The Lover: Hot Cacao Elixir

Click through for an interview and recipe with Sydney, Australia’s Orchard St.

One of our favourite purveyors of organic raw food, juices, plant-based milks, vegan treats and elixirs, Orchard St. in Sydney, Australia, is much more magical than your average juice bar. It’s all thanks to founder and naturopath Kirsten Shanks, who’s constantly experimenting with plant alchemy to create the most nutritiously and energetically potent food and drink, incorporating botanical medicines, superfoods and native herbs. Here, we quiz Shanks about her own wellness rituals and tips for the New Year, and she shares a recipe for a warming winter elixir.

Have you always been interested in healing foods and herbs, or was there a catalyst in your life that opened your eyes to raw food and juicing?

For as long as I can remember, food made and eaten with love was at the centre of my family home life. I think Mum was a bit of a closet hippie as we were only ever fed with the most nourishing whole foods from the very beginning. In my teenage years, as so many girls do, I began to venture into creating my own dietary doctrines, but lacking the wisdom of a sound nutritional education, the outcome wasn’t always the best. The healing power of nature always fascinated me, alongside the intricacies of the human body. An obsession with the wonders of the plant kingdom led me to spending hours hunched over my desk at home with a little microscope and pile of books! I turned my passion into my profession when I graduated as a naturopath at just 23. Feeling I was well educated, yet too young and inexperienced for clients to take me seriously, I spent the next three years traveling around the world, beginning in India and ending in Guatemala. It was on these travels that my perspective of health and wellness took me beyond the foundational wisdom of naturopathic medicine and into an understanding much more all-encompassing, learning from different traditional medicines across the globe.

When did you decide to turn your passion into your business with Orchard St.?
I was living in New York for about six months with my husband–to-be. I began to see juice bars and raw food businesses pop up on the streets of Manhattan and found myself drawn to them. It was almost instantaneous that I began to visualise my adaptation of this on Australian shores; a holistic juice company built upon my philosophies, using only the highest quality organic produce, operating with integrity and passion — a platform to share the true experience of wellness.

How do you like to begin each day?

I have a few non-negotiables in my morning routine: hot water with lemon and apple cider vinegar, a green juice, yoga and meditation…and of course, cuddles with my husband and Queenie our pup! Other things I try to fit in most days are Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage) with warm sesame oil, a dip in the ocean, and I’m currently obsessed with freshly brewed ginger and cardamom coconut chai infused with reishi mushrooms.

Do you have any other daily/weekly/monthly rituals that you partake in?

Several times throughout the day I pause, withdraw my senses and just breathe. I’m a big believer in the power of the pause to recalibrate the mind before moving on through the working day. Honouring the moon cycles: at each new moon I make time to set intentions for what I hope to bring into fruition over the next moon cycle and, at the full moon, I like to contemplate all I am grateful for — the abundance of my life. And my husband and I ‘tap out’ most weekends, heading to the country where we can just be with ourselves and each other, untouched by the constant stimulation of life in a big city and the intensity of running a business.

How did you welcome in this New Year?

Around a bonfire on the banks of the Colo River (mid NSW) with some of my favourite people. Being pregnant, I hit the pillow at about 12:15am, several hours past my bedtime! This New Year’s for me felt more about gratitude and acceptance than the usual creation of a large list of goals. I did sit down at daybreak by the river with a large notepad in hand to create a 2016 mindmap of all of my grandiose intentions, something that would typically be overflowing…but an hour later it was still blank. All is well.

What are the essentials in your personal wellness toolkit?

Copper tongue scraper, chlorella, probiotics, alkaline water, body oil, and Orchard St. green juice!

Are there any health foods/herbs/ingredients you have recently discovered that will be game-changers in 2016?

I have been revisiting the triad of Ayurveda, TCM and Western Herbal Medicine I have studied over the years. These have become the foundation of our new Alchemy range. I feel there is a loosening of strict dietary doctrines as we embrace the philosophies of different traditional and modern medicines, taking what resonates with you to formulate your own wellness experience.

What do you turn to when you need to feel…grounded?

Umeboshi, gomasio, hot baths, deep belly breathing.

And uplifted?

Cacao, chai, ocean swims, headstands.

What’s your favourite way to wind down and get ready for sleep in the evening?

I’m a big reader. With a mountain of books beside my bed, I tend to draw one out depending on what inspiration or fictional escape I need. If my mind is swimming after a busy day, I journal my thoughts, getting them out of my mind to clear space for dreamtime.

How do you like to move your body and is this an important tool for you?

Moving my body is essential for my experience of wellness, most importantly for my mental and emotional wellbeing. The release and energy it provides uplifts and clarifies. I alternate yoga with barre classes throughout the week and top it up with plenty of walks, ocean swims and lounge room dancing.

What are you looking forward to in this new year?

Meeting the little soul growing inside me! Our baby is due April 1st. The continued growth of Orchard St. and whatever unknown new and wonderful experiences the year may bring.

The Lover: Hot Cacao Elixir

2 tsp Cacao
½ tsp Carob
1 tsp Maca
½ tsp Cinnamon
good pinch Cayenne
little pinch Sea Salt

2 tsp coconut nectar
350ml Nut milk: cashew, coconut, almond, macadamia, hazelnut…

Herbal additions (optional)
Select high-grade, certified organic powders.
Pine Pollen

Measure all dry ingredients in your favourite mug, adding ½ tsp of additional herbs if chosen.
Warm nut milk slowly over a low heat until nice and hot.
Add coconut nectar and ¼ cup hot milk to powders and stir to combine well. Add remaining milk, stirring as you pour.
Sprinkle with cacao and dust with love.

Photograph of warming elixir by @theeditorialist

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+ Want more recipes with Cacao?

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5 years ago

Mmmm that looks so good! We’re trying this recipe ASAP! ❤️

5 years ago

i love Hot Cacao Elixir..