Whether healthier eating is one of your New Year’s resolutions, or whether you or a loved one are facing specific health issues, The Wellness Kitchen might be just what the doctor ordered.
The Wellness Kitchen is in in Templeton’s historic Manse building, a restored 1892 Victorian that was originally a home for a Presbyterian minister and most recently the site of Penny’s at the Manse restaurant. The entire space exudes charm, from the high-ceilinged interior to the quiet garden to the broad wooden veranda overlooking Templeton Park.
Owner Nancy Walker launched The Wellness Kitchen at the end of October with the aim of creating “a peaceful place for education, health and recovery.”
With her team of culinary experts, yoga instructors and certified massage therapists, her still-evolving concept encompasses everything from offering pre-prepared “healing foods” to cooking classes, from holistic nutrition services to body therapy, or simply providing a place to peruse the collection of health-oriented books.
“Anyone can come in at any time and use the library,” Walker said. “They’re welcome to relax with a hot cup of tea or our nutritional mineral broth, or just sit and listen to music.”
The Wellness Kitchen also has a bed-and-breakfast option for guests wishing to participate in classes or simply seeking a calm place for recovery, “because sometimes that might need to be away from home.”
The guests’ breakfasts are prepared according to their specific health needs, an attitude that fuels the entire Wellness Kitchen philosophy.
“I moved here several years ago and wanted to do a B&B, but one with a specific purpose,” said Walker. Instead, her plans changed and she enrolled in culinary school, but “everything was seasoned with butter and salt,” an approach she felt was “learning how to cook only for taste, but not for health.”
Inspired in part by her mother’s two battles with cancer — the second of which “she beat with nutrition” — Walker changed her emphasis and earned certification as a natural chef from Bauman College, a program specializing in holistic, therapeutic and whole food cooking. She also adjusted her sights soon after opening The Wellness Kitchen as she discovered herself not only addressing cancer issues, but those of diabetes and a wide range of food allergies as well.
As a result, all of The Wellness Kitchen’s “healing foods” available for take-out reflect those concerns.
Items change weekly but might include a vegan minestrone made with organic vegetables from the farmers market, a chicken and broccoli stir-fry thickened with kudzu root instead of corn starch, or a dessert of poached pears topped with a dollop of nondairy cashew cream.
In addition to instructions on how to cook the dishes once you get them home, each weekly menu also offers nuggets of “food wisdom” about specific ingredients; for example, “lentils are linked to controlling blood sugar,” “lycopene (is) a phytochemical in tomatoes that has anti-cancer properties,” or “adding red palm oil into the diet can remove plaque buildup.”
Though Walker would no doubt love to perform a top-to-bottom “pantry therapy” on everybody, her overall approach is low-key, upbeat and realistic.
She acknowledges that “all the books out there can be so contradictory, but what I liked about Bauman was that they taught that it’s not just about one particular diet — it’s the best of everything, tailored to you. We all do the best we can — even if you just start by putting a slice of lemon in your water glass, you pat yourself on the back and go from there.”