Nutrition for Healthy Skin

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cutest little avocado ever
cutest little avocado ever

So, remember that time I smeared avocado on my face? Eating it also happens to be pretty good for your skin.

Tuesday night, I spoke about nutrition for healthy skin at a super-fun fitness event in New Jersey, put together by a consultant from Rodan & Fields, who talked about some of their awesome products. Participants were also treated to healthy snacks and a free kickboxing class.

Here’s a little cheat sheet version of what I covered at the event. Here’s how to nourish your skin from the inside out!

Eat a Balanced Diet: Consume regular, balanced meals and snacks including: fruits and veggies along with lean sources of protein, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats. 

Eat the Rainbow: Pigments in fruits and vegetables such as the beta-carotene that gives carrots their brilliant orange color can also make your skin glow.

Pay Attention to Antioxidants: Antioxidants are substances that may prevent or delay cell damage caused by free radicals. Popular sources include: fruits, vegetables, red wine (and champagne!), dark chocolate, coffee, and tea.

Choose Supplements Carefully: Aim to get your vitamins and minerals from food first and use supplements to fill in any gaps (for example, iron and vitamin B12 for vegans). A few exceptions: many of us, especially in the northern states (especially in winter), would benefit from a vitamin D supplement. You might want to consider fish oil as well.

Use Sugar Sparingly: Inflammation caused by rapid sugar breakdown leads to sagging, wrinkles, and exacerbation of conditions like rosacea and acne. Sugar also deactivates the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes. Save the sweet stuff for special occasions and check labels for hidden sources in processed foods.

Drink Plenty of Water: Hydrated skin is happy skin. Aim for 8 cups a day to get your glow on. Your needs may be more or less, depending on age, activity level, and other factors.

Go Easy on Alcohol: To avoid wrinkles and blotchy, tired-looking skin, stick to one drink per day for women or two for men.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight has been linked to inflammation and related skin problems like acne, sweating, and impaired wound healing. Being underweight can cause skin dryness and a pallid appearance.

Get Enough Sleep: Aside from keeping “hunger hormones” leptin and ghrelin in check, sleep gives the body a chance to repair and regenerate tissue. Also, when we’re tired, we’re more prone to stress, another known skin irritant.

Know Your Triggers: Keep a food journal and note skin’s appearance before and after eating to help you identify problem-foods if you suspect something is causing a reaction.

Don’t Smoke: All the antioxidants in the world won’t offset damage caused by the free radicals introduced to your body when you light up.

Are there any particular foods you try to include—or avoid—to keep your skin healthy? 

Home for the Holidays

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wallpaperWhen I arrived at my parents’  house on Monday night, my old room was in a state of disarray, thanks to my dad’s latest home improvement project. Even though I haven’t lived there in 10 years, it was still weird. I tried to view the mess/transition as a metaphor, and that actually helped. In a way, I also kind of loved seeing the old retro wallpaper 16-year-old me had wanted to paint over when the family moved in.

Christmas Eve morning, I went to hot yoga with my mom, sister, and aunt after interviewing someone for a writing project I’ve been working on. It was a great way to start the holiday. A little Christmas pre-tox, anyone?

Oh, and it snowed. Someone enjoyed that. dog on table

Christmas Eve dinner was fairly low-key this year, as it was just my immediate family. For some reason, sushi is the traditional appetizer in our house, and though we usually do Greek lamb, this year that was saved for Christmas Day, so we enjoyed salad and some items from a local Italian market. After my mom played us all her favorite parts of last week’s SNL episode, we traded a couple gifts and had dessert. I enjoyed a mini chocolate cake my mom made from a friend’s recipe—it was like a mini soufflé!

My sister and I always exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve. Remember when I posted our text conversation about dinosaurs? Now I know why she was asking my favorite. dinosaur planter

I think this guy is going to be a planter…or maybe a holder for incense once I put some little rocks in him.

Christmas morning I was up at the ass-crack of dawn because I heard my mother walking around. I read on the elliptical machine in the basement to kill some time until the rest of the house was up. We opened presents, had breakfast, and did stuff around the house until my mom’s side of the family came over.

As always, the food was delicious. I enjoyed an assortment along with wine.

It was a mellow Christmas holiday—no complaints! It’s always good when, at the end of the night, you feel like everyone had a nice time.

What did you do for Christmas? Any favorite food items? 

What I Ate Wednesday #142

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So wow—Merry Christmas! Happy December 25th! I know I keep talk ing about the time going quickly, but the holidays seriously snuck up on me this year. However, I managed to get all my shopping and prep done this weekend. I guess that’s one benefit to not being coupled up—I don’t have to deal with all the obligatory partner things like office holiday parties or cookie swaps at someone’s college roommate’s girlfriend’s place or whatever.

I’ll be back later this week with some pics to share from my holiday meals, but for this week’s  What I Ate Wednesday, I figured I’d share some of my weekend eats—aka the things I relied on to stay fueled as I cleaned out the fridge, wrapped the last of my gifts, and overall got my act together.  As always, many thanks to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party—hop on over there to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

Here’s what I ate on Sunday…

  • Breakfast: Zucchini bread oats with PB
  • Lunch: A bunch of veggies (cheers to cleaning out the fridge) and pulled chicken from the slow cooker, topped with hummus
  • Greek yogurt with cocoa powder and homemade granola—recipe coming! After I snapped this picture I added some homemade cranberry sauce that needed to get used.
  • Dinner: Leftover mushroom lentil bourguinon; toast with hummus & roasted eggplant; an unpictured square of dark chocolate
  • Snack: Cottage cheese (the No Added Salt kind) with granola

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently? 

