nutrition

Foods for Beautiful and Radiant Skin

APL_BeautyPost

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

Brunch Club in San Francisco - Sept 27

Join our Brunch Club if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area! I've been wanting to host an event to bring like-minded people together. What better way to do it over a nourishing brunch?

Brunch + Good Company + Therapeutic Chocolate + Open Forum

This event is for you if you're interested in learning a few things about health and wellness while indulging in a whole foods meal.

There will be an open forum with the topic of the month being: "I want to eat healthy, but..."

Anyone and everyone can participate in the open forum. We have a few suggested topics, but are not limited to them. The purpose of this brunch is to help and support each other through our individual health journeys. We are all in this together.

APLPhotosTomatoSauceSmall
APLPhotosTomatoSauceSmall

Details

Date: September 27, 2014

Time: 11am-2pm

Location: 18 Reasons (3674 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110)

Contact: Giovanna Garcia (415-379-0508, giovanna@apurifiedlife.com)

Menu, tickets, and more details here.

Space is limited. Please buy your tickets to reserve a seat.

Eventbrite - Brunch Club with A Purified Life

We'll share a wholesome meal, therapeutic chocolate, new recipes, and fresh ideas to support our health journeys.

I hope to see you there!

Foods to Eat After Giving Birth to Save Time and Stay Nourished + Rice Porridge Recipe

RicePorridge featured image

I had the great pleasure of being this week's 'Fab Friday Feature' at Chloe's blog from Chloe Jackman Photography. Learn what foods are best after giving birth and get the recipe for this beautiful rice porridge: Foods to Eat After Giving Birth to Save Time and Stay Nourished + Rice Porridge Recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup short-grain brown rice, soaked overnight

2 cups coconut milk (I recommend homemade or canned by  ‘Native Forest’ – organic and BPA-free)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

Toppings:

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

½ cup hemp seeds

½ cup fresh strawberries, chopped

¼ cup fresh medjool dates, chopped

Extra coconut milk if desired

1 Tablespoons raw maca powder (optional, but will provide great hormonal balancing benefits), you can mix this in before adding the toppings

 

Procedure

1. Soak rice overnight or for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse. Place in medium size pot with coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, and sea salt.

2. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, until rice is cooked and it reaches a porridge consistency. Add water or more coconut milk if porridge becomes too thick.

3. Serve and stir in maca powder if using. Garnish with toasted coconut, hemp seeds, chopped strawberries, and chopped dates.

Serves 4

 

Homemade Coconut Milk + Coconut Milk Kefir

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You've probably heard me talk about probiotics already. Perhaps here. In my opinion, most health problems and symptoms are due to poor digestive system (gut) health. Since 70% of our immune system is located in our gut, when one system is compromised, so is the other. This is why I highly recommend eating fermented foods daily that contain probiotics to heal and repair imbalances in the gut. Examples of these foods include: coconut kefir, coconut yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, and coconut water kefir.

One way I get my probiotics is from delicious homemade coconut milk kefir. It's tart and perfect to drink by itself, blended in smoothies, or added to a bowl of fresh fruit and seeds.

Here I will show you how to make the coconut milk first, then the kefir using the milk. I hope you enjoy this easy but healing process.

coconut kefir

Homemade Coconut Milk

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3 cups filtered or spring water

Vanilla flavor (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract

Pinch of stevia or raw honey

Procedure

  1. Blend ingredients in blender until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Strain with a nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer. Squeeze solids to get all liquid out.
  3. Blend coconut milk with vanilla and sweetener if flavoring.
  4. Place in a glass bottle/jar and store in refrigerator.
Coconut Milk Kefir

Ingredients

3 cups homemade coconut milk (or 2 cans 'Native Forest' full-fat coconut milk - BPA free)

2 probiotic capsules

Procedure

  1. Blend coconut milk to get rid of any solid pieces.
  2. Place in a jar large enough to fit all of the milk and have some space at the top (you may also separate milk into two smaller jars). Mix in probiotics (open capsule and only use powder) with a wooden spoon. Avoid using metal because it kills probiotic bacteria, and avoid blending at high speed.
  3. Cover loosely and place in oven with pilot light on (do not turn on the oven!). Let sit for 24-48 hours, until it has reached your desired tartness. Taste it at 24 hours with a wooden or plastic spoon.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Good for up to 3 weeks.

Makes 3 cups 

I would love to hear in the comments from you about how your coconut milk & kefir turned out.

xo,

Giovanna

 

How Stress Is Affecting Your Health + My Tips To Reduce Stress

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Stress puts a huge toll on our health and we don't even realize it. Let me explain what happens when we stress. When we are stressed, our brain signals the release of stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Cortisol is the primary "fight or flight" stress hormone that provides us with a rush of energy to help us fight or run away from a dangerous situation. The release of cortisol causes an increase in blood sugar, increase in blood pressure, and weakens the immune and digestive systems. This increase in blood sugar causes insulin to be excreted, which is the hormone that takes sugar from the blood and stores it for later use. In our modern world, our brain identifies most situations as dangerous and/or very stressful. We stress over little things such as having a full email inbox or waiting in traffic. This was not the case hundreds of years ago.

