Wellness Encyclopedia: The Benefits of Raw Honey

Wellness Encyclopedia: The Benefits of Raw Honey

The golden wonder that is raw honey can help keep you at the top of your game this season…

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true: Cold and flu season is almost here. While I’m celebrating the arrival of fall like the best of them, it took one 30°F morning this week to remind me that along with picking pumpkins and brainstorming Halloween costumes, ensuring healthy immunity should be at the top of my to-do list. I love this time of year, so the last thing I want is to be sidetracked by a cough or sore throat. Luckily my first line of defense just happens to be delicious and all natural: Organic, locally-sourced raw honey. The cloudy variety that comes straight from happy bees tended to by a kind keeper. Why honey? The benefits are almost too numerous to list, but today I’ve tried. Read on to learn why raw honey could help keep you at the top of your game this season.

What’s the difference between raw honey and regular honey?  

Regular, commercial honey, the kind that typically comes in a bear-shaped container and runs clear and easy from the jar, is filtered and then pasteurized at a high temperature to kill off any yeast that may be present. Raw honey is unprocessed and unpasteurized to preserve the beneficial nutrients present. While commercial honey still tastes amazing and is an adequate substitute for liquid sweetener in recipes, it lacks the same incredible benefits of raw honey. To see whether or not the raw honey you’ve purchased is truly raw, take a spoonful and place it in a glass of water. If it settles to the bottom, it’s raw. However, if it dissolves easily and sticks the the edges of the glass, it could be processed and even counterfeit (yes, counterfeit honey is a thing).

Benefits of raw honey.

So, what are all these incredible nutrients available in raw, unprocessed honey? If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, local raw honey could help! Raw honey contains bee pollen, which could help your body adjust to the pollen in the air when consumed. By eating honey produced locally, you consume trace amounts of the same pollen that could be wreaking havoc via allergies, helping to regulate your body to the pollen in the air. By regularly eating raw honey, your body could build up antibodies and produce less histamine when allergy season rolls around.

Trouble sleeping? A little raw honey before bed could help you sleep by helping to promote the production of melatonin. Similar to sugar, raw honey generates a rise in insulin, which produces serotonin, which is eventually converted to melatonin. Try adding a small amount of honey to a mug of tea before bed to help you relax and ready your body for rest.

As cold and flu season fast approaches, raw honey should be at the forefront of your seasonal sickness arsenal. Soothe a sore throat and suppress a cough with a spoonful of raw honey, which not only soothes but contains antibacterial properties to shorten the lifespan of a cold. Raw honey has been found to be as effective as traditional cough syrup in treating a sore throat and reducing mucus production (gross, but true). Honey is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, meaning that not only will it not go bad (as long as it’s kept pure and free of contamination from water and other factors), but the same antibacterial and antifungal properties can benefit the body by supporting immunity and warding off minor colds and seasonal illnesses. These same antibacterial properties are incredibly beneficial for acne-prone skin and raw honey has long been used as an ingredient in masks and even as a cleanser.

How to use raw honey.

Raw honey is incredibly versatile, but in order to harness its full range of benefits, it’s best consumed straight from the jar (tough, I know). However, it makes a great substitute for processed sugar if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of its nutritional power. Sub honey for corn sugar in most recipes where it’s called for, or add a small amount to coffee or tea in place of white sugar. Tough workout ahead? Take a spoonful of raw honey beforehand to power through. Or, put some of our favorite tried and tested raw honey recipes to work:

DIY Honey Rose Lip Scrub

Apple Ginger Honey Spritzer

Honey Face Mask

Honey Ginger Throat Drops

 

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

 

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Wellness Encyclopedia: MCT Oil + Morning MCT Matcha Latte

Wellness Encyclopedia: MCT Oil + Morning MCT Matcha Latte

That’s medium-chain triglycerides… Read on to learn why MCT oil might be what’s missing from your routine, and how to use it…

My favorite season is finally here, guys. Nope, not fall (though I do love the cooling weather and vibrant trees), I’m talking hot coffee season. While some may swoon at iced coffee, I crave the ritual of blending up my morning cup. That’s right, I said blending. Coffee-making has reached new heights in my kitchen, with daily adaptogens, collagen, a dash of cinnamon, and brain-boosting MCT oil for good measure. Toss it all into the blender with a cup of strong coffee? Doesn’t get much better. That last ingredient has been a favorite these past few years, and it’s not just me. Look up “MCT oil” and you’ll find post after post extolling the benefits. But what, exactly, is it?  Today I’m diving into the specifics — and sharing a great alternative to your morning cup of joe. Read on to learn why MCT oil might be what’s missing from your routine, and how to use it:

What is MCT?

