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

Wellness Encyclopedia: Cherries + Cherry Recovery Smoothie

Wellness Encyclopedia: Cherries + Cherry Recovery Smoothie

Cherries are more than their garnet-colored flesh and delicious flavor would lead you to believe…

Late summer might just be my favorite “season” at the farmers’ markets here on the East Coast. Tables and stalls of local producers are overflowing with ripe peaches and nectarines, fresh flowers cascade from their baskets like tidal waves, every shade of green imaginable is represented by the cornucopia of vegetables available, and on more than one seller’s table the prize of August sits — fresh cherries. It’s not just the outdoor markets cherries commandeer come August, grocery stores and even corner markets all seem to procure them, the fruits practically begging to fill a bowl and be lazily eaten under the canopy of some shady tree somewhere, the difficult-to-navigate pits forcing those eating them to slow down and just enjoy it… And probably have a pit spitting contest too (just be sure to aim for the compost). As you might imagine with any lucky fruit or veggie lucky enough to be chosen for a Wellness Encyclopedia post, cherries are more than their garnet-colored flesh and delicious flavor — turns out they’re super good for you, too! Today — and for the remainder of August for that matter — I’m celebrating cherry season. Read on to learn how these pretty stone fruits can benefit you, then be sure to whip up the recipe below the next time you need a little recovery time post-gym session.

What are they? The cutest stone fruit (or drupe) in the Prunus genus, cherries are believed to be native to Turkey before they were eventually exported to Europe and later, North America. Late summer is typically cherry season in North America, making August the perfect time to pick some up at your local market. The most common cherry available is the Bing cherry, but a wide variety exist, including sunset-colored Rainier, Coral, and Tulare, with most cherries coming from either Prunus avium (sweet and/or wild varieties) or Prunus cerasus (sour varieties).

What are the benefits? Your first tip-off that cherries might be kinda-sorta really good for you should be their dark outer skin. Generally, most fruits and veggies that feature dark or deeply hued outer skins contain high levels of antioxidants, collagen-boosting anthocyanins, polyphenols like quercetin, and carotenoids — cherries included! Cherries are also rich in vitamin C, which not only boosts immunity but aids in cellular turnover, keeping skin looking healthy, youthful and smooth. If you have trouble sleeping, try drinking a small glass of tart cherry juice before bed, as it’s been found to contain phytochemicals that aid in sleep, including melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. Athletes and casual exercisers can both benefit from the anti-inflammatory powers that cherries are believed to possess — cherries and tart cherry juice can help reduce muscle damage and increase healing time after intense exercise, and as a bonus, you might get the best sleep of your life after a good workout and some cherries! Try the restorative smoothie below after your next workout.

How do I use them? Like most stone fruits, cherries are incredibly versatile and work well in both sweet and savory recipes for any time of day. Try them in savory grain bowls nested next to avocado, walnuts and arugula, or tossed into a bright salad with almonds and crunchy romaine. Cherries are easily reduced to a sauce or glaze, and depending on direction can be used to top something sweet (like ice cream) or savory (like a protein). Use them as you would any fruit for dessert recipes, or take the healthy route and add them to juices, oatmeal, chia puddings, and of course – smoothies! …psst, like the one below.

Cherry Recovery Smoothie

Ingredients

1 handful fresh dark cherries, pits and stems removed

1 scoop protein powder of choice (either plain or vanilla)

1 cup frozen steamed veggies (I recommend either cauliflower or zucchini — or both!)

8 oz coconut water

1 tsp coconut butter

¼ tsp almond extract (optional)

1 cup ice

 

Method

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a cup and enjoy! Top with unsweetened dried coconut flakes if desired.

 

+ 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

For Maria Margolies, It’s All About Breath and Body

For Maria Margolies, It’s All About Breath and Body

What motivates the instructor of our upcoming Glacier National Park FP Escape? Come on and find out…

“[Glacier] is so vast, untouched and sacred. It appears as if no one has ever walked its grounds. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the wild, connecting with the land and its creatures, and sharing guidance and energy with a beautiful tribe of women.”

