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raw easter treats - bunnies on horseback

Raw Easter Treats ‘bunnies on horseback’

Neither Devils nor Angels on Horseback, these creamy ricotta stuffed prunes enveloped in 85% chocolate are an indulgence for Easter.

Not-too-sweet, and packed with nutrients like antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats, you’ll love the intense rich flavour and almost jelly-like texture of these quick Easter treats.

The name ‘bunnies on horseback’ was inspired from the origin of the Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped around prunes) which stems from Cornwall at around 1066 when the Normans invaded England. The Normandy raiders would cover their armour with rashers of bacon to frighten villagers with the grotesque appearance of the armour. Likewise, these may not look like the prettiest beauty food but I assure you these morsels taste amazing and are quick to make!

WHAT YOU NEED…

FILLING #1

25 pitted dates or prunes

180g Fresh Ricotta – strained

3 tspn Lemon zest – fine

1/4 cup Walnuts – toasted and rough chopped into a dice

t tspn Bee Pollen (optional)

1 Vanilla bean – 1 scraped  (optional)

FILLING #2

25 pitted dates or prunes

180g Fresh Ricotta – strained

3 tspn Orange zest – fine

1/4 cup Brazil nuts – toasted and rough chopped into a dice

Cinnamon – 2 good pinches

1 Vanilla bean – 1 scraped

DECORATION

70% + block dark organic chocolate (bittersweet) – melted over double boiler

raw easter treats - bunnies on horseback

TO MAKE

1. Prepare one or both of the fillings by combining ingredients until well mixed. There is enough ricotta mix to generously fill at least 25 prunes or dates per recipe filling. I prefer to use prunes over dates as they almost give a ‘turkish delight’ consistency and have an intense decadent flavour.

2. Remove the seed / pit from the prune or date by slitting side and keeping one side hinged.

3. Insert half  teaspoon of filling into each one. Alternatively fill a small strong plastic bag, snip off corner and pipe in.

4.  Chill in fridge for at least 15 mins til filling firms.

5. Dip filled prunes & or dates in melted chocolate – use a 2 prong fork to make easier. Place on toxin-free baking paper and refrigerate til chocolate is set.

raw easter treats - bunnies on horseback

Natural Beauty Q&A: Emmily Banks from Depths of Wellness

Introducing a very notable natural beauty, Emmily Banks, natural makeup artist, blogger and green beauty guru who headlines www.depthsofbeauty.com.au. With 8 years of experience servicing the beauty and fashion industry, Emmily truly lives and breathes a holistic lifestyle and is passionate about encouraging wellbeing-conscious beauty regimes and awareness around the sustainability of our Earth not to mention natural, organic, nourishing and eco friendly cosmetics that WORK. What a woman! It’s so refreshing to encounter an absolutely authentic soul and because we’re such huge fans of her work, we consider it a very big deal that Emmily has taken the time to participate in a little Q&A with us. Read on!

Describe a day in the life of you!

My days vary – a lot! As a freelancer, I often work from home in my studio/office on my website, testing, trialling and reviewing natural beauty products and keeping on top of emails to clients, brands and online stores. Makeup Artistry also takes me all over Sydney for editorial photo shoots and events, from studio’s in Alexandria to location shoots on the beach in Northern Beaches, to Sydney Olympic Park! My days also involve meetings with like-minded business and I often pop in to some of my favourite natural brands offices to say hello! I’m also working on launching my Youtube channel soon so I’ve been spending a decent amount of time filming ‘how to’s’ and reviews! Aside from work, I ALWAYS find time in my day for exercise and a swim in the ocean or bake on the beach (in summer)!

Describe a day on your plate (what you eat, any particular ‘healthy food faves’ if any)?

My morning ritual involves a run along the beach as soon as I rise, then I stop by my local organic store for a coconut or almond milk piccolo and a cold pressed green juice on my way home. I then, fairly religiously, have lunch at home – organic poached eggs, half an avo with garlic mushrooms and spinach.. yum! I usually pick on nuts, popcorn and dips (hummus, baba ghanoush, avo) in the afternoon, then dinner often consists of plenty of vege and occasionally fish and meat. I LOVE cooking anything from broth, green soups, curries, spinach pie with sweet potato chips, fish and vege.. the list goes on! I also drink allll dayyy longgg… tea’s, water, acv and coconut oil with a dash of turmeric in hot water (its SO delicious) and im totally obsessed with juices and kombucha. I’m lucky not to have a sweet tooth, lots of bitter flavours or salt for me please! I’m fortunately to naturally love healthy food – it’s just normal for me to eat well.

Why do you think toxin-free beauty is the way to go? Oh there are SO many reasons!

Your Body & Mind’s Health – Between 60-90% of the ingredients in products we put onto our skin are absorbed straight through our blood stream. Absorbing toxic ingredients leads to a multitude of health issues, from hormone disruption to skin irritations and even cancer, tumors and neurotoxicity.

The Planet’s Health – Our environment is so precious and we need to do the best we can to look after our ecosystem. Using natural beauty lessens the demand for production of toxic chemicals that harm our environment and end up in our sewers and landfills. Toxin-free brands usually have a higher regard for the planet and often use recyclable packaging, etc too.

Animal Welfare – Disturbingly, almost all mainstream brands still test of animals and also use their fur for brushes. It’s horrific how they are treated and we need to be aware that we vote with our dollar.. we need to stop voting for brands who are still testing on animals and start supporting brands who don’t!

