Looking good isn’t all about weight loss and fitting into those skinny jeans.  What about your hair, skin and nails?  If those look dull and dingy, no amount of makeup or hair care products can revive your radiant self.  But, what if you’re on a budget? Are there foods that will benefit your beauty while staying kind to your wallet?  Absolutely.

Ingesting a whole bunch of nutrients over the course of one day isn’t going to enhance your appearance overnight.  Consistently incorporating hydration, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your lifestyle diet is key! Not only will these nutrients make you look better on the outside, but you’ll feel great too, AND probably have more energy throughout the day! And I’m not talking about pills!  I’m talking about REAL FOOD!   Did you know that the nutrients in food work synergystically together in a way that a single vitamin pill does not?  Food truly encompasses the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

chardLeafy Green Vegetables

Why? =  antioxidants, magnesium, calcium

Cooking ideas:

  • Kale chips
  • Baby spinach for salads instead of iceberg lettuce
  • Sauteed greens with olive oil and garlic
  • Add to soups
  • Chop well and added to ground meats like meatballs and meatloaf. Even add to brownies!
  • Blend into smoothies

Budget tip:  Frozen spinach is a great option to add to soups and meatloaf.

Walnuts

Why? = Omega-3 healthy fats, vitamin E, biotin

Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in the structure of cell membranes and play  a role in decreasing inflammation in the body.

Cooking ideas:

  •  1 handful  per day as a snack  salad topping
  • Add to rice pilaf or even lentils
  • Sprinkle over a Greek yogurt parfait
  • “Candied” walnuts
  • Mix into oatmeal
  •  The California Walnuts website has great ideas for cooking with walnuts.

Budget tip:  I love all nuts, but I especially love walnuts because they are usually cheaper than popular nuts like almonds, cashews and pistachios. Don’t buy the tiny bags of nuts at the grocery store! They’re way too expensive.  Many grocery stores have bulk bins for nuts, dried fruits, beans and spices.

roasted sweet potatoesSweet potatoes

Why? =  beta carotene, E and C

All three of these of these nutrients assist in the growth and maintenance of healthy tissues. Vitamin C specifically is part of the collagen development process, important for skin health.

Cooking ideas:

  • Bake in the oven or microwave whole and top with veggie chili or even the Argentinian parsley sauce called chimichurri
  • Top baked sweet potatoes with greek yogurt, honey and cinnamon
  • Slice into wedges for oven baked fries
  • Use sweet potatoes for mashed potatoes instead of regular white potatoes
  • Add hearty chunks added to chili, soups and stews
  • Puree into a “creamy” creamless soup

eg heartEggs

Why? = biotin, vitamin D, protein, zinc

Biotin and protein play a role in the development of keratin, which in turn builds strength in hair and nails.

Cooking ideas:

  • Keep boiled eggs in the fridge for quick snacks
  • Whip up a fritatta packed with veggies.  Fritatta is basically an open faced omelet, cut into wedges.
  • Add chopped boiled eggs to salads
  • Mash boiled eggs with chopped dill and hummus (my personal fave and the only way I like boiled eggs!)
  • Add beaten eggs and milk to oatmeal and cook in the microwave.

Budget tip:  There’s isn’t any nutritional difference between white and brown eggs, so choose the white ones if the price is jacked up for the brown eggs.  The difference lies only with the type hen that lays the egg.

Water

Why? = hydration

So, technically it’s not a food, but water is super important!  Those who are consistently dehydrated often have dry, tight skin. Skin is the largest organ in the body and it is thirsty, so drink up!  Be sure to get at least eight 8 ounce glasses each day and more if you exercise.

Budget tip:  Water is free!   Add some lemon, lime or orange slices for extra flavor.

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