Kale Salad, Two Ways

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While sometimes a bit tough, if you know how to prepare it correctly, Kale salad can be a tasty side dish or main course. Kale is a green that’s gained popularity in the past couple years—we see it in our grocery stores, farmers’ markets, salad bars, and restaurants. The leafy green is packed with vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. It’s part of the Brassica family of veggies (known to be super-nutritious) that includes cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Last week we posted about a raw food workshop some members of the Honest staff attended and we mentioned the importance of massaging the kale before you eat it raw. This may sound silly but for a tasty, healthy, and affordable green like kale, this 2 minute step is worth the extra effort.

Kale is in abundance right now at farmers’ markets because it’s in season, so you might be able to get a great deal (go to a farmer’s market about 30 minutes before it closes down when vendors are willing to haggle to get rid of their produce). Some specialty grocery and health food stores sell baby kale, which doesn’t need to be massaged, just soak it in an acidic dressing for about 20-30 minutes before serving.

Another great thing about kale is that since it’s a tougher leaf (hence the massaging and soaking) if you make a giant kale salad for dinner, you can easily save the rest for the next day’s lunch without it getting overly soggy.

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Kale and Persimmon Salad

Serves 2-4

Ingredients 

  • 6 cups organic baby kale
  • 1 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 4 organic persimmons

Meyer Lemon Dressing:

  • 1 organic Meyer lemon, (you’ll use the juice and the zest)
  • 1/4 cup cold-pressed organic olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. agave

kale dressing

Directions

1. Wash and dry kale using a BPA-free salad spinner or a thin dishtowel. That’s it with this type of kale! No massaging necessary.

2. Wash and slice persimmons into two-bite pieces—large enough so you can really taste the flavor. Yum!

3. Using a chef’s knife, roughly chop about 1 cup of almonds.

4. Add all ingredients to a bowl.

5. To make the dressing mix 1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil, with 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar. Squeeze 3-4 Tbsp. of juice from a Meyer lemon. Then grate as much zest as possible into the mix (Meyer lemon zest has an amazing flavor!). Finally mix in 1 Tbsp. organic agave nectar.

6. Toss and enjoy!

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 *Dressing adapted from DamnDelicious.net

 

Kale and Pomegranate Salad

Serves 2-4

  • 1 bunch organic kale
  • 1 organic pomegranate
  • 1 organic golden delicious apple
  • 1 organic lemon

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp. organic pomegranate molasses (you can make this or buy it), in a bind you can also use organic pomegranate juice, this changes the consistency of the dressing but still works!
  • 4 Tbsps. organic cold-pressed olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh organic lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. agave
  • 2 Tbsp. organic red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

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1. To prepare this type of kale, first spray with a veggie wash, leave on for 1-2 minutes, and rinse. Shake leaves dry and use a utility or paring knife to remove the thick stem leaving just the leaves. To make this easier, fold the kale in half with the inside facing out, exposing the stem.

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Slice the kale into strips, so it’s easier to bite with a fork. Drain kale in BPA-free salad spinner or let dry in a colander.

2. Next you’ll want to massage the kale. This makes it less rough, easier to chew, and much more tasty! Pour about 2 tsp. olive oil, a squirt of fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt over the kale. Massage the lettuce for about 2-5 minutes until you notice it shrinking in size and looking more salad-like. When massaging it, act like you’re mixing cookie dough with your hands or even giving someone a massage—don’t be afraid to get in there!

3. Next, you’ll need to deseed the pomegranate. The easiest way to deseed a pomegranate is to fill a bowl with cool water. Slice the ends of the pomegranate, then begin to tear it apart while it’s in the water. The seeds should easily separate from the membrane. This also helps to prevent pomegranate juice from getting on your clothes because any juice that comes out of the seeds as you gently squeeze them ends up in the water. After all the seeds are out, pick out any remaining membrane from the bowl.

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4. For texture purposes, we peeled the apple and sliced it into strips, but feel free to use the skin!

5. Toss the apple in with the kale, add about half the pomegranate seeds (or as many as you’d like. We’re saving the other half for pomegranate martinis!).

6. To make the dressing mix 3 Tbsp. cold-pressed organic olive oil, 1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses (or pomegranate juice), 1 Tbsp. agave, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, vinegar, and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour dressing over salad. Toss. This should lightly coat the leaves with a sweet flavor.

7. Enjoy!

 

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 What are your favorite kale recipes? Tell us in the comments!

 

Brighten Your Wardrobe with These Colorblock Earrings

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This week’s DIY is the perfect way to update your accessories and infuse some color into your wardrobe. These simple colorblock earrings can be made in an afternoon. They’re so simple, once you make your first pair it will be hard to stop at one! So pull out all of your leftover embroidery floss from the friendship bracelet craze of 2013, and scour your jewelry collection for some old hoop earrings.

When finished, these earrings will be a funky, one-of-a-kind piece for your accessories collection, or a perfectly unique gift. You can even tailor the colors to match specific outfits or events. Making your own on-trend accessories, like these earrings, is a fun way to upcycle old fashion trends and keep the things you already own relevant!

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 Materials

  • Embroidery floss
  • Inexpensive hoop earrings
  • Non-toxic craft glue
  • Scissors

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Instructions

  1. Choose your colors! Cut about 40 inches of each one for a large hoop, less for a small hoop. You can always trim any excess so better to overestimate in this case.

  2. Place a little bit of glue on one end of the hoop.

  3. Take your chosen thread and lay it parallel to the hoop, with the end resting in your dot of glue. Select the thread color that you want to show first and begin wrapping it around both the hoop and the other thread colors, with the other threads laying smoothly against the hoop.colorblock earrings 3

  4. When ready to change colors, add the first thread back to the others and select your next choice. Now begin wrapping with this color, just as before. Continue to do this as many times as desired to create the perfect pattern for you!colorblock earrings 4

  5. When you reach the end place a bit of glue on the hoop and continue to wrap thread snugly. Trim the colors that you are not using as short as you can (nail clippers also work well here) and then wrap up with the remaining piece of thread. Use a bit of glue to secure this last bit, then use a final dab over top the thread to seal it up. Gently press with your finger to smooth it out and ensure a nice seal.

  6. Repeat the finishing process on the other end of the hoop by trimming away excess thread and creating a seal with the glue.colorblock earrings 5

  7. Have fun with your new one-of-a-kind statement earrings!

 

Save this DIY idea to your Pinterest board! See the graphic below for simple instructions.

color banded earrings Pin

What’s your favorite way to update old fashion trends? Share below!

Are You Doing These Common Yoga Poses Correctly?

With so many different yoga poses out there, it’s easy to get distracted by the challenging ones and overlook the benefit simple yoga poses offer. In other words, even the most basic yoga poses provide a wealth of benefits for beginners and even the most seasoned yogis if practiced correctly.

I’m going to offer a few suggestions to help you with some common yoga poses. Making these subtle adjustments in your practice will ensure that your yoga routine will be safe and of maximum benefit.

Keep in mind “right “ and “wrong” are not set terms in yoga. You have your whole life to practice this stuff, so let it be an exploration rooted in love and patience.

 

Mountain pose/Tadasana

Common Problem: Hyperextension

In the first image, Jessica is hyperextending her legs, while in the second image she's doing a microbend, which is the proper way to do this pose.

In the first image, Jessica is hyperextending her legs, while in the second image she’s doing a microbend, which is the proper way to do this pose.

Hyperextension is the movement or extension of joints, tendons, or muscles beyond the normal limit or range of motion which can cause injury. By hyperextending in your pose, you run the risk of creating serious problems. I have seen it and it’s not pretty.

Learning not to hyperextend is one of the most difficult tasks to master. If you can, visualize a straight leg (you might want to use a full-length mirror to help) and then see what your leg looks like when it is hyperextended. The hyperextended leg looks like a parenthesis. Though it may feel straight, it is not. The easiest way to avoid hyperextension is to not to lock your knees, which can be challenging because when your teacher says, “Stand on your straight leg!” it is almost a silent command to do so. Instead, bring a micro bend into your knees.

But what does that really mean? Here’s how it’s done: Press the top of your calf muscle forward while pressing the head of your thigh bone back. This creates a micro bend in the knee, but in a way that allows muscular stability.

 

Forward fold/Uttanasana

Common Problem: Improper bending

Follow Jessica's form in the second image to get the most from this pose.

Follow Jessica’s form in the second image to get the most from this pose.

When you’re forward folding into the pose, don’t try to touch your head to your shins. I know that you have heard this before—if not in yoga then in your high school gym class. But I’m going to shed some light on why it’s so important to understand the correct posture for this pose.

I know it feels fancy and accomplished to touch your head to your shins, but you are avoiding the gift of the pose. Getting your hands to touch the floor is not the goal of the forward fold. Practicing a simple pose over and over again is actually the safest and most transformative way to work your body.

Let me say it again: Forward bending is not about rounding your spine to get your head to your shins! It is meant to lengthen your spine while your pelvis lifts and folds over your legs. As simple as it sounds, this isn’t the easiest pose to master. It is so challenging to do correctly that most teachers won’t push you into proper alignment.

To get the most out of this pose, keep your spine straight and fold your pelvis over your legs. If your hands don’t make it to the floor grab some blocks or the sides of your shins to support the pose. When your spine starts to round, and it will, stop and work the stretch.

I practiced yoga for years before I realized I wasn’t actually in a proper forward bend. Now my forward bend looks more like a table than a paperclip, but my hamstrings are finally truly starting to lengthen. So be gentle yet demanding with yourself and use this pose to cultivate patience, focus, and real flexibility.