Zodiac sign: Gemini

Birthplace: Bogota, Colombia

Your website says that you are a: Mystical Gypsy Traveler. Mother. Spirit Surfer. Plant Obsessed. Healer. Yogini. Teacher. Consciousness Awakener. Cosmic Dancer. Creative cook. Eternal Student. Sacred Activist. How did you come to embrace all of these wonderful qualities? This is the story of my life. Since I can remember I’ve been using my body, this vessel in which I travel the physical world as a tool to heal and access the world, it drives my curiosity. I passionately believe in movement as medicine. Movement is another form of nourishment, just as important as food and one of the most healing practices we can do for ourselves.

My interest for healing and wellness sparked at a very young age — dancer since the age of 5, vegetarian at 15. And as the closet nerd that I am, I read and study as much as I can about all of the things that interest me. I like to dive deep and not swim in shallow waters. Because of my air nature and gypsy spirit, I was called to move: to travel, to leave my native country to explore and experience the world firsthand. It was on this journey where I learned about myself and my path. My passion for health and wellness deepened and evolved: I developed an interest in cooking and experimenting with flavors, spices and medicinal herbs, understanding their benefits and how these affected not only my practice but my whole energetic and physical being… and of course, my love affair with riding waves began.

I weave all these teachings, passions, experiences, travel and studies into my daily practice and rituals. They are part of who I am and they inform my teaching as well as my holistic approach to wellness and life. But I never stop being a student. I continue to study and explore as much as I can with my teachers and on my own. I am very curious!

You will be guiding our next Escapes trip through Glacier National Park. What can our guests anticipate learning from you? Our highest intention will be to connect to our cosmic centre — that constant place of awareness within. We will be placing a great deal of emphasis on breath. I believe there is a direct connection between the breath and mind. If we work with our breath we can heal our minds, while yoga asanas heal our body. Breath provides us with our ebb and flow — it unifies, sustains and informs us in every level. It’s our life force. It communicates with our body, heals and stops the fluctuations of the mind and even increases our longevity.

Being on a retreat provides an ideal opportunity to venture within. To stop, contemplate and learn about ourselves. Through unified flows of asana and synchronicity with the breath, our experience with the internal and external worlds will deepen, tone our systems and rebalance our entire body. There will also be plenty of playtime! Plus, I’ll be sharing a hands-on Radical Radiance workshop with herbal alchemy and recipes to glow inside and out.

For those of us who can’t accompany you, what lesson/s can you impart on us to integrate into our daily exploration? I think that the biggest, most important message in these very difficult, busy times is to find quiet and go within. Disconnect. Listen. Witness. Observe your mind. Find time to connect to our cosmic center. The divine.

Nowadays we are always connected, constantly moving, with so many distractions and spending way too much time in front of a screen. So, consciously trading some of that time to mere contemplating, observing and cultivating a meditation practice is very important. A moment of meditation can refresh you on every level, give you the tools to cope with whatever life brings you, and ultimately guide you to happiness.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got? Be you.

Worst advice? I can’t remember, it was that bad!

Spirit animal: Butterfly.

What does the word free mean to you? Free means to be me. Authentic. To be awake and keep consciousness alive. To Give. To Love myself. And to be attached to nothing, yet connected to everything.

Photos by Enrique Aviles.

Free People Blog

Releasing Judgment

Releasing Judgment

This post comes to you from our friend, healer and soon-to-be-momma Nina Endrst.

Some days it’s hard to look in the mirror and really face up to what we see. We’re human, which inevitably means we’ll say and do things we’re not proud of. We are flawed, and that’s OK. This work of being a mindful human requires us to meet our edge and keep going. So much of life we cannot control, which is beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. I’ve found my practice is a balance of letting go and focusing on what I can control; the quality and tone of my thoughts, words and actions. I lead mostly with love but I do find myself stuck in judgment at times and this is my work — pulling myself up and out of a toxic place and standing firm in love and compassion. I hope these exercises help you to release judgment and bring us closer to each other.

Be willing to be a student, forever!

