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Stay healthy,

Giovanna Garcia


Chai Spiced Quinoa Porridge


Quinoa is a grain that can be used in sweet and savory cooking. I love making breakfast porridges with it. I always play with different flavorings and this one has been one of my favorites so far.


3/4 cup chai tea, strongly steeped 
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, soaked for at least 1 hour
1 cup coconut milk (I used canned organic coconut milk)
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt

Optional toppings:

Raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
Chopped nuts
Goji berries 
Shredded coconut
Chia seeds
Fresh fruit
Coconut milk

  1. Steep chai tea and place in a small pot. Drain and rinse quinoa until water runs clear and place in pot with tea. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until quinoa is cooked or liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Drain if quinoa cooks before liquid is absorbed.
  2. Place cooked quinoa back in pot and add 1 cup coconut milk, spices, and salt to your own taste (You might not need the extra spices if your tea was strong enough, I personally like the extra spice). Let milk warm through and transfer porridge to a bowl.
  3. Top with desired toppings and extra coconut milk.


7 Easy Ways to Detox Daily

We are a ways into the new year and some of us are still looking to start out fresh and rid our body of all toxins. There are many types of cleanses and detoxes that last anywhere from 1 to 30 days. For most of us, when we hear the word "cleanse" or "detox" we think of a juice fast, or liquid diet, or a strictly fruit and vegetable diet. Although some of these may help you loose some weight (water weight), not all of them are actually good for you. A detox and cleanse are always interchanged, but are two different things. 

Detox. When you detox, you rid your organs of toxins such as chemicals, heavy metals, cigarette smoke, etc. A detox targets an organ like the liver, for example. The liver is a highly important organ in the body with many functions such as detoxifying the body, building proteins, and helping digestion. Although one of it's functions is to detoxify the body naturally, if we over consume foods that stress out the liver like alcohol, refined sugar, gluten, or lactose, we are giving it more toxins than it can handle and keeping it from functioning properly thus leading to low energy, inflammation, poor digestion, and not detoxifying the body as it should.

Cleanse. When doing a cleanse, you are mainly cleansing your digestive tract and eliminating toxins and bacteria. A liquid or juice fast is mostly a cleanse because it's giving your digestive tract a rest but still providing nutrients. 

No matter which you choose to do, what you're really doing is giving your organs a break from anything that strains them and keeps them from working properly. They are both great ways to feel good and energized while eliminating toxins in a safe and natural manner.  

The best way to cleanse or detox is to eliminate inflammatory foods and introduce foods that support the liver. Fortunately, there many foods that support the liver, such as leafy greens, lemon, sauerkraut, eggs, herbs such as parsley and cilantro, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, ginger, spices, green tea, onion, sea vegetables, apple cider vinegar, beets, chamomile, artichokes, and omega-3 oils. Ideally, we would include all of these foods in our every day diet, but the most important thing is to eliminate the ingredients that cause inflammation.

Doing either a cleanse or detox can be intimidating and takes some planning and dedication. Most of us have hectic lives or are simply afraid to commit to an eating plan that will last a few days or weeks. A juice cleanse is ideal, but if you're not ready for that, there are things you can do on a daily basis to help detox without feeling deprived of solid food. 

No need to stress, take it one day at a time and do the best you can that day to take care of your body. At the end of the day, check in with yourself. How do you feel? How was your mood, energy, awareness, and productivity that day? You might just find that you feel great and want to do it all over again, or you might need a few days of this in order to see any changes in mood, but focus on finishing that one day knowing that you are doing something for yourself and don't let others discourage you. You are the one that will feel great and benefit from this.