Who do you look to for inspiration? Everyone and everything! I am inspired by anyone who is driven, passionate, kind and is making a difference in this world for the better. These people are my friends, family, colleagues and clients. I am also highly inspired by successful, thriving entrepreneurs in the health and wellness sector – game changers who are living by their own rules and making a positive impact in other people’s lives!

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How did you fall into your role as a ‘natural’ makeup artist?

I started out as a mainstream makeup artist for several years before transitioning to all-natural and organic Beauty. I have always had a passion for health and wellness so it just made sense to start practicing with products I feel passionate about using and supporting. Plus there are so many beautiful natural, vegan, organic and cruelty free beauty and skincare products available these days! I am SO excited to be able to share my findings and encourage people to support healthier brands for their wellbeing. I guess the real turning point was when I was still a mainstream MUA and began receiving (toxic) beauty products to trial, review and promote. I just didn’t feel passionate or comfortable about doing it.. that’s when I knew I had to change direction and go all natural!

What do you think makes a woman a natural beauty?

First and foremost, a kind and happy spirit – I believe people radiate beauty with a big open heart! Secondly, a radiant, natural glow that comes from living and eating well; flawless skin, bright white teeth and clear eyes are all a sign of a healthy and happy lifestyle.

What is your mantra when it comes to feeling happy and successful? You can either think you can, or think you can’t… either way, you are right! I’ve always believed this and try to remember it’s all in my head, so I may as well think everything is awesome, right?

What is one beauty product you never leave the house without?

Lipstick/balm (usually tinted as I have quite pale lips and they’re often a bit dry)! It’s the one item I will always put in my beach bag, purse or pocket!

What are your tips for healthy, radiant skin? As mentioned above, it;s all about exercise to maintain healthy blood flow that gives you radiant skin as well as diet and lifestyle. Also, be sure to keep hydrated and drink plenty of fluids – especially green juice and kombucha… they’re full of minerals and antioxidants that keep your skin glowing!

Which products from our range do you think are the perfect tools for glowing makeup?

Luk Lip Nourishes are really beautiful – creamy texture, nourishing ingredients and gorgeous packaging!

A SPECIAL OFFER FOR OUR NATURAL BEAUTIES

Emmily would like to offer Luk Beautifood Tribe a 30% discount for a one on one client consultation/make-over:

CONSULTATION & MAKEOVER – Original Value $160

– A professional Makeover using only Natural & Organic Products

– An introduction to a wide range of Natural Products plus the chance to test and trial colours and consistency

– Product recommendations for your skins needs and your preferred style of makeup

– Brush/Tools recommendations for you to create Pro Makeup looks at home

– Professional MUA Hot Tips, i.e application techniques & tricks of the trade

– Q&A on natural products, their ingredients and why its so important to use natural ingredients on your skin!

Duration – 2hrs total.

Location – Makeup Studio/ Office, Bondi, Sydney.

Mobile Option – Emmily can also come to you for a small travel fee.

Click here for more details (and don’t forget to mention you saw the promo here!).

Got a question for Emmily? Leave a comment below!

Growers Market Beauty Bar

6 Reasons to Shop at the Farmers’ Markets

We all know farmers’ markets are a great place to find your organic fruits and vege but that’s just the start of it. Did you know that a study released by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) actually proved that farmers’ markets provide a number of benefits to farmers, consumers and communities.

The study found that farmers’ markets provide people with alternative access to fresh, local, seasonal and often-organic food sourced directly from the food producer or farmer. It is this exposure to a variety of foods that gives people the opportunity to learn about new foods, how they were produced and how to create beautiful new healthy dishes, all whilst providing farmers with an economically viable distribution option.

And it doesn’t stop there! Here are our top 6 reasons you should take a visit to farmers’ markets when you can (we are all for the late Sunday emergency supermarket run!)

  1. You can support local farmers

By doing a shop at the farmers’ markets you are supporting the local farmers and small business owners who are often using the markets to get their start and who need it the most. You’re also putting money back into the local economy and assisting local growers in their ability to continue providing their products to you.

  1. Builds community and neighbourhood spirit

Instead of just scanning your items at the self serve checkout, the farmers markets actually allows you to talk to the farmers who grow your food as well as other like-minded, health-conscious people in your community. Plus the friendly, relaxed atmosphere and beautiful outdoor setting of a market is a far more inviting place to have conversations and form new friendships than in aisle 5.

  1. The Food is fresher (and tastes better!)

Ever heard of food miles? This refers to the distance your food has travelled to get from where it was picked to your plate and you will certainly not find any signs advertising the food miles at your local supermarket. While a number of the big supermarket chains do try and support aussie farmers as much as possible, a lot of produce is still flown in from half way across the world (that’s how we can still get cherries in winter time!) and so are obviously not fresh.

  1. Huge variety

If you think all you’ll find at the markets is fruit and vege, you are very wrong! At markets at like the Pyrmont Growers Markets you’ll find artisan breads, preserves, cold pressed juices, sweet treats, meats, cheese and hand made pasta, just to name a few!

  1. Creates a relationship between the farmer and consumer

Shopping at the farmer’s markets creates an excellent opportunity to communicate with those who grow or create the foods that you eat. It’s important to know what you’re eating and how it was grown and what better way to find out what’s in your food then being able to talk to the person who grows it and sells it to you? You’ll be surprised at how much you learn from different farmers.

  1. It’s better for the environment

It’s healthier and more sustainable to eat food that is locally grownEating food grown in the local area cuts down on the money, energy, and resources needed to ship the food to you and by cutting down on the natural resources used to transport your food to you, you’re doing your part to help the environment.

