Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

I’ve been getting some pushback from blog visitors who are getting annoyed with the price tag on the  products and techniques I am recommending– and they’re right.

This is no time to throw money around.  To lower  overall beauty costs, effective and super affordable personal care products  can be  made  in your own kitchen.  Natural ingredients like lemon juice, honey and oatmeal are packed with active agents including fruit acids, antioxidants and soothing colloids. 

But before you squeeze a  single lemon or crack an egg,  you need to organize your kitchen cosmetic set-up. While the basic rules of simple cooking apply to homemade skin care formulations, these freshly made products are preservative free.  This  definately lowers  our exposure to chemicals, but  it can raise  risk of bacterial contamination.  To stay safe take these prep rules seriously:

Kitchen Cosmetics Road Rules

* Wash down your work area with a disinfectant wipe and dry with a disposable paper towel.

* Wash hands with soap and water.

* Wash your work bowls, measuring spoons and cups, stirring spoons and jars for storage in  a diswasher or boil for 5 minutes in a large pot of water.

* Wash all fresh fruits and veggies in hot water before using in beauty care products.

* Store your homemade products  in clean jar with a tight lid and keep in the frig.

* Label and date all jars.

* Don’t dip your fingers in the jar.  Use a spoon or butter knife to take out what you need.

* Check the date on any product before you use it.

* Discard within a week.

Here are two of my favorite all natural skin care produts:

Creamy Milk Mask for Dry Skin

Ingredients:  1 tablespoon organic yogurt or buttermilk, 1 tablespoon powdered  milk, 4 drops of olive oil

Steps:  Combine all ingredients.  Apply to the face and  allow  masks to dry and harden for 20 minutes.  Rinse off with cool water.

The yogurt, powdered milk or buttermilk are rich in lactic  acid  that can exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells and encourage growth of healthy  fresh skin.

Roman Nail Soak

Ingredients:  1 cup crushed organic tomates, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons white wine ( but  no garlic)

Steps:  Combine all ingredients.  Divide mixture into two small bowls and soak nails for 20  minutes.  Rinse off, rubbing cuticles with a dry washcloth. 

The tomates are a great source of  lactic acid AND vitamin C  which is a powerful antioxidant and essential for healthy collagen.


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There is something elegant about green beans.  Sweet and dainty they seem to the perfect companion to a crisp roast chicken or juicy pink  steak.  Green beans are used in a wide range of cuisines including french, chinese, italian, english  and indian–   and I  like all of them.  Restaurants and banquets  love  green beans because they can  be cooked in advance without going limp and grey.

I was psyched to learn that  for such a tastie veggie, green  beans had a very respectable anti-aging  profile.  One cup  clocks in at  just 31 calories .  While they are not high in fiber, the folacin and  skin friendly vitamin C levels are impressive.  Add about 20%  the RDA for vitamin A  and a daily serving of green beans  adds genuine anti-aging nutrition to any  diet.

I was  also intrigued to find out that green beans are actually immature versions of true beans.  In fact,  when they are mature and dry, they are higher in  protein, calories and carbohydrates that young green bean pods.  In the US, green snap beans are the  most popular form.  Italian broad beans, chinese long beans and skinnyFrench haricot vert have similar nutritional profiles, while yellow beans   have much lower levels of beta carotene.

I think of green beans as the chicken of vegetables in that  they can be used in so  many different dishes.  I love this anti-aging Greek style recipe that also contains tomatoes, onions and garlic– all of which add their own nutritional pay-off. Do you have a favorite  way of eating  them?

Greek Style Green Beans ( from the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy  Jenkins)

Ingredients: 1 pound cleaned green beans, 1/3 cup chopped onions. small clove of garlic, chopped, 2 tbs. olive oil, 2/3 cup drained, canned whole tomatoes, chopped coarsely, 1 packet Equal or 1 teaspoon sugar, I teasp. lemon juice

Directions: In a saucepan large enough to hold  the beans, saute the onions and garlic on  medium heat until the onion is soft and starting to brown; Rinse the beans and toss into the onions; Stir, cover and cook  on  medium heat for 5 minutes; Uncover  the pan and add tomatoes andEqual ( or sugar).  Cover and cook on low heat for 35-40 minutes; Check every 10 minutes to  stir and make sure that the beans are not too dry;  When they are soft and  the  tomates dissolved into a sauce, add the lemon juice.  These beans can be served hot or room temperature.

