Shakti Grace is a holistic chef based in NSW, Australia. She is also the creator of Shakti's superfood blend. This green blend is only filled with the most nutritious superfoods available. We can atest to how magnificent and delicious Shakti's wholefoods are... beautiful too! Shakti regularly travels far and wide to service all her clients.

Tell us the story of how and why you started the holistic chef? 

Hello Bharani Effect, thank you so much for coming to visit with me today, I am honoured and humbled.
I had lived abroad for over 12 years working as a private chef in the  yachting industry. After all those years of the glamour and truly not so much glamour i came home to australia and ended up working one big rock and roll tour as a was a really interesting experience but one that finally convinced me to step up, and do what really made my heart sing, and also brought into sharp view that if i was to consistently work over 15 hours a day straight for peanuts, it was to be for myself doing what i love!...I was accepted into the NEIS program and The Holistic Chef was born. A marrying of my chef life, yoga life, healer life and overall philosophy of life.

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When did the super food blend come into play?

Literally within the first days of my decision to make these changes in my world,  I was googling around and found Spirulina, then I found the Co-op in Enmore - Alfalfa house and started buying different ingredients and working on a way to utilise them. It really felt like a very guided process, I was simply the human conduit carrying it out. Each step was presented and I seemed to step forward. Sounds strange I guess in hindsight but I had no grand plan at that time. I made the orginal 5 ingredient version of the product and friends and family started taking it. I met a gorgeous being that became my partner, and we started working on SSB further, researching and testing and sampling as he was an expert on Algaes and Superfoods. The version that exists today was born. The baby was birthed so to speak - Shakti's Superfood Blend became a officially produced retail product. I also really need to add, that there were integral people offered on this journey to help this happen, from my ex partner to the company that blends SSB for me, they have all played such a special role and really the product would not exist today without them. It feels so collaborative and supported in that regard, and I will be eternally grateful for that.

Tell us about each of the ingredients in your super food blend and why you chose them? 

Spirulina to me simply represents high octane simplicity. In my initial research of these ingredients, Spirulina offered so much efficacy and ease of use.  I love that under a microscope it looks like DNA, really we are algae. It also can be used across the board by most people, easily digested and assimilated and affordable.

Broken Cell Chlorella is the same for many reasons, and a potent detoxifier.
The third most potent ingredient is the West Australia Bee Pollen, a vitality giving, life forced filled magical granule collected by the bees. I source directly from an amazing bee keeper in WA, it is sustainably and consciously harvested and re-knowed for it's quality. 
The sprouted grasses, Wheat and Barley are also easy on the system and high in chlorophyll and vitamins, and the final three ingredients Maca, Mesquite and Chia Seed  are all traditionally foods used by ancient peoples, the aztecs, the native americans, and the andeans, and used by these people for energy and vitality.

How do they all work together in synergy to create this magical green blend? 

A divinely inspired recipe you might say - they all represent a protein ratio and certain synergistic co-factors for nutritional uptake. SSB is a detoxifying and easily digested formula, and offers quick results. The ingredients really came together also in a way that from a taste point of view all worked as well - i guess that was the chef in me.

The whole idea with the choice of these particular 'Superfoods' is that they aren't really foods you can buy at the local farmers market and eat fresh, or grab from your home garden. Wheat grass and Barley Grass while you can access most people don't, and if you can grow it yourself and harvest, like say alfalfa or beetroot, then I tend to advocate grabbing them and eating them fresh. I also deeply wanted to find a easy to access, prepare and use product for the average person. A product that you can simply add to water, it still tastes palatable (even though it's loads of algae) and it hits your system quickly and is easy to digest...a BAM effect, you might say! Ultimately i have found that many people are looking for an easy way to transition out of the standard Australian (American) Diet, and are looking for simplicity, while SSB might not speak to everyone, it might at least assist people in the transition to a whole foods diet, and that is my mission in this, to offer SSB to be of service and for everyone to eat clean unprocessed foods.

