Best Of

Our Favorite LA Salon Is Coming To A City Near You

Spoke&Weal

Spoke & Weal salon's cult following and swift expansion across the country testify to the effectiveness of of co-founder Jon Reyman's dry-cutting technique. So is his ability to somehow style my unruly mass of mane into something manageable. The man works miracles. Working to evolve the salon industry's traditional methodology of cutting hair while wet, Reyman and team are going against the grain and cutting hair while dry, as it falls. Which he feels is just a more logical, evolved way of cutting. Spoke & Weal cuts often take less than 45 minutes and Reyman is upfront about how he trains his team not to act as a client's therapist, but to give them 'the best haircut of their life.' Which, as I sort of mentioned above, is the truth. I had a chance to connect with him, while he chopped into my previously untamable locks, about his approach, the current expansion into new markets and how they've grown such a dedicated clientele. Read on for our discussion, below.

You started Spoke & Weal in San Francisco. Who is your clientele there, and why that city to start?

San Francisco was a good jumping-off point. We opened fresh without any roots or name in a city that none of us lived in. Christy Dylo, our master stylist and trainer, moved from Minneapolis on faith that we could do what I said we could. This happened pretty quickly. We did not, and have not, done "studies" or SWAT analysis. Its been more a Field of Dreams situation: if we build it, they will come.

I first heard about Spoke + Weal through a few influencer friends in the wellness space. What is it about the brand that is attracting so many beauty and wellness influencers, especially in Los Angeles? How does this ‘insider favorite’ status take form in other markets?

We don't “go after people” we let our work speak for itself. We want guests who genuinely want to see us and appreciate our work. I think our relaxed relationships (meaning no formal trade or sponsorships), but definitely appreciating the support influencers and social media provides for spreading our work and the word, helps create more intimate relationships with all our guests and especially those who have established themselves as influencers. We work hard to make it easy for people.

We are also not celebrity-driven. We just want to do excellent work for people who want it. We always want to understand our success and exposure comes from our talent and drive and not from a once-removed resource. Our attitude is try us, if you love us great, if you love another place better, great, we want you to be happy.

We are the go-to for people who are looking for alternatives in every market we are in.

Tell us about your dry cutting technique? Why haven’t other salons been doing this? Is this part of why you think you’ve been able to so successfully enter other markets

We believe wet haircutting is antiquated and inferior. I can spend fifteen minutes cutting hair dry and it will be better than a four hour wet haircut. Better meaning, the length and density of hair is managed more carefully, clearly and refined. Hair will be softer and more modern looking.

Wet cutting is the least important part of the haircut. It’s the gross-moves part. The initial chopping of the block. The actual refinement and definition takes place in the dry cutting.

Other salons have been trained under older methods. They are stuck in the past cutting small sections and blunt lines. They cut length to manage density (enter heavy layers). Cutting dry we can cut blunt lines, layers, manage length and density more perfectly.

Yes, we are successful because we give better haircuts in less time. Our haircuts “grow in” not out, they last longer. We have created a language that is simple, that helps us deliver what our guests are asking for. We are driven by giving guests the best haircuts in the world.

You started Spoke + Weal after working for years as a master trainer at Aveda. How have you woven clean beauty into your own brand and how are you still working with Aveda products?

We use Aveda in our salons. We want natural eco-concious products that still deliver the results we are looking for. We want performance, results, and environmental awareness to be embedded in our services.

As the ‘talent’ how have you so successfully been able to map out this beautiful growth strategy? Did you find and MBA to help you on a consulting basis, or take on a co-founder who has grown brands in the past?

I do not want to be the most important person in the room. The business is not built on my success but built on the success of the team and our ability to collaborate. We have created clear cutting, color, styling, and culture systems. We stay flexible and strong. I surround myself with people who are capable. My business partners compliment me, and one another, perfectly. Our master team members and educators, Dell Miller, Lindsay Victoria, Jay Braff to name a few have contributed in ways we would have a hard time quantifying. Building Spoke & Weal has always and will continue to depend on the entire teams commitment and sacrifice.

Does technique remain the same, regardless of place, or are your stylists taking different approaches in places like Los Angeles and Nashville, or New York and Chicago?

Everyone is trained on and required to master our techniques. How they use these is up to their individual creative process and consultation. Our pro’s have brands within our brand. We believe the diversity of what we offer, and our collaborative culture, makes us collectively the technically-strongest salon in the world. We are enormously committed to culture. We fail forward. We are constantly striving to challenge ourselves and each other. We communicate clearly and invest heavily in protecting and cultivating our culture. This is what our company retreats and monthly meetings are about. In our organization, culture is everything. Hence our mission.

For those without a Spoke + weal in their city yet, how do you advise customers ensure their stylists are taking the best care of their hair and giving them the best cut possible?

I would ask if the hairdresser is able to cut dry. Find a hairdresser that has committed to continued education. Communicate clearly and bring in pictures. We hope to be in your city soon!


