As the collective interest in eating “better” grows, it pays to remember that what you eat can help your complexion, through something known as skin food. When we think of diet we usually think of weight loss or reducing the amount of fat or carbohydrates that are eaten. Yet, what you eat can play such a central role in your overall health. And no where is that more true than in improving your complexion and protecting your skin.
The Importance of Antioxidants
Our recent interview with registered dietician and food blogger EA Stewart on The Right Diet Steps for Healthy and Glowing Skin elicited a lot of questions from readers about what specifically to eat to improve complexion and protect the skin. We generally think about foods that contain antioxidant properties as it relates to skin protection.They can protect the body from the effects of sun exposure and other harmful elements,and they have beneficial effects in protecting your skin and promoting longevity.
The Right Vitamins Make All The Difference
But it is important to point out that while there are many skin food categories the easiest way to identify these foods is through the vitamin properties they possess. As part of our Be Your Best 365 series we are exploring the vitamins the matter to your skin. And we reached out to food bloggers around the world to find great recipes that will help you get these skin food nutrients into your diet. Read on and enjoy!
Adding more Vitamin A to your diet won’t necessarily improve your skin, however not having enough of it can make it dry and flaky. One of the challenges in diet supported skin care is simply eating enough of the right types of foods to get the vitamin power you need. Virtually any fresh fruit or vegetable is a good source of Vitamin A, which many super foods possess. The spinach in this classic cheese and spinach pie is loaded with Vitamin A and it’s a comforting dish that is easy to make.
You can use any cheese such as ricotta, cottage cheese, panir cheese or goat cheese. Kalamata olives can be substituted with any other olive.
For the Pie Crust*
- 100 gm (3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
- 100 gm (3/4 cup) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used 1/2 tsp of oregano and 1/2 tsp of basil)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil (or the oil of your choosing, provided it withstands cooking)
- 100 ml ( scant 1/2 cup) cold water
For the Filling*
- 500 gm ricotta or cottage or panir cheese*
- 200 ml fresh cream
- 2 tbsp cornflour or cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried herbs (I used Oregano and Basil)
- 1 bunch Spinach, blanched and well drained
- Kalamata or any other black Olives of your choice for putting over the pie
- Quick cooking rolled oats for sprinkling over the pie crust
For the crust:
- Lightly grease a tart pan or a pie dish with olive oil.
- In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and herbs. Pour in the oil and mix until you get coarse crumbs. Add in the water, then knead lightly with your hand until the dough comes together into a ball.
- On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a circle big enough to fit into your pie mould or tart pan. Remember to keep the surface dry by sprinkling a little flour on the rolling pin and smear a little over the pie dough too, Keep rotating the dough each time you roll it and add a little flour above and beneath the dough when it is on the verge of sticking to the surface. This will ensure a nice round circle.
- Carefully transfer the dough into the prepared pan, trimming the edges if necessary. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.
- Prick with a fork all over and blind bake the crust at 200°C (400°F) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
For the filling:
- In a blender or food processor combine the filling ingredients, the cheese, cream, cornflour, salt and herbs and process until smooth and creamy.
- Mix in the thoroughly drained and chopped spinach.
Assembling the Pie:
- Preheat the oven at 200C(400F)
- Sprinkle some rolled oats over the pie crust. This will help to absorb moisture from the filling. Spoon the pie filling over the pie crust. Decoratively arrange the Olives over the pie and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until just set or lightly browned at the top.
- Pie crust recipe adapted from here.
*If using ricotta or cottage cheese, make sure you completely drain the water off, by leaving it over a strainer with a pot below to collect the liquid in the refrigerator.
Serves 6 to 8 depending on the portion sizes.
Skin Food Recipe and photo courtesy of Anushruti R. K. of Divine Taste.
There are many components to the B complex however, biotin is the most important element in this class of vitamin because it forms the basis for skin, hair and nail cells. You can get biotin into your diet be eating eggs, oatmeal and bananas. Another great source of vitamin B complex is yogurt, considered a perfect skin food by many. This refreshing Sattvic (Indian) inspired yogurt chaach cooler is easy to make and great for your complexion.
