A Bride's Guide to Looking and Feeling Her Most Beautiful

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Wedding season is gearing up, and brides everywhere have but one thing on their minds: looking and feeling good on one of the most special days of their lives.

Actually, that's a huge lie. Brides have 8,659 other things on their minds, from the weather forecast, to the bridal party outfits, to the playlist you’ll be moving to. Every detail of the wedding runs through the bride's mind at one moment or another, so it's really a wonder that she has any time to take care of herself!

To help take the pressure off of seriously overwhelmed brides, I've pared down my favorite pre-wedding beauty pointers (all available in detail to brides who take part in a Beauty Is Wellness coaching program) for looking and feeling your absolute best on your wedding day—or at any big event. These tips are the foundation of glowing skin, an energetic body, your healthiest weight, and minimal stress as your wedding day approaches.

Here's the Eat Pretty approach to looking and feeling your best as you walk down the aisle:

A moment from My 2011 Wedding

A moment from My 2011 Wedding

1. See sugar for what it is. On your special day, no doubt you're going to celebrate with wedding cake, a plate of petit fours, a slice of homemade pie, or your favorite celebratory sweet. But in the weeks and months before your wedding, sugary foods are tied with stress as the #1 saboteur for brides. Refined sugar contributes to unwanted pounds, makes you more prone to acne, fine lines, dryness, and uneven skin tone, plus it takes you on a hormonal roller-coaster (as if you weren't experiencing enough drama as you plan your perfect wedding day!). If your wedding day goals include clearer skin or shedding extra pounds, cut out sugar as much as you can (try skipping it completely for 10 to 14 days to reset your cravings, if you have them), and find some healthier ways to deal with stress than sweet treats— think dinner with a friend, meditation, sweating in a sauna, or a long soak at the end of the day.

2. Make friends with ferments. Okay, not right before you say your vows, but in the weeks and months before your big day! Sauerkraut—along with other fermented foods like kefir, brined pickles, kimchi, and miso— contains beneficial probiotic bacteria that help amp up the digestion and absorption of beauty nutrients that happens in your gut after you eat. There are several times more probiotic bacteria in fermented foods than there are in store-bought capsules, so try eating your way to better gut health with a few forkfuls of fermented foods each day. Cultivate a healthy population of bacteria and you'll not only boost your immunity and moods and help out your skin, hair and nails, you'll stop bloating and gas (which is a great thing to avoid on your wedding day) before they start.

3. To slim down, eat. Eating to reach your healthiest weight can sounds counterintuitive, but trust me— it works. Starving or cutting too many calories slows your metabolism and dries up the stream of beauty nutrients that your skin, hair and nails need to glow—and grow. Forget dry salads, rice cakes and meal replacement bars; build your diet around beautifying proteins (think wild-caught salmon, lentils, hemp, raw nuts, sardines, pastured eggs, quinoa, etc.), healthy fats (avocados, raw nuts, coconut oil), and an abundance of fresh, seasonal veggies— and eat a combination of the 3 at each meal for your best blood sugar balance. While you’re at it, aim to eat less of the sugars, gluten-containing grains, dairy, and alcohol that can cause inflammation.

4. Don't fall prey to stress sabotage.  Brides, you know that stress is an inevitable part of wedding planning, so create a plan to shut it down before it takes a toll on your beauty and health. Stress, unchecked, can cause breakouts, weight gain and lackluster skin before your big day, not to mention make the entire experience a lot less joyful. Pick a stress-busting activity that makes you happy—it might be yoga, jogging, meditation, or taking a walk in nature—and practice it regularly. I also love supplements and teas like magnesium, lemon balm, lavender, and even CBD to support calm and relaxation.

5. Plan what you'll eat in the week leading up to your big day. You know that when you get busy, beauty nutrition goes out the window. So don't leave your wedding-week meals to chance. Take control of your meals and plan a grocery list of foods that will make your skin glow, rev up your energy and help you handle stress. Go for an anti-inflammatory menu filled with the foods mentioned in number 3, above. When your wedding day arrives, you'll be looking and feeling gorgeous—and you'll feel great about splurging on all of your favorite indulgences during your celebration.

6. Know that you're going to glow on your wedding day like no other day before! Whether or not science can quantify the radiant glow you get from being truly joyous and in love, it's there. Not only will you see it, but so will your partner, and everyone else in the room. Remember that you are gorgeous, and the happiness of this occasion will only amplify your glow beyond what you can imagine!

