Grilled Fruit: Less Weird & More Delicious Than You Might Think



Grilling: It’s everyone’s favorite poolside activity (aside from perhaps being served already grilled items while reclining in a comfortable lounge chair with plenty of refreshments in hand).

When you’re in the South though (or the Midwest, so I hear, or the Northeast, or fill in any area of the US circa June/July of 2012 except maybe Seattle), hot, heavy grilled meats and dense, marinated veggies can end up making you feel overheated and sluggish. Enter the new, unexpected trend of grilling fruit.

While it might seem counterintuitive, since fruit is normally served chilled and raw, grilling actually brings out the sweet, juicy flavor of many fruits, also adding a complexity with the slight smokiness you normally associate with grilled foods. I’ve tried grilling several times this summer (with varied results–anyone else get distracted sometimes and end up with a couple pieces of charcoal?), and I have yet to be disappointed with any of the fruit experiments I’ve performed.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Grilled Peaches. This one is easy. Simply halve the peaches, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil if you’d like, and place face down on the grill for 4-5 minutes. You want them to look slightly charred and soft. For an added treat, try adding a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Chèvre Log with Honey and a pinch of cinnamon or brown sugar.
  • Grilled Bananas. If you think about it, bananas were basically made to be grilled. Heating these fruits turns them into a sweet, gooey treat, and besides, they have a built-in grilling package in the form of a peel. The easiest way I’ve found to grill these delicious treats is to halve the fruits, but keep the peel on; then place the bananas face down on the grill for about 3 minutes. Then turn them over, drizzle them with honey and sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon and return them to the grill for another 5-6 minutes or until slightly charred. Try serving with some locally made vanilla ice cream!
  • Grilled Mango. I’m a bit partial to this one, since mango is one of my favorite fruits, but grilling really does give this tropical fruit a delicious flavor. Slice and score the mango (follow these instructions through Step 2), drizzle with olive oil and place face down on the grill for 4-5 minutes. Mango is versatile in taste, so if you’re in the mood for something more savory, try adding a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and a few pinches of cayenne pepper; however, this is also great with honey and brown sugar!
  • Grilled Watermelon. Ok, disclaimer: I’ve actually never tried this one, but let’s be honest, nothing says summer like cutting into a huge watermelon. Slice the fruit into 1-inch thick slices and lightly brush with honey. Grill briefly; about 2 minutes on each side should be enough. Serve with a sprinkling of lime juice if desired.

What’s your favorite summer fruit? Try throwing it on the grill and let me know how it turns out (and remember: honey makes everything taste better). Happy grilling!


Save Your Nails Without Sacrificing Vibrant Color

Three reasons I know I’m a bona fide nail polish addict: 1. I bought a large decorative basket to house my nail polish collection. Then had to add another one for expansion purposes; 2. My best friend knows the birthday present with which to “surprise” me when she’s short on cash is a bottle of the newest shade I’ve been admiring; and 3. I don’t remember the last time my nails were unpainted/I find myself feeling “naked” when the coats of polish I’m wearing start the chipping process. Like almost anything as gorgeous as freshly painted, brightly colored nails, however, my passion for polish is not without a few not-so-beautiful side effects. Take, for example, my nails’ tendency to occasionally become dry and brittle, the layers peeling away and silently crying out to me, “Lay off the chemicals, please.” I found out recently, however, that not all nail polish is chalk-full of toxic chemicals, and better yet, that non-toxic nail polishes come in shades just as beautiful, vibrant and diverse as what you might find from OPI or Essie.  Some of the non-toxic polishes I found (and plan on trying!):

1.  Non-Toxic Nail Polish by Priti

  • The story: D’amato launched Priti NYC in 2005 with the purpose of supporting organic farmers and decreasing the amount of chemicals poisoning the earth and its inhabitants. Long-wearing and safe for kids and adults, these polishes are also fine for use by mothers-to-be.
  • What they have to offer: They are 100% biodegradable, vegan and never tested on animals.
  • Chemicals they’re free of: Priti Polish doesn’t contain toluene, formaldehyde or DBP.

2.  Zoya Nail Polish

  • The story: Originally a classical pianist in Russia, Zoya earned her cosmetology license in 1979, immigrated to the US and began her career in delivering quality, healthy, and all-natural ingredients to her clients through unique products.
  • What they have to offer: Over 300 long-wearing colors and treatments that are vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Chemicals they’re free of: Zoya doesn’t use formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor or dibutyl phalate.

