We all know the rules: drink 8 glasses of water a day, limit alcohol and caffeine, cut out refined sugar, etc, but I believe that what we are drinking is more important than what we’re not.
I’ve written a lot about my inside-out approach to skin care. While I try not to obsess over what I eat (or drink), and I thoroughly subscribe to the notion of everything in moderation, including moderation, I do like to make conscious decisions and choices that naturally nourish my skin from the inside out. I don’t spring back from a day of eating junk food or a night out drinking as easily as I did in my twenties, and it shows on my skin.
As I get older, I turn to the one woman who aged more gracefully than anyone I know – my grandmother. And though she’s been gone for well over a decade now, her philosophy that beauty starts in the kitchen still rings true.
There are so many kitchen beauty habits that my grandmother built into her life and tried to instill in mine, maybe one day I will compile them into a single blog post but, for now, the one that stands out the most is the need to stay hydrated. Yes, it is the most basic of skincare guidelines, but it is also the one most easily neglected. How often do we think that we are well hydrated when really we are suffering from mild dehydration? Dehydration comes in many guises – headaches, taught skin, wrinkles and dark circles, even hunger pangs which can trick us into thinking we’re hungry when all we really need is a drink. My grandmother’s answer for any of these ailments was to drink a glass of water.
“But water is so boring!” I might complained, and for that she had many solutions. In the days before water and ice dispensing refrigerators, she always kept a pitcher of water in the fridge, in which floated sliced grapes or strawberries for a hint of flavour. On hot summer days, there was often a carafe of sun tea, unsweetened, of course, steeping on the west windowsill so as to slowly draw out the natural tea catechins and polyphenols. On her kitchen counter there was a collection of sparkling waters in glass bottles which she would use to top up her tea, and almost any other drink (even wine), along with a bowl of lemons and limes to make her signature citron pressé. This resembled nothing of the sticky American lemonade often found in powdered form and reconstituted to sell at lemonade stands. Hers was made by simply squeezing a lemon into a glass, adding a pinch of brown sugar (no more than a teaspoon) and filling it to the top with sparking water. This she would bring outside on a tray and we would drink it slowly in the shade of the gazebo.
Water is easier to drink if it’s served with the same panache as one might offer a cocktail or present the dessert course – in nice glassware, garnished with something pretty – fresh fruit, an edible flower, an herbal sprig. By having a variety of options at her fingertips, she was less likely to brush off the ambiguous symptoms of dehydration.
I love that sparkling water has finally gained popularity here in the US with flavours straight from the grocery store that make drinking water less boring and more of a treat. It’s a trend that women of the past knew instinctively. Hydrated and nourished skin is beautiful skin. And beautiful skin glows.
Being a bit of a nutrition and science geek, I like to experiment with tonics and tisanes and enjoy researching the health benefits found in different herbs, foods and edible flowers to concoct specialized formulas to deliver phytonutrients, amino acids, collagen and catechins directly to my skin.
In the winter, when icy winds and the heat from the furnace threaten to rob my skin of all its moisture, I make huge pots of nourishing bone broth with extra collagen which I drink like hot tea with my meals. In the summer, when the sun is far more damaging, especially coupled with the baking, dry heat we experience here in Colorado, it’s spritzers à la façon de ma grand-mère, made with herbs and teas that naturally protect against collagen loss and damaging UV rays from the inside out. This rose and green tea spritzer has been on repeat in my kitchen for the last few weeks. In addition to green tea, it contains detoxifying rose petals, anti-inflammatory ginger and a touch of nourishing honey, all of which I have found to be especially effective at soothing and reducing redness due to acne flare-ups, sun exposure and contact dermatitis.
Green Tea and Rose Spritzer
When choosing rose petals, be sure they are culinary-grade and haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Organic petals are available in health food stores and from spice shops.
3 green tea bags
1 TBSP culinary-grade dry rose petals
12 thin slices of peeled ginger
2 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBSP honey
1 cup cold water
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
sparkling mineral water, chilled, to top
mint, to garnish
Bring 2 cups of water just to a boil.
Meanwhile place the tea bags, rose petals and ginger in a heat-proof bowl. Pour over the hot water and steep for 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and honey until the honey is dissolved. Strain out the tea and ginger by pouring the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a heat-safe pitcher. Stir in 1 cup of cold water and the lemon juice. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.
To serve, fill a glass with 2/3 tea base and 1/3 sparkling water. Add ice and a sprig of mint if desired.