What to Eat for Glowing, Radiant Skin

There are countless options for skincare products. So many choices make it easy to get lost in the entire skincare section of a department store looking through options.  A large part of radiant, healthy skin doesn’t lie within those aisles, though.  A crucial part of glowing skin is what you put in your grocery cart.

Providing yourself with healthy foods helps to give the nutrients you need to power oxygen to the skin and help healthy cell turnover for soft, supple, and youthful skin.

It’s never too late to start taking extra mindful care of your skin. Here’s a quick list of the things you should aim to eat daily to ensure beautiful skin from inside out!

Eat colorful fruits and vegetables every day

Pick up more fresh produce with an array of colors. These items have potent antioxidants that keep free radicals from causing cellular damage. It would be best if you strived to have five portions of produce daily, aiming to be as colorful as you possibly can.

Make Vitamin C a priority

Not only is vitamin C extra crucial for immunity, but it’s also great for the skin. You can use the topical version on the outside, but inside, get as much as you can so you produce more collagen for bouncy, youthful skin. Think blueberries, oranges, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Savor selenium-rich foods

Another antioxidant that does skin right is selenium. It assists vitamins C and E to help support your immunity and keep skin from suffering sun damage. You can get selenium by eating eggs, fresh fish, broccoli, tomatoes, or Brazil nuts.

Don’t forget vitamin E-rich foods

It’s helpful to think of vitamin E as vitamin C’s best friend. These two work better together to repair oxidative stress in the body, especially for the skin. Choose avocados, almonds, and hazelnuts to get more vitamin E.

Give your body healthy fats

Healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats give you those essential fatty acids to moisturize skin from within for better elasticity. Again, avocados will come to your rescue, as will seeds and nuts.

Get more omegas

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats that your body needs and can’t produce on its own. You can eat them in things like wild salmon, walnuts, brussels sprouts, or chia seeds.

Power up with phytoestrogens

From plants, these natural chemicals keep hormones in balance. There are different kinds — like isoflavones found in tofu and others in fruit, vegetables — and lignans found in whole grains.

Choose more zinc

Zinc also helps immune systems hum along, but for the skin, it trains your sebaceous glands to produce natural oils properly. Zinc can repair skin damage and help your skin stay soft and beautiful. You’ll get it by eating lean meat, seeds, nuts, shellfish, and whole grains.

Along with eating well, don’t skimp on your water intake. That helps your body digest all these healthy foods and gives your skin hydration to hold onto while you hold onto your youth!

Pro Tips for Shopping for Healthy Foods

Not that there’s a right or wrong way to grocery shop, but I’ve found a few tricks to help my grocery trip be the most successful over the years.

These tips help me to shop smart, get the healthiest foods available, and save money while doing so. Sure, you might avoid overly processed offerings or alter recipes to include what’s in season, but there are a few things you might be overlooking when you’re filling up your grocery cart.

These tips will help you tighten up your healthy eating track.

Buy Local

When you shop at your local supermarket, you might think that you’re getting foods from your local area. That’s not always the case, though, so check where things are packaged. You might live in Florida and find your strawberries or lettuce have been shipped all the way from California. To ensure you get the freshest produce, find your local farmer’s market or sign up for a CSA. You’ll also be supporting local farmers and your community while eating the tastiest produce available.

Don’t Buy Washed Greens

It might look more appealing in the packaging, but those bags of lettuce and spinach leave room for error. In fact, they’re the most common victims of listeria and E. coli outbreaks. Instead, buy a head of lettuce and wash it yourself.

Choose wild-caught, pasture-fed, and free-range whenever possible 

If you’re a meat-eater, it’s important to buy the healthiest version possible. Reach for organic, free of hormones and antibiotics.

Stock up on frozen items

You may think that frozen vegetables may not be as healthy as fresh vegetables, but this isn’t true. They’re often flash-frozen at the peak of freshness, and can still pack a nutritional punch into any meal you have on your menu for the week. These are great to have stashed away for the occasional busy night when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare dinner. I love to stock up on these when there is a Buy One Get One Free sale, which is quite often.

Avoid Long Ingredient Lists

As much as possible, avoid items with a long ingredient list. I try to stick to 6 or fewer ingredients, and anything that has more than that, I look for a better alternative.

Make a Plan Ahead of Time 

This might sound obvious, but don’t go shopping without a grocery list. It can sometimes be the most time-consuming part of the grocery shopping experience, but having a plan sets you up for the most successful grocery store run you can have.  This cuts down on excess items and extra spending, making sure you have the precise amount you’ll need for the week without having to run out and grab one more ingredient to prepare your dinner.

With these tips, you’ll be buying the best foods for you and your family in the smartest way possible. What is your typical grocery store experience like? Do you plan ahead, or wing it? Hit reply and let me know!

 

Best Ways to Store Your Produce to Keep it Fresh Longer

While lockdowns have lifted over a good bit of the country, many of us are still sticking to a once-weekly trip to the supermarket or farmer’s market. We buy a big bounty, and then before the household can make a dent in it, the bananas are browning. Yet, the grapes are still ready to eat.

Different fruits and vegetables have differing ripening processes. And what’s more, how you store them and which ones you put together have a massive impact on how quickly they ripen. Sure, those bananas were green a day ago, but if you want to keep them from overripening super-fast, you’ll need to know how to store them to get the best enjoyment.

It All Comes Down to Ethylene

Some fruits and vegetables produce a gas known as ethylene. This is what helps them ripen. But when you store these types with produce that is sensitive to ethylene, they can overripen quickly.

For certain fruits and vegetables, this natural phytohormone is all normal for the ripening process. In others, though, it causes them to spoil. So, which fruits and veggies produce ethylene?

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Cantaloupe
  • Green Onions
  • Kiwi
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Pears

Interestingly, those that are ethylene-sensitive yet produce it themselves are apples, bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, pears, and kiwis. That’s why these will do better on your kitchen countertop.

Other ethylene-sensitive produce items are:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Peaches
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Lemons and limes
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes

For the items that fall into both ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive, you can ripen them on the counter, but when they get to that perfect ripeness, put them in the fridge. That’s how to save your avocados for sure!

Most ethylene-sensitive foods should go into the fridge, but for those that produce ethylene, the counter is the best place. If you want your bananas to go from green to yellow so you can enjoy them perfectly ripe, you can put them in a paper bag. The same goes for that ultra-green avocado. The bag traps the gas and speeds up ripening. However, you don’t want to resort to paper bags for long-term storage, or else you’ll wind up with spoiled goods.

You can keep produce that isn’t ethylene-sensitive together on the counter. Pineapples, potatoes, garlic, cherries, and strawberries are just a few that will be fine in your fruit bowl to free up precious space inside the fridge.

Now that you know which fruits and vegetables play nicely together in terms of ethylene production or sensitivity, you’ll be able to keep them all fresher for longer. That means less food waste and fewer trips to the store, both of which have a profound effect on the environment, and not to mention your health.

And should you accidentally find yourself with overripe bananas or other fruits, there are many different ways to convert them into delicious goodies like banana bread or jam that will make the most of your bounty!

What are Nightshades and Are They Good for You?

Have you ever heard of nightshades?  To be honest, it’s a term I didn’t hear until recent years, so I completely understand if you haven’t heard of it yet.  These are simply a group of fruits and vegetables in the family of plants known as solanum. Plenty of rumors abound as to whether these shady garden growers are good or bad for you, but I’m here to give you the basic insight on what they are.

Which fruits and veggies fall into the nightshade category?

  • Tomatoes – You’ll get plenty of vitamins A and C plus lycopene, the antioxidant that can reduce inflammation markers and lower your risk for health issues.
  • Eggplants – With plenty of dietary fiber, eggplants keep things moving and could contribute to heart health.
  • Potatoes – Potatoes possess plenty of potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6, though the skin should be on to get the most out of them (just clean it vigorously!).
  • Peppers – All peppers have an abundance of vitamin C and can help you better absorb iron. In the case of chili peppers, the capsaicin they contain ironically may quell heartburn.

