My name is Alissa Chasen, and I am an acne sufferer, esthetician, skin care company owner, and amateur home cook who is always looking for great recipes that I can make for my family and share with my acne clients.
I don’t invent recipes; I improve them. I’m not an instinctive cook, but (at least according to my nutritionist husband) the food I make is better than most of the restaurants out there. That’s because I’ve learned how to take a really good rock-solid recipe and elevate it to “clean eating for clear skin” with just a few simple substitutions.
My brother-in-law, who was the head chef and creative mind behind Brick and Mortar Kitchen in Richmond, Texas, once told me I’m the best home cook he’s ever met. I can’t tell you what this means to me, considering where I learned my craft.
The childhood memories I have of good home cooking are foods I wouldn’t stick in my mouth today, like frozen Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese baked in the oven and mozzarella sticks cooked in our FryDaddy® deep fryer, circa 1977. No offense to my mom (she really tried) but she was a working mother and the frozen food companies were marketing hard to families like ours to get “home cooking” without, well, cooking.
In college I subsisted on something called chimichangas. Don’t know what that is? Basically it’s a deep-fried burrito, and completely devoid of nutrients. No wonder I spent my freshman year with an extra 20 pounds and a face full of zits.
I spent the first six months as a newlywed watching Giada de Laurentiis on her show “Everyday Italian.” Did I cook? Nope. But I watched dutifully and learned how to cook in theory (while eating bags of Hershey’s Kisses). My new husband would come home from work to see little foil wrappers all around me, and nothing for dinner.
My claim to fame in these early cooking years was a first attempt at gazpacho “gone very bad.” It started as dinner for two but quickly morphed into filling two giant stockpots as I continued adding more ingredients in a desperate attempt to make it edible. In the end, $100 in vine-ripened tomatoes and vegetables from the original Whole Foods ended up in the trash – a very expensive kitchen experiment. Friends and family still bring up my sordid history with this Spanish cold soup even though I’ve since perfected my food processor Gazpacho (hint: tomato juice gives it body and sherry vinegar gives it tang and sweetness).
During this time I received my first cookbook, “Five Ingredients or Less.” The giver (presumably, my hungry husband) probably thought “Six Ingredients or Less” would’ve been too much for my skill-set. I cooked every recipe from that book, plus a few of Giada’s recipes from her show, and that’s how I learned the basics of cooking.
After I had my daughter, I was ready to turn it up a notch. I discovered the food website Epicurious and Cook’s Illustrated’s scientific approach to cooking “the perfect dish.” Now I was getting into some serious recipes, with up to three days of marinating and 20 + ingredients requiring hours of food prep to make the perfect Pulled Pork. These recipes rock—don’t get me wrong—but they just aren’t practical for everyday nutritious living (or for those of us that hold down a job).
This was also around the time that my research on acne uncovered that iodized salt, cow’s milk, peanuts, and seaweed are irritating and inflammatory to acne. My husband had begun writing his book, “Living Wheat-Free for Dummies,” and was teaching me the detrimental effects of wheat, sugar, and vegetable oils on our health.
I began tweaking my favorite recipes by identifying simple ingredient substitutions that make them acne-safe and good for the body without noticeable changes in flavor, texture, or color (because we eat with our eyes, too):
Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
Raw honey, Dark chocolate 70-85%
Goat’s milk, Carrageenan-free Almond milk
Sprouted Almonds and Seeds
Extra-Virgin Olive oil and Avocado oil
Collard greens, Hemp protein
Zucchini and Squash (with a spiralizer)
Quinoa, Brown rice
The recipe section of “Living Wheat-Free for Dummies” is made up of favorites from my kitchen, although the book advocates acne-causing cow’s milk (and canned sardines, just–yuck!).
So, today is the launch of the #CleanEatsClearSkin blog, which will include my favorite recipes for full body health, written especially for acne sufferers around the country. It’s really important for people with acne to realize how connected our gut health is to our skin, and my approach to treating acne from the “inside-out” and the “outside-in” is holistic and integrative. In conjunction with good acne products to speed up healing on the outside, we can create deep healing on the inside by:
- fixing hormonal imbalances that lead to premenstrual acne flare-ups by increasing omega-3’s and fiber and cutting out sugar
- avoiding foods that cause allergies and lead to leaky gut, like wheat, gluten, and vegetable oils
- cutting out pasteurized and unfermented dairy that contains growth hormones, increases insulin, and turns on the oil glands
- incorporating antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables that calms acne, like dark purple and red berries and dark leafy greens
- avoiding inflammatory foods that cause candida, like mushrooms and beer
In this food blog I plan to include painless ways to get vegetables into your diet (even if you don’t like them), transportable foods for healthy eating on the run, best picks for restaurant eating, and family dinners even a teenager will sit down for. But most important, I’ll include easy-to-cook recipes that truly taste delicious and have been tested by me, personally, over the years.
I hope you will find the ideas in this blog useful, enjoyable, and flavorful. Please leave a comment for me below if there’s anything you would like me to cover or a favorite recipe of yours that you need help tweaking to make it acne-friendly.
Clean Eating for Clear Skin team