I have been inspired by a friend of mine that is an actor, a writer and mother to write about food as medicine. It was going to come up soon anyway! My friend has a child that suffers from eczema. I actually have many friends whose children suffer from this condition. I know adults with it, too. Before I go on I think it's important to note that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I am simply a proponent of healthy eating and believe in the many beneficial "side effects" of proper nutrition! Always seek the care of a doctor if the situation calls for it.
So, on to eating for health. It is the current understanding of my native folks to seriously limit sugar intake. Also, when possible, eat local and with the seasons as this is nature's way of giving you what you need, when you need it. Today, specifically, we will be tackling skin health. I have done some research and have come up with a few recipes and tips to help your skin heal. The first is an alternative to bone broth which is said to heal skin issues partly due to its rich mineral content. You can choose to add or subtract things from this recipe and you will still find it satisfying and healing. Here is a recipe mineral-rich vegan soup that is sure to please your palate, as well!
Mineral-Rich Vegan Soup*:
*Note - If you are like me and like to have homemade beans as a staple in your house, great! Just add two cups to the soup. Otherwise...
1 can of rinsed beans (chef's choice)
3 potatoes, diced (skin on preferably!)
3 cups veggie or mushroom broth
1 small onion, diced
2 cups water
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 cup of chopped spinach (tightly packed)
1 cup of medium chopped broccoli
1 cup of finely chopped cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat; cook and stir in the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until they are clear and soft. Add in broccoli and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often.
Pour in the broth and water. Add potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender (approximately 20 minutes). Add the beans and the rest of your ingredients. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
Pro Tips: I didn't add any real seasonings to this recipe but it should be full of flavor! Feel free to add herbs and seasoning to your tastes! Also, I highly recommend making as much of this soup organic as possible. The health benefits can diminish significantly when pesticides, insecticides and gmos are in the mix. Also, if eating something that costs fifty cents more can save you an expensive doctor visit in the future, it's probably worth it!
"But my kid won't eat veggie soup!", you say. Well, say no more because I also have a complimentary smoothie recipe! This recipe focuses on vitamins that are vital to skin health. As with the soup recipe, ingredients can be added or removed and you should still receive the overall health benefits of this yummy treat!
Vitamin-rich Tropical Smoothie:
1/2 large apple, diced
1/3 cup diced pineapple (fresh or in its own juice)
1/2 cup fresh, diced papaya
1/3 shredded beets
1/2 cup blueberries and/or cherries (fresh or frozen)
2/3 cup coconut yogurt
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and/or chia seed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts.
Add all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
Pro Tip: Put a little bit of the berries, walnuts and/or seeds aside to sprinkle on as topping(s). Feel free to add ice and/or banana when blending your smoothie, it's good either way!
Other foods for skin health:
Avocado (my favorite!)
Foods to avoid:
Traditional Herbal Medicines for Eczema: Garlic, Goldenseal, Plantain, Dandelion. Sassafras, Puffball, Black Walnut, Slippery Elm, Shepherds Purse, Yarrow, Sumac, Spleenwort Fern and Serviceberry. Most of these, like goldenseal, would be in a poultice or a tea and placed directly on the inflamed area. An additional natural medicine is a small piece of absorbent cloth, like flannel, that can be soaked in castor oil and applied to the area in need.
Final Pro Tip: Make health a family affair! Have the kids break up cruciferous veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower, and some sweet peppers. Then mash some avocados for some family-style guacamole. Finely diced kale can be folded in for some added health benefits. Use cut veggies as guacamole dippers and enjoy!