Diet is another component that plays a significant role in overall well-being. Alan Ramirez, chef at Sea Salt Healthy Kitchen on St. Simons Island, believes “food is medicine,” and the menu at the cozy spot in Retreat Village underscores his philosophy.

Sea Salt Healthy Kitchen offers an array of appetizers, soups, salads, wellbeing bowls, wraps, and smoothies, most of which are plant-based. Available proteins include tofu-based vegan chorizo, chicken, shrimp, salmon, strip loin and tofu.

Eating healthy is easy to do at home, he said, and one of the keys is to remember one simple rule.

“The most colorful foods have the most nutrients,” said Ramirez. This is why nutritionists favor kale, spinach and arugula over iceberg lettuce, and sweet potatoes over the regular variety. They’re simply healthier choices.”

And while the regular consumer doesn’t have the same access to a multitude of farms as Ramirez does, he said it’s important to source food locally and buy what’s in season, as much as possible, as he does. Vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters and those who follow gluten-free diets can find healthy choices on the menu.

“The focus is on whole foods, rather than eating processed foods,” he said.

Ramirez still eats some animal protein, but makes sure to keep processed foods to a minimum.

A healthy diet, Ramirez said, includes plenty of leafy green vegetables (the darker the better), and starch in the form of root vegetables and whole grains. Then, he said, a little bit of meat – about 4 oz. per serving – can be added. Healthy fats can also be found in avocados and nuts.

Ramirez’s daily recommended eating plan includes:

2-3 servings of fruit

3-4 servings of vegetables

2 servings of whole grains

2-3 servings of legumes

Nuts, seeds, etc.

He repeated his belief that food is medicine.

“I believe we don’t need that much animal protein; I eat a plant-based diet myself,” Ramirez said. “There’s a difference in how I feel, how I perform.”

Popular items on the menu include wellbeing bowls and smoothie bowls.

Mediterranean wellbeing bowl

Quinoa tabbouleh, grilled sweet potatoes, feta cheese, radish and amaranth sprouts, Kalamata olives and red pepper hummus. It is served with pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds), a kale salad and citrus vinaigrette.

Ketosis wellbeing bowl

Parmesan Brussels sprouts, avocado, mushrooms and grilled cauliflower, served with almond kale salad and again, the citrus vinaigrette dressing.

Either of the above dishes can be made at home using similar items on hand, and the quantities are totally up to the home chef.

Ramirez’s smoothie bowls make an ideal anytime meal, snack or dessert. The Berry-banana Smoothie Bowl begins with a puree of frozen bananas and blueberries, and is built from there.

The puree is then topped with fruits, nuts and seeds. Another fave, the Happy Hippie Bowl has matcha, spirulina, mango, apple, cashews, granola, banana, hemp and amaranth mix.

Berry Banana Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie Base:

• 2 ea. bananas, frozen

• 3 Tbsp. blueberries, frozen

• 1 Tbsp. honey

• ¼ C. almond milk or any milk of preference

• Blend until it’s a smooth ice cream consistency.

Topping:

• 3 Tbsp. granola

• 1 Tbsp. amaranth and

hemp seeds (or any other type of seeds)

• 1 Tbsp. almonds (or any other kind of nuts)

• 3 ea. blackberries

• 3 ea. raspberries

• 6 ea. blueberries

• 2 ea. strawberries, sliced

Arrange topping on the base and serve.