Can you eat your way to awesome skin? Nutritionist Lola Berry says yes! Lola is the author of nine best-selling books – her latest is Beauty Food – recipes and remedies for radiant skin, eyes, hair and nails. She got chatting to THR1VE about a day on her plate, the common pantry item she avoids and her secret to getting your glow on in as little as two days! Plus, she shares a recipe from her new book. You beauty!
Why is cutting down on sugar essential for good skin?
It causes inflammation and inflammation causes oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is a precursor to acute fine lines and wrinkles. It also affects your complexion and how bright your face looks. I think the cool thing is that you can usually notice the difference when you clean your diet up, within two days. That’s the great news! Hydration is key, too.
Can you talk us through a day on your plate of beauty food meals?
I would start with a green smoothie, I love to add avocado and coconut oil to my green smoothie so it gets the good fats in there and it also makes for a really delicious creamy smoothie. I’d probably snack on some nuts and seeds, I like them activated because they’re more bio-available. Lunch would be a really yummy quinoa Mexican-inspired salad, again with good fats in there, like extra virgin olive oil and then of course avo, lime juice and coriander. In the arvo, when I generally crave something sweet, I might have a slice of the banana bread from Beauty Food with some macadamia nut butter. Dinner would be salmon, avo and salad.
We notice your recipes are free from vegetable and seed oils – why do you avoid these common pantry items in your cooking?
I’m a huge David Gillespie fan, so I’m a big believer in staying away from refined, oxidised oils. He talks about the danger of heating seed oils – like when you get take-out or the types of fats that are found in chocolate bars, for example. I’m a big advocate of getting back to the real McCoy, stuff that’s not heat-treated massively, so I like to use extra virgin coconut oil and olive oil. For things like dressings, I’m happy to go for a macadamia or avocado oil. I’m also pro-butter, I think it’s all just about simplifying it and getting back to basics.
What are your go-to beauty foods?
Some of my hero, fail-safe foods are avocado, coconut oil and salmon – they fit into nearly any category – hair, skin, nails, eyes. They’re kind of like the holy grail because they’re good fats, the avocado is a good source of monounsaturated fat, then with the salmon you’ve got your omega-3s and with the coconut oil you’re getting medium chain fatty acids. You’re getting such a broad spectrum of good fats which nourish all of these beauty elements of the body.
Women will love your beauty recipes, but can men benefit from them too?
Absolutely, everyone will thrive off them, definitely! The premise behind the book is actually just to eat real food. It’s unrefined food, there’s no dairy, other than oats there’s no gluten, there’s no refined sugar. If you eat that way, you will feel good in more areas than just beauty, you’ll feel good in every area of your health.
Have you made any new food discoveries recently?
I had a meeting at this new place in Melbourne and I had savoury beetroot waffles made from teff flour! They were incredible. They had avocado, cashew cheese and roast tomatoes. It was a great savoury, gluten-free and dairy-free breakfast.
Dressings can so often hide nasty oils and refined sugar. We love your pink dressing in the book, which uses strawberries for a hint of sweetness instead…
Yes, and you can keep any extra dressing on hand in the fridge for a couple of days and it can add flavour to a lot of things. It is versatile, it’s beautiful on salmon, you could even have it on a quinoa superfood salad. There’s heaps of ways to keep using it because you don’t ever want health to become boring!
Lola’s Anti-Ageing Avo Salad with Pink Dressing
I love this salad, not only because it looks super bright and ticks all the eye-health boxes, but because it tastes amazing. It works as both a side dish and as a great stand-alone veggo meal.
- 2 bunches of baby spinach, washed and dried
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1⁄2 cup (65g) dried cranberries
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup (60g) roughly chopped walnuts
- 1⁄2 punnet (125g) strawberries, sliced
- 1 punnet (125g) raspberries
- 1⁄4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1⁄2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1⁄2 punnet (125g) strawberries
- Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
I have a little trick with the assembly of this salad. Get a round serving platter and cover the base of it with the baby spinach. Then, in different sections (like you were building a pie chart), place all the rest of the salad ingredients around the platter neatly in their own little sections.
In a blender or food processor, whiz together your dressing ingredients until smooth, then drizzle the pink dressing over the salad just before serving. Pretty!
Recipe & images extracted from Beauty Food by Lola Berry, published by Plum. Photographer Armelle Habib