Let’s be real, it takes baby steps to ease into eating kale and drinking smoothies every day. But making the switch (even if it is a gradual one) to being mindful of what you eat is beneficial for your health in so many ways. One person who can vouch for that is Sharon Kolkka, general manager and wellness director of Queensland spa Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, who has seen the implementation of a gluten-free, dairy-free menu at the retreat. We picked her brain about the reason behind it and how you can fall in love with cooking.

What’s the philosophy behind Gwinganna’s gluten-free, dairy-free menu?
“The food at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat focuses on seasonal, local, organic wholefoods prepared simply to maximise nutritional value and showcase the wonderful produce our chefs use every day.

“By choosing organic when you shop you can help reduce the load on the environment and increase the health benefits of your food.

“Many guests came to us with gluten and dairy intolerances and we noticed that many of our guests have compromised digestion due to elevated stress levels. We decided to provide a menu that would improve digestion therefore increasing the absorption of nutrients, reducing inflammation and balancing blood sugar levels. Generally people with compromised digestion find it hard to digest the proteins found in dairy and certain grains.”

Can you share some tips to take our meals to spa standards?
“Preparing delicious spa style food starts with good produce and fresh organic ingredients that speak for themselves in flavour and texture. Play with this and see what you enjoy best and bring simple dishes to life by using more fresh herbs, good quality salt (Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt) and good quality healthy oils such as extra virgin, macadamia or coconut oil. Cook with love and the intention to nourish yourself and others and you’ll have a winning lifestyle combination.”

How do you make healthy foods more appealing?
“For those who are new to healthy food, smoothies can be a great place to begin. You can hide healthy ingredients such as coconut kefir yoghurt, avocado, wheatgrass, spirulina, kale and nuts easily, by adding blueberries, banana and coconut milk. The smoothie is delicious and full of nutrients, yet may not be enough to stimulate digestion so we suggest pouring the smoothie over granola as a healthy breakfast.”