Carla Oates, author of The Beauty Chef and founder of the Australian beauty and wellness brand of the same name, first began healing with food as a teenager in an effort to combat eczema and allergies.
When, years later, her own daughter began experiencing skin issues, Oates once again turned to food. “After investigating various studies that looked at what we eat and how food affects the gut and the connection between gut health and skin health, I put my family on a gut-healing protocol.”
The Beauty Chef is a cookbook that caters to an array of diets. “There is not a one-size-fits-all diet solution for everyone, but irrespective of whether you eat a vegan, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian, or any other kind of diet, I have found that unprocessed, organic, free-range, low GI and low HI (human intervention), sustainable foods are best for our bodies, the food chain, the animals and the environment.” In her cookbook, Oates discusses the common causes of gut health issues and explains which nutrients are essential to better health, why they are and where to find them.
Unlike many “clean eating” books, The Beauty Chef seems to include a diversity of recipes (accompanied by gorgeous photographs) that make this seemingly arcane and burdensome way of life much more doable and unrestrictive. With a diversity of recipes — chicken liver mousse; molten chocolate pudding; mushroom, pea, and mint spaghetti — Oates presents a healthier way of eating in a deliciously achievable and sustainable manner.
Other recipes in her book include:
The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?
Carla Oates: My philosophy is that beauty begins in the belly. There are many studies to support the link between gut health, probiotics, and skin health. Studies show that those with a healthier gut microbiota have a healthier fatty acid profile in their skin, which means their skin is more hydrated, softer, and plumper. Studies also show the link between gut health and a host of skin problems from acne and eczema to rosacea and psoriasis. All of The Beauty Chef products and the book focus on gut health by providing nutrient-dense foods and probiotic-rich foods.
I’m a big believer in maintaining balance in life. I have learned that there is not a one-size-fits-all diet solution for everyone. While I eat a very balanced diet and take into account different ideologies of eating, I avoid extreme fad diets and belief systems. I however do believe in eating a low GI and low HI diet (that is low human intervention), avoiding processed and packaged food, and eating whole foods (organic wherever possible) and that have been prepared in a way to make them their most nutritious (for example soaking, fermenting, and food combining). I love raw food, but for those with compromised digestive systems, cooked food is easier on the gut, so I would focus on healing the gut first and then adding more raw food to the diet.
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
I learned from a very early age the connection between gut health and the skin. I suffered from eczema and allergies in my teens, and looking after my own skin and health issues is where my inner beauty journey began. It is serendipitous that cooking is one of my favorite things. I love combining the joy of cooking with the science of nutrition. This, together with being asked by my customers what they should eat for radiant skin and robust health, was the inspiration for this cookbook. The book contains more than 150 gluten-free, mostly dairy-free, skin- and gut-loving recipes that are nutritious and delicious and which will feed your cells and your gut microbes.
What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
That's impossible to choose! One of my favorite recipes is my fig, pomegranate, radicchio, orange, and feta salad. It's a delicious mix of bitter, sweet, and savoury flavours — plus radicchio contains inulin, a prebiotic, which also increases bile production and helps us utilize skin-loving fats.
What are some of the foods you can’t live without?
I love fermented foods! When you lacto-ferment, nutrients are made more bio-available for the skin to use. For example, if you eat a plate of super foods, by the time your body takes what it needs to function, you may end up only absorbing around 12 to 25 percent of the nutrients. However, if you ferment these foods, you can actually absorb up to 85 percent! Lacto-fermentation also creates naturally occurring probiotics that help balance the skin and health. We have this incredible process that turns natural ingredients into supercharged and super-active ingredients — and it is all done by nature!
Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
I do love eating out but I prefer cooking! I really love making healthier versions of traditional meals for my family. Growing up, my kids would always request “normal food,” so I developed healthy versions of classics like spaghetti bolognese, pizza, and even fried chicken, all of which you’ll find in the book.
What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
My go-to is the Get Glowing Smoothie Bowl. It’s the very first recipe in the book. This health-giving bowl is fiber-rich, vitamin-rich, antioxidant-rich, lipid-rich and full of skin-protective and glow-giving minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc, plus it has the added boost of Glow Advanced Inner Beauty Powder with pre- and probiotics to keep your gut happy and skin radiant.
How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?
I hope that no matter what your food philosophy is, this book will provide recipes for people to enjoy, benefit from, and share with loved ones. I also hope this book will educate and guide people to make choices that lead to a happy gut and a radiant complexion.