AT HOME WITH // Anna Getty

I had the pleasure of meeting Anna almost ten years ago on a retreat where I was working. At the time I was in my late twenties, and could not have asked for a better time to be surrounded by so many amazing and independent women. Many of them were a few years older than me with families, and the whole experience was very impactful. I was able to see beyond my twenties. (It gets better girls!) 

Anna  is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things green living, as well as an amazing chef. It has been her passion for many years. She's done the research, and her thoughts come with wisdom and experience. Her latest food endeavor is a beautiful blog – Amalgam Kitchen – where she is not only the recipe creator, she also takes the incredibly beautiful photographs. It's a must read, especially with all of us cooking at home more. 

Aging gracefully can only be inspired by women who are doing the work. We are so inspired by this thoughtful interview that is packed full of useful information! 

Thank you Anna!

1 - Your 3 word bio:

Mom, chef, lover of life

2 - I think of you as a creative, and someone who pursues interest with passion. Your latest project Amalgam Kitchen is so gorgeous and inspiring. (And perfect timing with more people cooking at home!) I've been loving all of the content, and photography. What inspired you to start sharing these recipes, and what is the philosophy behind Amalgam Kitchen?

I have been enthusiastic about healthy eating and living for decades. I released a cook book years ago, promoting organic food and a sustainable kitchen and in the meanwhile big life changes happened- a parent passing away, moving countries, from the US to Italy and back again, a divorce, a remarriage and more children, moving cities, Los Angeles to Ojai, then living through a fire here and everything in between. I have never stopped being interested in nutrition and cooking for well being. I worked for two caterers in my twenties and learned to cook and loved it. That transformed into a love of health and wellness. I had and continue to have health issues pop up, inevitably always when I am not taking care of my body. Not getting enough rest, being out of balance with my diet, eating too much sugar, gluten, pasteurized cow dairy, drinking too much caffeine, alcohol. Then in my second pregnancy I developed hypothyroidism and recently I have had high blood sugar issues. I wanted to be able to eat “normally”, whatever that means but my body is super sensitive and I have had to accept that and work with it. So I have tried many different diets and ways of eating, Vegan, vegan-raw, Keto, Lectin-free, Nourishing Traditions, Paleo, and then ultimately tailored them all to what works for me. Understanding there is this concept of bio-individuality, no one diet works for everybody. Also, realizing this idea of food being medicine. I love good food and consider myself a foodie. I have travelled a lot around the world and thus love to cook different types of cuisines. Italian, German, Japanese, Thai, Mexican etc. And thus Amalgam Kitchen was born. I have been studying nutrition informally for years and am now enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Combining and incorporating everything I have learned over my lifetime about food and it’s connection to health and offering, my knowledge, love and experience up to those in need or interested. I cook mostly plant-based, grain-free, refined sugar-free, trying to focus on nutrient dense foods which are anti-inflammatory, gut loving and delicious. I have 4 children and want to impart to them a strong foundation for health as they grow up. I also love to incorporate beauty in my food and that is a big piece of sharing my food. The beauty of how it tastes and as how it looks to the eye. I want the food and Amalgam Kitchen lifestyle to inspire you to live a holistic life.

3 - You've always been passionate about healthy food, and green living. I feel that the message is more vital now than ever before. What do you think are the top 3 things people can do at home to make the biggest difference to clean up their act?

My top three are:
- Stop or minimize eating processed foods. Processed foods, even the organic ones are filled with preservatives, too much sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats and are denatured of nutrition. Focus on whole foods. Seeds, nuts, fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes, (if you eat them) and pastured eggs, grass-fed meats and sustainably caught fish (if you eat them).Eat the rainbow of whole foods. Challenge yourself for 28 days and see if you can NOT purchase anything in a box, bag, can or jar that has been processed.

- Cut out refined sugar and minimize natural sugars. Sugar is a huge problem, it’s in everything. Cereal, energy bars, sauces, soups, yogurts, beverages. Consuming too much sugar is linked to type 2 diabetes, cancer, migraines, gut issues, can increase in the risk of gout, Alzheimers, premature aging, dental issues, kidney disfunction, increased risk of heart disease, I could go on. We are eating more sugar than previously in history. Natural Society did a study on this and learned that in 1700, the average person consumed 4.9 grams of sugar a day, in 1800, the average person consumed 22.4 grams, in 1900, 112 grams and in 2009, 50 percent of Americans consumed 227 grams of sugar. When a sweet tooth hits, switch to alternative natural sweetners such as Monkfruit sweetener, stevia, Yacon syrup, coconut sugar. But use them sparingly. But ultimately, sugar is sugar and turns into glucose in the bloodstream. I will be honest, this one has been a hard one for me, and something my household is always working on.

