Food The Tastemakers:

Sakara Life

Photography by Sarah Elliott

In the wake of intensely stressful periods of their lives, best friends Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise each stumbled upon something of a miracle drug. It healed Whitney’s chronic acne and it helped Danielle reach her ideal weight and overcome her toxic relationship with her body.

So what was this remarkable substance? It was medicine, but not in the way we normally imagine it. In fact, it didn’t come from the pharmacy at all — it was simply food. Having experienced the transformative power of a nutrient-dense diet firsthand, the two founded organic meal delivery service and wellness program Sakara Life.

I recently shared my own career and soul-searching path on Whitney and Danielle’s healthy-living site, S-Life Mag, so I was excited to turn the tables, spend the some time in their space and learn more about the inspiring duo myself. Stepping into their dreamy, sun-drenched, all-female offices felt like coming home — I did not want to leave! Not only did we create a killer salad together, we had loads of kooky fun. The day included a Lady and the Tramp moment, beet spiralized earrings, chat of everything from yoga to twerking and finally, intimate talk of wellness and ways of improving our bodies through food.

In addition to speaking candidly about everything from their former lives in finance and studying medicine to the secrets of a healthy gut, Whitney and Danielle also share the recipe for the summer spiralized salad we created, below. It’s fresh-tasting, packed with wholesome veggies (including lots of greens), good to your body and just so swoony on the eyes. As Whitney and Danielle say, food should make you feel sexy. I’ll eat to that!


Whitney + Danielle


Both of your journeys into health and wellness are inspiring, to say the least. Can you each speak to the genesis that lead you to Sakara Life?

WT: We both grew up in Sedona, AZ— we like to say that Sakara started when we met in 7th grade math class —and we learned at a very early age how food impacts you on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. I moved to NYC to pursue a job in finance and quickly discovered that it was pretty much impossible to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle in that work-hard-play-hard environment. Too many extra-long, stressful days, late, cocktail-fueled nights, and birthday cupcakes! I put on 15 pounds and my cystic acne was at an all-time bad. After trying everything to fix my skin and my dermatologist in the city telling me I had to go on my third round of Accutane, I decided to go back to my roots. I teamed up with Danielle and together we created an eating regimen that healed my skin and made me feel amazing.

DD: I was studying biochemistry and preparing for medical school in the city, supporting myself by acting and modeling on the side, and went through a similar experience to Whitney where I very quickly fell out of touch with my healthy lifestyle. I had always struggled with my relationship to my body, but now my relationship to my food started becoming toxic as well. Food was the enemy. It made me fat. It made me sick. And it was creating a body that I hated living in. So I bounced from one extreme diet to the next — literally from the master cleanse to the raw food diet to a water cleanse that landed me in the hospital with pneumonia. That was the big “aha” moment for me, where I was forced to come face-to-face with the extremes I was willing to put my body through in order to achieve my “perfect body”. I did a 360 and went to school to study nutrition, and together Whitney and I created a food program that healed both of us. After it changed our lives, we knew we had to share it with the world.

I can only imagine how much you have learned on this path… the amount of information you have gathered surrounding health, wellness, balance, and improving our lives through food. Can you share your five essential “gut truths”?

  1. Diets don’t work.Rules were made to be broken. While you may think that restricting what you eat gives you power over life, it actually does the opposite and gives the power to your food and your unhealthy mental tendencies. Take the power back by fueling your body and spirit with clean, whole foods that you feel GOOD eating, and balance it out by indulging in the things you love once in a while. Balance is the key to wellness and sustainable, healthy habits that you keep up because you want to, not because you think you have to.
  1. Eat your greens. It truly is the single most important thing you can do for your health! More on this later…
  1. Your microbiome holds the key to wellness and longevity. We studied with everyone from top doctors to traditional healers to create the Sakara program, and one of the most interesting fields of study we discovered is that of the microbiome. It’s a hot topic these days, with the National Microbiome Initiative putting it in the spotlight, but we’ve been obsessed with it for years! The microbiome refers to the community of healthy bacteria in your gut (as well as throughout your body) which influences everything…we’re talking digestion, immunity, disease risk, hormone balance, complexion, weight, moods and more. And you have the power to alter and improve the diversity and health of your gut flora with every bite of food you take.
  1. Eat your water. This is one of the Sakara Pillars of Nutrition that we incorporate into all of the meals we create! Everyone knows about the importance of hydration, but most people assume that means drinking gallons of water every day. While it’s definitely important to drink water (helps flush toxins out of the body!), it’s also important to eat your water in the form of hydrating, fresh produce. It’s actually a more efficient way of hydrating because when you eat foods with a high water content, each molecule of H2O is bound up within the fibrous structure of those foods. This allows the water to stay in your body longer so your cells can take a nice, big drink! Some of our favorite hydrating foods are romaine lettuce, cucumber, zucchini and watermelon radishes.
  1. Food is medicine.You can heal your body with food! So many of our clients have written to us about how our program has not only changed their relationships with food, but also helped alleviate autoimmune symptoms and other illnesses. This way of eating is designed to make you feel good in your body…in more ways than one. Traditional medicine practitioners have always known this, and we’re making ancient wisdom about the healing power of food as accessible to everyone, (while adding a contemporary, scientific spin).