Here are 7 easy natural things you can do on a daily basis to help your body detox: 
  1. Avoid gluten and introduce gluten-free grains. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (white or whole wheat products) that causes inflammation in the body, even to those that are not gluten intolerant. Also, look out for gluten-free products as they are mostly always packed with refined sugar. Stick to gluten-free grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, and amaranth. For gluten-free snacks, check out my post on Healthy Snacking.
  2. Avoid refined sugar. Refined sugar weakens your immune system and causes inflammation in the body. Let your sugar come from natural sources such as fresh fruit, honey (good for sore throat and cough), dates, and root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash/pumpkin, and beets. 
  3. Drink water and lemon water. Water is essential for cleansing the body. It helps flush toxins out and helps regulate metabolism. Not being well hydrated stresses out our system and prevents detoxification. Dehydration is often confused with hunger, so next time you feel hungry when you've just eaten, drink a glass of water. If you're not fond of water you can add cucumber slices, fresh fruit, or lemon juice to make it flavorful. Lemon water also supports the immune system, supports liver in cleansing out the body, helps digestion, acts as a natural diuretic, balances pH, and aids with weight loss. Start your day off by drinking a cup of warm water with lemon juice on an empty stomach. Add some apple cider vinegar to have even more detoxifying properties. 
  4. Drink apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits. It's good for digestion, skin care, detoxifying, anti-bacterial, weight loss, cures allergies, kills candida and fungus, eases arthritis, and balances the inner ecosystem. Add 1-2 Tablespoons to about 6 oz of water and sip. 
  5. Eat leafy greens. Leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach, bok choy, arugula, celery, and dandelion are alkalinizing to the body which helps attack bad bacteria and reduce cravings. They contain chlorella which helps cleanse the body. Most of these are also bitter and bitter foods support the liver with detoxification. Incorporate leafy greens in smoothies, salads, and vegetable sautéed dishes. 
  6. Slow Down. Slow eating = conscious eating. By eating slow you are usually more conscious about how much you eat and will often find that you get full before eating everything on the plate because you give yourself time to feel satieated. Take time to chew your food to digest it better. Better digestion will also lead to better absorption of nutrients. 
  7. Sweat. Sweating is a way of flushing toxins out of the body. Take at least 30 minutes of the day to do some sort of physical activity that will get you sweating. Exercise burns calories and will help weight loss. Sitting in a sauna or getting a massage also help detoxification. 
Detox Salad- Chard, romaine lettuce, cilantro, parsley, cucumber, and red onion with fresh lemon juice and olive oil for dressing


9 Natural Ways to Keep the Flu Away

The immune system is what helps us fight virus and bacteria and keeps us from getting sick. During this flu season and cold weather, it's important to give our immune system a boost.

Here are 9 natural ways to keep the flu away:
  1. Drink ginger tea. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, relieves pain, and aids digestion. To make tea, simmer a 1-inch strip in 2 cups filtered water for about 10 min and then enjoy with some lemon juice. 
  2. Load up on Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It helps to prevent a cold/flu and also helps get rid of it. Foods high in vitamin C include dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, chard), citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. 
  3. Garlic. Garlic is strongly an anti-bacterial and anti-virus ingredient. Eating it raw (uncooked) provides the most health benefits, but cooking with it is also good. If you can take the strong raw taste, chop it up and throw it on your salads, cooked vegetables, cooked meats, and even smoothies. Otherwise, add to pan towards the end of cooking to expose to heat for only a short period of time.  
  4. Get enough sleep and manage stress. Lack of sleep puts stress on our body and stress weakens our immune system. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night without interruptions. Things you can do to help deal with stress are: take a walk/hike, drink tea, listen to calming music, read a book, yoga, exercise, meditate, take deep breaths, draw/write, take a hot bath, and prioritize your life. 
  5. Cook with spices. Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne pepper are anti-inflammatory and help relieve pain and fight health problems. 
  6. Eat probiotics. Probiotics are live cultures that live mostly in our gut. These are good bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria. Feeding the gut with good bacteria helps heal it and strengthens our immune system. Get probiotics by eating fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir(lactose-free), and kim chi. 
  7. Avoid refined sugar and dairy. Refined sugar (including alcohol) is what feeds the bad bacteria in our gut and allows it to replicate. Refined sugar also weakens our immune system and causes inflammation in the body. Let your sugar come from natural sources such as fresh fruit, honey (good for sore throat and cough), dates, and root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash/pumpkin, and beets. Dairy is also something you might want to avoid if having symptoms of a cold/flu because it creates mucus in the body and only makes things worse. 
  8. Drink unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is great for many things. Some benefits are detoxifying the body, feeding the gut with good bacteria, and curing a sore throats, sinus infections, headaches, and the flu. Mix 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with some filtered water and drink slowly. For a sore throat, gargle apple cider vinegar in the back of your throat then spit out and repeat a few more times. 
  9. My favorite remedy - "Voo-doo Juice." I learned this tea from my mom and it's what I immediately go to if I feel a cold approaching. It is packed with immune supporting ingredients and it really does the trick. I add 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2-inch piece of ginger, about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you can take it), and 4 cups filtered water to a small pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Filter tea into a mug and enjoy with a bit of raw honey. 
Don't forget to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and get lots of fluids from water, hot tea, and chicken or vegetable soup. 