Bonus: if you're heading to a sun-filled honeymoon destination, you can help prevent UV damage by filling up on sun protective beauty foods that contain lycopene and beta carotene (think watermelon, red peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes). You'll come home with memories, but leave behind the sun damage.

Tell me: what made you glow on your big day? I'd love to hear your own advice for wedding day beauty!

Would you prefer one-on-one coaching to motivate you to put these tips into action in your life? Contact Jolene to set up a free consultation to decide which Beauty Is Wellness coaching program fits your beauty and health goals.

Sunflower photo: Ivan Cabanas — Bouquet photo: Courtney Apple

Originally published July 2013/Updated April 2019

Detox Smoothie: The Springtime Pear

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If you've ever felt that you just didn't have time or interest in following a detox plan or a mapped-out cleanse, I hear you. While some detox programs do have excellent benefits, it takes time and effort to seek out a good one, stock up on the ingredients or supplements needed, and to follow its guidelines carefully. So most of the time, you forget the idea altogether. But detox doesn't have to be all or nothing!

This season, commit to one easy nature-approved detox strategy: incorporate more naturally-detoxifying spring foods in your regular diet. The Spring Beauty Renewal chapter of Eat Pretty outlines the full list, including artichokes, asparagus, and a green favorite that I use in the below recipe— dandelion greens.

The benefits of supporting your body's detoxification include glowier skin, increased energy, shedding unwanted pounds, and an immune boost that will aid you in staying well even after spring has passed. This is the season to focus on detox, to keep your beauty and body in balance. But I promise, it's okay to take a simplified route.

To get you going, here's an easy detox recipe that works as a light, blood sugar stabilizing breakfast (it has the key combo of healthy fats + clean proteins + fresh veggies/fruits). Feel free to add your favorite superfoods to suit your unique beauty needs in any season.

The Springtime Pear

This light yet filling and nutritionally balanced smoothie offers a trio of detox superstars— fresh dandelion greens, pectin-rich pear that cleanses internally, and chlorella— that support beauty and health in the spring season and beyond.

Serves 1-2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ripe organic pear, cored

  • 1 medium handful organic dandelion greens

  • 1/4 ripe avocado

  • 1 cup coconut water

  • 1/2 cup filtered water

  • 1 serving collagen powder (I like Vital Proteins marine collagen) or your favorite plant-based protein powder

  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp chlorella powder (I like Sunpotion)

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth. If needed, add more water to thin to your desired consistency. Serve immediately.

 

Healing from the Hive

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Honey Love— and a Giveaway

I have a longstanding love affair with honey, and it’s no secret. I’ve come a long way— from the grocery store honey-filled bears of my childhood, to discovering local apiaries that source raw honey from their hives, to treasured jars of healing Manuka honey. I’ve probably slathered as much on my skin as I’ve ingested (raw honey masks were a key discovery during my blemish-filled years and to this day honey remains my #1 favorite skincare ingredient). Beyond honey (the raw variety is my personal fave), I love the nourishing, immune-supporting properties of bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly, which I’ve used for years and relied on for immune support while fighting late stage Lyme disease. There’s so much healing that comes from the hive. Read on for the beauty and health benefits of these bee-born ingredients, as well as an exciting giveaway from one of my favorite bee brands— Beekeeper’s Naturals!

Important note: those allergic to bee venom should proceed with caution. Check with your doctor before using products with bee-related ingredients to prevent allergic reaction.

HONEY: THE HYDRATOR

Suspend your skepticism for a moment and slather on the sticky stuff (be sure it’s raw, unheated honey, which packs the most active enzymes). Wait 20 minutes and rinse away with warm water- your skin will feel softer, tighter and more even. Honey may go on smooth, but it acts as a gentle exfoliant, with mild alpha hydroxy acids that loosen dead skin cells and refine pores for a rejuvenating effect. Combine this with honey’s ability to attract and retain moisture, its naturally-occurring antibacterial hydrogen peroxide and its antioxidant content, and you have a recipe for a natural line-reducer and blemish treatment. While all honey disinfects, the Manuka variety contains a special molecule that is even more potent in its ability to inhibit bacteria growth. It’s an incredible skin healer (with a history of being applied to wounds to speed healing) and potent antibacterial.

