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FEED YOUR BRAIN is our phrase for everything we do to inspire and enable a healthier generation through learning and information. In our stores, we have Feed Your Brain menus, Feed Your Brain wallpaper and now we have our first online example – our Feed Your Brain blog!

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>Our Manifesto

organic avenue storeFor the vegetarians & the vegans. For the omnivores, the herbivores, the flexitarians and the undecided.  For the early risers and the late nighters. For the marathon runners and the marathon workers. For the 9-to-5’ers and the freelance wanderers. For all the red eyes and all the green thumbs, the yogis and the worker bees. For the bachelors, the bachelorettes, the star-crossed lovers and the serial monogamists. For the introverts and the extroverts. For the right brains, left brains, the hipsters and the hippies. For the thinkers and the doers and the innovators and trail blazers. For the eco-conscious, style-conscious, health conscious and health nuts. For the divas, the fashionistas, the runway models and the role models. For the control freaks and the idealists. For the free spirits and the well-informed. Organic Avenue is for us all. Because we all need to eat. And we are what we eat.

#organicavenue

 

>Grilling with LOVE: 7 Tips For Perfectly Grilled Vegetables

Summer is in full swing, and grills everywhere are fired up for dinner parties and outdoor social events. While some consider the grill to be a meat-only zone, a wide variety of plants can be deliciously prepared on the grill, and still maintain many of their health benefits.

Grilled Veggies on foil

Research suggests that traditional grilled cuisine—red meat, poultry and seafood, may actually release carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that damage our DNA. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, consumption of HCAs are linked to cancers of the colon and stomach. Good news for veggie lovers, grilling vegetables and fruits produces no HCA. Plant-based foods are associated with lower cancer risk.   This is potentially due to the powerful phytonutrients found in plants that may counter the effect of HCAs.

However, it doesn’t mean that we should completely char our veggies on the ‘cue. Lower temperatures and less grill time are always better for maximum nutrient retention and optimal digestion.

Here are 7 helpful tips for healthy (and mouthwatering!) grilled plant-based foods this summer:

1.  Make sure the grill is completely clean before adding the veggies. Our favorite trick is to rub half a lemon over the grates to remove any excess residue.

2. Avoid grilling directly over the flame. To prevent burning, place vegetables on high heat temporarily, then move to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.

3. Instead of using olive oil, try avocado oil or coconut oil to lightly coat your veggies. These oils have a higher smoke point and will not become rancid under the intense heat. Save the EVOO for your accompanying raw salad dressing.

4. In addition to, or in lieu of, a brush of oil, create a marinade using antioxidant-rich ingredients for additional health benefits. Some of our faves include lemon juice, anti-inflammatory garlic, and fresh herbs like rosemary and parsley. Don’t forget a dash of metabolism-boosting cayenne pepper!

5. No need to peel hearty root veggies such as beets, sweet potatoes and squash. Slow cook them directly on the grates in their whole form, or slice into ¾ inch wedges for a quicker grill time.

6. We’ve all tasted barbeque staples such as zucchini, asparagus and eggplant, but even dark, leafy greens can make an appearance on your grill. You can “steam” greens such as kale and Swiss chard by placing them with herbs, spices, and oil in a packet of folded parchment paper. Cover the parchment paper with aluminum foil, and the veggies will cook seamlessly away from direct heat—preventing nutrient loss. Instant “Big Grilled Kale Salad!”

7. For a guilt-free indulgence this summer, grill firm, semi-ripe fruits such as watermelon, bananas, pineapple and peaches on low heat. Brush with a touch of coconut oil to prevent the fruit from sticking to the grates, and be sure to keep a watchful eye, as they’ll be ready for devouring in no time. We like to add a scoop of our Coconut Yogurt to craft an extra-special treat for a warm summer evening.

>Fat v. Fattening

Tell me this hasn’t happened to you or your customers — you scan the shelves for something healthy and spot a something you like. After you read the nutrition label, you’re left with eyes bulging, slowly backing away from the high-fat entrée in fear of airborne calories.

Why is it that seemingly healthy dishes have so many calories or grams of fat? To answer this question, you must consider the difference between “fat” and  “fattening.”