MCT, which stands for medium-chain triglycerides, is an essential fatty acid commonly derived from coconut oil, but also present in grass-fed butter and palm oil, and most other foods that contain saturated fat (though in smaller amounts). Easier to digest than long-chain triglycerides, MCT oil is beneficial for the entire system. Most MCT oils on the market are derived from coconut oil because coconut oil is such a rich source — roughly 60-65% MCTs — however, the distilled oil is a great choice for harnessing the pure benefits of MCTs, as it has a higher, more potent amount of medium-chain triglycerides. Coconut oil still has an important place in our diets, but for those looking to get a diverse and concentrated array of MCTs, a specialty oil is a great choice. Just be sure to choose a high-quality, organic formula.

Benefits of MCT oil

So, why are MCTs so special? Medium-chain triglycerides are easier for our bodies to absorb and digest than long and short-chain fatty acids — they’re sent right to our liver, creating a thermogenic effect that could boost metabolism. MCTs have also been found to increase satiety, keeping us feeling fuller, longer. Good quality MCT oil could help boost energy and stamina, especially when used in place of carbs in a low-carb diet (such as Paleo). MCTs could also help boost mood, as healthy fats are an essential part of brain function. Additionally, the fats in MCT oil aid the body in properly absorbing vitamins (which is why salad should always have a little healthy fat in it), promotes gut health and balances gut bacteria (which has recently been linked to healthy brain function). And — good news — like coconut oil, MCT oil also boasts many of the same antibacterial benefits, with the ability to potentially protect against streptococcus, straphylococcus, and more.

How to use MCT oil

MCT oil can be taken by the spoonful, like you would a daily vitamin, or added to recipes. Because it’s digested differently and used quickly by the body, it’s important to start with small doses of MCT. Start with ½ to 1 tsp and work your way up to avoid potential stomach upset. MCT oil blends easily into warm liquids and is the perfect substitute for butter or coconut oil in bulletproof coffee recipes (check out the version below for a coffee-free MCT-powered bulletproof). Since it stays in its liquid form, MCT oil also mixes seamlessly into salad dressings and can replace olive oil in most dressing recipes. Add a spoonful to smoothies, chia puddings, or overnight oats for added healthy fats. MCT oil is super versatile and can be used as a finishing oil on almost anything, from sweet desserts to savory dishes, or subbed for coconut oil in baked goods — for a dose of healthy, brain-boosting fat!

Morning MCT Matcha Latte

Ingredients

8 oz plant-based milk or water (or a mix of both)

1 tsp matcha powder

1 tsp – 1 tbsp organic MCT oil (start slow)

½ tsp ashwagandha

½ tsp rhodiola

¼ tsp cinnamon

Optional: Collagen peptides

Method

In a pot over low heat, heat the milk or water over the stove until hot but not boiling. Combine milk with remaining ingredients in a high speed blender and blend on low to medium until mixed and frothy (be careful blending hot liquids, a blender with a locking lid is recommended). Pour into your favorite mug and sip slowly. Enjoy!

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Your Macro Inspired Daily Meal Plan

Your Macro Inspired Daily Meal Plan

Forget about counting calories…learn to understand the KIND of food that you’re putting in your body — the way you feel afterward might really amaze you…

Not to be confused with macrobiotic eating (which is also extremely beneficial to those who practice it), macro is essentially an approach to eating that focuses on carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and their distribution throughout your daily meal plan.

Macro “dieting” utilizes the following guideline for meal consideration:

1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories 

1 gram of fat = 9 calories 

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

The goal? Creating a menu that, by the end of the day, equals 100% of a mix of these 3 categories of macronutrients. This ratio will shift depending on your goal…whether it be to lose weight, boost metabolism or simply make better-informed eating habits. Here, our resident Chef Greg has prepared a series of 5 meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner, broken up by 2 snacks — that will ensure a day complete with a thoughtful and healthy mix of macros, and hopefully more energy, to boot. Note: there are LOTS of app options to help you keep track of your macros. We like this one, but feel free to do your research to determine which might work best for you!

Breakfast

Cottage Cheese Pick-Me-Up

 Ingredients
(makes 1 portion)
3/4 cup low-fat organic cottage cheese
1/4 cup organic strawberries
1/4 cup grapefruit segments
3 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds, lightly salted
Method
Scoop cottage cheese into a dish and arrange strawberries and grapefruit on top. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds. NOTE: recipe is for one portion but can also be portioned out for 3 days at a time. This is also delicious with cantaloupe, raspberries and toasted almonds.

Snack

Green Smoothie

 Ingredients
(makes 3 portions)
3 cups chopped kale
3 cups baby spinach
1 chopped banana
1 chopped mango
1 cup chopped pineapple
1/2 cup almond butter
2 cups coconut water
Method
Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until very smooth. You can adjust the amount of coconut water depending on the consistency you enjoy. You can also add flax seeds, hemp seeds or protein powder, depending on your individual needs.