ROYAL JELLY: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

The one lucky larva chosen to become queen bee enjoys lifelong nourishment with royal jelly, a nutritious, milky secretion from the glands of bees. As a result she lives a stunning 40 times longer than worker bees. The queen owes her longevity to the essential nutrients in royal jelly, among them 17 amino acids and a rich store of B complex vitamins and trace minerals. This crème de la crème of the hive is prized as a beauty ingredient for its anti-aging, cell-rejuvenating properties and as a wellness aid for its immune support and energy boost.

PROPOLIS: THE HEALER

Propolis remains the mystery of the hive, a blend of plant resins, wax and essential oils collected by bees to coat the hive as an antiseptic defense against foreign objects. Its role in skincare is similar: to eliminate unwanted bacteria and inflammation, thereby hastening the healing of scars, blemishes, even rashes and eczema. For whole-body health, propolis is prized for its immune-boosting properties and its content of healing flavonoids. It’s as effective as Nystatin against candida yeast, and can kill pathogens without disrupting the good bacteria in your body.

BEESWAX: THE SOFTENER

Beeswax is an emollient wax produced by bees that is rich in fatty acid esters and skin cell-supporting vitamin A. In the beauty world, beeswax is a natural, nontoxic substitute for petroleum jelly and a favored ingredient for lip balm, given the natural moisture barrier it forms on lips. Beeswax protects skin and seals in moisture- leaving you with noticeably softer skin on lips, elbows, cuticles- anywhere you apply.


Ready to try out some of these amazing benefits in and on your body? I’m giving away a set of 4 Beekeeper’s Naturals products that I personally use and love. One (1) lucky winner will receive: Propolis Throat Spray, Kids Propolis Throat Spray, Bee Powered (a mix of honey, bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly), and Raw Honey.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post or on my Instagram giveaway post by 11:59 ET on Wednesday, January 30th. Winner will be announced on January 31st. Contest open to US residents only.

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Holiday Pfeffernusse Cookies

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What are you baking this holiday season?

I love these festive cookies for their addictive spiciness, petite size, and pillowy texture. Pfefferneuse (‘peppernut’) cookies are traditional German, Dutch and Danish spiced Christmas cookies that I remember eating as a child. They have a licorice-like anise flavor that may be a bit polarizing, but that I find festive and perfect during this season. I recreated the traditional cookie in gluten free, egg-free, and refined sugar-free form— and the result is perfect! Bake them in your own home as you embrace the darkness of the winter season and the soon-to-be return of the light.

Holiday Pfeffernusse Cookies

These cookies can be easily frozen and ahead of when you want to serve them.

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  • 1 tbsp ground chia seed (+ 3 tbsp water)

  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-to-1 flour blend)

  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ginger

  • 1/4 tsp cloves

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp allspice

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt

  • 1/2 cup unsalted organic grassfed butter

  • 2 tsp anise extract

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar

  • 1/4 cup molasses (use blackstrap molasses for a less sweet, more deeply flavored cookie)

  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar, blended into powder (can sub conventional powdered sugar if desired)

 

DIRECTIONS

In a small dish, whisk together chia seed and water and set aside to gel.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, beat butter, anise extract, coconut sugar and molasses. Stir in the chia mixture, and then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll 1” balls of dough, flattened slightly on the bottom, and place onto greased baking sheets. Bake until the cookies start to brown on the bottom, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack and cool slightly.

Pour powdered coconut sugar into a plastic bag and drop cookies into bag, one by one, to coat them with sugar.

Winter Product Obsessions 2018-19: Light Edition

Have a look at these beautiful natural and organic favorites…

Once I gathered up these products from where they’d already found permanent homes in my bathroom, purse, and nightstand, I realized that they’re connected by the theme of light and glow— something I hold close throughout the cold, dark winter season. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe these should be the next items you reach for if you’re craving a little extra glow in your winter routine too. Happy Solstice!

Kindred Baton d’Or, $38 (or Limited Edition 2018 Set for $45)

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Literally ‘stick of gold,’ this creamy, shimmering product leaves your skin subtly illuminated and deeply moisturized. With only 5 ingredients (mango seed oil, evening primrose oil, calendula-infused sweet almond oil, geranium oil, and mica), it feels like a pared-down, everyday essential and a special occasion item all at once. I’ve decided to make it an everyday item this winter, with the goal of restoring some of the sun-kissed bronze that has long left my skin. It works instantly to create luminosity— especially around my collarbone and décolleté (about all the skin I show this time of year!) or on cheeks and lips— and is surprisingly natural-looking and buildable. This product comes from (local to me) Delaware-based natural beauty company Kindred (maker of the most beautiful body oil ever), and you can purchase it paired with a cheerful sparkling pink La Femme candle as part of a special Limited Edition gift set. If you order, use the code JHART for 10% off.

