detox

3 Detoxing Tips For The New Year

With the end of the holidays and the start of the new year, we're all looking to make changes and improve our lives. 

In the past, I would make resolutions at the beginning of every year - only to end up disappointed at myself just a few months later because 1) I didn't go through with them 2) I didn't "commit enough" or 3) I generally believed that I had no will power. Perhaps you can relate.

Over time I've learned that the point of making resolutions isn't really to deprive myself or assert unnecessary pressure toward achieving something that might make me feel happy. In fact, that "goal" I'm working toward often is not what I'm truly aiming for. 

For example, I can say that I want to lose weight with the end goal of being thin. I might say that because I might believe that being thin alone will make me happy. Instead, I should really be striving for good health and focusing on those overall positive effects on my life that deep down I know to be true, which may include weight loss, but more importantly - feeling vibrant, energetic, and confident!

When we set goals to look a certain way or to have others perceive us in a positive light, we can become unattached to the outcome and/or suffer from disappointment when we realize our "goal" isn't what we truly want. Setting these kinds of goals may cause resistance and prevent us from achieving our true desires. However, when we set intentions based on how we truly want to FEEL, it's a whole different experience.

Setting intentions help me change perspective and detox my mind of thoughts, patterns, and viewpoints that don't serve me. At the beginning of every year, I now set intentions and affirmations, rather than resolutions, to remind me of how I strive to feel. Setting intentions and incorporating this into a morning routine, as I've mentioned before, help with this practice. 

Further, there are many factors that contribute to toxicity in the body: stress (emotional and physical), environment/pollution, chemicals in beauty and cleaning products, self-sabotaging and negative thoughts, plastic bottled and tap water, and inflammatory foods such as processed/packaged foods and sugar, to name a few.

I believe that our thoughts are affected by what we put into and on our bodies. If we consume toxic foods, then we are likely to be foggy-headed, lethargic, and disconnected to our highest self. Every lasting positive change that we want to make in our lives needs the support of real whole foods in addition to a perspective shift. 

Eating foods from the earth keeps us feeling clear, light, and energized. It also connects us deeper to our heart and life purpose. 

It's our responsibility to be aware of and limit the toxins we have control over, such as what we put INTO and ON our body. One simple change can make all the difference when it comes to health. It's about "going back to basics" and living from the earth as it was intended. See below for my favorite tips to detox your body and mind this year. 


3 Top Tips to Detox Your Body and Mind

1. Drink water first thing in the morning. This is one of the oldest and yet most overlooked practices for optimal health. We are mostly made up of water so it is crucial for us to drink water to stay hydrated, have a balanced pH (acidity = inflammation), and keep our organs nourished and functioning properly. 

Drink at least 3 cups of pure water on an empty stomach upon waking and you'll be supporting your digestion and detoxification process immensely. 

It's also crucial to avoid drinking water from the tap and water that comes in plastic, as they are both contaminated sources and contribute to how we ingest toxins into our body. Drink clean water that is purified by the earth; I recommend finding a clean source of spring water near you (www.findaspring.comor using an effective water purifier/filter at home. 

2. Have healthy snacks on hand. We often think that we can't eat anything when we are trying to detox, but if we're eating the right foods, there's no need to deprive ourselves. Our bodies naturally detox when nourished properly!

Here are some healthy snack ideas:

  • Fresh Fruit - THE fast food. Quick to digest and packed with vitamins and minerals to keep us beautiful and energized. 
  • Chia Pudding - Packed with fiber, omega-3, calcium, protein, and antioxidants. Recipe here
  • Mojito Power Protein Smoothie - The perfect blend of healthy fats, two of the best plant-based protein sources (spirulina and hemp seeds) and fresh greens. Recipe here
  • Vegetables with Seed or Nut Butter - Making your own seed or nut butter is better than the store-bought kind and doesn't contain refined sugars and other unnecessary additives. Find my recipe for homemade sunflower seed butter here
  • Superfood Chocolate - Cacao is one of the healthiest foods on the planet and incredibly nourishing. A truly healthy chocolate bar will kick any packaged snack out of the ballpark! Get your Superfood Chocolate bundle here

3. Spend Time in Nature. I've mentioned this before because it's so important for our health. Nature is the ultimate medicine for us since we ARE nature. The more we move away from nature, the less grounded and more scattered we feel. 

