Fight the Effects of Inflamm-Aging

When I began my career as a beauty editor I wanted to learn as much as I could about the science of skin. I remember one day-long conference, organized by a major beauty company, where we watched PowerPoint presentations on the dramatic aging effects of sun damage, smoking, and tanning. For years, I learned how to counteract those external agers with cutting-edge skincare. In those days UV rays and smoke were probably the biggest beauty dangers on my radar.

I had a lot to learn.

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Favorite Beauty-Friendly Holiday Recipes

During this busy time of year, remember that you can make simple, nourishing dishes like the ones below that celebrate the ingredients of the season and fuel your body and beauty with the best foods around. I hope you'll try one or more of these beautifying holiday recipe favorites— they were all created with gorgeous skin, energy, and a slim waistline in mind! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for joining me in eating pretty this year! xo

For a warm, satisfying sip... (cacao boosts circulation to your skin and relieved redness!):

For a sweet snack while you're wrapping presents... (free of refined sugar and packed with hair-boosting protein):

For an elegant appetizer to serve at your holiday soiree... (vegan and full of blemish-fighting vitamin A):

For a blood-sugar stabilizing, immune-boosting breakfast...(packed with healthy fats and an aromatherapy boost for bleak winter days):

Anti-Aging Cranberries for Your Holiday Table

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Quick, name your favorite Thanksgiving side dish.

Mine has always been cranberry sauce— it’s sweet, vibrant, pairs well with everything on your plate, and is incredibly healthy…or so I assumed for many years. Turns out that cranberry sauce pairs well with everything except glowing skin and a slim waistline!

The truth: that innocent-looking cranberry sauce is one of the biggest sugar bombs in your Thanksgiving celebration.

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Autumn Product Obsessions

What's on my vanity, tucked in my purse (or diaper bag!) and stocking my bathroom cabinet this season? Here are the natural and organic products that have become my absolute favorites for beauty this fall...

Ilia Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, $42   

I'm always on the lookout for exceptional foundations and tinted moisturizers that meet my natural standards, so when I heard that Ilia was releasing a new product, I had to check it out. This tinted moisturizer has light, buildable coverage (hence the 'sheer vivid' moniker), and SPF 20 from zinc oxide (12%) and titanium dioxide (2%). The first time I wore it, I felt like my skin stayed strangely tacky (I'm not a fan of powder in the fall and winter), even though the formula is slightly matte.  Sure enough, on subsequent tests I found that it leaves a layer of dewiness on the skin, thanks to its moisture-attracting hyaluronic acid. While that took a little getting used to, the product doesnt look greasy on your skin. It covers lightly and evenly— no streaks. A winning combo!

Pursoma Hot Tub Bath, $34

I'll admit it— I was a bit intimidated before using this mix of potent detoxifying bath salts. After all, the brand itself calls the blend, complete with spicy organic ginger root powder, 'no joke.' Fortunately, I met Pursoma's amazing founder Shannon Vaughn at an eco-beauty event we co-hosted at Brooklyn's Shen Beauty, and she promised me I could handle it. At the first sign of a fall cold, I dumped this warming mix of ginger, sea salt and French clay into my bathwater, soaked as long as I could, and wrapped myself in a heavy robe to sweat out the toxins. I awoke the next morning feeling awesome (and in need of another bath after all that sweat!). Keep one around for cold & flu season.

Organic Bath Co. Stress Less Organic Sugar Scrub, $27

When I'm not taking toxin-flushing ginger soaks, I like to chill out with more relaxing aromatherapy. This Stress Less sugar scrub combines Fair Trade sugar with super-hydrating organic oils and a mellow lavender scent, from organic essential oil. I'm using it this fall to smooth my skin (cell turnover naturally slows down when the weather cools) and remind myself to breathe deep. 4-7-8 breath anyone?

Zoe Organics Mama's Ritual Roll-On Aromatherapy Oil, $26

Being a mom makes me wonder, what did I ever do with so much free time before?! Caring for an energetic 9-month old who desperately wants to walk on his own, I totally get why Zoe Organics wanted to create their new 'Mama's Ritual' line of products. If I dont reserve a few daily moments for myself, I might forget how amazing it feels to just sit quietly and breathe in the calming scents of sandalwood, geranium, lavender and peitigran. This oil blend helps me to be present too, because when mama is cared for, she's better at caring for everyone else.

