Sun salutations: a sunchoke recipe and eating for sun protection

About our guest food blogger:


Elenore Bendel Zahn is a health coach, organic gardener, writer, photographer, and the founder of Earthsprout, one of our favorite resources for seasonal vegan recipes. "All I create is brought to life with the intention of shaking things up and create a better world. And it’s all very delicious in so many ways."



If anyone would have walked in on my 19 month old son and me playing in the garden last week it would have been obvious just how much of a hippie I am. Why? Caspian's face was covered in clay.. Allow me to explain. It was a gorgeous day during one of those first spring weeks where the sun actually warms the earth and by midday it was blazing hot. I suddenly realized it was time to swap that winter hat for a sun hat, turned around to get it --but wait a second, aren't his cheeks a little too sun-kissed already? Shoot! What was I going to do?-- I walked inside to get our bottle of organic sunblock but realized in that very last second before grabbing it.. that I couldn’t do it. The list of ingredients was just too long and alien-sounding for me to be fine with putting it on my baby’s skin. Solution? My eyes wandered over to the jar of Rhassoul clay that me and Fabian use as shampoo (It totally works!) and thought, why not go full on hippie-mama on this very fine Tuesday? So I mixed 50% virgin coconut oil with 50% Rhassoul clay and covered Caspian's cute little face with it. A sun hat to top off my creation and I felt like a freaking superhero. Caspian's skin would be safe while continuing our garden fun a little while longer.


Summer is always much anticipated and don’t we all just love to soak up every last bit of that gorgeous sun? However, that goodness also comes hand in hand with the importance of protecting our sensitive skin. Too much of it during the wrong time of day can be downright harmful. I know for myself how easily my skin gets burned when out and about these spring days. While spending time in the sun is the best way to load up on Vitamin D and allow our body to produce a plentiphora of feel-good hormones we got to be smart while doing so.


So apart from turning your babe into a little clay monster what can you do when you acknowledge the importance of being in the sun but have a complete aversion to slathering anything that you wouldn’t put in your mouth, onto your skin? (Our skin IS a very absorbing organ and 60-100% of what we put onto it ends up in our bloodstream.) Knowing that there still are many even carcinogenic ingredients in skin ’care’, that corner-store sunblock starts to look a lot less appealing..


To be honest, I feel like the very act of our crazy sunblock-smearing culture indicates that we’ve got it all wrong in the first place. If we were to act responsibly while in the sun we’d avoid launching around in direct sunlight during midday (11am-3 pm) when the sun is at its peak and it’s really easy to get burned. (Obviously I have to get better at planning mine and Caspian's days now that summer is around the corner.) Luckily there are some ways to be super smart about all this and it starts with what we actually put inside of our body. Sun protection, my friends, can come from your food and it can be so very delicious! So start seeing your food as possible sunblock but from the inside-out instead of the other way around and the summer of 2015 just might turn out to be life-changing for you and your family. Not only will you eat for sun protection but you’ll boost your overall health, vitality, energy and immune system at the same time. Hellooo summer, you just got a whole lot more fun!


Eating for sun protection


- A salad for those first picnics



Cucumber & Fennel - These two fantastic salad buddies are loaded with high quality water (you’re choosing organic, eh?) and even though not directly sunprotecting in that sense, keeping hydrated is where it’s at during summertime. Water truly has the capacity to transform our health. It helps us stay sharp and full of energy, it makes us glow from the inside out and it flushes out toxins. Need I say more?


Sprouts - Tiny but incredibly powerful. Sprouts are loaded with antioxidants and living enzymes and cleverly enough they come in such a small package that it’s easy to get a good dose withough having to shovel down the biggest bowl of salad (even though that wouldn't hurt). When our skin burns in direct sunlight, more free radicals are produced and a great way to minimize the cell damage they cause is getting a good amount of antioxidants into our system each day. Some studies also show that antioxidants may directly protect our skin from getting burned so it works both ways.


Virgin coconut oil - This widely loved creamy dream contains powerful antioxidants so consuming it can fight off free-radical damage and result in both a healthy inside and outisde. As well as making our skin less prone to sunburn, virgin coconut oil can also be applied topically for a gentle sun protection. Good quality coconut oil on the beach is all the rage in the health community, get onboard!


Almonds - As well as being an outstanding source of good fats and thus antioxidants, almonds are also a great way to get Vitamin E (which is also an antioxidant!) into our body. Vitamin E has been seen reversing skin damage brought about by sun exposure and when paired with Vitamin C it offers great sunprotection too.


Chili - This spicy addition to your food is rich in lycopene, a natural pigment and antioxidant. Foods that have a high concentration of lycopene have been shown to protect against some UV-induced skin irritations while also fighting off free radicals.


Sun Protecting Summer Salad



Get your fabulous self out in the sunshine (during the smart hours bien sur) and bring this fantastic summer salad with you. Throw in a green smoothie and a water bottle full of citrus and red berries and you’ve loaded up with that inside-out sunblock.


Serves 4-6


Baked Roots


500 g jerusalem artichokes

2 tsp flaky sea salt

1/2 tsp chili flakes

2 tbsp virgin coconut oil

1 handfull fresh thyme


1. Preheat oven to 392 °F / 200°C


2. Rinse and scrub jerusalem artichokes then slice them into 1 cm / 0.3in thick slices and add to a baking sheet. Drizzle over 2 tbsp gently melted (or room temperature) virgin coconut oil, chili flakes, fresh thyme and lastly the sea salt. Toss to coat and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until slightly crisp and golden. Set aside.



Raw Almond ‘Cheese’


1 cup raw almonds

1/4 tsp high quality salt

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 garlic clove, minced


1. Soak raw almonds in 1 1/2 cup pure water overnight. In the morning rinse, cover with warm water and peel. Peel should come off easily if the almonds are raw and unpasteurized. Add to a high bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and blend/pulse with your hand blender / immersion blender until crumbly. Using a high speed blender isn’t great here as it’s such a small quantity. Crumble up further using your fingers and set aside.


Other Salad Components



1/2  cup puy or beluga lentils, cooked acording to instructions on package

1 tsp virgin sesame seed oil

1/2 cucumber

1/2 fennel

1/2 handfull fresh thyme


1. Cook beluga- or puy lentils according to instructions on package and once done and slightly aldente drizzle over the sesame seed oil and set aside.


2. Rinse cucumber and slice thinly lengthwise on a mandolin slicer or using a potato peeler.


3. Rinse fennel and slice thinly on a mandolin slicer.



Assemble Salad


Add cooked lentils, sliced fennel and cucumber and baked jerusalem artichokes to a large salad bowl and combine. Finish off with the crumbly almond cheese, fresh thyme and flaky sea salt to taste.