We connected with Johanna during her time in L.A. (she has recently made the cross-country move back to NYC) and couldn’t get enough of her contagious energy and love for creating plant-based, beautiful, and easy recipes that take minutes to make but look seriously impressive- and equally gorgeous. As she’s become one of our favorite trailblazers in wellness we wanted to share a snippet of her world, why she’s been so intrigued with the movement of exploring CBD and plant-based remedies, and her recipe for a calming Cacao Peanut Butter Elixir we have on-repeat for our favorite holiday superfood latte. (Note: Her smoothie bowls are out of this world, as seen below.)
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Hey! My name is Johanna Penry and I am a holistic health aficionado, recipe developer, plant lover, and aspiring Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.
How are you building a community of women in wellness and inspiring a life off the beaten path?
In 2016, I quit my job in digital media with no other idea in mind but to build community and a career in the plant-based world. The day I quit my job, I went home and made this big Asian inspired rice bowl and poured my soul into it. I remember thinking, “the kitchen is my favorite place, why did I ever stop cooking?” All I knew was that I wanted to help people live healthier and more fulfilled lives. Since then, I have worked at three different plant-based restaurants in Los Angeles. The bulk of my time was spent at Wild Living Foods, an all organic, plant-based, gluten-free, and non-GMO restaurant, as their manager and marketing director.
I also graduated from raw vegan chef school, completed a plant-based nutrition certificate, and am currently working on my health coach certificate with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Clearly, I was a little confused about whether I wanted to cook, focus on nutrition, manage things, or market things haha. Along the way, I have been documenting the process via my Instagram, @thisgalthrives, and have met so many incredible and open-minded people. In my everyday life, I build community through food and conversation. If someone is having a get-together, I’ll bring a dessert like raw apple pie or a cashew cheesecake. People won’t believe me when I say it’s raw, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free, and of course that sparks a lot of conversations. My plan is to continue learning, connecting, and sharing. Hopefully, others are inspired to make healthy choices and do what they love.
We feel a powerful shift in how women are viewing healing and embracing self-care wellness rituals. What’s something that you feel particularly excited as we redefine the future of the wellness industry?
What I find extremely empowering is seeing women take matters into their own hands. Western medicine has proved to be amazing in terms of surgical and technological advances. If you need a heart transplant or want to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, you can count on your old pal Western. But in my opinion, it has failed our society in terms of chronic disease prevention, safe pain and stress management, and basic digestive health. Many women are waking up about this and looking into alternative options. From taking adaptogenic herbs to yoga to learning more about Ayurveda, there are so many safe and effective ways to avoid ending up in the hospital wondering how you got there. Embracing the best of Eastern and Western Medicine is where we truly need to go. You can see this now with different integrative health centers opening, and hospitals hiring health coaches who will help their patients make the necessary lifestyle changes that doctors don’t have the time to help with. That is why I am getting my health coach certification, to play a supportive role in people’s path to health and happiness.
We’re seeing CBD grow as a calm-igniting self-care ritual. How do you feel it’s helped empower your health as a woman?
CBD has empowered me as a woman because it was something that came into my life in a synchronistic way. I had been feeling extremely stressed and was experiencing mood swings. I felt like there was an imbalance that I couldn’t fix simply by pulling myself up by the bootstraps and thinking positive.
After a bit of research, I realized that CBD was something that could really help me in that category, but also to help reduce inflammation. Since incorporating it into my morning routine, I feel like I am consistently setting an intention to keep my body and mind in balance. It feels really good to take that time for myself every day and know that this is something I figured out and fixed by myself.
Is there a favorite way y0u’ve been incorporating our Wellness Elixir so far?
If I feel like I really need to zen out and do something beyond my morning routine, I will put a few drops of Soul Addict in a smoothie bowl, a raw dessert, or an elixir at night. I actually just made this really great cacao peanut butter bliss elixir and would love to share the recipe with you!
SA Cacao Peanut Butter Bliss Elixir
Food and nutrition are clearly very important to you, can you walk us through your daily wellness ritual routine in L.A.?
Morning | In the morning, the first thing I do is grab a big glass of water and take my magnesium, probiotics, CBD, and B12. This helps with digestion and hydration. Then I stretch/dance around my room/do random yoga poses for about half an hour. I think this is kind of the key to life haha. Breakfast is usually coconut yogurt or chia pudding with granola and berries. I try to keep the sugar low and the fiber high. On my way to work, I’m always listening to a podcast or a book. Right now I’m really loving Rich Roll and anything from Danielle La Porte.
Afternoon | Lunch is where I like to get my greens in because you just never know what kind of mood you will be in at the end of the day and how that will play out with what you choose for dinner. So I like to do a big salad with kale or spinach, veggies like cucumbers, beets, sweet potato, red pepper, and even fruits like strawberry and avocado. Tahini is bae.
Evening | Dinner is always something ethnic, like a kimchi rice bowl or tacos. But I like to keep it simple and use a half cooked/half raw philosophy. I take my time experimenting with sauces and dressings. Like a chipotle maple cashew cream or a strawberry sriracha glaze. You could probably sneak some CBD in there if you feel inclined!
Favorite wellness spots in L.A. you couldn’t go on without?
For me, the ultimate wellness spot in my city is in a kitchen with my friends. I have friends who like to cook and garden. We throw on some earlier 2000’s hip-hop and get in the kitchen and it’s game over. I’m in the process of moving from LA to NY so this could seem like a shifty way of answering the question, haha, but I prefer cooking at home to eating out any day.
What’s been the most enlightening aspect, to you, about breaking the typical cannabis stereotype and creating a canna-norm wellness movement?
Prior to living in Los Angeles, having grown up in Connecticut, all I ever associated cannabis with were stoners and getting high. I had no idea that cannabis had so many medicinal properties or that it could be distilled into an oil like CBD that had zero psychoactive effects. It just goes to show that plants are extremely diverse and powerful. I think there is still a lot of confusion about the differences between marijuana and hemp, how they exist under the cannabis umbrella, and what the long-term effects of these substances on the body are. Hopefully with legalization in a few states now, education will grow a bit more. Pun intended.