 

The Organic Skin Co. Task Force Nine, $48

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Task Force Nine— the name alone sounds like it means business. And this cream does just that, by soothing skin and reducing inflammation while imparting a healthy glow thanks to golden-hued organic supercritical turmeric, sea buckthorn, and calendula extracts. This cream is a medium weight (it’s water-based, with rose hydrosol and aloe juice), has a soft, non-sticky dry-down, and is 78% organic and 100% natural. I am in love with its natural vanilla scent too— so calming on face and hands.

 




VitaVie Repair & Restore Elixir, $29

I’ve only had this oil for a few days and it’s already one of my winter favorites. Repair and Restore Elixir is instantly calming for my nervous system— you can credit the mix of frankincense, helichrysum, vetiver, neem, and lavender that is super grounding to the senses. I’ve been using it for a beautiful ritual: warm one pump of the oil between your palms, cup your palms over your nose and inhale slowly and deeply, then apply the oil to clean skin that you’ve just misted with a hydrosol. It soaks in well, leaves your skin dewy and your body feeling peaceful.

 

 
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The first time I pumped a drop of Light Reveal (a creamy, balm-like serum) onto my hand, I gasped. It’s completely orange, from brightly-pigmented supercritical sea buckthorn oil. But don’t fear, once you distribute it and massage it into skin, the orange hue creates a subtle warmth that becomes a natural-looking glow. The serum’s other antioxidant-packed ingredients include exotic buriti, pequi, and andiroba oils, plus caffeine from guarana that boosts blood flow to skin. Wabi Sabi Botanicals is a brand new indie beauty addition to Beauty Heroes, and you can purchase Light Reveal alone, or in a special Limited Edition Indie Beauty Spotlight discovery box from Beauty Heroes. The gilded packaging will be the prettiest thing in your beauty cabinet.

 

Axiology Soft Cream Lipstick in Reflection, $30

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I fell for this lipstick (dressed up in new packaging from Axiology) because it reminded me that sometimes the colors you think you can’t wear become your biggest wins. In the tube, Reflection is a pearlized purple, but on lips, it softens into a bright, berry-hued pink/purple with medium payoff that feels fresh, trend-setting, and joyful. As always, Axiology lipsticks are made with natural oils and pigments, are vegan and cruelty-free, and completely free of fragrance.


NOTE: If you purchase a Beauty Heroes subscription, or a product from the Beauty Heroes store, I will receive a small commission on behalf of Beauty Heroes. My honest review and experience with Beauty Heroes and the Wabi Sabi Light Reveal was in no way influenced by my affiliate status.

The Vagus Nerve and its Keys to Wellness

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The vagus nerve may be the most subtly powerful part of your body that you’ve never heard of. Nicknamed the ‘wandering nerve,’ it originates in your brain stem and extends through your ears, tongue, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and sex organs— among other organs— connecting them and creating a body-wide network of influence (the nerve splits as it descends through the body, enabling its extensive reach).

The vagus nerve is a part of your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, which promotes calm, hormone balance, positive mood, anti-inflammatory effects, immunity, and benefits to so many wide-ranging aspects of your health. I’ve been fascinated by the influence of the vagus nerve since I found it to be key for activating a calming response in my own autonomic nervous system, which has for years been disregulated by Lyme disease. And during my research and experimentation, it’s demonstrated itself to be powerful for beauty and wellbeing at large.

WHY IT HELPS

Stimulating or activating the vagus nerve helps switch on your parasympathetic nervous system and normalize the influential HPA axis. It influences your blood pressure and heart rate (both directly through the heart and via the kidneys) along with a spectrum of bodily functions, including digestion and feelings of satiety. I find it particularly amazing that the 90% of vagus nerve fibers send signals up to the brain from the digestive tract. And 10% of its fibers send brain signals to your gut relating to the secretion of stomach acid and enzymes. It’s a true illustration of the gut-brain axis communication!

