what might be eaten in the developing world so you'll have an opportunity to reflect on what a privileged life you currently lead.  You'll be giving money to a worthy cause of your choice.  You'll eat light and healthy meals.  Are ya game?

Easy Peasy.  Can ya commit to eating a wholesome, affordable, incredibly simple eco friendly meal, like rice and beans?  Envision what a person in the developing world might eat for dinner for only a dollar or so.  (It doesn't necessarily have to be beans and rice :-).  And now commit to doing something beneficial with the money that you save: either for a worthy cause outside your home or one closer to home, like your own health!

The Rules of the Game

- Whole plant-based foods only.  Although you can get meat and cheese on the cheap, those products don't come without paying a hefty environmental price.  It takes eleven times the amount of fossil fuels to produce animal-based protein verses plant-based protein (like peas, lentils, or beans).
- Commit to doing it regularly or under specific circumstances.  You could decide that you'll have a B&R4B meal every Monday night for Meatless Mondays.  Or you might decide that every day for the month of April, your breakfasts are going to be a few pieces of fruit.  Alternatively, you might decide that you will do it whenever you are tempted to eat fast food or reach for a processed microwave meal.
- Have your ingredients on hand. You want this to be so crazy-easy that you don't have to think about it when the time arises.  Simply choose at least one or more B&R4B meals and keep them in your pantry or freezer.
- Keep it super simple. Think of a meal that are made up of only a few whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods (three or less): beans and rice, quinoa and steamed greens, sweet potatoes and broccoli.  You don't need a recipe, you don't need to stress, you simply need to choose just a few simple foods and fill that belly up with the goodness.
- Do something beneficial with the $avings!!  This is my favorite part!  I cannot tell you how often I hear that people don't have enough money to buy healthy food.  Well, for one, you'll see that you can have a simple, filling, wholesome meal for cheap as chips by making a few B&R4B meals.  You'll also be able to save some bucks and you can put that money towards a worthy cause.  Commit to either donating the money outside your home to a cause that you care about or/and commit to putting your savings into a "Healthy Food Fund.”  Set this money aside specifically to allow you to buy and prepare healthier food on a regular basis.  Utilize that "Healthy Food Fund" when you are tempted to buy processed, packaged high fructose corn sweetened applesauce over a bag of organic apples because it's cheaper, for example.  Or you might save up for a particular kitchen item that would facilitate eating healthier on a regular basis.  Would you start your day with a nutrition-packed smoothie if you had the right appliance? Save up to make that investment in your health.

Wait, wait, I know you are wondering. . .

Won't B&R4B meals be incredibly boring? Yep, they might be to you.  This is a great time to reflect on how far removed we have gotten in the Western world from simply eating for nutrition and nourishment verses taste and temptation.  Now, don't get me wrong, I can now eat an incredibly simple meal such as plain broccoli and quinoa or beans and rice and feel 100% satisfied.  I appreciate the simplicity, but I'm reminded of a practice that Maria Shriver says her mother employed in their home.  She would offer a meal of only peanut butter sandwiches on occasion.  Although they clearly had enough money to eat more elegant meals and they had the means to employ cooks or to visit nice restaurants, Eunice Kennedy insisted that they purposefully eat a simple, basic, inexpensive meal to reflect on how lucky/ blessed they were in their everyday lives.  Sometimes we have to go without to truly appreciate all that we do have on a regular basis.

Will I be getting enough nutrients?  Chances are that you may be getting enough calories (perhaps too many) on a regular basis, but not enough nutrition.  In our quest for getting enough protein and calcium, Americans tend to over-consume meat and dairy and neglect all of the other necessary nutrients.  Unfortunately many meals (even homemade by well-educated and well-intending people) can be more damaging to a person’s health than they are helpful (cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, sodium, trans fat, food additives, artificial sweeteners, etc.)  BTW,  beans are 22% protein (same as beef) and they are full of fiber (beef has none), they have no cholesterol or saturated fat (which beef has).  Rock on beanie!

Join me for the Earth Month B&R4B Challenge! 

You in?  Great!  #1 Write down the details of your commitment to the B&R4B Challenge: decide specific days or instances where you'll have a B&R4B meal, make a list of B&R4B meals you'll be using, calculate how much money you'll be saving each time (eating dinner out for two @ $25 - B&R4B Meal @ $4 = $21 Savings), and determine what you'll be doing with that savings: donating it or saving it for your family's health.  #2 Share the details of your very own B&R4B challenge with your friends and your network to encourage them to join.  Let me know what you plan to do and how it goes!  I'd love to hear it, sweetie peas!

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