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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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>Not Only Is Hot Sauce Delicious, It Can Also Give Your Metabolism a Kick

The hot sauce craze has only gotten hotter in recent years thanks to the rising popularity of cult-favorite Sriracha. While we can’t deny the appeal of it’s deliciously spicy flavor, with preservatives, fillers, and non-organic ingredients, Sriracha may leave you feeling not-so-hot.

hot chili peppers on wooden desk

That’s  why we decided to start offering free organic hot sauce at all of our Organic Avenue locations.

Whether you’re a Sriracha fan or loyal to another brand of spice, using our hot sauce will give you more benefits than just spicing up your food.

Most hot sauces get their kick from mature peppers which contain capsaicin in the interior white flesh surrounding the seeds of the pepper. Capsaicin has potent medicinal qualities known to reduce inflammation and increase circulation in the body.

It has been also been studied as a potential cancer treatment for its ability to deactivate a certain protein that encourages tumor growth. This is especially significant for cases of prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men. Capsaicin may also help with common side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation such as itching and mouth sores.

Additionally, capsaicin can help boost your metabolism and promote wight loss by raising body temperature and reducing your appetite. Even Hillary Clinton swears by the power of spicy peppers and has used them as part of her healthy diet for over 20 years.

The ripened red jalapenos found in the organic hot sauce now available at all Organic Avenue locations contain vitamin A, C, and K as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. These nutrients aid your body in multiple ways such as building healthier tissue, bones and younger-looking skin.

The hot sauce now available at Organic Avenue stores contains no additives or chemical preservatives, making this organic hot sauce the hottest condiment for a healthy-minded eater. It adds the perfect kick to a BBQ Wrap, Three Bean Chili, Veggies and Hummus, or our Sunflower Falafel.

Start reaping the benefits of this medicinal condiment the next time you stop in for lunch at Organic Avenue, our treat!

>Plant-Based Foods for Beautiful Locks and Nails

Fall Fashion is upon us here in New York, which means it’s time to look your best, whether you’re sitting front row at Lincoln Center or perusing the shops to recreate your favorite designer’s looks.

female hand holding baby spinach leaves

As the saying goes, the clothes should never look like they’re wearing you—YOU should stand out while rocking the clothes. It’s what’s underneath that counts, and the best way to achieve radiant outer beauty is through a healthy diet, not from any product you may find at the drugstore or cosmetic counter.

Gorgeous, thick hair and strong, lustrous nails compliment the latest runway trends and can be accomplished with intelligent food choices—including lots of nutrient-dense plant foods, like these 3 superstars:

 

SPINACH: High in folate and iron, spinach is important for overall well-being, including the health of your hair and nails. Folate is a B vitamin that helps produce red blood cells, and iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Studies have shown that iron deficiency may be linked to hair loss. Low iron levels also weaken the nail plate, causing easy breakage. To ensure proper assimilation of plant-based iron, be sure to pair your spinach with a vitamin C-rich food, such as a squeeze of lemon juice (or OA Lemon Shot).

OA Juices & Foods Rich in Spinach:

Mexi-Fresh Quinoa Bowl

Roasted Veggies & Avocado Pesto Wrap

Middle Eastern Wrap

Spicy Avocado Soup

Mellow Love

Green Love

 

WALNUTS: Not only a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts contain biotin and vitamin E, which protect cells from free radical damage and shield your hair and scalp from the sun. The copper found in walnuts may also help your hair keep its vibrant natural color. For strong nails, the biotin content may prevent nail splitting and thinness, making that manicure last longer. To prevent unwanted white spots, make sure you’re getting enough zinc in your diet—a trace mineral found in all nuts, including walnuts.

OA Foods Rich in Walnuts:

Broccoli Slaw

 

CARROTS: Our favorite bright orange root veggies are loaded with beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the body produce oils which protect the scalp. This powerful antioxidant also combats nail dullness, keeping them strong and shiny.

OA Foods & Juices Rich in Carrots:

The Big Kale Salad

Shredded Beet & Walnut Salad

Spicy Bahn Mi Wrap

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Juice

>Paleo vs. Vegan: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The impact that different types food has on your body composition and overall health is a confusing and widely debated topic that helps fuel a weight-loss industry worth over $60
billion.