How A Former Banker Built AnAdult Summer Camp For Gourmands and Outdoor Novices

How A Former Banker Built AnAdult Summer Camp For Gourmands and Outdoor Novices

Adult summer camps, complete with expert guides, gourmet meals and happy hours, are the next big wellness trend. Here’s how Pursuit Series Co-founder Julia Stamps-Mallon turned her idea into a sold-out outdoors festival.

The 9 Best Mother's Day Gifts for Health-Conscious Moms

Buying your mom a special something on mother’s day should be simple enough, especially since you’ve known the woman nine months longer than even your dad. So you should understand her and her gifting preferences pretty well. But no matter how many birthdays and mothers days go by, getting her something that will tick all the boxes of being something she wouldn’t buy herself, something she will actually use and not break the bank is not as easy as it might sound. So, the following is a list of health-inspired treats that she likely wouldn't buy for herself.

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For the mom who wouldn’t splurge on herself: A weekend away at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, or at least a spa treatment with resident wellness expert.

Why? There is nothing better than being pampered by the best in one of LA's most oasis-like five-star hotels. The visiting practitioners are leaders in their respective fields and are invited to the property from all over the world.  Regular experts in residence include the London-based Reiki master Shaylini and naturopathic doctor Dr. Nigma Talib.

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For the mom who is diving into healthy cooking: The just-released Wicked Healthy vegan cookbook by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno and David Joachim.

Why? For moms who are working to ditch the meat or up their plant-based cooking without going full kale salad, this new tome is filled with stunning imagery and ideas for how to serve the gorgeous food on display.

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For the marathoner mom: New Speed Up sports bra by lululemon.

Why? Made of four-way stretch and sweat-wicking Luxtreme fabric, this new release from lululemon is a major gear treat with some of the highest support available. It works just as well for moms who clock miles before dawn to those who prefer a more casual morning walk.

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For the coiffed mom: A 10-free mani pedi at organic-luxe salons like tenoverten and Sundays.

Why? She may have her regular corner shop for a weekly manicure and pedicure, but tenoverten's spa-like digs and chic, chemical-free polishes should be an appreciated upgrade.

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For the mom who says she’s too busy for self-care: An at-home massage by Zeel or a local practitioner.

Why? A spa day is a lovely indulgence, but having the spa come to you is next level. Bonus points for including an at-home spa gift card in a spa care package with other goodies like a soothing candle and a creamy moisturizer.

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For the mom who digs a good soak: CBD bath bombs.

Why? Is there a mom out there who doesn’t deserve a solid hour tub soak with 35 grams of muscle-soothing CBD? 

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For the mom who needs some more shut-eye: A beautiful ceramic diffuser and essential oil kit from Canada’s Saje Natural Wellness.

Why? Because who couldn't use an extra dose of spa vibes in the bedroom? Also, Saje's signature Liquid Sunshine essential oil is a sure way to start the day on a sunny note.

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For the mom who’s still using Pond’s Cold Cream: The new 'it' face oil, squalene, like this cruelty-free version by Mirai Clinical.

Why? Squalene has been said to be one of the most easily absorbed face oils, and this sugarcane-based version out of Japan is the next big thing in skincare. 

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Gift: For the practical mom. Bombas socks.

Why? Even though they are all kinds of practical, this Mother's Day 8-pack is secretly luxe. Who buys eight pairs of premium athletic socks at a time, outside of Costco? The hoardes of Bombas fans who swear by the brand's Honeycomb Arch Support System and extra plush footbed, that's who.

LA’s Best Vegan Ice Cream, Better Than AC

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I popped by Brentwood Country Mart last week to grab a cup of dairy-free ice cream and accidentally spent around 45 minutes in the Goop shop smelling every bag of their very temptingly packaged new bath salts and then (prob on a slight bath salt high) seriously considered buying the entire apothecary merchandise thinking I could transform my tub and vanity games into GP’s. Which, thankfully, the staff ignored me out of doing. But back to the ice cream. I walked around the corner from Goop into Sweet Rose and ordered one scoop each of the vegan versions of dark chocolate and coconut, and left realizing I had just spent almost $10 on a one scoop of ice cream. Which made me think, ‘wow I could have just gotten an entire pint of Vegan Vixen or Van Leeuwen for that amount’. So in the spirit of totally overpaying for one of life’s great simple pleasures, here is a rundown of my favorite, overpriced-but-WORTH-it vegan ice creams in LA:

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Sweet Rose

A medium cup runs around $9, and the selection of non-dairy flavors like dark chocolate, bergamot basil and horchata coconut is small but mighty. There is normally a rotation of around four seasonal flavors, all of which taste like heaven. The place gets overrun with neighborhood kids and their carpool moms between 3-4pm, so plan accordingly. $4.50/scoop.

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Pressed Juicery

Honestly, this is more of a sugar splurge more than anything else. I mean, you’re walking into a juice shop with 10 flavors of green juice and ordering soft serve. Sure, no refined sugars are used in the process of making either the Freezes themselves (sweetened with dates) or the toppings like an amazing cacao drizzle that solidifies once it hits the frozen ice ‘cream’, but they taste pretty decadent. Flavors include a classic vanilla, chocolate, strawberry almond and matcha. $5.95 per 4 oz serving with toppings.