Fat is an essential macro-nutrient needed to sustain human life. It comes in a few different forms and that’s where it gets confusing. Food contains different types of fat that, as Mark Bittman explains in VB6: Vegan Before 6:00 behave differently during digestion and metabolism. On the other hand, foods that are fattening are difficult for your body to break down and end up as stored body fat which leads to weight gain in the long term.
Avocado

In other words, some fats are healthy and others are unhealthy. For example, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as healthy fats because they are good for your heart, cholesterol, and overall health. Examples include olives, olive oil, avocados, and almonds. Polyunsaturated fats include pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. These are easy for the body to break down, use as energy; and help our skin, hair, nails, joints, and ease digestion.

Dissimilarly, trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, found in processed foods, vegetable shortening, stick margarine, fried foods, and commercially packaged baked goods can be harmful to your body by increasing the risk of illness and elevating cholesterol.

Finally, saturated fats, usually found in meat and dairy are harder to categorize since they’ve been found to have both harmful and healthful properties. Plant-based foods containing saturated fats, like coconuts, have been shown to be extremely beneficial for the body.

Did you know that a food can be fattening and contain no fat at all? Popular fat-free foods adjust their recipes by adding in more sugar. For example, consuming a fat free yogurt that’s high in sugar causes your liver to convert all that fructose into stored body fat, contributing to weight gain in the long term.

Alternatively, Organic Avenue Coconut Yogurt contains saturated fat made up of medium-chain fatty acids that are easily broken down and used as energy. Lauric acid found in the fat of coconuts can actually help your body burn fat and increase your metabolism, too!

It’s safe to say that grams of fat or calories alone won’t tell you whether your food is fattening. Next time a customer is contemplating eating a Sunflower Falafel Wrap or even a delectable Chocolate Mousse, let them know they contain healthy fats that can nourish and energize you! In other words, they contain healthy fat but are not fattening!

>InStyle: Hollywood’s Favorite Juice Fasts

Instyle article

InStyle highlights the most popular juice fasts in the country, highlighting the Love Easy fast as a celeb-favorite combination of fresh-pressed juices, raw foods and soups.

>Ch Ch Ch Chia seeds – what to know

Adding new ingredients to your diet can be intimidating and confusing. Luckily, the latest nutrient-dense superfood du jour – chia seeds — can make a simple addition to any menu.

 

Where Do Chia Seeds Come From?

Chia is an ancient superfood that has increased in popularity due to its energizing and healthful properties. They come from a flowering plant that belongs to the mint family native to Latin America. In Mayan culture, the term “chia” means strength, and legend has it that Aztec runners would sustain themselves solely on water and these tiny chia seeds that they carried with them on long treks.
chia seeds

What Makes Chia Seeds So Healthy?
Chia seeds may be tiny but they pack a huge nutritional punch. One ounce of chia seeds, which is around 2 tablespoons, contains 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of essential omega 3 fatty acids. The complete protein found in chia seeds contains all nine essential amino acids. Diets rich in high fiber and high protein foods like chia seeds can help control cravings and aid in weight loss.

Chia seeds are also high in essential B vitamins, potassium, and zinc — all of which can help energize your body further to sustain you through a workout and a work day.

How Do You Ingest Chia Seeds?
When added to liquid, chia seeds expand up to ten times their size and become almost gelatinous in texture. They are tasteless which means they can be added to just about any food like smoothies, yogurt, salads, energy bars, and baked good. You can even add them to a bottle of water or iced tea to give your daily hydration an extra boost on the go.

Chia seeds are high in teeth-and-bone-building nutrients like calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. Gram for gram, chia is higher in calcium than most dairy products making it ideal for people avoiding dairy or sticking to a plant based diet.

At Organic Avenue you’ll find chia showcased in some of our customer favorites like the Matcha Chia Glo, an energizing and delicious green tea smoothie. The unexpected fun texture of chia seeds make this smoothie more satisfying and nutrient dense.

Our Chia Berry Tapioca mixes chia seeds with probiotic coconut yogurt and strawberry making it an energizing snack and a great source of healthy fats. Omega 3 fatty acids in the chia seeds can reduce inflammation while lauric acid found in the fat of coconut can increase your metabolism and help your body burn off stored fat.

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants that protect your body’s cells from free radical damage. We use ground chia seeds in our Cashew Hemp Mylk, the base for many of our smoothies. We recommend adding some to your morning coffee to reap the delicious benefits of an antioxidant rich classic that will rev up your system in the morning.