- Go organic or better yet, go organic and local, supporting small, local farmers, farmer’s markets and food purveyors. Or if you can, grow your own organic garden. Big Ag. conventional farming is literally killing our soil, poisoning our water and our bodies. The herbicide glyphosate increases cancer by 41% according to a study done by Washington State University and has also been linked to depression, autism and a host of other health issues. The chemical has been found in Cheerios according to studies done by the Environmental Working Group. Although going completely organic does not eliminate our exposure 100%, it decreases our exposure chances. Going organic also lets the big companies know, that as consumers, we do not support a chemical industry for the health of our planet and ourselves. Regenerative farmers are regenerating the soil by their means of farming, and the food coming off of these farms is exceptional in taste and nutrient quality. Check out the movie, Kiss the Ground on Netflix if you want to learn more about soil health and well being and how it affects us. Check out your local farmer’s markets as well as look into CSA boxes, so many farms are offering the community supported agriculture box delivery services, more than ever. Then we have the GMO issue, pretty much most conventional food is genetically bodied, although now more is available with the non-GMO label. Look for those if you can’t go organic.

4 - What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about living a healthier lifestyle?

That living a healthier lifestyle is elitist, expensive and it does not have any true health benefit. Listen, of course the health and wellness industry has turned into a multi-billion dollar market. Industry will try to make money off of any lifestyle or trend. Yes, a healthier lifestyle indeed, can be expensive, there are a lot of products and services for health and well being that are crazy expensive but not necessary. Eating well and taking care of oneself can be very simple, uncomplicated and inexpensive. Buying in bulk can be helpful or all the different discount websites like Thrivemarket.com, Vitacost.com, Farmboxdirect.com as well as others all offer affordable organic food and supplements. When I was in my twenties and on a tight budget, I would wait till the farmer’s markets were about to close for the day, and they were practically giving away the products that were left at the end. Groupon.com offers massages, spa, treatments, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, yoga classes and more. There are free apps for meditation and other health and well being. One can invest in a decent water filter and have clean water, one can buy used books on just about every health topic one can think of, one can go out into nature for free, get to bed early and get good rest for free, meditate to manage stress for free. Invest time and energy and yes some money into your body, heart and soul and I am pretty certain you will live and healthy and happy life. Being healthy is more than about eating well, it’s about living well, loving well, and enjoying life.

5 - As a mother of four, what are the things you do for yourself to stay grounded and find time to do your work and create?

First and foremost I need to meditate every day. My husband knows this, my children know this. If I don’t mediate for 10 minutes first thing in the morning, mama can be cranky. It starts me off on the right foot. I use the InsightTimer App. I love Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield and Rick Hanson, by the way, all these teachers offer free pre-recorded meditations on their websites and youtube. I also have been doing Sam Harris’s Wakingup app. Which he offers free to anyone who can’t afford the app fee. Just sharing.
I need to sit alone a for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a day in a quiet space, usually my bedroom in my thinking chair. No phone, no computer. Sometimes I meditate again or journal or close my eyes and breath and contemplate the various feelings that come up in my day. I am a better wife and mama when I do these practices daily. I need to go out into nature regularly. It helps living in Ojai because I look out my window and see nature. I do weight baring exercise 3 times a week, get a massage 2-3 times a month. And I try to have 2 nights alone every 6-8 weeks just reading, studying (I am currently enrolled in IIN, the nutrition school as well as food photography and foraging classes) and sleeping. Sleeping is a big one for me, I don’t think my sleep has ever been like what it was before I had four kids, so I do my best. I love to sit down in the evening and look at cook books and other food blogs and lifestyle websites and watch cooking classes on Masterclass just for fun. I fit in creating and work when I can.

6 - How have you been navigating this time at home with children? I know for many of us it is both a blessing and a challenge.

Having extra time with my kids has been invaluable and in such a different context. We have found another rhythm than what we had pre-COVID and although it is frustrating at times for everyone, it has become our new norm. There is definitely a lot of juggling with the different age needs, I have three boys (4,6 and 11) and my daughter is almost 16. Living full time in the countryside has made a huge difference to all of our sanity. My husband is pretty hands on and we have childcare, it is a team effort. I try to fit in what I can when I can. I know there are massive adjustments being made by everyone all over the world.

7 - As we both know the beauty industry and women's health run in opposition to one another. As an advocate for women's health, what do you feel are some of the biggest "beauty" mistakes we make?

I think now more than ever because of social media, we have put pressure on ourselves to look a certain way, even during this time of COVID. I see it online. I heard something recently, that teenage girls are wanting to get plastic surgery to look like their filtered versions of themselves on the various social media outlets. Beauty has always been a coveted currency but it is sad because so many women wind up hurting themselves physically and emotionally out of their own insecurity instead of loving themselves and then altering themselves and destroying themselves instead of nurturing and nourishing themselves.
So many of the products available that are effective are petroleum based, filled with unsafe chemicals such as endocrine disruptors and women don’t seem to care about the potential long term damage or disease they are inviting into their bodies in the name of “beauty care”. There are so many natural companies which are effective for acne, inflammation, oily skin, dry skin, anti-aging and youthful skin. It’s a matter of setting a standard for your self, not compromising one’s health and then doing the research and then trying different things out until one finds what works for them.

