Beauty super food: Baked kale chips (and how to make them at home)

This is the week that I start eating healthy (promise!) and to start things off on a motivating note, my super-best friend baked me some kale chips. Kale, as you know, is a nutritional powerhouse with a zillion benefits that include:

1. Kale is zero-fat

One cup of kale has only 36 calories and 0 grams of fat, making it great for those who are watching their weight.

2. Kale is a great detoxifier

Besides keeping you full for longer with its high fibre content (5 grams of fibre per cup), kale also packs a potent punch of sulphur. Both these elements are superb for aiding digestion, detoxifying the body and keeping your liver healthy.

beauty food baked kale chips3. Kale is super-high in nutrition

This super-food has hefty doses of beta-carotene, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, & K – in far larger quantities than you’ll find in most other vegetables. Plus, it delivers 4 times more magnesium and calcium than brussels sprouts; more vitamin C than carrots or spinach, and more folate than broccoli. All these vitamins and minerals protect skin against photo-ageing (sun damage); help you fight off certain cancers; nourish your hair, skin, and nails from the inside out; and even help reduce dark under eye circles.

4. Kale is anti-inflammatory

Kale’s dark green leaves contain a healthy level of omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate the body’s inflammatory process, maintains smooth and dewy skin and helps fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

5. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants

Kale is a superstar in the arena of carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. In normal-people language, that means kale protects our skin, body and hair against premature ageing.

So, now that I have convinced you of kale’s health and beauty benefits (have I or haven’t I?), let’s see how the good lady turned these somewhat boringly flavoured leaves (well, you can’t win on all fronts, even if you are a green leafy vegetable) into the perfect guilt-free snack. One that’s delicious to boot!

beauty food baked kale chips2Baked kale chips: Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt (to taste)

Baked kale chips: Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 95 degrees C (200 degrees F).
  2. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Carefully remove the leaves from their stems with a knife and tear them into bite-size pieces.
  4. Thoroughly wash and dry the kale leaves with a salad spinner.
  5. Drizzle the leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
  6. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt (takes 15-20 minutes). And you are done!

What’s your favourite healthy snacking recipe? Do share.

Beauty DIY: Super-simple and super-effective home remedies for thicker, darker and bolder eyebrows

Now even science has proven that bold eyebrows are the single most important feature of our face – far more than eyes and lips for “emotional expression as well as facial recognition”. In fact, Yahoo Health goes so far to claim that, “…eyebrows may be a sort of facial signature — a way of distinguishing one person’s mug from another’s.”

So, it comes as no surprise that bold eyebrows seem to be in perpetual fashion and with them stand a zillion pencils, powders and gels to enhance what you (don’t) have. But what if you could actually grow more hair, making the whole process of getting your eyes all dressed up both natural and effortless? It’s not too difficult, especially with these tried, tested and timeless home recipes.

Audrey Hepburn: The 'brow original

Audrey Hepburn: The ‘brow original

Eyebrow booster #1: Castor oil

Massage castor oil into your eyebrows every night. Its proteins, vitamins and antioxidants not only nourish the hair follicles, they also help in resisting any microorganisms that hamper eyebrow hair growth.

Eyebrow booster #2: Olive oil

Olive oil is extremely rich in Vitamin E, which is known as the beauty vitamin that makes eyebrow hair grow faster and thicker, while keeping it dark-hued. You do not need a large amount of the oil – dab a drop on both brows and massage gently, preferably twice a day.

Eyebrow booster #3: Whole milk

Whole milk is super-effective for achieving thick eyebrows. Simply dip a cotton bud in whole milk and apply it daily on the eyebrow area.

Eyebrow booster #4: Aloe vera

If the blockage of hair follicles on account of excess sebum (this is normally the case if you have oily skin) hinders the growth of your eyebrows, apply pure aloe vera gel directly onto your brows.

Lily Collins: Image courtesy Tatler

Lily Collins: Image courtesy Tatler

Eyebrow booster #5: Fenugreek seeds

Grind fenugreek seeds into a paste and mix with a little almond oil. Massage this into your eyebrows every night and wash off in the morning.