So, what about those rumors? They have largely to do with causing inflammation.  Everybody is different, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Nightshades contain alkaloids, which may affect those with certain conditions differently. The same goes for another compound they contain called solanine that can irritate arthritis pain, cause inflammation, or lead to digestive issues. It might be best for those with autoimmune diseases to eliminate them from their diets.

Those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may want to avoid them as well. Leaky gut sufferers may find eating these foods causes them more gastrointestinal distress. If you’ve been diagnosed with autoimmune disorders or IBD, you can try an elimination diet to avoid nightshades and see if that helps you feel better.

For those that can eat nightshades without aggravating health conditions, you’ll be treated to a diet rich in vitamins and minerals plus gobs of fiber. If you do find eliminating nightshades helps you feel better, and you don’t have any conditions you’re aware of, it might be time to visit your doctor to determine the root cause.

A lot of people can safely eat nightshades without consequence. For those that can’t, you can substitute potatoes for sweet potatoes, use pesto sauce rather than tomato sauce when making Italian dishes, eat citrus fruits, and fill your plate with leafy greens. Another way to lower alkaloid content in nightshades is to avoid green tomatoes, peel your potatoes completely, and cook them thoroughly before consuming.

How to Ditch Your Soda Habit

A soda habit is hard to kick. If they’re a part of your life, they’ve probably been a part of your life for a very long time. Any habit can be challenging to give up, but soda can be especially tricky, given its addictive nature.

If giving up soda has been on your mind lately, I want to assure you there’s a slow way to do it.  If you’re worried about caffeine withdrawal headaches, missing it too much, or just feeling nervous about a significant shift in your life — let’s work on it slowly. Baby steps often get us to our destination in a far more lasting way than trying it cold turkey.

I promise you’ll feel so much better when you start getting these artificial sweeteners and other ingredients out of your system — you’ll wonder what took you so long to ditch the soda habit.

One thing that helps is having a replacement, so here are a few alternatives to soda as you’re making your switch…

Fruit-infused water

If you crave something sweet, get a water bottle and some fresh fruit and put them together. You’ll stay hydrated, and it will taste sweet and refreshing. Plus, you get bonus vitamins from the fruit. Some of my favorite infused water recipes include strawberry and basil, watermelon and lime, and orange.

Flavored sparkling water

La Croix or one of the many other available brands can be lifesavers when you’re craving a fizzy soda. These may take some time to get used to when you’re switching from soda, but try to find a flavor you enjoy and stick with it until you develop a taste for it.  Once you do, you’ll wonder how you drank those sugary, syrupy sodas!

Black coffee

Coffee is best in moderation and best when you drink it without adding anything to it, but you can work your way there if necessary. Coffee is an excellent way to not go through caffeine withdrawals, so sip on a cup a day to keep the headaches at bay.  After a week or two, you could go to 1/2 caf, and work your way down to no caffeine (if this is something you’re striving for).

Unsweetened iced tea

There’s nothing like iced tea on a hot day. If you’re from the south, though, you may be looking at me sideways when I mention drinking it unsweetened. Add just a tad of stevia to it to sweeten it up without going into sugar overload. It’s fewer sugar additives than soda has, that’s for sure.

Herbal tea

Herbal teas served hot or cold can really perk up your taste buds while providing great health benefits. Green tea, chamomile, chai, peppermint, and others all have a wonderful flavor that will keep you from consuming excess sugar.

Start working a healthier beverage alternative into your lifestyle as you phase out your sodas, and you’ll find better success in the long run, not to mention better health!

Let’s Talk Portion Sizes + Balancing Your Meals

Appropriate portion size is one of the main ingredients in having a balanced relationship with food. Over time, our portion sizes have grown exponentially, and so have our health issues as a nation. What used to be a typical portion size when eating out is now considered a kids meal — but with some practice, getting your portion sizes in check is simple and rewarding.

There are a few tricks I like to use to make sure I’m not going overboard on portion sizes — I especially keep these in mind during the holiday season when we’re indulging a bit more. These tips don’t restrict what you eat but help you stay mindful about how you’re eating.