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Craig’s

I feel very strongly that one can never go wrong with a night at Craig’s. Unless you’re on a cleanse, I suppose. Martinis/vegan bolognese/hard-to-find wines/celeb sightings - it’s all right there. But most importantly, they serve a non-dairy ice cream made from a blend of coconut and almond milks brought in daily by a local vendor whose name they will not reveal. I think there are normally two or three flavors in rotation, but the signature peanut butter cup kills me with its richness and sweetness, so much so that I don’t even listen to the other flavors available on any given evening. $11 per massive bowl of ice cream

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Van Leeuwen

I really enjoy indulging in letting anyone/everyone who mentions Van Leeuwen know that I used to make almost nightly ice cream runs to the first Van Leeuwen truck on 75th Street and Broadway, 100 years ago. The thoughtfully designed but modest ice cream truck continues to service it’s OG artisanal best in flavors like vegan Sicilian pistachio, vegan honeycomb made without honey, salted caramel and chocolate chip cookie dough. And then when I moved to Williamsburg, so did the truck (nice of them), and then I eventually moved back to LA and thankful they already had four brick-and-mortar locations here ready to appease all of my Sunday treat cravings. $6 per scoop/$11 per pint.

For a full rundown of all of the vegan frozen desserts in LA, this awesome LAist post is pretty handy. And for a deep dive into Pressed Juicery’s Freeze, Passport to Friday had a wonderfully detailed post here.

 

The Only Detox Guide You Need for a Clean AF 2018

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@Goop

There is nothing we love more than a solid, slightly depriving but wholly delicious and all-encompassing cleanse. The way our gut feels, the way our workouts are on point, the mental acuity that comes from it all, and of course the taste of the first glass of wine or piece of pie post-cleanse. But doing a DIY detox is, at least for us, an overwhelming and unnecessary prospect. Knowing what to cut, what to add, how to make our now limited arsenal of ingredients taste amazing and how to stay inspired throughout an entire 30-ish days? Yikes.

So we turn to the experts who develop and fine tune their own cleanses year after year to give us the best recipes, meditations and workouts from which to design our own extra-customized Franken-cleanse of sorts - built from the things that help optimize gut health, fitness, mental well-being and take as little time as possible.

So what are we bookmarking on our browsers and pinning to the fridge this year? Read on:

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Love Your Body 2018 Series, Tone It Up

As exciting as discovering new, up-and-coming cleanse programs or nutrition and fitness ‘challenges’ are, we always end up back at Tone It Up when looking for commit to something for more than two weeks. The recipes are easy to make and useful for getting out of a flavor rut (normally marinara, taco seasoning or tahini sauce on everything). New recipes for the January challenge include almond butter and cookie shakes, tofu cacciatore and chocolate protein donuts. An accompanying set of daily workouts and encouraging blog posts make the Tone It Up challenge equally immersive and accessible. If you’re the kind of person who like social support, you could spend an entire day on Instagram reading through motivational posts tagged #TIU.

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@Goop

 Annual Detox, Goop

The more restrictive - no caffeine, gluten or soy on this detox - and slightly more time intensive recipes of the Goop detox make it sort of like the older sister with a private Pilates instructor and wine cellar to Tone It Up’s beach vibes and rose on ice. Goop’s Detox may be a bit more advanced user, but that might be what is so special about it. It’s not trying to meet anyone and everyone ‘where they are’. The women behind this program are living healthfully year-round and are stepping it up with the annual detox to squeeze every last drop of wellness possible from a 30-day program. Recipes like a sweet potato pancake with coconut and berries and a simple sunbutter satay will be in heavy rotation in the W+A kitchen.

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Metta-Morphosis Program, Urban Remedy

If you’d rather not with the whole cooking thing, or you want to do a shorter and more intensive cleanse, Urban Remedy’s Metta-Morphosis provides juices, nut milks, wellness shots, tinctures, warming soups and texture and flavor-packed salads as part of a three or five-day program. Called a ‘mind and body transformation’ by UR, the program includes prepared meals as well as meditations and movement videos. As far as delivery cleanses go, it’s so much more satisfying than a juice-only cleanse, and the beautiful colors in the food and mind-body focus of the program overall make it easy to stay inspired throughout.

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Learning to Release, The Philosophie

Something that these cleanses don’t really talk about but that can a huge part of starting the year fresh is letting toxic shit go. Sophie Jaffe of The Philosophie has a powerful, thoughtful blog post on the importance of ditching relationships, beliefs and practices that just aren’t doing it for you in the new year.

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31-Day Fresh Start Series, Simple Habit

We love this one because it’s 100% focused on the mental components of a detox. Want short, theme-specific meditations served in the style of a 31-day program? Simple Habit’s 31-day Fresh Start Series has new year’s themed meditations including Foundations of Mindfulness for beginners, as well as Find Happiness, Start Your Day with Gratitude, Living Your Truth, Sleep Patterns, Better Self Control and others. Most meditations are between 5-10 minutes.