I can only speak for myself but, when I peel away the layers, I find that the judgment I feel toward others stems primarily from fear. Fear that I may not measure up in some way, or that the “other” is smarter, faster, stronger, sweeter, whatever! Um, who cares? Everyone is here to do their own thing their own way – so let’s try and learn from each other.

Practice: Start with respect. Next time you feel a pang of insecurity or feel intimidated or by someone – try getting to know them, ask a few questions. Everyone is a teacher on our path and it’s up to us to pay attention and seize these opportunities. Try your best to quiet that little voice telling you to tear them down and let yourself be taught. I find it so rewarding to learn from those who I respect and admire.

Yes, we are different but we are all the same.

Leading international retreats has allowed me to meet people from around the world — all with unique and beautiful stories and often traumatic wounds that run deep. Everyone is different yet the same because at our cores we are love. Making a snap judgment about someone we think is “different” without getting even a glimpse into who that person is or what he/she has endured is detrimental to our overall wellbeing.

Practice #1: Next time you are frustrated by a stranger, take a deep breath and say to yourself internally, “I am them, they are me.” Watch the aggravation dissipate.

Practice #2: Try striking up a conversation with someone who on the surface seems completely different from you. Or perhaps someone you’ve labeled this or that but never actually taken the time to get to know. Open your heart and mind and connect.

Compassion starts with you.

It’s impossible to love someone if you don’t love yourself. This I know to be true. So, let’s start there. How do you show yourself love, what do you do to take care of you? How do you speak to yourself when nobody is listening? How much time and energy do you spend judging yourself? Most of us are doing the best we can and that’s more than enough.

Practice: Write down all the nasty things you say to yourself and sit with it. Then burn the list. Next, commit to being nice to yourself. Start with a personal growth plan – What are you doing to take care of yourself currently? What makes you feel good, energized and close to your highest self? How can you invite more of that into your life?

When in doubt, compassion is always the answer.

 

Free People Blog

(When It’s Too Hot) In the Kitchen: Vegan Grilled Caesar Salad

(When It’s Too Hot) In the Kitchen: Vegan Grilled Caesar Salad

High summer = high heat = high time to get out of the kitchen for some outdoor cooking…

Serves 2.
Ingredients
Dressing:
15 oz garbanzo beans (in liquid, no salt)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp caper brine
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
Salad:
1 head Romaine lettuce, split in 2 lengthwise
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup reserved garbanzos
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 loaf gluten free focaccia (or bread of choice for croutons)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for croutons
Salt
Black pepper
Method
Dressing:
Reserve 1/2 cup of garbanzos for garnish.  Purée rest of ingredients in blender till very smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. (There should be extra dressing to use at a later date for crudités or more salad.)
Salad:
Rub both pieces of halved romaine with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and, on a very hot grill, char flat sides of lettuce to create crosshatch marks.  *The most important part? Keep lettuce crisp and cold.  Grill marks will add contrast in texture, temperature and flavor. Garnish with as much dressing as desired. Add tomatoes seasoned with salt, capers, toasted pine nuts and garbanzos. Top with croutons. If you choose to make croutons, thinly slice bread of choice, brush with olive oil and grill till crispy.
Photos by Jillian Guyette.

Free People Blog

FP How We: Eat Pretty

FP How We: Eat Pretty

Our monthly home office wellness series turns within, as we talk all things Eat Pretty with Jolene Hart …

This post comes to you from Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Jolene Hart.

As a health coach and author, I help my readers and clients look and feel their best via the beautifying powers of food and self-care. Together we look beyond the surface of the skin, into the various ways we nourish our beauty — beginning with our meals and extending to mindset, movement, energy, sleep, and all of the unique needs of our individual bodies in each season. Beauty, as you’ve heard before, is so much more than skin deep, and I love watching my clients build a dynamic and very personal lifestyle of beauty that reflects that, supporting their lifelong beauty and wellbeing in the process.

I shared my approach to beauty with the Free People Home Office this month, amidst vases of wildflowers, linens hand-dyed to match the covers of my Eat Pretty book series, and an abundance of fresh lemons (one of my absolute favorite skin foods) for beauty food inspiration. A sunlit space, the glow of a summer afternoon, and a room filled with the magical creative energy of FP employees made this event so special!

