Cooking to Cure: Let’s taco-bout skin care


Skye Connors

Photo by Skye Connors.

The revenue of the United States’ cosmetics industry is more than 49 billion dollars. According to the New York Post, the average American woman ends up spending $3,756 towards beauty treatments per year. For men, it’s $2,928 per year. In a lifetime, this can be over a quarter million dollars.

But, believe it or not, there is something you can do—besides plastic surgery, anti-wrinkle straws and yet another trendy moisturizer—to boost your beauty, prevent “early onset” wrinkles, and get rid of the certain skin malady that torments middle schoolers and college students alike worldwide, also known as acne.

Change your diet.

First things first, eliminate the biggest culprits: greasy, fatty and sugary foods.

You know the ones I’m talking about.

Bye-bye, fried chicken. Adios, doughnuts. Au Revoir, potato chips.

Eating an excessive amount of greasy foods, which have high glycemic indexes, increases your body’s production of sebum, the natural oil produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands, according to the National Institutes of Health. Too much sebum can clog your pores, which can lead to the formation of acne lesions.

Oily foods are also high in saturated fat and trans fat, both of which cause inflammation in the body, which in turn exacerbates the formation of acne. When your body is inflamed, it produces more free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage healthy skin cells in your body. This can contribute to premature skin aging, like dry skin, fine lines, and dark spots. In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, a consistent diet high in saturated fat and trans fat was also correlated with increased acne.

To avoid acne, you should bid farewell to refined carbs as well.  Excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, like sugar and white flour, is associated with an increased risk of acne, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

In place of these harmful dietary staples, add foods that will boost your skin health. And, no, I don’t mean slapping a few cucumber slices on your face and calling it a day. Supplementing your diet with foods like fruits, veggies, nuts and fish can improve your skin from the inside out.

First, load up on fruits and veggies. Foods like blueberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, red grapes and avocados are especially helpful. They are full of antioxidants and vitamins that nourish your skin and protect it from damage.

Avocados, particularly, are rich in healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which moisturize the skin and reduce inflammation. Avocados are rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, which are powerful antioxidants that can protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. These vitamins can also improve the skin’s elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Other nutrients in avocado like potassium, magnesium and folate, promote a clear and radiant complexion and reduce the risk of skin damage.

But wait, there’s more!

Avocados abound with zinc and sulfur, which not only have anti-inflammatory properties but also control oil production. In addition to all the benefits to the skin that they provide, avocados taste great on toast, in guacamole, on salad, and in sandwiches, so don’t skimp on this green powerhouse.

Another major player in gigging you a glowing complexion is salmon. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a nutrient-dense protein with anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the inflammation that contributes to the development of skin sagging and acne. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to regulate sebum production in the skin, which helps reduce the risk of breakouts.

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a lower risk of developing acne, according to a study in the Journal of Lipid Research. Other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, chia seeds, tuna, and dark chocolate.

Finally, don’t forget to drink water. Your skin will reap the benefits of your staying hydrated, as water flushes out toxins that might be causing bloating, redness, and acne. So, put down that soda or Starbucks frap and pick up a bottle of water. Your skin will thank you, and so will your selfie camera.

Here is a recipe that prominently features two of the primary skin-boosting acne-destroying foods you need: avocados and salmon. Easy to throw together for dinner or pack to-go for lunch, these salmon tacos with avocado salsa are sure to delight.

Salmon tacos with avocado salsa


1 lb salmon filets

2 ripe avocados

½ red onion

2 limes, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

Corn tortillas

Cilantro, for garnish


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Whisk the olive oil, honey, soy sauce, paprika, chili, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well combined. 
  3. Brush the top of the salmon filets generously with the oil and honey mixture. 
  4. Place the filets on the baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through and flaky. 
  5. While the salmon is in the oven, make the avocado salsa. Mix the diced avocado, chopped red onion, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 
  6. When the salmon is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Break the salmon into bite-sized pieces with a fork. 
  7. To assemble the tacos, first, warm the tortillas in the microwave (wrapped in paper towels) or on a pan (no oil). 
  8. Add a heaping spoonful of the avocado salsa into each tortilla, then add the salmon. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy.