Wellness Kitchen Serving Up Healthy Meals
Wellness Kitchen Serving Up Healthy Meals
Across from Twin Cities Hospital, The Wellness Kitchen and Resource Center (WKRC) is fast becoming the North County’s hub for wellness through nutrition. Founded by Nancy Walker, the WKRC not only serves food, but also strives to educate the community about the healing powers of a healthy diet.
Walker has a personal connection to healing through nutrition. Her mother beat cancer once through radiation and medical treatment. During her second bout with the disease, it took a more well rounded approach to defeat it, “My mom was able to beat cancer a second time with diet, nutrition, meditation, friendship. These are what I believe are called tools. There are so many resources that our out there, so many tools. We just need to clarify what tools are going to work for us.”
Her initial idea, inspired by her mother’s success with healthy living, was to start a bed and breakfast that focused on wellness retreats for families to learn to cook healthy. She embarked on a culinary education adventure that led her to Bauman College in Santa Cruz, a school that focuses on training students to work in the whole foods industry with an emphasis on holistic nutrition. She was certified as a natural chef with an emphasis on therapeutic cooking. “I knew when I finished there, I could hit the ground running. I had the confidence and the structure to make a go at this.”
With that experience, she opened the WKRC’s first location in a historic home on the park in downtown Templeton. In August in 2011 Nancy made a decision to make the WKRC a nonprofit organization in order to be able to give away a lot of the food and provide more accessible programs. The WKRC moved to a location across from Twin Cities Hospital where Nancy was unsure if the more strip mall atmosphere would take away from the serenity vibe the old location had. “We have patrons come in and are so happy and tell us how we did it and made it happen.” The center has lounges set up with couches, tables, a fireplace, an area to watch programs relevant to eating well as well as a resource center full of literature about creating a healthy and healing diet.
“Our traffic has tripled since we’ve been here. People still come in here thinking it’s a deli and want a bologna sandwich and find that there’s so much more and it’s exactly what they were looking for. We’re providing so much to so many more.” The center is more than just a place for lunch and Walker adds, “We joke about it that we don’t use the R-word (restaurant). That’s not part of our mission. Our mission is to educate our community. To give them the resources and tools on the healing benefits of nutrition.”
The center plays host to talks by practitioners on topics such as “Food as Medicine” and focus on helping people lower cholesterol through diet, better cardiovascular health and lowering blood glucose, dietary support for Candida sufferers to name a few. The classes focus on the science of the body and how food affects it or negates it. There are also hands on cooking classes like the “3-Way Series” – a class where one ingredient is used to make three completely different dishes in one hour. There are also classes focusing on therapeutic cooking and nutrition for those diagnosed with cancer, “Cancer Fighting Nutrition.” The Intro to Wellness program offers hands-on classes to those looking to do an in-depth overhaul of their cooking and kitchen behavior with topics on “Pantry Rehab,” “Knife Skills” as well as cooking skills in small classes in the center’s kitchen.
Also on the books for the 2013 is a new class, “Making Sense of Nutrition,” which Walker alongside her Director of Education, Stephanie Austin, already taught at Marian Hospital in Santa Maria. Well-received, the class teaches participants about both the science of the body as well as the dangers of overeating oils, fats and salts. The workshop also includes a cooking demonstration followed by a lunch.
The center also aims to partner with Dancing Deer Farms in Templeton and host a three-day retreat for those battling cancer which will include cooking classes, juicing lessons, music, art and music therapy. Walker is excited about the endeavor and mentions, “It’s a retreat where somebody can come and get their tools to use to take care of themselves. Your body is already dealing with so much. If you’re going to have clean eating and nutrition and a diet that is not going to fight you while you’re in treatment, your chances of recovery are so much better. You’re changing this inhospitable environment that doesn’t allow cancer to grow again.”
Walker invites the community to visit the WKRC, “Our doors are open to you to come in, sit in our lounges, grab a book from our resource center. Come in between appointments. Don’t feel like you have to come in here and order lunch. This is a nonprofit that’s a place of comfort where you can come if you’re waiting for a loved one at the hospital. It fills your soul a little bit more.”
By Brandi Stansbury, Templeton Chamber Guide
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