Our body does not differentiate between physical and emotional stress, so it reacts to both by producing more and more cortisol.

When cortisol is elevated for long periods of time, it can lead to chronic health issues such as weight gain (even if you're eating healthy and exercising), diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, Candida, insomnia/sleep issues, IBS, cancer, and increased risk for heart attacks.

Stress also affects our mood, attitude, productivity/focus, language, work, and relationships. It carries on to all areas of our life even if we don't intend it to or don't realize it.

Most people come to me because they want to lose weight and adopt healthier eating habits. I like to start by looking at their stress levels and address that fist if needed, because no matter how healthy we eat, we cannot lose weight if our cortisol levels are constantly high.

Under stress, our body feels like it's being attacked and it holds onto fat to protect itself. Stress = weigh gain.

Here are my top tips for reducing stress:

  • Yoga & Walking – We know that exercise can help lower stress levels. This is true, however, strenuous exercise such as running and biking actually create more stress in the body and have the same effect as mental or emotional stress do. To really melt stress off, take a yoga class or go on a long walk. This type of movement will help keep your cortisol levels low and also help you burn more fat.
  • Deep breathing & meditation – Whenever you feel stressed and overwhelmed, pause and 5-10 some deep breaths. A deep breath consists of inhalation through the nose that fills the belly completely, and then slowly the air is released through the nose as the belly contracts again. As simple as it sounds, this completely calms the body and brain and puts us in a state where we can actually think about our actions and rationalize better.
  • Aromatherapy oils - You can simply smell them, dab them on your neck, burn them, or dab them on your nose. Read labels to make sure it's okay to apply on skin. My favorite blends are from Moonrise Creek Herbal Apothecary: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MoonriseCreek.
  • Get more sleep – Sleep deprivation creates stress in the body. It is important to get a good night sleep to stay healthy.
  • Drink herbal tea – Tea has calming and relaxing components that could help you through times of stress. Make yourself a pot of tea while you work, or better yet, take it outside and enjoy it under the sun.
  • Call a friend or a family member– Sometimes we just need someone to talk to about what we are experiencing. Don’t hesitate to call a friend or a family member before you reach for that sugary drink or food item. Maybe all you need is support or a different perspective on a subject.
  • Journaling – This is a great way to get rid of negative thoughts and patterns that are getting in the way of your success. Write down your thoughts, but also visualize what you want for yourself and connect with 3-5 things that you are grateful for in your life. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we have no space for feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Relax – Plan for relaxation. Whether it’s a day of lounging around your house, going on a family hike, or getting a massage, make sure you make this time for yourself. When we are stressed, we feel like we have no time to relax, but relaxation is what will actually. help .you feel balanced and keep cortisol levels at bay.
  • Stay well nourished (Eat your greens!) – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Food directly affects our mood, thoughts, productivity, and stress levels. It’s common that we crave sweets and fatty foods when stressed because we often relate them to comfort. These foods in particular will actually feed cortisol levels and keep you on a vicious sugar-craving roller coaster. Instead, stay well nourished throughout the day to avoid crazy mood swings and stress eating. Take a look at some of my recipes for meal and snack inspiration.
  • Have a dance party - Probably my favorite one of all so these. Really, just get up and dance when you're stressing at work or at home. My sister and I do this a few times a day and it's the best way to snap out of it. Even if it's only for one song, it's worth it.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. Try a few and see which you like best and you can implement into your daily life.

Xo

Giovanna

 

 

 

 

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.

bone broth 3

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. 

Creamy Fig and Cacao Smoothie

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Figs are in season here in California! Naturally, I created a creamy and decadent chocolate smoothie with fresh figs. The great nutrition components of fresh figs:

  • Fiber - supports bowel health, regulates blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Vitamin B6 - brain health, detoxes the liver, aids in the metabolization of carbohydrates
  • Copper - builds strong bones and tissue, energy production, balances cholesterol levels,
  • Potassium - helps control blood pressure
  • Manganese - supports skin health, controls blood sugar, protects free-radical damage, aids in bone production

I don't have much else to say about this recipe other than encourage you to run to your farmers market to buy some fresh organic figs.

fig cacao smoothie

Ingredients

7-8 fresh figs

1 1/2 cups creamy coconut milk

1 cup water

2 heaping Tablespoons raw cacao powder

3 Tablespoon raw hemp seeds

2 teaspoons maca powder (optional)

1 teaspoon ashwagandha (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Pinch of celtic sea salt

Pinch of stevia

Splash of lemon juice

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy in the sun.

Serves 2

 

Probiotics + Sauerkraut Recipe

Sauerkraut featured image

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?