Convinced yet?  Join us at the SMH Pyrmont Growers Market on the first Saturday of each month for fresh cold pressed juices, our famous beauty breakfast bars and natural makeup.

This Saturday will be extra special as it will first event of the SMH Good Food Month! So come down and grab a go+glow green smoothie while you browse the beautiful stalls, events and demonstrations in the sunshine.

Our famous beauty juices

Our famous beauty juices

DIY Beauty Recipes for Glowing skin

Transform your skin in 3 ingredients or less.

Naturally nourish and feed your skin from the outside in with these simple, DIY beauty recipes for an effortless natural GLOWA glow that comes from radiant, clear skin combined the happiness that comes from a little relaxation and pampering, is just one of our ingredients in the luk recipe to being a natural beauty.

Your skin is your largest organ and absorbs 60% of what you put on it.  The amazing team at the Environmental Working Group have research supporting that the average woman uses 12 personal care products per day, containing about 168 ingredients…that’s a lot of potentially toxic stuff  being absorbed by your body. But there is a healthier (and less expensive!) alternative – nature offers complex and powerful ingredients whose benefits cannot be replicated in the laboratory and just like the food you eat, they need to be clean, whole and unprocessed to  work effectively.

Many of your everyday pantry basics pack serious glow power, mix a few together and you’ve made yourself a little DIY skin luxe – with no toxic chemicals, busy car parks, or massive price tags.

Here are 7 of our easiest, most effective DIY beauty recipes using the beauty foods we know you’ve always got on hand. Grab a cup of herbal tea and your bestie and make your bathroom into a mini spa getaway and nourish your body and soul.

dividers R1-rough thin grey1. GREEN TEA TONER – all skin types

Green tea is a great anti-inflammatory while aloe vera juice is incredibly soothing to irritated skin. If you are prone to breakouts and/or oily skin green tea and lemon also have antibacterial properties to help calm, soothe and reduce excess oil.

How to |
  1. Brew a fresh pot of [preferably organic, loose leaf] green tea or use matcha (green tea powder)
  2. Strain and pour into a cup and wait to cool
  3. Add a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of aloe vera juice and stir
  4. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool and transfer into a small spray bottle [doesn’t have to be fancy, a plastic one from the discount store will do!]
  5. Spray on face to face, being careful to avoid eyes and any broken skin.

matcha powder - powdered green tea

dividers R1-luk middle yellow

2. MILK AND HONEY CLEANSING MASK  – all skin types

Ground oats [or oatmeal] provide gentle exfoliation and are extremely cleansing, healing and softening to the skin. They are also full of Vitamin B to regenerate skin cells for a fresh faced complexion, while milk’s [as well as yoghurt and buttermilk] natural lactic acid helps remove dead skin cells and its inherent fat content (4%) soothes dry, irritated skin.

How to |
  1. Soak 1/2 a cup of oatmeal in milk overnight (use skim milk for oily skin and full fat for dry)
  2. Add a teaspoon of organic raw honey to the mix
  3. Stir well
  4. Gently massage the paste onto your skin using circular movements to gentle exfoliate then leave for 10-20minutes
  5. Wet a face towel with warm water and use to gently remove the cleanser
  6. Rinse your face with cool water to close the pores and pat dry
Tips:
  • You can add some essential oils such as lavender to make it more fragrant
  • You can also substitute milk for yoghurt

beauty food oats

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3. SKIN LIGHTENING TREATMENT
– for mature, sun damaged or acne prone skin

Apple cider vinegar helps to inhibit the production of melanin, the pigment in the skin that creates dark spots and helps them to appear lighter over time. It’s also a great natural option for those who suffer from breaks outs as it is a natural source of Alpha Hydroxy Acids [a mild acid used in many face creams] which helps to remove dead skin cells and balance the PH levels of the skin. Lemons are also a fantastic natural skin lightener as they are packed full of  antioxidants which are proven to reduce the amount of melanin that is produced when applied to your skin and used regularly. Apple cider vinegar can trigger irritation for those with sensitive skin so we recommend doing a patch test first.

How to |
  1. Combine 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother) with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  2. Stir well
  3. Dab onto areas of pigmentation, age spots or acne scars before bed and rinse in the morning
Tips:
  • Patch test first to ensure you do not react with the apple cider vinegar
  • Obviously lemon can sting so avoid any areas of the skin that maybe broken, scabbed or raw

beauty food lemon

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4. ANTIOXIDANT REPAIR MASK
– for mature, dull or dry skin

Pomegranate is packed full of rich antioxidants which protect collagen thereby slowing down the appearance of fine lines caused by sun exposure. They also contain ellagic acid, which helps to prevent wrinkles. Pomegranate combined with yoghurt is also incredibly soothing for those with dry, irritated skin.

How to |
  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of organic unflavoured yoghurt with 1 teaspoon of runny honey
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of home made or store bought pomegranate juice and stir well
  3. TIP: for extra moisturising benefits add 2-3 drips of rosehip oil
  4. Stir well
  5. Apply to face and leave for 10-20 minutes
  6. Rinse face with warm water and pat dry.

skin food pomegranate

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5. OIL CLEANSER  – all skin types

Sweet almond oil not only intensely nourishes the skin, but acts as an extremely gentle and effective makeup remover- even for stubborn eye make up! Combine with the moisturising properties of jojoba oil and honey this is the perfect, quick and easy cleanser

How to |
  1. Combine 3 drops of sweet almond oil with 3 drops of jojoba oil and add ½ teaspoon of runny honey
  2. Mix well
  3. Massage on to damp face
  4. Remove with a warm, wet cloth and pat dry

skin food almonds

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6. CITRUS BODY SCRUB  – all skin types

Mandarins are rich vitamin C to keep skin smooth and plump plus they smell just fabulous when combined with antioxidants rich cinnamon. You can use oranges instead of Mandarins.