Recipe for Yogurt Chaach Cooler
- 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 pinches of roasted cumin powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 sprig mint, stems removed and leaves finely chopped
- In a medium bowl with a pouring spout, whisk together the yogurt and 4 cups water.
- Add the roasted cumin powder and salt; stir until blended.
- Pour the mixture into two glasses and garnish each with chopped mint leaves. The consistency of the chaach should be very thin and watery.
Skin Food Recipe and photo courtesy of Nicky Moona from My Yoga Kitchen.
Considered the “work horse” vitamin because it protects the body against the common cold, vitamin C also plays an outsized role in protecting your skin. If there is one skin food to regularly get into your diet, make sure it contains this powerful vitamin. It turns out that while we typically associate citrus with Vitamin C, hot peppers (both red and green) provide more Vitamin C per 100 gram serving than any other food. This chipotle chocolate creme brûlée is unusually delicious and an easy way to get peppers into your diet, even if you don’t like spicy food!
Recipe for Chocolate Chipotle Creme Brûlée
- 2 Chipotle chiles split in half with excess adobo sauce removed
- 2 cups whipping cream + 1 cup for topping (see note below)
- 2 cups half and half
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%, such as Valrona), coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely coarsely chopped
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine cream and half and half in heavy large saucepan with the split chipotles and seeds. Bring to a boil mixing occasionally and pressing chipotles to the side of the pan to extra the flavor. Reduce heat to low.
- Strain the mixture, pressing the chipotle solids to extra additional flavor. Pour the hot mixture from the saucepan through a strainer over the chipotle, into medium bowl and then back into the saucepan 2-3 times. Strain one final time back into the saucepan and discard solids.
- Boil water in a tea kettle while you complete the next step.
- Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture to yolks starting with a small amount of hot liquid and whisk quickly. Strain the liquid and egg mixture a final time.
- Pour equal amounts of custard among eight 3/4-cup custard cups. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set, about 50 minutes. Remove from water; chill 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Serves 8. Recipe can be cut in half for four servings.
Skin Food Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Chefectomy.
Selenium is one of the most powerful vitamins that can protect the skin and can help in limiting sun burn damage. Tuna fish is loaded with this important skin food. Serve this delicious and gorgeous seared tuna recipe at a dinner party and you’ll be turning heads as an entertainer, as well as with your radiant appearance.
Recipe for Seared Tuna with Avocado, Citrus and Lotus Root
Ingredients: (Serves 9)
- 1 7-oz piece of Sushi-grade tuna
- Black and white sesame seeds
- 1 Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 Lotus root, thinly sliced
- 1 Avocado, sliced
For the Mayonnaise:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp Dijon
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups Canola oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- ½ tsp Sriracha
- 1 finger length ginger, grated
- 1 clove garlic, zested
- Few drops of honey
- Sprinkle cinnamon
- Salt to taste
To Make The Mayonnaise
- Separate yolk from whites and reserve whites for another use. Combine yolk with Dijon and whisk well to thoroughly combine. Slowly add canola in a steady stream while vigorously whisking to create the emulsion that will be the base of your mayonnaise.
- Add remaining ingredients to mayonnaise, whisking well to combine with each addition.
- Heat 3 cups canola oil in a small pot. While that’s working, slice the lotus root into ¼ inch thick rounds. Fry lotus rounds until crispy. You can tell they are done when they stop bubbling – the bubbles are water particles escaping from the root. Lay on paper towel and salt immediately.
- Cut tuna into 1×1 inch squares. Coat four sides of the squared tuna in black and white sesame seeds. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and sear the tuna squares on the four seed-coated sides, about 10 seconds per side.
- Slice avocado into small rounds, approximately the width of the tuna square.
- Slice cucumbers as thin as possible to use as garnish.
- To assemble, place avocado on lotus chip and set tuna square onto avocado. Drizzle citrus mayo on tuna and top with cucumber rosette.
Skin Food Recipe and Photo courtesy of The Bite Sized Blog.
Marc Winitz is senior technology executive, 4th degree black belt and author of the self development blog Black Belt Guide. He co-founded beforliving.com based on a vision of the convergence of technology, wellness and self development. His first blog was all about food. You can follow him on Twitter @marcwinitz.