Saundra Garcia


Welcome! I’m Saundra, the chef, foodie, and entertainment enthusiast behind The Refined Lifestyle. I reside in Southern California, and I’m a SoCal girl through and through!  I also lived in Texas for a time, and fell in love with the warm hospitality of southern living.  I’m the busy mom of two active kids and wife to my wonderful and supportive food-loving husband. When I am not cooking, cleaning, or caring for my family, I work as a Healthy Cooking class instructor for my local city, and am a caterer and event coordinator.  I spend the rest of my time refinishing upcycled furniture and doing custom upgrades to refine my formerly builder-basic home.

Coming from a big Latin family, food and entertainment are a big part of our heritage.  Food and cooking have always been my biggest passions ever since I can remember. Growing up, I was the curious little girl in the kitchen with my grandmothers, aunts, and elders, cooking alongside them and absorbing every cooking tip and trick.  I was fortunate that my mother and grandmother believed in the principles of healthy living through diet and the foods we consume.  Because of their inspiration, it became my goal to be a health-focused chef, teaching others that food can be beautiful and delicious while also providing effective healing and disease-preventative benefits.  I cook in what is considered a Flexatarian lifestyle. This means that I eat 80% plant-based ( for health purposes) and 20% organic/wild caught meat, fish or dairy, along with the occasional sweet indulgence. It’s all about balance, and I’m a firm believer in this 80/20 rule (because even Vegans can be unhealthy!)  Here at TRL (The Refined Lifestyle) you will find recipes, videos, and tips on Vegan/Vegetarian options as well as healthier takes on the traditional dishes you love. They will be easy and delicious, have a real-life approachability, and have left-overs for built in roll-over recipes that will make  weekly meal planning easier for your busy life.  I’ve been cooking, catering, and teaching professionally for over 13 years, and now I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned with you!

I feel passionately that food and hospitality go hand-in-hand.  One of my greatest pleasures is presenting a gorgeous Charcuterie platter on a beautiful tablescape with a delicious, specially crafted libation to compliment the food. Whether it’s for the holidays, birthday parties, or a themed event, I always keep in mind budget, availability, and ease of execution.  By using what’s in your pantry, garden, backyard and the grocery store, I often find that the best concoctions and décor come from simple things used creatively.

I’m as inspired by beautiful spaces almost as much as I am inspired by food.  Here on TRL you’ll get see how I’ve turned our basic, outdated builder-grade home into something more refined and unique. I love looking for used high-quality furniture, décor pieces, and even appliances at low prices, which I then upcycle and DIY.  Who doesn’t love a great Before and After reveal? Those are my favorite!  I will also share tips on the best primers and paints, and how to score deals on high-end second-hand items. I believe everyone craves some refinement in their lives, no matter what your budget is!

My personal philosophy is that food, entertainment, and beautiful spaces aren’t just things, they are a way to share our love and passions with our family and loved ones. After all, isn’t that that what life is all about?

Xo, SG