Saturday, 11 January 2014

Eat Yourself Beautiful




I wouldn't call myself a hippy, but I sometimes like to get back to basics when it comes to looking after myself. So when I was planning some new ideas for posts in the New Year, it made perfect sense to experiment with the more natural side of my beauty interests. I think that we sometimes forget that no matter how many lotions and potions you slap on, beauty starts from the inside. With this in mind, I decided to have a look into which foods had the best nutritional value for the skin. So here is my little menu for anybody aiming to do a bit of healthy eating this new year. These meals can easily be popped into your diet for some clean, healthy living - and hopefully skin, too!


Breakfast


Ingredients: Granola, Soy Milk, Blueberries & Green Tea


Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but let's not overdo it. This is quick & easy to prepare, and really yummy! It may not look like much, but the berries will help to ward off hunger pangs because they're filled with fibre. This will also help to regulate your blood sugar levels, and high sugar levels is bad news for your skin (simplified, sugar=spots). Blueberries are also full of antioxidants which are fantastic for clearing out toxins, and therefore preventing breakouts. I chose soy milk because many people - myself included - find that reducing the amount of dairy in their diet can help to clear congested skin. Soya bean products also contain natural chemicals called phyto-estrogens which help to keep hormone-related breakouts at bay. In small quantities, I honestly can't really taste the difference between this and real milk. Finally, I enjoyed this with some green tea which is high in antioxidants, but could just as easily be switched for some peppermint tea which aids digestion and stress management - two factors directly linked with the health of your skin!


Lunch


Ingredients: Small Salmon fillet, 1/2 Avocado, Spinach, Watercress, Mixed Leaves, Several Cherry Tomatoes & Pumpkin Seeds (handful) //
For dressing: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a dash of lemon juice & balsamic vinegar


I didn't really have any recipe to follow here, but this a real favourite of mine and it can be enjoyed hot or cold. I started by drizzling some extra virgin olive oil and a bit of black pepper over a fillet of salmon. I know that not everybody is a huge fan of fish, but salmon is a dream for your skin; perfect for adding a bit of zinc into your diet, which will help to regulate the glands on your skin which produce oil. It also contains omega 3 which cannot be made by the body and helps with a number of skin conditions including eczema. I wrapped the salmon in foil and popped it in the oven at 180° for 25 minutes.

While this was going on I got the rest of the salad ready; I opted for some watercress (jam packed with minerals that make it a super toxin-flusher), spinach (containing lutein which is important for the development of skin cells) and a few other mixed leaves. I added some tomatoes which as well as adding a bit of colour are an excellent source of Vitamin C and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant which is thought to help prevent skin cancer and other types of sun damage. I also added some avocado which, like salmon, contains unsaturated fats which are fantastic natural moisturisers, and cut it into little cubes. I sat the salmon on the bed on salad and sprinkled some pumpkin seeds on top for a bit of texture, and because they also contain omega 3 and even vitamin E. Finish off with a little homemade dressing for some extra zing.


Dinner


Ingredients: Filet of Chicken Breast, 80g Kale, 1/2 Onion (diced), 1 Large Tomato (diced), 1 Clove Garlic (finely chopped), 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander, 1/2 tsp Cumin, Pinch of Chilli Flakes, Brown Rice


This dish has a really lovely curry-like taste and is a great way to ease anyone into eating kale. I'll be the first to admit that I was a little skeptical, but this was honestly de-lic-ious. I started out by drizzling olive oil over the chicken filet and wrapping it in foil before leaving in the oven for 25 minutes at 180°. Put on your brown rice at the same time. I chose brown rice because as well as containing selenium and various other antioxidants, brown or wholegrain foods regulate your blood sugar levels much better than white carbohydrates. Studies show that unsteady blood sugar levels could be linked to breakouts, so it makes sense to switch up your white rice, pasta or bread once in a while. Now give yourself a break for a couple of minutes before heating up your oil with your garlic in a pan on a low heat. Garlic is full of antioxidants, and fights off viruses and bacteria such as those responsible for acne. It can even help with skin conditions like psoriasis!

This is where you're going to want to put your kale in boiling salt water for two minutes while you dice the onion. Drain your kale while you add the onion to the pan with the oil and garlic. Soften for two-three minutes. Now stir your coriander, cumin and chilli flakes into the pan for a couple of minutes. Finally, stir in your tomatoes (which we've already established are a fantastic source of Vitamin C and selenium) and kale. Kale is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals that benefit your skin. Vitamin A is used to fight all sorts of skin conditions from acne to sunburn, whilst antioxidants help to slow down aging and maintain a healthy skintone. High levels of potassium will help to keep your skin hydrated and phosphorus repairs your skin from the everyday wear and tear that it goes through. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Kale is the one. After a couple of minutes your veg, and the rest of your meal, should be ready to serve up.


***

It should go without saying that healthy eating is by no means a quick-fix solution. It will take time for you to see an improvement, and even though I'm definitely not a dietician, a healthy diet is one of the best treats you can give your skin if you want to see an improvement. From what I can tell it's pretty simple; if you load your body with sugar and rubbish, it will find a way out, which is often via spots, pimples, zits... whatever you like to call them. Crap goes in, crap comes out. Eww. Not like that. In any case, I hope that you have learnt something from this post and it's inspired you to switch up your meals a little to feed your skin the stuff it deserves!

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