Lunch

Mixed Leaf Salad

 Ingredients
(makes 3 portions)
3/4 # Mixed Lettuce
1 1/2 cups shaved carrots
1 avocado
1 1/2 cups sprouts
Toasted almonds
3 tbsp brown rice miso
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1/2 cup shaved carrot
3/4 cup avocado oil
Method
Put miso, vinegar, 1/2 cup shaved carrot in blender and set on medium speed. Slowly drizzle in avocado oil. Arrange remaining ingredients and top with dressing.

Snack

Quinoa Coconut “Rice” Pudding

 Ingredients
(makes 3 portions)
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
1/2 cup organic coconut cream
1 1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup dried Goji berries
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1 pinch Pink Himalayan sea salt
Method
Cook quinoa in water according to package directions. Drain off excess water. Fold in coconut cream (thick part of coconut milk). Season with a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt. Place in serving container and top with blueberries, Goji berries and toasted coconut.

Dinner

Roasted Cauliflower Steak

 Ingredients
(makes 3 portions)
1 head cauliflower
1 large sweet potato (or 2 small)
1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Lemon
1/4 cup parsley, Chopped
Pink Himalayan sea salt
Pepper
Method
Place sweet potatoes in a 350 degree oven on a sheet tray or in a oven-proof dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.  Let cool for a few minutes and peel. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Season with salt.  Cut Cauliflower in Steak Portions. Easiest way is to cut a 2″ thick cross section slice on both sides of core. Steam Cauliflower until tender about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer you can boil in salted water. Next, sear cauliflower in a hot pan till charred and golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Also, zest some lemon on top. Next, heat a can of drained chickpeas in a sauté pan. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. You can also add some chopped parsley to chick peas.  Now, you are ready to plate up 3 portions!
+Want more from Chef Greg? Check out recipes and more here
Photo and GIFs by Mike Persico.

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Matcha for Inner AND Outer Beauty

Matcha for Inner AND Outer Beauty

What’s green, caffeinated and more ubiquitous than that one speedo-clad guy who shows up at everyone’s yoga class? Matcha!

That’s right, the finely ground green tea leaves that have been part of Japanese and Chinese culture for centuries is fully in the mainstream (you can’t walk around New York without passing a dedicated matcha bar or shop every few blocks), and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is the stuff delicious, the preparation is incredibly soothing if you choose to make your own — it’s a great alternative to yet another cup of coffee and it is loaded with antioxidants, making it one of the most health-supportive things you can sip.

Still not sold on the wonders that is this gorgeously green powder? Here’s a quick overview and a short history lesson: Matcha is finely ground powder made from green tea leaves that have been grown in the shade, conditions which produce more theanine (a relaxing amino acid) and caffeine than typical green tea. This combination of chemicals is what accounts for the “calm energy” effect people get from drinking the stuff as opposed to the shakes you can get from too much coffee. In the twelfth century, matcha came to Japan care of the Chinese, where an elaborate tea ceremony around its preparation was (and still is) practiced. Zen Buddhists were even believed to drink matcha for meditative focus.

Calm energy aside, matcha also boasts an impressive roster of health benefits. It’s particularly high in antioxidants like polyphenols and EGCG that have been linked to everything from slowing the growth of cancer cells, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, anti-aging, fighting inflammation, regulating blood sugar and boosting metabolism. And since you’re actually drinking the ground leaves (instead of steeping them in hot water like other teas), you ingest more of the nutrients.

Not too shabby for something you can pour over ice and sip through a curly straw!

By all means, continue to sip out of that curly straw, but there’s no need to let your tastebuds have all the fun. Yes, drinking and eating your vitamins and minerals is almost always the preferred method of getting them where they need to go — into your body — but your skin can also drink up matcha’s goodness. (See what I did there?)

Here are a few matcha-infused beauty products to let the tea leaves work their magic on your face. Throw in a little matcha-fuelfed meditation every once in awhile and you’ll positively glow.

Pangea Organics Facial Mask

When it comes to antioxidants, you’d be hard-pressed to find three more potent purveyors than matcha, acai and goji berries. Lucky for you, all of ‘em can be found in this mask from always-reliable Pangea Organics. Not only does the mask deeply cleanse and detoxify the skin thanks to the inclusion of white clay, it also leaves tired, dull skin rejuvenated thanks to a hefty dose of moisture. The matcha, goji and acai work together to pack skin cells with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins to restore and brighten the skin on your face. And the 10-20 minutes you wear it present a pretty perfect time to practice your matcha whisking skills if the mood strikes.

Flora Remedia Matcha Green Tea Skin Treatment Scrub

Matcha is a whiz when it comes to reducing inflammation in your organs thanks to its status as being chock full of antioxidants. So let it work that same magic on your tired, inflamed skin with a matcha-infused body scrub. Flora Remedia’s version combines matcha powder with raw sugar and sea salt to treat redness, inflammation and body acne, while the eucalyptus oil offers not only moisture but also a gorgeous scent to help you de-stress, refresh and revitalize your shower routine. 

Cocokind MYMATCHA All-Over Moisture Stick

What do you get when you blend organic matcha, organic virgin coconut oil and organic beeswax together? If you answered lip balm, under eye balm, dark circle corrector and spot treatment, get yourself a prize. This stick from Captain Blankenship may be tiny in stature, but it more than makes up for its small size by being a veritable Swiss Army Knife of skincare benefits — and all with only three ingredients. The antioxidants in the matcha help fight off baddies that have taken up residence in the skin and de-puff while the coconut oil offers up deep moisture and nourishment. Then beeswax swoops in the seal the deal, locking hydrating in and protecting the skin from the elements.

Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha

If you want to keep things simple, you can always whip up a good old fashioned DIY face mask with a spoonful of matcha powder and some manuka honey. You’ll look like a swamp creature for a few minutes, but the combination of soothing, anti-inflammatory matcha and acne-and-bacteria-fighting honey can’t be beat, especially if you’re dealing with a pimple situation. What’s more, this type of mask is super gentle while also being incredibly effective, so you should be ok to use it every couple of days if the mood strikes.

One thing to note: This Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha is high grade and of excellent quality, so if you want to save if for sipping, no hard feelings.

Free People Blog

Wellness Encyclopedia: Benefits of Garlic

Wellness Encyclopedia: Benefits of Garlic

Our first line of defense for fending off colds and flu…

It’s officially cold season. At least in my house. Yes, it’s early… not even officially fall yet, but while it may occasionally still feel like summer outside, the weather has that noticeable bite in the air and more and more friends are reporting coming down with something. Cold, flu, what-have-you, whatever it is, I don’t want it, so I’ve been filling up on immunity boosters like ginger, lemon, raw honey, and tons of fresh garlic. The latter may have more of a reputation for making your breath a special kind of pungent, but when seasonal illnesses are making the rounds, a clove or two of garlic should be our first line of defense for fending off colds and flu. Used for centuries to stave off viruses, garlic is prized for its antibacterial and antiviral properties that could potentially improve immunity and shorten sick time. Read on to learn why you should be stocking a few heads of garlic in your pantry all year round, and learn how to make an immunity-supporting garlic tea:

What is garlic?

Native to Central Asia and in the same genus as onions (Allium), garlic has been used for thousands of years as both a seasoning and herbal remedy in traditional medicine. Garlic’s scientific name is Allium sativum and the plant is characterized by its white bulb, which grows underground; purple pom pom flowers; and curly scapes, which can also be harvested and eaten (and should be harvested and eaten — they’re delicious). While garlic plays a role as a key seasoning all year ‘round, it’s especially valuable come autumn and winter, when temperatures and immunity are low. Similar to root vegetables, the garlic bulb is where all the plant’s energy is stored, making it an ideal addition to your cold-weather nutrition and wellness arsenal.

What are the benefits of garlic?

Besides adding a spicy, pungent aroma and flavor to all variety of culinary exploits, garlic has been used for thousands of years to treat everything from cold and flu, to acne, to yeast infections. Prized for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties largely thanks to allicin, the sulphur compound found in garlic, which could help the body detoxify from heavy metals, prevent acne, support immunity, and could prevent oxidative damage to cells. Studied since the ‘40s for its ability to fight disease and bacterial infection, allicin is responsible for garlic’s pungent smell. The allicin found in garlic is a cold-season must-have, and can be consumed as either an over-the-counter supplement or fresh in the form of whole garlic added to teas, soups, and broths. While supplements are a good second defense when fresh garlic isn’t available, fresh garlic is always the way to go for flavor and effectiveness.

How do I use garlic?

My favorite way to use garlic is fresh, tossed into all manner of soups, stews, sauces, sautes, stirfrys, salads… pretty much any- and everything that could use a savory boost. Fresh cloves are always strongest, with the most potent amounts of allicin, but when in a pinch, pre-chopped garlic can be used for flavor. However, there are plenty of ways to harness the power of garlic specifically for cold season. Try pressing several cloves and adding to a simple broth, or making the tea below for when your immunity needs a little (or a lot) of extra support:

Garlic Immunity Tea

[serves 1]

Ingredients

1-2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced into pieces

Juice from ½ lemon

Small chunk fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

Raw honey, to taste but generous

8-10 oz filtered water

Method

Place the garlic, ginger and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a mug and add lemon juice and honey.

