These days, the Bali-based nutritionist Eve Persak is posed with new sets of questions. Her private clientele, a mixed demographic of people who live in different parts of the world, are collectively more worried than ever about their diet.
“One of the things that I find that they’re having the most difficulty with is knowing how to deal with the absence of some of their favourite foods,” says Persak of those who are well and staying at home, “and they’re also trying to compensate for the lack of physical activity, and to forestall any weight gain as best as they can with their food choices.”
The nutritionist and triathlete has helmed the nutrition and wellness-related programmes for the Como hotel group’s 15 destinations. From her home base in Penestanan, a small village outside of Ubud, she would typically travel between the Como properties to advise on menus, offer nutritional counselling to guests, lead culinary-focused retreats and help shape SuperNature, Como’s gourmet organic grocery line sold in Singapore.
Eve Persak, photographed at The Slow in Canggu, Bali.
But lately, the frequent flier has been staying put in Bali (“This is the first time in four and a half years that I've unpacked”), counselling her clients virtually and taking life slowly. In the absence of tourism, Bali’s local communities, of which economy is inextricably tied to its travel industry, are struggling to stay afloat. Persak has been trying to source her kitchen ingredients directly from farmers whenever possible. For breakfast, she prepares eggs and greens. For lunch, she makes salads or purées her fresh produce to create vibrant soups.
To Persak, cooking is meditative. “Many of my meals were at an airport or in a takeaway box. To have this time where we can bring a sense of intention to the kitchen is really special,” says Persak, noting that when she engages with the raw ingredients of her food, she’ll feel a greater sense of connection to her body.
“A lot of people are unaware of what stress actually does on an internal level,” she says. The physiological impact of stress on the body can apparently disrupt the way it digests and metabolises. “And some are falling into a rut because they’ve been home for so long. When you feel like you’re taking care of yourself — whether it’s taking up an online fitness class or trying a new recipe — it gives you a sense of agency over circumstances you have no control over.”
Here, Persak picks her favourite recipes — some her own, some out of Como Shambala’s cookbook — and builds a healthy meal plan to begin the first half of the day with. These meals, packed with nutrients and vitamins, are designed to be stress-alleviating and to leave you feeling refreshed.
“Even if you don’t follow the recipes to the T, there might be something new you could try to breathe a little life into your weekly routine,” says Persak.
Related story: The Healthy Recipes a Nutritionist Ends Her Day With
Seasonal Greens with Poached Egg with Green Goddess Sauce*
A green breakfast, topped with a poached egg and the herb-laden ‘Green Goddess’ sauce.
“This breakfast emphasises protein, fibre and healthful oils — a winning combination for blood sugar control which offers a prolonged sense of satiety, reducing cravings throughout the rest of the day,” says Persak. The combination of nutrition also promotes sustained energy levels, preventing, as Persak calls it, “the mid-morning crash.”
This dish — made of ingredients rich in vitamins (vitamin C in lemon), minerals (iron, calcium and magnesium in the avocado and greens) and antioxidants (found in garlic, onion, greens and herbs) — provides nutrients that can be especially valuable during times when stress relief and immune support are needed.
A pro tip from Persak: “You can also keep the ‘Green Goddess’ sauce for later in the day and use on a salad or as a dip.”
Time: 20–30 minutes
Ingredients for Green Goddess Sauce
- 20 grams tarragon leaves
- 15 grams chives, cut into 2-cm lengths
- 20 grams chervil leaves
- 7.5 grams flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 10 grams basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1 lemon, peeled
- 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 avocado, peeled, stoned and roughly chopped
- Sea salt and ground white pepper, to taste
- 125 millimetres soy milk
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients for Seasonal Greens and Poached Eggs
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Salt and ground white pepper, to taste
- 4 eggs
- 8 green asparagus spears, woody base trimmed and base of stalks peeled
- 20 baby green beans, tailed
- 12 stems broccolini, woody base trimmed and stems peeled
- 12 kale or chard leaves, cleaned and stems removed
- 2 tablespoons lemon dressing (see details in recipe)
Method for Green Goddess Sauce
1. Roughly chop the herbs. Place all of the ingredients in the blender, except the soy milk and olive oil. Blend to a smooth consistency.
