This Meal Prep Will Give You Great Gut Health & Glowing Skin
I talk a lot about my past struggle with hormonal cystic acne. It’s actually what led me to start Vibrant & Pure—my skin condition made it clear to me that something was wrong internally. After completely changing my diet, I'm mostly free of my acne, but I’m still ever evolving and experimenting with different foods and activities that can make my skin condition fluctuate. While my skin is for the most part healed, I will still get one or two breakouts every now and then—usually after a weekend of one or two too many cocktails and sugary food with friends. I don't beat myself up over these times (after all, you have to live your life!), but I do whip up a gut-health and skin-glow-inducing meal prep so I know I'm set for a good week ahead.
I didn't realize until recently how closely interconnected gut health and skin health are: If you struggle with acne and you haven't examined your diet, I suggest you give it a try. That which is good for your gut will inevitably make your skin glow; here's how I prep to achieve both. With these healthy staples in my fridge, I have no excuse not to eat well all week long!
The ultimate gut-healing, skin-glowing meal prep.
Dark leafy greens:
Most articles that discuss health-promoting foods list dark leafy greens as the No. 1 thing to add to your diet, and skin health is no exception. Beyond all of the more commonly discussed benefits, they are loaded with vitamin A. Do you know what’s super beneficial to getting rid of acne? Ding-ding-ding! Vitamin A. People with acne will often be prescribed "Retin-A" topically to get rid of their acne, and guess what? You can also eat your vitamin A to help things along. This means getting into the ever trendy kale. I eat all kinds of it—red kale, green kale, Tuscan kale. I like Tuscan kale for juicing (easier to fit into the juicer), green kale for massaging with apple cider vinegar or lemon, sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil (you literally add some drizzles of those ingredients and massage it with your hands to break it down, which makes it more pleasant to consume and easier on the digestive system), and I like to sauté red kale in a pan with some ghee butter, onions, and garlic. Other great options are chard, collard greens, beet greens, and mustard greens, to name a few.
- 1 head green kale
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (can sub with lemon)
- big pinch of pink salt
Wash and cut the kale into bite-size pieces. Drizzle the olive oil, ACV, and salt on, and then literally massage the kale with your hands.
How to use it:
I love using massaged kale as the base of a salad, especially mixed with romaine. You get a variety of nutrients and texture, win-win! I love this bowl with massaged kale, radish, cucumber, broccoli rice, roasted sweet potatoes, and avocado.
- 1 head of kale (red kale, green kale, Tuscan kale)
- 1 small red onion (or ½ a large red onion)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- juice of ½ a lemon
- pinch of pink salt
- Warm up the ghee in a pan. Slice your onion and mince your garlic and add to the butter.
- Let these cook down for a few minutes and then add kale, lemon, and salt. Let cook until the kale is a deep green and completely soft.
How to use it:
Mix with raw vegetables, a protein source, and healthy fats for a perfect Buddha bowl/salad.
Carrots are super high in beta-carotene, which is very beneficial to the skin. The antioxidants in carrots help to flush out toxins and protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. You can eat carrots raw or roasted, but I find that cooked carrots are super calming to my system and help with digestion (and there's evidence to suggest that they're actually healthier that way!).
I like to peel a bunch of organic carrots; toss with coconut or avocado oil; sprinkle with curry powder, cinnamon, and sea salt; and roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes.
How to use it:
In a bowl like this with arugula sprouts, figs, pickled radishes, almond milk truffle cheese, and mint, or I love to eat them by themselves, either dipped in some chive almond-milk cream cheese, hummus, or tahini.
Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds:
Both pumpkin and sunflower seeds are super high in zinc. Many acne sufferers are deficient in zinc, and, to put it simply, the zinc in our bodies is responsible for carrying vitamin A to our skin, so not enough zinc can lead to skin issues. These seeds and their zinc content are also good for regulating the hormone imbalances that are often behind acne flare-ups. Make sure they’re raw, unsalted, and organic for maximum benefits. I like to throw them into salads or grind them up for raw, high-fat treats like snickerdoodle balls.
How to use them:
I’m currently obsessed with adding seeds to my salads. They add a nutty flavor and crunch, almost like a crouton substitute (almost). As a food stylist, I also love using seeds. I find sprinkling pumpkin or sunflower seeds on a bowl or toast at the end of a shot can add an inexplicable touch that makes the world of difference in a photo.
Avocados are an amazing healthy fat source, which moisturizes skin from the inside out. Healthy fats provide the lubrication needed to make things run smoothly and are quite literally expressed on your face in the form of a glow. That’s why I’ve got all kinds of oils in my medicine cabinet to slather on my face every day, and I’ve also got quite the collection in my kitchen pantry to ingest.
How to use them:
As if you all need suggestions on how to eat avocados…BUT just in case: avocado toast, guacamole, in a salad, by itself, avocado desserts, avocado hummus, avocado pesto. Here are 11 totally new and exciting recipes that feature avocado to get you started.
Sweet potatoes are not only a delicious and low-glycemic carbohydrate, but they are also high in vitamin A, which is great for helping skin build collagen and look firmer and plumper. The high amount of fiber is great for your gut, and if you eat them cold, they'll serve as prebiotics or food for your gut bacteria!
How to use them:
They're great roasted with some beans or chickpeas on top for a quick and easy meal, or as sweet potato fries. I also love them cubed, roasted with a bit of ghee and sea salt, and tossed into salads. Decide at the beginning of the week how you'd like your sweet potatoes for the week, then prep two large ones and go from there.
Hydration: Water & High-Water-Content Vegetables:
When I used to research how to get rid of my acne, I got so sick of reading: DRINK MORE WATER. I don’t know why I didn’t just listen to something so simple (and inexpensive!). I now finally understand just how important it is to drink a lot of water. When I’m drinking enough of it, I can truly see it in my skin. My eyes look more awake and bright, my pores look smaller, and my skin tone looks more even. Beyond just drinking water, it’s also very helpful to consume a lot of high-water-content foods. My favorites are cucumbers, celery, watermelon, grapefruit, radishes, spinach, and berries. A green juice is also always a good idea.
How to do it:
To make water more enticing for me to drink, I like to add things like lemon, cucumber, basil, or mint leaves. I also love to add peppermint-flavored chlorophyll drops to my water.
To eat more high-water-content vegetables, prep a few cucumbers and radishes at the beginning of the week and toss them on whatever you consume—salads, grain bowls, the whole shebang!
Want more meal-prep goodness? Here's how to make it super easy.
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Adeline Waugh is the creator of Vibrant & Pure, a unique space that melds together the worlds of healthy living and innovative food styling and design. She enjoys challenging the status quo by developing beautifully vibrant recipes using only the purest of real food ingredients.
Waugh's trendsetting work has been globally celebrated and buzzed about in Vogue, Food & Wine, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Huffington Post, Refinery 29, Elle, Eater, Vice, DailyMail, and more.