8 - What is your philosophy when it comes to skincare and/or 'self-care’?

I will admit, I want to age gracefully. I use products that are natural, free-from harsh chemicals which I know will not alter my hormones or compromise my lymphatic or immune systems but they have to work and be effective too. Meaning they moisturize my skin, keep the redness down, and help keep my skin vibrant and healthy. The body changes over time and so that also means using products that work for the changing body. Or switching one’s routine. My teenage daughter and I have different needs because of the different stages of life we are in. Obviously eating well, exercising, managing stress, staying hydrated and getting rest will help keep my skin looking healthy. If one is being toxic and using great products, skin can look haggard, and blemished. I remember that from my twenties. Over all my self care is an intuitive thing as well as holistic. I will be 50 in a few years and I tell the cells in body daily that they are getting younger and younger because I want to feel and look vibrant as I get older.

9 - Your top beauty essentials . (Products, rituals, or foods)

As far as rituals are concerned I love to take a bath with magnesium epsom and CBD in my tub with candle light a few times a month. Candles are lit and I enjoy listening to uplifting podcasts about health and wellness, like Wise Traditions, Sam Harris’s Making Sense, The Doctor’s Pharmacy with Dr. Mark Hyman, Being Well with Rick Hanson. When I drive I love to listen to Oprah’s Super Soul talks and GOOP, Ram Dass Here and Now, Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, as well as food podcasts on food photography and cooking.

As I mentioned I wake up and need to meditate. I also often do this in the evening in bed before I sleep. I will take a CBD tincture under the tongue as well as magnesium and the amino acid glycine ( a neuro transmitter in water to nurture my sleep). As I mentioned, I try to take a few minutes by myself and breath for 4-5 minutes.

As far as beauty products go, the products need to be chemical free and natural in the true sense of the word. I like smaller cottage, handcrafted brands, mostly owned by women. I love to support small business, especially the ladies.
For my face I rotate these products:
I use Light and Energy Serum Cleanser by Romilly Wilde from the UK, it comes with a soft cloth to rinse the cleanser off.
Advanced Supercell Serum by Romilly Wilde
Night Duty face cream by Romilly Wilde
Sweet Essentials Pomegranate Oil
Luzern’s Serum Absolute Rehydrate Hylluronic Acid
CBD Bliss Renewal Serum from Priya Apotheca
CBD Photo Metamorphosis Creme
EarthTonic’s Botanical Toning Mis, smells so good from the orange blossoms in it
(a small company from Ojai)

For my body, I love to dry brush when I can and use either sesame oil (in the winter months) and Osea’s anti-aging balm or One Ocean’s Bioactive Body Sculpting Marine Cream and EarthTonic’s Frankinsense Blossom Butter.

I am always on the lookout for new beautifully made products.

I take a plethora of supplements including lots of Vitamin D with K, B-complex, medicinal mushrooms for immunity (I love the Chaga tincture by another local Ojai company called Gara), colostrum, zinc, quercitin, Vitamin C, E and A, NAD and NAC as well as others. I think keeping ones immune system strong is more important than ever.

For my morning ritual:
Right now I am really into drinking loose teas, like Burdock root (blood purifier), Fennel seed, licorice root, chamise and fresh mint leaves. I also love a good Houjicha or high quality Matcha latte made with home made nut milks and a drop of yacon syrup or monk fruit. I try to make a low sugar, high protein smoothie daily with either hemp, a plant based protein or collagen protein, MCT oil, home made nut milk, carob, silica for skin and nails, coconut meat and ice.

My can’t live withouts in the kitchen are Korean glass sweet potato noodles, Cappellos Almond pastas, coconut aminos, avocado and olive oil, white miso, tahini, avocados, coconut yoghurt, alliums, walnuts, cumin seeds, and apple cider vinegar.

10 - You inspire us, but how do you stay inspired?

Getting out in nature, time alone, listening to inspiring teachers, speakers, chefs, bloggers, spiritual teachers, doctors, scientists, philosophers, and great thinkers.
Looking at all my cook books and psychology books. I love tracking great chefs and bloggers like you Meredith, Alice Waters, Aran Goyoaga, Amy Chaplin, Japanese chef Sonoko Sakai, Thomas Keller, The Little Plantation’s Kimberly Espinel, Ottolenghi and so many others.

I love to watch inspiring documentaries about food, travel and impactful topics. I love to learn, learning from people who love what they do and are good at what they do, inspires me so much.