2. With the motor running, gradually add the soy milk and oil to produce a thick sauce – thick enough to achieve a napping consistency that evenly coats the back of a spoon. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
3. For the lemon dressing, whisk 60 millilitres of lemon juice and 60 millilitres of extra-virgin olive oil together in a bowl. Season to taste with sea salt and a grind of white pepper.
Method for Seasonal Greens and Poached Eggs
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Fill another saucepan of water with 12 centimetres of water, add the vinegar and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
2. When the water is boiling in both pans, crack the eggs into 4 cups, reduce the heat on the vinegared water to almost boiling and stir in a clockwise motion. Carefully add the eggs one at a time and set the timer for 4 minutes. When cooked, carefully remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
3. While the eggs are poaching, blanch the asparagus, beans and broccolini in boiling water for 45 seconds, or until just beginning to soften. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel then place in a bowl.
4. Add the kale to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain and carefully squeeze some of the water out. Add the kale to the bowl of other vegetables, then add the lemon dressing, season with sea salt and a grind of white pepper and toss gently to combine.
5. To serve, place the kale in the centre of the serving plates and arrange the seasonal greens over the top. Place the poached eggs on the greens and spoon over 1 tablespoon of ‘Green Goddess’ sauce. Serve immediately.
Superfoods like turmeric and ginger are the linchpin to to this “latte”.
This drink is Persak’s own favourite caffeine-free alternative to coffee. (“Although,” says Persak, “you can also add a shot of espresso if you like.”). Garnished with spices like turmeric and ginger, the Golden Latte comes packed with plant-based oils and antioxidant benefits. It bolsters the body’s natural defences and gives you a prolonged source of energy — keeping you pumped up while working from home.
Time: 5 minutes
- 2½ cups plant-based, dairy-alternative beverage (unsweetened almond, soy, cashew or coconut milk*)
- 5 centimetres fresh turmeric (finely sliced or grated) or 1½ teaspoon ground turmeric spice
- 2.5 centimetres fresh ginger (finely sliced or grated) or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
- 1–2 pinches of ground/cracked black pepper
- Optional: 2 teaspoons coconut nectar or pure maple syrup/honey
*A coconut milk beverage (typically sold in 1-litre, 32-oz UHT/Tetra packs) is different — thinner and less rich — from the coconut milk or cream. If you are unable to find a coconut milk beverage, you can substitute it with:
‘Lite’ coconut milk (canned), or
1½ cups plain water mixed with 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (canned)
1. Place all the ingredients (except black pepper) in a blender and process until combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat gently over a low to medium heat until warm.
3. Pour into mugs then serve. If you used fresh turmeric and ginger, strain as you pour.
4. Stir in sweetener, if desired.
5. Sprinkle each serving with black pepper and enjoy.
Wild Rice & Seed Salad with Tahini & Tamari Dressing*
Courtesy of Como Shambala
A healthy rice-based dish that’s simple enough to assemble in less than an hour.
“Wild rice is wildly overlooked as a grain option. White, brown, red and purple or black rice often get more attention,” says Persak. “However, it definitely deserves to be mentioned.” This variety of rice is comparable in fibre to brown rice, but offers twice as much protein. It’s also considered a form of ‘complete’ plant-based protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids, so it’s a helpful ingredient for anyone interested in a plant-based shift.
“I chose this salad with intention,” notes Persak. “The lunch meal is the time of day when carbohydrates are best processed and metabolised for most people. So a selection with whole-grains is perfect for sustenance.” The nutritionist also underscores that the dish comes loaded with zinc, which comes from the different varieties of seeds that boost immunity.
