Top 5 Winter Beauty Foods

pomegranate

Need inspiration for tonight's meal? Include one or more of these in-season winter fruits and veggies and you'll be doing your body- and your beauty- good.

1. Citrus Fruit: Lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines- you name it. Their high vitamin C levels are fantastic for collagen production and free radical defense. To borrow a little natural exfoliation (via the citric acid in the peels of these fruit), rub the white part of a fresh citrus peel on clean skin and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing. You'll be treating your skin from the outside and in!

2. Kale: Choose kale for its calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron content. As a bonus, kale also contains sulforaphane, a nutrient that encourages the body to produce the powerful antioxidant glutathione (the potential of which beauty and health researchers are just beginning to tap into). Note: look for organic kale- it's one of the most pesticide-laden varieties of produce.

3. Radishes: Sulfur and silicon, beauty minerals found in high levels in radishes, combine with vitamin C to do wonders for the skin. Radishes also stimulate the liver and circulation and encourage cleansing throughout the body.

4. Pomegranates: The antioxidant levels of pomegranates beat even blueberries and cranberries- making them one very potent defense against free-radicals that lead to visible aging. Vitamins C, B and potassium round out their total-body benefits.

5. Sweet Potatoes: Just one cup packs 377% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is one of the most important antioxidant vitamins for beautiful skin!

Soup Tonight, Glowing Skin Tomorrow

carrots-1

I’ve always had an amazing resource for holistic health info right at my fingertips. My greatest teacher about natural health was, and is, my mom. As a nurse, her knowledge of how the body works combined with her fascination about the natural remedies and nutrition impressed me more than any encyclopedia or textbook.

On to the beauty angle: every time I complained about lackluster skin or a breakout during my teenage years, my mom would tell me to eat a few carrots. “They help your complexion,” she told me dozens of times. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually true. Carrots themselves aren’t going to clear up breakouts but they are so rich in beta carotene that you do see a glow in your skin after adding them to your diet.

How does the overnight magic work? Carrots are pro-retinol, that is, their beta carotene easily converts to vitamin A, which is one of the skin vitamins. Vitamin A is responsible for cell division and new cell growth. Sans vitamin A, your skin won’t rid itself of old cells as easily and you’ll be left with a less-than-smooth, noticeably dull complexion. The beta carotene in carrots is also a strong antioxidant that boosts immune function and helps protect against UV damage. It’s suspected to be anti-cancer and anti-aging.

The below recipe for Curried Carrot Soup one of my favorites (adapted from Martha Stewart’s own Curried Carrot Soup). It’s going to get me through the winter, and any other time of the year when I’m having doubts about my complexion.

Curried Carrot Soup:

1 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 tsp curry powder

3 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

1 ½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Sautee onions, salt, pepper and curry powder in melted butter for about 5 mins, until onions are soft. Add broth, carrots and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, 20 mins or more. Puree batches in a food processor or blender until the soup reaches your desired consistency. I like to leave a few carrot chunks. Season to taste.

*Just to note, plenty of other veggies are packed with beta carotene as well- try sweet potatoes, kale, pumpkin or apricots.