Rhaya Jordan talks plant based nutrition
Moving Mountains is a holistic program. We know how important the right nutrition is to maintain a well-functioning body and mind. It’s critical that our Nourish pillar not only offers you delicious food, but also prepares your body for the Play, Move and Rest pillars of our offering.
That’s why it was so important to find the right partner to help advise us in this area and we feel extremely lucky that we were able to work with the renowned nutritionist and dietician Rhaya Jordan. Originally from Australia and now based in London, Rhaya has been a leading figure in the world on nutrition for 30 years. She is a qualified naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist and brings a wonderful “no nonsense” approach to this specialism. She helped us debunk and demystify some of the common misconceptions that sit around nutrition and worked with our chefs to create beautiful and delicious plant based menus.
We sat down with Rhaya to find out a bit more about plant based nutrition and her approach to the project.
What are the advantages of plant-based nutrition?
It’s not just the plants that improve your health, it’s the foods that the plants displace when you add them in. Often we are replacing empty starches low in fibre and high in calories so you end up with less of the actively bad quality food and more of the healing, nourishing food. You get to stack the deck in favour of your health. Plants themselves are vital to our health, nutrients, minerals, fibre and polyphenols – the evidence in favour of a high plant diet is overwhelming.
Can you tell us more about the process of creating the actual menus?
At first, we looked at the whole moving mountains project – what were the aspirations? what was the mood? what goals did we have for the food? Our main goal was thinking about how our guests feel after eating. We wanted to replace that heaviness that can come with fine dining, with a lightness and lots of energy for demanding outdoors events. So our focus turned to plants, and for simplicity, we made the menu plant only – there will always be beautiful quality meats and cheeses that can be added to the meals if our guests want. Fermented foods and soups are included and the order of the menu was designed with maximum digestibility in mind.
Given the situation with Covid, you were restricted from working in close proximity with the Chefs. How did you go about the creative process of designing menus remotely?
Oh, this was so sad for me. Working with chefs in the kitchen is usually so easy. The details are right in front of you and small changes are easy to make in the moment. However, with covid, we had to do everything in meetings which left the chefs then experimenting alone. Plant-based is demanding, dairy and eggs add so much structure to foods and it can take a while to find reliable replacements. I think it was much more stressful for the chefs than for me in that we had to talk about solutions and then they had to go and experiment. If I had been there we could have experimented together and the new menus could have developed faster. Plus chef’s get more creative in their kitchen than in their zoom meetings, don’t you think? Plus I would have adored visiting Switzerland! I’m still sulking.
Can you tell us more about the myth that plant-based nutrition is bland and less tasty and delicious than non-plant-based food?
Like any cuisine in the wrong hands, any food can be badly prepared and boring. Some people have grown up with families who have never made plants the centre of their meals and they have always been a side dish. Often you will see plain veggies served next to a dramatically delicious meat dish. If you lavish the same attention on vegetables though they can be astounding. It is the care and attention that brings the deliciousness. My experience in clinic is that people want to be able to cook differently overnight – but it takes time to build a repertoire of your favourite plant-based recipes. It takes a while to know some so well you can cook them in your sleep. People often don’t give themselves time to build the new skills they need with plant-based eating and it leads them to give up too quickly.
What is your favourite all time dish?
Oh no – how can I ever choose? This is like asking which of my children I love the most!! There are so many things I love – but I think eating seasonally can ruin this question for you. I love asparagus, but not in midwinter, I get so excited for watermelon and for mangos but the same thing applies. Deep stews in winter and I adore cheese too. Ok, so if I am made to choose a favorite meal of all time, – and I rebel at the thought – you will be surprised to hear it’s not a plant, but a toss-up between raw oysters and scallops with a simple garlic butter!
Rhaya Jordan a was leading health scientist at the University of Westminster whilst also teaching anatomy, nutrition, biochemistry and complementary medicine. Her experience is thus based on a range of scientific disciplines, giving us different perspectives on healthy eating. All Moving Mountains dishes are plant-based, highly nutritious, easily digestible and inspired by the Swiss mountains: fresh, wholesome, seasonal and local.