For the longest time I had cystic acne. To paint a bit of a picture, my face had large inflamed red bumps that you couldn’t just squeeze like a pimple. They ran deep into the skin and were extremely painful.
Like many acne sufferers, it was a socially crippling experience and I took extreme measures to try and fix it. I spent a lot of money on cleansers, facial scrubs and oil-free moisturisers that claimed to clear up my skin. I also endured regular facials that involved tear-jerking extractions.
And, perhaps the worst thing you could do with acne, I slathered my face with all types of liquid foundations (which I now know contain lots of chemicals and pore-clogging ingredients) to disguise my hideous skin condition – only to exacerbate the problem even further.
But in my quest to find the ultimate bottled cure for blemished skin, it never occurred to me to look into what I was eating that could have been contributing to the problem.
After cutting out many processed foods and eating healthier, I gradually saw a difference. I’ve finally come to learn that our skin is a reflection of what’s going on internally, and if you’re feeding and nourishing your body well, it’ll show on the outside.
I wish I’d known about the link between food and skin earlier, which is why I’m compelled to share Lee Holmes’ message that you can eat for beautiful skin, the premise of her new book Eat Yourself Beautiful.
In excitement of its launch, I picked Lee’s brain for her top foods for gorgeous skin. It’s a great list because they’re inexpensive and you don’t have to search far and wide to find them. All you need to do is go to your local supermarket and dose up on these anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich natural wonders:
High in omega-3 fatty acids, they contain almost no mercury and are loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. The omega-3 fats – the ultimate anti-ageing nutrient – plus loads of vitamin D and selenium, promote healthy hair, skin, nails and bones.
Spinach is a powerful anti-inflammatory food, loaded with many phytonutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins K, C and E, folate, iron and carotenoids.
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, which helps plump up the skin for a youthful glow.
They contain high-quality proteins, essential minerals and every vitamin except C. Eggs are also a source of vitamin E, which protects against free radicals.
Rich in magnesium and vitamin C, it’s one of the most powerful beauty-boosting foods available. The vitamin A it contains plays a major role in detoxification; it’s responsible for the growth of new skin cells, replacing the old dead ones with new ones.
Skin-soothing and moisturising, avocados are rich in healthy fats and vitamin E which help promote healthy, new skin.
“You don’t have to pay squillions of dollars for a daily supply of collagen drinks to have beautiful skin and look ageless. An inexpensive bunch of organic spinach is packed with enough collagen to boost new skin cells, plump up lips, keep skin firm and provide lustrous shiny hair, bright eyes and strong nails.” – Lee Holmes
Lee’s Raspberry-Studded Pumpkin Pie
A comforting dish bursting with pumpkin, warming spices and hints of vanilla on a crunchy nut base. The raspberries add a sublime luxuriousness with every mouthful.
Coconut oil, or unsalted butter, for greasing
2/3 cup raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
6 drops stevia liquid, or 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2–3 tablespoons coconut oil
600 g pumpkin (winter squash) or sweet potato, steamed and cooled
1 tablespoon almond milk
2 large organic eggs, beaten
6 drops stevia liquid
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
About 20 raspberries
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5) and lightly grease a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake tin or pie dish.
2. Combine all the base ingredients in a food processor, adding the coconut oil last, and process for about 15 seconds or until crunchy.
3. Remove the dough and, using your hands, press it evenly into the prepared tin, packing it slightly around the edges to make a crust. Bake blind for 10–15 minutes or until the base is firm and lightly golden in colour.
4. To make the topping, combine all the ingredients, except the raspberries, in a large bowl and mash with a fork until smooth.
5. Spoon the topping over the base and stud with the raspberries. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
6. This is delicious served either warm or chilled. It will keep for 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.