Vegan and Paleo are two of the most talked about diets of our time, and are seemingly on opposite ends of the dietary spectrum; however, devotees may have more in common than they think.

cow illustration on the left versus a broccoli illustration on the right

The Paleolithic diet (aka the Caveman Diet) was even the most Googled diet of 2013 and requires you to eat modern foods that mimic the foods groups eaten in the prehistoric era such as lean meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It also prohibits grains, dairy, and legumes. Followers theorize that the industrialization of agriculture has evolved our food faster than our bodies leading to modern day ailments.

While there are multiple long term studies showing the benefits of a plant-based diet, there is little to no scientific evidence to support Paleo health claims. That’s not to say the Paleo diet is bad or unhealthy. In fact, the Paleo diet has two major tenets that healthy vegans can agree on…

 

Eat mostly plants…

One of our favorite food advocates, Michael Pollan, famously wrote, “Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.” Vegans and Paleo-fans alike can agree that a diet rich in nutrient dense leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables is a good starting point towards better health.

 

…from Mother Nature

One of our basic food tenets at Organic Avenue is to choose foods from mother-nature that are unprocessed and free of additives, preservatives, and GMO’s. While this is also an important Paleo tenet, it’s easy for a lot of newbie vegans to forget this one and fill up on highly processed vegan foods – Pop Tarts and Oreos are vegan but we can all agree they don’t make the best dietary staples.

Where these two diets differ is on the subject of grains, legumes, and (obviously) animal protein. Many vegans choose their diet based on ethical decisions for both the life of animals and sustainability of the planet. The health benefits, like reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, are positive side effects that many long term studies have supported.

At Organic Avenue, we believe the healthiest diet is a balanced diet. Though we may disagree on some dietary choices, there is one thing we can all agree on: The more veggies the better. Lucky for you, this includes almost everything you will find on our shelves. Whether you’re a vegan yogi or a Paleo cross-fitter, we’ve got a high quality grab-and-go meal that you’re going to love.

>Why We LOVE Kimchi and Other Fermented Foods

What is Kimchi? Maybe you’ve seen it in the grocery store and wondered, how do I eat this? What does it taste like? WHY would I eat this? Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, but for some reason in North America, we’ve been much slower to adopt fermented foods into our diets. Kimchi is traditionally made of Napa Cabbage with a spicy, tangy taste, although some variations include daikon radish, cucumber, carrots, peppers, onions and more.

Kimchi Wild Rice BowlTraditionally Kimchi is made with a fish byproduct, but at Organic Avenue, we keep things vegan 100% of the time. Kim means salt, and Chi means vegetables, so it’s literally a mixture of salted veggies. Once the veggies are prepared and “brined”, they sit. And sit. And sit some more. Traditionally kimchi ferments for an average of a week. What results is a superfood and nutritional powerhouse – natural bacteria has eaten the sugars and starches to create lactic acid, resulting in a  “lacto-fermented” and living food. The outcome is a food that is nutrient-dense, and rich in probiotics and enzymes.

Our gastrointestinal tract is home to a very large population of beneficial bacteria responsible for the complex network which maintains balance in our digestive and immune systems. This microflora is with us from birth and continues to develop as we age, as long as our diets are balanced to provide proper sustenance. Our individual ecosystems rely on a probiotic population to promote balance and defend against illness and infection.

All the enzymes and probiotics work together to basically “pre-digest” the food, making all the vitamins easier to assimilate, while the fiber content also contributes to stabilizing the digestive load. 70% of our immune system is found in our gut, so probiotics can assist in boosting immune function. The secret workhorses of kimchi, including garlic, ginger, and hot pepper, work together to strengthen the immune system, and pack a large antioxidant punch. Additionally, it can be difficult to get a good source of b vitamins in a vegan diet, which is another reason fermented foods are so important.

What’s the best way to incorporate fermented foods into your diet? We make it easy! We offer a delicious Kimchi Wild Rice Bowl, with crunchy veggies, delectable cashews, and satisfying healthy wild rice that really hits the spot. Plus, you can always add your protein of choice to boost nutritional bounty, or serve it hot for a pleasant change.

We also offer a perfect serving size of Fermented Veggies. It’s a delicious tangy medley of fruit and vegetables rich in enzymes and probiotics for digestive health. Fermented vegetables are rich in B vitamins and enzymes, which can aid in calming the nervous system. The glucosamines in this dish can preserve cartilage and maintain joint flexibility. With cauliflower, carrots, daikon, and more, it’s great on its own, as a salad topping, or served in an avocado!