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Journey to Handstand, Kino MacGregor and Kerri Verna via The Cody App

Yes, keeping up with a normal fitness routine is already a time and energy-consuming endeavor. But you know what? This is January when unhealthy distractions are at their least invasive. So why not try to pick up a new physical skill during the month? It can give a cleansing routine more structure, and just be plain old fun. Nothing feels more self-loving and juicy than the January flow of meal prep on Sundays and a little bit more on Wednesday nights, meditation in the morning before the work day, regularly scheduled workouts and new skill work in the evening before or after dinner. The Cody App videos are for the most part sub-30 minutes and a productive cap on the day.

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@Scribe

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson

This Northern European take on decluttering, inspired by the morbid but practical ‘what kind of stuff and how much of it do I want to leave behind for my family to deal with,’ is at the top of our detox reading list this month. If you’ve already KonMari-d, give yourself a refresher and check out how the Swedes do it.

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Best vegan restaurants in SF, our favorite clean prix-fixe meals and digital workouts

If you’re on the road this month, these resources should give you a leg up on your healthiest year yet.




 

The Best Vegan New Year's Eve Dinners

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No matter where you’re slipping on your sequins, chances are you’ll probably need a few bites before the big countdown. In our humble opinion, this is not the night for a protein shake chugged over the kitchen counter while last-minute RSVPing to a friend-of-a-friend’s sister’s rager. A beautifully prepared sit down meal among those who love you most, along with besparkled atmosphere and festive flourishes, is our favorite way to send off the year and look ahead to the next. Here are some of our favorite choices for where to dig into the last meal of 2017.

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Crossroads, Los Angeles

A 6:00pm, five-course seating for $75 makes it easy to have festive meal on the early side and finish in time for any new year’s revelry across town. A later six-course seating at 8:30pm for $95 is a swell option for celebrating with a tummy full of plant-based decadence and a midnight toast, if celebrating with a civilized meal with friends and family is more your style. Menu items include buckwheat blinis, beet and farro tartare with Crossroads’ famous yellow tomato ‘egg yolk’ and a chestnut and porcini ravioli with a sage butter.

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V-Eats, Dallas

For a more casual start to your New Year’s evening, Dallas’ V-Eats has a $40 prix fixe menu full of veg-only comfort food. A four-course NYE meal is served at three seatings at 5:30, 7:15 and 8:45pm. Dishes include a French onion soup, ‘calamari’ and a spinach with Hen of the Woods mushroom ravioli with sage butter.

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Little Octopus, Nashville

Nashville’s super chic Little Octopus is serving a four course veggie and non-veggie menu on New Year’s Eve for $75/pp. Making an appearance on basically every list of ‘best in the South’, this is the ultimate crowd pleaser destination for a group of vegans/omnivores/design nerds/burger fiends/those with allergies. The veg meal option kicks off with a glass of Champagne and features a vegan miso cassoulet entree.

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Soul Tavern, Miami

Oh, you’d rather fly by the seat of your pants sans-reservation in Miami? Soul Tavern’s no reservations policy and a la carte menu makes it easy to pop in for a bite on your way to South Beach festivities. Everything on the menu, from hemp-crusted edamame cakes to jackfruit gyoza to naughty gnocchi and soulful ramen are all 100% plant-based.

If you are looking for other restaurant recs for the last night of 2017, let us know below. Happy almost new year!


 

The Perfect Fitness Apps for Holiday Travel

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I'm back east this week, celebrating the holidays with in-laws in suburban Pennsylvania. While I'm squeezing in some local workouts: Orange Theory Fitness and Corefit, both in Wayne, I'm also dusting off some my favorite fitness apps for when it's too cold to leave the house. For the price of one boutique fitness class (often less), you can get access to nearly a bazillion expert-led workouts via app and web. I've been a believer ever since I tried out what felt like allll the fitness apps under the sun as a contributor to 7x7's 2017 Wellness Guide

As someone who is regularly trying new workouts in new places (and who generally just craves variety when it comes to fitness), finding consistency among the trend-chasing has been a challenge. The following five digital fitness platforms are my new at-home and on-the-road go-tos, helping me not only with consistency but also to push myself further on solo workouts. 

Aaptiv

The only app with no visuals, Aaptiv also happens to be the most natural to use. Audio-based and covering three main categories: run (tread + outdoors), strength and yoga; Aaptiv covers the bases for a general workout regimen from beginner to pro. Propping up a phone or tablet at either a home or public gym can be awkward for me, and I've found that Aaptiv's audio instruction model played over a motivating background soundtrack is simpler and allows more focus for the workout at-hand. Class difficulty is color-coded, and the instructors vary in style from pretty chill to all-business. To download, use code WellandAway for a month free.

Zenrez

Handy at home for last minute workouts, Zenrez is an amazing tool for finding day-of boutique fitness and yoga, especially when traveling, and at a nice discount. When there’s not enough time pre-trip to research all of the local fitness studios, Zenrez is an easy way to browse and book into classes nearby. Starting at 9pm on workout-eve, the Zenrez system populates with available classes to book the next day at discounts of up to around 30%. It's also a fun way to explore new studios at home.