Eyebrow booster #6: Essential oils

Mix together one teaspoon each of lavender oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, pine oil, sandalwood oil, lemon essential oil and olive oil. Massage this mixture into your eyebrows daily, before going to bed.

Eyebrow booster #7: The internal story

Nutritional deficiencies hamper the growth of eyebrows, so make sure sure your body gets all the minerals, proteins and vitamins in appropriate quantities – especially magnesium, silica, biotin, zinc, sulfur and vitamin B6.

Once your eyebrows are thick and lush, get them reshaped professionally. And remember to keep checking the progress of your technician every few minutes – that way, if your hair is being plucked or waxed too thin, the situation can be immediately remedied.

17 genius beauty hacks to save time, space AND money while travelling

When you spend as much time on the road as I do (33 countries in the past six months!), you really need to start shoring up your beauty game. To begin with, I’ve learnt the hard way that carrying your entire dressing table onto a flight is not very feasible (trust me, I’ve tried!). And even if you have packed and repacked and rechecked all the essentials, there will always be that one time when you forgot an acne buster and a huge red zit popped up. Or a nail’s snapped and there’s no emery board in sight. Or you’ve run out of hair conditioner. There could be a zillion things, big and small, and fortunately everything comes with a solution. An easy, effective and cheap-as-pennies solution, if you just know where to look.

Chamonix, Switzerland, in May 2015

Chamonix, Switzerland, in May 2015

Lip balm works for EVERYTHING: Lip balm is the one essential I would never leave home without – I’ve used it as a stand in for hair wax and to tame flyaways, on the cheekbones and down the brow bone as highlighter, mixed with a little blush to create a lit-from-within rosiness and swiped onto the lids in place of eye shadow. AND it also hydrates your lips!

Zit zapper: This is one I turn to all the time when my Prids is away and there is one of those mammoth under-the-skin pimples looming. Visine normally comes to the rescue, since it constricts blood vessels under the skin and helps bring down inflammation. Also works for bug bites and under eye circles.

Concealer 101: Run out of concealer? Mix a pinch of loose powder into liquid foundation. This will make it thick enough to cover up flaws.

Diversify your foundation: If, on the other hand, you’ve only got a full coverage foundation on hand and really need something lighter, mix it with some moisturizer. It will give you a more sheer and natural effect.

Phuket, Thailand, in June 2015

Phuket, Thailand, in June 2015

Blot it up: Then there have been times when I’ve landed up in a super-hot place (Phuket and Bali, here’s looking at you!) sans any oil blotting sheets or primer. And the resulting streaks down my face were not pretty. The local ladies in Bali suggested applying a little corn starch to the skin before foundation and it really worked a charm!

Blush-time: Cherry Jell-O may be one of the most innocuous grocery store products but it does some wonderful double duty as a blush. Simply mix it into your moisturiser or balm and swipe on for a healthy glow.

The brow game: Sort out raggedy eyebrows by dabbing a bit of moisturiser on a mascara wand (or even an old toothbrush) and using it to brush them into place.

Sketch it on: Another brow solution? No. 2 pencils are the perfect graphite shade to sketch in natural eyebrow hairs. Sharpen one to a point and draw in lightly for a finished brow.

Highlighter to go: Eyeshadows work brilliantly as a substitute for highlighter. In fact, I often turn to this makeup hack even when I have a full complement of highlighters on hand. That’s because ‘shadows come in far more hues, which makes finding the perfect balance between pink and gold much easier.

Munschausen, Germany, in April 2015

Munschausen, Germany, in April 2015

Root job: Yet another use for eye shadow? As a root touch-up for dark tresses.

Go for the glow: When you’re out of a body illuminator, simply mix your body lotion with a little olive oil for a soft, all-over sheen.

Conditioner quandary: Out of conditioner? You’ve actually got multiple options. (1) Plain and simple olive oil or coconut oil. (2) Mayonnaise (all hotels and restaurants will have tiny packets of these!). (3) Hand lotion, in an absolute pinch.

