Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black History Month Beauty and Wellness Feature--India Arie


Although the singer of the breakthrough song “I Am Not My Hair” believes appearance doesn’t define us, her passion to realize her true potential includes taking good care of her soul’s temple and feeding it well.
Her middle name, Arie, means “lion,” which aptly describes her spirit but certainly not her eating habits. “I am mostly a vegetarian, but I did add fish to my diet a few years ago. I really love vegetables, especially red cabbage, raw salads, avocados, and olives. I love Annie’s Naturals Goddess Dressing, apple cider, raw almond butter, and frozen bananas in smoothies, and these things called Corn Thins!” But she avoids foods that cause congestion. “For a singer, that is an occupational hazard. But when I am not working, I do eat dairy sometimes,” she says.

Arie pens deep, sensitive lyrics, guided by her faith, honesty, and intuition. If she were writing about food, what would her observations be? “I would write a song about spices,” she muses. “Like music, it would be easy to equate spices with cultures and people. There’s such an exotic variety!” As for enjoying spices in food, she says, “In France, I found a mix of spices with herbs, dried flowers, salt, and peppercorns all in a grinder. I brought that home, and I use it a lot.”

Whether Arie is traveling to bring awareness to social issues, as she did when chronicling the AIDS pandemic with Ashley Judd in a VH1 News documentary, or for concerts around the world, she samples foreign cuisines—but with a sense of caution. “I have a wide palate. I really like most curry dishes, Thai food, and tofu. Although I like a lot of different things, I don’t take a lot of risks with food because I’m very particular about what I put in my body.

Arie routinely searches for vegetarian restaurants. “They often have unique meat substitutes based on plant proteins,” she says. “I was in George, South Africa for a Nelson Mandela concert and found a little vegetarian kitchen run by one woman. She used a meat substitute she got from Durban in southeast Africa. I went every day for a week to eat there.” Her favorite upscale eatery is Zuma in London. “It’s mostly Japanese, sort of Asian Fusion cuisine. It’s very expensive, but so good. I once saw Quincy Jones there!”
One food she likes best is a sweet treat. “I love to eat honey from all over the world because it is different wherever you go, even state to state here at home,” says the Atlanta resident. “New Zealand is one of my favorites; it has great honey.

“My dad [former NBA player Ralph Simpson] always said drink a lot of water,” she adds. “All water is not equal. I like Penta.” (Penta is ultra-purified and aids the body’s cells in reducing harmful oxidative activity.) And while most people try to get energy from designer caffeinated drinks, Arie prefers her own simple concoction. “Sometimes, when I just want something other than plain water, I’ll mix in lemons, limes, and maple syrup. That’s my favorite drink. Maple syrup doesn’t have to be hot to stir in. If I have a cold, I add cayenne pepper, and if I need more iron, I add some blackstrap molasses. I call that my coffee,” she says with a smile. She also drinks rooibos, a red, antioxidant-rich herbal tisane made from a bush that grows in South Africa.

“Like music,” she says, “These are the things that feed me.”

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