This story was originally published online on March 28, 2018.
In The Beauty Chef: Delicious Food for Radiant Skin, Gut Health and Wellbeing (Raincoast), bestselling author Carla Oates promotes good gut health for “a clearer, more radiant complexion and general wellbeing.”
In addition to fermented foods, pre- and probiotics, Oates includes ‘beauty nutrients’ in the book’s 150-plus recipes. They include pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) – protects against wrinkles; vitamin K2 – helps prevent premature aging; and silica, essential in forming skin-firming collagen. Try the following recipes featuring sources of silica including leeks, chickpeas, asparagus and cherries.
1. Green Minestrone (pictured above)
I love a traditional tomato-based minestrone, but this is a gentle and nourishing alternative,with cleansing and alkalising properties. Green veggies boost glutathione, oxygenate the blood and support the liver. Substitute the stock for chicken stock to enhance the restorative properties of this soup.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 sticks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small head broccoli, broken into small florets and stalk diced
1 zucchini (courgette), diced
6 cups (1.5 litres/51 fl oz) vegetable broth (recipe below)
150 g (5 ½ oz) green beans, trimmed and halved crossways
3 large stems kale, deveined and coarsely chopped
1 cup (140 g/5 oz) fresh or frozen peas
2 large handfuls flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
1 large handful mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 large handful basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook the leek, celery and garlic until softened. Add the broccoli and zucchini and stir to combine. Pour in the broth and bring to the boil. Decrease the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. Add the kale, peas, parsley, mint, basil and lemon zest and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the peas are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.
Makes approximately 8 cups (2 L litres/68 fl oz)
Made from prebiotics (onion, leek and garlic) and anti-inflammatory spices,
the addition of mushroom offers a boost of vitamin D, which helps support the immune system, increase calcium absorption and adds a lovely depth of flavour.
1 large leek, coarsely chopped
3 sticks celery, plus leaves, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, skin on, quartered
1 large carrot, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
125 g (4 ½ oz) button mushrooms
1 small bulb garlic, broken apart but unpeeled
10 cm (4 in) knob of turmeric, coarsely chopped
5 cm (2 in) knob of ginger, coarsely chopped
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (unpasteurised)
6 sprigs flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
5 sprigs thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
10 cups (2.5 litres/85 fl oz) cold water
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the leek, celery, onion, carrot, mushrooms, tomato, garlic, turmeric and ginger in a roasting tin. Drizzle generously with oil. Roast for 30 minutes, or until browned and slightly blackened. Transfer the roasted vegetable mixture into a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil over high heat. Decrease the heat and simmer undisturbed for 2 hours. Line a large sieve or colander with a double layer of muslin (cheesecloth). Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Use as required.
2. Grilled Sardines With Fennel, Asparagus and Olive Salad
1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) large whole fresh sardines (approx 16–20)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fennel, Asparagus and Olive Salad
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 bunches asparagus
¼ cup (90 g/3 oz) pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
1 large handful dill fronds, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 long red chilli, coarsely chopped, seeds in
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare the salad, using a mandoline or peeler, very thinly slice the fennel into lengthways strips. Place in a medium bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice and toss to coat. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and discard. Cut the asparagus stalks in half crossways. Depending on their thickness, cut in half or quarters lengthways, to make thin sticks. Blanch the asparagus for 10 seconds, or until just tender. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain. Add the asparagus and remaining ingredients to the fennel and toss to combine.
To prepare the chilli oil, combine the chilli and oil in a small bowl and set aside.
Rinse the sardines under cold running water to remove any remaining scales. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat a chargrill pan over medium–high heat. Drizzle the sardines with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the sardines for 2–3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and just cooked through.Arrange the salad on serving plates, top with sardines and drizzle with chilli oil.
3. Warm Cauliflower Couscous Salad With Roasted Roots, Hazelnuts and Crispy Spiced Chickpeas
Cauliflower makes a great base in place of grains. According to traditional Chinese medicine, root veggies are very balancing to your chi (vital energy), especially in winter.
400 g (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
2 tbsp coconut oil, warmed
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp Himalayan salt
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm (¾ in) chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 2 cm (¾ in) chunks
1 beetroot (beet), peeled and cut into 2 cm (¾ in) chunks
¼ cup (40 g/1½ oz) hazelnuts
1 (600–800 g/1 lb 5 oz–1 lb 12 oz) cauliflower, trimmed and broken into chunks
1/3 cup (80 ml/2½ fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large handfuls coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Himalayan salt, to taste
Micro herbs, to garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Spread the chickpeas onto a small baking tray (baking sheet). Drizzle with a little of the coconut oil. Combine the cumin, turmeric, coriander and salt in a small bowl. Scatter the spice mix over the chickpeas and toss to coat. Roast, shaking the tray occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Place the sweet potato, parsnip and beetroot on a large baking tray. Drizzle with coconut oil and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.
Roast the hazelnuts on a separate baking tray for 5–7 minutes, until the skins begin to peel away and the nut is golden. Set aside to cool slightly. Wrap the hazelnuts up in a clean piece of kitchen paper and rub together to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the nuts.
Place the cauliflower in a food processor and blend to finely chop into couscous-sized grains.
Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the cauliflower, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, roasted root vegetables, hazelnuts and coriander and toss to combine.
Mix the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and garlic together in a small bowl. Pour over the cauliflower couscous and toss to coat. Season with salt. Garnish with micro herbs, if desired.
* You can soak and cook your own chickpeas if preferred.
4. Cherry and Almond Clafoutis
While you can make this French classic with a number of fruits, I love to make it with cherries when they are in season. Sweet and succulent, cherries are sublime and promote healthy cells as well as beauty sleep, as they contain melatonin. Lovely.
Coconut oil or ghee, for greasing
350 g (12½ oz) pitted fresh or frozen cherries
1 cup (250 ml/8½ fl oz) coconut milk
4 large eggs
1/3 cup (30 g/1 oz) almond meal
¼ cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla bean powder*
2 tbsp flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Lightly grease a 23 cm (9 in) ceramic tart (flan) dish with coconut oil or ghee. Scatter the cherries over the bottom of the dish. Combine the coconut milk, eggs, almond meal, maple syrup and vanilla in a blender and process, until smooth. Pour over the cherries. Scatter with flaked almonds. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and set. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
* Available from health food stores.
Excerpted from The Beauty Chef by Carla Oates. Copyright 2017. Excerpted with permission from the publisher Hardie Grant Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.