Today I want to introduce friend and fellow raw chocolate maker Giovanna Garcia of A Purified Life. This beautiful lady strongly believes in the idea that food is medicine, and a profound gift that we can use to enrich our lives both physically and spiritually. I would wholeheartedly agree!! She's got a nutrition degree on top of being a certified natural chef, so the information is top notch coming from Giovanna!! I am inspired by her drive, and I think you will be too!!
Based in San Francisco, Giovanna shares meals at different pop-up brunch/dinners, and also offers private classes and chef services. The recipe we made together was so incredibly nourishing, and so well balanced in flavor, I'm making these again for sure!! Persimmons are the star of this dessert bar, and then dipped in her Purified Life Chocolate Bars that we melted down.
Also added to the recipe is He Shou Wu, a Chinese herb that is used for energy, hormones, & adrenal balancing. This herb is one that I have personally been using since the start of my superfood journey, so for about 7 or 8 years!! I would make it into a tea, mixed with reishi and some amazonian herbs for quite the pick me up! And now you can find high quality versions that are extracted powders, perfect for adding to desserts. :)
What does Dessert Medicine mean to you?
>> Feeling amazing while eating something that isn’t normally associated with health or food that is good for us. Dessert is in fact a medicine driver and a very nourishing way to enjoy sweetness in our lives. Dessert medicine allows us to stay open, connected, and balanced.
Tell me about your process of awakening, to the effects of food/nutrition on the body/mind ::
>> I didn’t really know what awakening meant until I felt it. It’s truly a feeling that once you feel, you don’t ever want to go back to not feeling. Nutrition and food have definitely been the gateway to my mental and spiritual awakening. More specifically, holistic nutrition. Becoming aware of how food affects us as a whole and not just physically is what helped me break through self-sabotaging beliefs and patterns that were ingrained in me.
The mind/body/spirit connection became more clear for me the more I nourished myself with fresh foods. Staying on this path has lead me to live the most purposeful, authentic, and abundant life I could imagine. And it keeps getting better.
How do you get inspired to make a recipe, what are your tools?
>> The main way I am inspired to create the recipes is actually listening to my body. I normally create new recipes based on what my body wants and needs at any given time - feel, taste, consistency, temperature, etc. That’s when I create the most perfect recipes. I definitely have to be in a grounded and centered state to feel inspired though. Being in nature usually does that for me. I'll come back from a walk or hike and have ideas rushing out of me. I also like to visit farmers markets and local food stores to see what’s in season and get inspired by the different colors and flavors.
Why did you decide to create a superfood chocolate bar?
>> I’ve loved chocolate all my life. As I embarked on my health journey many years ago, I became more and more aware of the processed and refined ingredients that were in chocolate. I started thinking of it as something that I should not consume so I started avoiding it.
Not long after that, I learned about the amazing medicinal properties of raw cacao. It blew my mind how such a sacred food had been completely looked over and stripped off all its nutrients in commercial chocolates. Then I learned about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms and how life enhancing they are. They became a daily supplement for me and I really felt a spiritual awakening.
I dove deep into learning and experiencing everything I could about raw chocolate making. It truly changed my life. I had no idea chocolate could be so healing, fun to make, and taste so amazing! There was no other way for me. I envisioned myself creating the most healthy chocolate bar I could and changing lives with it.
My bars really developed from my continued homemade chocolate making experiments, and naturally pairing chocolate with anything. I played around with infusing chocolate with many different herbs and spices, but mushrooms somehow always won. The thing I love most about the cacao and medicinal mushroom combination is that you can hardly taste the mushrooms, but you can really FEEL their effects. We all want to feel something amazing, and this pairing did it for me.
What makes your chocolate special, and who can benefit most from it?
>> It is special because it is nourishing and super delicious! It’s a very satisfying creamy chocolate bar that energizes and boosts mood instantly. The chocolate is handcrafted and stone-ground for days to give it that creamy consistency.
I believe that quality is crucial in all that we put into our bodies. I source the highest quality cacao and organic superfood ingredients because and what I feel most comfortable with sharing with the world.
My bars are free of processed and inflammatory ingredients, and only offer pure nourishment and magic. They are made with the highest intentions to provide a sweet tool for people to live their happiest and healthiest lives. (Find Giovanna's bars HERE)
Can you share your favorite method to inspire balance in your life?
>> Connecting to nature inspires the most balance in my life. Spending time in nature and also eating from the earth. Simply drinking a cup of hot herbal tea can bring me so much joy and calm. Nature always reminds me to stay present and live from the heart.
Chocolate Dipped Persimmon & Dried Fruit Bars
4 Fuyu persimmons, chopped
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup dried figs
1/3 cup goji berries
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tablespoons lucuma powder
1 teaspoon he shou wu powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Sea salt, to taste
4 Superfood chocolate bars, melted (A Purified Life Chocolate is amazing ;)))
>> Preheat oven to 350 F.
>> Place chopped persimmons in a baking dish and toss with coconut oil, cinnamon, cardamom, and a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until soft.
>> In a food processor, combine baked persimmons along with remaining ingredients (except chocolate). Process until mixture sticks together when pressed with fingers.
>> Line a dish or baking tin with parchment paper and press mixture down to flatten into desired thickness. Place in the freezer while you melt your chocolate. Melt chocolate on a double boiler.
>> Remove dish from freezer and cut mixture into bars. Dip each bar into melted chocolate and place on a parchment-lined plate or baking sheet. Once finished with all bars, place back in freezer until chocolate firms up.
>> Remove from freezer and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Makes ~10 bars
>> He Shou Wu :: A 'black' food, incredibly nourishing for the adrenals and hormones. Traditionally this root is boiled with black beans to make it even more nourishing. The flavor is bitter but mild, a perfect addition to robust flavors like fall fruits and in elixir drinks or chocolate.