Tag Archives: Brooke Gross

Comments Off on Palm Springs in 48 Hrs……During a Rainstorm!

Palm Springs in 48 Hrs……During a Rainstorm!

Palm Springs is a beautiful, desert town. Great restaurants, beautiful interior decor boutiques, and gorgeous desert sunsets. Here is my 48 hour solo getaway to this wonderful city.

I arrived Sunday evening, hungry! For my first night in Palm Springs I was looking for a modern eatery with delicious food and a stiff cocktail. Birba was just the answer.  An open air dining area lit with tea lights and beautiful lanterns, Birba was bustling with conversation and laughter. I took my seat at the beautiful marble bar and was promptly give a cocktail list and menu. The food at Birba is simple yet delicious. Beautiful pizzas and pastas with an assortment of appetizers and salads. I decided on the burrata with roasted eggplant served with pita bread and an elevated greyhound with Aperol and rosemary.

Since I couldn’t decide on pizza or pasta, I didn’t limit myself and ordered both. Yes, I was naughty on my vacation. 😉 I started with their braised greens pizza with serrano chilies and green olives for a little heat and acid to cut through the greens. The sauce was subtle and the greens really shined on this one.

The pasta was a simple orechiette with cauliflower, parmesan, and lemon. These little ear pastas were delicately dressed and the cauliflower was crisp and fresh.  Breakfast on Monday morning was referred to me by a friendly woman at Birba. The place is Cheeky’s. Monday was a rainy desert day, yes they happen…but that didn’t stop me from getting out of bed early and heading to Cheeky’s since I heard the line starts at 8 am when they open. The line did not disappoint, but since I was early it was only about a 10 minute wait. Cheeky’s is a sister restaurant of Birba with an outdoor seating area as well. Due to the rain, I was sat at the same bar I had dined at the night before. I ordered my coffee right away and started on the menu. I typically will look at menus online before I go to restaurants to get a feel for what they’re all about, but being that Cheeky’s menu changes frequently I wanted to really go through. I opted for their vitamin C plate and poppy seed waffles with a meyer curd, whipped cream cheese, and fresh blueberries. Here’s a closer look at that gorgeous vitamin c plate. I am a huge citrus fanatic and this did not disappoint. Winter is the best season for a lot of citrus and these grapefruits, kumquats, and blood oranges were juicy and refreshing! Not too mention loaded with antioxidants 😉

After my breakfast, I set out to an afternoon matinee. I headed to Camelot Theatre where I saw The Salesman, it won the night before for Best Foreign Film, so I thought it would be the perfect thing to do on this rainy day. After the movie, I was hungry…all that sitting and watching really works up an appetite. I headed out for an afternoon snack. Joey’s was the perfect spot.

A quaint little cafe boasting great coffee. I ordered a cappuccino and orange, cranberry scone. The coffee was delicious and the scone was homemade with flecks of orange zest throughout. I gave myself a nice siesta…and headed to Reservoir. The menu at Reservoir has a lot of different influences; latin, asian, and californian flavors create this eclectic menu. I started with their smoke and berries cocktail and queso. The smoke & berries was a mix of muddled raspberries, lime, mezcal, and some simply syrup. It was everything the name suggests. The queso was warm and topped with pico and avocado. I finished with one of my favorite desserts:

Warm churros with a rich creamy hot chocolate and a glass of Malbec. For my final breakfast in Palm Springs I headed to Ace Hotel’s King’s Highway.  Ace Hotel is a hip, bohemian place for the hippie in all of us. Converted from an old Westward Ho and Denny’s the bones remain but the look is completely different. Walking into King’s Highway, you get the feeling of a throwback diner but with a modern, organic twist. I went for the avocado toast, topped with a soft boiled egg, pickled radish, and sprouts, this was not ordinary toast. Not to mention the bread with perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle.