How to |
  1. Combine ½ a cup of panela or brown sugar with roughly 2 tablespoons of chosen oil (we used olive oil)
  2. Squeeze the juice of mandarin into mixture and stir
  3. Finely grate some zest off the mandarin – add as desired
  4. Stir in a pinch of cinnamon
  5. Check consistency: you want the sugar to be ‘wet’ but not too sloppy & check the aroma is zingy, sweet and uplifting. YUM
  6. Pour into a container** to keep in the shower
  7. Whilst showering, scrub all over your body and rinse with warm water.
Tips:
  • Panela sugar is evaporated organic cane sugar juice. It still retains its nutrients and its finer crystal are softer, more delicate on your skin.
  • ** We love glass for its purity and look but be careful with it in the shower.

mandarin skin food

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7. REPAIR AND CARE HAIR MASK  
– dry, damaged and colour treated hair

The intense moisturising properties of coconut oil and Argan oil combined with egg yolks for shine and lustre, is the easiest and most effective treatment for dry, damaged, colour treated and split ends.

How to |
  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of organic cold pressed coconut oil (you may need more depending on length of hair) with 3-4 drops of argan oil
  2. Whip an egg yolk (2 if you have long hair) and add to mixture
  3. Stir well
  4. Apply mask to ends of hair and leave for up to an hour
  5. Rinse with warm water and follow with regular shampoo and conditioner routine

And of course the number one beauty recipe is our gorgeous lip nourish made from delicious beauty foods to moisturise lips and give the perfect hint of colour for any look.

skin food coconut oil

 

dividers R1-rough thin grey be delicious.... inside and out

Natural beauty

5 favorite natural makeup brands and where to buy

We know our lük women already glow from the inside out and that sometimes you want just a little extra radiance –  so do it the natural way with our guide to 5 top natural makeup brands.  

1. LUK LIP NOURISH – of course!

We are 100% natural lipstick made from superfoods. We have seven shades which are gently flavoured with cold pressed citrus and spice oils to give your lips a gorgeous sheer colour whilst nourishing and deeply moisturising them. We have a shade for everyone, click here to find out which one suits you best!

This year we’ll be developing more food-grade makeup but with organic, raw, vegan ingredients, so stay tuned!

One of our most popular natrual lipsticks: Orange & Juniper Lip Nourish in a sheer dusky pink

One of our most popular natural lipsticks: Orange & Juniper Lip Nourish in sheer dusky pink

2. ERE PEREZ

This is one of my personal favourites. They are an Australian owned company that produce natural make up from quality ingredients including organic oils, plant extracts and minerals that are gentle on the skin and packed full of antioxidants. With no animal testing and very reasonable prices, Ere Perez is at the top of our list.

My skin is super sensitive so it’s hard to find a foundation that won’t react with my skin or cause a break out but their oat milk liquid foundation is very gentle and has great coverage. Also, their award winning glossy black almond oil mascara, stays on for hours and never clumps! (But it does smudge quite easily when you first apply it, so give it a little time to ‘set’)

You can it find at Nourished Life or direct from their website.

Ere Perez Almond Oil Natural Mascara

Ere Perez Almond Oil Natural Mascara

3. 100% PURE

Is huge in the US and they are starting to make a name for themselves here in Aus. Their range of cosmetics and skin care is vegan, gluten free and made from 100% natural & organic ingredients plus they are one of the most affordable natural brands around.

I also personally love their  passion for cruelty free products. None of their products are tested on animals at any stage and even their make-up brushes are made from high quality synthetic fibres instead of animal fur!

My favourite product is their 100% natural, 100% vegetarian black tea mascara, which is coloured with black tea and berry pigments. It thickens and lengthens my lashes and are slightly more water and smudge resistant than Ere Perez’s almond oil mascara.

Our own Cindy Luken is big fan of their fruit pigmented lip cream sticks, that look gorgeous under any of our Lip Nourish. They are coloured with fruit and vegetable pigments instead of minerals and dyes. I love that these ‘lip liners’ don’t dry out my lips or leave a waxy finish.

You can find them  at luk beautifood!

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Creamstick

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Creamstick

4. LAVERA

From Germany, Lavera has a great range of organic cosmetics, mineral make up and self tanners made specifically for those with sensitive and allergy based skin. From ‘glow powders’ and liquid foundation to volumising mascara and award winning eyeliner, you will have no trouble finding a number of products to suit your colouring and skin type. They also have a number of gluten free and vegan products available.

But the Lavera favourite has got to be their 6-in-1 Beauty Balm Cream, a global best seller. It gives the skin a gorgeous dewy look (which I love as I have quite dry skin) whilst providing good, light coverage. The best part – it’s made from organic acai berry which moisturises the skin and is full of wrinkle-fighting antioxidants.

My other favourite from Lavera is their beautifully gentle, vegan eye make remover.

You can find them at BioLiving

5. RMS

My favourite thing about RMS is the fact their philosophy is not just about making great organic make up but is also to create products that actually heal and nourish your skin. All their products are formulated with raw, food grade organic ingredients full of living enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants. They are also free of all toxins, synthetic preservatives, damaging chemicals and are gluten, GMO and soy free. WOW. Many of their products use coconut oil as a base.