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

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Wellness Encyclopedia: Sweet Potatoes + Sweet Potato Toast, 3 Ways

Wellness Encyclopedia: Sweet Potatoes + Sweet Potato Toast, 3 Ways

Learn all the reasons you should be sweet on sweet potatoes…

My love affair with sweet potatoes began with my first Whole30. Before that, I’d never eaten them, save for the occasional, unpleasant Thanksgiving fork-full of sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows at my grandmother’s house (a more confusing dish I dare you to find). For unknown reasons (reasons likely related to their affiliation with marshmallows), they were practically banned from my mother’s table, so it wasn’t until that initial Whole30 that I was introduced to how truly incredible sweet potatoes can be in both flavor and nutrition. Now, these power-packed roots are a staple in my diet, and as fall draws closer and the weather cools, they’re ever more present on my table. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals key to powering us through the colder months. Think of a root as the powerplant to what grows above the earth’s surface, brimming with energy and, in the case of sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, and their ilk, deep beneficial nutrition. As we enter into September and the leaves begin to turn (no joke: yellow and orange leaves were spotted in Central Pennsylvania this weekend), whether we’re fully aware of it or not, our diets will likely turn towards more warming foods to prepare our bodies for the months that lie ahead. Learn all the reasons you should be sweet on sweet potatoes below, then scroll to the bottom for three easy sweet potato toast recipes.

What are sweet potatoes?

Only distantly related to regular white potatoes, sweet potatoes are a perennial vine that boasts gorgeous trumpet-like flowers and a delicious edible root. Thought to be native to Central and/or South America, remnants of sweet potatoes dating as far back as 8,000 years have been found in Peru. Often confused with yams, sweet potatoes typically have lower sugar content and are smaller than yams, which are native to Africa and are typically not grown in the US. Yams boast white flesh and rough skins, and can grow up to eight feet in length! Additionally, it’s safe to eat sweet potatoes raw, whereas yams are toxic unless cooked properly.

What are the benefits of sweet potatoes?

Rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in your body, sweet potatoes could boost cellular turnover for younger-looking skin and help protect eyesight from macular degeneration (pro tip: adding a little fat, like coconut oil or olive oil, to your sweet potato will boost absorption and conversion of beta-carotene). A natural prebiotic, fibre-rich sweet potatoes feed the good bacteria in your gut, promoting better digestion and regularity and helping to eliminate bloat. The anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes could boost brain function and protect against degeneration of brain tissue and prevent memory loss, these same pigments have been linked to collagen production, potentially reducing the signs of aging. While many are quick to write off starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes, research has shown that they could actually improve blood sugar regulation. Because we digest them slowly, thanks in part to their high fibre content, blood sugar is kept at a steady state instead of spiking and dropping the way it would with other carbs and starches.

How do I use sweet potatoes?

One of my favorite – and unexpected – ways to use sweet potatoes these days is by tossing a handful of steamed sweet potato into a smoothie. They’re a creamy, low sugar alternative to banana and delicious combined with a dash of cinnamon, a splash of nut milk, and your favorite protein powder. Sweet potato also lends itself well to soups, salads (try roasting some up and serving with arugula), baked goods, and they can be used in place of white potatoes in most cases. And while sweet potato fries are in fact delicious, it’s important to keep in mind the healthiest way to enjoy these delicious roots is as unadulterated as possible: steamed, baked skin-on, or lightly dry roasted. Try the recipe below for a new take on toast that will keep your belly happy and feeling full ‘till lunch:

Sweet Potato Toast, 3 Ways

Ingredients

Sweet potatoes (1 medium sweet potato makes about 3-4 slices)

To prepare the sweet potatoes: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and dry sweet potatoes. Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick and place on baking sheet. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until bottoms are slightly browned and pieces are cooked through but firm.

PB-Banana-Cacao:

Natural peanut butter or nut butter of choice

1 Banana

Cacao nibs

Cinnamon

Method

Spread sweet potatoes with nut butter and top with banana slices. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and cinnamon.

Avocado “Toast”:

Ripe avocado

Cumin

Sea salt

Black pepper

Method

Layer slices of avocado on top of sweet potato slices. Sprinkle with cumin, sea salt, and black pepper.

Blueberry-Almond Butter:

Almond butter

Blueberries

Nutmeg

Method

Spread sweet potato slices with almond butter and top with blueberries and nutmeg.

Enjoy!

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

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Tips for the Plant-Eating Traveler

Tips for the Plant-Eating Traveler

Traveling while maintaining a plant-based diet requires a little organisation, a touch of research, and a desire to be a bit adventurous…with the best local produce always serving as your reward.

