This may be a bold statement, I know, but hear me out. The concept of beauty food is basically consuming nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods that keep our bodies healthy from the inside out, where all beauty fundamentally starts. So it’s not about vanity here, it’s about how a healthy inside shows on the outside. And when Into The Gloss asked if I wanted to create a recipe full of so-called “beauty foods,” I thought, why not use all of them at the same time? Seemed like a good-looking challenge.
This salad is a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein) and vitamins (B, C, plus minerals) and brings flexibility to the table to meet your needs. It’s not only delicious with fresh, summer blueberries, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and quinoa, but it's filling, too—especially from the fresh avocado. As for the beauty aspect, a diet along the lines of this recipe should results in glowing and smooth skin, strong hair and nails, and clear eyes. Here's why:
Pumpkin seeds : Pumpkin seeds not only taste great, but they have been shown to help with general antioxidant support, most notably from vitamin E. Most diets, the Standard American Diet in particular, are low in minerals, but pumpkin seeds are loaded with them, so I try to incorporate them as often as I can. Pumpkin oils and extracts have unique antimicrobial benefits from the lignans in these seeds. Pumpkin seeds have also been shown to have cardiovascular benefits, decreasingblood pressure, and benefits with benign prostatic hyperplasia(i.e. prostate gland enlargement). These seeds are loaded with the mineral zinc, which is important in healthy skin, strong hair, and equally strong nails.
Dark leafy greens (spinach in particular) : Spinach is a great source of minerals, making it well known for bone and muscle health. Spinach contains special phytonutrients that have been shown to help decrease inflammation in the body, while also keeping our skin bright and healthy by fighting free radicals. As with most fruits and vegetables, spinach contains a great amount of fiber, which helps keep our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.
Hemp seeds : Hemp seeds are a fantastic way for plant-based dieters to get enough protein and healthy fats into their system without much volume. They can essentially be used in any dish because of their small size and relatively neutral flavor. A good source of healthy fat and protein content, just three tablespoons contains about 11 grams of protein!
Lemon : Lemons mostly contain vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin found in many fruits and vegetables. The vitamin travels nicely through our bodies in both the aqueous (fancy word for water-like) environments inside and outside our cells, neutralizing the free radicals that can cause oxidative stress to cells that can result in signs of aging. Lemons may also help protect against other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Avocado : You love it—stop fighting it. It's high in healthy fats and fiber, both of which are satiating. Avocados also contain vitamin C, K, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Blueberries : Blueberries have been shown to help with cardiovascular health, cognitive benefits, eye health, overall antioxidant support, and insulin resistance. Because blueberries contain so much fiber and so little sugar, they have a low glycemic index, which means better blood sugar regulation and steady energy. And, since blueberries help reduce blood fat levels, they’ve been labeled as a “belly fat burningfood,” which is also great for digestion and “de-bloating,”
Quinoa : Contains fiber, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and about 8 to 9 grams of protein in one cooked cup!
Nutritional yeast : Contains roughly 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons, along with heaps of B vitamins, which strengthen hair, skin, and nails.
And now for the recipe:
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/2 to 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1/2 to 1 cup blueberries
- Juice of two lemons
- 1/2 medium avocado
- 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Sea salt, adjust to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, adjust to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flake, optional
In a large mixing bowl, combine well-rinsed spinach with cooked quinoa, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and blueberries. Using the back of a fork, gently mash the avocado into the salad, squeeze the lemon, add apple cider vinegar, and sprinkle nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper to your taste.
Note: Adjust amounts of each ingredient depending on your hunger, health goals, and energy needs. This is a great starting point to build upon. You may also add additional protein as needed.
McKel Hill is a Registered D ietitian Nutritionist based out of Nashville. She writes about her approach to feeling and looking great through living whole and eating well on her site Nutrition Stripped.
Photos courtesy of the author. Combine nettles, milky oats, and rose petals to make this beauty tea for clearer skin.