 I finished my 48 hour adventure with a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the San Jacinto Mountains. Being that it had rained all day Monday, the mountains were covered with fresh snow. Yes, SNOW in the desert. Palm Springs is one of those beautiful places full of majestic nature that one minute your in the desert, the next you surrounded by pine trees in a winter wonderland.  After the trip up and down the mountains I headed back home to Orange County relishing in the beauty of the Palm Springs and feeling lucky that I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

Comments Off on Spice up your Life!

Spice up your Life!

Spices and herbs not only make your food taste delish, but most of them have benefits for your health and your SKIN! Here are some of my pantry staples to create quick and easy dishes with tons of flavor that also have skin benefits.

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Turmeric: Turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids, one specifically called curcumin. It is the main ingredient in turmeric and is highly anti-inflammatory and a very potent antioxidant. You can buy turmeric powder or in it’s natural form of a root. If you buy the root you can juice it or grate it into juices or smoothies. The root form is much more of an intense flavor than the powder. I like to mix it with a variety of different spices and sprinkle on chicken before cooking or on garbanzo beans and toast in a pan. It is a warm flavor and pairs nicely with coriander, cumin, cayenne, and fennel to name a few.

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Cinnamon: Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols. It is also anti-inflammatory, which aids in helping to fight off disease. Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and helps aid in fighting diabetes. Diabetes can often lead to Rosacea of the skin. It is also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Cinnamon is a spicy warm flavor, good with savory and sweet dishes. I like to sprinkle on my bananas, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies. For more savory dishes, think pork chops with apples and cranberries.  

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Garlic: Garlic is a member of the onion family and is high in the sulfur compound called Allicin, which is believed to bring most of it’s health benefits. Garlic also contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber. It helps to boost immunity and can fight off colds! (add to your chicken soup!) Great to put in any savory dish in my opinion. Pairs well with lemon, parsley, basil, coriander, cumin, fennel, sage, rosemary, the list is endless. Garlic contains antioxidants that fight oxidative cell damage and aging. 


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Cumin: Cumin is rich in vitamin C, iron, calcium, and vitamin E. The essential oils in cumin also have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. The vitamins rich cumin also fight free radical damage that causes aging in the skin as well as the body. It also aids in digestion. I LOVE this spice and is pretty much my go to for a lot of my dishes. It adds a very warm, earthy, almost smoky flavor. Pairs well with coriander, fennel, garlic, chile, and lemon. Delicious in a spice rub for meat.

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Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper has many health benefits. It aids in detoxification of the body, has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, and is a digestive aid to name a few. The pepper contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids which have powerful antioxidant properties. Studies have also shown that capsaicin has aided in the treatment of psoriasis when applied topically. Cayenne is SPICY! Add depending on your tolerance of heat to most savory dishes. Also, make a detox tonic by mixing with warm water (alkaline preferably), lemon juice, and raw honey. 

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Ginger: Ginger’s natural oil, Gingerol, gives it’s unique fragrance and is the main bioactive compound found in ginger. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Ginger can also help aid digestion and menstrual cramps. It is a good source of B vitamins, folate, vitamin C and E, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

I prefer to use the root form of ginger. I like to chop it up (you can also grate on a microplane) and mix with garlic and asian spices with all vegetables for a yummy stir fry. I also love to muddle with mint, add lemon juice agave, and warm water for a delicious tonic. 

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Lemon: Lemon contains vitamin C, citric acid, flavonoids, B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and fiber. Loaded with antioxidants and alkalizing benefits for the body. I love to add not only the juice of lemon to my dishes but also the zest! Great to make viniagrettes, add to garlic lemon chicken, tossed with roasted or sautéed veggies. Start you day with alkaline water and lemon juice before your coffee to alkalize your body.

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 Coriander: Coriander or Cilantro has many health benefits for the skin and internally. It has anti-fungal, antibacterial, detoxifying, and antioxidant properties that help to aid reduce inflammation of the skin and reduce free radical damage. Aids in the reduction of eczema and dryness of the skin. It is high in iron, potassium, copper, and manganese as well as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate. I love to add ground coriander to spice rubs for meat. Add fresh cilantro to salads, salsas, or as a finishing ingredient to savory dishes for a punch of freshness.