Whenever I share my work, I also tell my personal story, almost a decade’s worth of skin issues, and my exhaustive search for a product, prescription, or treatment that would heal them. Not only did I make it my job to figure out why chronic eczema and cystic acne were taking over my skin, it actually was my job to give beauty advice, as I was working as a magazine beauty editor at the time. After several years spent seeking and testing promising skin treatments and services, my skin was unchanged. Desperate, I left my magazine post and used my journalist role to search for answers — delving into various fields of study including Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, genomics, aesthetics, dermatology, and integrative nutrition to learn more about our bodies and our skin. My own frustrating experience inspired my second career as a coach and my beauty nutrition-focused coaching practice Beauty Is Wellness, and that personal journey has kept me passionate about eating for beauty every day of my own life.

During my visit, I challenged the Free People staff to rethink their own approach to beauty, beginning with their meals and extending to the sources of energy in their lives that influence their own mindset, stress, and emotions. We named some of the qualities that describe a universally ‘beautiful’ person — vibrant, energetic, fresh, glowing — and I asked the group to use those qualities as a guide when choosing their own meals. The foods we eat break down to become our bodies on a molecular level, so choosing foods naturally high in energy, vibrancy, and freshness strongly adds to the visible beauty of our bodies, even as it supports optimal physical function.

I shared other qualities that are essential to keep in mind when choosing foods for beauty — qualities like seasonality, anti-inflammatory value, and color — and explained the vital role that blood sugar balance plays in achieving radiant, youthful skin, balanced hormones, good moods and your healthiest weight. One simple strategy that I believe all women should know to support their blood sugar balance is to eat a meal that satiates the body and provides slow-digesting energy. To achieve this, it’s ideal to include a combination of protein, healthy fats, and abundant vegetables on your plate every time you sit down to a meal. This illustration of an Eat Pretty plate, taken from my book Eat Pretty, Live Well, helps visualize what those foods might look like together.

 

 

Above all, I encouraged the FP team to listen closely to their bodies, by watching their skin as well as their energy, digestion, hormone balance, and stress levels, to find the foods and the habits that best support their beauty and body. We’re all uniquely made, so it’s important to recognize our own needs by seeing and feeling those telling manifestations in our bodies. I’ve found, as have so many of my readers and clients, that building a lifestyle that supports your beauty from the inside out not only helps you look and feel your best, it teaches you so much about your body in the process.

So many thanks to the amazing FP staff for inviting me to share this message, and for providing so much creative inspiration as always!

+ Want to learn more from Jolene Hart? Check out these articles here and start your journey to healthy living today! 

Photo by Magdalena Fountoukidis.

Free People Blog

Wellness Encyclopedia: Pineapple + The Easiest Pineapple Recipe Ever

Wellness Encyclopedia: Pineapple + The Easiest Pineapple Recipe Ever

In the heat of August, is there anything quite as gorgeous as a bite of fresh pineapple?

With its sunny yellow hue and juicy sweet taste, to me, fresh pineapple is the only answer to the question of what to eat on a blistering hot afternoon. It’s the perfect snack to have on hand all summer long — from the beach, to picnics, to the ideal dessert when it’s 8pm and somehow still sweltering. As we enter into high summer, my pineapple consumption has increased exponentially with the heat, so I thought it was time to finally give this incredible fruit its day in the sun. Along with being super delicious and super affordable, pineapple boasts incredible benefits for the whole body — it’s more than its tropical flavor! Read on to learn why the humble pineapple (a whole, unpeeled, as-is pineapple!) deserves a place in your market basket the next time you’re browsing the produce section.

What is it? Native to Brazil and Paraguay (and possibly the Caribbean), pineapples are part of the Bromeliaceae family, the same family as most air plants (which makes total sense as soon as you look at the top of a pineapple and a tillandsia side by side). Pineapples begin their interesting lives as large flowers, consisting of over 200 blooms for most fruits. As the flowers mature, the fruits of each flower join together, with the ovaries of each flower transforming into berries which bind together to make a single pineapple (told you it was interesting). Pineapples are classified as multiple fruits (or collective fruits) consisting of coalesced berries, which means each flower produces a fruit/berry, but these mature into one large fruit (figs and breadfruit are another example of this). Phew! It’s a lot to take in, but next time you’re eating a pineapple, you can think about how you’re really eating a bunch of berries joined together.