You might reason that stimulating the vagus nerve can help you stay healthy, balanced, and calm— and you’re right. But I find the advice around how to stimulate the vagus nerve to be a bit confusing and overwhelming. You see, there are dozens of ways to stimulate it. Almost too many to keep track of. My advice would be to pick just one or two methods and practice them consistently.

Here are a few of my favorites, all of which I find inherently calming (perhaps because of their effect on the vagus nerve!):

  • Singing, humming or chanting.

  • Deep breathing from your abdomen, with a long, slow exhale.

  • Yoga.

  • Foot massage.

  • Meditation.

  • Increasing the beneficial bacteria in the gut (via fermented foods & probiotics!).

  • Acupuncture- especially ear acupuncture points.

  • Laughter.

I was also intrigued to see that OSEA just released a Vagus Nerve Oil meant to be applied to the back and right side of the neck to stimulate the vagus nerve and support vagus nerve health. I’ve been using it on my neck, as well as applying it to the center of my stomach (just beneath my ribs to above my bellybutton), where I can feel a calming effect from massage pressure. The blend of juniper, chamomile and lavender smells very grounding and is meant to diminish anxiety & stress and promote relaxation while stimulating positivity and wellbeing in the mind and body. I love discovering beauty products that have such a deep, holistic effect on my body and beauty— well done, OSEA!

KEEP GOING

Over time, stimulating the vagus nerve can help you achieve what is called ‘higher vagal tone,’ which improves blood sugar regulation and digestion, lowers blood pressure and inflammation, and can reduce migraines, depression and anxiety. Some treatments have gone so far as to implant a device that stimulates the vagus nerve with the goal of improving inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. One 2010 study found that higher vagal tone was linked to the cycle of positive emotions, physical health, and positive social connections— something we all strive for when it comes to wellness and beauty in our lives. And a 2018 study found that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) could be an important therapy for a range of conditions in the years ahead. I’d encourage you to think about your own vagus nerve health and the effect it could have on any inflammation, digestive issues, anxiety, or depression you might experience. Use some of these therapies consistently, and see how your own body responds to the calming effects.

 

The Vegan Dish Your Instant Pot was MADE for

For meals in minutes, the Instant Pot lives up to the hype. I added one to my kitchen about a year ago and right away I loved that it would effortlessly cook staples like dry beans and grains that would otherwise take a lot of time or attention on the stovetop.

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What DOESN’T live up to the hype, however, are Instant Pot cookbooks. Not to be overly critical, but without fail, Instant Pot cookbooks seem to be peppered with recipes that require you to turn on the stove, the oven, a blender, or a food processor to make other components of a dish while your Instant Pot is working. That, to me, defeats the purpose of the Instant Pot!

The best Instant Pot meals happen right inside the pot (meaning they don’t require you to cook anything else simultaneously), and significantly reduce the time you’d typically spend cooking the same dish on the stove or in the oven. That’s not too much to ask, right?

This is exactly why risotto is such a winner in the Instant Pot! It takes way less time, essentially zero minutes of attention or stirring (typically the aspect of risotto that intimidates most cooks), and even uses substantially less broth (saving more for another recipe!) to achieve the same creamy, comforting effect. If you own an Instant Pot and haven’t tried risotto yet, here’s a place to start. Once you see the basic formula, you can add your own favorite veggies and herbs to suit your cravings.

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

This dish makes a cozy side dish or vegan entree and it comes together so effortlessly in the Instant Pot!

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved, seeded, and roasted (this can be done several days ahead)

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 Tbsp rosemary, minced

  • 2 cups arborio rice

  • 4 cups broth

  • unrefined salt

  • ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

First of all, if I’m planning to make this recipe during the course of a week, I roast the butternut squash ahead of time while I have something else in the oven. I usually do some roasting on Sundays (beets, sweet potatoes, etc.), so I halve and seed a butternut squash (no need to peel!), put it on a tray and bake at 350-400 for about 30 minutes, until you can stick a knife in it and it pierces easily. Roasting requires little effort or attention. Once the squash is done, let it cool and store it in the fridge until the day you need it for this recipe. You don’t even need to reheat it before adding!

When you’re ready to make your risotto, this recipe will come together in 30 minutes but requires less than 10 minutes of your attention.

