Jose Antonio Palma, a hospitality management student at Enderun Colleges, never liked vegetables, even if his mother, Cathy Brillantes-Turvill, is a wellness proponent.
When Turvill, owner of Nurture Wellness Village, a spa and organic farm in Tagaytay, took up a course at the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, she learned to prepare healthy juices using kale, and brought home seeds. She infused farm-fresh kale with pineapple and other fruits for her son’s drink.
“Now he drinks it all the time. Mission accomplished. He’s getting his nutrients without me having to force him,” said Turvill.
Kale is one of the crops produced at Turvill’s organic farm, which was developed to support the restaurant at Nurture Wellness Village. A member of the cabbage family, kale is packed with health-promoting sulfur compounds which boosts the liver’s capacity to cleanse lethal cancer-causing elements.
“It started with the corporate wellness program at the spa. We educated clients on how to prepare healthy juices with kale and wheatgrass. Kale is a good breakfast drink. Because it is rich in potassium, vitamins A, C, E, protein and magnesium, it is called the ‘queen of greens.’ When people saw the benefits, they started asking where to get kale,” explained Turvill.
She then built a farm close to the spa which cultivates the curly leaf kale, Chinese kale and other vegetables and herbs. Nurture Wellness Village incorporates organic farming practices such as worm culture to fortify the soil, and natural pesticides such as lemongrass and madre de cacao leaves with alcohol.
To avoid wastage, harvested rainwater nourishes the plants, while kitchen waste and dried leaves are recycled into compost.
The restaurant has introduced innovations such as kale pan de sal, kale bruschetta, laing pasta with kale, spring rolls with kale, pancit miki with kale, beans sprouts and tofu, Pinoy minestrone with kale, squash pasta with kale pesto sauce, kale omelette and kale-banana cookies.
Uplifted by the kale drink, Palma and his friends from school have put up a venture, O Kale, which sells kale leaves and kale juice mixed with apple, mango or calamansi in the weekend markets.
Said Palma, “the trouble with selling kale or any vegetable drink is that it comes off as unappealing. We tried to mitigate the bitterness of vegetables by infusing them with fruits in the juices for a sweeter taste.”
Their purpose for the small enterprise is to help make the world a better place. Mary Grace van der Spoel, an entrepreneurship student, cited statistics about miserable health conditions in the Philippines. “Nine Filipinos are diagnosed with cancer every hour,” she said.
Brian Gotuaco and Julian Angelo Razo, also Enderun students, added that 90 percent of Filipinos have the risk of arteriosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries that restricts blood flow, and 300 Filipinos die of heart disease daily.
Kale is rich in potassium, vitamin C and B6 that help to promote heart health. A high potassium intake reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and loss of muscle mass, and also decreases blood pressure.
Palma said drinking kale juice daily relieved him of allergies: “Every morning I’d wake up with a clogged nose. Now I can sleep in a cold room and wake up fine. Kale improves my immune system and helps me to stay alert in class.”
Gotuaco also used to hate vegetables and liked to drink Red Bull to wake up and drive to school. “With kale, you won’t need any caffeine-based drink. After a long day, you can mix it with pineapple shake,” he said.
Razo, a sportsman, said kale provides all the nutritional requirements for his activities. “Kale provides more protein than meat. It has more vitamin C,” he pointed out.
“As an athlete, it’s hard to keep my meals packed with nutrients, especially if there’s a specific diet to follow,” he added. “When I’m on the go, I have an easy blender and throw the kale and fruits in. This keeps me energized.”
Van der Spoel said some of her relatives were stricken with cancer. In discovering kale, she learned about its cancer-fighting properties. It contains chlorophyll that blocks off certain carcinogens. (According to Medical News Today, grilled foods should be complemented with greens to cancel the harmful effects of cooking in high temperatures.)
She added that when she gets hyper, her energy gets drained fast. Kale is great for perking her up. “Kale is good for people who are stressed.”
Said Turvill: “In the modern world, there’s no time to prepare meals properly. When you combine two leaves of kale and fresh pineapple juice, you are fortified.”
Even her husband, Mike, has been converted. The high fiber content in kale improves blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels. “I was the classic British expat who loved meat and beer. Now I take fiber,” he said.
Nurture Wellness Village is at Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II West Cavite, Tagaytay; tel. 0918-8888772 or 710 9786. O Kale juices are available at Salcedo Market in Makati from 7 to 10 a.m.