 

 

What are the benefits? While some people turn to orange juice to fight off a cold, my family swore by pineapple juice (which might explain why it took me years to warm back up to it). But! My mother wasn’t wrong — one cup of pineapple contains 105% DV of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and immune booster. Along with potentially boosting overall immunity, the vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin B1 in pineapple can help scrub the body of free radicals, aiding in cellular turnover and resulting in healthier cells from the inside out, healing sun damage and possibly reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Pineapple’s high level of bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme, soothes and relaxes tense muscles and connective tissues, aiding in everything from pain relief, arthritis relief, wound healing, and tendonitis. Bromelain has also been shown to be a powerful digestive enzyme, aiding in the absorption of nutrients and in the healing of digestive disorders.

 

 

How do I use it? Before listing all the delicious ways you can use pineapple, first allow me to make the case for purchasing a whole pineapple instead of pre-cut chunks or — shiver — canned:

Price. In peak season a whole pineapple can usually be bought for somewhere between $1.99 and $2.99, a far more economical choice than purchasing pre-cut chunks, which you’ll end up paying a premium for, sometimes upwards of $5.99 per pound. You’ll save some cash if you’re willing to spend five minutes of your time cutting it up yourself. Plus, you’ll earn some IRL fruit ninja bragging rights.

Taste. Canned pineapple can’t hold a candle to the fresh stuff. If you don’t believe me, do a taste test. Unless you’re making a pineapple upside-down cake or some type of drink, canned pineapple is actually pretty awful. Choose fresh whenever possible. Fresh pineapple is like summer’s prize for making it through the winter. You win!

Now that I have you convinced, how do you use fresh pineapple? Besides cutting up a big bowl of it and devouring it right then and there, fresh pineapple is surprisingly versatile, lending its sweet and tropical flavor to everything from sweet to savory. The next time you make salsa, try tossing in some diced pineapple for a new twist, or add pineapple chunks to kebabs before throwing them on the grill. For a summer-ready dessert that won’t leave you feeling stuffed, dip pineapple chunks in melted dark chocolate and sprinkle with dried coconut before popping in the fridge to set. Add pineapple to smoothies, chia pudding, or overnight oats, or top with plain yogurt for a tropical breakfast. Or, try the recipe below — it’s one of my favorite summer treats and takes all of five minutes to throw together.

 

 

Spiced Fresh Pineapple

Ingredients:

½ to 1 whole pineapple, peeled and cubed (this video will show you how to choose and cut a whole pineapple)

Chili powder

Lime wedges

Dried unsweetened coconut

Method:

Place pineapple cubes in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with chili powder and toss to combine (start off slow, then add more to taste). Divide pineapple between serving bowls and top with dried coconut. Serve with line wedges to squeeze on top. Enjoy!

+ 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

In the Kitchen: Egg/Avocado Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

In the Kitchen: Egg/Avocado Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Incorporate two of our favorite ingredients — egg and avocado — into your menu for any time of day…

From our FP Gather chef Greg Glowatz…with photos by Jillian Guyette.

Breakfast

Avocado and Egg Toast

Serves 2.

Ingredients

4 slices multigrain toast

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, butter or vegan butter

3 pastured fresh eggs

1 avocado

1 or 2 heirloom tomatoes, depending on size

½ cup radicchio, shredded

Maldon or any flaky sea salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

Cut multigrain bread to the size and shape that you want and toast until golden brown. While the toast is still warm, spread on a little butter, vegan butter or a little extra virgin olive oil. Lightly scramble pastured eggs, season with salt and pepper and gently cook in butter, vegan butter or extra virgin olive oil. Top toast with scrambled eggs. Then add sliced heirloom tomatoes seasoned with sea salt, sliced avocado and shredded radicchio. Finish with more flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

Lunch

Avocado and Egg Salad

Serves 2.