We believe in making good choices easier, and we hope you will give this energy-giving, immunity-boosting, enzyme-rich food a try!

>How To Avoid The Afternoon Slump (Without That Second Cup of Coffee)

One question our Wellness Concierge team gets almost every day at Organic Avenue is, “What will give me the most energy?”

Coffee on busy desk

While coffee gives you an immediate boost, it should only be consumed in moderation. If not, it can cause energy slumps later in the day, making it harder to stay alert and motivated.

Most people hit the 2pm slump at work and struggle to be productive until they have an afternoon cup of coffee; one more before an evening workout, and queue a sleepless night.

The key to avoiding the 2pm slump is optimizing your lunch. The second meal of the day is often forgotten between afternoon meetings and deadlines; but at Organic Avenue, we believe that a healthy lunch can be used as a tool to boost your body’s energy levels and overall health.

There are two essential factors to consider when choosing a meal that will boost your energy levels — nutrients and digestion.

Eating nutrient-dense foods that contain a healthy balance of macronutrients will help fill you up and give you much more energy than if you focus on calories alone. Organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide your body with valuable micronutrients that will energize your system and make you feel fuller longer.

Digestion is another crucial part of staying energized. At Organic Avenue, we prepare all of our food for optimal digestion, allowing your body to assimilate nutrients quickly and use food as energy as opposed to letting it weigh you down. We never add chemicals or preservatives that can hinder the digestive process and focus on pure balanced meals, high in fiber and healthy sources of fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

One of our new favorite energizing lunches at Organic Avenue is the Shredded Beet and Walnut Salad with our Signature Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains powerful probiotics that increase healthy gut bacteria, making digestion stronger and ultimately energizing your system. The beets found in the Shredded Beet and Walnut Salad are high in nitrates that help increase blood flow delivering more nutrients and oxygen throughout the body resulting in an energy boost. Walnuts are rich in folate, essential omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants that help boost brain health and control cravings.

Another great lunch option to energize your brain and body is one of our delicious wraps like the Spicy Bah Mi Collard Wrap paired with a Power House Smoothie. The Spicy Bah Mi Collard Wrap contains jalapeños that can increase blood circulation. This entrée is light enough that it will digest quickly, avoiding the afternoon slump. Follow up the wrap with the Power House smoothie that contains antioxidant rich greens, healthy fats, and a powerful protein punch that will keep your system revved up enough for a post-office spin class or a jog in the park.

Caffeine and energy drinks only go so far to energize your body. For a real energy boost that lasts, nothing beats a wholesome meal of organic balanced foods to fill you up and keep you going.

 

>OA Hack: The Massaged Sunflower Falafel Salad

For a greener twist on the Sunflower Falafel, it can be fun (and tasty) to use this classic dish as the core of a protein-packed dinner salad, featuring additional nutrient-dense ingredients.

The Massaged Sunflower Falafel Salad is a perfectly filling meal for fitness enthusiasts and those with active lifestyles (hello, spinners and crossfitters!) to get a daily dose of greens in addition to a great source of plant-based protein.

Sunflower Falafel

 

You’ll need

▪ 1 OA Sunflower Falafel

▪ 1 head of romaine or 2-3oz of baby romaine

▪ 1 OA Lemon Shot or juice of a small lemon (optional)

▪ Handful of pitted olives (optional—we love these)

▪ Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Here’s how it works:

1. Grab your salad bowl (a big one if you’re feeding 2 or more).

2. Open your Sunflower Falafel container and set the tahini dressing and falafel balls to the side (don’t worry—we’ll use their deliciousness later).

3. Fill your salad bowl with the falafel cabbage.

4. Incorporate your greens! If you’re preparing for 2 or more, feel free to use a second head of romaine or more leafy greens of your choice.

5. Pour the creamy sesame tahini dressing onto the bright, crunchy veggies. If you’re like us and prefer a bit more dressing, add an OA Lemon Shot or juice of a small lemon to the mix.

6. Now it’s falafel ball time! Add these protein-rich creations (made from sunflower seeds and almonds) to the bowl and massage them into the veggies. Feel free to use your hands instead of a utensil to make sure the flavors are uniform throughout.

7. If you’d like an extra savory addition to your salad, toss in a small handful of Kalamata or Botija olives—a great source of easily digested and assimilated healthy fat.

