Sunscreen has gained a lot of attention in the news this season. The Environmental Working Group has done a great job informing the public. If you know even a little, you know that it’s a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t”, sorta’ situation. If you don’t wear it, you risk sun damage. If you do wear it, you’re likely to just bake harmful chemicals into your skin. What’s a sun lover to do?
Have you ever thought of eating your sunscreen?
Food energetics is one of my favorite subjects. “You are what you eat” is a starting point, but there are many more facets. One of those is eating with the seasons. It just so happens that mother nature often provides solutions for seasonal problems. For example, lycopene, a cartenoid found in red and orange fruits and vegetables, has been shown to protect our skin against UV damage (Stahl W, et al. J Nutr. 2001; 131: 1449–1451). Coincidentally, tomatoes, one of many plants loaded with lycopene, grow abundantly in the summer when the sun is the most threatening to us. It stands to reason the more tomatoes we eat, the better protected we are from the sun’s dark side. And right now, lycopene foods like watermelon and tomatoes are in their prime! Let’s take advantage!
2-3 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1/2 of a medium sized cucumber
1/4 cup red onion or 3 green onions or 1 peeled shallot (sub ¼ cup of any variety onion)
1 clove of crushed garlic
1 mild to medium heat pepper such as red bell or jalapeno, seed removed (optional)
Handful of basil or mint (optional)
Handful of parsley (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry, basalmic, umi, or apple cider vinegar.
1 teaspoon of raw honey, maple syrup, white wine or 1 quarter of an apple (I love the apple)
Lemon or lime to taste
Salt and pepper to taste.
Fill a medium sized sauce pan two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Drop whole tomatoes in water for 30 seconds and then remove with a pair of tongs. Plunge into ice bath. Skins should slip right off. Cut into quarters and remove seeds. Quartered tomatoes go into a food processor or blender with remaining ingredients except the oil. Do not peel cucumber. While machine is running, stream in oil. Add more vinegar, agave, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Rest for 20 minutes. Chill for 15-20 minutes before serving. Garnish with infused olive oil, feta, avocado, or basil.