Thanksgiving 2013-Obligatory Recap

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The unofficial over of my first cookbook, "How the F*** do I make this Food?: Cooking with Jess."
The unofficial over of my first cookbook, “How the F*** do I make this Food?: Cooking with Jess.”

To celebrate family and colonialism this year, I traveled to the motherland (aka New Jersey). Wednesday night, my mom and I had dinner and then prepped a few things for the next day.

Thanksgiving morning was pretty chill. I mean, aside from being balls-cold, it was very relaxing. Since we’re all early risers, we hung out in the kitchen with some coffee and make-your-own breakfast until it was time for my mom, sister, and I to head out for a hot yoga class. I really dug that the instructor focused a lot on balance—something I didn’t give a crap about when I was younger, but which has become a big focus of my practice in the past year.

At the end of class, this was on my mat:

follow your dreams

Kind of love that.

The meal itself was really nice. My mom and I contributed a dish of butternut squash roasted in coconut oil and tossed with wilted greens and a roasted garlic, white wine sauce. It was the perfect complement to all the other Thanksgiving foods.

Am I the only one out there whose favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey?  I mean, it’s also accurate to say that I love pretty much any roasted veggies, and I usually take some stuffing and cranberry sauce, but I can take or leave the potatoes and green bean casserole. For dessert this year, there were a couple store-bought pies and a caramel apple tart that my mom made from a friend’s recipe. We also enjoyed some wine with the meal.

All in all, it was a really nice day. I don’t think we’re doing the Black Friday thing this year, though I definitely am taking advantage of the opportunity to buy my feelings—and some Christmas gifts—at a discount online.

How was your Thanksgiving? 

What I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving

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Cinnamon Tempest tea

Seriously! This stuff is wonderful—and extremely close to my favorite Harney & Sons tea (and for way less money). In a completely different way from coffee, tea is one of those little pleasures in life that can help you slow down for a second. It doesn’t get much better than a hot cup of the stuff on a dreary day.

I’ve been trying to keep any complaints or “I’m so run down”-speak off the blog, but November has been very demanding, and after an emotionally challenging October, I’m more than ready for the stay-cation I have coming up. I can’t think of many better ways to celebrate my birthday than by not setting my alarm clock for a whole week.

I’ll be back later this holiday weekend with some food-related thoughts and photos, but for now, enjoy some tales of Thanksgivings past…

2011 Thanksgiving Photobomb--one of my favorite family pictures ever
2011 Thanksgiving Photobomb–one of my favorite family pictures ever

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2009

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Any favorite Thanksgiving foods? 

What I Ate Wednesday #132

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And here we are at another What I Ate Wednesday. Thank you as always to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party. Take a visit to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

I’ve been sharing a lot of Saturday meals lately because during the workweek, it’s pretty routine: oatmeal at my desk; salad or soup & random veggies at my desk; Greek yogurt; something in a bowl for dinner…It’s not that I don’t enjoy good meals Monday through Friday—I just get sick of photographing stuff against the florescent-lit, fake-wood surface of my workspace. Weekends are a lot more colorful and I like recounting fun times.

I spent Saturday in NJ with my family. My mom had an open house at the space she shares with several other practitioners. Several different people discussed the work they do and there was a different kind of meditation every hour. The open house didn’t start until the afternoon, so I had time for a restorative yoga class and some lunch before heading out. Later on, I had dinner at Rosa Mexicano with my parents and sister. We had a really nice time.

  • Breakfast: Zucchini bread oats with PB
  • Lunch: Butternut squash red lentil soup over kale with a toasted pumpkin waffle and—yep—more tahini
  • Snack: A plain Chobani with cinnamon, a spoonful of instant oats I found at my mom’s, and a few strawberries that were surprisingly nice for October
  • Dinner: at Rosa Mexicano—a glass of cava; a few chips with guac (made table-side); salmon over black beans & roasted corn and mole sauce
  • Snack: (unpictured) half a sliced banana to keep my stomach from growling before bed

What’s your go-to dish at a Mexican restaurant? I’m all over anything with mole sauce. What was the best thing you ate recently? 

A few Labor Day things

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I went with the bright pink
I went with the bright pink

Even though I had to work on Labor Day, I still enjoyed some time with my family over the weekend. Saturday a bunch of “the cousins” came over to my parents’ house for a BBQ, which was a lot of fun. Sunday was a low-key day that involved lunch with my mom, and mani-pedis. I literally hadn’t gotten my nails done since it was still cold out. Much-needed. My parents were nice enough to drive me back into the city, where we all shared some drinks and appetizers before they went to see a movie.

The past few weeks, I’ve been packing my lunch a little more often than normal—having something colorful to look forward to, especially working a humid, gray holiday, is really nice. Yesterday I enjoyed what I’m just going to call an antipasti salad: a few slices of leftover prosciutto (from the wine bar I went to with the ‘rents) over greens along with roasted eggplant and sliced mini heirloom tomatoes—plenty of balsamic and some grated pecorino. antipasti salad

It wasn’t quite a Labor  Day BBQ, but it was certainly enjoyable.

What was the best thing you ate over Labor Day weekend?