Skin-Nourishing Supper: Amaranth Polenta with Mushrooms, Basil & Greens

It's time to upgrade your complex carbs with a beauty nutrition-packed pantry staple: amaranth. Amaranth is a must-have in your repertoire, especially if you're vegan or vegetarian, as it's a great source of protein (8g in a serving) and beauty minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. The sticky, porridge-like texture of amaranth makes it a great breakfast grain (try the recipe for Coconut-Date Amaranth on p. 322 of Eat Pretty Every Day) or polenta base (as I've used it in this recipe), and also makes it excellent for your digestion. Even though we think of it as a gluten-free grain, it's technically a seed, one whose texture is really going to add something new to your usual meals— wait until you try it! 

Every single ingredient in this easy dish is loaded with skin benefits, and you can sub in new varieties of greens as they come into season and mushrooms as they become available. Enjoy!

Amaranth Polenta with Mushrooms, Basil & Greens

NOTE: If you prefer to serve a firmer square of polenta under your veggies (as opposed to a soft, porridge-y version), it's best to make the amaranth well ahead of time and let it chill completely. Try making it the night before serving, or the morning-of, so it has plenty of time to cool and solidify, and all you have to do is cook up the veggies to go on top. 

This veggie-packed meal is brimming with protein, one of the essential building blocks for your skin, hair, and nails that also helps keep your blood sugar stable (further supporting gorgeous skin!). It's also a great source of key beauty minerals like iron and calcium, and lots of antioxidants from basil and greens. Try subbing in whatever greens or veggies you have on hand.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

3 cups broth or water (if using water, be sure to salt it, or add 2 tbsp liquid/coconut aminos for flavor)

1 cup dry amaranth

2 tsp coconut oil, organic butter, or ghee

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

6 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I recommend including some shiitakes for flavor)

1 pint (about 2 cups) organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved 

4 tsp chopped basil, plus more for garnish

3 large handfuls of roughly chopped organic greens (I used baby kale)

DIRECTIONS

Bring broth/water to a boil in a large saucepan, and add amaranth. Cover, lower heat, and simmer about 25 minutes, until water has absorbed and amaranth is sticky, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt oil/butter/ghee in a sauté pan. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of unrefined salt, and cook until mushrooms soften and release their water. (Depending on the variety of mushrooms that you use, you can pour off some of the water if it begins to collect). Add tomatoes, basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. When tomatoes have softened, add chopped greens and cook until just wilted.

Fill each plate with a serving of polenta, and top with the veggie sauté and additional fresh basil.

 

Skin-Boosting Side Dish: Miso Broccoli Lentil Salad

miso-broccoli-lentil

Put a beautifying spin on a classic dish, lentil salad, with this probiotic0rich version. This salad is rich in digestive health benefits from food-based probiotics that do so much to support radiant skin, good moods, energy, and our healthiest weight. The fermented miso paste that helps flavor this salad is a source of that beneficial probiotic bacteria, a daily MUST-HAVE in your beauty diet! Lentils and hemp seeds are also two of my favorite beautifying sources of protein, which your body uses as a building block of your hair, nails, and skin.  Enjoy!

Miso Broccoli Lentil Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 heaping cup steamed organic broccoli spears, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely diced organic orange, yellow or red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp miso paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp shelled hemp seeds

Directions

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Simmer until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, oil, miso, and garlic to make a dressing. In a serving bowl, combine lentils, broccoli, and peppers, and toss with dressing and hemp seeds. Serve warm or chilled.

Nectarine and Purple Basil Smoothie

nectarine-basil-smoothie

It may be post-Labor Day, but summer hasn't stopped at the farmer's market. This week's influx of divinely juicy nectarines inspired me to grab some purple basil from my garden and blend up this refreshing (not to mention protein-rich) treat today.

Here's why it's a beauty-boosting choice: the flavonoids in basil protect your cells from age-advancing (pro-wrinkling) oxidative damage, while nectarines are filled with collagen-building vitamin C and skin-smoothing vitamin A. Hemp seeds are one of my favorite vegetarian sources of protein, healthy fats and beauty minerals, and they give this smoothie substance.

If you haven't tried the nectarine + basil pairing, you must try this one!

nectarine-basil-beauty

Nectarine & Purple Basil Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 organic nectarine
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 2 small handfuls ice (optional)

Blend all ingredients, except ice, until smooth. Add ice if desired and blend until frothy.

Summer Beauty Dessert: Toasted Coconut & Cardamom Peach Crumble

Last week I had the thrill of sharing an entire Eat Pretty-style menu at an exclusive Beauty Is Wellness Supper Club event at Whole Foods Market South Street in Philadelphia. This also happens to be my local Whole Foods, aka the spot I run to at all hours of the day and night when I need ingredients for a meal or recipe!

The menu included one of my favorite summer recipes from Eat Pretty, the Blueberry Lentil Salad (p 115), plus 3 other courses designed to support beauty in the late summer season.