Without fail, my parents frequent their local farmers’ market every week. Rain or shine, Saturday mornings are spent in the town square, inspecting seasonal produce from organic local farmers who they know on a first-name basis. Jean, for example, sells olives he’s carefully selected from France and parts of Spain. His ‘secret mix’ is one of almonds, green olives and whole cloves of garlic, as well as a mysterious blend of spices. He enjoys a good laugh and will make you sample the contents of his entire stall upon each visit.

Their love and pursuit of whole foods was easily passed onto me, who has embraced an omnivorous diet for years. And after over a year of practicing vegetarianism, I decided to take it a step further and go vegan. There is a certain art to applying this diet to an on-the-go lifestyle…but I believe I’ve become quite good at acquiring great produce no matter where I find myself.

Prior to my trip, I always conduct a little research to find out where the local markets are, on what days they’re open, where the local health food shops are, and what supermarkets are in the area. That way, when I arrive, I can pick up a few essentials straight away.

Markets are a wonderful way to meet the locals, experience the region, and buy fresh (and sometimes unique) seasonal fruits and vegetables. My trick is to walk once around the market to eye up the best deals and best-looking produce, then decide from which stalls to buy. This saves considerable disappointment when you discover that two stalls down the old man with his beret is selling the ripest juiciest peaches for half the price you just bought yours (I learned the hard way!)

With a basket filled with golden apricots, a couple of warm baguettes, lettuces, fresh basil (for pesto!), the ripest tomatoes you’ll ever find, and a whole tray of nectarines, I declared myself happy and sat down in the dappled light under a big leafy tree for a well-earned espresso at the local café, watching the locals go by with their own overflowing baskets.

When in France, always pick up a bunch of purple garlic, and ask around for the best bakery in town. Bread is a religion around here — never settle for a baguette that makes you feel less than the happiest person in the world. Also, a little trick I’ve learned this year — if you ask for a ‘croissant patissier’ or a ‘croissant ordinaire‘ you’ll be served a vegan croissant made with margarine instead of butter! You’re more than welcome.

* Research before you leave. Locate markets, health food shops, supermarkets and restaurants with vegan options (the HappyCow app is a great tool!)

* Pack an easy-to-transport meal and snacks for your travel day. Remember — no liquids if you’re flying! Hummus and carrots, granola bars, dried fruit and nuts, grain salads or simple sandwiches are my go-to picks. Nothing worse than being hangry and stuck on a plane.

* Be adventurous. Go out of your way to find new places to eat, wake up early to go to the market, chat to locals, try new ingredients. You will experience your destination in a whole new way, I promise!

 

Photos and words by Tania Gault.

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The Comeback of Kale

The Comeback of Kale

Why this superfood is still number ONE for your beauty routine…

Kale. A few years ago, this cruciferous vegetable was just a humble leafy green, tucked away at the farmer’s market, unnoticed in the produce section. Then Gwyneth Paltrow started making kale chips, Beyonce went public with her love for the green in the form a kale sweatshirt, fast food chains tossed it into salads, juice bars stocked it in bulk and the veggie shot to fame, becoming a true superfood.

And for good reason — the botanical is packed with nutrients (vitamin C, fiber, iron, folate, magnesium). But too much of any one thing can be overwhelming — and you can burn out on it. Perhaps that explains why any of us took a break from our kale salads, and turned to other plant obsessions (ramps, anyone?).

But lately there’s been a quiet kale resurgence as wellness purveyors realize its enduring benefits. Case in point: Youth to the People, the small-batch skincare brand from California that’s never strayed from kale and kept it as the star ingredient in their vegan range since their inception in 2015. Here, we talked to co-founder Joe Cloyes about the green’s unique and potent powers — and why kale deserves a permanent spot in your beauty routine.

Ok first, why kale? What inspired you to create kale skincare products?

When we had the initial spark of idea for a line that united superfoods with science, it was at the beginning of the cold pressed juice revolution. We loved the idea of green superfoods being juiced. And we started to think, could we gather those same benefits from green superfoods — the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — but apply them topically for your skin’s health and youthful appearance?

What are kale’s skincare benefits?

Kale carries an arsenal of health benefits. With one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants, it goes miles in keeping your skin looking fresh and youthful. Loaded with vitamins A, C, E and K, kale fights free radicals, repairs sun damage, boasts high levels of phytonutrients that rebuild skin cells, and helps preserve your youth.

So how exactly do you extract the benefits from the plant?

Cold pressing is a big part of our process at Youth to the People. It preservers the protein and antioxidant integrity of the plant extract, so it can be more readily absorbed and utilized by your cells. We approach our superfoods scientifically, figuring out ways to get more of the good stuff to your skin. Our products are designed, made and filled in small batches in California.

Do you think kale experienced a moment of cultural saturation?