Personally, if I spend too much time in the city or even indoors, and don't make time to be outside and touch the earth, I become irritated and uneasy. 

Take time to be outside each day. Go for a walk, touch the trees, smell the flowers. Even a short, 10-minute walk will lift you up and help detox both your body and your mind.

Looking for more detox tips? Check out my previous post here.

Foods for Beautiful and Radiant Skin

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What is beauty?

Let's be real, we all want to be beautiful, but what exactly is that?

In my opinion, beauty is not physical. We are each individually beautiful, whether we think so or not.

Beauty comes with being giving, accepting, vibrant, happy, passionate, and kind - because when we practice this, we glow inside and out.

There are many thoughts and circumstances that we go through daily that make us feel not beautiful, and might even suppress our highest potential in life. But there are many things that can help us let go of those negative thoughts and drive us to our most vibrant self.

One thing that makes us beautiful is the food we eat. Believe it or not, radiant skin begins from the inside out. In fact, our skin reflects what is going on internally. Notice when we are stressed, we might have pimples, rashes, dryness, or blemishes pop up in our skin.

We look to buy the perfect cream or serum for our skin to be smooth, but our food plays such an important part of our inner and outer beauty. When we are accepting and loving, we tend to nourish our body with the best foods out there because we know that will only enhance those feelings and actions.

On the contrary, when we feed ourselves nutrient-deficient foods, we don't quite feel that acceptance and happiness. Eating foods that aren't good for us reflects on our skin and body, and as a result, can reflect in our attitude toward ourselves - we're more likely to talk poorly about our image or feel uncomfortable in our own skin.

I'd like to share with some of the best foods for beauty, which just so happen to be nutrient-rich foods, but these in particular will support beautiful and vibrant skin (& hair - bonus!):

  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Lemon & lime
  • Berries
  • Extra-virgin olive oil & olives
  • Nuts & seeds - best if sprouted (soaked and dried)

Feel free to browse around the blog for tons of recipes with these ingredients such as the Mojito Protein Smoothie, Avocado Garbanzo Bean Salad, and Coconut and Cinnamon Granola. You can also grab a free copy of my 'Beauty Smoothies' ebook on the home page.

If you're in the Bay Area, you can personally come enjoy a wholesome (and beautifying) meal prepared by me at my next brunch event on October 26th.

Get your glow on!

Giovanna

 

Mojito Power Protein Smoothie

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Summer in San Francisco is not really summer, but I still like to enjoy the amazing flavors and make summer treats like this smoothie and plum & coconut popsicles. This mojito power protein smoothie is perfect for an afternoon boost or a well-balanced breakfast. It's packed with healthy fats, two of the best plant-based protein sources (spirulina, hemp seeds), and fresh greens that offer a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

Two of the best plant-based protein sources:

Spirulina - Blue-green algea that grows in fresh water lakes all over the world  and is truly a superfood. It is made up of about 60-70% plant protein, which makes it the world's highest source of protein. Spirulina supports blood sugar regulation, immunity, kidney function, skin issues, cholesterol levels, depression, and provides lasting energy.

Hemp seeds - A complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. They have a perfect balance of protein, essential fats, enzymes, and vitamins. Hemp seeds are excellent for controlling blood sugar, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, muscle recovery, immune support, and providing sustained energy.

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

1/4 avocado

2 heaping teaspoons spirulina powder

1 large handful mint leaves

1/2 cucumber

2 cups spinach

2 cups coconut water (or filtered water)

3 Tablespoons hemp seeds (or chia seeds)

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of sea salt

Mojito smoothie

Procedure

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into fancy glasses and enjoy.

Serves 2 or 1 for a nice big meal (I drink the whole thing for breakfast)

Mojito smoothie 2

 

Healing Bone Broth

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Bone broth is incredibly healing. It has been used for years to treat illnesses and speed up recovery and healing. Health benefits of bone broth:

  • Promotes healthy bones
  • Heals and supports gut health and digestion
  • Inhibits infection
  • Reduces joint pain
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes healthy hair and nail growth.