There’s no need to fear this exotic superfood, it’s easy to add into any day. Whether you’re a newbie to healthy eating or a long time health fanatic, your body will appreciate the benefits of the nutritionally powerful chia.

>Top Hydrating Fruits for Summer

At Organic Avenue, we know how important it is to take advantage of seasonal produce that’s only available for a limited amount of time, which is why we try our best to stay in tune with each season. Summer is one of our favorite times because the seasonal foods available to us are not only vitamin rich and nutrient dense, they are also ultra-hydrating! Two of our favorite hydrating summer fruits are melons and berries.

watermelon

Watermelons

When it comes to hydrating summer fruits, melons reign supreme. Watermelons are not only a delicious summer classic; they contain almost 92% water which helps your body stay hydrated in the heat. Lycopene – a skin cancer preventing antioxidant – gives watermelon its bright pink color. Watermelons are higher in lycopene than even the reddest tomatoes and your body can assimilate these benefits faster by drinking a cold-pressed Watermelon Juice; the perfect treat to keep you hydrated while enjoying the sun.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is a low calorie melon that’s not only hydrating, but high in beautifying Vitamins A and C. Our new Minted Melon Salad is a delicious new take on a fruit salad mixing seasonal cantaloupe and honeydew melons with a bite of mint and jalapeños that contain capsaicin that can help increase circulation in the skin.

Berries

When you think of summer, you can’t help but think of berries. Berries may be tiny, but they pack a huge, healthy punch. Berries contain a high amount of water that, along with their high fiber content, helps your body stay hydrated and feel fuller longer. Berries also contain powerful antioxidants that can decrease signs of aging such as memory and eye sight loss, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Hydration, antioxidants, and nutrients like folate and Vitamins B and C help you feel and look younger.

Take a bite of juicy antioxidant-rich hydration with our newest seasonal salad, The Bean and Berry Salad, or reap the benefits of berries in a refreshing smoothie like Nirvana that combines berries with medicinal flowers and hydrating Coconut Mylk.

Staying hydrated in the summer doesn’t have to be a chore as long as you know which deliciously sweet seasonal fruits are best to fill up on.

>Why We Love Plant Walls

Park Avenue South plant wall

The beautiful plant wall at our Park Avenue South location

Plants aren’t just delicious, they’re also beautiful. When we thought about our new store design, we knew plants had to be a main focus. What else could better celebrate our earth and healthful living? We searched far and wide for a way to incorporate plants into our stores and fell in LOVE with vertical gardens. Not only are they absolutely gorgeous, they are also functional. For starters, they improve our air quality by actively trapping dust and other air toxins. Cleaner air means more calm… and fewer headaches! The gardens also improve the acoustic sound in our stores by absorbing noise. And as if that weren’t enough, our green walls decrease our energy use in the summer by keeping our store cooler. We all want them in our homes now too!

>Feel Beautiful From the Inside Out With Aloe Vera

aloe

Aloe vera is known for its topical healing properties—a go-to herbal sunburn and wound-healing remedy. What many do not know is that drinking aloe may have similar properties internally, soothing the intestinal lining and promoting healthy digestion.

A review published in the British Journal of General Practice asserts that aloe may decrease irritation and enhance healing and repair of ulcers in the stomach and intestines. Additionally, aloe vera may also increase the population of healthy bacteria in the intestines that aid in digestion. While aloe can have a gentle laxative effect, it is not habit-forming and does not irritate the bowel, unlike some synthetic laxatives. Before experimenting with aloe vera internally, just make sure the concentration is suitable for ingestion.

The internal benefits of drinking aloe may also have a direct connection to its beauty benefits. Not only super-hydrating, aloe contains a variety of vitamins and minerals that aid in skin’s collagen and elastin repair. According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, aloe vera contains Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and promote cellular regeneration. Essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium and zinc are found in aloe, which help to regulate the body’s metabolic functions.

>New York Post: “Forget Pizza and Subs – Midtown suits are lining up for veggies”

New York Post article

Healthy eating isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of life for all New Yorkers. This New York Post story notes that businessmen are lining up for the healthy food options at Organic Avenue.

>People: “See Victoria’s Secret Model Behati Prinsloo’s Daily Diet”

People article

Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo (aka Mrs. Adam Levine) tells People that the Kale Quinoa Salad at Organic Avenue helps her incorporate healthy eating into her day.