We love their gorgeous lip2cheek balm. It comes in six different shades from sheer coral to ‘true’ red and gives a gorgeous natural colour that can be applied to both lips and cheeks. My favourite is the ‘promise’ shade which is salmon-pink with a really subtle shimmer. It gives my cheeks a really nice ‘warm’ tint and is the perfect handbag accessory so you never get caught out!

Now, although I have not personally tried the RMS’ ‘living luminizer’ I could not miss giving it a mention as I have heard so many good things about it and it is their BIGGEST seller. It’s described as ‘ultra sheer’ with a ‘stain pearl finish’ that highlights the skin and creates a natural ‘luminous glow’ without being sticky or greasy. This is one is definitely on my list.

Buy direct from their website or at MV Organic Skincare

RMS Lip2Cheek

RMS Lip2Cheek

 

We hope you love these natural make-up brands as much as we do!

Aimee-Lili x  be delicious.... inside and out

 

 

Natural Beauty interview with Vanessa Gray of www.vanessamegan.com

Vanessa Gray is the founder and director of her own luxury, organic and eco-friendly skincare company ‘Vanessa Megan’. Her philosophy is “you should never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat” so naturally we were drawn to her to be our ‘delicious woman’ of October.

Starting out in her own kitchen in 2009, Vanessa made natural skin care products for friends and family. Word grew quickly and within 9 months, her range was being sold all over Australia. Read on to find out how she did it.

Vanessa looking gorgeous at Marrickville's 'West Juliett' Café

Vanessa looking gorgeous at Marrickville’s ‘West Juliett’ Café for her interview

 

West Juliett's amazing baked treats

West Juliett’s amazing baked treats

 

VANESSA’S GORGEOUS BUSINESS

Tell us about your journey. How did you go from being an actress and a model to creating your own business?

After modelling for a number of years  I went through a bit of a crisis when I was 22. I was freaking out about what I was going to do with my life so I started acting and eventually got into NIDA.  I absolutely loved acting but all through my time at NIDA  I was always really into essential oils, herbs and herbal teas for people suffering from different ailments from pimples to migraines. I was kind of like the witch doctor.

Not long after I graduated from NIDA I was speaking to a friend who told me, “you should never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat” and that just made so much sense to me, it was my light bulb moment.

The day after that I went out to find a skin care range with no chemicals in it and there was nothing. So, I started researching and developing this love for biochemistry. Then I began creating my own products for friends and family which they absolutely loved and it just evolved from there. That was in 2001.

When I began branding the products, I decided to call the business Vanessa Megan because when I was going through hard times my dad called me his “strong butterfly” because Vanessa means butterfly and my middle name, Megan, means strong and I really loved that concept and the whole metamorphous of the butterfly and doing that naturally with our skin.

Then in 2008 I started a stall at the Bondi Markets with nine products and two weeks later someone came up to my stall who was on their phone saying “yeah yeah i’m here what do you want” and it was like oh my god, I got a request! Then when word grew and I got into a couple shops and a couple more until eventually I couldn’t sustain it in my apartment so I got a warehouse in Marrickville where we still make everything onsite.

And now, over 10 years later, I  get up every morning and I do what I love. That’s something my parents always said to me: do what you love and it won’t be a job, if you’re doing something that you love then money will follow.

In New South Wales alone our products are sold in About Life, Natural Progression Nutrition and Health, Dr Earth, Yoganic Pregnancy Yoga Studio, Body Mind Life, Go Vita, Iku, Mr Vitamin, Healthlands Leichardt, House of Yoga, Spell and Sydney Nourished Life Showroom.

[For Vanessa Megan’s full retail and online stocklists around Australia head to her website where you can find the perfect product for your skin ranging roughly from $10-$150]

You’re philosophy and inspiration continues to be “you should never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat” tell us about that and how you apply it to your products?

First of all, we source the best quality ingredients and get everything tested and if it doesn’t pass we send it back. Plus, we now have our Australian Certified Organic [ACO] accreditation which has been three years in the making!

All ingredients are plant based and from a natural source because I really believe that we can get great skin from the earth, I mean, what person have you seen using a generic anti-wrinkle cream that has given them that ‘magical’  transformation that everyone wants?

We still make everything by hand and don’t use alcohol in any of our products, which is often used as an anti-fungal and anti-mould agent but it dries your skin out so we’ve found this fantastic preservative which is a radish root extract. We’ve also got this new anti-ageing ingredient from a flower bulb as well as many other amazing skin loving extracts from natural sources which no else is using.

21_VanessaMegan_BloodOrangeFoamingBodyWash_500_c copy - Copy

Vanessa Megan’s Blood Orange Foaming Body Wash from the new ‘Body and Home’ Range

Vanessa Megan's Bergamont Shaving Cream for Men

Vanessa Megan’s Bergamont Shaving Cream for Men

 

What is a typical work day for you?  

Every day is different- I get into work at about 7:30am, do a little work out with my neighbour every third day, meditate before my staff arrive to get me ready for the day and then start working at 9am, going through till about 6pm, sometimes later. During the day it’s a mish mash of everything which is hard but I have a beautiful team behind me that helps me.

I used to be work work work, working on weekends, nights, everything, because there was such an expansion in the business that I really needed to give my all. The business is my baby so I needed to give it all my attention but I’m much better now at having that work/life balance.

For others out there wanting to start their own business, what is your advice?

Starting a business; if you’re going to be taken seriously you need to get your foundations laid down straight. Take your business seriously and take yourself seriously and whatever your strength is, stay there and whatever your weakness is be honest with yourself and get others to do it for you.