Turn your Instant Pot onto the SAUTE function, heat the olive oil, and cook the onion and garlic until it becomes aromatic— just 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and 1 Tbsp rosemary and saute for 1 minute more. Pour in the broth (if your broth is unsalted, add a little unrefined salt), cover and lock the lid in place, and set the Instant Pot to 5 minutes at HIGH pressure (make sure your lid is set to SEALING). After your risotto is done with its 5 mins at high pressure, let the steam release naturally for another 10 minutes (meaning, don’t release the steam via the pressure release knob). Use this time to grab your butternut squash from the fridge and scoop the baked insides out into a bowl. After 10 minutes, turn the pressure release knob to release the rest of the steam, stir the butternut squash chunks into the risotto, and add another sprinkle of chopped rosemary. If desired, you can add a little more broth for looser texture and season to taste with more salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Spiced 'Skin Glow' Smoothie

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Autumn foods like sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, squash, and greens are packed with nutrition that just plain makes skin glow— which is a great thing because this season of detox and transition can be tough on our complexions. These autumn foods are particularly powerful sources of beta carotene that helps increase cell turnover for smoother skin, balance oil production, speed up skin cell renewal, and protect against UV damage. If you’re looking for a place to get more of this amazing beauty nutrient in your diet during the fall and winter, try this smoothie, which also balances blood sugar with that key combo of healthy fats, protein, and abundant veggies (but still tastes sweet!). This recipe can be made with roasted sweet potato, pumpkin, or winter squash— and it’s delicious in all of its forms.

Spiced ‘Skin Glow’ Smoothie

This antioxidant-packed smoothie delivers the protein and healthy fats necessary to stabilize your blood sugar in the morning, while also targeting your skin’s seasonal need for extra healing and repair with beta carotene-rich pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato.

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (try coconut, almond or hemp)

  • 1/2 cup filtered water

  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin, sweet potato or winter squash puree

  • 1/2 banana

  • 1 serving plant-based protein powder (1 to 2 scoops)

  • 1/4 cup raw pecans

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

  • 1 tsp Eat Pretty pumpkin pie spice (p.137 in Eat Pretty) - or sub cinnamon

  • 1 tsp blackstrap molasses (optional for depth of flavor) 

DIRECTIONS

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

Nourish & Detox: Sweet Autumn Soup

Ready for a sweet and comforting fall soup that will supercharge your skin with its beta carotene content and support natural fall cleansing to prepare your body and beauty for winter? This simple soup is the recipe for you. Kabocha squash is one of the most delicious types of squash, and it’s naturally sweet. The addition of apples to this recipe lends it even more sweetness along with detox properties, making this soup perfect to complement a savory dish. Or you can eat light and fill up on the soup by itself—if you do, try adding avocado chunks for extra healthy fats.

Sweet Autumn Soup

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Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp coconut oil

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 2 organic apples, cored and chopped

  • 1 tsp fresh minced sage

  • 1 quart broth (I prefer vegetable broth in this recipe, but you can use whatever you enjoy)

  • 1 cup pure water

  • 4 cups roasted kabocha squash (about 1 medium)

  • unrefined salt

  • ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt coconut oil and sauté shallot over medium heat until golden. Add apples and sage and cook until apples begin to soften. If foods starts sticking to the bottom of the pot, go ahead and pour in a little broth to loosen it. Add remaining broth and water, as well as the roasted squash, and simmer 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Puree with an immersion blender, or in a high-powered blender in small batches.

For more beautifying recipes, see the Eat Pretty books and my recipe page.

BEAUTY FOOD FOCUS:

Kabocha Squash. Kabocha squash is a perfect beauty food for your eyes, thanks to its fabulous content of healthy vision nutrients, from vitamin A to the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin. The major dose of vitamin A from this winter squash variety continues to support the skin cell renewal and growth that your skin needs this season, while balancing dry and oil spots. It’s a powerful food for radiance! You’ll also get B vitamins (key for gorgeous, strong hair) and iron in your kabocha squash. To roast, cut your squash in half, remove the seeds, and place on a rimmed baking sheet greased with coconut oil. About 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven gives you super-soft squash that you can use in smoothies, puddings, muffins, soups, or mashed as a side dish. You’ll want to eat it straight from the oven with a spoon.

Apples. The pectin found in apple flesh helps the body eliminate waste more effectively, making it a must-have food for natural detoxification and even lowered cholesterol. Apples support healthy digestion in other ways, by supporting a healthy microbiome, which is essential for clear skin, immunity, good moods, and maintaining a healthy weight. The skins of apples (try to eat them and leave them on in recipes as often as you can—and try to buy organic!) are concentrated sources of beauty nutrients, including one phytochemical that stops the formation of wrinkle-causing AGEs and another that reduces allergies.

