lifestyle

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

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As we all know, the holidays can be a stressful time with traveling, cooking, gifts, and trying to remain calm through it all. I used to stress about buying gifts for my family and friends, until I realized that gifts don't need to be something expensive or even material. In my opinion, the best gifts are usually good company and sweet memories. That said, of course I still get the urge to gift my loved ones something, but it's different now. Now I gift things that I make myself because I know they will enjoy especially because they're made with love.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite gifts that I've made in the past that will still make your loved ones smile, but won't leave your wallet hurting. Plus, you'll be giving them something nourishing that will support their health.

  • Dark Chocolate Bark - Find my recipe for 5-minute homemade chocolate here. To make into bark, pour mixture onto a flat dish lined with parchment paper and then add any toppings of choice to make it festive. Refrigerate until firm and then break into pieces. Recommended toppings: chopped nuts or seeds, coconut flakes, cinnamon, cacao nibs, goji berries.
  • Lavender-scented Coconut Oil Moisturizer (or flavor of choice)
Lavender coconut oil
Lavender coconut oil

Ingredients:

1 cup melted coconut oil

Handful dried or fresh lavender flowers

A few drops of lemon essential oil (optional)

Procedure: Mix lavender flowers into coconut oil and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain lavender and mix in a few drops of lemon essential oil if desired. Place in a glass jar with lid and let sit on counter until solid. Use as you would any lotion. If too solid when ready to use, grab a spoonful and let it melt in your hand for a few seconds before applying it.

  • Coconut & Cinnamon Granola - recipe here - Never fails to impress.
  • Creamy Sunflower Seed Butter - recipe here.
  • Prepare a DIY gift for someone with all the ingredients they need - I did this last year and it was a hit. Simply choose a fun recipe and get all the ingredients together in a container along with the recipe for your loved ones to make themselves. Fun examples are chai (picture below), granola, baked goods, or homemade beauty products.
chai gifts
chai gifts
  • Coupon book! -  This one seems silly, but it can be the most fun. Make a coupon book for someone you love with coupons for special gifts they like such as a massage, a picnic, their favorite food/dessert, and day trip somewhere, a movie, or anything else your heart desires to give.

I hope you enjoy making your own loving gifts. Get creative, there are no limits.

Happy Holidays!

Giovanna

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

brunchclubpancakes

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

 

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

Meatbeach

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

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Chocolate macaroons featured image

The best things come when you least expect them. I wasn't even thinking or craving chocolate, but these sweet things snook up on me as I was standing in front of my pantry in search for something to do. These raw chocolate macaroons pack a punch of vitamins and minerals and are gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free. They're a quick little treat to boost mood and energy. Honestly addicting.

Enjoy!

chocolate macaroons 1

Ingredients

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 cup melted coconut oil (measure after you have melted it)

3 Tablespoons coconut nectar (I use Coconut Secret)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Tightly pack mixture into a Tablespoon measuring spoon and gently drop it over a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the batch.
  2. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Let sit for a few minutes out of the freezer before serving, but don't leave out for too long or they will melt.

Makes ~20

These would be better if dehydrated with a dehydrator, but I don't own one. I encourage you to use it if you do.

Tell me, how do you relieve stress? What methods do you use to keep your focus?