Fitplan

I am always curious to know more about the workout routines behind the physiques of Instagram's most followed fitness personalities. While I think we all know that genetics (and sometimes a medical tweak or two) can play a part as much as diet and exercise, it’s impossible not to wonder, for instance, ‘What would happen to my ass if I tried Jen Selter’s personal workout program for 30 days?' Fitplan provides the tools to find out just that with 30-90 day programs for Full Body Blast, Summer Shred and of course Jen Selter’s Lower Body and Booty Guide. Each plan is a subscription that you commit to for a specified duration, and daily workouts are broken down into reps and sets with a short demo video showing each move. Use code WELLANDAWAY30 for a month free.

Cody App

I love, love, love Cody App and the insane amount of variety they offer. I started with Kino McGregor’s Ashtanga bundle, then moved into her handstand bundle, then into a little Acroyoga series binge one weekend when my fiancé obliged, and then into Ashley Galvin’s flexibility series - my new favorite. Cody has been around for four years, but somehow it’s new to me. And it's forever changed my at-home and hotel room workout routines. It’s great for traveling to places that don’t have the exact style of yoga or fitness classes you’re looking for, so instead of spending $20+ on a class, you can spend the same on a series of classes with people like Kino. Cody recently went subscription-based, which means all subscribers have access to the entire gallery of workouts. New users can enter code WELLANDAWAY for 30% off of their first purchase.

Gixo

The newest app on this list is Gixo, a new SF-based app that is sort of similar to Aaptiv, but with scheduled virtual classes. You can sign up for classes on the half hour, and most are between 15-40 minutes. The coaches are good, and it's a departure from other apps to be able to communicate in real time with a virtual instructor.  The workouts are all intended for all-levels, so there isn't an option yet for beginner, medium advanced. I'm still exploring Gixo, and while it hasn't knocked Cody or Aaptiv out of the top spots on my rotation, I'll be watching them to see what features they launch next.

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Have you tried any of these apps? What did you think?? Let us know in the comments below. 

The Well + Away Holiday Gift Guide

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Our Favorite Healthy Gifts

Already missed out on monogram timing and slow boat shipping and are now looking for the perfect gift that you can give ASAP? Successful procrastination is a skill we honed over the years - though truth be told learning to avoid this last dash is currently topping 2018’s resolutions list. So in the spirit of disguising procrastination with really, really good gift giving, here are our favorite health-focused goodies that can be express-shipped to friends and family in time, whether you're celebrating the 12th or 24th.

Beauty Junkies

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WHYLD
We met Lauren of WHYLD when W+A friend Katey Yurko of Violet Fog introduced us this summer. At that time, she had just one killer product: a Youth Activating Elixir (YAE to her devoted IG following) full of wildcrafted marula oil, watermelon, black currant, pomegranate, crambe and chia seed oils. We started using it at night, then during the day, and now can’t get enough whenever, wherever. Bonus points for this being the highest quality serum you can find at this price point. $76, whyldskincare.com

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Drunk Elephant Gift Sets
Drunk Elephant’s super clean skincare has been on our radar for awhile, but it took a beauty editor at W mag saying it was the only beauty line she purchases for herself to finally get us to try it for ourselves. The Vitamin C serum is a cult product, as is nearly every other individual product, but the real show stopper gifts are the ridiculously packaged gift sets that will blow any other beauty set set you’ve ever given or received right out of the water. Starting at $18, www.drunkelephant.com

Chill Chicks

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Mondo
Who knew that THC-laced turmeric lattes would become our go-to after-work drink of the season? Even though Mondo is produced to be for 'full body relaxation with a gentle cerebral invigoration', we've mostly been taking it in place of a post-dinner glass of Pinot. No matter when you take it, though, these Venice-chic jars of a cannabis, coconut oil and cacao butter formula serve up an awesome dose of anti-anxiety. Pricing dependent on dispensary, www.mondomeds.com

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Lucky Box Club Subscription
If you really want to surprise someone with some high brow cannabis gifting, Lucky Box Club’s customizable monthly box delivers a curated set of THC and CBD edibles, topicals and flowers from indie vendor partners. A clever new customer flow lets you choose whether you're into a variety, just edibles or anything in between, as well as how much product you want hitting the doorstep each month. Classic membership starts at $150/month, luckyboxclub.com

The Hostess

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August Morgan cocktail napkins
Erm, so this isn’t 1,000% health-focused, but just look at these little linen cocktail napkins! A moment of sharing adorable cocktail napkin delight when handing a drink to friends and family is a sure way to make your hostess friends feel awesome and spread the cheer. Which is what self-care is all about, right? The playful, colorful and sweet designs are nearly endless. $38/set of four, augustmorgan.com/