Bone broth can be made with chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, or beef bones. I chose to use beef bone marrow for this one. It doesn't matter what you choose to use, but you must make sure they are organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals in order to get the health benefits.

Making bone broth can be a nurturing process if you allow it to be. The more love you put into it, the more healing and nutritious it will be for you and your family. It's a great staple to have at home. And the best part is that you can make huge batches like this one and store in the freezer to have for a few months. This will be your best health supplement. Use it as a base for soups, sauces, or drink it as is.

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Ingredients

3.5-4 pounds organic, grass-fed bones. I used beef bone marrow.

4 Tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Filtered water, enough to fill pot

4 large kombu strips

4 Tablespoons dulse flakes

4 large carrots, roughly chopped

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 bunch parsley

1/4 cup goji berries

1 Tablespoon organic ground turmeric or a large chunk of fresh turmeric (peeled)

Procedure:

  1. Place bones and apple cider vinegar in a large stock pot. Fill pot with water and let sit for 30 minutes with the heat off. The acid in the vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones.
  2. Turn on heat and bring to a simmer, removing scum that rises to the surface for the first hour of cooking. Cover loosely and continue simmering on low for 24-48 hours. The longer, the better. I simmered it for about 28 hours total. You will need to add water along the way to keep bones completely covered.
  3. Add remaining ingredients for the last hour of cooking.
  4. Strain broth and place in air tight containers. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. Broth will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for a few months.
  5. The next day, there will be a layer of fat on the surface. You can discard this, use it for cooking, or stir it back in - it contains valuable nutrients.

Makes ~20-24 cups 

Don't be afraid to use your choice of herbs, spices, or vegetables to give it your own therapeutic touch.

Happy healing!

Will you be making this therapeutic drink? Let me know in the comments below. 

Probiotics + Sauerkraut Recipe

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Our digestive tract contains both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are what we call the friendly bacteria, which promote a healthy digestive system and are essential for good health. There are hundreds of types of probiotics. Some of the largest and most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These two support colon health and promote healthy bowel movements. Why is this important to know?

Well, the gut is the heart of most health conditions and we don't even know it. A happy gut is one that has a good balance of good and bad bacteria. The average american tends to feed the 'bad bacteria' more than the good. This provides a imbalanced or highly acidic environment in the gut, which comes form sugar, wheat, alcohol, processed foods, high-stress, birth control pills, radiation exposure, over-the-counter medications, and antibiotics.

A bacterial imbalance in the gut results in:

  • Impaired immune system
  • Impaired digestive system
  • Malabsorption of vitamins and minerals from food - vitamin deficiencies
  • Yeast and fungal infections (Candida)
  • Digestive issues (constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Skin issues
  • Fatigue
  • Food allergies

This is why it's crucial to eliminate foods and lifestyle habits that destroy the gut lining, and incorporate more fermented foods that are packed with probiotics to help rebalance the bacteria in the gut. There are also probiotic supplements, but having the real deal (fermented foods) is the best way to get them.

My favorite fermented foods are:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Coconut water kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Coconut yogurt

If you're new to adding probiotics into your diet, start slowly because your body will go into a state of detoxification and you might experiences symptoms such as bloating and possibly skin issues, but you will soon be feeling great and seeing a great difference in digestion and overall health. Then you can move up to having them with every meal (recommended!).

I've been experimenting with making my own ferments at home, and reality is that they're so easy to make and so much more cost effective.

Today I am sharing with you the simplest sauerkraut recipe ever. Hope you enjoy making it!

Ingredients Sauerkraut

1 head purple cabbage, shredded, save outer leaf

1 Tablespoon Sea salt (must be unrefined sea salt)

Procedure

  1. Place the shredded cabbage in a large glass bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with sea salt and massage with hands until wilted and juice covers bottom of the bowl, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Start filling a glass jar by scooping some of the cabbage with it's juice into it with a wooden spoon. Best to use glass or wood because any type of metal will kill off beneficial bacteria. Press down firmly with spoon after each scoop to pack it in tightly. Add remaining cabbage juice to fill jar. Take cabbage leaf that you initially saved, fold, and place at the surface of jar to keep air out and keep cabbage submerged in juice (press down).
  4. Cover jar tightly, making sure no air gets in. Leave on counter and press down on cabbage each day for about 3 days. Taste after 3 days (with wooden spoon). You can ferment it until it reaches your desired taste. Foam and bubbles on the surface are normal and signs of healthy fermentation. When done, cover with a lid and keep in refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Are you new to fermented foods? What are your favorite probiotic-rich foods?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Mash