For additional spice and circulation stimulation, mix in cayenne pepper to taste.

 

>How a Plant-Based Diet Can Boost Skin Health

Your appearance can be an outer reflection of what is happening inside your body. Cellular damage from processed food, stress, and environmental toxins show up as external symptoms, especially on the skin. Blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles may be a result of an accumulation of these toxins. A diet that is organic and plant-based will help keep you looking (and feeling) healthy.

Big Kale SaladIn order to keep the body in balance, it’s essential to eat a diet high in hydrating fruits and vegetables. As Natalia Rose, clinical nutritionist, explains, “…eating for beauty and youthfulness means choosing the most vital plant foods. Among these are juicy tree fruits because they draw their sustenance most directly from sunlight, but all fruits and vegetables are powerful alkaline agents for dislodging acid waste from the body.”

With their high water content, fruits and vegetables hydrate the cells and tissues of the body, removing internal obstructions and revealing outer beauty.

Eating organic also goes a long way toward promoting a lasting youthful glow. Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey states, “My first recommendation for naturally healthy skin is that 90% of the food you eat should be naturally farmed.” Organic means more vitamins and minerals in the soil that will aid in overall health and more beautiful skin.

The key vitamins and minerals listed below are essential to giving your skin the healthy glow that will radiate from the inside out.

 

Key Vitamins for Skin Health

Vitamin A: Antioxidant that helps maintain cell growth and renewal. Found in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, Swiss chard.

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects against free radicals and may help with iron absorption. Found in lemon, orange, grapefruit, bell peppers, kale, broccoli.

Vitamin E: Antioxidant that protects skin from UV damage. Found in Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, broccoli, tomato.

Vitamin K: Helps clot blood, which may help reduce dark under-eye circles. Found in kale, spinach, romaine, Swiss chard, parsley broccoli.

B-Complex Vitamins: Niacin helps skin retain moisture, biotin strengthens hair and nails. Found in sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes.

 

Key Minerals for Skin Health

Silicon: Improves the appearance of wrinkles, makes the skin glow and the eyes bright by strengthening connective tissue. Found in cucumber, bell peppers, cabbage, romaine, tomatoes, onions.

Zinc: Known to reduce acne and rebuild collagen, may prevent signs of aging and skin damage such as wrinkles and stretch marks. Found in raw chocolate, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds.

Magnesium: Responsible for cleansing and detoxifying the body. Found in broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, avocados, bananas, lentils.

Potassium: Balances pH levels and sodium—which in excess can dry out your skin. Found in Brussels sprouts, pears, dates, bananas.

Iron: Oxygenates blood, which promotes your skin’s healthy glow. Found in spinach, raisins, quinoa, mushrooms, beans.

 

Our Favorite OA Juices and Foods for Healthy Skin:

>Wheatgrass Shot
>Coconut Water
>Green Love
>Spicy Avocado Soup
>Minted Melon Salad
>Shredded Beet & Walnut Salad

>Pillow Food: How Diet Correlates to Sex-Drive

Food and sex are opposite sides of the same coin. According to author Steve Gagne in Energetics of Food, a balanced sexual life is tied to what we eat. He writes, “Your relationships with food are some of the most intimate relationships in your life”. He explains that hunger for food is an instinctive need of the senses, as is the hunger for sex. And both hungers are an expression of your life force; your appetite for life.

Female lips and chili pepper

There is a close correlation between sex and diet in that they both rely on an interplay of opposites; give and take. Many foods are associated with heightened desire and hormone balance. According to Annemarie Colbin in Food and Healing, certain food choices can coerce a desired effect on the body depending on where there might be an imbalance.

Increased sexual vitality is linked to foods like cacao, ginseng, chilies, leafy greens, asparagus, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, figs, coconut milk, pine nuts and even watermelon.

Latham Thomas, wellness maven and author of Mama Glow, recently gave a seminar at Organic Avenue’s Bryant Park store, where she enlightened us to “mucilaginous foods.” She said that “juicy sex” is enhanced by mucilage-rich, high-fiber foods. It seems the thick gooey substance in these plants are known for enhancing body fluids essential for sex. Okra, eggplant, flax and chia seeds, aloe, oats and seaweed and slippery elm, all do the trick for enhancing sexual rapport.