 

Mountain pose with arms overhead/Urdhva Hastasana

Common Problem: Arms and shoulders misaligned

Keep your shoulders aligned while reaching your arms overhead.

Watch your shoulders to ensure they’re in their sockets while reaching your arms overhead.

In yoga we lift our arms over our heads all the time. This is great for circulation and lengthening your spine, but did you know that there is a good chance that your shoulder heads might be coming out of your shoulder socket if your alignment is off?

It is a challenge to align your arms in a way that keeps your shoulders in their sockets. But how does a yogi know if they are “out of line”? The simple way to tell is to lift your arms up and then look at your armpits. Are they flat or are they hollow? If your armpits don’t have a little cave in them, your shoulder heads are not in the right place.

Bring your arms down and externally rotate your upper arms (this opens your chest and your palms), then lift your arms up slowly, being sure to keep that little cave in your armpits. When you start to lose that alignment, stop raising your arms, find the hollowness again, and work with that edge until you can sustain your cave in full extension. If this feels challenging, then you’re on the right track! It’s supposed to challenge and this means you are doing it right.

This kind of work is subtle but powerful, so be faithful to your practice. Keep it going, your practice is about to go to the next level!

 

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of exercise, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.

Jessica James has been practicing yoga seriously for 12 years, and for the last 6 years she has developed yoga sets that sculpt the body and clear the mind as a teacher. During her second pregnancy, Jessica shared her own experience with a unique fitness based prenatal yoga program. She has completed 3 yoga alliance certified teacher training courses and currently lives in Malibu, CA with her family.

The Honest Truth: Natural vs. Synthetic

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With increasing concerns about toxic chemicals, a lot of people these days are looking for safe and natural products (us included). But finding these product is not always simple.

Don’t worry, though—we’re here to make things a little easier. We aim to help you understand the ingredients in the products you buy a little bit better, so you can bust through the confusion and make the most informed choices.

So, let’s break down this natural vs. synthetic issue and shed some light on the truth of the matter.

FACT: It’s not a black and white, either/or issue.

People’s definitions of what’s natural and what’s synthetic cover a wide spectrum of perspectives. Let’s consider a couple:

  • Some people only consider something natural if it comes from nature and is in its natural state.

  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, some argue that crude oil is natural because it comes from the earth.

The fact is, modern chemistry creates a vast gray area between natural and synthetic. Many common natural ingredients are derived from plants and then manipulated in laboratories to isolate the exact chemicals needed to create an end product. Many other common ingredients are derived from petroleum and can sometimes be manipulated so the end chemical is what’s called “nature identical.” Where ingredients start their journey is only one tiny piece of the picture.

FACT: Natural ingredients are not always safe.

Just because a product is 100% natural does not mean it’s perfectly safe. We love how Dr. Holly Phaneuf, biochemist and author, puts in on her blog:

On a gut-response level, natural molecules are assumed more virtuous than synthetic ones, but a quick glance at some toxic mushrooms, snake venoms, and a multitude of plants…will convince you this is not true. The truth is, whether a molecule is from a plant, a lab bench, or a rock, it can’t be judged until we know how it behaves, so we must be more open-minded. Like people, some good ones can act badly under certain circumstances, too. A molecule’s source won’t tell us what it does, so we have to be ready for anything.

Nature has created its own line of toxic defenses and, even beyond the obvious risks associated with venom or poison ivy, individuals can also be uniquely vulnerable to seemingly benign things like peanuts or lavender essential oil (which is why you should always watch for reactions to new products you use or foods you eat).

FACT: Synthetic ingredients are not always bad.

In the same vein as above, just because a molecule is made by a human, doesn’t make it inherently bad. In fact, many of the chemicals we make mimic those found in nature and sometimes synthesizing a chemical can be a more sustainable option than harvesting the natural source.

FACT: Nothing is “chemical-free.”

There are natural chemicals and there are synthetic chemicals. All of life is made of chemicals. Water is a chemical. You and I are made of chemicals. Get comfortable with chemicals because there’s no avoiding them.

Often products and brands claiming to be more natural and safer also claim to be “chemical-free.” Honestly, it’s impossible.

Ultimately, it all comes down to understanding how individual chemicals behave in your body and the environment, in combinations, and even in manufacturing processes and sourcing. It’s much more complicated than the overly simplified natural versus synthetic debate.

Luckily, we do the research, so you don’t have to. And, while we’re thoroughly proud of the products we’ve developed so far, we know there’s always room for improvement—from finding alternatives to ingredients that could be allergenic to developing more sustainable supply chains. And, if you ever have a recommendation or question, we’re always all ears.

By The Honest Company Co-Founder and Chief Products Officer Christopher Gavigan

 

Monday Meditation: Disney on Curiosity

Monday Meditation Disney