Serve yourself on smaller plates

One of the quickest ways to cut your portions down is to change your plating. I regularly use a salad plate as my main plate for meals — and filling a salad plate is more along the lines of a healthy portion. This also tricks your eyes, since you’re filling the whole smaller plate instead of using a large dinner plate and leaving a good bit of white space.

Know which foods get more real estate on your plate

In addition to eating larger portions than we should in general, we’re often allocating more space for the wrong things. Your vegetables or salad ideally will take up half your plate. Your protein of choice can allocate for a quarter of your plate, and any complex carbs can fill the other quarter.

Read labels

While eating whole, fresh foods is always best, there are times when we use sauces, dressings, and pantry staples to prepare our meals. If you make a habit of reading the labels, you’ll know how much is in each serving to avoid those serving-size traps.  I like to stay mindful of this when using packaged items to supplement my meals.

Don’t forget to stay mindful when you dine out

It’s nice to get takeout sometimes or go out to dinner with people you adore. However, the meals you get in restaurants tend to be double the size or even more than a reasonable portion. You have a few options here. If you’re ordering takeout for yourself, ask the restaurant to split the portion and enjoy the rest the next day. You can also split an entrée with someone else, or order an appetizer and small salad as your meal.  For me personally, I find that picking a delicious appetizer with a small side salad does the trick perfectly.

If you still feel hungry, make sure you’re keeping your hydration in check. That’s another reason why we tend to overeat. When you look for ways to keep portions to their true sizes and eat the right kinds of foods, you will start seeing the results you’ve been working towards.

 

Simple Tips for a Robust Immune System

Nobody likes getting sick, but we don’t ever think much about it until we finally feel it coming. Then we find ourselves suddenly stocking up on vitamin C and drinking herbal tea, trying all the home remedy tricks we learned from our grandmothers. However, the best way to fight off illnesses is to prevent them in the first place, by doing simple things each day that boost the immune system.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep each night is so essential for a healthy immune system. Try to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sound sleep each night, which may take some practice to build up to. Studies have shown that lack of sleep significantly weakens the immune system. If you have trouble falling asleep, set up a good nightly routine to relax and prepare for sleep. Put your screens away at least an hour before bed or get some blue light protecting glasses.

Eat Your Antioxidants

Our bodies need the right fuel to fight off infections. Antioxidants clear out free radicals from the body, which can otherwise cause inflammation and weaken the immune system. Vitamins A, C, and E are rich in antioxidants and can help regulate the immune response. Make sure you’re eating your vegetables and fruits to get these essential micronutrients, and if you can’t get enough through your diet, consider taking a high-quality multivitamin.

Stop Stressing

Stress not only affects your mental well-being, but it also takes an enormous toll on your physical health. While acute stress is sometimes useful for those short bursts of adrenaline, most of us are dealing with chronic stress. This wreaks havoc on your body and can lead to adrenal fatigue, chronic low-grade inflammation, and a weakened immune system. If you’re feeling stressed out, try getting to the root of the problem and fixing that. Take some time to relax and unwind after a stressful day so that your body can recover.

Exercise, But Not Too Intensely

Exercise is so vital for overall health, but it specifically benefits the immune system by promoting helping to circulate your immune cells throughout the body.  It also lowers inflammation and reduces stress levels, which is key for a robust immune system. However, some studies have found that overly intense exercise, especially without enough recovery time, can have adverse effects on your immune health. So, exercise, but give your body enough time to recover as well.

Practice Good Hygiene

While it is essential to have a strong immune system that can fight off infections, the best way to protect yourself is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face if you haven’t. If you’re out and aren’t able to wash your hands, use sanitizer or a hand wipe.

This is an interesting time we’re living in, and boosting the immune system is at the top of everyone’s priority list. Along with these daily tasks, eating as many plants as possible will give you the strong immune system you’re longing for. Load up on veggies, drink copious amounts of fresh water, and lessen the load of environmental toxins.  Make time for things that make you happy, nourish your relationships, and make sure you feel connected. There are so many things that come together to create a robust immune system.