Ingredients

3 cups kale, shredded fine

1 tbsp avocado oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 pastured fresh eggs

1 avocado

1 scallions

1 cucumber

2 carrots, rainbow or orange

1 sweet red pepper

3 tbsp sprouted hemp seeds

Maldon or any flaky sea salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

First, hard boil eggs first and set aside. I like to start in plenty of cold water. I turn gas on high and, when water comes to a boil, I turn heat off and cover eggs for about 8 minutes depending on their size. Cool and peel eggs and set aside. Toss shredded kale in avocado oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and gently massage kale with lemon juice and oil. Cut cucumber in matchstick-sized pieces. Slice scallions, carrots, red pepper and celery as thin as possible. Next, assemble salad by placing dressed kale in bowls. Top with sliced scallion, carrots, celery, red pepper and cucumber. Cut hardboiled eggs in half and arrange on top with vegetables and sliced avocado. Sprinkle sprouted hemp seeds over top with cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Dinner

Avocado and Egg with Kimchi and Rice

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 cup short grain brown sushi rice

1 ¼ cup water

2 tbsp brown rice vinegar

1 tbsp organic brown rice mirin

1 jar kimchi, raw probiotic

2 pastured fresh eggs

1 tbsp avocado oil

1 avocado

1 small cucumber

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

6 sprigs cilantro

Maldon or any flaky sea salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

Bring rice and water, with a pinch of salt, to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until water is fully absorbed. Keep covered to continue steaming for an additional 10 minutes. Gently fold rice with vinegar and mirin and a pinch of salt. (Also, I like to add some liquid from kimchi container to give rice additional flavor.) Separate into two bowls. Cook eggs in avocado oil and season with salt and pepper. Top rice with a sunny side up egg. Then add kimchi, sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, cilantro sprigs and toasted sesame seeds.

+ What are some of your fave avocado/egg dishes?

Free People Blog

Wellness Encyclopedia: Probiotics vs. Prebiotics (And Why You Need Both)

Wellness Encyclopedia: Probiotics vs. Prebiotics (And Why You Need Both)

Adding pro- and prebiotic foods to your diet is incredible, and the rewards are well worth the little effort involved…

Quick: How are you feeling today? Take a quick mental scan, I’ll wait.

So? How’s everything doing?

Maybe you feel great (I certainly hope you do). But perhaps you’re feeling a little off. Are you bloated? Or experiencing a bit of brain fog? Maybe your immune system has felt weak lately or you slept poorly last night and are having a tough time shaking it off. We’ve all been there. But it wasn’t until fairly recently that a connection was drawn between the symptoms listed above and the bacteria chilling out in our guts. Things like poor diet, a round of antibiotics, and a stressful lifestyle can all take their toll of our bodies, resulting in imbalanced gut bacteria and a host of nasty symptoms that can persist for weeks and sometimes years. Over the past few years, more and more research has shown that a diet rich in probiotic foods and high quality probiotic supplements goes far beyond aiding in digestion. Along with processing the food we eat, our digestive tracts houses 80% of the immune system, and weakened immunity can wreak havoc on all areas of the body. Unfortunately, taking a daily probiotic or drinking some kombucha isn’t enough. Like any living organism, all that good bacteria we’re getting through probiotic foods and supplements needs to be nourished. With prebiotics. It may sound complicated, but adding pro- and prebiotic foods to your diet is incredible and the rewards are well worth the little effort involved. Today we’re discussing the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics, how to tell the difference (it’s easy), and why you need both.

What are they? Probiotics are pretty recognizable. Perhaps you’re heard of superstar strains Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium? Found in probiotic supplements and in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, and natto, these strains (and more) of beneficial bacteria take up residence in the gut and help the body absorb nutrients, break down food, and ward off infection (fun fact: there are more bacteria in the gut than there are cells in your body). When everything is functioning properly, the good bacteria in your gut overtakes the bad, creating enzymes that destroy bad bacteria, yeast and other enzymes. Before modern agriculture, antibiotics and chlorinated water, our bodies had no trouble producing the bacteria we needed, but now our digestive tracts could use a little help, which is why it’s important to intentionally add probiotics to your routine, either through the probiotic-rich foods listed here or a high quality supplement.