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Cauliflower is often an underestimated. It seems like such a plain vegetable, yet it's loaded with nutrients and health benefits. Nutritional Highlights of Cauliflower:

  • High in vitamin C - immune support, cardiovascular support
  • Rich in antioxidant phytonutrients - help lower the risk of developing different types of cancer
  • Vitamin K - highly anti-inflammatory
  • Sulphur - anti-inflammatory, shown to kill cancer stem cells, helps detoxification
  • Vitamin B6 & Choline - two B vitamins important for brain health
  • Fiber - aids digestion

 

Cauliflower mash

 

This side dish has been one of my go-to's at home lately. My personal chef clients love it as well. It's comforting and doesn't leave you feeling stuffed. It makes a great dairy-free and low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes, especially for those watching their weight. It even tastes better, in my opinion.

I make a batch at the beginning of the week and then sauté or roast a ton of vegetables to go with it. Great for lunch, dinner, or snack.

Ingredients 

1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 large head cauliflower, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, mashed

1/4 - 1/2 cup water

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or cilantro to garnish (optional)

Procedure

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan or pot. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add chopped cauliflower, garlic, and water (enough water to cover the bottom of the pan). Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure there is still liquid at the bottom of the pan. If water has evaporates, add a little more. Steam until cauliflower is slightly tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and place in a food processor or high-speed blender. Season with oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Blend until it reaches mashed potato consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Mix in herbs at this time if desired, or garnish with them.

Note: If you do not have a food processor or high-speed blender, you may mash cauliflower with a potato masher. Cauliflower might need to be cooked a bit more to make it easier.

Serves 2-4

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

 

 

 

Sunflower Seed Butter

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A few months ago I discovered that I am sensitive to nuts. I know, I felt like my life was over, especially since I was the almond butter queen. I had it every single day and more than once. Perhaps why the sensitivity flared. I used to often get bloated and gassy after eating nuts but never thought anything of it since it wasn't every time or I just wasn't aware enough to make that connection. It wasn't until I did a thorough elimination diet/detox (similar to my 3-Day Detox Plan) that I realized that indeed nuts where causing stomach bloating and inflammation. So although they're packed with nutrients and have great health benefits, my body does not agree with them anymore. And that's okay because there are so many other foods that I can get those nutrients and snack fix from. It's just a matter of getting creative, there are always alternatives.

So I discovered this delicious and creamy sunflower seed butter. If you already purchase sunflower seed butter, do yourself a favor and make your own at home. It is so much better than the store-bought kind and doesn't contain refined sugars and other unnecessary additives. Always read your labels.

IngredientsSunflower butter

4 cups raw sunflower seeds

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place sunflower seeds on baking sheet and toast in oven for 6-10 minutes, until slightly golden. Check at 6 and 8 minutes. It's important to keep an eye on them because they burn easily.
  3. Let cool for 10 minutes and place in food processor. Process for about 7-10 minutes. The seeds will release their oils and go from a flour, to a crumbly, to a creamier consistency. Be patient, it takes time. At this point, with the processor still running, add remaining ingredients and process until it reaches desired creaminess.
  4. Transfer to jar and keep at room temperature or refrigerated for up 2-3 weeks.

Makes ~ 2 cups

Let me know how yours turns out! Share below or tag me in your picture #apurifiedlife

 

Chia Pudding [Video]

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If you know me, you know I love my chia pudding. It's a very easy and tasty energy boost. Chia seeds are packed with fiber, omega-3, calcium, protein, and antioxidants. Chia pudding is a great snack and breakfast option. It only takes 15-20 minutes to prepare and can also be made the night before.

Visit my post on 12 Reasons to Love Chia Seeds to learn more about the great health benefits of chia seeds.

Ingredients

Basic Recipe

3 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice (recipe for almond milk here)

A few pinches of ground cinnamon

Additional Ingredients for Chocolate Flavor

1/2 Tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 Tablespoon coconut sugar, raw honey, or grade B maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk for about 30 seconds. Let sit for 15-20 minutes until it reaches desired consistency. Add desired toppings or enjoy as is.