I thought I'd share the recipe for the meal's finale, my Toasted Coconut & Cardamom Peach Crumble, because it's perfect to make RIGHT NOW. Yes, even after Labor Day we'll be enjoying fresh peaches (and wanting to savor them, since before long we'll be missing summer stone fruits), so make this gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free (can you say 'beauty-friendly'?) dessert tonight. And then have the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow:)

The most unique part of this crumble is the topping; it's a mix of toasted buckwheat (which contains a phytochemical that blocks wrinkle formation), gluten-free oats (a great source of silica for healthy hair), plus coconut flakes and coconut oil (excellent fats for skin and hormone health). You'll also find blood sugar-stabilizing cinnamon and detoxifying cardamom in this recipe, along with organic peaches that are loaded with skin-smoothing vitamin A and collagen-building, wrinkle-fighting vitamin C. Did I mention that there is no refined sugar and only a tiny amount of (relatively low glycemic) coconut sugar— about 1 tbsp in a serving? It's a true Eat Pretty-style summer dessert. Feel free to experiment by adding berries if you have them on hand!

Toasted Coconut and Cardamom Peach Crumble

Exotic cardamom spices up the flavor of summer peaches—and adds to the beautifying power of this dessert. I love to serve it warm, when the buckwheat and oat crumble is crisp, but leftovers can double as breakfast with the addition of almond milk.

Serves 6

Filling:

  • 8 medium organic peaches, pitted and quartered
  • 1/4 cup large/fancy grade unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sea salt

Crumble:

  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free whole oats
  • 3/4 cup large/fancy grade unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup toasted buckwheat groats, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 to 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients, tossing to coat peaches well.  Transfer to a 9- or 10-inch pie plate.

Using a food processor, pulse remaining crumble ingredients until just combined. Crumble topping over peaches and bake for about 50 minutes, until top turns golden brown.

Sun Protective Cherry Chocolate Smoothie

cherry-chocolate-beauty-smoothie.jpg

The summer harvest gives us bushels of fresh foods that support sun defense in our bodies— tomatoes, watermelon, peppers and apricots are just a few of my favorites. I'd also add cherries to that list, since the phytochemical quercetin in cherries helps defend against UVB damage. For a change of pace from your green smoothie, I created this creamy, sweet— and sun protective— Cherry Chocolate Smoothie that's filled with skin-friendly ingredients (and not a bit of added sugar). Beyond their sun defensive qualities, cherries reduce inflammation in the body, calm redness in the skin and fight allergies. Raw cacao power (an even more beautifying alternative to regular cocoa powder) also protects skin from UV damage, reduces redness and boosts skin hydration. It's also rich in sulfur, a beauty mineral that supports strong hair, nails and skin. As a bonus, cacao raises levels of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins in the brain, making you happy! And the gluten free oats and hemp seeds also give your skin a boost, with plenty of plant-based protein, beauty minerals that support skin elasticity (in the oats), and skin-friendly fats (in the hemp seeds).

Cherries are ripe now, so grab a bag of these beauty fruits (look for organic varieties) and whip up this sweet, beautifying treat today...

Sun Protective Cherry Chocolate Smoothie

This sweet smoothie is packed with top energy foods like cacao and hemp, along with a phytonutrient boost from cherries and cacao that increases the body’s natural UV defense.

Serves 1

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup pitted organic sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 cup gluten free whole oats
  • 1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • few drops almond extract (optional)
  • small handful ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

Eat Pretty & My Summer Snack Picks in InStyle!

Ever have one of those moments that really makes you stop and reflect? Maybe you run into an old friend or come across a photograph (er...digital photo?), and suddenly you're aware of the passage of time. It hits you that dozens and dozens of tiny changes have taken you from point A to point Z in your life— so far away from where you've been!

I'm feeling that right now.

The May 2014 issue of InStyle features my new book Eat Pretty in the What's Now! section (I think that means it's a must-have!). This would be exciting for anyone, but it's especially meaningful to me, since I spent years working at InStyle, both in the fashion closet and the beauty department. InStyle is where I nurtured my love of fashion and catapulted my career in beauty, among a team of writers, editors and design pros who are simply the best in the biz. To see my own book in its pages really makes my journey from staff writer to health coach and entrepreneur come full circle for me.

Thank you InStyle!

Check out the issue (I also contributed to the awesome 2014 Best Beauty Buys story!) and get a head start on summer snacking to stay slim, glowing and protected from the sun's rays in the season ahead. I personally can't wait to read the interview with Cameron Diaz (her new title The Body Book is on my wish list!).

Here's the story...

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Super-Slimming Summer Beauty Foods

slimming-beauty-food-watermelon

You’re heading to the beach or pool this weekend, and you want to make sure your bathing suit fits just right.  You could cross your fingers that you wake up on Saturday with a flat belly, or you could get proactive by filling your diet with naturally slimming, seasonal beauty foods. Where to start? It’s all about cutting back on the foods that cause you to retain water and pack on the pounds, while adding in the delicious summer beauty foods that have powerful de-bloating properties. These foods are natural diuretics, meaning they fight fluid retention, a common hot weather beauty complaint.

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