Stay healthy. 


Tips to Stay Energized and Happy During the Holidays

That time of the year has come when we're surrounded by baked goods, chocolates, candied nuts, seasonal lattes, and alcohol. The holidays can be a stressful time which usually results in us overeating and feeling bad afterwards. Whatever it may be that has you overindulging in these treats, remember that you always have control of what goes into your body. Wouldn't it be nice if the holidays passed and you still felt great?

I'd like to share with you some tips to help you stay disciplined and not be hard on yourself after the holiday season:
  • Start your day off right. Focus on a protein-based breakfast to reduce sugar cravings throughout the day. 
  • Be aware of portion sizes and snacks. Start off with small portions and pace yourself while eating. If you are still hungry 20 minutes after you are done, then go for more. When reaching for a snack, be mindful of what it is and if it will sustain you. It's okay to have a snack a few hours prior to a meal, but avoid grazing right before a meal to eliminate overindulging. 
  • Enjoy your family and friends. At the table, take a moment to be grateful for the people around you that love and care for you. Enjoy conversation and be in the moment. 
  • Check in with yourself. Tune in with your body and listen to what it feels/needs. 
  • Before reaching for a snack or a second portion, ask yourself: Am I really hungry? Am I just eating due to emotional stress or anxiety? Am I thirsty? 
  • Keep moving. Exercise will help your mood and keep your mind active. If you don't have time for a full workout, take a 10-20 minute walk after meals. 
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause a sensation of hunger and lead to overeating. Drinking water will keep you energized and satisfied throughout the day. Avoid sweetened and/or caffeinated beverages. 
  • Be conscious of your breathe. Breathing is the best way to relax if in a stressful situation and helps you release anxiety and stay centered. Do it alone in a quiet room or step outside to get some fresh air. 
Happy Holidays! x


Kale and Walnut Pesto

I love pesto. Pesto is a great way to incorporate healthy fats, greens, and herbs into an every day diet. It is high in protein and pairs well with almost any type of vegetable or meat. I use it as a spread, dip, marinade, or dressing. There are many different recipes and types of pesto. Here is a recipe that I recently came up with and I eat with absolutely everything! 


1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
8 small kale leaves (about 2 cups), stemmed
2 Tablespoons thyme leaves
1 clove garlic
zest and juice of one lemon (about 3 Tablespoons juice)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Place walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. 
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust with sea salt or lemon juice. If pesto is too thick, add more olive oil. 
  • Toasting of nuts is not necessary, but it will enhance their flavor. 

Author: Giovanna Garcia, Natural Chef


Coconut Chia Pudding

I'm currently obsessed with this pudding. Not only is it delicious, but it doesn't contain any unrefined sugar or sweetener. It's a great health-supportive dessert or snack that provides energy and lots of fiber. Just a few simple steps and it's ready to enjoy. 


1 cup coconut milk
6 dried figs or dates
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons chia seeds

  1. Place all ingredients, except chia seeds, in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in chia seeds.
  3. Pour into small glass bowls or cups and let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 
      Servings: 4

      Author: Giovanna Garcia, Natural Chef