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I like mussels and I was  so psyched to learn how much of a nutritional punch they packed.  One 3 ounce serving of shelled mussels contains  an entire daily supply of selenium and 3X  the RDA for vitamin B12.  But wait there’s  more .  That little serving  offers 10 grams of  protein at a mere 70 calories and mussels  have less cholesterol than  any other shellfish.  And I’ve saved the best for last–  3 ounces of mussels  have almost a gram of those anti-aging omega-3 fatty acids–  2-3x the amount of  most  fish including sole, haibut, cod, shrimp and clams.    And then there is the price.  Mussels are  just about the most affordable of all fish, currently just $3.99/lb at the new Fairway that just opened in my hood. 

Mussels can be steamed in a seasoned  broth, added to soups or served  over pasta.  They are really simple to cook, but there are a few things you should know before you start:

1. Make sure that the shells are closed and intact when you buy them. Broken and/or open  shells can mean that the mussel is dead-  and dead mussels can  make  you sick.

2. Buy about 3/4 pound of mussels  per serving

3. When you get them home, rinse  them off  in cool water, gently transfer to a deep bowl, cover with plastic wrap and poke about a dozen air holes in the plastic.  This will allow them to breathe so they won’t die  before you will cook them that night.

Here’s a super easy recipe that I adapted from “Barefoot in Paris”  by Ina Garten.  In addition to the mussels, its packed with  antioxidants from olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and wine.


2 pounds of mussels

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup canned plum tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup parsley

1 cup white wine


1. Heat  olive oil in a large pot  and saute  onions for 5 minutes.  Then add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes

2.  Add the tomatoes, parsley,  wine and a few turns of freshly grated black pepper.

3.  Add mussels, stir, cover pot and cook for 8 minutes– until all the mussels have opened.  ( toss  any that remain shut).  Pour the mussels and that incredible broth into bowls  and serve with a big chunk of  whole wheat italian bread.  Serves two hungry people.  How easy it that?

Note:  There is no added  salt to the recipe.  Mussels in their natural state have  about 250 mg of sodium  per serving —  more than enough to flavor it and just about the limit for a healthy serving.

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The NHANES study  found that women who had diets high in vitamin C  had  fewer lines and wrinkles.  Good to know, but  what  does that mean  in terms of real food?   I started to look into vitamin C rich foods, and discovered that tomatoes  offered a great nutritional package.  In the US, over half of our daily vitamin C intake is from tomatoes.  In addition to being essential for the formation of wrinkle- busting  collagen, vitamin C is also a  uber anti-oxidant that  protects against aging free radicals.  And the benefits don’t stop there. From the  tiny cherry tomatoes to the giant beefsteak, tomatoes are packed with potassium, beta carotene and disease protecting lutein and lycopene.  Even the skin of a tomato is  super rich in quercetin, a much studied anti-aging anti-oxidant.   And what’s really awsome, every form of  a tomato  is rich in nutrients.   Raw tomatoes  are rich in vitamin c and  beta carotene.  Tomato soups and sauces are bursting  with even  higher levels in lycopene and lutein. 

I have focused on the beauty benefits of foods, but I can’t ignore the  health benefits of tomatoes.  They are a  major component of the Mediterranean diet and many experts  believe that tomaotes play an important role in the studies  which show the Med diet  lowers risk of heart disease  and cancer.  Other well designed studies have shown that tomatoes reduce risk of prostate and pancreatic cancers.   And one final fact–  combining  tomaotes with a little olive oil  helps the body better absorb its nutrients.  I can almost   make the case for pizza as a health food.  Almost.

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