We’ll never stop paying homage to the wonders of kale, or other green, leafy superfoods. We don’t view the superfood as only a trend — any more than we think people valuing clean eating and clean beauty is just a trend. This isn’t a new cultural shift but one underway for decades. We believe valuing nutrition, youthfulness and being your best self has longevity.

What other key nutrients do you rely on in your range?

While our line includes kale, it’s not one built solely on kale. Kale is one ingredient among many. We’re also big believers in the benefits of spinach, green tea, and alfalfa. Our products include age-defying Tripeptide 37 (found in the Firm & Brighten Serum), collagen-boosting Tripeptide 5, and uber-hydrating and smoothing Hyaluronic Acid (found in our Moisture Cream and Gel Cleanser).

Do you plan to introduce any other ingredients in the upcoming year?

Our brand mythos is superfoods plus science, meaning we have a myriad of ingredients found to be effective in age prevention science. In the upcoming year, we’ll have a lot of exciting developments, as our line continues to evolve with the addition of more superfoods and science. Stay tuned!

Photos by Jillian Guyette.

Free People Blog

Wellness Encyclopedia: Avocados & Avocado/Honey Face Mask DIY

Wellness Encyclopedia: Avocados & Avocado/Honey Face Mask DIY

Read more about the incredible, edible avocado below, then scroll on for an easy face mask recipe you can whip up in minutes…

By now, I think most of us can agree: Avocados are awesome. Few fruits or vegetables have experienced such a dramatic PR shift over the past two decades, in fact, the rise of the avocado can only be compared to that of the “incredible, edible” egg. Once believed to be the basis of bad health, avocados spent a solid decade unfairly blacklisted from our plates. Imagine all the guacamole we were missing out on! Now, avocado toast is as commonplace in our diets as a bowl of cereal once was, and for good reason: Avocados are nutritional powerhouses. They satisfy without sugar, keep us feeling full, and best of all, the healthy fats they were once maligned for are now understood to make our skin glow and hair shine from the inside out. Today we’re celebrating these unique fruits by diving into what makes them great.

What exactly are avocados?

Botanically, the fruit of the avocado tree (aka the avocado) is a large berry with one large seed and is thought to have originated in the Tehuacan Valley in Puebla, Mexico up to 15,000 years ago. The fruit ripens on the tree, but only matures when separated, either by being harvested or dropping naturally, so plan ahead and choose hard avocados at the grocery store — these are most likely the freshest and will likely ripen after a few days on your countertop. It’s no secret that avocados have experienced a boon in popularity over the past several years (the per capita consumption in the US increased from 1 pound to 7 pounds in the span of six years) — so much so that it’s difficult to believe they were once victim to bad PR due to their high levels of healthy fats.

What are the benefits of avocados?

The low-fat diet craze of the ‘80s and ‘90s painted avocados as fat bombs akin to hamburgers and, well, anything else that featured any semblance of fat, healthy, natural, or otherwise (remember how everyone stopped eating eggs at one point? Same thing). At the time, it was thought that fat content in food equaled fat in the body, it wasn’t yet understood that different types of fats exist with different functions and different effects on the body. Trans fats and refined polyunsaturated fats? Those are the ones to avoid, most often found in processed foods, but the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, nuts, and — you guessed it — avocados, has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and could even help with weight management. Rich in monounsaturated fats, avocado is thought to help regulate blood sugar levels, potentially helping to reverse insulin resistance, reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and reduce the risk of stroke. Avocados are also rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K, which impact metabolic function and keep skin looking healthy. The high levels of fibre present in avocados also contributes to all the benefits listed above, along with keeping the gut healthy and aiding with digestion. Avocados are one of the richest sources of protein of any fruit, with the lowest sugar content, making them ideal for smoothies and post-workout nutrition, as they won’t cause blood sugar to spike and keep you feeling full and satisfied through to your next meal.

How to I use avocados?

A better question: How don’t you use avocados? Whether applied topically as a moisturizing hair or skin mask or tossed into a smoothie, avocados lend themselves to pretty much all areas of life! Let’s start with breakfast, shall we? Toss them into the afore mentioned smoothie as a satisfying, low-sugar alternative to your usual smoothie banana. Add some avocado to a savory bowl of oats, or use a scoop of guacamole in place of cheese in your next omelette. Lunch options? Sure, you could do everyone’s favorite, avocado toast, or you could roast a sweet potato and toss some avocado on top with a bit of homemade salsa (pro tip: make your own salsa, it’ll cost you pennies per serving and is to much better). Dinner? Add some avocado to salads or in place of cheese wherever you may usually use cheese. Don’t forget dessert! Avocado is easily whipped into chocolate mousse with the addition of cocoa powder and a bit of coconut sugar. For outside nourishment, mash ripe avocado together with a few simple ingredients for a super moisturizing hair or face mask. Not sure where to start? Try the simple recipe below to rejuvenate summer-parched skin:

Avocado-Honey Face Mask

Lactic acid in yogurt gently sloughs away dead skin while avocado and honey moisturize summer-parched skin

Ingredients

¼ avocado

1 tbsp plain yogurt

1 tsp raw honey

Method

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix/mash together until well blended. Use a brush or your fingers to apply mixture to face, avoiding the eye area. Relax for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with cool water and pat dry. Follow up with your favorite oil or moisturizer.

