When it comes to beauty buzzwords, collagen is certainly having its day in the sun - a protein that occurs naturally in the body, collagen supports our skin’s strength and elasticity. Collagen production declines with age and as a result can directly affect the youthful appearance of our skin. Reduced collagen can result in sagging and wrinkles which is why collagen boosting supplements are trending and touted in the media as an antidote to aging.
Now before we go any further it bears mentioning that aging is a natural and beautiful process, and I think it’s important to embrace our personal beauty throughout each stage of life. I am also all for supporting holistic health, including healthy skin, with a whole-food-rich diet that encourages collagen production, and if we so choose, adding in supplements where necessary.
While there are many collagen supplements on the market, collagen is not derived from plant-based sources, so none of them are vegan friendly. Does this mean those of us towing the plant-powered line are destined for premature wrinkles and lowered elasticity? Far from it - there are plenty of plant-based products that help boost the body’s natural collagen production, some of which we’ll get into in a moment.
First let’s take a look at dietary choices - it’s always my preference to build a healthy lifestyle around nutrient dense, whole food choices and then add in quality supplements where needed. So, if you’re vegan and you want to boost your body’s natural collagen production you have plenty of options to choose from; foods rich in vitamin C help the body produce collagen, so eating an assortment of citrus fruits and berries, as well as veggies like peppers and broccoli is a skin-smart choice. Stir-fries, crudités and smoothies are among my favourite ways to incorporate these nutrient dense, skin plumping options into your diet. The antioxidants found in berries also help protect the skin against the effects of the sun and environmental pollution, both of which can result in premature aging and damaged skin - all the more reason to armyourself witha heaping portion of nature’s goodies!
And while you’re at it making healthy lifestyle choices, using an SPF on your face even in the cooler months is key to maintaining skin health. I’m all for staying active outdoors year-round, but mitigating the effects of sun damage by using sunscreen not only helps protect skin but also helps keep it soft and supple.
Fall’s most notorious flavour - pumpkin - also happens to be rich in lysine, an amino acid that helps with collagen production. Add pumpkin puree to soups and baking or whisk some into a homemade pumpkin spice latte. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on smoothies and salads to enjoy some of those collagen boosting benefits, or simply roast and salt them for a tasty snack. Raw nuts and seeds as well as nut and seed butters are wonderful ways to support skin health and so simple to add to meals and snacks - check out my Almond Butter Chia Pudding recipe below for an abundance of nutrient dense ingredients that taste delicious and contribute to glowing skin.
Other whole foods that help with healthy skin include clean protein sources like tempeh and tofu which I find very versatile to cook with, and chlorophyll-rich leafy greens like kale: featured in my Super Powered Kale Smoothie recipe below. If you prefer your chlorophyll in your water, you can purchase a concentrate like this one from Genestra - just don’t forget to jump on the current Tik Tok trend and upload your creation!
Now let’s talk supplements - collagen supplements are enjoying a whole lot of airtime in the conversation surrounding skincare and slowing the aging process; while they’re derived from animal sources, vegans can still get in on the action with plant powered boosters or though supplements that support supple skin like Can Prev’s Silicon Beauty. , and is suitable for vegans. Silicon Beauty comes in a liquid form that I’ve incorporated into my Super Powered Kale Smoothie recipe,and is also available in capsule form. A supplement like Garden of Life - mykind Organic Plant Collagen Builder is another simple way to support healthy skin, nails and hair; helping build the body’s own natural production of collagen or you could try Sun Warrior’s Plant-Based Collagen Building Protein powder that also contains 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin C and biotin.
But back to our healthy, nutrient dense diet - let’s get into the kitchen and whip up some collagen boosting, delicious fall recipes. Here are 2 of my faves - easy to make with ingredients that you likely have on hand or can easily substitute.
Super Powered Kale Smoothie
I love this smoothie as a mid-morning snack, and it’s packed full of nutrient dense ingredients, many of which support collagen production. While you can certainly keep the kale leaves on the stem, I find the taste preferable when they are removed. Feel free to sub spinach if you prefer (if you’re a drink-your-greens newbie the taste of spinach is more subtle than kale) and although I used fresh greens, frozen work just as well and result in a frostier smoothie if that happens to be your jam. You could easily sub a pear for your apple or try adding some pineapple chunks. I enjoy the particular sweetness of the dates, but again, if you are new to tossing kale in your smoothie and want to disguise the taste a little more you could add a splash or so of maple syrup in addition to the dates.
Want to enjoy this Super Powered Kale Smoothie as a meal replacement? You could add a scoop of protein powder and blend itwith the existing ingredients.
When it comes to toppings, the sky’s the limit - personally I love sprinkling small handfuls of whatever tasty treats I have on hand to really make the taste and texture pop.
For the smoothie:
For the toppings:
Almond Butter Chia Pudding
We are big fans of chia pudding in our house - not only is it nutrient dense and delicious, but it’s super easy to make which means I can whip up a batch in minutes before bed and have breakfast for the household ready to go in the a.m. While you can certainly simplify this recipe to include only plant-based milk, chia seeds and sweetener, I decided to amp up the ingredients to include ohso-many goodies to support collagen production in the body. I also love this spice combo for Fall - it adds a feeling of coziness that I’m partial to at this time of year.
I added raw almond butter to the mix, but you could use cashew butter or sub pumpkin butter for nut allergies and to amp up the lysine content. Peanut butter is also a totally delicious option. You’ll want to use a spoon to stir vs a whisk as the nut butter is quite thick.
I topped the chia pudding with all sorts of goodies including hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds and berries but you can really get as creative as you want with toppings - feel free to use whatever fruit, nuts, seeds and other ingredients that you happen to have on hand. Try tearing up dried fruit like apricot and mango or add chunks of frozen fruit if fresh happens to be harder to come by.
When it comes to milk choice, I will say that thicker milks like coconut milk result in a creamier consistency which is my preference and tends to be more kid-friendly. Again, I think this comes down to personal choice and I’ve certainly made chia pudding with a thinner unsweetened oat milk for example, but for this cozy recipe I wanted a little more density. Coconut milk in a carton works well, and the canned option creates the thickest pudding: although it’s the least sweet. So if you’re using this option, I would suggest increasing your sweetener to taste.
For the almond butter chia pudding
For the toppings:
sweetened or unsweetened? [BT1]
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