But if we’re feeding ourselves all that good bacteria… who is feeding the bacteria? Like any living thing, probiotic bacteria has to eat to stay healthy and strong, which is where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are a special type of fibre, called oligosaccharides, found in certain fruits and vegetables. Oligosaccharides are a type of fibre that can’t be broken down by digestive enzymes or gastric acid; instead, they make their way to the gut where they’re feasted upon by the good bacteria, increasing their numbers and effectiveness. Probiotics are great on their own, but add in prebiotics and they become superpowered, allowing our bodies even more nutrient absorption and boosting overall health. Prebiotics are found in vegetables like raw asparagus, green bananas, garlic, leeks, kale, onion, dandelion greens, and jicama.

What are the benefits? Because 80% of the immune system is located in the gut and has the power to influence all systems in the body, probiotics can help improve overall wellbeing and some very specific symptoms. The first thing you may notice after beginning a new probiotic regimen is decreased bloating. Probiotics help breakdown and process the food we eat, aiding in intestinal motility (elimination) and gastric acid production, which decreases gas while improving digestion overall. Adding more probiotic-rich fermented foods or supplements to your diet may also help clear up acne and other skin issues such as eczema while improving immunity across the board, as these conditions are often tied to immune response and probiotics boost immune function. You may feel more awake and energetic, as probiotics help produce the vitamins B12 and K2, and help kill off candida overgrowth, which can cause low energy, bad breath, and yeast overgrowth.

Adding prebiotic foods to your diet will help the good bacteria in your system function at optimal levels while delivering a hearty dose of added vitamins, minerals and nutrients to your system. And because the good bacteria will be working so efficiently, they’ll deliver these nutrients faster right where they’re needed.

How do I use them? First and foremost, if you’re planning on adding a supplement to your wellness routine, it’s important to find the probiotic that works best for you. When looking for a probiotic supplement, seek out a high quality brand that contains at least 80 billion CFUs (colony forming units) and at least 10 different strains of bacteria — you want the bacteria to make it past the gastric acid in your stomach and be able to diversify once they reach your gut. If you have specific health concerns, do some research beforehand to find out which strains are especially helpful in treating specific needs.

Even if you’re taking a probiotic supplement, it’s always a good idea to add plenty of probiotic-rich foods to your diet. This helps add biodiversity to your gut bacteria, while delivering additional nutrients. Go for “sour” foods such as unfiltered apple cider vinegar, plain kefir (water, coconut or traditional organic dairy), plain yogurt (look for “live and active cultures” over “active cultures” — you want ‘em moving and shaking), kombucha, and kimchi. Avoid “fermented” foods that contain large amounts of added sugar, like sugary yogurts, as candida and yeast feed off these added sugars, exacerbating the problem, some naturally-occurring sugars, like those present in yogurt and kombucha are OK. If need be, add some fruit or nuts for a little extra flavor.

Prebiotic foods are the easiest part. Opt for fibre-rich vegetables, such as jicama, kale, leeks, onions, dandelion greens, underripe bananas, asparagus, garlic, broccoli, Jerusalem artichoke, and go raw whenever possible.

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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

Your Major Skin Milestones

Your Major Skin Milestones

Here’s exactly what happens to your complexion at every life stage, and how to be prepared for the highs and lows…  

Skin — like your body — changes over time. Sometimes these shifts can seem incredibly random. Like, why is my skin so dry all of a sudden? Or how can I be breaking out in my 30s? And where did these dark patches come from? Turns out such complexion swings are actually very predictable. Here, we asked Manhattan dermatologist Sue Ann Wee, M.D., who is an expert on the science of skin health, to fill us on the major skin milestones most women face. Then we tell you how you can get in front of these issues now — so you’re prepared for any complexion curveball that might be coming your way.

Skin Milestone: Your Teens

What to expect: Oily skin, acne and stretch marks

What’s going on in your body: Overactive hormones “stimulate sebaceous glands to produce an oily substance called sebum,” says Dr. Wee, which can clog pores. In many women, acne may flare up several days before your period. And high levels of hormones strike at the time when your body is growing, which can stretch the skin’s tissue.

