holistic health

12 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

It’s a misconception that eating healthily has to be expensive. In fact, it’s very manageable to have three all-organic healthy and nourishing meals (plus snacks!) each day no matter what your grocery and food budget may be -- I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this concept and testing out new ways to eat well for cheap. There are ways!

If you don’t know where to start, follow these tips for eating well on a budget:

1. Cook As Many of Your Meals as You Can

This is at once the simplest and the most difficult tip: commit to cooking your meals rather than eating out. Not only does eating out add up quick, but it tends to be less healthy than what you would cook at home. Depending on your habits, you could save roughly $180 - 250 each month by not eating out. How’s that for savings?

2. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

Once you’re committed to cooking at home more, try planning your meals for the week ahead of time. Make use of versatile ingredients that you can use in multiple different dishes throughout the week, and stick to simple meals that don’t require too many ingredients. Doing this helps with a few things:

  • You can buy bulk, which saves you on the total cost of items.
  • You’ll have less chance of unused ingredients going bad in your fridge and, as a result, you’ll waste less.

  • You’ll put more thought into what you’re eating and how much you’re spending, which will help you keep to you stick to your good eating and spending habits.

3. Eat What's in Season

This might seem like a no-brainer, but in-season foods are always cheaper than out of season foods, which were likely imported from elsewhere in the world.

So, to save money, focus on foods that are in-season. Learn to love cabbage and citruses in the winter, and go crazy with squashes and root plants in the fall. For a full list of in-season produce and recipe suggestions try Wise Breads’s post on seasonal produce. The Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture also has a very good, comprehensive chart.

Above all, avoid pricey pre-packaged foods. These foods will not only be pricier but also most likely contain ingredients that are not health-enhancing. Remember to read the ingredient list if you are purchasing packaged foods.

4. Take Advantage of Farmer’s Markets, CSAs, and Imperfect-Looking Vegetables

Some of the best places to find cheap and delicious in-season produce is at your local farmer’s market. Try going at the end of the day and asking for deals to save even more. If you don’t have a farmer's market close to you, try an online farmer’s market such as GrubMarket - they deliver straight to your door!

If you have a CSA in your area, you can also save money while getting ultra-fresh produce (sometimes things you’ve never even seen before!) by ordering from them.

Similar to a CSA is a new produce delivery service, Imperfect Produce, which delivers totally edible -- but “too ugly for supermarket” -- fruits and veggies for super cheap. For example, you could order a 7 - 9 pound box, which will last at least a week, of produce for roughly $12. Awesome!

5. Look for Sales and Take Advantage of Them

For the non-produce staples (and, okay, even some produce) keep an eye out for sales and take advantage of them. Be open to adjusting your weekly meal plan to accommodate a good deal you found at the supermarket or stocking up on dry goods when they go on sale.

Hint: in some supermarkets, if you buy one item that’s on a “2 for $3” sale, you’ll still be able to get it half off. Don’t buy both if you don’t need them.

6. Shop at Ethnic Markets

Want a cheap box of coconuts? Go to Chinatown or your nearest ethnic grocery store. Even for some more common items like rice noodles, or a bag of apples, ethnic grocery stores often still have good quality items for cheaper. Keep in mind that organic is ideal.

7. Focus on Plant Foods and Make Fewer Meat-Centric Dishes

I advocate a high plant-focused way of eating in order to get a wide variety of nutrients, but it's also a way to save money if you know how to balance your non-meat meals appropriately.

For those of you who don't want to omit meat entirely (and you don't necessarily need to - your body knows best!), try eating fewer meat-centric dishes. Rather than serving up a steak with a side of broccoli, make meat a compliment, rather than the focus. Cook a quinoa dish with a bit of ground turkey, or a veggie stir fry with some slices of lamb.

8. Start a Garden

Whether you’ve got a yard or a windowsill, starting a garden is the ultimate way to lower your food spending. After all, it’s free (well, almost -- you might still have to make a small upfront investment in seeds, pots, and soil).

Certain things, like arugula or bok choy, are super easy to grow for first timers, whereas others, like tomatoes, require a bit more care and attention. No matter what you grow, gardens are a great way to get a constant supply of nourishing food. Not to mention, there’s no fresher food than what you’re growing outside your front door.

9. Learn to Love Your Freezer

This tip goes back to that whole idea that by letting food go bad, you’re wasting money. Which is why any health-nut on a budget should really learn to love their freezer. There’s two big ways this can help:

First, you can freeze leftovers if you know you won’t be eating them in the next couple of days. Personally, if something’s been in my fridge for 2 days, I’ll either eat it or freeze it to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. Just make sure to mark when you put them in.

Second, if you’ve got a garden, weren’t able to eat all the food you got in your CSA or last week’s grocery store run, you can preserve a lot of fruits and veggies by either canning, pickling, or -- yes -- freezing them.

One of my favorite things to do is to take greens (arugula, parsley, etc.) and turn them into a pesto. Stick them in an ice cube tray and freeze them. That way, you’ll have a stash of homemade pesto you can easily pop on pasta for the rest of the year.

10. Embrace the Health Value of Super Basic Foods

You don’t have to be splurging on obscure and expensive health foods to be healthy. Some of the commonly available foods (brown rice, apples, broccoli, bananas, spinach) are incredibly healthy for you (when organic).

I think that expensive, trendy health foods like chia seeds or acai are part of the reason people assume eating well needs to cost money. Yes, I may be into these more trendy ‘superfoods', but in reality, some of the best stuff for you is downright common and unexotic — you can find amazingly cheap organic produce for less than $1 at the farmer’s market.

To add to that, these more expensive 'superfoods' can go a long way. You only need small amounts to reap the health benefits of these foods, so you won’t need to be purchasing them all that often.

11. Make Your Own Drinks

Buying beverages can get pricey quick -- not to mention, you might not have any control of the amount of sugar and other ingredients in them or whether or not they’re organic.

Personally, I prefer getting around this problem by making my own drinks. Especially since frozen organic berries are cheaper than fresh ones, buying a few big bags of organic frozen berries is an easy way to get my berry fix without breaking the bank. Simply toss some in a blender with water (or milk), lemon juice and a bit of honey (optional) and voila!

12. Get Creative with Your Recipes

This might be the best tip I can give you - There are no rules in the kitchen! Did you know you could make chocolate with mushrooms? Well, you can. And if mushrooms can be a core ingredient for one of your favorite dessert foods, then you should absolutely get creative with leeks, turnips, boysenberries, or whatever else is most affordable at the moment in your supermarket/farmers market.

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.

Best Ever Apple Pie

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What makes this apple pie the best ever is the love and quality ingredients that went into it. My lovely friend Julia from Dessert Medicine was visiting and we got busy in the kitchen. 

It's a wonderful experience to share space in the kitchen with someone and let each others intuitive powers flow and blend together. 

We had an abundance of apples and a vision of an apple pie a few days prior to making this, and without rules, recipes, or expectations, we joined to execute the most amazing pie I've ever created. Julia made the crust and I made the filling. Together we made magic! 

I invite you to play in the kitchen with friends, lovers, and family. You too can create something delicious, wether you're a self-proclaimed chef or not. All you need is some inspiration, a few ingredients, and some good intentions. 

Ingredients

Crust:

2 cups gluten-free oats

1 cup almonds

2 Tablespoons flax seeds or chia seeds, plus 1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 Tablespoon lucuma powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, cardamom

1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

 

Apple Filling:

5 apples, sliced

¼ cup coconut palm sugar

3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons lucuma powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon reishi powder

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

To make crust:

  1. Grind flax or chia in a spice grinder, to make a powder and mix with water to make a gel.
  2. Blend oats and almonds in a high power blender, into a flour. 
  3. Melt down coconut oil, if not already liquid.
  4. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix by hand.
  5. Press crust mixture into a pie dish, evenly pinching the sides and set aside.

To make apple filling:

  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust flavor/sweetness to your preference.
  2. Pour over crust and spread out evenly in pie pan.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until crust is slightly browned and apples are cooked through and soft. 

Serve with ice cream. We served it with a homemade Honey Lavender Coconut Ice Cream that I had in my freezer (recipe coming soon!). 

Captures of Yoga & Superfood Smoothies Workshop

What a wonderful weekend. We were so happy to share smoothies and knowledge with everyone at the Yoga & Superfood Smoothies Workshop on Saturday. There was some great Q & A and hopefully everyone is trying out their new recipes this week! We're grateful for Dave Ford's yoga practice, our amazing helper, Maddy Smith, the beautiful well-lit space (aMuse Art Gallery & Meeting Place) in the Mission, and everyone who brought their good energy. It was pretty cool to do yoga in an art gallery. Let us know if you'd like to see a similar event, we'd be happy to host if there's interest - contact Regina at reginafelice@apurifiedlife.com

xx

Captures of Valentine’s Day Chocolate Making Workshop

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There’s no such thing as getting your hands dirty when it comes to chocolate. But if there were, I guess you could say that’s how we spent our Valentine’s Day. At the Chocolate Making Workshop we made rose and fig truffles, chai spiced chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate bark. Everyone got to build their own dark chocolate bark with nuts, seeds, fruit, and superfood powders. There was a lot of love in the air (and in the chocolate) on Saturday! We’re grateful for everyone’s great energy and company.

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Brunch Club: Farewell Winter Harvest

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Change isn’t always easy, but all we can do is embrace it and CELEBRATE it. At Brunch Club we’ll be saying farewell to the winter harvest before welcoming the bright vegetables of spring. Come enjoy a three-course meal and learn about the importance of eating for the seasons. All ingredients are organic, local, vegetarian friendly, and free of gluten and refined sugars. You’ll take home new recipes and connect with some awesome people. Check out photos from January Brunch Club to see what you’re in for.

There’s also an optional yoga practice before brunch (10am). Francesca Gobeille will be starting us off with a gentle, all-levels yoga practice to ease in the day. Visit Francesca's website to learn more about her teaching practice.

Hope this menu makes you ‘MMMMMmmmmmm’ as much as us!

FIRST COURSE

Green Winter Smoothie

A balanced blend of seasonal fruits and vegetables with an added superfood bonus of spirulina, seeds, and raw honey.

Kombucha by House Kombucha

Lavender lemonade House Kombucha.

Grindstone Bakery Gluten-Free Bread with Homemade Almond Butter

Served with sides of fresh bananas and ground cinnamon.

SECOND COURSE

Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprout Scramble (Vegan Option Available)

Organic eggs and vegetables cooked in coconut oil and seasoned with warming spices. Topped with herbs and served with avocado.

Grapefruit pancakes with coconut whipped cream

Coconut flour pancakes with fresh grapefruit zest and cinnamon. Topped with coconut whipped cream, pure maple syrup, and sliced kumquats.

THIRD COURSE

Apple pie breakfast bars

Raw dates, apples, coconut, almonds, cinnamon and sea salt.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?! Get your tickets on Feastly. See you on 2/22 .

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Superfood Hot Chocolate

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Every year I come home to visit for the holidays with a new favorite drink or food that I'm eager to share with my family. This year, I've been on a hot chocolate kick for about a month now, and it's been a healing and delicious journey. This has been the morning drink of choice at my house for the past few days, and I encourage you to give it a try if you're looking for a cozy nourishing start to your day. Especially around the stressful holiday season, starting with a warm pre-digested drink like this will sooth the digestive system instead of causing more stress first thing in the morning. You'll feel lighter and more energized.

Ingredients

2 cups herbal tea -Any herbal tea of choice works.I use a loose leaf mixture of dandelion root, holy basil, gynostemma, and chaga mushroom. (I order my herbs online from Mountain Rose Herbs)

2 Tablespoons hemp seeds

1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon raw honey

1 teaspoon raw maca powder - Boosts energy, balances mood, influences stamina, and aids sexual function

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ashwagandha powder - An adaptogenic herb that helps the body deal with stress, strengthens the immune system, and boosts energy. 

1/4 teaspoon he shou wu - Strengthens the immune system, supports adrenals, calms the nervous system, and maintains youthful condition and color of hair. 

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 drops of vanilla stevia (Omica Organics)

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

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Procedure

  1. Place hot tea and remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy and frothy.

Note: This drink is not by all means limited to these ingredients only. My hot chocolate is never the same. I like to switch off using different superfoods depending on how I feel that day. Play around with what calls you. Other ingredients I often use: mucuna, shilajit, lucuma, stevia, dates instead of honey, tahini, cinnamon, medicinal mushroom powders (reishi, cordyceps, turkey tail, shiitake, etc.), and Everlasting Vitality & Youth.

Let me know what ingredients you try and how your specialty superfood hot chocolate turns out.

Enjoy & Happy Holidays!

x, Giovanna

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

 

Captures of Our First Community Brunch Club

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I'm so excited to say that our first brunch club was a success!  The room was filled with like-minded and inspiring individuals. If I've learned anything in the past 4 years that I've been a nutrition & health educator (and going through my personal health journey), it's that health is so much more than 'what to eat and what not to eat.' It's truly about community and surrounding ourselves with people that are also on the path to optimal health and well-being.

I loved sharing this experience with everyone and opening up the opportunity for people to connect and support one another. The location was amazing as well - 18Reasons, it made the event that much better.

Thank you to everyone that attended, supported, and participated in making this day happen. Below are the beautiful captures of the September brunch club, taken by my lovely friend Erica Bean.

I cannot wait for the next one this month! Stay tuned for the date.

Xo,

Giovanna