Good eating

The stunning new Aro Ha wellness retreat in Queenstown, New Zealand takes a delicious and nutritious approach to food, to match its emphasis on health from within. The food helps you to get healthier, more glowing skin, while maintaining consistent energy levels throughout the day.

The menu for Aro Ha was devised by Californian-based food consultant Suzie Bohannon, a healthy food expert who says she nevertheless has a non-puritanical approach to eating. “There is a real emotional place around food and sharing and the comfort of food.”

For the retreat’s meals, Suzie created dishes made with 40-50% leafy greens such as kale, and which are high in protein and healthy oils, free from gluten, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and largely raw and vegan. “The trick for Aro Ha was how to get more greens into the menu, but for it all to be appetizing and inventive with lots of different textures.”

We may know about the idea of boosting your intake of fresh greens and vegetables, but it’s often hard to incorporate the more unusual vegetables in our meals at home. “When you start eating more greens, in salads or as juices, you start craving them. I like serving tender, fresh, mild greens such as salad leaves, combined with spicy greens like arugula and watercress, and finely minced dark greens like kale, chard, and lambs quarters. Then you add a dressing that makes you want to lick the bowl. The philosophy of smoothies in the morning is also important, as that’s an easy way to get the greens in your diet, even by adding fruits like blueberries, and herbs and spices [for taste].”

Bohannon explains the nutritional importance of the approach. “On earth, our closest genetic relative is the pygmy chimpanzee, and they’ve exhibited a resistance to things like aids and tuberculosis. That has been attributed to their diet, which is 45-55% leafy greens. Consuming an abundance of leafy green vegetables is the easiest and quickest way of boosting your metabolism, because our gut is designed for the long and slow fermentation of these greens,” explains Bohannon.

“Human’s ideal ph is more alkaline than acid, and greens such as kale have a very compelling amino acid profile that’s almost the same as red meat, but it’s not bound up with complex protein chains that your body has to become very acid to break down in order to digest. Eating roughage like leafy greens and vegetables also triggers the body’s own natural replenishment of its bile, as insoluble fibres absorb the body’s used bile after it has collected toxins, and eliminate it through waste. Otherwise the toxin-containing bile gets reabsorbed and recirculated back into your body.”

How to: smoky eyes

Practice, it’s said, makes perfect, but honest to goodness I have tried and tried to “do” smoky eyes and every time I end up looking like I’ve gone a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. As embarrassing as it is to admit at the age of 41 that I still don’t know how to pull off one of the beauty world’s essential looks, since “coming out” I’ve found I’m not alone.

A quick phone call to Bobbi Brown and some rather excited emails and myself and three girlfriends, Kate Snushall, Pip Patterson and Sarah Bothamley, are gathered at the brand’s gorgeous store in Auckland’s Britomart, to once and for all banish our smoky eye demons.

Each of us is paired with a Bobbi Brown make-up artist. Kate admits she doesn’t spend much time doing her make-up, so she is being shown how to create a smoky eye using just a cream eyeshadow stick and a gel eyeliner and then smudging it out.

“Just remember to keep it as dark at the lash line as you can get it, for maximum definition,” says Kate’s make-up artist, Rachel Beedel.

We’re told the key to the smoky eye here is to join the lower and upper shadow together at the outer corner of the eye. My colour is done with Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Beach Bronze ($57).

“I’m going in,” says Sarah as she plants herself in front of the mirror armed with a brush. “Ooh, it’s a bit wonky,” she declares after a few seconds. Senior artist Sarahlee Russell leaps in: “Just blend it, blend it, keep blending it,” she advises.

Now it’s time for the all-crucial eyeliner. “I just don’t know how to use it, I’ve tried so many times,” admits Pip. Rather than painting on one long stroke of eyeliner, Pip’s make-up artist, Christina Dellar, shows her how to apply small strokes, which leave less room for telltale shakiness and mistakes, and then blend the line till it looks how she wants it. “Where there’s a lash, there’s a line,” she adds. “Don’t stop till you get to the edge of your lash line. Then look in the mirror and fill in any gaps.”

I am in the hands of the wonderful Natalie Wallach, who applies Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink ($52) close to the lash line of my upper eyelid. “It doesn’t have to be perfect,” she says, “because you’re going to blend it.” She shows me that I should be blending the line upwards not outwards as I’ve always done. This helps to give a nice wash of smokiness and also avoids dark pigment pooling at the edges of eyes. We line along the bottom eyelashes with the Gel Eyeliner and Natalie uses a cotton bud to go along afterwards to correct the shape and blend it out.

At this point the artists teach us how to use a liner along the water line of our eyes. Not everyone will be comfortable doing this, but it definitely amplifies intensity. For the upper lid, you need to look straight into a mirror and slightly down. Put your arm over your head and use your fingers to pull your eyelid up; this will expose the underside of your lash line, then apply your liner along here. On the bottom, use your fingers to gently pull the lid down, then apply liner along the exposed inner lash line. The look is finished with Bobbi Brown’s new Smoky Eye Mascara ($57), which can be layered up for greater va-voom.

The final verdict? “Wo-oow,” say all of the ladies as we take in each other’s looks.