Our holistic dining philosophy
hef Ceci’s definition of “healthy food” is probably a little different to your own. In the eyes of My SachaJi’s culinary expert, it has nothing to with cutting anything out. It’s about finding perfect combinations.
“All foods have their own unique benefits. Potatoes have one benefit, fruits have others. The important thing how to combine them, so that they each bring something that helps your body,” she explains.
The healing hotel’s holistic dining seeks to balance everything – health benefits, sustainability, colours and textures to name a few – in buckets of flavour. The diner gains: greater energy, easier digestion, and a lighter-feeling body.
What is holistic nutrition?
Holistic dining is centred around a natural approach to healthy eating and takes the individual into account in its entirely, incorporating all elements of their way of life.
Emotional, spiritual and physical health are all fundamental elements in creating a state of well-being. Basic nutrition education comes to the fore here, to develop a holistic diet that combines natural and organic foods, natural supplements, and dietary treatments for chronic health conditions.
So how does this philosophy translate to the menu?
“When you’ve come to cleanse and heal your spirit you can’t eat a fritada (traditional fried pork)!” Ceci says. What you will find here is delicious, natural, local ingredients, fashioned into dishes that appear to be unexpectedly indulgent: hamburgers made from beetroot, sausages made from quinoa and lasagne made of vegetables with creamy tofu ‘cheese’.
“What I’m doing now is making natural food that appears to be traditional dishes; food enters first through your eyes!” she says.
If you think that this emphasis on the natural means you’re missing out on something, think again: quinoa sausage has 100 grams of protein, which is almost the same as meat. And with the same condiments and other ingredients, you’d never know it wasn’t pork.
“It’s not a question of tricking guests into eating natural, it’s introducing them to new ideas,” she explains.
The idea for this approach came to her while educating guests on the power of food, after she came up with a list of “comfort foods” vs. “happy foods”. Comfort foods were things like chips and fried chicken – foods that offer instant gratification but ultimately harm the body. Happy foods, on the other hand, are found in the likes of beetroot and corn, help the circulation and the brain and act as natural antidepressants.
But although she flags up certain foods as ones to take in moderation, nothing is prohibited on the My SachaJi menu.
“It’s not a hospital and we’re not going to restrict anything! I’m not here to put guests on a diet,” she says. That is why you’ll still find indulgent organic chocolate brownies (a fine antidepressant!) and natural creamy sauces on the menu. Even Ceci is partial to a soda and French fries once in a while!
One aspect that is consistent throughout My SachaJi’s holistic dining is that everything is unprocessed and locally-sourced. In fact, much is grown in the ecolodge’s own organic vegetable garden and orchard (around 90 percent of the ingredients used are organic), and what isn’t, comes from local providers.
“The key word is local. I go and visit the farms, see how they grow it, how they prepare it. I think it’s really important that people are conscious of what they are eating, and where it is coming from,” she says.
High up on the list of the local produce are quinoa, cocoa and shrimps from the nearby Pacific Coast – all from within a 300km radius.
Then there are local tropical fruits made into juices, each designed to make you feel your best: blueberry or babaco (mountain papaya) juice from the region contain plenty of vitamin C, while papaya is good for digestion.
These foods and ingredients, this style of conscious eating, is helping guests to feel their best.
For the healing hotel, it is a mission to change the way that people think about food, making them aware what goes in their bodies, and how it will make them feel.
“What I try to show is that everyone can grow their own food and everyone has the right to demand quality food. You have to have an open mind to new colours, new flavours. That is how to treat your body better.”
Why we don’t serve red meat at My SachaJi
The simple answer is that raising livestock for our consumption is destroying the planet. Aside from contributing 18% more greenhouse gases than transport, other issues include:
- Earth: pastures cover around 30% of the Earth’s surface, that means forests and other natural paradises are destroyed for the purpose.
- Water: raising livestock contaminates water at a rate 10 times higher than humans alone with nasty substances including antibiotics and pesticides.