Summer skin smoothie

The weather over the last few days has been beautifully sunny and warm, the perfect temperature for enjoying summer food offerings like this gorgeous pink watermelon that I ordered with my veg box last week.

I always associate watermelon with hot weather; maybe it’s just because I ate so much when we were in India! 92% water, it’s really rehydrating on a steamy hot day. The fantastic nutrients found in its gorgeously crisp flesh help to minimise the damage caused by too much sun, as getting the right amount for us Brits is a tricky thing!

The majority of vitamin D that circulates in the body is created through the skin being exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D is not only essential for strong bones and teeth, but also supports the immune system and low levels can lead to a whole array of health problems ranging from asthma to multiple sclerosis. So we really need to get outside and catch some rays. Too much sunshine though can lead to skin damage and potentially skin cancer.

Our weather in the UK is so unpredictable getting regular sun exposure can be difficult. So when the sun does come out, it’s tempting  to expose lily white skin a bit too long and burn – that’s where the damage occurs. Fortunately, food like watermelon can help.

As well as rehydrating the skin, watermelon is packed with vitamin C and betacarotene that act as anti-oxidants, mopping up damaging free radicals created by the damaging rays. It also has large amounts of lycopene that also helps reduce inflammation and can help protect the skin from lasting damage – marvellous!

Apart from just eating it as a chunk, watermelon is delicious in salad (see this old blog post http://thesensitivefoodiekitchen.com/wonderful-watermelon/) and also works as a fantastic base to green smoothies, making it completely dairy free and plant based.

To add in some extra anti-inflammatory power (as well as awesome flavour) I’ve blended ginger and turmeric into this spinach and watermelon smoothie, and added a good squeeze of lime to help absorption of the vitamin C.

Both ginger and turmeric have amazing medicinal properties. Ginger is thought to help with digestive issues, reduce pain from muscle soreness to arthritis to migraine and also help stabilise blood sugars. Turmeric is being hailed as a wonder spice, a surprise to the western world but not to anyone hailing from India where it’s amazing properties have been used for thousands of years. It’s not only anti-septic but also helps reduce all sorts of inflammation in the body. There is so much to say about turmeric it needs it’s own blog post (and more!) but for now it’s a good idea to include some in your diet every day.

So as we bask in possibly the last of the summer sun, why not try this super healthy smoothie and give your skin a super summer treat.

Summer skin soother smoothie

A couple of handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1 quarter chunk watermelon (from a small one) chopped
2 cm chunk fresh ginger chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric or 1 cm chunk of fresh turmeric chopped
juice of 1 lime

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink straight away.

Green smoothie and blue skies

The spring weather is just beautiful. Blue skies, birds tweeting, bluebells in the woods and new life sprouting out everywhere. I’m so fortunate to live near the countryside, but pretty close to town as well. It takes only a couple of minutes to be out in the fields and woods.

I used to go to the gym to exercise, but have gone right off it now. In India, there wasn’t really an option, as it was either too hot outside or too chaotic and polluted on the crazy roads. Since coming back, though, I’ve just not wanted to go back inside. Maybe it’s just my ‘hippy tendencies’ that make me want to convene with nature, but there’s so much more than just burning calories by exercising outside.

For a start, it’s visually stimulating – I get to see real life rather than garbage on a TV screen or someone elses backside (sometimes a good view!). I catch snippets of conversations, people deep in discussion, men at work – all carry my imagination off in random directions piecing together what their story might be. Then there’s the “morning” calls and “beautiful day for it” comments from dog walkers and fellow runners – as humans we need to interact; it helps us realise we’re not alone.

And then there’s trees. Maybe I lived deep in a forest in a previous life, but I find trees so soothing. Nurtured by nature; I always feel so good once I’ve been out through some woods, even if there is still lots of mud to navigate.

Research studies have concluded that exercising outside is really beneficial to our mental and physical well being – trials show that people feel more revitalised, positively engaged and have increased energy as well as have reduced levels of anger, confusion, tension and depression.   Mother nature provides once again.

As I was beginning to struggle near the end of my run today, I remembered an article I read earlier in the week about this incredible guy called Scott Jurek (http://scottjurek.com). He’s an ultra-marathon champion who does crazy things like run 165 miles in one day. Made my 10km look more than pathetic! Why this stuck in my mind is that he’s a vegan, eating a plant based whole food diet – 5000 calories a day of it when training hard (that’s a lot of beans!).  So much for vegans being fey and wimpy (although don’t think anyone would say that to Serena Williams’ face!).

Once back home, I needed some instant energy, especially as I had gone out early before breakfast and run further than I meant to. So I whizzed up this green smoothie; it definitely hit the spot. Spinach is packed full of beta-carotenes, folate, manganese, magnesium, iron and a whole range of other B vitamins, to name a few. I added the lemon juice to help the absorption of these goodies in the gut. Flaxseed is a fabulous plant source of omega 3 fats as well as protein to help cells repair and cinnamon is a great anti-inflammatory, so should help with some of the inevitable post run aches. On top of all that, it just tastes great, and as everything is all whizzed up and broken down, starts getting absorbed and hitting the spot pretty quickly.

Next time, I’m going to drink this before I go out for my run!

Running green smoothie
1 banana
200mls almond milk
couple handfuls baby spinach
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
squeeze lemon juice
Bung all the ingredients into your blender and whizz until all the spinach is fully broken down and blended into a vibrant green. Dairy free and delicious – enjoy!