Time: 45–60 minutes
Ingredients for Tahini & Tamari Dressing
- 60 millilitre (¼ cup) raw tahini
- 60 millilitre (¼ cup) tamari soy
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon strained lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 125 millilitre (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients for Wild Rice & Seed Salad
- 300 grams wild rice
- 120 grams peeled butternut pumpkin, cut julienne
- 1 red bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and cut julienne
- ¼ red onion, sliced lengthwise
- 80 grams (1 cup) shredded red cabbage
- 80 grams (1 cup) bean sprouts
- 160 grams (2 cups) shredded Chinese cabbage
- 60 grams (2 cups) shredded spinach leaves
- 7.5 grams flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 2 cooked corn cobs cut into long shards
Method for Tahini & Tamari Dressing
1. Place the tahini, tamari, garlic and ginger in a blender and blend until combined.
2. Add 60 millilitres water, the lemon juice and agave nectar and blend further. With the blender running, gradually add the olive oil until combined and emulsified.
Method for Wild Rice & Seed Salad
1. Bring 2 litres (8 cups) of water to the boil and stir in the wild rice. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes, or just until the kernels puff open. Uncover, fluff with a fork and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
2. Drain off any excess liquid and transfer to a bowl to cool slightly before use. Add the remaining ingredients, except the corn shards, and toss through with 6 tablespoons of the dressing. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
1. Spoon a third of the rice salad among 4 bowls, top with one-third of corn and repeat, layering twice more and finishing with corn shards.
2. Spoon the dressing over and around the plate. Serve warm or at room temperature but never chilled as the rice hardens in the fridge.
Zucchini Apple & Fennel Soup*
Courtesy of Como Shambala
A calming evergreen soup.
“This is a rich and creamy-textured soup yet there’s no cream involved,” explains Persak. Unlike cream-based soups, however, this zucchini apple and fennel rendition is low in fat and calories. It’s filled instead with fibre that supports gut health, and without starchy vegetables included, the soup has a low glycemic effect. Meaning: It keeps blood sugar levels stable. “Its warm, cooked and smooth consistency sits easily on the digestive tract, too,” says Persak.
Time: 20–30 minutes
- 60 millilitres (¼ cup) olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 baby fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, shaved on a mandolin
- Sea salt, to taste
- 3 zucchini (courgettes), quartered lengthwise, seeded and diced
- 1.2 litres (5 cups) vegetable stock
- 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 20 grams (1 cup) basil leaves
- 1 zucchini (courgette), grated
- 2 zucchini (courgette) flowers, petals plucked
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic and fennel. Season with salt and cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
2. Increase the heat to medium, add the diced zucchini and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes then add the apples before covering and cooking for a further 15 minutes.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the basil, leaving to stand for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse into the liquid.
5. Remove and discard the basil, then transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
6. To serve, bring the soup to the boil in a saucepan, add the grated zucchini and return to the boil. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Ladle into warmed bowls and scatter with the zucchini flowers.
Blood of the Earth Juice*
Courtesy of Como Shambala
To pair with lunch, a refreshing beet-based juice.
“Thanks to the beetroot, this beverage quite literally breathes life into the lunch meal,” says Persak. The apples, celery and ginger that make the juice are an obvious source of nutrients. But the beets are a rare source of natural nitrates. In the body, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, a compound that widens the blood vessels, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen. “So this juice is wonderful in the midday when you need a boost,” suggests Persak.
Time: 5 minutes
- 1 beetroot, washed, scrubbed and cut into quarters
- 2 green apples, cut into quarters
- 1 stalk celery, cut in half
- 2 centimetre piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1. Put the beetroot, apples, celery and ginger through a juice extractor, catching the juice in a jug.
2. Pour the juice into a glass and serve immediately.
To talk to Eve Persak, book a nutritional therapy session through Como Shambala Urban Escape.
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