The first step to living a healthier lifestyle is committing to it–the second is figuring out which approach you’re going to take. Sakara Life founders Whitney and Danielle believe that the best way to improve your metabolism, mood, skin, and digestion is a plant-based diet. Below, the duo shares why they firmly follow this method, how to live by their core wellness values on a budget, and why you don’t need a business degree to start a mega-successful company.
NEWSETTE: Why do you think consuming a plant-based diet is so important?

Whitney and Danielle: Eating for your microbiome (the trillions of bacteria on and in your body) is the number one way you can transform your health. Your gut is your second brain! It dictates everything from your mood to your weight to your energy levels, the way your body absorbs calories, your hormones, and beyond. The beneficial bacteria in your microbiome thrive off of plant fiber and water— so getting in enough leafy greens is ESSENTIAL to feeling your best. The Sakara nutrition program includes at least 4-6 cups of leafy greens every single day (along with lots of hydrating and colorful fresh produce, gluten-free whole grains, nuts, seeds and cold-pressed fats). Few people actually get enough fiber in their diets, and the best way to get the plant-based fiber you need for a thriving, healthy gut is through leafy greens and other fresh plant foods!

N: What are 3 foods/ingredients you recommend our readers consume on a daily basis?

Whitney and Danielle: 1. Filling your plate with enough organic leafy greens each day is critical to overall vitality and health; we can’t overemphasize the power of eating your daily greens! And don’t forget the other colors of the rainbow too. 2. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado and cold-pressed oils nourish our fattiest organ…our brain! Good fats are essential for cognitive health and beautiful hair/skin/nails, as well as satiety, sustained energy and blood sugar levels. 3. Eating sulfurous veggies fuels the mitochondria of your cells and boosts your body’s natural detoxifying system. You can find this key mineral in cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and cabbage. 

N: Eating healthily can be expensive, do you have any advice for those who are on a budget but want to eat a plant-based diet?

Whitney and Danielle: You only get one body, and taking care of it through your daily diet is the best preventative medicine we can think of. You’re healing your body today and for the future, so your health bills don’t skyrocket later on. That being said, we realize there are barriers when it comes to eating high-quality, organic plants. We have an exciting product launch happening with that exact goal in mind: to provide people with the tools to reset, nourish and heal their bodies in an accessible, approachable way. Keep an eye out! 

N: Whitney- you have mentioned that cystic acne was a big reason you wanted to improve what you ate. What are the effects on your skin that you’ve noticed after creating Sakara Life and eating clean?

Whitney: I battled cystic acne for many years before Danielle and I created Sakara Life. I tried every laser, cream, pill you could think of– because I believed I had a skin issue, when in fact what I really had was a gut issue. Once I transformed my diet to one that includes lots of nutrient-dense, high-quality plant foods, that’s when my gut began to heal and my hormones balanced out, and my skin finally cleared up. I’ve also seen amazing results from our Beauty Chocolates which contain 70mg of collagen-boosting phytoceramides. They help your skin retain moisture, which keeps skin texture even and gives you a youthful glow. I truly swear by them!

N: Can you talk to us more about mind-body-food connection and why you feel like it is so important? 

Whitney and Danielle: Food is information, and when we eat, that food breaks down and can either help with the synchronicity of our bodies, or confuse signals and hinder our bodies from performing. This is what happens with the processed and refined “foods” that can be so addicting– they muddle our bodies ability to heal itself and feel its best and brightest. Sakara has helped us create a body we can listen to, and one that we feel best in. Eating this way has given us a confidence and power in so many areas of life, and all of it stems from the choices we put on our plate. 

N: What was the process of starting Sakara Life like?

Whitney and Danielle: We were best friends living in the city together, and we wanted to help heal ourselves from our “rock bottoms.” We turned our mess into our mission, and with our backgrounds in nutrition and alternative forms of healing (which we learned growing up in Sedona, one of the original epicenters of wellness), we were able to create a food philosophy that embraced both cutting-edge science and ancient wisdom, and develop Sakara as a life-changing meal program. Once we changed our own lives through this program, we knew we had to share it, so we started cooking meals in our own kitchen and delivering them to clients through NYC by bicycle. We bootstrapped Sakara with $700 that we raised throwing a dinner party for our friends, and it took off from there. It’s incredible to see how we’ve grown, and the thousands of lives that have since been changed.

N: What is your favorite junk food or cheat day food? Do you ever break your plant-based diet? 

Whitney and Danielle: Firstly, we don’t believe in “cheating or falling off the wagon— guilt is much more toxic than any indulgent food. And Sakara is a lifestyle, not a diet. Eating clean, whole, plant-based foods most of the time builds a solid foundation of optimal gut health (which will actually reduce cravings for junk!). This means you can enjoy your favorite treats every now and again, free from guilt. People are always surprised to hear that we’re the first ones reaching for the french fries or martinis, but we truly believe in the power of balance and indulging when the mood strikes. It’s about knowing your body and listening to what it wants. No food should be off limits. 

N: How do you eat healthily when going out to a restaurant? Any tips you can share with our readers who are constantly going on lunch meetings?

Whitney and Danielle: We like to share a bunch of plant-based sides with the table, and try to find the highest-quality item on the menu (which might be grass-fed organic meat or wild-caught fish sometimes). And we always choose an abundant salad–you have to get those greens!

N: Danielle – has being pregnant changed your eating habits at all? Can you share how you satisfy your cravings while sticking to your healthy lifestyle?

Danielle: It’s been a journey, one where I’ve had to remind myself to surrender and be gentle with myself. My first trimester was rocky and all I could keep down were bagels and crackers, which is so far off from my daily Sakara ritual. Now, I’ve been able to get back to eating Sakara and I’m especially grateful that I have access to these incredibly nutrient-dense meals for me and my baby. I have been craving quite a lot of fruit lately; I just want watermelon for breakfast, lunch and dinner some days!

N: Can you give us three quick and easy breakfast ideas that are perfect for girls on the go?

Whitney and Danielle: We have some amazing recipes in our S-Life magazine! (Click here and hereOrganic gluten-free oatmeal with almond milk, some slices of mango and a sprinkle of microgreens is a fun riff of one of my favorite Sakara breakfasts, “Sweet Thai Oatmeal with Juicy Mango.”