By Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro, Contributing Editor
“Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson
As we make an effort to gracefully transition into a new year, social media inundates with New Year’s resolutions, goading us with memes proclaiming “New Year, New You!”, and the like. In the face of what may feel a bit overwhelming, might I suggest that we start small?
This month, I humbly offer the opportunity to explore greener self-care products, to sample a nourishing juice, and whip up our new DIY brightening mask, featuring…kale!
Let’s discuss this power-house plant, shall we? Kale is a cruciferous veggie in the cabbage family, sharing this designation with the likes of broccoli, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. It’s been cultivated in one shape or form for thousands of years, according to numerous sources, including The Kale Project and GrowJourney.com.
Studies have shown that consuming high amounts of dietary fiber from foods such as kale decreases the risk for type 2 diabetes, lowers blood glucose levels and supports heart health. It’s also chock-full of chlorophyll, which helps stop our bodies from absorbing cancer-causing carcinogens. Additionally, it’s an excellent source of zinc, lutein and betacarotene, which prevent macular degeneration and promote overall skin and hair health. Vice even published an article detailing how vitamin E rich kale helps us rebound after overindulging in alcohol.
Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations used kale to remedy digestive ailments, gout, and even as a topical poultice mixed with salt, to stimulate the scalp. Coincidentally, The New York Times ran an entire article explaining the history of kale, if you’re interested in learning more.
Loaded with calcium, iron, antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C, K, and phytonutrients, it’s certainly on our dietary radar. We dehydrate, blanch and blend it in abundance. We bake it into chips, add it to smoothies, sip it in bright green nutrient-laden-juices; Kale dwells primarily in the kitchen. Let’s set it free from the confines of the crisper and bring it into the at-home spa experience!
Recently, our dark leafy green pal has migrated onto the shelves of high-end beauty shops and trendy retail therapy meccas across the globe in jars, tubes and sachets. Kale has made its way into skincare product formulations by companies such as Pacifica, Éminence, and Youth to the People. It has a seemingly endless list of beauty benefits, including: minimizing dark under-eye circles, stimulating cell regeneration, and boosting collagen production, to name a few.
A quick Google search will certainly yield oodles of kale-infused recipes. One of my faves is Harper’s Bazaar’s “Love Your Liver” green smoothie; check it out, and while you’re at it, give our Coco Eco Hydrating Green Juice recipe a try:
8 Stalks Celery
2 Cups Kale
1 Cup Parsley
Try to source your celery, kale and parsley locally, from organic suppliers. (At our test kitchen in Santa Barbara County, our produce is furnished by Dare to Dream Farms.)
Rinse and trim any damaged leaves, then chop all of your greens into 2” pieces. (Depending on the juicer you’re working with, you may need to cut into smaller bits.) We used a masticating juicer by Orfeld to prepare this recipe; it has a generous 3” wide chute, allowing us to add larger portions as we worked. Add to the juicer in small batches, and serve immediately, if possible. Juice may be refrigerated in an airtight, sealed container for up to 24 hours.
And now, for a few of our favorite beauty products featuring kale:
Get ready for some leafy green moisture with this lightweight, air-whipped moisture cream. All the antioxidant-packed superfoods you love combine forces with Hyaluronic Acid, creating a moisturizer that instantly restores, balances and conditions. Friendly for all skin types, best for combo/oily.
Clean up your skincare routine with our exclusive detoxing skincare bundle including a face wash, charcoal detox mask, and serum.
Fast-absorbing, advanced serum for all skin types. This potent dose of non-irritating Vitamin C is stabilized by botanically-derived ferulic acid to deliver optimal antioxidant benefits and improve the appearance of skin.
AHAVA's ultra-hydrating Superfood Kale & Turmeric Smoothing Body Lotion puts the antioxidant superpowers of kale and turmeric to work. The soft texture of this lotion deeply hydrates and safeguards skin from premature signs of aging, while smoothing the skin's surface. Ensure all day suppleness with this refreshing superfood-packed body treat.
For our January homespun skincare fun. . .
Kale Avocado Brightening Mask
1 Large Kale Leaf (stem removed)
Generous Squeeze of Lemon Juice
3 tbsp Filtered Water
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse until well-combined. The leaf will take some time to break down; be patient and pulse, then stop and scrape down sides of the bowl. Repeat the pulsing/blending action. Add a few more drops of water if the mixture is so thick that the leaves won’t break down. A good rule of thumb: the mask should be gelatinous, and the kale bits no larger than 1/8” long.
Use a spatula to transfer the mask to a small, clean bowl. Apply immediately using a fan brush or your fingers. Leave on for 5-10 minutes, then remove with a soft, face cloth or sponge. This is a rather messy process, so hopping directly into a warm shower is a cool hack to avoid having green shards allover your sink and washcloths.
If you plan to use the mask later on, refrigerate in an airtight container; use within 24 hours in order to reap the most healing benefits.
Cheers to a healthy new year! As always, be kind to yourself, stay safe and keep looking for the simple pleasures in life.
Photo Credits: Eminence, Pacifica, Youth to the People, Ahava, Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro