The idea of spa cuisine is hardly new. Prior to the advent of spas as we know them today, people in search of rest and rejuvenation visited regimented health farms where daily exercise routines were complemented with bland, lacklustre, institutionalized meals that even the best intentioned could not possibly want to whip up in the home. But as the spa scene has become more sophisticated, spa cuisine has risen to the challenge. Menus today are packed with fresh, seasonal ingredients, many of which are cultivated at the resorts’ own organic garden.

Contemporary spa cuisine is much less about counting calories and fat content, but far more about diets known for helping to maximise brainpower and energy levels. In other words, food as nature intended it-with all the goodness intact, and textures and ingredients perfectly balanced to nourish the body, mind and spirit.

Whilst the basic ingredients of modern spa cuisine have been around for centuries, what is new is the science supporting the benefits of the eclectic mix of fresh, seasonal fruits, vegetables and wholegrains that are the mainstay of the deliciously vibrant menus offered at the world’s top spa resorts and destination spas. It has been proven that these plant-derived nutrients offer the best natural protection against today’s top killer diseases such as cancer and heart disease, while also protecting us against everyday pollution and toxic chemicals found in treated meats and vegetables.

It is now widely accepted that the best supplements for maintaining sleek, shining hair, radiant skin and endless vitality are not pills but nature’s ‘superfoods’ packed with health-promoting nutrients. ‘Superfoods’ is the term used to describe certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains that are ‘enzymatically alive’ (ie wholesome foods that contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E with trace elements of selenium and zinc).

They also contain phytonutrients (or plant chemicals) that have favourable effects on our health. Terpenes, carotenoids, phenols, flavonoids and isoflavones are just a few of the scientific names that in essence translate into colourful and energy-giving foods such as blueberries, ginger, peppers, pineapples, pomegranates, grapes, spinach and tomatoes. These ‘superfoods’ are widely accepted as prerequisites for long, healthy and energetic lives. What research has also found is that the protective and beneficial effects of these foods are maximized when taken together as part of a mixed diet combining fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

At the increasing number of cookery schools offered in top spas and resorts, guests can learn to combine a variety of beneficial foods to create healthy, vibrant wholesome meals in the home. Classes range from distinctively Asian to fusion-style cooking, combining the best of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, and are the perfect partners to the fully integrative spa philosophy.

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