Secret ingredients of a healthy holiday | Daily News


Secret ingredients of a healthy holiday

Calamansi Cove
Calamansi Cove

Buddha taught, “To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. British Prime Minister and global strategist, Winston Churchill was of the view, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” So, what better place to see and experience this in practice than at the gorgeous Calamansi Cove Villas, Balapitiya, where ancient village food traditions are integral to creating the daily delicious menu with health at the heart of every creation. The chef, Thushara Hettiarachchi, believes all food should be balanced with medicinal benefits to the body, as well as always being inspirational and varied, so that within three day stay, he expects to put the buzz back into your step.

The delightful Calamansi Cove Villas encourage both inward reflection and outward activities whether going on an art tour or having a surfing lesson. The day starts early with a mindfulness session if pre-arranged or a pre-dawn yoga class in the luscious garden or, for those who want to soak up the sunrise, you can walk through the village and make a spiritual offering at the local Wijerama temple and think about the shocking reality that “A billion people in the world are chronically hungry, while a billion people are overweight.” Lynne Rossetto Kasper says, “Remember, too, that at a time when people are very concerned with their health and what they should eat, we have handed over the responsibility for our nourishment to faceless corporations with very deep pockets and whom, therefore, might be able to shrug off any suits that might make them more accountable and whom serve their shareholders before their customers.” This is something of which you will have absolutely no fear when staying at Calamansi Cove Villas, where the fish and the crab are bought from the fishing boats that can be seen pulled up majestically on the shoreline, colourful and imposing, minutes from the restaurant.

Dumith is one of the fishermen that still uses fishing nets, along with teams of up to 100 working together, which is one of many things you can experience or even have a go at on the days they are doing it while staying at this unique property and from the catch I learn how they make Chilli Moringa Crab fish cakes. This mouth watering dish is laced with moringa leaves, a natural ingredient for a detox, about which all the island’s grandmothers know. It is also good for controlling bodyweight and the balance of hormones, since crab is a very healthy all rounder as a food. Moringa, also known as drum sticks, can be found all around the area in local home gardens. They will teach you if you want to learn something exquisite, Calamansi, how to cook the authentic local fish dish with black paste and salt on a bed of cinnamon leaves, with curry leaves sprinkled on top, above a low flame. Before Ceylon was famous for tea, there was coffee and before that cinnamon, the first large scale crop, at a time when it was worth its weight in gold and was known for its multitudinous health benefits.

Some hotels give you a lovely bunch of flowers on arrival, but the wonderful Calamansi welcome also includes a luscious healthy juice to refresh you after the parching effects of heat and dust from travelling on the road. This is made from the fruit grown right at the front entrance; you can’t get fresher than that. The chef loves to decorate in the manner of the artist Manet and so many dishes have a flourish of garnish and flowers. Also, realising that flowers have health benefits, too, and people love the garden, he has combined his skills and created the first flower salad using lime, curry leaf flowers, baby spinach flowers and the Monarakuumbiya, which is rich in iron and good for the eyes. Polpala is an Ayurvedic plant added to porridge for breakfast in the village homes, but today, due to the creativity of the team at Calamansi, they are sharing their health secrets with guests, as they know how important it is for their own families’ well being and balance.

Imagine the joys of banana blossom and coconut salad, lemongrass and steam prawns. Avocado is good for cholesterol and can be bought in the local market and you can combine going there with doing the catch of the day cooking class with the chef on request and they will teach you the myriad of health benefits of spices. One teacher expounds, “I use a lot of chilli to kill off phlegm issues and lower the chances of heart attacks and strokes.”

The village Kodagoda from where the chef comes from life is the healthiest he explains as they live off leaves and hand-grown rice. He also says with the biggest when he thinks of his simple village life “We eat baby jack fruit, sweet potatoes, lots of mellum, gotukola, rathu thampala, lotus root and unlike most of our Sri Lankan city folk, who go to the shops my family harvests its own rice and so the food is very healthy and smoothly travels from plot to plate.”

To compliment the delicious life enhancing culinary classics eaten in the arty Calamansi Cove Villas Tangerine restaurant, you can stretch and hold your various yoga positions either on the beach to the sound of crashing waves or in the garden surrounded by birds, bees and butterflies, all while your little monsters are being entertained by the amazing staff in the pool, who really know with fun beach ball games how to let their guests enter the other divine world beyond the material.

But if the temple you live in isn’t for contorting or fortifying through disciplined movement, then you can simply chill it with a good book or simply by daydreaming on the villa lawn in colourful deck chairs or, your own private villa terrace or, if it’s a little hot, in the air-conditioned library with the grand dragon antique doors. Conversely, jump about on the volleyball court to pit your skills against the ever ready staff team, go canoeing in the waves or explore one of the buzzy food markets and the exciting Ambalangoda art scene, full of talented artisan families and master craftsmen, where you can also learn to make the delicious coconut oil, and then look around the Galle Fort in 80 lives, living within its tremendous historic coral and shell walls with heritage buildings that can tell a thousand tales.

One way or another, you can’t fail to fill your Calamansi Villa visit with lifelong memories of tangerine dreams and other cats that got the creams.

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