+ Be sure to check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts!

Follow Julie on Instagram + check out her blog.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

Free People Blog

You Are What You Eat, Pt.2

You Are What You Eat, Pt.2

What happens when you eat clean for two weeks? My truth…

This is part 2 in the You Are What You Eat series. If you’d like to know what I’m doing and what this is all about check out my original post here.

It’s officially been two weeks since I started my clean eating mission, and this is what happened . . .

Let me start this off by saying that I messed up, quite a bit. I warned you, didn’t I? Was me ordering a pizza in celebration of my first blogpost an accident? Not at all, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to include it as one of my many bumps in the road these past couple weeks. Below is a digital copy of what I recorded in my journal during this, for lack of a better word, experiment. Bon appetit!

WEEK 1

DAY 1

I meal prepped. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d say in my life. I packed salmon and rice lunches. Go me!

DAY 2

Slowly learning the in’s and outs of how to not get tired of eating salads every day; apparently, vegetables mixed into a salad can actually be enjoyable? Stay tuned.

DAY 3

I’m starting to recognize how often I used to consume sugar — WAY TOO OFTEN. I find myself reaching for random foods that contain sugar and having to stop myself. This is hard.

DAY 4

I’m trying to push myself to exercise more and walk more than I normally would. Running has felt amazing, eating healthy gives me this energy to want to keep going. Is this what it feels like to be a vegan Instagrammer?

DAY 5

Cookie cake. Whoever brought that cookie cake and left it in the work kitchen was testing me, and I gave in after about two minutes of internally fighting with myself. Major slip-up today, but moving past it. Only carrots in my future.

DAY 6

Today was average. I didn’t have time to run so I feel a little off… besides that, I ate really well and tried to consume a lot of water. Boring stuff.

DAY 7

I did happen to order myself a pizza, which is quite embarrassing, because I had the whole time while ordering it to back out and never did, but also I’m human and sometimes pizza is a necessity.

WEEK 2

DAY 1

Back in it. Pizza slip-up is forgiven. I’m still running every day and I’m not sick of eating salmon, salads and rice! Look at me.

DAY 2

Today, I went out to eat with friends and it was a serious struggle. I’m starting to understand the interference that sometimes comes with trying to create a healthy lifestyle for one’s self.

DAY 3

I miss pizza so much. I’m also craving gallons of ice cream. Maybe there’s a period of separation where you just dream of these things when you’re removed from them, but today is especially hard. I want my pizza back.

DAY 4

It was a really bad day today, just in life, in general. Usually when I have bad days I go to happy hour with friends, which is exactly what I did today. Did I feel better after spending happy hour with friends? Yes. Do I regret it because it broke my rules with the diet? Not at all. I ate healthy the whole day and I had the greatest time with people I loved. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

DAY 5

I ran so fast today. Maybe because I splurged and made myself avocado toast and it boosted me, but I ran fast. It’s cool to physically see that this is making a difference for me.

DAY 6

Grocery shopping day. I feel really broke, and purchasing so much healthy food seemed unreasonable since I’m moving in a few days. I should have just bought the six dollar blueberries, but instead I got a jar of peanut butter. Does this mean I failed?

DAY 7

I’m excited for this to be done. I’m thankful for being able to experience a healthy lifestyle and for seeing how food truly does impact you, but I also miss not worrying all of the time. I invested a lot of time and planning for this, and accommodating it. I have a lot of respect for people who continuously live this way.

Conclusion.

I’ve learned that you must do everything in moderation. I didn’t let my little slip-ups get me down, nor did I convince myself that eating healthy was done for. I accepted that I ate the pizza, and I moved on and ate a salad. Besides my moments of weakness, I actually did a great job at sticking to my plan, and I already feel a few changes occurring, both mentally and physically. I ran faster than I ever have before, and I feel more confident in myself because I know what I’m putting into my body. Knowing that is enough for me to recognize the positive results.

Will I go back to eating pizza? Most definitely. Except now I consider what it’s worth and have second thoughts when it comes to potential bad decisions. I won’t regret a fun pizza night with friends, but I’ll be mindful with what I’m consuming and try and make small changes with my habits. 

Hopefully one day I’ll get to a point where I want to fully embrace healthy eating, but until then . . .  

At least stay away from the cookie cakes.

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