Sakara Life co-founders on the benefits of a plant-based diet

Sakara Life co-founders Danielle Duboise, left, and Whitney Tingle are behind the new cookbook "Eat Clean, Play Dirty." 
Sakara Life co-founders Danielle Duboise, left, and Whitney Tingle are behind the new cookbook "Eat Clean, Play Dirty."  Photo Credit: DC

Building on the momentum of their popular plant-based meal delivery program Sakara Life, founders Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle are releasing their first cookbook, “Eat Clean, Play Dirty: Recipes for a Body and Life You Love,” on April 9. We spoke with the NYC-based duo about why eating plants is a lot more exciting than you think.

Are all of the recipes in the book 100-percent plant based?

Tingle: Yes, they’re all plant-based, but that’s not the sole defining factor of Sakara meals — Oreos and potato chips are technically 100-percent plant-based too. Our meals are nutrient-dense, unprocessed and whole food-focused. We believe the healing power of food results from flooding the body with the nutrition it needs, such as vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, plant protein and healthy fats.

What does the title of the book mean to you?

Tingle: It’s about balance, which means feeling good in your body, experiencing pleasure and not sacrificing. It exemplifies our approach to food and life. Your best, sexiest self doesn’t come from restriction and deprivation. It comes from building a healthy foundation through food as medicine — and leaning into what your spirit craves. Break the rules, change the narrative, live a little wilder!

What are some of your go-to ingredients?

Duboise: We literally play with hundreds of ingredients to keep it really interesting, but some of our favorites are leafy greens, sulfurous veggies like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, water-rich plants like melon and cucumber, and whole-food protein sources like chickpeas and sprouted nuts. We also love omega-3-rich foods like avocado and cold-pressed, high-quality olive oil.

Why is variety so important?

Tingle: Variety is not only great for your taste buds; it’s critical for supporting a healthy gut ecosystem. The microbiome, or the trillions of bacteria on and in your body, particularly in the gut, is an essential puzzle piece to health. Eating enough of the right nutrients helps good bacteria thrive, which influences everything from mood and energy levels to metabolism and sleep.

Is there anything you’re obsessed with right now?

Duboise: My husband and I are very passionate about high-quality dark chocolate and cacao. Cacao is rich in magnesium, which aids with digestion and more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.

Tingle: I love to sprinkle hemp seeds on just about everything — soups, smoothies, salads. They’re a great source of plant protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is critical for brain health.

Are there any really great places you source ingredients from?

Duboise: We love shopping organic and aim for local, whenever possible. There’s an amazing community supported agriculture program upstate that we belong to, and it’s also so fun to spend the weekend going to farmers markets. Buying foods that don’t come in boxes or packages is also surprisingly cost-effective.

Can someone with a busy schedule cook these recipes?

Tingle: Each recipe was designed knowing you don’t typically have hours to labor over delicious meals. Most of them take less than 30 or 40 minutes. One that doesn’t take a ton of time, but has many sensational components, is an Ayurveda-inspired, roasted peach chana masala with coconut quinoa and mint chutney. That one is straight from our meal delivery program and has always been a client favorite.

Zucchini pesto, featured in the cookbook "Eat Clean, Play Dirty."
Zucchini pesto, featured in the cookbook "Eat Clean, Play Dirty." Photo Credit: Lianna Tarantin

Zucchini pesto recipe

For a recipe that’s ready for spring, here’s the zucchini pesto from “Eat Clean, Play Dirty.”

Makes 2 servings

Herb pistou

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 4 sprigs fresh basil, leaves picked
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves picked
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. white miso
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt, or more to taste

Zucchini pasta

  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan salt
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ¼” x ¼” strips or spiralized into noodles
  • 1/2 cup canned gigante or cannellini beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted, or freshly shelled pea
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

To make herb pistou: In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Set aside. (Store pistou for up to 3 days.)

To make pasta: In a large bowl, massage the kale in the oil with a pinch of salt until it’s slightly softened and tender. Arrange the kale on a large serving plate and set aside.

In the same bowl, toss zucchini, beans, peas, and lemon juice with a pinch of salt. Gently fold in enough pistou to coat, then arrange the mixture on top of the plated kale and serve. Serve as a chilled raw noodle dish, or for a warm version, tossed in a saute pan for 5-10 minutes.


Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle are in conversation with Michele Promaulayko on April 2 at 7 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y | 1395 Lexington Ave. | tickets $35 at 92y.org

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