How do you recommend people take it? 

It really depends on your lifestyle as SSB is great post workout and also first thing in the morning. It is not a meal replacement but rather a formulated functional food.

As a general rule though, before eating is best to offer maximum assimilation. With water the easiest but you can also make a nice smoothie with some easy to digest fruits and herbs is my favourite way, with a shot of kombucha or kefir to add a nice probiotic profile. Often clients take it on their breakfast dish like soaked oats, some in yoghurt, some add it to their homemade bliss balls, in any format as long as it is not heated.

“Of all of the varied spiritual practices i resonate with, none has had such an impact on the way i relate to nature and the mother earth and her creatures”

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What are you growing in your garden? 

I am so blessed to have someone that is really into gardens and landscaping living on the property, so we have a good healthy garden. My favourite thing to grow fresh is herbs, i use them all the time in everything, from smoothies to chocolate to desserts to the more savoury dishes. I have rainbow chard, rocket, lettuces, broccoli, sugar snap peas, herbs, carrots, blueberries, chillies, and bitter greens growing. We are about to replant soon. It is awesome getting your hands into the soil, so wonderful connecting with the mother, gaia.

Do you harvest and pick food from the garden for your food daily? 

Yes i would say i pick herbs daily for sure, and most days at least some sautéed chard cooked in ghee is on my menu.
What is the main thing you HAVE to have in the garden? 
HERBS, HERBS AND MORE HERBS :) Basil, Parsley and Thyme for sure! I could swim in a sea of Basil!

I know you have a view about cooking Kale before consuming – please explain your thoughts on this & why.... 

That's funny, yes i do. I want to preface this all with the fact that i am not a nutritionist, but I research and look at the latest nutrition info, constantly - I am a nutrition nerd.

It is my understanding that the maximum nutritional potential of a super awesome food like Kale actually comes from it being cooked, and cooked in fat at that. Ghee optimally as it offers fat soluble vitamins to help carry the fat soluble vitamins in the Kale. 

Kale along with many other foods are also high in oxalates so it can actually block mineral absorption. Kale also is quite high in cellulose so not that easy on the digestion even after being smashed around in a blender. Many people will be fine with Kale but there i would be I would suggest many more with compromised digestion that will really benefit from it being cooked. You can still add it to your smoothies cooked! Or look to the eastern european cultures that would generally eat foods like this cooked with some dairy, before consumption.
I honestly think the trend of raw kale smoothies will start to shift soon.

Tell us about the beautiful wings ? What is the story behind them?
Oh these are things so close to my heart and spirit. The larger pale one is a Kite and the darker one is a Kookaburra.

They are set on Deer Antler.
In the native american or indigenous traditions birds are known as the Winged Ones, and they are connected to us all, and offer us much beautiful medicine.
I was about to run my first retreat a few months ago and really felt called to have a proper smudging wing for the ceremonies. I had no idea where i would find one and of course the great mystery stepped in. I participated in a healing breath work ceremony a week before my retreat and afterwards the idea to go on line and look for a wing, popped into my head. The first website I found was the Three Bears Website and I ordered the Kookaburra one straight away at midnight on a friday. The amazing man that makes them wrote to me the next morning, enquiring about how i would be using these special gifts of the creatures and from then on offered such amazing support and guidance on my journey as a facilitator that following week, and in these ancient ways of working with these healing tools. His emails and grace brought me to tears on many occasions. The birds would generally be road kill that he has found or has been brought to him. The wings would all be removed and treated in traditional ceremonial ways and with the most profound respect and prayer. Upon his guidance i also bought a kite wing.
I feel so very blessed.

Where did you purchase them? 

James, Three Bears, a Canandian man and Black foot initiate, he has been practicing in these ways for many many years and has many revered elders as his teachers. I again feel so blessed that these beings like James come into my orbit and assist me with what i am doing on the planet.

What do you use them for? 

