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by Lisa Nogueira
With wedding season upon us, let’s talk about some healthy and beautifying food options for your big day!
On the morning of my wedding, I woke up with swollen red eyes. It was an out-of-town wedding, and my overactive planning brain led me to insomnia, and then not sleeping led to panic and, ultimately, tears. So there I was on the morning of my big day, swollen and red-eyed. My sister and I were staying in a bed and breakfast, so we scrambled for a solution. All I could find was a box of stress relief tea bags. “It’s perfect!”, I thought. I was feeling stressed and usually putting cold tea bags on my eyes had reduced swelling in the past. So I ran the bags under cold water and relaxed with them on my eyes for about 15-20 minutes. It felt wonderful. I could feel the stress melting away. When I took them off, I was dismayed to discover that what I had felt as stress melting away was my skin reacting to the herbs in the tea. My eye swelling doubled in size, and the burning of the stress relief tea made two large circles of bright red around my eyes. Enter more panic and tears! Luckily it all turned out fine, and no one was ever the wiser that I spent my morning with my face in a bucket of cold water.
While I can’t help with all the inevitable wedding surprises, I can suggest some foods that will allow your inner glow to shine on the outside as well as let you relax so you can enjoy your big day. I can also recommend not trying anything new on your skin on a big event day — which seems painfully obvious to me in hindsight!
Every bride wants to be gorgeous on her wedding day. This meal is the perfect lunch to have on the day of a big event as it is packed with omega-3s (for gorgeous hair and skin), bloat-reducing fennel, and my favorite beauty food, greens, that makes your face sparkle with health. Nutritional yeast (packed with B vitamins) and walnuts make a lovely dairy-free, parmesan-like crust for this fish. It is also full of protein, which is crucial on a day that you may only have the chance to eat once.
Walnut “Parmesan” Crusted Salmon with Citrus Fennel Greens
Time: 30 minutes
2 portion-sized (⅓ – ½ lb.) wild caught salmon fillets
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 cup walnuts
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
½ tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
4 cups of greens
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 TBSP fresh fennel fronds, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
1 blood orange, segmented
½ grapefruit, segmented
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
3 TBSP olive oil
¼ tsp. raw honey
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Add the crust ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until it reaches the size of breadcrumbs. Divide the crust between the two fillets and cover the top and sides of each fillet generously packing it tightly.
Coat the bottom of a small baking dish with extra virgin olive oil. Add salmon fillets to baking dish and bake for 15-17 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, juice one lemon. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in 3 TBSP olive oil slowly, continuously whisking as you add. Add the honey as you continuously whisk the dressing.
Prepare the fennel, citrus, and avocado. Cut the fennel bulb off of the stems. Remove the outer portion of fennel and the core, and slice the fennel into thin slices. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, remove the pit and skin, and then slice in ¼ inch pieces. Peel the orange and grapefruit and segment the slices with a sharp knife.
Divide the greens between two large flat bowls or plates, 2 cups of greens in each. Dress each bowl of greens to taste with the dressing. Divide the sliced fennel, sliced avocado, and sliced citrus between the two bowls. Top with the warm salmon. Sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds to garnish and serve.
Next, we have the perfect beauty-balanced snack that you can toss in your clutch to keep you and your bridesmaids satiated and happy all day long. Cacao and goji berries are our beauty showstoppers here. Cacao has an incredibly high amount of antioxidants, has phytochemicals that help block the formation of wrinkles, and raises serotonin and endorphin levels, which help you to feel amazing. Goji berries — “the anti-aging fruit” — contain minerals, amino acids, Vitamin C, and carotenoids known to help maintain a healthy glow of the skin. Walnuts provide skin-strengthening omega-3s, and pumpkin seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of zinc, a mineral that promotes hair growth and clear, blemish-free skin.
Chocolate Protein Beauty Balls
Makes: 15-18 balls
Time: 15 minutes (plus 15 minute soak time for dates)
3 TBSP raw cacao powder
8-10 small Medjool dates
¼ cup goji berries
2 TBSP raw cacao nibs
1 tsp. vanilla bean powder (or vanilla extract)
¼ cup walnuts
2 TBSP pumpkin seeds
1 TBSP coconut butter
Soak dates for at least 15 minutes in warm water. Remove pits from dates and add to a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Process until crumbly. If it feels a bit dry, you can add a touch of water to it or another date. Form into 1.5 inch balls by spooning a small amount into your hand and rolling into a ball. They will last about 10 days in the fridge or you can freeze them for several months.
For a nut-free version: Use sunflower seeds in place of the walnuts.
Lastly is what I have dubbed the “Everybody Needs to Calm Down!” Elixir. I wish I had this recipe on that night before my wedding! This elixir can be very useful leading up to the big day as well. I suggest making a huge batch for the family before you discuss budget, location, guest list or anything that may be controversial (which, when it comes to weddings, is just about everything!).
In reality, we could all use this once in a while in our over-scheduled lives as a way to unwind from it all. Reishi is the powerhouse adaptagen in this drink. It has been found to help balance hormones and lower cortisol levels leading to less stress and better sleep. A hint of lavender makes its debut as the relaxing herb we all know it to be.
“Everybody Needs to Calm Down” Elixir
Time: 5 minutes
1 cup filtered water
½ cup-1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 tsp. Reishi mushroom powder
½ tsp. vanilla bean powder (or vanilla extract)
¼ tsp. cinnamon powder
1TBSP dried lavender flowers
Optional: 1 TBSP Tocos (Rice Bran Solubles). Tocos are a bio-available source of Vitamin E and wonderful for skin, making this a relaxing beauty elixir. It also makes this drink delightfully creamy and frothy.
Optional: 1 TBSP Collagen Hydrolysate. Collagen has been found to effect hair, skin, and nails with continuous use, so this is another beauty addition.
Add one cup of water and the dried lavender flowers to a small saucepan and bring to a soft simmer over low-medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Saving the water, strain the lavender flowers with a fine mesh sieve and add the lavender water back into the saucepan. You may have to remove any leftover lavender buds from the pan before adding in the water. Add your almond milk and heat on low until warm. Remove from heat. Add the milk/lavender water with all the other ingredients to a ventilated blender and blend for about 30 seconds until frothy and thoroughly blended. Pour into mug, garnish with a dash of cinnamon, and enjoy your Elixir.
Lisa Nogueira is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach as well as Licensed Massage Therapist who is dedicated to helping clients live their best lives through health and lifestyle coaching and a unique selection of bodywork modalities. She hosts group programs to help clients make their self-care a priority, clean up their eating, and live healthier, happier lives. Her no-guilt approach to health is taking small steps for creating a lifestyle, leaving room for the sweeter things in life, and simplifying health and wellness into an approachable, affordable and fun adventure. For further inspiration follow her on Instagram