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Lite + Cycle candles
As part of a story we wrote in winter of 2016 for our friends at VegNews, we uncovered the best vegan and clean-burning candles. Our favorite producer of the bunch was LA-based Lite + Cycle, and this year’s favorite scent is Vetiver. In addition to beautiful, complex scents that would feel right at home in your fancy friend’s third vacation home’s bathroom, the packaging feels like dressed-up-downtown and the price point feels like a steal for the quality. Lite + Cycle candles are crafted with pure essential oils often from wild-grown sources, and use renewable biodegradable materials, soy waxes, and unbleached cotton wicks. Starting at $62, liteandcycleshop.com/

Tech Obsessed

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Aaptiv membership
We’ve been singing the praises of Aaptiv since a friend mentioned this was the only thing that could take her cardio relationship to the next level. Since our first audio-led treadmill workout, we were hooked. Classes vary by skill, with a number of different coaches using different training styles and playlists. Workouts focus on cardio (indoor and outdoor), and also include yoga, strength training and stretching. Gift subscriptions currently $79.99, aaptiv.com/gift

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Habit
So this DIY metabolism and personalized nutrition kit was our gateway drug into the world of the quantified self and biohacking. We're now obsessed thanks to Habit. The at-home testing process itself takes a little bit of psyching up - it involves chugging a 1,000 calorie, shelf-stable shake and three finger prick tests - but the results that show dietary sensitivities, a personalized ideal macro split and genetic markers for things from a predisposition to obesity to endurance sports are so, so worth it. $299 (currently $50 off, $249 until December 25 off until December 25), habit.com/home-holiday

The Yogi

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Yellow Willow Mat
We’ve been loyal to our rotation of Manduka mats for years now, but Yellow Willow’s luxe mats made of biodegradable rubber and recycled plastic bottles caught our eye with their sexy patterns (geodes, starry nights) and extra layer of grip. This is the only chic mat we’ve seen that offers slip-free support in hot yoga classes. $98, www.yellowwillowyoga.com/

The SNugglepuss

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Buffy comforter
Always trying to live with a smaller carbon footprint over here, we’ve been meaning to try a down alternative comforter but haven’t been able to find one that didn’t feel like a cheap imposter. Made from natural materials and the same technological magic that keeps North Face puffers warm, the just-launched Buffy comforter is light, warm and machine washable (that last one was a game changer for us). Oh, and their site is the cutest of any comforter maker ever. Starting at $120,buffy.co/

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Coyuchi For Life subscription
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San Francisco's Best Vegan Restaurants - Updated Fall, 2017

 @GreensRestaurant

@GreensRestaurant

Healthy vegan restaurants are not nearly as easy to find in San Francisco as one might think. And easy vegan brunch in SF? Forget about it! Living the SF VitalGuide every day means wading through paleo lunch spots and surprise shutterings (RIP Seed + Salt) to stay on top of the yummiest vegan sushi, biggest acai bowls and most decadent vegan bbq. The following are our fall 2017 picks for must-eat vegan and vegan-friendly breakfasts, lunches and dinners in San Francisco. Let us know what you think!

 @theplantcafeorganic

@theplantcafeorganic

The Plant
3352 Steiner St; Pier 3 The Embarcadero #108, 101 California St
$$$
Om
Try the basil pesto tofu scramble, Sambazon bowl (acai berries blended frozen mango and strawberries, topped with banana and granola), or any of their smoothies, juices and great coffees. The Embarcadero location is on the water with bay views. The Marina location is right off of Chestnut Street, the area's main shopping thoroughfare.

Nourish
189 6th Ave and 1030 Hyde St
$$
Vg
Bright, sweet and with recently added Nob Hill digs, Nourish Café is a perfect healthy brunch hideaway. The coconut flour and quinoa waffles taste a million times more decadent than they are, and the banh mi salad will fill you up for a day’s worth of urban adventures.

Out the Door
2232 Bush St
$$
Om
Chef Charles Phan's more relaxed spin on his popular restaurant Slanted Door's is in an off-the-beaten-path location in the Fillmore neighborhood. The menu offers plenty of yuba-filled noodle dishes and veggie sides. What OTD is missing in waterfront views it makes up for in its feel like a local vibe.

Bouli Bar
1 Ferry Building
$$
Om
No tofu or tempeh here, but the delicious seasonal vegetables and perfect Mediterranean platter make for a satisfying light lunch. Bouli's hidden location inside the Ferry Building, flattering lighting, and lovely wine list make it a go-todaytime date spot.

Greens
Fort Mason, A
$$$
Vg
For special occasion lunches with a view, book a table at this first wave vegan restaurant in Fort Mason. Dishes such as lentil, tamarind and coconut milk soup are infused with ethnic flavors. Greens has prime real estate for watching the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge.

StJorge

Café St Jorge
3438 Mission St
$
Vg
At the edge of the Mission and Bernal Heights, Cafe St Jorge is an adorable, Brooklyn-y hipster haunt for recharging over pastries, Stumptown coffee, and a perfectly sized quinoa salads. Plus, there's free wifi.

Shizen
370 14th St
$$
Vg
Just order all the rolls (with a side of their famous ramen). If you must choose, the spicy tofuna is a good, simple start to a meal at the Mission's prettiest izakaya spot. It's impossible to order 'wrong' from the last page's specialty rolls.