Another less known “love food” is the legume. Chinese medicine embraces beans and legumes for proper kidney-adrenal function and balanced sexual activity. Lentils and black beans, for example, prepared with good fats or oils, are known to increase blood circulation and to give a particularly libidinous charge.

Can we customize our sex-drive? Paul Pitchford suggests we can in Healing with Whole Foods because, while meat eaters need more frequent orgasmic release, the vegetarian or semi-vegetarian regime prolongs endurance and sharpens awareness and sensitivity. This is encouraging news for our frequent Organic Avenue amorists!

Nourishment can have powers of persuasion. So too can a candle-lit restaurant, a romantic date, and some mood music to get the blood flowing. Remember, a healthy libido emerges naturally in a healthy body. And since there’s nothing sexier than a long and healthy life… bon appetite!

>Tips to Recover From a Beach Weekend

We all experience that sinking feeling when we return home from a weekend away at the beach. Before your sunburn even has a chance to take hold, you’re back to the old routine, a work meeting and a load of sandy laundry.

Whether you went away to relax on the beach, or party it up with your friends; the time has come to settle back into your regular routine.

Girl on beach with luggageHowever, you’ll be more focused knowing that you have another vacation waiting for you. So the first step is to plan another mini getaway within the next three months. Everyone needs a vacation, and you’ll be more present in your daily life when you know there is an escape hatch.

The next step is to get grounded. Tip your food scale towards eating “focusing foods” or root vegetables. Since root vegetables grow underground, they have a grounding energy to them when consumed. These vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and iron. They also have fiber and are helpful at regulating blood sugar keeping you full longer–perfect for losing any excess weight that may have snuck up on you over the weekend.

Beets are a great summer root veggie, so if you can find a beet juice or a beet salad…dig in! Other familiar roots are ginger, yams, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, yuca, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, celery, turmeric, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and radishes.

Hydrating is also essential to repair any damage caused by alcohol consumption or sun exposure. So keep water with lemon or herbal tea close by in the days following your return.

Aside from soothing a sunburn, you may also need to bring your mind back focus. To help transition, you may want to consider taking a few minutes to breath or meditate. Studies have shown that meditation improves our ability to maintain attention. Taking a few minutes to meditate on a daily basis will help keep us focused in our day-to-day tasks.

With these tips, you’ll be back into the daily grind in no time (and preparing for your next getaway)!

 

>The Methods of Cleansing: Why, How and When Should I Cleanse?

Most people have a very narrow definition of cleansing – a 3 or 5 day program of cold-pressed juices. While this is the most common way to cleanse, cleansing can actually take many forms and should be much more than just a 3-day change to your daily habit.

A better definition of cleansing is any break from your usual routine, which incorporates more organic plant-based food and juice into your diet. Simply adding one green juice into your everyday diet can be considered a cleanse. Mosy importantly, cleansing is not a finite activity. It is a holistic program that involves setting wellness goals with specific pre- and post-cleanse plans. The before and after is just as important as the cleanse itself.

Love Deep cleanse

Cleansing is good for your body for many reasons. First, it gives your digestive system a chance to rest and recharge. Our air, water, food and cosmetics can contain substances that are harmful. Replacing regular meals with cold-pressed juices and whole foods floods your body with healthful vitamins and nutrients, allowing it to release toxins. As Alejandro Junger, M.D. explains, “Humans have always instinctually known that a regular period of resting and recharging the body will let it shed the accumulated toxins and waste materials that tend to build up in all of us simply from living.”

Cleansers report feeling refreshed with greater energy, mental clarity and an overall sense of “feeling better.” Some report modest weight loss and glowing skin. Finally, cleansing also reinvigorates your taste buds. By removing chemicals, pesticides and processed food from your diet, your taste buds will fully taste what you are ingesting, once again making healthful eating more pleasurable.

Most people are unsure of how frequently they should cleanse. Cleansing is different for everyone and can be beneficial at many different times. For some, cleansing is the kick-start to a new health routine. For others, it can be a way to regain balance after a period of unhealthy eating. And still for others, it is a monthly or seasonal tune-up.

Cleansing is different for everyone and your body will tell you what is and isn’t working. There is no “one cleanse fits all.” Meeting yourself wherever you are on your health journey ensures success, even if that means starting out with a green juice every day and building up to a balanced daily habit of plant-based food and juice. No interim diet can accomplish what a long-term commitment to healthy eating does.