Having a Healthy Hair Moment

If you've been struggling with your hair, or unhappy with its appearance, let's talk. Hair health is impacted by so many factors, both internal and external. Damage to your hair can come from styling, overexposure to salt and sun, and even hair products. But so many of us forget that stress and a diet lacking in healthy hair beauty foods (see below!) take a major toll too, leading to thinning or brittle strands.

This month, my subscription Beauty Heroes Discovery Box inspired me to have a healthy hair moment. Inside my mailbox was a gorgeous trio of Innersense Organic Beauty hair products (complete with redesigned, minimalist packaging) that has led me to slow down and enjoy my hair care time a bit more (Innersense calls this a 'hair ceremony'— don't you love that?).  So I wanted to share some of my favorite new natural hair products with you, as well as arm you with my favorite healthy hair foods list so that you, too, can have a healthy hair moment this spring. (And seriously, if you havent already, join Beauty Heroes. I consider it a self-care strategy. It is such a treat to receive this carefully-curated box every month, with a full-size natural or organic beauty product—this month it was three full size products, plus a beautiful sidekick hair oil—for less than $40).

This spring, I'm using the Innersense Organic Beauty Hydrate Collection for shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner— all from my Beauty Heroes delivery. I love the subtle scents of the shampoo (called hairbath) and conditioner, and so far I think I'm seeing less frizz when I air-dry, and slightly more defined, piecey waves overall. My hair is fine and naturally a bit wavy, and these hydration-heavy products haven't overwhelmed it. I don't think I've used spray-in conditioner/detangler since I was a tween, so I plan to use the Sweet Spirit Leave-In Conditioner a bit more during the summer months; I can see it being a beach and pool staple for hair protection. I'm also loving Captain Blankenship's Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray for extra definition and waviness (and a gorgeous rose smell). I am so glad I finally purchased it and highly recommend it for wavy types!

But that's just half of my current hair routine. Here's my inside look at beauty foods for hair:

HAIR NUTRITION

To address lackluster, brittle, or thinning hair from the inside out (which is key for long-term hair health!), here's a list of nutrients, and corresponding beauty foods, to get more of in your diet:

  • ZINC. So many of us are deficient in zinc. A lack of this mineral can lead to an itchy scalp, hair loss (even eyelash loss...) and create the conditions for splits to readily form. It's best to get zinc from your diet, not from a pill, so try eating more oysters, whole grains, eggs, and nuts like pecans and walnuts.
  • OMEGA-3s. Just as you might imagine, omega-3s keep your strands elastic and shiny. Take a high-quality fish/algae oil supplement or get your omega-3s from wild salmon, flax, sardines, and pumpkin seeds.
  • PROTEIN. Protein is a building block of healthy hair and its main component keratin, so you absolutely MUST get enough in your diet for optimal hair health. But, you definitely dont need to go out and eat a steak—try plant-based protein sources like pastured eggs, wild salmon, quinoa, tempeh, and spirulina.
Click for a 5-minute healthy hair smoothie...

Click for a 5-minute healthy hair smoothie...

...for the rest of this hair-boosting lineup, read my COMPLETE LIST OF HAIR-STRENGTHENING FOODS HERE. And find out why SEAWEED may be an overlooked hair nutrition secret.

Banana Breakfast Smoothie

If you're hungry, you can whip up a 5-minute, 5-ingredient healthy hair breakfast with many of the foods in my above list. Get this hair-building Banana Breakfast Smoothie recipe.

Put these hair-supporting ingredients on your grocery list to make the smoothie:

  • unsweetened almond milk
  • banana
  • gluten free whole oats
  • shelled hemp seeds
  • ground cinnamon

What are your favorite natural hair products? How about hair-strengthening foods?

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.