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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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>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.

>Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Organic produce on wood tableA diet rich in plant-based foods provides many health benefits.

First, minimally processed plant foods are richer in “good things” like essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Second, plant-based diets are linked with a decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer and other chronic diseases. According to the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, “The higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease.”

Third, many plant-based foods like chia seeds, hemp seeds and quinoa are complete proteins, which provide all 9 essential amino acids to build muscle tissue that our body cannot produce itself.

Finally, healthy weight management is also made possible by consuming a diet rich in minimally- processed, whole plant foods. Research suggests that vegetarians tend to consume fewer calories and have lower body mass indexes than non-vegetarians. As Michael Pollan explains, “…by eating a plant-based diet, you’ll be consuming far fewer calories, since plant foods (except seeds) are typically less “energy dense” than the other things you might eat.”

>Why Cold-Pressed Juice?

Fruit and vegetable juices can now be found almost anywhere, but juice produced using the cold-press process is nutritionally superior and, in the opinion of many, more delicious than juice produced using other methods. There are two common types of juicers used to extract the nutrient-dense liquid from fruits and vegetables: the centrifugal juicer and the cold-press.

Green love in bottle on tableThe centrifugal juicer, your standard home juicer, is also found at many commercial establishments where juice is made to order. The centrifugal machine uses a flat cutting blade at the base of a rapidly spinning strainer—powered by electricity. Heat, static electricity and large amounts of air are drawn into the juicer. Nutrients can be destroyed as oxidation occurs. Essential enzymes in fruit and vegetable juices, which aid in the body’s nutrient assimilation, break down at temperatures exceeding 118° Fahrenheit. Any juice extractor using a high-speed blade or centrifuge creates more heat-producing friction and can destroy the good stuff. This is why centrifugal juice must be consumed immediately in order to receive any of its benefits.

Organic Avenue uses a cold-press juicer, which applies 9-tons of hydraulic pressure to extract the juice from organic fruits and veggies. Negligible heat is produced, better preserving the vital vitamins and minerals living in the water content of the produce. We are also able to extract a higher yield using the cold-pressed process—which means more nutrients end up in your juice, and not left behind with the pulp and rind. The hydraulic press is notably more efficient than the centrifuge in extracting the liquid component of dark, leafy greens—essential for optimal health.

In Become Younger, Dr. Norman Walker, the inventor of the hydraulic cold-press explains, “If the extraction is not virtually complete, then of course the juices are correspondingly deficient and we will have to take larger quantities of them over a much longer period of time. If the juices are properly and completely extracted, however, the benefits and results which we may obtain from them are almost phenomenal.” While centrifugal juice pulp may still be wet post-juicing (there are still nutrients in there!), pulp from a cold-press is essentially sawdust, indicating that the vast majority of the vitamins and minerals from the produce are living in your juice bottle. You’d have to drink a much greater quantity of centrifugal juice to get the same amount of nutrition from just one bottle of cold-pressed juice.

Because little oxidation occurs from the application of pressure, cold-pressed juice is shelf-stable with much of its nutrient content in tact for days after pressing. OA takes our cold-pressing a step further by extracting our juice in a refrigerated room in our kitchen. This extra care ensures the ultra-freshness of our organic produce, minimizing loss of nutrition during the pressing.

>Get Energized With our Matcha Chia Glo

The powerful combination of ingredients in our signature Matcha Chia Glo provides a host of daily health benefits.

Energizing matcha is a premium green tea powder from Japan, rich in nutrients, antioxidants and chlorophyll. According to some sources, one glass of matcha is the equivalent of 10 glasses of regular green tea in terms of nutritional value and antioxidant content. Antioxidants aid in the prevention of cell damage, giving you healthy glowing skin.Matcha Chia Glo

Protein is also prevalent in our Matcha Chia Glo, ideal for workout enthusiasts. Not only does the base of pumpkin seed mylk pack a punch, but the whole chia seeds also provide significant protein, a complete protein, at that. Complete proteins are foods that contain all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that our bodies cannot produce. Animal products are widely known as complete proteins, but we can also obtain all nine essential amino acids from plants such as chia, hemp seeds and quinoa. Chia seeds are said to have twice the amount of protein as any other seed or grain in an easily assimilated form. All the more reason to replace that processed whey powder in our gym bags with chia.

Just a small amount of chia can sustain us for long periods of time. In fact, the ancient Aztec and Mayan runners would load up on chia before long runs for steady energy and sustenance. In the Mayan language, chia means “strength.” Chia absorbs up to 12 times its own weight, which keeps us feeling full and hydrated when mixed into a liquid, like our pumpkin seed mylk.

Energizing, hydrating and protein-packed, Matcha Chia Glo is the perfect meal replacement to sip at our morning meeting, an ultra-healthy pre or post-workout beverage, or afternoon pick-me-up to fuel the rest of your busy day. And you’ll look good while doing it too—with that antioxidant-activated glow!

 

 

 

 

>What’s the Difference Between a Juice and a Smoothie?

green smoothieJuice is the liquid part of fruits and vegetables made using a juice extractor, like our hydraulic cold-press. When you are making juice, you are extracting the liquid (where all the nutrients live) from the fiber. Smoothies are blended meals. The fruits and vegetables are pulsed in a blender with their fiber, unlike cold pressing, still present.

Juice and smoothies can coexist in your diet–as one is not better than the other, but have different purposes. Wellness expert Kris Carr explains in Crazy Sexy Diet, “Both are terrific, but juice gives you instant energy while smoothies take a bit longer to assimilate and require more work from your body… Juice makes me feel lighter and more hydrated first thing in the morning… But I don’t want to give green smoothies a bad rap. They are definitely more filling and stick with you longer…” Because of the fiber, it will take longer to digest a smoothie, but it will keep you feeling satiated longer as well.

Juice is a great way to start the day while smoothies can be added after, as a snack or meal replacement. Juice should always be ingested first to make sure all nutrients are absorbed properly.