Smudging of healing medicine herbs, mostly Dessert Sage, and Australian Sage, plus Resins and Incense. These herbs are for clearing and healing and ceremonial offering.
I smudge my home and my altars of which there are many every day. It creates a nice vibration in my home and sets up the day beautifully clearing the space for the new.

It is understood that the medicine of these winged ones is carried on the smoke of the smudged medicine herbs. They offer their energy for healing, and clearing.

Please share your other experiences leading to a conscious life – your meditation practice, sweat lodges etc ? How do these all participate and interact with each other to form a conscious body, soul, mind and spirit in combination with your work in food?

My journey has been an ever evolving and mostly magical filled one. It has had many challenges and continues to do so also. The reason I say this is that the fundamentals of my spiritual practices are the things that have kept me going even in the darkest of times, and are especially the things that have opened the doors for me, to the grace of the divine, other humans, and nature, especially nature.

I have been working with the mineral realm as long as i can remember, i can't even remember when that began, they are my greatest love, i sleep with crystals in my hands, i wear them i have them everywhere my eyes can land in my home and car, they are my buddies my allies!To me it is irrelevant if it is woo woo hippie stuff or not, these mineral friends have brought so much comfort to me and offered such a connection to the depth of ritual and respect and care, they are great teachers. 

In my early 20's my sister introduced me to yoga as taught in a traditional vedanta lineage which has continued for now over 20 years,  and then training as a teacher in the USA.  Then the next progression was followed on with healer trainings in Breath work and Reiki, and then my first sit last year in the ten day silent Vipassana tradition as taught by Goenkaji, the meditation practice I find so profound in its simplicity and goodness. I love that it is so offered in a spirit of service to humanity, and that all that serve on Vipassana courses are students, and dedicated to the practice also, it has this beautiful non dogmatic flow on effect, and i find that when i am actually sitting regularly (i admit i am not currently) it offers i would say the most obvious difference to my internal and external world.

Of all of the varied spiritual practices i resonate with, none has had such an impact on the way i relate to nature and the mother earth and her creatures.... all her relations, as much as the native american ceremonial rites of passage and none more so than the Purification Sweat Lodge Ceremony.

I was initiated this year into a traditional lineage, and i receive this honour humbly and quite seriously, with much reverence for the implications of this bestowment.

“I honestly think the trend of raw kale smoothies will start to shift soon”

To sit in any kind of sacred, intentional, conscious ceremony with creatures of the divine whether human, winged or four legged is a way to truly relate, resonate and try to understand who we are and how we impact this world and walk our path in this lifetime (at least). All of these things inform how i walk through the world in every moment, and offer ways of learning how to grow, expand, move personally from darkness to light, transcend and assist others wherever possible, and this is why i feel that I am on the planet, to grow and to be of service. 

When I started the Holistic Chef and Shakti's Superfood Blend, all of my practices informed each step of the process in some way, everything i do is so deeply interwoven these days that there really is no differentiation, I carry all my tools of all these practices with me wherever i go, whether it's sage in my car to clear a space i am going to work in, or crystals blessing the area where SSB is stored, to chanting while i cook, it's all just part of me, a strange curious tapestry i have woven.

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What would be your top 5 tips to people living in the city in starting to cooking holistic foods? 

Pure and clean drinking water is the first most important step
Clear out your kitchen of processed foods as much as possible

Buy local and fresh and organic if you can, living in the city offers so much access to good farmers markets these days, it's awesome! supporting small growers and passionate farmers of all types

Pick just a few things to start integrating into your daily cooking and eating paradigm, going in all guns blazing can tend to lead to being overwhelmed, i find with most clients, one or two things at a time in the utilising and new cooking skills repertoire

Really should be number two - mindfulness when you eat, sitting quietly, chewing your food, thinking good thoughts, giving thanks to the farmers, the creatures, the cooks all that are involved in your food being on your plate, that to me is the most holistic thing that can happen in the holistic cooking world! Good food vibes

Photos + interview produced by thebharanieffect - our talented photographer is Maclay Heriot.