nutrition

10 Things I've Learned About Food & People During My Chef Years

In my years as a chef, I've learned so many interesting things about common eating preferences and what's most important for someone when they hire a personal chef. 

  1. The simpler, the better. You'd think that people hire a chef because they want complicated meals prepared, but simpler meals somehow still become favorites. One-pot meals in particular are always a huge hit. Perhaps they offer more of a comfort feel. 
  2. Chia pudding for the win! Seriously this delicious 5-minute treat is the most requested by my clients and the recipe that most people visit and make from my blog
  3. Variety is not always the case. I check-in with clients consistently to make sure I'm meeting their needs and expectations. Variety is something most claim they really want, but when I check-in and take requests, everyone wants their favorite meals repeated (all the time!). We are creatures of habit after all. 
  4. Love over flavor, most of the time. My work is all about satisfying people's taste buds with the healthiest meals. What I've found to be even more valuable about my services is the love and care I put into every single dish. In those mentioned client check-ins, most responses are about how much they enjoy working with me personally and having my energy in their home. This is a compliment as much as a reinforcement that love put into something overrides any outcome. 
  5. "You can make vegan food taste like real food". True story. A client said this to me after making a Mediterranean stew that apparently tasted exactly like pizza. I took that on as my new 'skill'. This did become a favorite dish. 
  6. Yogurt dressing on everything. It is one of the most requested toppings/dressings from all my clients - I make a special herbal yogurt dressing. They literally dollop it on everything and can't ever get enough. I personally cannot tolerate dairy, but I know the deliciousness of yogurt, I'd be putting that on everything also if I didn't get a stomach ache every time. 
  7. Vegan desserts are the most favored. This was ironic to me when writing this right after the yogurt craze, but vegan desserts for some reason seem to be most popular. There's something about using alternative ingredients to dairy and eggs in some desserts that make them more enjoyable and indulgent, my clients and I sure think so. 
  8. Brussels sprouts - roasted vs. any other cooking method. I think 99% of people I know LOVE brussels sprouts but there is something about roasted that just makes someone melt, and turn their face when cooked any other way. My clients have made it very clear that if they're not roasted, they don't want them. I agree. 
  9. Attention to detail. There seems to be great appreciation for my attention to detail when it comes to storing my client's food, leaving necessary instructions, and most importantly, cleaning up. This is a no-brainer for me, but I get so many ecstatic comments about how clean I leave a client's kitchen - cleaner than I found it. I feel grateful every time to know that my clients truly value this service as so much more than just any meal delivery service. 
  10. A personal chef is not for everyone. Although hiring a personal chef sounds luxurious and like a dream come true, some people try out the service and realize it's not for them. These people are mainly ones that love cooking, don't necessarily want everything prepared for them, and simply need more direction as to what, when, and how much to cook. Because of seeing this so often, I created a meal planning service option to support those who either can't afford a personal chef or simply don't want one but want to save time with meal planing. 

It's these little things that make my work oh so fun and pleasurable.

Comment below or email me personally (giovanna@apurifiedlife.com) if you'd like my support making your life healthier and easier. 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Herb Dressing

Winter squashe might be one of my favorite things about the fall. Aren't they just so delicious?

You can't ever go wrong with a baked squash of any kind. This recipe here is a simple go-to of mine that takes little preparation and packs a lot of flavor. 

What's best about winter squash varieties is that they are super nutritious. They are high in antioxidants (hence their bright color), contain fiber, and have good amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Squash is meant to be comforting on all levels for this time of year. Get cooking! 

 

Ingredients

Roasted Acorn Squash:

1 acorn squash

1-2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted, enough to coat squash

Pinch of sea salt and black pepper

 

Herb Dressing:

½ cup parsley, finely chopped

½ cup cilantro, finely chopped

¼ cup basil, finely chopped

½ - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, enough to cover herbs

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Pinch of chili flakes, to taste

 

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Procedure

To cook squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut squash in half from top to bottom. Scrape out seeds with a spoon and save (you can toast them or blend in smoothies). Cut into ¾-inch thick half moons.
  3. Toss squash with coconut oil, sea salt, and black pepper on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Spread out evenly and bake for about 30 minutes, turning at 15 minutes, until squash is soft in the middle.

To make dressing:

  1. Place finely chopped herbs in a small bowl.
  2. Add olive oil slowly while whisking. Add enough olive oil to cover and create a dressing-like consistency that can be poured.
  3. Season with lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, and chili flakes until you reach desired taste.
  4. Serve cooked squash and drizzle herb dressing over it.

