Did you know: The human body is teeming with bacteria - so much so that the bacterial cells in and on our bodies actually outnumber our own cells.
The good news is that most of these germs are harmless and some are even helpful. The bad news is that when we wash our hands, we are removing the good bacteria as well as the bad.
When we use soap and hand sanitizer to remove harmful bacteria, we are also removing the bacteria that keeps our skin healthy, promotes wound healing, and protects us against more dangerous germs.
That being said, constant hand washing (while very important to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses) can leave you with dry, irritated hands. And if you have sensitive skin (like I do), your hands are already dry this time of year even without excessive hand washing.
You can mitigate the damage caused by hand washing by maintaining a diet that includes skin-boosting foods such as: fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, mangoes, kale, tomatoes, orange juice, and peppers.
Below are three plant-based recipes that will boost skin health from the inside and two DIY salves that will sooth skin irritation from the outside.
Sweet Potato Toast + Avocado
Inspired by the “everything bagel,” this flavorful recipe makes for a great breakfast or snack.
- Begin by preheating the oven to 400° F
- Peel 1 large sweet potato and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- Toss slices in 1/2 teaspoon EVOO
- Place slices on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes; flip slices over; bake for 6 minutes
- Let cool
While potato slices are cooling, combine the following ingredients to make “everything seasoning”:
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
In a separate bowl, combine 3 avocados (mashed) with lemon juice (to taste) and 1 tablespoon “everything seasoning.
To serve, top the sweet potato slices with avocado mix and desired amount of “everything seasoning.” Enjoy!
Crispy Lentil Dippers + Broccoli
This crunchy treat is a great party snack that pairs well with a variety of sauces. It’s also a great way to get your kids to start eating broccoli!!
- Rinse and drain 3/4 cup lentils
- Add lentils and 1/2 cup water to saucepan; place on high heat and bring to boil
- Cook for 20 minutes on medium-high heat; set lentils aside
- Steam 2 cups broccoli florets using preferred method
- In a separate bowl, mix 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water
Place the following ingredients into a food processor and blend until mixture reaches a crumbly texture:
- Lentils, broccoli, and chia seeds
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Use the mixture to make 12 small patties; coat the patties in 3/4 cup breadcrumbs; heat in a skillet on medium high with 1 tablespoon EVOO until brown on both sides.
To serve: pair with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
Italian Fried Potatoes + Peppers
This savory dish features bell peppers, which contain skin boosting vitamins A and C as well as carotenoids, which are believed to help prevent wrinkles, improve circulation to the skin, and fight acne.
- Peel and cube 2 medium potatoes; boil until tender
- While potatoes are cooling, chop 1 medium onion, 1 green pepper, and 1 red pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a skillet (cast iron is best); add onions and peppers; cook on medium for 6 minutes
- Stir in 2 garlic cloves (minced) and cook for 1 additional minute
- Add cubed potatoes (no water) to the skillet and cook 4-6 minutes; stir frequently
To serve: season with salt and pepper (to taste); sprinkle with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
DIY Salve: Body Butter + Almond Oil
This chemical-free salve is perfect for dry, cracked hands. My favorite essential oil to use in this recipe is chamomile, because it has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritation. Lavender is another great choice because it is easy on the skin and promotes relaxation.
- Combine 1 cup shea butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil in a double boiler; heat until melted
- Allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes before adding 1/2 cup almond oil and 30 drops of your favorite essential oil
- Place mixture in freezer for 20-30 minutes until thick but not solid
- Using a kitchen mixer, blend for 5-8 minutes or until salve reaches a butter-like consistency
- Store in desired containers at room temperature
Restorative Salve + Beeswax
This salve is appropriate for severe dryness, windburn, eczema, psoriasis, and itchy hands. You can use it on your hands, feet, face elbows, lips - even on your dog or cat’s paws. I find this salve works best when applied right before going to sleep.
Note: It is important to let the beeswax and oils melt slowly in order to preserve their healing benefits. For a softer salve, use 2 tablespoons of beeswax instead of 3.
- Add 3 inches of water to a skillet and heat on medium low
- Place 3 tablespoons beeswax pellets into a small glass jar
- Place the jar in the skillet; allow beeswax to melt slowly (this will take up to 20 minutes)
- When beeswax has melted, mix in 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup jojoba oil, 2 tablespoons shea butter; allow mixture to melt completely (this will take up to 20 minutes)
- Remove glass jar from skillet and add 20 drops of tea tree oil
- Pour mixture into desired containers and let cool at room temperature; store at room temperate
Do you have any tips, tricks, or recipes to help avoid the damage caused by hand washing? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below!