Hi there! This is Courtney here, Melissa’s daughter, taking over the blog today! About a year and a half ago, I moved into my very first apartment of my own in Seattle. It’s been a total dream come true for me to have a place of my own! I’m so grateful for this space. When […]
Used for thousands of years as a means of preserving food, fermentation remains a relevant method to give your health a hefty jumpstart…
At first glance — or smell — fermented foods may not be the most enticing. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha… Though becoming more mainstream, this food group could potentially require a little coaxing for the taking. But, when that coaxing comes in the form of many important wellness benefits, judgement is often cast aside quickly. Here’s a list of some of the biggest reasons why you should consider fermenting:
Restores good bacteria.
Fermented foods are notorious for their potential in replenishing your gut flora, which results in better overall intestinal health. Added bonus: a stronger digestive tract equals a stronger immune system, WHICH could result in less money being spent on nutritional supplements!
Increases nutrient bioavailability.
In other words, fermented foods allow your body to better digest, absorb and metabolize those vitamins and minerals contained within it.
Aids in breaking down hard-to-digest foods.
For some of us, cabbage, beans and milk products are a big no-no, as they can produce some unpleasant side effects. The bacteria created during the fermentation process actually breaks down the sugars, carbs and other components that make those foods seemingly undigestible.
To ferment at home, you’ll need only a few key materials. One of the most important for you to consider is the fermentation vessel. For many of us, a tried-and-true Mason jar can and will suffice. However, ceramic or porcelain crocks — for only a few dollars more — may produce a more consistently reliable finished product. Our fermentation consultant, local chef Greg Glowatz, prefers German style crocks with weights for sauerkraut, as they block light, which enables your crock to remain sitting out on a countertop. This style of crock also has a water seal into which you simply pour water and top up every few days. It keeps oxygen out while allowing fermentation gases to be released.
“You will hear your vessel bubbling
in the early stages of fermentation,
which is quite exciting!”
We advise you to refrain from using plastic containers, as they may potentially harbor unwanted bacteria in their surface as well as leach chemicals into your food batches.
In addition, a good knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, 5Kg digital scale and wooden pounding tool are recommended for prepping your ingredients. Which brings us to…ingredients! Whenever possible, local, seasonal and/or organic is best. Tomorrow, Greg will be bringing you the first of two fermentation recipes — Turmeric Ginger Apple Veggie Kraut!
“Confidence is all about mindset, so I strive to steer clear of negative thoughts and comparison. Gratitude really is everything!”
Your position at Free People…
Graphic Design Assistant.
Describe your personal style…
My personal style is pretty classic and feminine. I’ve always been the type to buy quality pieces I know will be in my closet forever. Sustainability and ethics is also important to me, so most of my purchases have a lot of thought behind them!
What makes you feel confident?
Confidence is all about mindset, so I strive to steer clear of negative thoughts and comparison. Gratitude really is everything! Oh, and a great outfit always helps, too.
Ahhh it’s hard to choose a favorite part! I love my team and I truly look forward to coming into work every day because I know they’ll be there — there’s never been a dull moment! I also love the environment — so much creative energy, natural light, and the cutest pups… what isn’t there to like?!
What are your beauty + wellness must-haves?
You will always find a great moisturizer or two in my beauty cabinet. Nothing is better than hydrated skin! I really try to drink a lot of water too, but I’m not always the best at it — kind of a work in progress here, haha! Oh, and if you were to walk into my apartment, you’d almost always find a candle burning or essential oils diffusing. I’d consider these a part of my wellness routine, as well.
What do you do outside of Free People?
I love photography, traveling, reading, writing, exploring… creativity is a part of who I am so I have a lot of outlets. I really love people so I especially love collaborating on side projects!
If you had to wear one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’d go with a wrap dress! They’re so flattering, and can easily be dressed up or down.
Your favorite (upcoming) trend…
I love the rise of clean beauty and a shift toward more sustainable products and clothing. Though it may be considered a trend now, I hope it sticks around a while. Really into the wide crop pant right now, too!
Best concert you’ve attended OR dream concert you’d love to attend:
I had pit tickets for Johnnyswim and NEEDTOBREATHE last summer — and it was amaaaazing. Also, I know its a musical, but I’m seeing Hamilton in March and I can hardly wait! The soundtrack is amazing. It’ll take everything within me not to sing along to every song!
