Skin-Loving Smoothies

 

smoothie picSmoothies are the ultimate convenience food – easy to make, portable and, usually, quite nutritious. But not all smoothies are created equal when it comes to our skin health, with some high in sugar and other potentially inflammatory ingredients.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to add skin-loving ingredients in our smoothies and skip the stuff that isn’t so great. Here are some ideas:

 

Add Vitamins
Vitamins A, C and E are the holy trinity of skincare vitamins, thanks to their ability to fight the free radicals that contribute to premature aging and other skin damage. Adding foods which contain these to your smoothies is one of the easiest ways to get healthy, glowing skin.

  • Vitamin A: Foods rich in carotenoids which the body converts to vitamin A include dark leafy greens, carrots and some tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and melon. Go easy on the latter as they can be high in sugar.
  • Vitamin C: Choose kiwifruit or dark berries for a low-sugar option, dark leafy greens, or a whole organic lemon; leaving the skin on for the maximum vitamin hit.
  • Vitamin E: Excellent sources of this skin-loving vitamin to add to your smoothie include almond butter, avocado, sunflower seeds and, again, those dark leafy greens.

Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is an excellent inflammation-fighter and inflammation is linked to many skin problems from redness to sensitivity and premature aging. Add these “good fats” to your smoothie with a sprinkle of flaxseeds or a glug of quality flaxseed oil, some blended walnuts or a handful of chia seeds.

Find a Skin-Loving Substitute
The all-important texture of your smoothie is often down to any liquid and thickening ingredients you add. Some of these, like fresh juice, milk and sugary fruits like bananas are okay in small amounts, but are easy to overdo when it comes to a guzzling a delicious smoothie! Try using filtered water or coconut water instead of juice, homemade almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and oats or chia seeds for the thickening effect of banana. All these will add to the skincare benefits of your smoothie.

Skip the Sweetener
Smoothies with a fruit element often don’t need added sweeteners like honey. Try leaving them out and train your tastebuds to adapt! If you do need a little bit of sweetness, add a medjool date to the blender. These do contain natural sugar but they have lots of other nutrients too.

Make Your Own Creamy Nut Milk

AlmondsHomemade nut milk is nothing like the watery, preservative-laden stuff most people know from the supermarket shelves. It’s creamy, delicious and much better for us as it leaves out the fillers and packs in the nutrients.

Any nuts can be used, but almonds are a great place to start. Macadamias, hazelnuts and brazil nuts are nice too, just make sure they are raw, unsalted and organic if possible.

Homemade nut milk is very easy to make, and only requires a blender and fine sieve or muslin cloth. There are four simple steps to follow:

  1. Soak: Soak the nuts overnight in filtered water to make them easier to digest.
  2. Rinse: Rinse with fresh water.
  3. Blend: Blend the nuts with the same volume of fresh filtered water (i.e. if you used 1 cup of almonds, blend first with 1 cup of water.) Then add the same amount of water again, along with any other flavour additions you want to make, and blend further. Blending in two stages ensures the nuts are well crushed.
  4. Strain: Strain the mixture into a jar through a fine sieve or muslin cloth. Squeeze as much water out as you can.

 

*Adding a dash of maple syrup or natural sweetener, vanilla and a pinch of salt will enhance the flavour of your milk.

**Homemade nut milk will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Just give it a shake before serving.

 

Not Your Average Christmas Gift Guide

Xmas Gift Guide FlowersHave you ever been stuck at the mall on Christmas Eve frantically buying gifts you’re not completely happy with? Or been on the receiving end of an unsuitable gift that you wish you hadn’t been bought?

While Christmas is a joyful occasion, gift giving can also be stressful and wasteful. Here are some ideas for gifts that are easy to give and are sure to be gratefully received.

  • Food delivery subscriptions

From small local co-ops to slick larger scale operations, having delicious fresh food delivered to you door is both a treat and a time-saver. If the person you’re buying for loves trying new recipes My Food Bag has legions of fans. If they’re interested in organic produce but don’t have the space or time to grown their own, services like Vege Box offer a range of different fruit and vegetable boxes for different needs. Or, if buying locally made goods that support the community is important, Ooooby has a range of locally grown produce and other artisan grocery items.

  • Complete meal deliveries

If you want to go one step further and give the recipient time off from cooking altogether, there are some excellent meal delivery services around. Angel Delivery will deliver anything from a deluxe three-course meal with appetisers to a whole week’s worth of chilled and frozen dinners and lunches almost anywhere in New Zealand. Or, if the recipient loves healthy, nutritious raw and organic food, Little Bird Organics offers one, three or five day meal plans and cleanses that can be picked up or delivered around the Auckland area.

  • A flower subscription

What could be better than receiving a new bunch of flowers on the doorstep every month or week? Many florists offer subscription services that can be tailored to suit. Christchurch’s Charmed Flowers deliver buckets of fresh, seasonal blooms for people who like to arrange their own or Bloom Social offers beautiful bouquets – and a scented candle subscription service too!

  • Your time

An inexpensive option that’s just as rewarding is to offer your services to someone who needs them. Help them build a vege patch, set up a simple website or Facebook page, mow their lawns for a couple of months or look after their kids for an evening while they go out for dinner. Helping others in these ways is something we often mean to do but our busy lives get in the way. But if it’s a Christmas gift, it’s a promise you have to deliver on!

Starting A Veggie Garden

image1-18If you’ve always fancied growing your own vegetables, now is the perfect time to get started.

Mid-late spring is the traditional time for growing things like tomatoes, beans, zucchinis, cucumbers and capsicums, along with greens and herbs.

Here are a few tips for first-time gardeners:

  • Start small. Begin by growing a selection of easy-care vegetables that mature quickly. With your first successful harvest, you’ll be hooked.
  • The basic requirements are sunlight, soil and water. With sunlight, generally the more the better. Most soil will support vegetables with a little organic compost mixed in, although heavy clay will require mulch or sand to be added to encourage drainage and aeration. And vegetables like plenty of water. They prefer to have good soak and then be allowed to dry out a little, rather than have more frequent light watering.
  • If space is an issue, plant containers of your favourite mixed salad greens, herbs and cherry tomatoes for an instant and delicious summer salad.
  • Some plants also require support to grow, like beans and tomatoes. Vertical planting is a great space saver too.
  • Don’t plant everything in one weekend or it will be ready all at once. Spread the planting out over several weeks and you’ll have a continuous, even supply.
  • If you can, plant your veges in raised beds. They are easier to look after and mean the plants can access layers of nutrient rich soil much easier.
  • And at some stage you’ll probably have to think about controlling snails, slugs and insects like aphids and white fly. There are lots of options to deal with these, but don’t immediately reach for the toxic chemicals at the garden centre. Try deterrents such as copper strips or gritty eggshells around the stems of plants for slugs and snails, and homemade insect sprays with chilli and garlic for insects. And don’t rush to fix the first sighting of a pest – healthy plants can cope with being nibbled at here and there.