 @GraciasMadreSF

@GraciasMadreSF

Gracias Madre
2211 Mission
$$
Vg
The original Gracias Madre has fewer whispy celebs and oversized shades than the LA location, but the lack of glitz is made up for with a prime Mission location. Don't miss the pumpkin and cashew cheese quesadillas and avocado ceviche.

Burma Love
211 Valencia St
$$
Om
The tea salad is the star at Burma Love, but a number of curry and noodle entrees are available at this local favorite, no-reservations Burmese eatery. Wait it out at the eatery's busy bar, where drinks are made with local spirits and coconut water right from the nut.

For a full list of our up-to-date vegan favorites in the Bay Area, get your San Francisco VitalGuide here

 

Parsley Health's $1800 Functional Medicine Membership is SO Worth it!

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Parsley Health celebrates its first year of functional medicine in the Bay Area with an educational fete.

Parsley Health SF, the only functional medicine clinic whose offices are located within WeWork, is turning one on December 5. If you're in the Bay Area, everyone's invited to pop by that day to listen to founder Dr. Robin Berzin talk microbiomes (gut bacteria) and biohacking (DIY 'hacks' to optimize your health) while they sip on a bulletproof matcha latte. But what is Parsley? When I heard that the super-buzzy New York-based organization, a pioneering mind-body medical practice, had quietly opened a San Francisco outpost soon after its LA location, I signed right up for a full new-patient intake. As a person who works in the wellness industry, I regularly meditate, run and spend more time than normal in Bay Area boutique-fitness studios. But I haven't had an old-fashioned check up since SoulCycle hit the West Coast (ahem, 2013).

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Ahead of my visit, I filled out a mountain of new patient paperwork on personal and family health, using a digital-patient portal. During our hourlong-plus visit, Dr. Tiffany Lester reviewed my medical history (and my family's) in detail, not leaving any mind-body stone unturned, before she performed a basic physical exam. After my visit, she recommended some baseline testing (blood panels, cortisol screening) to get a data-based overview of my health.

Parsley acts as a primary-care office, and you can talk to your doctor in person or online regarding everything from testing questions to prescription refills. On average, traditional doctors' offices write a prescription for 70 percent of visits, while Parsley's doctors only write an Rx 10 percent of the time. Their goal is to treat patients holistically for total mind-body health through regular doctor's visits, dietary recommendations, vitamin supplementation and a robust health-coaching system. Rather than writing prescriptions, Parsley physicians might write a recommendation for a meditation class or acupuncturist, therapist or fitness classes.

This holistic approach to health is available exclusively to Parsley members who fork out $1600 to $1800 per year for membership. Included is an initial 75-minute visit with a doctor like the one I had, followed by biomarker testing that could include in-home tests and blood work to asses a baseline for health, and then a second 60-minute doctor visit and three additional 30-minute visits to assess progress. In practice that lengthy first session felt like a huge departure from my previous annual check-ups. The average traditional doctor spends around 15 minutes with patients, while the average Parsley visit is 50 minutes - they have time to dig into everything. After that biomarker testing, members receive five health coaching sessions over 12 months, in-person or digitally, with a staffer trained in functional nutrition to create a game plan to put into practice what the doctor recommended. Together between the Parsley team, members receive a seven-part health plan to optimize health at every level - diagnostic testing, mental health, fitness, nutrition, coaching, supplementation and coaching support. Beyond the office, members can access Parsley Perks in the patient portal that include discounts on all supplements and protein powders they sell, as well as access to wellness partners including free Headspace and Thrive Market memberships.

Just last month they launched a Parsley Assessment for commitment phobes that, for $500, packs in what would cost around $2,500 at a traditional clinic: a 75-minute intake, biomarker blood tests, a seven-part map to health, a 45-minute meeting with a health coach and access to the members-only perks program. And for those who can't get enough functional medicine support, Parsley has also launched a Premium Membership that includes additional visits with the doctor and nutrition coach, as well as 'priority visits and messaging'.

If you, like me, haven't been to the doctor in ages because you hate waiting rooms and someone throwing prescriptions at you in between the five other patients they need to see in the next ten minutes, Parsley's whole person approach might be for you. // 8am and 5pm, Dec 5th, RSVP for Parsley events at eventbrite.comparsleyhealth.com

The Healthiest Fast Casual Restaurants You Need to Know for Your Next Road Trip

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While I always (always, always) love an impressive five-star hotel, I often prefer a healthy fast casual meal to a Michelin-starred one. Sure, there’s no culinary stardust and I won’t so much as glance at a wine list when I’m ordering at a counter (even I draw the line somewhere), buuuut if I’m going to be stuck in an uncomfortable chair for the duration of a meal I’d rather it be for 30 minutes and not three hours. Another bonus for the dietarily restricted? FC joints let me substitute ingredients to my heart’s desire without offending a Bon Appetit darling or my wondering for the next two hours and 45 minutes just how much my server hates me beneath their perfect, Michelin manners.

