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Rene's Skin Smoothie

By: Rene Maserati

 

A skin-loving smoothie to start your day!  Packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this smoothie will keep your skin glowing, and your body fueled and ready for anything.  What a great way to get in almost 3 cups of vegetables before heading out the door in the morning!





Skin-Loving Smoothie

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes Makes: 1 large serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kale, chopped

  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

  • ½ cup canned organic pumpkin puree

  • ½ small banana

  • ½ avocado, chopped

  • ½ -1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

  • 1 scoop protein powder

  • 1/2-1 cup plain unsweetened Greek yogurt (or unsweetened yogurt of choice)

  • ½ cup coconut milk (or milk of choice or water)


Directions:

  • Micro-steam or stovetop steam carrot and kale. For microwave- place kale and carrot in microwave safe bowl. Add ~1/4 cup water. Cover with damp paper towel or small plate and microwave for 2 minutes. Carefully strain. Rinse with cool water to cool down before adding to blender. For stovetop steam- place kale and carrot in metal mesh strainer over boiling pot of water and steam for 2-3 minutes. Carefully strain. Rinse with cool water. You could also use frozen kale and carrots instead of fresh.

  • Add ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add more milk to get the blender going.




What makes this smoothie “Skin-Loving”? Let’s dive in…

Protein-

Our bodies need this important macronutrient to provide the building blocks for skin proteins like collagen and elastin, hair, and nail proteins like keratin, and to help our skin heal quicker.

Protein is found in most foods, with beef, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs being the most abundant and complete forms. But no worries if meat is not an option. Vegetables, nuts, and seeds are also sources of protein; however, they are incomplete ones, meaning they do not contain all the essential amino acids. A complete amino acid profile can be achieved by strategically pairing different sources of plant proteins.

Eating a protein-rich meal helps to keep you feeling fuller longer and your skin looking and feeling healthy. It’s recommended to get 20-30 grams of protein each meal. 1 serving of protein is about the size of your palm. Aim for 1-2 palms for each meal and you should be good to go!

  • Complete sources of protein in this smoothie include plain unsweetened Greek yogurt and a protein powder.

Carotenoids-

Carotenoids are plant pigments found in fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, mangoes, and papaya. A well-known provitamin A carotenoid, β-carotene, helps protect the skin from UV damage from too much sun, and is a powerful free radical scavenger, helping to reduce the effects of fine lines and pigmentation1.  Provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A in the intestine.

While Β-carotene is probably the most well-known carotenoid, it isn’t the only super star in the carotenoid family. Zeaxanthin and lutein are non-provitamin A carotenoids meaning they don’t get converted to vitamin A in the body, but they do have other important tasks. They give the skin a healthy boost by reducing inflammation, acting as a UV absorber, shielding the skin from sun damage, and neutralize free radicals. They also increase collagen production by stimulating fibroblasts in skin cells, keeping the skin looking youthful and firm, and help to maintain moisture by slowing the breakdown of fatty acids that keep the skin’s lipid barrier healthy2.

  • Sources of carotenoids in this smoothie include carrot, pumpkin, kale, and parsley.


Prebiotics-

I can’t present a skin-loving smoothie recipe without talking about gut health, which was one of my main focuses when I was working at UMass Medical School at The Center for Applied Nutrition. Research on the gut microbiome has blown up in recent years and there is no doubt those little bugs residing in the intestines have a big impact on every part of the body, including the skin. Acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea have been linked to gut dysbiosis (an imbalance between beneficial and not-so-beneficial bacteria)3.

Bananas contain inulin and resistant starch, prebiotics that are digested via fermentation by bacteria in the large intestine. These happy and well-fed bacteria then produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which in turn benefit us by reducing inflammation in the gut and the skin. SCFA’s have been shown to reduce inflammation from acne, improve skin barrier function, and help calm hives, eczema, and psoriasis flares4.

  • Sources of prebiotics in this smoothie include banana.

Healthy Fats-

Dietary fat often gets a bad rap, but this essential macronutrient is necessary for optimal health. Fat helps aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which in turn help protect the skin from photo-aging, skin cancer and inflammation5.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with a higher intake of healthy dietary fats had fewer fine lines and firmer skin. Healthy dietary fats include monounsaturated fats like those found in avocado, olive oil, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in foods like flaxseed, hemp seed, chia seed, walnuts and cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce skin roughness, decrease trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), lower inflammation and improve wound healing and skin hydration6.

  • Sources of healthy fats in this smoothie include avocado and ground flaxseed.

A Superstar Spice-

Zingiber Officinale (aka ginger) has been used for centuries in China, India and Ayurvedic traditional medicines for its bevy of therapeutic uses. Not only does this warming and spicy rhizome pack a flavor punch to any dish, it also is a potent anti-inflammatory, free radical fighting, anti-tumor, neuroprotective, anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-mimetic (helps with nausea), anti-diabetic superstar. When it comes to healthy aging, ginger has you covered. When it comes to healthy skin, ginger has been shown to prevent the breakdown of elastin in the skin due to UV-B damage, helping to reduce the occurrence of wrinkles, laxity, and loss of elasticity7.

  • Source of superstar spice in this smoothie is ginger.



Other things worth mentioning-

Chew your smoothie! Or at least eat it with a spoon. Chewing produces saliva which contains digestive enzymes that help begin the digestive process so when the food makes its next stop in the stomach it will have an easier time getting further broken down. Chewing also sets off the digestive cascade, alerting the stomach and pancreas (Incoming!) to start producing digestive enzymes.

Why steam the kale and carrot? Steaming the kale and carrot helps the body break it down more easily so it can access the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raw kale and other leafy greens also contain oxalic acid, an antinutrient that binds with calcium, decreasing its absorption in the gut.




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