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Parsley: Parsley has a variety of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, just to name a few. It has anti-diabetic properties, aids in reducing inflammation, and anti-carcinogenic properties. It also helps boost immunity. Add to juices, salads, viniagrettes, or as a finishing gremolota with garlic and lemon zest over meat. I prefer the flat leaf Italian parsley, it tends to         be more flavorful.

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Basil: Basil contains vitamin K, manganese, copper, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, folate, iron, omega-3 fats, and magnesium. Basil has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. As well as antioxidant benefits from it’s high does of vitamin A. Add to viniagrettes, make a delicious pesto, add to salads, or as fresh garnish for savory dishes.

There are many more herbs and spices out there that have nutritional value to us as well as tasting delicious. I encourage everyone to stop at the spice aisle and look at your fresh herbs at the supermarket. These are low calorie ways to boost flavor without adding fat and sugar.

To store fresh herbs, wash them immediately when you get home from the market. Dry them very well with paper towel or clean cloth. Store with stems in a cup of water. You can also cover with a plastic bag to reduce leaves from turning brown. Store ground spices in a cool dry place, such as your pantry.



Brooke Gross

Comments Off on Cleansers…Not all are created equal!

Cleansers…Not all are created equal!

25391471 - beautiful woman refreshing her face with water on whiteAs an esthetician, I have heard a lot of interesting answers to the same question: “What do you use to cleanse your skin?” From a bar of soap (cringe), to apricot scrub (double cringe), to coconut oil, to last but certainly not least, Cetaphil. Of course, Cetaphil is ‘Dermatologist Recommended,” it must be good for your skin right? The answer may not be what you thought it would be.

In order to ensure you are using a great cleanser you must first read what the ingredients are. Cetaphil is one that claims to be suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin, since it is very gentle. So let’s take a look at what is really in this cleanser:

Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben

Only 8 ingredients, must be good right? Well, let’s take a deeper look.
First ingredient is water, ok, off to a good start. Propylene glycol is used as a humectant to draw moisture to the skin which is good, however it also allows chemicals to penetrate into the skin and into the blood stream. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a foaming agent that disturbs our skin’s natural hydrolipidic barrier, which can cause dehydration and dryness. Parabens are preservatives that have been removed from most professional skin care lines due to their potential health risk.

So if all of these toxic ingredients are wrapped up in this ‘gentle cleanser,’ why is it being recommended by your dermatologist? Most likely because the manufacturer, Galderma, also makes prescription acne medications such as Differin.

If you are freaking out right now that you have been using this cleanser for years, don’t worry, you are not alone. The thing is, for most women this cleanser seems to work for them. However, the truth is, all of the wonderful ingredients us skin care professionals look for, are lacking from this cleanser. I do not see one antioxidant to help remove all those free radicals we walk around in daily, not one plant oil with plenty of omegas that help protect that very important hydrolopidic layer, and not one botanical to help soothe and calm the skin.

By now, you will probably want to be replacing that Cetaphil, as you should! A great cleanser is crucial to any effective skin care routine. That cleanser is what is removing all of the dirt and pollution that our skin comes in contact with daily. As well as removing any excess sebum. It creates a clean canvas on which our exfoliators, toners, serums, and moisturizers can reach their full potential.

Things to look for in a great cleanser are easy! First and foremost, what is your skin type? Do you want that rich cleanser that will keep your dry skin super hydrated or do you want that oil-removing cleanser that will fight your breakouts? Next up, always look for antioxidants (vitamin a & c are my fav) that will help fight free radical damage from the pollution we walk around in just by going outside. Also, plant oils are rich in omegas that will help to keep the skin’s hydrolipidic layer intact. This will help all of your other products to penetrate the skin deeper, making them work better. Lastly, make sure there are some calming ingredients to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, such as aloe and cucumber.

My favorite cleanser? Facialworks Antiox Cleanser 🙂


Brooke Gross