Serves 2-3

This recipe was created for Oh My Drifter and photographed by the lovely Micaela

Gluten-Free {Kale} Brownies

There's a secret (not so secret) ingredient in these brownies. Yes, kale. And super delicious! 

I took an Ayurveda workshop this weekend, where I learned about my dosha constitution and what foods were suggested to make me feel better, and what foods could cause an imbalance in my body. Surprisingly, kale was on the 'avoid' list because my body prefers sweet, warming foods. Kale is bitter and can be cooling to the body. Nothing wrong with that, just learning that my body wants warmth and grounding. It's important to listen to the cues it gives us. 

I came home from the workshop, I opened my fridge and saw this large bunch of kale sticking out at me. I wanted to find a creative way to use it that might benefit my body more, so I immediately thought of adding it to a dessert, of course. Any excuse to make dessert. I made two desserts yesterday! Nourishing, refined sugar free, and decadent desserts. Mmmm yes, please. 

I had made kale brownies before but didn't write down the recipe, per usual. This recipe was a completely new - made up by my intuition and the little baking knowledge I have. I'm not a master baker (yet), but these brownies are winners!

Enjoy. 

Ingredients

4 large kale leaves, stems removed

2 large organic eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1/2 cup spring or filtered water

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used a blend of buckwheat and brown rice flours)

3/4 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place first six ingredients in blender or mixer and blend until smooth. 
  3. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients. 
  4. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil/organic butter. 
  5. Pour mixture into dish and bake for 20-30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes. Brownies are ready when toothpick comes out clean after inserting into middle of dish.
  6. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares. You may also leave it whole and slice like a cake. Sprinkle with shredded or cacao powder to decorate. 

 

Chocolate Cherry Chia Pudding

It's a rare day when I don't create some sort of chocolate concoction to nourish myself with. I used to feel like I was 'bad' for loving chocolate and eating it so much. I thought it was unhealthy. Until I learned the sacred and super nourishing benefits of raw cacao (Read more about cacao benefits here), then raw chocolate became a really happy and positive treat for me.

There's something about chocolate paired with cherries. I mean, two of the best foods this Mother Earth has gifted us! Do you agree?

I hope you can indulge too with my latest creation. As usual, the simplest ingredients make such a decadent treat.

I created this recipe for Oh My Drifter (photographed by Micaela). Click here for the cutest video of the making of this pudding. 

Ingredients

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1 cup frozen cherries

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Let sit for 10-20 minutes to allow it to thicken. 

Enjoy every bite! 

3 Key Ingredients for a Nourishing Smoothie [Video]

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A smoothie in the morning is my favorite kind of breakfast because it's quick, nourishing, and delicious. It's important that we know how to put together a balanced smoothie, so that it can provide us with lasting energy and leave us feeling full. Check out my latest video for my 3 Key Ingredients for a Nourishing Smoothie. These ingredients can be used as staples to create many different variations of smoothies. Get creative.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86JU7auuYkM

I'd love to hear what your favorite way of mixing these 3 ingredients is. Please comment below or share with me on facebook.

x,

Giovanna

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges + Avocado Superfood Dip

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There's something about sweet potatoes. Don't you love them? I do! Sweet potatoes are the healthy alternative to regular potatoes because they actually pack a punch of essential vitamins and minerals. They are anti-inflammatory and help balance blood sugar. The words 'yams' and 'sweet potatoes' are often interchangeable. They are actually two different vegetables, but are both great options.

Staying clear of all whites is always best (white breads, flours, sugars, etc.), but there is an exception... Japanese sweet potatoes. They are white-light yellow inside and have a purple skin. These are actually the most nutrient dense of all sweet potatoes. So enjoy your sweet potatoes/yams, especially the Japanese ones!

Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges (I used yam & Japanese sweet potato)

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

Pinch of cayenne

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place sweet potato wedges in an oven safe dish.
  3. Combine coconut oil and spices in a small bowl and drizzle over potatoes. Mix to coat well.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Turn broiler on towards the end if you want them crispy.
  5. Serve with avocado superfood dip (recipe below).
Spiced sweet potatoes

Avocado Superfood Dip

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado

2 Tablespoons raw tahini

1 teaspoon spirulina (I use HealthForce brand)

1 teaspoon raw honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup water, or to desired consistency

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

What's your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes? Share your creations and recipes below or on social media with #apurifiedlife

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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