Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
Sakara: Eat, Clean, Play Dirty
Written by: Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
by Alexandra Perron
Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle co-founded Sakara in 2011, they were on a mission to heal their bodies through healthy food. After developing a plant-based menu and following it themselves, they realized the power behind these meals and the power of food as medicine. Through their nationwide meal delivery service and collection of supplements and snacks, they’ve not only changed lives but have developed a dedicated community of Sakaralites. Their newest endeavor, Eat Clean, Play Dirty: Recipes for a Body and Life You Love, launches this week. The plant-based cookbook that makes it easier for their followers to recreate their favorite Sakara meals at home while serving as a tool to educate them on everything from superfoods to the microbiome. We caught up with the duo to hear more about their journey, the Sakara philosophy, and what recipes they love to make.
You started as a meal delivery program, expanded into products and now, have your first cookbook. What has this journey been like?
WHITNEY: When we initially developed the Sakara nutrition philosophy, we weren’t thinking of it as a business, we were just trying to heal ourselves. But once we started to see the transformation caused by eating this way — in less than 2 weeks — we realized that Sakara was way bigger than just us, and we couldn’t keep it to ourselves. From that point forward our mission was very clear: to change as many lives as possible through the power of food as medicine.
We started by with meal delivery because at that time our clients were mostly busy, stressed out New Yorkers who didn’t have the time to prepare their own food - we were their nutritionist and personal chef in one. At that time, very few people had heard of the microbiome or knew what “plant-based” eating was, so we launched our magazine as an education platform. Once we expanded from New York to the West Coast, and then nationwide, we had clients with different needs. Maybe they didn’t want or couldn’t afford to receive meals delivered consistently, so we launched our supplements and functional snacks to support them. The cookbook has been on our minds, and our client’s wish lists, for about 8 years. But we felt that now, with plant-based eating going from fringe to mainstream, was the perfect time to bring Sakara Life to the broadest audience yet.
How has the Sakara wellness philosophy evolved over the years? How do you explain the Sakara lifestyle to someone new?
DANIELLE: Before Sakara launched as a business, it started as a solution to our own health problems via what we now call our Nine Pillars of Nutrition: things like getting enough plant protein, and eating plenty of fibrous leafy greens every single day. While we regularly consult with our Science & Nutrition Council, made up of doctors including Robin Berzin and Raphael Kellman, to stay informed on the latest scientific research, our wellness philosophy has stayed true to its core since day one. The Sakara Nutrition Protocol is rooted in science and is not a trend, it’s here to stay.
WHITNEY: At Sakara we believe that you are what you do most of the time, and that joy is a vital nutrient. So we encourage our clients to eat the Sakara way most of the time — basing their diets on a variety of organic, nutrient-dense plant foods — but that there is never a “no list.” If eating a croissant on Saturday morning or drinking a margarita on Saturday night brings you joy, by all means enjoy it. This is why we named our cookbook, “Eat Clean, Play Dirty.” We aren’t vegans, vegetarians, keto, paleo, or any other label. This isn’t a diet and there is no wagon to fall off. Base your diet on plants, and you’ll build a healthy microbiome and a body that can handle a little “playing dirty.”
What have you taught each other about wellness and nutrition?
DANIELLE: Whitney and I had very different health “rock-bottoms” which led to the founding of Sakara. She had been suffering from terrible cystic acne for over a decade and also gained weight while working (and eating and drinking) on Wall Street post-college. I had been struggling with severe body image issues for as long as I can remember — since the age of 9. I was a yo-yo dieter, trying every diet on the market, and the true rock-bottom came after I agreed to do a 21-day cleanse in the desert that kicked off with a 7-day water fast. Literally, nothing but water. I came back to NYC with walking pneumonia and a severely compromised digestive system and promised myself I’d never go on another diet again.
So what we learned from each other, and now from the testimonials of the thousands of clients lives that we’ve touched over the years, is that following the Sakara Nutrition Protocol has the power to solve and heal a myriad of health conditions. This is truly the way our bodies were designed to eat.
What recipes were you the most excited to share? Are there any people are always asking you for?
WHITNEY: I’ve been joking that we wrote this book solely for our Red Beet Burger recipe or the delicious sauce from our Buckwheat Soba Noodles. We had a client write in once saying she would “bathe in that sauce” if she could — which we don’t recommend since it contains sriracha.
Do you each have a favorite recipe or section in the book?
DANIELLE: This is like asking to pick a favorite child, but if I had to pick my favorite it would be the Youth + Beauty Salad! Though it is beautiful to look at — full of pink and green bib lettuce, crunchy strips of carrots and cucumber, and juicy pomegranate seeds — we invented this meal solely with the intention of making the most hydrating, anti-aging meal on the planet. Each ingredient was specifically chosen for its unique anti-aging or beautifying properties. By “eating your water” your skin is hydrated from the inside out, giving you that Sakara glow.
I’m also excited to share the cocktail and dessert sections because these are recipes we don’t serve on the meal plan. They also illustrate how you can enjoy all the things you love, but “Sakarify” them, as we like to say.
WHITNEY: I’m really excited to share our Everything Bagel recipe! The bagel is such a New York classic and our twist is not only easy to make and delicious, it’s a great example of how all the comfort foods you love can be Sakarified. No Sacrifices!
Beyond the recipes, your book really aims to educate on everything from the microbiome to superfoods. Why was this important to you?
WHITNEY: We don’t want you to eat this way because we told you to or because you want to look like one of our celebrity clients. We want you to eat this way because you truly understand the science behind the Sakara nutrition protocol and how transformative it is for your health.
So much love and research go into developing every single Sakara recipe. Each ingredient is carefully selected not only for its deliciousness but the nutrient content. We want our clients to be as informed, conscientious and passionate about their food as we are. Changing the way you eat is the #1 thing you can do to improve your health and longevity and the more our clients understand the “why” behind it, the more likely they are to embrace these changes for the long term.
Who do you hope picks up your book?
DANIELLE: This book is truly for everyone, but I’d love to see curious meat-lovers pick it up and realize how delicious, fun, and even satisfying eating plants can be. You do not have to give up meat to live the Sakara Life! Moms can cook these recipes for their kids. Families can mix a few Sakara recipes in with their more traditional holiday favorites. And of course, we created this book for our incredible, loyal, supportive clients — our Sakaralites — that we love and appreciate so much.