Blueberry Cream Cups with Salted Coconut Crumble

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I don't care what the thermometer says outside; winter is over. Now that it's almost officially spring, our bodies and our beauty are ready for reawakening. To celebrate, I created these Blueberry Cream Cups, with frozen berries since the real thing won't be in season for another few months. They only have a tiny amount of maple syrup, and no refined sugar, and they're full of skin-friendly healthy fats.

This recipe would be perfect for an Easter gathering or a cool-weather spring brunch. Just take the cups out of the freezer 3 to 5 minutes before you want to serve. Once it starts getting hot, they'll melt quickly and won't last long out of the freezer!

Blueberry Cream Cups with Salted Coconut Crumble

This recipe is inspired by the Cool Peppermint Cream Cups featured in the winter chapter of Eat Pretty— I've always wanted to make a fruit-based version! These are slightly sweet and slightly salty, but not too much of either. They're sweetened with blueberries and just a tiny bit of maple syrup, but nothing else. The raw cashews and coconut oil are packed with healthy fats for your skin and metabolism.

Makes 10

Blueberry cream cups:

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, partially or completely thawed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch Himalayan salt or sea salt

Salted coconut crumble:

  • 4 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • maple syrup
  • Himalayan salt or sea salt

Additional equipment: silicone baking cups

Directions

To make the cream cups In a high-powered blender, combine the cashews, coconut oil, blueberries, maple syrup and salt until whipped and creamy, about 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the blender and blend once more to eliminate any lumps.

To make the salted coconut crumble, add just enough maple syrup to make the coconut flakes slightly sticky. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt into the coconut flakes and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Set 10 silicone baking cups on a tray or in a muffin tin, and divide cashew cream among cups. Using a butter knife or a clean finger, swirl the cashew cream until the tops are level. Sprinkle salted coconut crumble over the tops of the cashew cream and freeze at least 2 hours. To serve, unmold silicone cups and serve immediately. If the cups soften too much, return to the freezer to reset for a few minutes before serving.

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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):

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.

Sun Protective Cherry Chocolate Smoothie

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The summer harvest gives us bushels of fresh foods that support sun defense in our bodies— tomatoes, watermelon, peppers and apricots are just a few of my favorites. I'd also add cherries to that list, since the phytochemical quercetin in cherries helps defend against UVB damage. For a change of pace from your green smoothie, I created this creamy, sweet— and sun protective— Cherry Chocolate Smoothie that's filled with skin-friendly ingredients (and not a bit of added sugar). Beyond their sun defensive qualities, cherries reduce inflammation in the body, calm redness in the skin and fight allergies. Raw cacao power (an even more beautifying alternative to regular cocoa powder) also protects skin from UV damage, reduces redness and boosts skin hydration. It's also rich in sulfur, a beauty mineral that supports strong hair, nails and skin. As a bonus, cacao raises levels of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins in the brain, making you happy! And the gluten free oats and hemp seeds also give your skin a boost, with plenty of plant-based protein, beauty minerals that support skin elasticity (in the oats), and skin-friendly fats (in the hemp seeds).

Cherries are ripe now, so grab a bag of these beauty fruits (look for organic varieties) and whip up this sweet, beautifying treat today...

Sun Protective Cherry Chocolate Smoothie

This sweet smoothie is packed with top energy foods like cacao and hemp, along with a phytonutrient boost from cherries and cacao that increases the body’s natural UV defense.

Serves 1

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup pitted organic sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 cup gluten free whole oats
  • 1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • few drops almond extract (optional)
  • small handful ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

Try This Easy Spring Detox Dinner

Spring is the season to shed winter pounds, rev up your energy, and glow from the inside out. Your body knows how to do all of these things naturally with spring detox, but it really needs your help. That doesn’t mean suffering through a week of juice-only meals; you can support beauty detox easily every time you eat by filling your plate with cleansing spring beauty foods and skipping the foods that stress your beauty.

Read More

Eat Pretty Vocabulary: Healthy Vanity

noun. [hel-thee van-i-tee]

The desire to look and feel your best. Healthy vanity inspires you to seek out ways to better your beauty and body.

 We see vanity as such a negative quality, but, at the other end of the spectrum, neglecting our appearance is also negative, and it has unwanted effects on our emotional and physical health. When you’re driven to improve your diet and lifestyle in order to look and feel your best, you’re not vain— and tapping into your healthy vanity reminds you of that.

From Eat Pretty:

"The Eat Pretty lifestyle will remake your relationship with food and change your understanding of your beauty and body. At the same time, you'll build an antiaging lifestyle that supports you today, not to mention when you're forty, fifty, sixty and beyond. Just what force inspires us to make these changes, and to better our beauty and body? To me it's a universal quality that I call 'healthy vanity'— although there's nothing vain about it. Healthy vanity is our desire to look and feel our best, and to show that best self to the world. It's the beauty we were born to have. Now is your time to own it."

Saturday Morning Beauty Breakfast

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Pancakes are a weekend tradition, but I got used to forgoing them in favor of healthier breakfast dishes. That is, until I created these Banana Buckwheat Pancakes, rich in skin-clearing beauty minerals, omega-3s and protein. They're low glycemic (which prevents aging skin and breakouts) and gluten free, with their own natural sweetness (though a drizzle of maple syrup is hard to resist).

Check out the recipe in Eat Pretty, available for preorder now and in stores on February 25th!