I do enjoy fine dining for special occasions and for the wine list. I just want healthy, plant-based food the way I want it to make my body feel awesome the other 90% of the time. So that is why I am so stoked on what is happening with the current crop of fast casual restaurants who are going full-board with healthy eats. Here are my current favorites - some national, some regional and all are happy to substitute whatever you like.

 

SweetGreen

 Source: @SweetGreen

Source: @SweetGreen

This DC-based salad chain is a growth machine. The first time I tried it, I queued up with the New York lunchtime rush, wrapping around the corner of 28th street for a salad for a salad in a plastic container. It was worth it! Year-round go-tos like the Spicy Sabzi are filling AF with tons of textural variety and color, and seasonal salads rotate based on location and time of year. Basically everything that I love. You can also just DIY a totally customized salad, at the counter or via mobile app in advance so you can grab and go.
Locations: CA, NY, DC, MD, VA, MA, PA

 

Native Foods

 Source: @NativeFoods

Source: @NativeFoods

Chef Tanya, as all of Palm Springs and her pretend bffs like me refer to her, is an OG vegan fast casual visionary. The first Native Foods opened in Palm Springs in 1994. I spent the entirety of my lunch budget while at UCLA on spicy scorpion burgers and key lime pies the Westwood location. Big hearty bowls combine various grains like quinoa and rice with creative sauces like a vegan ranch and a moroccan, and the burgers are divine.
Locations: CA, IL, OR, CO

 

Chipotle

 Source: @YouCanGoVegan

Source: @YouCanGoVegan

Yeah, I know it’s not sexy or new or indie, but if you are road tripping outside of any metropolis, beyond the ‘burbs, chances are you are going to not necessarily want, but need Chipotle. The most widely available healthy FC outlet of any on this list, Chipotle is a solid standby for salads and bowls with multiple bean options, vegan sofritas protein and seriously legit guacamole. I don’t remember the last time I’ve eaten at one within a city center, but once the radio options narrow to static or country, seeing a Chipotle off of a freeway is like an oasis in the desert. Locations: Everywhere and beyond

 

Flower Child

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To just get right out with it, Flower Child gets my order right maybe 1 out of every 5 visits. I return because it’s delicious, and somewhere deep down I’m hoping they figure out they are in the service industry. There is no yummier, easier (when they get it right) place for hearty vegan bowls, curry hummus, and the thrill of a restaurant overwhelming me with the number of clean, vegan side dish options. They have something for every craving: post-workout and need something light and hydrating? Yep. Something when it’s rainy and I need to eat my feelings, but like healthy? Yep. And when they do get my order right it makes my entire day.
Locations: AZ, CA, TX

 

True Food Kitchen

 Source: @TrueFoodKitchen

Source: @TrueFoodKitchen

From the owners of Flower Child, True Food Kitchen is a slightly less casual fast casual take on healthy, American-meets-Mediterranean bites. With anti-inflammatory menus dreamed up by Dr. Andrew Weil (check out my interview with him for 7x7 here!), dishes are full of phytonutrients, healthy fats, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. The ancient grains bowl is a fall staple in my routine when I’m in Santa Monica or Walnut Creek. While it and other dishes can include a vegan protein, friends that prefer an animal protein can add shrimp or a similar option so everyone can tuck into their preferred take on ‘healthy’. Just don’t leave without ordering a slice of squash pie to share. YUM.
Locations: AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, MD, PA, TN, TX, VA

 

Mendocino Farms

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A lot of this menu is actually not crazzzy healthy or super vegan-friendly - I mean, it calls itself a ‘sandwich market’. But the items that are healthy and plant-based are different from the offerings at any other bowl/salad/wrap spot. And when a craving hits for their vegetarian Chinese salad or the enlightened falafel wrap with a vegan tzaziki that is pressed like a panino, nothing else does the trick. Lunch is busy and the vibe is so LA, at least at the Wilshire location. They offer free samples of sides when you go to pay, which I think they do to upsell, but it just confuses me. But if free sides are a plus for you - then just another reason to check out Mendo Farms.
Locations: CA

 

Amy’s Drive-thru

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It’s a schlep from most things other than the Santa Rosa mall (insert emoji girl with “I guess?” hands up) or specific parts of wine country from San Francisco, but I’ve gotten pretty slick with excuses to visit Amy’s in the suburban hamlet of Rohnert Park. And once I’m there, I make sure to bring a few friends at least, so we can order as much of the menu as possible. Amy’s is of course owned by the people who make those sodium-rich but delicious burritos and pizzas that were an awesome go-to for microwaving after an extended happy hour in college. The new all vegetarian/vegan drive-thru so so much more sophisticated than my drunken freezer to microwave burrito-scarfing. High ceilings, a ton of staff and a sunny patio make it such a pleasure to indulge in vegan burgers, burrito bowls, superfood salads, mac and cheese with veggies and non-dairy milkshakes. I know I said this was a healthy list, but sometimes a treat meal is the healthiest thing at that moment.
Locations: CA for now, more soon. Check out this Fast Company story on the upcoming expansion!

Tell us your favorite fast casual joints and/or road trip stops in the comments below: