You are what you eat isn’t just a myth. And, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body.  These two things we do know. Foods like sugar and trans fats, and chemicals like fragrance and parabens, all have effects internally in your body and topically on your skin.

There are certain chemicals that I always avoid in my beauty products, which is why I make my own. Not only do I get to control the consistency and texture of a product, but I also get to control exactly what goes into it. My rule is if I can eat it, then I can smear it on my skin. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so what you put on it can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

Nutrition, beauty regimens and lifestyle habits all play a part in glowing skin. Here are my top dietary and lifestyle tips for healthy skin:

Exercise: As you exercise, you increase blood flow which carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells. At the same time, blood carries toxins away from your cells and out through elimination via perspiration, respiration, and elimination. Speaking of perspiration, sweat is antibacterial, so it helps to kill off unwanted germs living on your skin.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: aka good fats. Fatty fish, flax and walnuts reinforce your cell membrane which helps to hold in water. Consuming a good ratio of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFAs work from the inside out by repairing the cell membrane and reducing inflammation.


Vitamin C: Antioxidants, especially vitamin C, are important for collagen production. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, helping to strengthen and support our tissues. Try adding vitamin C-packed berries and citrus fruits to your water, smoothies or healthy baking.

fruit water
Flavour your water with antioxidants

Avoid these chemicals: I started investigating ingredients in skin care products after the birth of my first baby. Not only are babies born with chemicals already in their system, their little organs are not quite ready to process and eliminate toxins. These chemicals that I discovered and still choose to avoid today, are fragrance, parabens, talc, colour, sodium lauryl sulfate, dioxin, and more. Many I cannot pronounce, and those are the ones I really stay clear of. Worse, most of these chemicals are considered toxic because they can cause cancer (carcinogenic), destroy tissue, cause dermatitis, irritation, are hormone disruptors, and worse. Many are added as fillers, foaming agents, for texture, or smell. Do your skin a favour and use pure, natural ingredients that you would feel comfortable eating.

Exfoliate: Skin cells rejuvinate quickly, which means the dead cells have to be sloughed off. Dry brushing helps, and weekly exfoliation with a mild sugar scrub or mask works. Lactic acid in yogurt naturally dissolves dead skin cells, and sugar plus coconut oil luxuriously sloughs off dead skin. It is important not to over exfoliate. The skin produces oil to protect itself. The more oil you remove, the more oil your skin has to produce. This can result in an over-production of oil, or dry flaky skin. Your diet and other factors will determine this.

Sleep: During REM sleep, your body secretes HGH, or Human Growth Hormone. HGH promotes cell turnover, is responsible for metabolism, skin health, collagen synthesis, muscle strength, bone healing, and more. HGH deficiency shows as many different symptoms, but relating to the skin, you might see dryness and wrinkles. Our HGH levels start to decline with age, so keep your sleep at a quality level.

Herbs: Tinctures are my favourite way to get wonderful plant constituents into my system. Herbs like horsetail, nettles, gotu kola (aka Fountain of Youth), oatstraw and alfalfa keep skin supple, nails strong, hair shiny and connective tissue building. Topically, Calendula, or marigold, which you might have in your garden, is healing and makes a great herbal-infused oil for daily moisturizing, especially on problematic skin.

face oil
Calendula-infused face oil

Facial Steam: Steaming your skin with flowers and essential oils allows the toxins to release and the aromatic benefits of the flowers enter your pores and do their magic.  Flowers like chamomile and calendula are soothing and anti-inflammatory, lavender and rose petals are calming and healing and rosemary and citrus oils are uplifting and invigorating. Steaming your skin weekly will help to remove bacteria, clear up skin conditions and leave it glowing, hydrate, help you relax and stimulate circulation.

Choose your flowers, boil water and prepare to relax your mind, body and spirit.

Boil water and add it to a heat safe bowl with about 1 cup of flower petals. Add 5 drops of essential oil to either soothe, relax or uplift. Place a large towel over your head and tent yourself over the bowl of steaming flowers. Don’t get too close or you may burn your skin. If you already have very sensitive skin or broken capillaries, avoid steams or do them with cooler water. Allow your skin to steam for about 5 minutes, then take a break, then repeat. Remember to breathe deeply to receive all the benefits of relaxation and aromatherapy. Repeat 3 times.

After steaming, this is a good time to exfoliate while dead skin cells can be easily sloughed off. Rinse skin with cool water to close pores and moisturize skin while it is still damp for better absorption. Apply a light layer of pure coconut oil or jojoba oil, which is closest to the skin’s natural sebum, or try other edible oils that you might have in your pantry.

As facial steams are a treatment, they should only be done once per week or twice per month. Avoid certain essential oils if pregnant, epileptic or nursing. Consult your healthcare practitioner prior to using any herbal remedy, if you have a medical condition.

facial steam2
Facial steam with dried flowers

Be sure to do a patch test before trying any remedy or treatment. Should you experience any irritations or negative effects of a food, internally or topically, discontinue use.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Do you have a favourite home remedy or DIY skin care recipe? Share it with us and maybe we can try it on our Instagram Live segments, #nextbitecookingclub

Beauty Foods: A Sweet Vegetarian Chili to Make Your Skin Glow

Beauty Foods: A Sweet Vegetarian Chili to Make Your Skin Glow

With the crispness and dryness in the Fall air, I couldn’t help but include all the pumpkins and squashes in today’s chili. My skin is beginning to dry up, so I’m turning to food to nourish myself from the inside out.

Sweet Pumpkin Chilli 2

You might already know that phytonutrients are nutrients that protect the plant from damage, and this means that they pack major antioxidant properties.  Lycopene, beta carotene and lutein are forms of these compounds and are bountiful in the tomatoes, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin in this dish, and provide dietary protection of the elements for your skin. Studies show that a diet rich in phytonutrients may produce continual, whole body protection from UV damage that leads to cellular degeneration.

I often consider the health of my skin and hair when I am putting a meal together.  I call it, “recipes with benefits”. This sweet chili is perfect as we approach the cooler weather, it warms the heart and soul, and certainly offers up protective benefits for the whole body and skin. High in fibre, the black beans and lentils help to keep the digestive system healthy, which plays a direct role in your skin’s glow.

Sweet Pumpkin Chilli

Chili ingredients:

  • 3 C cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 small head broccoli florets
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 jar tomato sauce or 1 large can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can lentils
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup water or adjust for desired consistency
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small can organic corn (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder (optional if you want a spicy chili)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (optional is you are using chili powder)
  • olive oil for cooking


  • Cut the butternut squash and sweet potato into pieces, toss in olive oil, and roast until soft at 350F
  • Sautee onion until clear in a large pot with olive oil
  • add garlic, diced carrots and cook until soft
  • add water, broccoli, lentils, black beans, pumpkin puree, tomato sauce or roasted tomatoes, corn, salt and chili powder
  • add the cooked butternut squash and sweet potato
  • cover the pot and let simmer on low for minimum 1 hour to let the flavours marry
  • serve with diced avocado and plain yogurt with dill or cilantro. My Dairy-free Tzaziki dip is delicious here as a vegan option
  • BONUS: My favourite side kick to this dish is the Maple Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffins by Ambitious Kitchen. Drizzle them with a little honey while they’re warm. Find her recipe here
Sweet Pumpkin Chilli with Cornbread Muffins

A Holistic Nutritionist’s Guide to Plant-based Protein

A Holistic Nutritionist’s Guide to Plant-based Protein

Heart health, weight loss, clear skin, better digestion, more energy….these are just some of the reasons to include more plant proteins in your diet. You don’t have to go full fledged vegetarian to benefit. Simpy incorporate one plant-based meal each day, or try a #meatlessmonday.

The key to plant proteins is variety. Each plant contains a different amino acid profile, so be sure to include an array of them to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. This doesn’t have to be done in one meal. Instead, include them over the course of one day.

Here is a list of some easy-to-find plant-based proteins that you can add into your meals to benefit from all the wholesome goodness that they have to offer us, naturally.

Oats: (26g protein/cup) A nutrient-rich cereal grain that is demulcent and soothing to the digestive system. Enjoy them as overnight oats, turn them in to a dairy-free oat milk, or add them into smoothies.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Hemp Hearts: (9g protein/oz) This is the nutritious heart of the hemp seed that has a nutty flavour and does not need to be cooked. These add a nice crunch to salads, granola or yogurt, or blend them up with almonds for a delicious non-diary milk.

Chia Seeds: (5g protein/oz) These tiny seeds are native to Mexico and have changed many lives in the plant-based community.  They absorb 10 times their weight in water, so you will want to make sure they are either soaked first, or you eat them with a liquid. Because they grow in size, they keep you full longer and add great bulk to smoothies, granola and pudding. Our favourite way to enjoy them is with coconut milk in a chia pudding, either for breakfast or as a dessert.

Nuts: (7g protein/oz) Nuts, particularly walnuts and almonds, are high in plant-based protein and high in fibre. Ground nuts make a wonderful pie crust, dairy-free milk, topping on salads or yogurt. It is really simple to add nuts in to your meals as they can be eaten raw. Also try nut butters and nut oils on salads. Aim for the raw or dry roasted, unsalted, varieties. Nuts should be stored in your freezer as they can go rancid easily.

Nutritional Yeast: (9g protein/2 Tblsp) aka, “nooch”, is a new fave in the plant-based world. If you are lucky, you can find a brand that is fortified with vitamin B12, which does not normally exist naturally in plant-based foods. These dry flakes give a cheesy, nutty flavour that is naturally low in sodium but still packs alot of flavour. Nutritional yeast can be turned into a dairy-free cheese sauce, a vegan “parmesan”, and crisps up nicely on roasted chick peas.

Quinoa: (8g protein/cup) Considered a superfood, this seed that is eaten like a grain and has more nutritional value and protein than other plants. It makes a great alternative to rice, when boiled, and can also be popped like popcorn, when dry. The seeds can also be soaked and sprouted for easier digestion. Once a week, make a big pot of cooked quinoa and add it to salads, stuff it into peppers for dinners, use it in wraps and homemade granola, to sneak in extra protein throughout your days.

Flax Seeds: (6g protein/oz) Most beneficial when ground, flax seeds contain the most omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory, skin, brain and heart healthy. It is a source of phytoestrogen and lignans for women’s health,  and antioxidants for boosting the immune system. Flax naturally gels when mixed with water, so it is often used as an egg replacement in vegan baking. Add ground flax to granola, bliss balls, cereals, in baked goods, on yogurt and in smoothies.  Also try flax oil in salad dressing or on its own for it’s blood sugar-regulating properties.

Pumpkin Seeds: (9g/oz) Rich in antioxidants, zinc and magnesium, these powerhouses are beneficial for men’s health, post-menopausal health, heart health and immunity. Enjoy them raw in bliss balls, or roast them and add them to salads for a nutty crunch.

Spirulina: (39g protein/oz) A blue-green algae that packs nutritional value, protein and flavour. It is often used in detox programs and face maks!, as it pulls heavy metals from the body and is anti-microbial. It provides energy so avoid using at night. Add it into smoothies for a blood sugar-balancing, uplifting morning pick-me-up.

Beans: (15-17g protein/cup) Soybeans are complete, the other beans can be combined with other vegetables for the 9 amino acids to make them a complete protein. If you have trouble digesting beans, try soaking and sprouting them for a day or two to release the phytic acid that causes tummy troubles in some. Otherwise, steam them lightly and add them to salads and side dishes, roast them for a crunchy snack, turn them into heart-healthy hummus, or cook them with veggies for a delicious chili.

Stay creative, stay open, and let us know how what delicious plant-based dishes you’ve come up with.

To your health,

Jen Casey, Holistic Nutritionist @NextBiteNutritionCoaching

A Guide to Plant-based Protein

Glowing Skin From Within ~ 5 Nutrients to Add to Your Diet Today

Glowing Skin From Within ~ 5 Nutrients to Add to Your Diet Today

Our skin is affected by what we eat, or don’t eat, what we put on it, and by our environment.  Consuming trans and saturated fats can clog pores and promote bacteria production and acne.  Also, high refined carbohydrate consumption can increase testosterone conversion to DHT, which enlarges the pores and increases sebum (oil) production and acne. (pg 249, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine).  Sugar is also a culprit as it is turned into saturated fatty acids by our body and forms a greasy film on our skin.

apple beet slaw

A lack of nutrients can also cause skin conditions.  A deficiency in zinc, antioxidants, fiber, water and EFA’s can cause acne, premature aging, dehydration and sun damage as your skin is less protected from free radicals.

Some foods work well topically to improve suppleness, shine, and clean pores, but some foods contain nutrients which are more effective when eaten. Of course, a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of water will keep our entire body systems working optimally, but these particular nutrients will help your skin looking its best.

  1. Liquid EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids): Oils containing EFA’s work better internally rather than topically as they can become rancid if left on the skin and exposed to air.  Internally, EFA’s, such as walnut, sesame, and flax oil, help improve the skin’s suppleness and makes it less prone to infection.
  2. Zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient that works particularly well on acne conditions. A deficiency in this mineral can increase the conversion of testosterone to DHT, increase pore size and sebum production. Zinc plays an important role in healing and tissue building. Foods rich in zinc are spinach, oysters, lamb and pumpkin seeds.
  3. Selenium: A trace mineral that helps to protect against free radicals that can cause premature aging, dryness, tissue damage and even skin cancer. Cold water fish and brazil nuts are excellent sources of Selenium.
  4. Fiber: The roughage of plant material that binds to cholesterol and other toxins in the body and flushes it out. Daily fiber intake is important for our entire body to keep it clean. The skin is our body’s largest organ, so if the body is not clean, the evidence shows on the outside, usually in the form of skin rashes and acne. An excellent form of fiber is ground flax, an ancient seed that is the richest source of alpha-linolenic acid, plus protein, vitamins and minerals. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and has cancer fighting properties. (pg 430, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill)
  5. Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E help protect our body from free radical damage that can cause premature aging, tissue damage, disease and the deterioration of fatty acids. Foods high in vitamins A, C and E are berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, wheat germ, carrots, avocado, sunflower seeds, eggs, dairy and spinach.
tomato salad with olive oil
Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

And, to open up the detox pathways to allow those toxins to escape, always include exercise in your daily routine.  It aids in detoxification of toxins through the skin.  Sweating is good! And, don’t forget about water. You can liven it up with lemons and berries for flavour and it adds that extra boost of antioxidants.

Jen Casey, CNP