If you’ve read any kind of skincare packaging, you’ve probably heard of antioxidants. It’s a big buzz word used across dozens of industries—from beauty to food products. But what are antioxidants, really?
Antioxidants are compounds that fend off free radicals in your body. Free radicals can result naturally from acute inflammation through exercise, or they can be triggered by habits such as too much sun exposure, smoking, or consuming alcohol.
If left unchecked, free radicals can cause some serious damage—not only to your natural glow, but to your overall health. You can protect your inner-beauty and your health by consuming your daily dose of antioxidants.
Fortunately for vegans and those who lean in the plant-direction, antioxidants are naturally found in plant foods, and are particularly abundant in berries, cherries, cacao, beets, and greens.
Here are seven satisfying recipes that incorporate at least one of these antioxidant-rich foods.
1. Blueberry Smoothie by Happy Healthy Life
Berries are full of antioxidants, and they’re in season right now! While this smoothie is fantastic at any time of year with frozen blueberries, we love using fresh berries from the farmers' market while we still can. Blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are also antioxidant powerhouses, so if blueberries aren’t your thing, go ahead and make this a mixed berry smoothie instead. This recipe gets a bit of a protein boost by incorporating vegan yogurt into the mix, so you’re not drinking straight fruit. We love Chobani Oat and Kite Hill dairy-free yogurts.
2. Beet Salad by Hell Yeah It’s Vegan
During picnic season, we mostly survive off summertime deli salads. We’ve gone through extra-large mason jars-worth of this simple beet side—not only because it’s addictive, but because it’s high in antioxidants. Beets contain phytonutrients called betalains which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Instead of downing beet juice, make this nourishing salad instead. It only requires a few pantry ingredients, and leftovers keep for days.
3. Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal by My Darling Vegan
It only feels like dessert for breakfast. Made with antioxidant-rich cacao powder and hearty steel-cut oats, this meal is a healthy and nourishing way to kickstart any morning. For even more free-radical-fighting power, top your chocolaty oats with a tablespoon of crunchy cacao nibs. You can also get your antioxidants in by adding cacao powder to smoothies or nibbling on small amounts of dark chocolate (70-percent cacao and above).
4. Banana Cherry Smoothie Bowl by Bakerita
Tart cherry juice has been a post-workout go-to for runners, mainly due to its high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory effects. Of course, you don’t have to be a runner to reap the benefits. Cherry juice provides a more concentrated form of antioxidants, but eating the fruit will work just fine. We are obsessed with this sweet smoothie bowl! It’s so deliciously different from the typical açai bowl, and thanks to a dollop of almond butter, it’ll fill you up for hours. Make this today!
5. Peanut Collard Greens by LeAnne Campbell
Dark leafy greens are king when it comes to antioxidant dosage, but sometimes we need more than salad and steamed kale. This comforting, peanutty recipe is the perfect introduction to cooking collard greens. This side dish is simple to prepare but packs a punch of flavor. Seasoned with red pepper flakes, garlic, and lemon juice, you could eat the greens on their own, but when dressed with oil-free peanut sauce topped and grilled plantains, this side dish becomes the star of your meal. Make this once, and you’ll come back to it again and again.
6. Tofu Summer Salad Rolls with Strawberry Dressing by Proportional Plate
We can almost guarantee you’ve never had a spring roll like this. The strawberry dressing is liquid gold! We love the sweet-meets-savory combination of strawberries, mango, avocado, and tofu—each flavor enhanced by the addition of fresh herbs such as mint and basil. When looking for antioxidant-rich foods, a good indicator is color, and these rolls pack a rainbow into every bite.
7. Simple Delicious Chilled Beet Gazpacho by Feasting at Home
Gazpacho is the soup of summer. Whether it’s traditionally made with tomatoes or goes a bit experimental with beets, the right ingredients transform cringe-worthy cold soup into a refreshing Spanish delicacy. This pretty pink beet-based version is perfect for a light lunch or a first course to a dinner enjoyed on a hot summer night. Dress it up with creamy avocado slices, cashew creme fraiche, or diced Persian cucumbers for a bit of texture. It truly tastes as good as it looks, and thanks to the antioxidant content, you’ll feel good, too!
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Tanya Flink is a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.