3.  Scotch Naturals

  • The story: “Smart, fun, and forward thinking,” Scotch Naturals is concerned with keeping its products healthy for both its customers and the world around us.
  • What they have to offer: Safe and eco-friendly, these polishes are made up of a revolutionary water-based formula that delivers long-lasting color in an array of unique shades and are vegan, cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, biodegradable, fragrance-free and paraben-free.
  • Chemicals they’re free of: Scotch Naturals steers clear of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone and heavy metals.

And for when your nails, like mine, just want to breathe:

4.  Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover

  • The story: Karma Organic Spa became one of the first organic spas to open in New Jersey in October of 2007, offering an eco-friendly environment with organic products as a healthy alternative for beauty needs. These products are now commercially available in nationwide stores such as Whole Foods.
  • What they have to offer: This product is a soy-based remover derived from farm crops and packaged in 100% recyclable glass bottles.
  • Chemicals they’re free of: Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover does not employ petroleum ingredients and is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic (and actually smells good!)

What My Skin Care Product Addiction Has Taught Me


Cleaning out my bathroom cabinet last night, I was reminded of one of the irrefutable truths of my life thus far: I own way too many products. Gels, serums, lotions and creams, all (sometimes deceptively) in polished packaging suggesting their uncanny abilities to make my skin smoother, clearer, more even, more beautiful.

Of course, most products, however honest their intentions, don’t exactly live up to their word, which leaves me on a constant search for what, in fact, just works. The bright side is that being a sucker for skin products hasn’t been entirely futile; I’ve learned a few truths that generally ring true in the world of skin care.

1. Trendy, complicated-looking products do not necessarily equal effective products. Some of the most tried and true products I use are packaged simply in utilitarian-style bottles with easy-to-understand, honest descriptions. Here is a great database to help you know what to look for on the label of bottle before you purchase it.

2. Check for long, hard-to-read ingredient lists. You wouldn’t pour complicated-sounding chemicals in tonight’s casserole, so why allow them to be absorbed into your system through your skin care products? Look for all natural oils and butters instead of a plethora of 23-letter words. Check out this comprehensive list of chemical ingredients in cosmetics to find out what they really mean and what they do for your skin.

3. Try supporting local business. Not getting the results you were hoping for from commercially made products? Consider trying a local company with lower production levels. Not only will you get to support your local economy, but you may also find that a smaller company puts more care, energy and attention into their products.

4. Research natural ingredients and know what you’re looking for. Looking for relief from dry, flaky skin? You may want to look for avocado oil in a moisturizer. Combating an oily complexion? Hazelnut oil can serve as a great astringent in a facial cleanser. The more you know, the less lost you will feel looking at ingredient lists. Check here for comedogenic ratings of botanical oils so you know which ones are best for your skin type.

5. Keep it simple. Don’t let your bathroom cabinet devolve into mine. When you find products you like, stick to them. And chances are that the products that are most effective will be the straight-forward, all natural real deals that simply deliver results.

Do you believe in using natural products? What works best on your skin? Let us know in the comments!

Pamper Your Skin From Within



Like any other organ of your body, your skin is affected by the nutrients you feed it through diet. While topical treatments can help address the symptoms of malnourished complexions, the best way to renew your skin is by providing it with the essential ingredients it needs to heal, rebuild and refresh itself from the inside out.

As you’ve heard time and time again, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains goes a far way in keeping your body healthy and skin luminous. But which items are specifically known to enrich skin? Check out our list of skin-healthy (and delicious!) foods to add to your next grocery list:

  • Oily Fish. Think mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder and sardines. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to heart health and brain function, but which also help reduce dry and flaky skin conditions, such as acne and psoriasis.
  • Whole Grains. Loaded with antioxidants and fiber, whole grains work to keep your body full and satisfied, while also providing protection against free radicals that cause blemishes in skin. As an added benefit, these grains also stabilize blood sugarand prevent insulin spikes. For a change from traditional wheat, try power foods quinoa and millet.
  • Leafy Greens. Including green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli, leafy greens are packed with inflammation-fighting nutrients and antioxidants that help ward off environmental irritations.
  • Purple and Deep Red Fruits and Veggies. While it might sound strange, studies have shown that these highly pigmented foods are high in antioxidants and help maintain blood flow to skin, which promotes optimal cell turnover, keeping pores clear. These foods include acai, pomegranates, purple carrots, black grapes and beets.
  • Green Tea. Containing high levels of the powerful antioxidant catechin EGCG, green tea is a very effective anti-inflammatory and works to keep your skin clean and clear. Just be sure to check labels on bottled tea, as it can often contain high levels of added sugar (or just try brewing your own!)

Dry Hair? Moisturize It With Natural Oils!