How would you describe Sakara in a few sentences? What is the core value represented?

Whitney: Sakara is luxury wellness brand with a plant-based organic meal delivery company that is designed to help you create a body that you feel good in. We provide nourishment and inspiration for healthy bodies and minds. Our mantra is, “Food should make you feel sexy!”

D: In Sanskrit, sakara means, “the manifestation of thoughts to things.” So Sakara itself is our core values represented…it’s all of our hopes, dreams, desires, creations and beliefs given real, physical form. We do this through prepared meals (meal delivery), food and beverage items (in our clean boutique) and trusted information (S-Life Mag!).

If someone were to implement one new thing into their diet, what should it be and why?

WT: GREENS! When it comes to eating a healthy diet, there’s nothing as important as fresh, organic greens. They provide a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and even protein in a form that is easily digested by the body, and they are the secret to promoting optimal digestion, toxin removal, glowing skin, balanced hormones, ideal weight and more. Our program includes four to six cups of leafy greens per day!

DD: We’re also obsessed with the microbiome—the community of healthy bacteria in your body (especially your gut) that controls everything from your digestion and immunity to your skin, weight, moods and energy. The microbes in your gut thrive off of greens—both the fiber they contain and a particular kind of plant sugar—so by eating plenty of them, you encourage your microbiome to flourish. Also, add fermented foods like miso and kimchi to that list! They’re a great way to get natural probiotics that diversify your microbiome.

In three words, can you describe the shift in how you feel when you eat clean?

WT: Light, inspired, strong.

D: Grounded, confident, sexy.

Personally, what has been the biggest change within your body and mind?

WT: I saw the biggest change in my skin…this program was the only thing that ever really worked, and believe me when I say I tried everything. What I thought was a skin issue was actually a gut issue, and once I healed my gut, I was really able to transform…I became so much more confident, and that enabled me to start turning my thoughts to things and living the life I always wanted to live.

DD: I feel grounded and powerful in my body in a way that I never did before eating this way. After so many years of fighting, I finally feel like my body is a safe place to live, and that this actually is MY best body. It’s life-changing for me not only being able to channel all of that hateful energy into something else, but actually living in a body that is fueling my everyday.

What misconception or belief would you like to set straight surrounding food, nutrition and diet?

WT: That plant-based food is tasteless, boring, and hippie. Not when you’re living the Sakara Life! We co-create each meal with classically-trained, Michelin-starred chefs, so each dish is not only nutritionally sound but also creative, innovative and outrageously delicious. This is the healthiest food on Earth…and it also happens to be gourmet-quality.

DD: We’re also serious about nutritional design, and we make sure that every Sakara meal contains the optimal amount of plant-based protein to satisfy, build muscle and support functions throughout the body. It’s a common misconception that you can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet…you absolutely can! The meat industries in the US have just had really great PR agents working for them over the years ;). Plus, by eating more plant foods, you’ll also lower inflammation (the root of nearly all disease), and help slow down global warming.

Can you speak about creating balance and allowing yourself to indulge at times?

WT: Balance is a hallmark of the Sakara program! It’s the key to creating healthy habits that are sustainable in the long term. We don’t believe in deprivation, food guilt or “cheat meals.” It’s why we don’t deliver on the weekends…Sakara is a lifestyle that is comprised by healthy, whole foods that create a body that runs at mint condition…on weekends you go out and play knowing your body can handle it.

DD: We’re the first to reach for the martinis and French fries on Saturday night, and people always try and bust us and say, “OMG, Sakara girls eating French fries, someone take a picture!”. But they are part of the Sakara Life! True health is determined by what you do the majority of the time…which means that when you eat and live clean most of the time, you can handle a little indulgence every once in a while. Deprivation, restriction, guilt and all that stress around food is worse for you than a couple French fries here and there – trust me. Also, always choose the good stuff…I LOVE chocolate, but I always go for the highest-quality, darkest organic bar I can get my hands on.

Is there a Sakara secret?