What to do: See your dermatologist to get an acne regimen that works for you — benzoyl peroxide washes, salicylic and glycolic acids and topical sulfur are good over-the-counter remedies. Stretch marks are best treated early; your doctor can choose the right treatment for you (typically pulsed dye laser, but the choice of laser or treatment depends on your skin tone among other factors). In the meantime, we suggest a body oil to help minimize the effects of skin stretching.

Skin Milestone: Your College Years

What to expect: Acne and eczema flare-ups

What’s going on in your body: “The combination of increased stress and lack of sleep, which can spike the stress hormone cortisol, and poor eating habits (sugary, processed foods, and alcohol) can increase inflammation in the body,” says Dr. Wee, adding that this can lead to “skin changes such as increased acne, exacerbation of inflammatory conditions of the skin like eczema and psoriasis.” Plus, in your 20s, “there is already increased oil production from more active sebaceous glands, which makes acne even more likely during stressful times in college.”

What to do: Make good lifestyle decisions!  Try to avoid all nighters by sticking to a regular study, exercise and sleep routine. Embrace a whole-food diet and check in with your dermatologist to formulate an acne treatment plan (early treatment can prevent or minimize acne scarring). Other good skin care habits we recommend include using gentle cleansers that don’t strip the natural pH of the skin, non-comedogenic moisturizers, and high SPF broad spectrum sunscreens (reapply every two hours and use a nickel-sized dollop for face and shot glass amount for the body).

Skin Milestone: Pregnancy

What to expect: Dewy, radiant skin (yah!), changes in pigmentation, acne

What’s going on in your body: “Although the precise mechanisms are not clear, hormonal and metabolic changes during pregnancy significantly impact the skin,” says Dr. Wee. “Increased estrogen positively affects collagen production, elasticity and hydration,” she says, and high levels of progesterone may boost elasticity and skin firmness. The “pregnancy glow” is thought to be due to amped up oil production and blood supply to the skin; “however, these same hormonal changes may aggravate acne or rosacea,” she says. Stretch marks often occur with pregnancy and as well as melasma, or darkening of the skin, that might have to do with increased estrogen, sun exposure, and genetic predisposition.

What to do: First, chat with your dermatologist as the options for treating acne during pregnancy are pretty limited. After pregnancy, your pro can work with you to treat melasma and any hyperpigmentation issues, which might include topical bleaching agents, peels, and lasers. Your dermatologist can also treat stretch marks with lasers that target redness and help smooth the texture. Most importantly, practice good sun protection. Although melasma cannot always be prevented, it’s hugely beneficial to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day; during pregnancy, experts often recommend using physical barrier, zinc-based sunscreens (here’s one we love).

Skin Milestone: Your 30s and 40s

What to expect: Dryness, dullness, fine lines, especially in areas of facial expression such as forehead and around the eyes; skin also may start to appear less taut in certain areas. Hormonal acne is quite common now and even later into menopause.

What’s going on with your body: Signs of intrinsic and extrinsic (ultraviolet light, pollution, lifestyle) aging start to surface now, says Dr. Wee. The cumulative effects of UV radiation can damage DNA, increasing melanin or pigmentation (i.e. brown spots). Estrogen production gradually decreases, resulting in drier and less hydrated skin, increased wrinkling, slower wound healing, and less firmness and elasticity in your skin.

What to do: Sun protection continues to be critical and keeping skin hydrated helps it appear plump and smooth. We’re all about creams with hyaluronic acid and other humectants combined with occlusive emollients. You can also try hydroxy acid masks and antioxidant serums containing vitamin C. Ask your dermatologist about lasers like Clear + Brilliant to address early photo-aging changes (fine lines and pigmentation) and Fraxel Dual lasers for more significant wrinkles and pigmentation in your 30s and beyond, as your collagen levels diminish.

Last thing! Be sure to see your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene. Healthy teeth and gums are important for your underlying jaw and maxillae bones, says Dr. Wee, all of which play a major role in the structural foundation of the face!

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

Free People Blog