Most embarrassing outfit you’ve ever worn.
I was such a tomboy growing up and I may or may not have appeared in public wearing basketball shorts and a tee shirt more than once… (I was under the age of 10, but still hahah). I try and appreciate all phases my style has seen because it’s how I’ve found what I love now!
One piece of advice you’d give your younger self.
The success and beauty of others doesn’t threaten your own — and don’t define yourself by these things anyway! Your thoughts shape you, so be careful what you dwell on.
What’s the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery today?
I’d probably make a spreadsheet to decide how to spend/budget hahah but I’d definitely allot some money to take my family to Italy (which may or may not be the entirety of what I’d win since there are so many of us — I’m one of six kids!)
For far too long, wonder plant aloe vera has been relegated to a staple of summer skincare, and summer skincare alone. But just because it has the magic touch when it comes to too much time in the sun doesn’t mean you should forget about it when the temperatures drop.
That’s right: aloe can benefit your skin just as much during the winter as it can during those longer, warmer summer days (that seem eons away right now as the sun sets at 4pm). Read on for the lowdown on aloe and how to take advantage of all it has to offer as the frost creeps over your windows.
What is aloe vera, anyway?
It’s a plant! A succulent, to be precise, that tends to grow in dry, tropical climates and has been used medicinally for centuries. When it comes to skin benefits, we’re interested in the clear gel that fills the plant’s leaves we’re interested in.
And what makes aloe vera so special?
Well, aside from the aforementioned CENTURIES OF USE and the fact that ancient Egyptians called it the “plant of immortality,” aloe vera gel is rich in vitamins A, B, C, D and E, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium and zinc. It’s also full of polysaccharides (hydrating, anti-inflammatory, protective) and phytosterols (soothing, acts as a humectant aka keeps moisture in rather than letting it escape), and auxin and gibberellins, two hormones that provide wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, stimulating the growth of new skin cells.
Each of these alone is good for your skin but together, in one single substance, they work magic. Seriously. Not only does it have cooling properties that can soothe irritated or sun-exposed skin, it just generally rocks at reducing all types of dermal irritation and inflammations (couch cough acne and eczema cough). Those vitamins and minerals work to replenish skin when it’s missing something, which is especially true if what your skin is missing it moisture.
Ok, you’ve convinced me. How do I get to the good stuff?
You’ve got a couple of options. If you’re something of a green thumb and already have an aloe plant growing in your house (they’re very easy to take care of, I promise) or property, you can harvest the gel yourself. Look for one of the bigger, fatter leaves and pull gently but firmly from the base. Once the leaf is free, slice away the thorny edges, cut it open length-wise and use a spoon to scrape the gel away from the leaf. Put that stuff in a container and stick it in the fridge.
Not into the idea of manual labor? Many grocery stores carry large, pre-cut aloe leaves in the produce section that you can just slice open. And if that’s still too much, buy some that’s pre-cut and packaged. Just make sure the product is 100% natural with no added colors, fragrance or alcohol. (The ingredient label should read “100% aloe vera,” full stop.)
Now that I have some fresh aloe vera, how do I use it?
Let me count the ways!
For the simplest option, take a filleted leaf and just rub that sucker directly onto your skin as a mask. You’re welcome.
Picked a zit or dried one out with a topical treatment and can’t stand the dry, patchy skin left behind? Dab fresh aloe gel onto the spot to help moisten the cells and get them plumped back up. Alternatively, if you’re battling a fresh, painful spot, consider freezing the aloe vera gel in an ice cube tray, then rubbing the frozen stuff on the inflamed area to calm it down.
No, seriously. It may feel sticky but aloe vera gel is actually the perfect consistency for a natural, DIY shave gel that won’t gunk up your razor blade. And it’ll hydrate and condition skin while you’re shaving. And if you nick your skin during the process, you can use any leftover gel to speed up the healing process on the wound.
DIY your perfect body scrub using aloe vera gel as a base. It’ll lend a nice consistency to the scrub and hydrate while being applied. (Consider mixing it with an exfoliating ingredient like brown sugar and one that will help with slip, like almond or coconut oil.)
Fresh aloe has a seriously high water content, making it a near-perfect serum for oily skin that doesn’t play nicely with oil-based serums. After you cleanse, simply apply the gel to your clean face, then layer a moisturizer right on top to help make sure the goodness of the aloe is fully absorbed.