WT: Oh, there are so many! One of our secrets is definitely in the sauce…our superfood dressings are magic. Not only are they DELICIOUS, but they also are super nutrient-rich, so they are filling your body with a lot of the fuel it needs to run optimally.

D: Your thoughts become things. They really do, so be really specific about what you want to create.

I am obsessed with the S-Life pyramid. Can you speak to this?

WT: The S-Life pyramid has been around since the earliest days of Sakara! While our main avenue of healing is through food, we know that true health incorporates all areas of your life: your home (Home Base); food (Food & Nutrition); physical body (Body & Movement); relationships (Love, Sex & Companionship); creativity (Create, Discover), and spirituality (Take Flight).

DD: When each of these areas is fully nourished — whether through food, meditation, exercise, passions, sex, friendship — you are really ready to create the life of your dreams. We’ve learned that the foundation for change in all of those areas is the food you put into your body, and so we aim to provide the nourishment for each pillar of the pyramid, both through the food and products we make and the content we create.

Tell us what a sample meal looks like.

WT: One of my personal favorite meals, and one that truly touches on all the Sakara Pillars of Nutrition, is the Youth Beauty Salad…the name says it all! It has your essential daily greens along with a beautiful rainbow of hydrating, organic fruits and veggies…carrots, cucumber, pomegranate…to cleanse your body, protect your cells and make your skin glow, thanks to the high concentration of water and antioxidants. And there’s also a side of nutrient-dense superseeds (including my favorite, hemp seeds!!) for some clean, plant-based protein. It’s the perfect meal…I could eat it every day!

Favorite swoon-worthy Sakara meal, food or drink?

DD: If you haven’t tried our Beauty Water, you have to! It’s so refreshing, especially during the steamy summer months! A lot of brands are coming out with rose-infused beverages now…we like to think we started that trend, because Beauty Water has been a part of our program for ages. Along with the calming, anti-inflammatory rose, there’s also silica and other trace minerals that make this water extra-hydrating and detoxifying. It’s one of our secrets to the Sakara glow!

We spoke in great detail about how your gut and how you feed your body affects so much more than our physicality. Can you speak to the trickle-down effect and how much of our lives, body and mind is affected by what we eat?

WT: This goes back to the S-Life Pyramid we spoke about. Transformation in all areas of your life begins with food…what you eat forms the foundation for change not just in your body but also in your career, your relationships and your creativity. It’s about so much more than losing weight or changing the way your body looks. It’s about taking control of your own health and life, making yourself a priority and feeling as good as you possibly can. When your body is being nourished by foods that it loves, you are able to work harder, love better, think clearer, and connect to your authentic desires. That’s the key to becoming an active co-creator in your life.

DD: And when you feel good in your body—when you’ve built a safe place that’s feels GOOD for your soul to live in—everything else starts clicking into place. You feel inspired, confident, strong, clear-headed…the world opens up to you and this feeling of being powerful in your own skin literally fuels your actions. We experienced this when we first designed this program, and at that moment, we knew we had to share the magic with the world.

Summer Spiralized Salad with Hemp-Dipped Avocado



Serves 2

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 2 red or golden beets
  • 1 Chioggia aka candy cane beet
  • 2 watermelon radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 4-6 cups dark, leafy greens (arugula, chard and spinach)
  • 1 cup, baby yellow and red tomatoes, loosely chopped
  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • Lemon to garnish
  • Magic Mushroom Dressing
  • Rosemary-roasted baby potatoes:
  • 1 lb baby Yukon or purple potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp EVOO, to coat the potatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Nut mix:

  • ½ cup crushed brazil nuts, finely minced
  • ½ cup hemp seeds

The Prep

  1. First, start by pre-heating the oven to 450. Halve the baby potatoes and place on cookie sheet, drizzling the olive oil and the crushed garlic. Season with the rosemary, S&P, and place in the oven for ~ 15 minutes

  2. Make the homemade zoodles with the zucchini and red/golden beets, according to the instructions on your machine(we’re partial to the babely Brit sisters’ Hemsley + Hemsley spiralizer). Set bowl of spiralized veggies aside.

  3. Begin chopping up the tomatoes and candy-cane beet, and thinly slicing watermelon radishes

  4. Using the mixed greens as a base, combine the zoodles, radishes, beets and tomatoes, mixing in the hemp seeds and the roasted potatoes

  5. In another small bowl, mix together the brazil nuts and hemp seeds

  6. Finally, peel and halve the avocados and dip them into the nut mix, creating a nutty coating. Lay them atop the salad.

  7. Garnish with lemon and pour creamy, dreamy magic mushroom.

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