Off with your makeup: Olive oil is actually a serious beauty lifesaver on the road – massage it into your face to wipe away even the heaviest eye makeup.

Simple shampoo: And if it’s shampoo (or water to use it!) you’ve run out of, choose between baby powder and oatmeal. Sprinkle it on your roots, then brush away after 5 minutes for no-rinse hair cleansing.

Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2015

Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2015

De-puff the peepers: Travelling and puffy eyes seem to go hand-in-hand for me. And what really helps is popping a metal spoon in the refrigerator (or in a glass full of ice!) till it’s chilled and then placing it over your eyes, curved side down. The frosty metal works as an instant de-puffer for even the most fatigued peepers.

Nail it: Jagged nails and no emery board? Use the strike plate on a book of matches instead.

Super-glue a nail: And if a nail actually chips or cracks, stick it back with a drop of super glue till you can reach your tools. If possible, follow with opaque nail polish to make it look flawless.

Kiruna, across the Arctic Circle in Sweden, in April 2015

Kiruna, across the Arctic Circle in Sweden, in April 2015

10 ways in which lemon water rocks the health and beauty stakes!

If you can make time for only one small thing that has a HUGE impact on your health and skin, let it be this: start the day with a mug of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. I started doing this a fortnight back – while reading about how this ancient remedy is a cornerstone of so many detox programs, including the Blue Print Cleanse – and my skin has never looked better. And I have had far lesser sneezes and sniffles despite it being full blown allergy season. Seriously, it’s so simple and the benefits are just too good to ignore.

lemon water benefits1. Lemon water is full of vitamins and minerals

Let’s start at the beginning: lemons are chock full of vitamins B and C, riboflavin and a whole host of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium – all of which are needed by our body throughout the day.

2. Lemon water boosts the immune system

Vitamin C is not just terrific for boosting your immune system, it also slows down free radicals that contribute to disease and premature ageing. Plus, it’s fabulous for your skin. What more could you ask from a few drops?

3. Lemon water regulates blood pressure

Lemon water contains bioflavonoids (also known as vitamin P), which help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.

4. Lemon water balances pH

The human body performs best when it’s more alkaline as diseases largely breed in acidic environments. And while lemons seem to be acidic, they actually have an alkalizing effect on the body. Therefore, by drinking lemon water you can stabilize your pH levels, which helps the body remove toxins, boosts the metabolism and fights germs.

hot-lemon-water5. Lemon water helps with weight loss

Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. They also regulate the body’s metabolism and absorption of sugar. Added bonus: people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster.

6. Lemon water aids digestion

The combination of lemon juice and warm water stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and boost peristalsis – the waves of muscular contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Lemons are also high in minerals and vitamins that help loosen toxins in the digestive tract. And lemon juice encourages the liver to produce bile, which is essential for digestion. Enough said.

7. Lemon water acts as a gentle diuretic

Lemons increase the rate of urination, thereby releasing toxins at a faster rate to keep your urinary tract healthy.

8. Lemon water helps balance the hormones

This cup of goodness helps start the day on a hydrated note, which prevents dehydration (obviously) and adrenal fatigue. The adrenals are two small hormonal glands that sit on top of your kidneys and regulate many different bodily functions, such as blood pressure and the ability to handle stress. The adrenals simply can’t do their job when dehydrated. Lemon and water are a fantastic way to rehydrate and replace fluids lost by your body. QED!

9. Lemon water keeps you zen

Vitamin C is one of the first nutrients that gets depleted when our mind or body are subjected to stress. And lemons are chock full of vitamin C, making this fruit a natural energizer!

10. Lemon water makes skin smooth and glow-y

Lemon juice and hot water are a potent combo for terrific skin on multiple levels. Besides all the qualities discussed above – all of which are important for healthy skin in their own way – lemon juice is also a natural antiseptic that helps in curing several skin related problems. Besides this, it contains citric acid, which helps fight acne. And the vitamin C content helps decrease wrinkles and purges toxins from the blood.

In the comments below, tell me which one of these benefits is going to get you to try this morning ritual. Or, if you’re already a lemon water junkie, what specific benefits have you noticed?