Serves 1

 

My Post-Holiday Thoughts and Tips to Get Back on Track

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This is the first time I write a blog post with more of "my thoughts" than nutrition advice. I figured it was time to switch it up a bit. I'm in the mood. It's the week after Thanksgiving and some of us are feeling stressed, low on energy, and in need of a detox. Is this you? I believe that a balance is key for a healthy lifestyle. I believe in the 80/20 approach, which consists of eating healthy 80% of the time and being able to indulge 20% of the time. I don't believe in depriving ourselves from the things we love. Everything should be done and consumed in moderation. I personally used to have a hard time reaching that healthy balance. Once I gave in to the foods that I don't normally eat (refined sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol), I found it hard to stop. Sugar is like a drug, it leaves you wanting more and more, and turns into a vicious cycle. The more we eat it, the more we crave it.

So how do we handle it? It takes time to get there, but it is possible. First of all, we have to learn to be okay with indulging and not punishing ourselves afterwards. It's about building a positive relationship with food and not a negative one. Second, we shouldn't be afraid of foods we love, but rather be mindful when we are eating them and know that they are only a treat and not an every day thing. If we believe that our body can handle it, then we won't stress about it. If we stress about the food we are eating, our body will not digest it well and cause inflammation and other symptoms. The more mindful we are when we eat, the better relationship we build with food. Don't let guilt dominate your eating experience and learn to enjoy every bite. Chew your food. It's so important to listen to our bodies and learn how food affects us to be able to eliminate the foods that don't make us feel good or don't provide us with energy. Throughout the years (yes, it takes time), I have learned to only enjoy foods that make me happy. Over indulging does not make me happy. In fact, I get in a bad mood when I eat a lot of sugar and not enough whole foods (vegetables, fruits, seeds, etc.).

My boyfriend and I took a road trip this holiday weekend and we could not believe how limited our food options were on the road. Dried apricots is all we walked away with at the gas station when we were feeling hungry. Good thing I had some raw coconut treats with us because there was literally nothing there that was going to give us sustained energy. We got smart on the way back and picked up food at Sprouts. We bought ingredients to make hummus & vegetable sandwiches on black rice bread (gluten-free), and a few bananas with almond butter.

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It often seems to others that I am "too strict" on myself, when really I enjoy eating how I eat and the lifestyle I live. My body and mind have learned to not crave those foods I used to run to when I was feeling stressed or emotional. Those foods that are associated with "living a little." Based on how I feel with the foods I eat and how happy I am, I have never lived better. I do indulge every once in a while, but I never let myself fall into the trap of wanting more. I now know that my body can handle it without gaining weight or losing track completely, but only if I am mindful that it is just a treat and don't associate it with any negative thoughts.

That said, of course I did indulge a bit this past Thanksgiving and I don't regret it one bit. I came back from my trip refreshed and ready to take on a new month. I decided the best way to start was with a detox, so my mom and I started a 6 day detox yesterday. We want to have more energy, lose the bloating/inflammation, clear our skin, and get rid of cravings.

Here are simple tips you can do also to get back on track:

  1. Drink Water. I can't stress how important water is to cleanse the body. Headaches, bloating, cravings, and low energy are all often signs of dehydration.
  2. Eat More Greens. The more greens we eat, the less we cravings we have. Vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals we need daily and reduce inflammation. Are you craving sugar? Eat greens. Are you low on energy? Eat greens.
  3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast. If your breakfast consists of mostly sugar (breads, pastries, fruit), you will crave sugar the rest of the day. Start your day with a breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats and you'll have more energy for longer.
  4. Walk it Out. Walking is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Take a long walk in the morning for the best start to your day or take 10-20 minute walk breaks throughout the day to reduce overall stress in your life. The more we stress, the harder it is to manage weight regardless of how clean our diet is.
  5. Eat Mindfully. Always ask yourself before you eat: "Will this nourish me and give me energy?." If the answer is no, then make changes. Be mindful of what you eat and how you feel during and after. Enjoy every bite and remember that you are the only one that can control what goes into your body.