We’ve all heard the saying that we are what we eat – or more accurately, we are what our bodies can absorb. That goes for every product we put on our skin, our food and drink choices, and the information we take in from the places we spend our time.
The beauty industry is full of billions of products and worth even more billions of dollars, and largely emphasizes things we can put on our bodies. Cleansers, toners, serums, bronzers, moisturizers, primers, concealers, shimmers, blushers, firmers, plumpers, lifters, fillers, anti-agers – it seems there’s a magic cream for everything. There have been massive advances in the kinds of ingredients found in these products, as well and studies to back their effectiveness. However, just like all the exercise in the world can’t compensate for a crappy diet, neither can all the lotions and potions.
That’s where the culinary nutrition geek in me likes to take over and concoct functional recipes that work from the inside. They don’t just nourish the skin, but also support health of the entire body. Getting back to the whole thing about being what we absorb, gut health is critical to the health of our skin (aka our largest organ). If we can’t digest what we eat into the macro and micronutrients that the body needs to rebuild and repair, then eating that food isn’t doing us much good. You’ve heard me go on about gut health in other posts so I won’t spend too much time on it, but know that all the things that foster a healthy gut (especially probiotics, fibre and healthy fats) are the first step.
If we consider a healthy gut the (gluten-free) cake, then we can think of foods with mega antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties the icing on top – the stuff that makes things even sweeter, or in this case, up-levels your nutrition. The 3 recipes for healthier skin I’ve got for you are full of those, plus many other benefits too. They also feature 2 ingredients I’m particularly fond of these days, and here’s what you need to know about them:
- It’s made from green tea leaves, which are consumed as powder (as opposed to regular tea leaves, which you’d strain out.) This allows us to get the full nutrition benefits of the leaf.
- Matcha is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods we know of on earth, containing far more antioxidants than green tea1 and other superfoods like spinach and dark chocolate. The components containing the antioxidants are called catechins, which are the same polyphenols found in green tea – you just get way more of them in matcha.
- It’s due to such high catechin levels that studies suggest matcha may have anti-cancer properties2,3
- Catechins are the bomb at hunting down cell-damaging free radicals in the body, and instead, protect cells. This is particularly important as we age, which is why matcha is associated with many anti-aging products and recipes.
- Matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that makes it commonly cited as a food that helps boost mood, energy and concentration.
- This is a protein naturally made by our bodies, but declines as we age
- It’s needed for resilient, youthful skin, strong hair and healthy nails
- Studies suggest4, 5 that collagen can help to reduce bone + joint pain in athletes and people with arthritis. There’s also evidence to suggest it can help ease inflammatory digestive conditions.6
- Collagen products come from animal sources including beef and poultry (hence one of the reasons bone broth has grown in popularity so quickly), and in the case of one of the brands I use, fish scales. (It sounds a little weird, I know, but I promise you that this collagen doesn’t taste like fish!)
The first recipe is one I like to kickstart my mornings with, and as someone who doesn’t drink much caffeine outside of occasional matcha, this definitely gets me going! I’ve included two methods for making it and will be honest that 9 times out of 10, I go the time-is-of-the-essence route and pop everything in my Vitamix. ?Print
- 1–2 tsp organic matcha powder (use 2 if you prefer a stronger taste)
- 1 serving (5g) collagen powder
- ¼ cup boiling water
- a few drops of vanilla extract
- a few pinches of powdered ginger
- ¾ cup warm unsweetened almond milk
- to sweeten (optional): stevia or maple syrup, to taste
Somewhat traditional method:
- In a mug, combine the matcha, collagen and the hot water. Use a bamboo whisk to stir in an ‘m’ motion until foam begins to develop.
- Whisk in the vanilla, ginger and sweetener (if using), then add the warm almond milk and enjoy.
Alternative, totally not traditional, quick blender method:
- Pour the water and almond milk into a blender jug, followed by the remaining ingredients and a little sweetener if you like.
- Blend on low, then increase to a medium-high setting for about 25s. This will allow foam to form.
- Adjust sweetness as needed, pour into a mug and enjoy.
- Category: beverage
- Method: boil
Moving on to recipe 2, it’s a Triple Berry Smoothie whose deep purple colour is a dead giveaway that it’s loaded with antioxidants. This one is on the sweeter side, but not going to break the sugar bank because berries are surprisingly low in sugar compared to other fruits.
A few other good things to know…
Green tea is extremely high in phytochemicals which have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Antioxidants are important for combatting toxins and free radicals in the body, both of which contribute towards signs of aging.
Spinach adds tons of vitamins and trace minerals, including iron which many women are deficient in.
Almonds contribute vitamin E which we need to repair damaged skin and fight free radicals. It’s fat soluble (meaning it needs to be consumed with fat to be absorbed), and luckily, almonds also naturally contain healthy fats which will help to keep you feeling satisfied.
Chia seeds help to thicken the texture, while also adding fibre and omega-3 healthy fats. Both help to stop hunger, and like so many of the other ingredients in the recipe, have excellent antioxidant properties.Print
- 1 cup chilled green tea
- 1 big handful organic baby spinach
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Vega Sport Performance Protein)
- 2/3 cup mixed frozen organic strawberries and blueberries
- 1 tbsp dried goji berries
- 1 serving (5-10g) collagen
- 2 tsp natural almond butter
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- ice cubes, as needed
- Add all ingredients except for the ice to a blender in the order listed. Blend until completely smooth.
- Thicken by adding a few ice cubes if needed, then blend again until smooth.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy!
- Category: beverage
- Method: blender
And last, but certainly not least, Cucumber Mint Lemonade Smoothie. This is a very lightly sweetened blend that delivers a serious punch of hydration and skin-nourishing nutrients. Of the 3 smoothies it’s definitely the least sweet, but it’s amazing how quickly your tastebuds will adjust to this over time if you gradually remove high-sugar foods from your diet. It’s a perfect recipe for enjoying on a really hot day, or as a post-workout refresher.
- 1 large handful organic baby swiss chard (or baby greens of your choice)
- 1 scoop high-quality vanilla flavoured protein powder, such as Vega Sport Performance Protein
- 1 cup water or chilled green tea
- 1/2 cup sliced organic English cucumber
- 1 serving (5-10g) collagen powder
- 1 lemon, peel + rind chopped off
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint, plus more to garnish
- 1 tbsp fresh peeled ginger root
- 1 tsp chia or hemp seeds
- Toss all ingredients in the blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Adjust consistency with a few extra ice cubes if needed.
- Pour into a glass and serve.
- Category: beverage
- Method: blender
If you’re looking for more ways to get collagen into your daily diet (beyond just smoothies!), be sure to check out these ideas.