Healthy Cook: What to eat to help that healthy glow

Beauty may be only skin deep,

but it might be the skin on a cucumber.

For years, women have been putting slices of cold cucumber on their eyes to whisk away wrinkles and make their eyes feel better. Now, experts say that might not be the best way to do it. You might get as much benefit from putting the cucumber inside your body as on the outside.

In a small study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland it was found that you can give your skin a rosy glow or sunny caste by eating foods rich in carotenoids.

Beta carotene gives orange color to carrots and is in sweet potatoes, peaches, apricots and spinach. You can’t see it in the spinach because so much chlorophyll overpowers it.  

Lycopene provides red color to peppers, tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. You get more nutrients from eating the whole fruit or vegetable than just drinking juice, experts warn.  

Looking at what’s good for your skin, Mayo Clinic dermatologists recommend eating (oh, not another list) carrots, apricots, other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, spinach and green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries, beans, peas, lentils, salmon and mackerel (fatty fish), nuts, and whole grain breads.

For fine skin, you should avoid processed or refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and limit sweets. Kind of takes the fun out of ice cream now, doesn’t it?

The USDA says we should fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables, then plenty of whole grains. The rest of the space can be meat or fish. Just to stay healthy, woman need four to five cups of fruit and vegetables. Men should have about six and a half cups.

And how do you get all this good-for-your-skin into you every day? Though whole produce is best, juice can be a quick and easy way to get what you need when you’re out of time.

A little can of V8 juice has a serving of vegetables from “the goodie” list above. Use it as a beverage with a meal or have a couple of Triscuits and the V8 for a snack. The juice has only 30 calories in a 5.5-ounce can.

Stir fry is a fine way to get good-for-your-skin vegetables.  The trick is to cut everything in bite-size pieces. Start with a little oil in a hot pan. Add garlic and ginger if you like them.  Put in the vegetables that take longest to cook. Add softer vegetables as the harder ones start to get a touch of brown on the edges. Carrots take a long time. So do onions and sweet potato.

If you have not tried celery in a stir-fry, then now is the time. Zucchini and asparagus cook quickly so add them near the end. A splash of soy sauce and a dash of sugar and you’re almost done. If you have liquid in the pan you can cook it away or add a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken the liquids for a sauce.

Carrots and zucchini make a great combination hot or cold. Cut them into long strips using a vegetable peeler. Soak the carrot strips in boiling water for a minute or two. Drain and chill. Drain again. Heat them briefly in a microwave and top with spaghetti sauce.

For a salad, add raisins and/or Craisins and nuts or sunflower seeds. Maybe a few slivered dried apricots. Dress with yogurt sweetened with apple juice. This could be dessert, too.

If someone in the family just won’t eat vegetables, and you need them for your skin, drag out the muffin tin and go to it. Grated carrot, sweet potato, zucchini and yellow squash almost disappear in muffin batter. The same works with a cake. Now that’s a tasty treat that’s also good for your skin.



story by TRENT ROWE, Food Editor


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