How to Keep your Body and Beauty in Balance when the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Fall is the season of letting go. And of all the things that we say goodbye to at this time of the year— alfresco dinners, beach days, an abundant garden, longer evenings— the sun is the thing I miss the most. I truly am a solar-powered creature. I feel deeply, deeply connected to the sun and to the earth, yet fall and winter gradually force me to retreat indoors, away from those life-giving aspects of nature.

Does this sound like you? What’s the best way to stay in balance in spite of reduced exposure to solar rays and lack of barefoot moments in the grass and sand? Here are a few of my top recommendations for fall and winter habits to keep your body and beauty in balance in the months ahead, if you live in a place that also lacks sunshine. I’ll be practicing these right along with you:

Prioritize morning light. Get 15 to 20 mins of light exposure every morning, outside if possible. It won’t always be sunny, but even a clouded sky in the morning is enough to balance your circadian rhythm and boost your mood. The light from a computer screen doesn't count! The more bright light exposure we have during the day, the more sleep-supporting melatonin is produced at night, studies have found. (Cool side note: melatonin may also impact gut health) Some people swear by a light box or sun lamp in the morning to mimic bright AM light, but I haven’t found this route easy to incorporate into my day. I’d rather aim for some time outdoors or near a window every morning.

Supplement vitamin D. I like a liquid D3, and I boost my dose significantly in the fall and winter to make up for lack of sun exposure. Talk to your doctor about your D level and the dose that will keep you feeling good, with strong immunity this season.

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Bring nature indoors. I like to incorporate elements of nature in my home all year, but in fall and winter it feels like a must because I don’t get outside into nature as often. Pinecones, pine boughs, pumpkins, fall leaves, and branches are natural elements that also work well inside at this time of year. I also love decorating with pretty stones, and any green plants that can’t survive outside that I want to preserve until next year (it makes my home and my south-facing windows feel a bit like a greenhouse!). See what other natural objects you can bring indoors during the fall and winter to boost your connection to the earth.

Know the dos and don’ts of lighting. Sadly, you cant simply turn on more lights around your house or your workplace and get the same physiological boost that you get from the sun. In fact, turning on lots of bright lights later in the evening can prevent your body from adequately preparing for sleep. Your pineal gland begins secreting melatonin, which helps you fall asleep easily, when the sun goes down in the evening, but LED lighting and devices that emit blue light (think TVs, smartphones, tablets) actually interfere with melatonin production, making it harder for you to get restorative beauty sleep.

Get infrared light. The infrared sauna, which uses infrared light to heat the body at lower temperatures than a traditional wood sauna, is rather new to me, but I plan to use it all winter long this year. Infrared saunas emit the same warming-from-within infrared rays given off by the sun, but without the ultraviolet light that we use sunscreen to block. A fire in a fireplace or firepit also emits infrared light that warms from within, so you could plan to get cozy around the fire more often this fall and winter too.  

Rely on other ways to support your immune system. Adaptogens like reishi, chaga, tulsi and astragalus, extra sleep, vitamin C, grounding root vegetables, extra zinc, turmeric, ginger and warm lemon water, manuka honey— there are so many amazing immune-boosters to incorporate at this time of the year to make up for the sun’s immune-boosting effects.

Embrace, rather than resist. Digging your heels in and resisting makes this natural transition even harder for your body (take it from me). This, too, shall pass and spring will of course arrive again. And the sun-filled yang months of spring and summer wouldn't be as balancing without the dark, damp, cool yin months that lie ahead. So I’ll be focusing on the autumn and winter things I enjoy, and staying warm as best as while I let nature take its course in the cycle of the seasons. And I will be following every sliver of sunshine that enters my windows, drinking hot teas, eating warm soups and stews, taking steamy baths, eating grounding foods and spicing them to create inner warmth. How about you?

For more inspiration that will help you stay in balance in autumn and winter, check out the Eat Pretty book series— each of which incorporates the shift of the seasons as it relates to beauty and health. Writing about the wisdom of the seasons and living my own advice has helped me embrace all 4 seasons for their own inherent beauty!

Do you live in a place where the sun shines less in fall and winter? How do you make up for the lack of sun exposure?