 

Farmaesthetics Warming Oil, $18

The ultimate cold weather body oil. Infused with clove, lavender and orange, this rich oil produces a mild circulation boost in your skin a few minutes after applying. It's just enough to chase away a chill, and give you a just-left-the-fireside glow. It's also intended to rev up a stagnant system, warm the spirit and open the heart, and I feel like it does just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whole Foods Debuts a New Way to Rate Your Produce

The criteria I use for judging my produce has seriously evolved in my years of grocery shopping. Where I once sought some combination of the cheapest or best-looking fruit and veggies in the market, I've learned to look for organic, accepting its higher prices and more frequent imperfections. Today Whole Foods begins pushing our collective produce considerations a few steps further, with a new rating system that takes into account factors like water conservation, worker wages, overall sustainability and waste. Of course, organic will still be a major focus, but Whole Foods will also weigh the use of certain pesticides—those that they deem prohibited or restricted, vs others that are less so.

Other factors measured in the new Whole Foods Market system:

  • sustainability
  • pest management
  • pollinator protection
  • worker wages
  • water conservation and protection
  • soil health
  • ecosystems
  • biodiversity
  • waste, recycling and packaging
  • energy
  • climate

According to Whole Foods, "The ratings will also reward suppliers for certification by a number of leading social and environmental standards including:  Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest, and Demeter Biodynamic certification."

What you'll see in-store is a 'good,' 'better' or 'best' rating on produce and flowers:

What do you think of the new rating system? Do you feel like it will help you make more informed produce choices?

Produce photo via Aaron van Dorn

1, 2, 3: Your Fall Beauty Focus List

I’m always amazed that this time of the year— the transition between summer and fall— has its own unique look, feel and smell. The sun and air are changing, ever so slowly, but for a time we’re smack in between two distinct seasons, “living at the instant where the pendulum reverses its swing,” describes nutrition researcher Paul Pitchford his book Healing with Whole Foods. My body and skin feel that difference!

While you savor the unique energy of this transitioning moment of the year, I wanted to share some of the best areas of focus for your beauty and body this fall. If you could keep just three ideas in mind for the fall season, make them: digestion, connection, & repair.

I explain why (and how) ahead.

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Nectarine and Purple Basil Smoothie

nectarine-basil-smoothie

It may be post-Labor Day, but summer hasn't stopped at the farmer's market. This week's influx of divinely juicy nectarines inspired me to grab some purple basil from my garden and blend up this refreshing (not to mention protein-rich) treat today.

Here's why it's a beauty-boosting choice: the flavonoids in basil protect your cells from age-advancing (pro-wrinkling) oxidative damage, while nectarines are filled with collagen-building vitamin C and skin-smoothing vitamin A. Hemp seeds are one of my favorite vegetarian sources of protein, healthy fats and beauty minerals, and they give this smoothie substance.

If you haven't tried the nectarine + basil pairing, you must try this one!

nectarine-basil-beauty

Nectarine & Purple Basil Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 organic nectarine
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 2 small handfuls ice (optional)

Blend all ingredients, except ice, until smooth. Add ice if desired and blend until frothy.

Preserving Your Summer Herbs

Now that the cool morning air has me pulling the covers a little closer, I can no longer deny it— summer is waning.  And while the sun still feels hot at noon, plants now get fewer hours of sunshine. This month, leaves begin to turn and our gardens start their seasonal decline. The garden plants that I miss most when the growing season ends are herbs. I love stuffing handfuls of fresh parsley, basil and mint into my blender for morning smoothies. I depend on a library of fresh thyme, oregano, dill, rosemary, sage and chives to season my meals. I also adore their beauty benefits.

Many of us don’t consider the incredibly beautifying properties of fresh herbs. Basil protects cells from oxidative (pro-aging) damage, parsley is rich in the beauty mineral iron, while thyme is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory (bye-bye blemishes), and sage helps regulate bile flow for healthy digestion. Mint and cilantro are powerful detoxifiers.

Every fall, I hatch plans to extend the life of my herb garden so that I can continue the flavorful, beauty-boosting harvest into the winter. After years of trial and error, here are my favorite ways to preserve your herbs:

Dry them.  This seems to work best with more potent herbs like oregano and thyme, two varieties that retain their flavor when dried. I like to cut their stems near the soil, wash them and leave them to dry on the counter for several days. When they’re fully dried, slide your fingers over the stems to remove the leaves and transfer them into a jar.

Freeze flat. Freezing the leaves of some herbs (basil, for example), retains the delicate flavor better than drying. Freeze clean, dry leaves flat on a baking sheet first, then transfer to a freezer bag or container. When you need basil for a winter recipe, pull it out, chop it and toss it into your meal.

Freeze cubes. Fill empty ice cube trays with fresh herbs (chopped or whole), cover with a little water and freeze them into cubes. When a soup, stew or baked dish calls for herbs, pop out the ones you need and add them to your creation. You can freeze measured amounts (eg: 1 tbsp chopped parsley), or base quantities on taste.