Also, have a great relationship with your bank, your accountant and lawyer, it makes life so much easier if you have that trust in them.

BEAUTY

What are the benefits of using organic, chemical-free products on your skin? Tell us about the differences you can see and feel?

From the feedback we get, the results are almost instant. The fact that you’re putting completely natural products on your skin makes such a difference to how it looks and feels. It’s like the difference between drinking a can of coke and a green smoothie, you can really feel it.

I think in 5 to 10 years time, we’ll look back on the products we used to use and say “can you believe we put these chemicals on our skin?!”

Also, when people use organic, chemical-free products they don’t wear as much make up as your skin has already got that glow.  Our NEO face oil is our biggest seller, made up of argan oil, sea buck oil and pumpkin seed, because it instantly gives you this gorgeous, natural glow. Personally it’s all I wear in summer.

anessa explains to us how she gets 'the glow', the natural way

Vanessa explains to us how she gets ‘the glow’, the natural way

How important is it for your health and your skin to use products free from chemicals?

Its really important.

Parabens and Polyethylene Glycols [PEG] which are in nearly all skin products are being linked to breast cancer. When you think about the amount that’s in most deodorants that you put on every single day in an area that’s part of the lining of your breast tissue, it really rings true that these chemicals are being ingested by your skin.

Other harmful ingredients include mineral oils, which are the second biggest ageing agent, number one is the sun, and they’re in 90% of skin care.  They’re actually a petrochemical and also come under the name of “liquid paraffin”. They don’t allow anything good to be absorbed into your skin and they block anything bad from getting out- they’re stopping your body’s major organ from breathing.

The top 4 ingredients we say to watch out for that are mineral oils, Sodium laurel sulphates [SLS’s], parabens and PEGs.

What is your daily ‘skin routine’?

I always cleanse and wash my face at the end of the day. In Summer I only use our Petitgrain Cleanser and the NEO oil and then in Winter when the atmosphere is much dryer, I use our rose and chamomile cream or the marine collagen anti-ageing cream . I’ve also just begun using our new serum ‘Resurrect’  for extra hydration and anti-ageing benefits but that’s it – I’m a simple girl.

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Vanessa Megan’s Nature’s Elixir Face Oil Serum

What is your best kept beauty secret?

There are a few beauty tips straight from your fridge which I would never even try to replicate.

One of my favourites is a face mask I make out of Greek yoghurt and turmeric. Just mix the two together,  apply to dry skin, wash it off after 10-20 minutes and all the redness in the skin is gone. It’s especially great for thread veins, redness and spots, even my pigmentation goes down when I use it, it’s unbelievable! Whenever I do one every asks me what I have done to my skin!

[See this month’s DIY beauty mask recipe we were inspired to create for you]

FOOD

How do you nourish your body from the inside to keep yourself looking gorgeous on the outside? Can you see the difference that eating organic, nourishing, wholefoods has on your skin, eyes, hair and nails?

I have always been a really healthy eater,  in portion size and as well as with what I eat. Luckily I’m much more of a savoury person because I do notice if I do have chocolate i’ll get a pimple, it sounds silly but what I eat really effects my skin.

I eat a lot of “skin loving” quinoa salad…I have a quinoa salad recipe and it has become very famous in my circle of friends. Everywhere we go they ask if I can make some quinoa salad and even though I have shown my friends how to make it three times they say theirs never tastes the same as mine!

Vanessa’s ‘famous’ quinoa salad|

What you need

  • 1 ½ metric cups of quinoa
  • 3 metric cups water
  • 1 bunch Gai-lan
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves purple garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

For the dressing:

  • Juice the lemons, removing pips and pour into an empty jar.
  • Add equal portions of olive oil.
  • Crush garlic cloves into the dressing.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

How to

  • Pour the quinoa & water into a saucepan, bring to the boil.
  • Turn down to low heat and put the lid on the saucepan. Cover until water has evaporated and the germ has popped out of the quinoa.
  • Take off heat.  Cool. [Alternatively you can soak the quinoa grain overnight, instead of cooking it]
  • Chop Gai-lan, like you would cabbage for a coleslaw and put in a large bowl.
  • Peel and slice carrots thinly, add to bowl.
  • Chop spring onion using white & green parts, add to bowl.
  • Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  • Add quinoa to the other ingredients and pour dressing over the top.
    Mix well.

Describe your day on a plate for us:

Im not a big morning eater. I’ll get up, do my meditation, have a cup of black tea with honey and milk and then i’ll have yoghurt with a piece of fruit, rice bran and some nuts and dates.

For lunch, I’ll generally have some sort of ham and salad roll or sandwich and an apple.

For snacks, we have little healthy nibbles at the office like pepita slice.

At night, dinner is a super rich green leafy meal with some kind of organic meat like a slow roast chook. I’m big on organic meat and eggs. Some nights if i’m on my own  i’ll just have scrambled eggs with some quinoa! Easy, nourishing and tastes delicious.

I grew up on a farm so when I cook it’s very rustic. There’s nothing cavier about my cooking.

What are your top three ‘cant’ live without’ ingredients when you cook?

  1. Turmeric
  2. Quinoa
  3. Miso paste- this is my new ‘stock’. I’ve just started making slow roast lamb shoulder using brown rice miso paste instead of stock, mixed with balsamic, vinegar, coconut sugar which I pour over the lamb with some lemon and rosemary. It’s AMAZING.
LIFE

What is happiness to you?

