Living in a mindful community doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten about our stomachs! In fact, everyday activities like eating and drinking offer the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness.
A great example is Thich Nhat Hanh’s famous tea meditation. By focusing completely on the seemingly simple act of pouring and savouring a cup of tea, our minds can gradually become free of stressful preoccupations like ruminating about the past, present, and future.
Furthermore, nutritional psychiatry — the relationship between nutrition and mental wellness — is a rapidly growing field. Studies have indicated that following a Mediterranean-style diet can help to alleviate depression. Additionally, scientists are increasingly finding correlations between the health of our gut microbiome, and mood and emotional regulation.
That’s why we’re excited about our partnership with Chef Rui Cerveira. Born in Lisbon, Chef Rui has over two decades of experience as a specialist in the food and hospitality industry. He has extensive training in hotel management and has taught at the Escola Superior de Turismo e Hotelaria in Seia since 2009.
In 2011, he opened Casa da Esquila, his acclaimed restaurant in Sabugal offering rural gourmet cuisine. Much of the produce he uses is foraged from the surrounding countryside. He also likes to highlight lesser-known ingredients like wild asparagus, elderflower, and thistles. Recently, Chef Rui was a finalist in three categories in the 7 Maravilhas de Portugal competition, in vegetarian, vegan, and molecular gastronomy.
Chef Rui will be working with us to design the New Life Portugal menu, develop our food and beverage operations, establish relationships with suppliers and producers, and hire and train our chefs and other kitchen personnel.
His vision for New Life Portugal focuses on healthy Mediterranean, Portuguese, and international cuisine. The menu will feature plenty of vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods for optimising mood and brain health. There will be lots of vegan and vegetarian options and plant-based proteins in addition to small amounts of healthy animal-based proteins like chicken and fish.
The emphasis will be on minimally processed, organically-grown produce from the surrounding region. Another important goal of Chef Rui’s is to create as little food waste as possible. The aim is to achieve 100% organic, locally-sourced meals by the second year of operations.
Just a few examples of the delicious foods that Chef Rui will be serving us for breakfast include homemade jam, granola, muesli, and the famous Serra da Estrela bread and cheese. Drinks include homemade herbal teas, kombucha, kefir, vegan milks, a ‘smoothie of the day’, and water infused with thyme and lemon or rosemary and orange.
For lunch and dinner we can look forward to dishes like grilled sea bass with lemon, pumpkin paleo pie, grilled chicken breast with spring rice, poached salmon with green beans, cauliflower couscous with orange, onion, nuts, and mint, and roasted duck with potato and truffle puree. Healthy desserts like chickpea cookies and sweet potato fudgy brownies will delight the sweet-tooths among us.