All my extensive complaining about hot, humid weather and days of blistering heat aside, I can honestly say that I love summer. I spend approximately 8 months of the year awaiting Memorial Day weekend, the opening of the pool and Friday afternoons spent driving east towards the coast.
Along with time spent in the sun and water, however, often comes the unpleasant side effect of dry, brittle, frizzy hair. How can you keep your hair manageable in the summer months without resorting to products packed with potentially harmful chemicals? You might be surprised at how simple, affordable oils can work wonders for locking in moisture in hair and keeping it soft and manageable.
Try the following natural ingredients to find out which oil is most suitable for your hair type:

  • Olive Oil. For dry, brittle hair, this everyday oil can be a lifesaver. Try heating about 1/2 cup (be careful not to overheat it and burn yourself!) and applying it liberally all over hair. To lock the moisture in, keep the oil in your hair for about 45 minutes by covering it with a shower cap or plastic grocery bag. Then simply rinse and shampoo your hair as usual.
  • Argan Oil. A natural antioxidant, this oil is rich in vitamins A and E, as well as omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, which can revitalize parched hair on contact. To use, simply rub a few drops into towel dried hair, concentrating on the ends, and style hair as usual.
  • Jojoba Oil. Packed with vitamins and minerals, this oil closely replicates skin’s natural lubricating medium, making it perfect as a moisturizer for your scalp and hair. Try adding several drops to your conditioner or use alone to soothe dry hair.
  • Macadamia Nut Oil. Light and non-greasy, macadamia nut oil easily absorbs into your scalp and hair, delivering omega-7 and vitamins A and E. To reap the benefits of the ultra-moisturizing oil, massage a tablespoon into hair, then wrap hair in a warm towel. Rinse and lightly condition hair and style as usual.

Soothe Away Wrinkles Naturally With Coconut Oil




For most of us, when we think about the coconut palm, we envision faraway, exotic locations with sun-bleached sand and clear, inviting waters. What some may not know is that from the palm tree’s large fruits we can extract what is now a rising star in the natural beauty world: coconut oil. Among its many uses, this oil is particularly helpful in the natural treatment of mature skin by reputedly reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles through gentle, irritation-free methods.

A few things you may find interesting about this unique oil:

  • Vitamin E: Coconut oil contains significant quantities of this vitamin, which is essential for healthy skin growth and keeping skin smooth and crack-free. It is also reputed to prevent aging and wrinkling of skin, as it has good antioxidant properties.
  • Proteins: This oil is rich in proteins,which keeps skin youthful, healthy and rejuvenated.
  • Healing Properties: Containing antifungal and antibacterial properties, coconut oil may aid in the healing of damaged skin.

For effective treatment against wrinkles, find a gentle, all-natural moisturizer containing coconut oil, such as Snowy Owl Cove’s Driftwood Face Cream, and gently pat it onto skin before bed.

How To: Beat the Heat Naturally

Depending on where you live, the temperatures lately have ranged from swelteringly hot to downright scorching. Here in Raleigh, the weekend highs soared over the hundred-degree mark, leaving me to soak in the (bath-like) waters of the pool, stopping to occasionally dab the sweat off my brow.

In conditions like this, it seems more or less a fruitless pursuit to apply makeup since it slides off your face with the swiftness of raindrops down your car windshield. You may be tempted to wash your face frequently to rid yourself of excess oil; however, over-washing can actually exacerbate the problem by drying out skin and creating a vicious cycle of oily skin/over-washing/dried-out skin/over-production of oil/oily skin. Is it possible to tame your face in extreme heat and humidity?

Luckily, nature has provided us with ingredients to combat oil gently and effectively without drying and irritating your complexion. Look for the following components in your soap and moisturizer for the summer months ahead:

  • Palm Oil: More than just an everyday vegetable oil, palm oil is rich in the antioxidants vitamin A and E. With natural antibacterial qualities, this oil is able to keep skin lightly moisturized and safe from free radicals that may cause acne.
  • Babassu Oil: Pressed from kernels of a tree in Brazil, this unique oil is soothing, protective and moisturizing. Gentle on skin, it is great for both dry and oily skin since it hydrates without leaving a greasy residue. After application, skin is left with a smooth finish that offers some protection from climate and pollution.
  • Hazelnut Oil: Extremely high in vitamin E, as well as minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, hazelnut oil works as an astringent to regulate oil levels on skin. Gently tightening pores, this oil is great for humid weather since it keeps skin moisturized without the oily feel.
  • Sunflower Oil: This oil contains beta-carotene, which is reputed to make skin less sensitive to the sun. It can help neutralize free radicals that penetrate skin leading to sunburn and other types of sun damage. Paired with a healthy dose of sunscreen, sunflower oil can help keep your skin moisturized and protected.

Check out our Indian Summer collection, which is designed specifically to gently combat oil and is perfect for hot, humid weather.