Glow from Within: Lycopene and Tomatoes

This is the first in a series of monthly posts by Certified Health Coach and Plant-Based Chef Julie Magnussen. Were calling it Glow From Within, because we know that what you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your skin.

By Julie Magnussen

Have you ever noticed the most coveted “look” is always the natural inner-glow? That real inner vibrancy that shines through your skin creating a refreshed look, clear eyes and a dewy complexion. While makeup artists work tirelessly to achieve this “natural” look, there’s no getting around the fact that your appearance on the outside is a direct reflection of how well you’re taking care of your mind and body on the inside.

Consuming real, unprocessed foods that are naturally high in phytochemicals (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) not only provides you with immediate results from within but also provides long-lasting protection (and even reversal) of oxidative stress (due to sun exposure, smoking, sleepless nights, chronic stress, etc.). The great news is you can easily achieve this by consuming absolutely delicious food.

So what kind of food should we be eating?

Let’s be real. There are amazing nutrients in so many plant foods that you’re bound to take in some incredible, skin-friendly nutrients no matter what. However, there is one called lycopene that is widely studied as the most effective phytochemical for healthy skin. Lycopene (and other important carotenoids found in pink/red/orange foods) actually works to prevent structural proteins (what gives your skin elasticity and keeps you wrinkle-free) from breaking down, slowing the look of skin aging. After we consume lycopene, it accumulates in the skin opposing UV light, which is why it acts as an internal sunscreen. Not only that, it actually works to prevent and repair DNA damage to the skin caused by overexposure of the sun. Pretty potent and powerful stuff!

So you’re sold, now what?

The number one most effective way of using this nutrient to your optimal benefit is hidden in this little secret…


Consuming a diet rich in plant-foods every now and then will only get us so far through our inner-glow journey. Did you know that when our skin is exposed to the sun it actually uses up our lycopene stores? It’s important to consume lycopene and other carotenoids on a regular basis to ensure our skin is performing and its peak. It’s our consistent, everyday actions and decisions (yep…even the little ones) that will create the healthy, vibrant and beautiful life full of enthusiasm AND glowing skin you’re striving to achieve.

Photo Credit: Julie Magnussen, Healthy Julie[/caption]

Okay, so how do we include this in our everyday diet?

Lycopene is found is pink/red foods such as watermelons, grapefruit, and one of my favorites -tomatoes! Tomatoes are one of my go-to foods and they’re in peak season (meaning they’re tastiest) in August and September. What is even better is combining fresh summer tomatoes with concentrated organic tomato paste to give you a packed punch of the skin-loving nutrient.

Here I’m sharing with you one of my favorite recipes that is vegan and gluten-free, Creamy Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup. I love making this in batches and freezing it for a go-to meal. If you’re looking for more lycopene-friendly recipes also check out my Summer Tomato Tart, Homemade Ketchup and Homemade Marinara.

Creamy Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup

Photo Credit: Julie Magnussen, Healthy Julie
2-3 lbs. fresh heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 1 tbsp. grape seed oil (or another high-heat oil like refined coconut oil) 1.5 cups vegetable broth 1/2 cup fresh carrot juice 1/4 cup cashews 2 tsp. ume plum vinegar 1 tsp. sea salt, divided 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped fresh ground pepper toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and oil. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in an even layer and cook for 25-30 minutes.

3. Remove tomato mixture from oven and place in a high-speed blender along with the vegetable broth, fresh carrot juice, cashews, ume plum vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined. Add the basil and blend on low for 20 seconds (I like to see a bit of the basil which is why I add this ingredient separately but you can also achieve a delicious soup by adding the basil with everything else).

4. Pour into serving bowls and garnish with fresh ground pepper and toasted pine nuts.


Certified Health Coach and Plant-Based Chef, Julie Magnussen (BS, CHC) is the creative force behind Healthy Julie, a healthy foodie blog with a fresh and conscious approach to a healthier lifestyle. The wellness and cooking blog features original recipes that taste great, look beautiful, and boast incredible health benefits. The goal of Healthy Julie is to educate others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.