 Make pesto. Pesto is a delicious way to preserve the flavor of your basil, though basil isn’t the only herb that works well in this style. Try making pesto with fresh parsley, thyme or cilantro as well. Add olive oil and raw nuts (walnuts, cashews or pine nuts work well), season, and freeze to preserve the flavor.

Bring them indoors. This is the hardest, and least foolproof, method of extending your herb season. I’ve had healthy green herbs wither as soon as the indoor heat switches on in November, and turn a pitiful shade of yellow without the strong midday sun. For the best results, give your indoor herbs the sunniest spot in the house, and water them consistently (but don’t over-water, especially herbs like rosemary and sage that like drier, sandier soil).

What’s your favorite method of preserving herbs?

Summer Beauty Dessert: Toasted Coconut & Cardamom Peach Crumble

Last week I had the thrill of sharing an entire Eat Pretty-style menu at an exclusive Beauty Is Wellness Supper Club event at Whole Foods Market South Street in Philadelphia. This also happens to be my local Whole Foods, aka the spot I run to at all hours of the day and night when I need ingredients for a meal or recipe!

The menu included one of my favorite summer recipes from Eat Pretty, the Blueberry Lentil Salad (p 115), plus 3 other courses designed to support beauty in the late summer season.

I thought I'd share the recipe for the meal's finale, my Toasted Coconut & Cardamom Peach Crumble, because it's perfect to make RIGHT NOW. Yes, even after Labor Day we'll be enjoying fresh peaches (and wanting to savor them, since before long we'll be missing summer stone fruits), so make this gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free (can you say 'beauty-friendly'?) dessert tonight. And then have the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow:)

The most unique part of this crumble is the topping; it's a mix of toasted buckwheat (which contains a phytochemical that blocks wrinkle formation), gluten-free oats (a great source of silica for healthy hair), plus coconut flakes and coconut oil (excellent fats for skin and hormone health). You'll also find blood sugar-stabilizing cinnamon and detoxifying cardamom in this recipe, along with organic peaches that are loaded with skin-smoothing vitamin A and collagen-building, wrinkle-fighting vitamin C. Did I mention that there is no refined sugar and only a tiny amount of (relatively low glycemic) coconut sugar— about 1 tbsp in a serving? It's a true Eat Pretty-style summer dessert. Feel free to experiment by adding berries if you have them on hand!

Toasted Coconut and Cardamom Peach Crumble

Exotic cardamom spices up the flavor of summer peaches—and adds to the beautifying power of this dessert. I love to serve it warm, when the buckwheat and oat crumble is crisp, but leftovers can double as breakfast with the addition of almond milk.

Serves 6

Filling:

  • 8 medium organic peaches, pitted and quartered
  • 1/4 cup large/fancy grade unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sea salt

Crumble:

  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free whole oats
  • 3/4 cup large/fancy grade unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup toasted buckwheat groats, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 to 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients, tossing to coat peaches well.  Transfer to a 9- or 10-inch pie plate.

Using a food processor, pulse remaining crumble ingredients until just combined. Crumble topping over peaches and bake for about 50 minutes, until top turns golden brown.

A 5-Minute Healthy Hair Breakfast

In the beauty world, there’s a lot of buzz about hair-boosting supplements. Some experts swear by them, while others feel that they’re only as good as placebo pills. While the jury’s out on which supplements really make a measurable difference in our hair health, we do know that there are certain nutrients that your body needs to build healthy hair, and you can make it a point to include those in your diet with the goal of supporting gorgeous locks.

At Beauty Is Wellness, my approach is always to take in nutrients from whole foods first, before reaching for supplements. That doesn’t mean gulping down foods that you hate or slaving over a bunch of complicated recipes. In the case of healthy hair, it couldn’t be easier, or more appealing, to whip up my hair-nourishing Banana Breakfast Smoothie, below.

What are the secrets to a smoothie that boosts hair health? Since the foundation of our hair is keratin protein, this drink is packed with protein-rich hemp seeds that also provide iron, another mineral that supports strong locks. A healthy scalp is key for shiny, elastic hair, and hemp seeds are powerhouse beauty foods that offer healthy fats to nourish your scalp and skin as well. (For added scalp benefits, make time for regular cardio exercise, which brings circulation to your scalp and releases healthy scalp oils). Silica is an important nutrient for hair thickness, and the oats and banana in this smoothie are great sources. The final dash of cinnamon is rich in manganese, a nutrient that supports healthy hair and the production of hair pigment. All in all, it’s a complete hair booster at around 250 calories and a filling way to start the day. As for supplements, I’ll be following studies to see which ones come out on top!

 

Banana Breakfast Smoothie

This sustaining, perfect-for-the-a.m. smoothie nourishes healthy hair from the inside out.

Serves 1

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 peeled, frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup gluten free whole oats
  • 2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth.