Between white sand beaches, turquoise waters and tropical fruit on fleek, we honestly can’t imagine living un-well in Tulum; it’s the ultimate environment for deep wellness ideologies to come to life. For foodie and hotelier, Daniella Hunter, a vision of holistic health centered around sustainability and plant-based eating manifested in the form of The Real Coconut.
Found within the Sanara Tulum Hotel — an eco friendly, and idyllically white hotel for which Daniella is the founder and creative director — The Real Coconut is a restaurant that focuses on plant-based cuisine made with easily digestible plants that are globally abundant, grow rapidly without pesticides, and most importantly offer major nutritional bang for your buck. Everything on Daniella’s menu is dedicated to digestive health, and made without grains, gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, and GMOs.
Recently, to spread the love beyond the beach, Daniella launched a line of coconut-flour chips and most recently, a local catering kitchen also called The Real Coconut here in LA. Both brands share the same dedication to holistic health and sustainable practices.
We simply can’t get enough of Daniella, her products and her wellness philosophy. Read on as she shares about her own daily practices, including a sea-spired smoothie with major gut health benefits.
My daily supplements:
Marine phytoplankton powder mixed with lemon juice and water. It provides me with every nutrient and mineral I could need. I don’t like to call it a supplement as it’s a whole food and a staple of my diet.
Can’t live without my:
iPhone, MacBook, handkerchiefs and phytoplankton!
I can’t eat early in the morning. When I’m at home in Tulum, I make a big pot of chai from scratch with black tea, spices, fresh ginger juice and homemade almond milk. In Los Angeles, or when I’m on the move, I make a cup of Four Sigma mushroom coffee. It’s the only coffee I can drink without getting the shakes. What I eat depends very much on where I am and what I’m doing. I might have some coconut yogurt with berries at around 11:30/12 or go straight for lunch. If I’m traveling, I’ll take some of our TRC plantain flour cookies and snack on those until I’m hungry for a full meal. I don’t eat unless I’m actually hungry and that varies day to day, depending on time zones/travel/where I am, etc. If I wake up and I’m starving by 8 a.m. I will eat, but it’s very rare.
My food philosophy in one sentence:
Eat the most nutritional and highest quality foods you can get, which are also sustainable for the planet. If you choose quality over quantity, it’s better for you and better for our world.
Rebound, dancing, stretching and moving. Anything that’s fun and doesn’t feel like I’m exercising for the sake of it!
Best gym-to-street tip:
I’d start with some loose, black cotton joggers, a tank and trainers (sorry, sneakers in U.S.!). To go to lunch/dinner or a meeting, I’d swap my sneakers for heeled boots and throw on a smart jacket. If I was in Los Angeles, I don’t think anyone would really care if I went to dinner in the gym clothes as it’s seems to be standard attire! But in NY, for example, I’d definitely want to look put together (hopefully not too sweaty though!).
Once a week for my health I:
(Try to)…do a clay mask, oil pull (preferably daily if I make time for it), brush teeth with charcoal, body brush (again more if possible), have a massage and, most importantly, have a quiet day where I stay at home and recharge/regroup with myself.
Best fast food option:
The Counter…not really fast food but it’s our family treat a couple of times a month. We order the customize-your-own burger option and choose organic bison on a bed of organic leaves, with avocado, dill pickles, roasted grape tomatoes and a side of fries! If we go with friends everyone asks me to order for them as they love the look of mine! I never feel bad after eating it, even though the fries are a treat.
If I’m traveling/on the go, I will try to take some of our plantain flour cookies and a bag of The Real Coconut, Coconut Flour Tortilla Chips to snack on. If I’ve run out of my own food and literally can’t find anything decent to eat, I either won’t eat, or I’ll choose a bag of potato chips. I will eat the odd pastry, but only if there are no other options and it looks really good!
Best healthy restaurant tip:
As the majority of restaurants use cheaper vegetable oils, which oxidize and are damaging for health, I will ask often to grill or cook without oil. Don’t eat animal proteins unless it’s organic, pasture-raised and stay away from fish and shrimp unless you have checked that it’s wild caught.
At least once a month I cook…
Baked sweet potato, avocado, salad leaves…throw it together on a plate and enjoy! It’s my go-to week-night meal.
If I could give just one piece of health advice it would be…
Do the best you can and recognize that you are on a path to healing and wellness. Look back to see the positive steps you have made and feel good about this. Don’t feel guilty if you have something ‘bad’ or slip. The energy expended on feelings of guilt far surpass anything you could put in your body. Don’t stress and worry over things you cannot control.
Ingredient in products I always avoid:
Weird chemical names I can’t pronounce, non-organic/non-pasture raised animal proteins (because of all the antibiotics, hormones etc., not to mention cruelty), MSG, modified starches.
Go-to health resources:
I do a lot of research when I’m asking questions about things. I don’t look at any one particular site/resource. I take multiple opinions/information etc. and then make my own informed decisions, and go with what feels right.
Crazy health idea that actually works:
Good fats… I deprived myself of good fats for decades from around 14 up to 34. The dramatic difference once I added fats (coconut, avocado. etc.) as well cutting out grains, was incredible.
5 things always in my medicine cabinet:
Activated charcoal, colloidal silver, probiotics, bicarbonate of soda and a basic essential oil kit.
No factory-farmed animal proteins, fast fashion or unnecessary plastic.
Simplest way to improve health:
Breathe, slow down and ground yourself, sleep, be grateful and add some good quality nutrition into your body. Avoid processed animal proteins, processed food and grains as much as possible. Be happy, smile, look for what you can be grateful for in your life.
Fave healthy getaway:
Tulum! Being at Sanara and eating incredible healing food from The Real Coconut, having lots of massages from our amazing therapists, walking on the beach and swimming in the sea. It’s where I recharge and feel nurtured.
My current mantra:
It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. For me this means, it’s all in the being…not the doing. If that doesn’t make sense, just go back to Shakespeare’s most famous line, “To be or not to be: that is the question.”
My health passion:
Marine phytoplankton…I believe it’s the future of nutrition globally. Fun fact: Phytoplankton supplies somewhere between 50-80% of the world’s oxygen – that’s how important it is.
Health trend to skip:
Crazy amounts of protein…I’ve seen pizza recipes with 50g of protein per serving! That just doesn’t seem natural, and I’m sure that there will be evidence coming out over the coming years, which will show how detrimental this can be. It’s also not sustainable for the planet in any shape or form!
My go-to juice or smoothie:
Sorry to keep banging on about it, but it’s phytoplankton again… This is my daily drink wherever I am in the world, and means that even if I can’t get good food, fresh greens, salads, etc., I know I’m still getting amazing nutrition. I’ve been drinking this for years now and I would never be able to do all I do, travel and work in the way I do without it. In the recipe below, I added the collagen because I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis many years ago as a result of intense steroids during my sickly childhood; however, if you are in fairly good health, you don’t necessarily need this, and I often go without.
Marine Phytoplankton + Probiotics Smoothie
1/2 tsp marine phytoplankton powder (or if you are a hardcore pro like me, 1 Tbsp, though it can take time to build up to this as the taste is quite strong)
juice of 1/2 to 1 lime/lemon
water (about 8 oz)
probiotics (I use Ascended Health ProAlive drops)
scoop of Vital Proteins Marine Collagen or Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides
Mix all ingredients together. If it’s too sour for your taste, you can also use orange juice as a base. If I’m traveling, it’s really easy to ask for a lemonade and add the ingredients to that.