Happiness to me keeps evolving. Being a new learner of meditation,  happiness to me at the moment is being in a space of ‘no thought’ and having space around you to breath.

In meditation there’s a place I go to where I’m just in pure joy and that’s happiness. When there’s no thought, I’m in bliss.

What is the best advice you have ever been given and how do you live it?

Mum and dad have always said “follow you heart” which has really stuck with me. “Follow your heart and everything else with follow, follow your dreams,  trust your intuition.” I feel really blessed I have such a supportive family.

What is your personal Monday morning mantra? What gets you out of bed?

I’m more visual. I use visualisation to project where I want to be. The power of the mind is so great; if you visualise what you want from the day ahead and put it out there into the universe, it will come to you. I do this in all areas of my life. I see myself as happy and I don’t know quite how I’ll get there but I know I will happen somehow.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future personally and for Vanessa Megan?

For the business, it’s on the cusp of turning into a new era. It’s really exciting what we’ve done with our certified organic facelift!

And personally, I would love a family. I’d also love my own hobby farm with a big house and a veranda that goes all the way around and big veggie patch!

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Vanessa Megan’s Bubba Bath Massage Oil from the Baby Range

If you’re not already a fan of Vanessa’s products, then unlock the beauty for your self at Vanessa Megan website  like her on facebook at or you can book tickets to one of  ‘about life’s’ healthy skin evenings where Vanessa will take you through a DIY facial, advise on which products will suit your specific skin needs and talk about skin healthy foods [or as we call them, beautifoods], with tips on how to include them in your diet. For more details and to book tickets, head to About Life. 

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Natural Beauty Interview with Sommer Elston of www.gypsyjuice.me/

Meet the beautiful Sommer Elston from Gypsy Juice. Sommer’s passion for travel has taken her on a 14 year adventure around the world, inspiring her to create her own skin care range which she describes as the “yummiest, most nutritious, delicious and organic, raw meal for your skin”.

Now residing in sunny Mallorca, Spain, Sommer hand makes her small range using ingredients which have been carefully selected to provide your skin with all the minerals, nutrients, fatty-acids and anti oxidants it needs. Not only do we love Sommer’s products and philosophy, but we admire her eco-friendly business, as she only uses chemical and solvent free inks, her website 100% powered by wind energy and all her products are organic and PETA certified.

Thanks to the power of technology, we were able to reach Sommer over in Spain (as much as we would’ve LOVED to have flown over there) and were thrilled for her to be our delicious woman of September.

If you’re wanting to give your beauty cupboard a spring clean, we suggest you head over to Sommer’s website and treat yourself…your skin will thank you!

SOMMER’S GORGEOUS BUSINESS

Tell us about your journey in creating Gypsy Juice; what was your inspiration?

 As an absolute health nut, loving to live an organic, chemical-free lifestyle, I was finding it terribly hard to find products that contained no nasties or fillers what-so-ever. My solution was to concoct my own skincare recipes, using the amazing and exotic ingredients that I came across in my travels. My aim was to create an organic skincare range that would be the yummiest, most nutritious, delicious and organic, raw meal for my skin.

With my little collection of label-less potions, it wasn’t long before people were asking about my skincare secret. I explained that I was making my own, which invariably received the response, “can you make some for me”. Knowing that each person has different skin types and skin needs, I began to create custom made products. This is when it struck me, “There must be others who would love a chemical free, custom made collection of their own”. And so, the evolution of Gypsy Juice had begun.

You have said that you have “nomadic passions and vagabond ways” tell us about your travels?

My nomadic lifestyle has led me on many magical and unforgettable experiences. I started exploring this ever inspiring planet of ours in 1997 and have been happily roaming through many countries and experiencing their cultures ever since. There is a freedom in spontaneous travel that I truly love and which has brought me to enjoy some truly incredible journeys.

I sailed a 40ft catamaran from Portugal to New Zealand, tumbled down sand dunes in the Sahara Desert; swum with sea lions in the Galapagos; parasailed in Turkey; skydived in the Whitsundays; toured through Tuscany; tasted magnificent street food in Thailand; hot air ballooned across Mallorca; climbed Tai Shan (China’s most sacred mountain) and much more. I have also had the opportunity to be based in some of the world’s most exciting cities such as London, Moscow, Tokyo, Sydney and New York.

How do you keep a work/life balance?

I have created a little schedule for myself. My week is loosely mapped out and includes a balance of work, rest and play. This works really well for me and by the end of the week I have accomplished all my to-dos whilst having lots of fun along the way.

What is a typical work day for you?

My love and I share a superfood smoothie first thing in the morning. I then head off for my daily walk along the beach or do a little yoga. Back at home, I check and respond to emails and go on to make the orders I have received for that day. This involves hand blending each product with ingredients customised to my clients skin type and skin needs, labelling bottles, stamping my muslin cotton bags, writing my hand written letters and then packaging the goodies ready for their journey.

I then break for lunch. I absolutely love picnics, so many of my lunches are enjoyed picnicking in the park under my favourite olive tree. In the afternoon I hop on my bike and head down to the post office to ship off my parcels. I then take care of any other tasks that need to be completed. In the evening it’s generally a sunset walk or swim and time to cook a yummy, wholesome dinner.

For others out there wanting to start their own business, what is your advice?

Ensure that you are truly and utterly passionate about whatever it is you intend to create. The many, many hours you spend perfecting your business will then be a labor of love and not a chore.

BEAUTY

Tell us about the ingredients you use in your products and why?

My beautiful blends are created with the worlds finest 100% certified organic, cold pressed, unrefined oils, butters and botanicals which I have sourced from all corners of the earth. Each one has been especially chosen for it’s exquisite quality, purity and natural healing powers. My range was developed to provide your skin with all the minerals, nutrients, fatty-acids and anti-oxidants required for optimal skin health.

The Gypsy Juice range

The Gypsy Juice range

What is your daily ‘skin’ regime’?

Firstly I cleanse my face with my Gypsy Juice Luxurious Cleansing Oil. It is a lovely blend of protective and healing oils to soften, cleanse and promote skin elasticity.

Next, I indulge my skin and senses with my Rose Blossom Mist, it is made purely from 100% certified organic Bulgarian rose petals (I fly a lot and this is the most wonderful product for instant hydration on flights).

I then use my Antioxidant face oil and my Essential Vitamins Eye Balm to nourish my face.

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Sommer’s Essential Vitamins Eye Balm and Antioxidant Face Oil

What are your top 3 beauty tips?

1. Be happy, healthy and embrace your unique beauty.

Set aside a little time each day to take part in something you truly enjoy. Stress, worry, anger, frustration and negative feelings are all nasties for your health and in turn for your skin. Immerse yourself in activities such as yoga, meditation, reading a book or taking a walk in nature. It will do wonders for your mindset and give you an overall, happy glow.

2. Create the ultimate, raw, organic meal for your skin.

By feeding your skin with organic, cold pressed, unrefined, oils, butters and botanicals, you will be supplying your skin with all the nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and fatty acids it needs. Using ingredients suited to your skin type will help your skin become the loveliest, most vibrant, youthful and well balanced it can be.

3. Be a compassionate and conscientious consumer.

With so many skincare products on the market today, choose to support brands that employ ecofriendly and compassionate practices. Look out for recyclable packaging, fair trade ingredients as well as certifications stating they are a cruelty free company. By supporting these types of companies, you are contributing to a more positive and sustainable future. A happy healthy planet means a happy healthy self.

Have you got any ‘skin recipes’ you can share with us that we can make at home?

A nice and easy one is to simply cover your face with a thin layer of Manuka honey. Leave it on as you would a mask (15-20 minutes) then simply wash it off with a soft cloth.

Sommer's Essential Vitamins Eye Balm

Sommer’s Essential Mineral Eye Balm

FOOD

How do you nourish your body from the inside to keep yourself looking gorgeous on the outside?

By eating a large array of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans each day, while partaking in enjoyable exercise to revitalise my mind, body and soul.

Describe your day on a plate for us:

Dawn- Superfood Smoothie

Mid-Morning- Big fruit salad

Afternoon- Roasted vegetable salad with spinach, semi sun-dried tomatoes, hummus and lemon olive

oil dressing.

Late Afternoon- home-made Medjool Date bliss ball.

Night- home-made Lentil/vegetable/bean burgers with chunky avocado salad and salsas.

What are your top 3 ‘can’t’ live without’ ingredients when you cook?

1. Almonds (I make raw almond milk every second day and then make baked goods with the left over pulp)

2. Fruit

3. Vegetables

Can you share with us one of your favourite recipes?

Flourless Orange Cake

What you need

  • 2 oranges
  • 3 happy hen eggs
  • ¾ cup Agave nectar
  • 3 cups of left over almond pulp (well drained)
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

Orange Syrup

  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup Agave nectar

How to

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Brush a round 22cm (base measurement) spring form pan with cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil to lightly grease. Line base with non-stick baking paper.

2. Place the oranges in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium heat.

3. Cook for 1.5 hrs.

4. Next Coarsely chop oranges (saving one for the syrup). Remove and discard any seeds.

5. Pop the oranges in a food processor/blender and process until smooth and whisk your eggies and agave in a bowl then add the oranges, almond pulp and baking powder then pop the well-mixed batter into your pan.

6. Bake for around 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

7. While your cake is cooling peel the rind off your left over orange and then juice it’s contents. Pop it in a saucepan with your agave and heat until it becomes thick.

Lastly, pour syrup on top and ENJOY. x

LIFE

What is happiness to you?

A blissful state of mind. x

What is the best advice you have ever been given and how do you live it?

Be kind to yourself is probably one of my favourite ones. I follow this advice by fuelling my mind body and soul with a positive, nourishing and compassionate lifestyle.

What is your personal ‘Monday morning mantra’?

The thought of a brand new day full of fun adventures and new possibilities.

What are you are most grateful for in your life and why?

The list is honestly endless. My Love. The beautiful little man growing in my belly (I am due to give birth to my first little ray of sunshine in December). My family and friends. The smile upon my face each day. Kindness shown from others. The fact that I am able to create my beautiful products while living a nomadic lifestyle. The yummy, nourishing food that I enjoy each day. I am also grateful for all the beauty and colour that life brings.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future personally and for your business?

Personally; to continue living a fun, loving, wild + free, adventurous, compassionate, rewarding, fulfilling lifestyle with my growing little family. And in terms of my business? that I get to share my beautiful Gypsy Juice creations with more and more lovely people from all over the world.

Feeling inspired? We thought so.  If you’d like more of Sommer you can also check out her facebook page. 

crackers

CRACKERS | stand out with this non – recipe

[RECIPE]  Serves 4-6  | 20 mins WO-TO-GO  (5 min prep, 15 min bake)

I am always looking for savoury crackers to have on hand, to accompany ‘goodies’ for a quick weekday lunch, pop in the kids lunchbox, serve with a hummus or fresh veggie puree when friends pop by or hubby & I have a moment together before dinner!  (we wish!) Read more