January 21, 2012

Skin Beauty Salad

I never really used to worry about my skin health back in Finland. There was hardly any need to be concerned about sun damage, I didn’t have bad acne or other skin conditions and I was getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well. When I moved to Australia, I was surprised how many people were complementing me on my skin. No one had ever said anything about it to me before and I had just taken good skin for granted.

After 6 years in Australia, however, my skin has clearly changed. Not just because I’ve aged (obviously), but also because it’s hard to avoid the harsh Australian sun. Even though I don't sun bake, I do all my exercise outdoors and thus spend quite a bit of time in the sun. I do use sunscreen (there are some great non-toxic creams available!), wear protective clothing and try to avoid staying in the sun for long periods between 11am and 4pm. I also get my skin checked regularly for any suspicious spots. Equally important, I take care of my skin by eating well.

Karen Fischer, skin beauty queen and author of ‘The Healthy Skin Diet’, recommends increasing the amount of alkalising foods in your diet to promote healthy skin. These could include salads, cooked and raw vegetables, avocado, almonds, fresh lemon or lime and apple cider vinegar. Excess acidity in the body can cause a variety of skin problems and result in a dull complexion.

Moisturising foods, especially those containing valuable omega-3 fats, are essential to your skin’s well-being. For vegetarians and vegans, foods rich in omega-3 include flaxseed, walnuts, soy beans and tofu. Other important foods to include in your diet include avocados, a variety of seeds (pepitas, sunflower, hemp), nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts), good oils (flaxseed, walnut, coconut) and leafy greens.

This beauty salad combines many of those ingredients vital for good skin health. Tahini dressing coats the chickpeas and the baby spinach leaves, and grilled zucchini and diced avocado bring extra creaminess to the dish. I also added some soaked almonds for an extra layer of texture. Delicious!

Skin Beauty Salad
(serves 2)

230g cooked chickpeas (or use 1 tin)
2 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/2 avocado, diced
1 small handful of almonds, soaked in water overnight
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 cm disks
olive oil, for brushing
2 tablespoons unhulled tahini (or use this recipe)
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch of salt
1 small garlic clove
freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and grill on a pan for a couple of minutes on each side. Set aside.

2. Combine tahini, lemon juice and grated garlic in a small bowl. Add enough water to form a smooth, runny dressing. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and coat them with the tahini dressing. 

4. Place the baby spinach leaves in serving bowls, top with tahini coated chickpeas, diced avocado and the zucchini slices. Sprinkle with soaked almonds (or seeds of choice).