Elena Capozzi, owner of Nature’s Apothecary, grew up practicing a relatively healthy eating lifestyle. Early on, the young entrepreneur would visit friends’ houses to enjoy a meal, and leave with the distinct sensation that her body had just suffered from the experience. That’s when Elena decided that she wanted to dedicate the rest of her life to preparing the yummiest and healthiest foods that she could… and now Buffalo is the beneficiary of that holistic lifestyle choice.
If you’re one who continues to doubt that anything truly good for you can’t be drop dead delicious, you are now officially challenged to taste some of Elena’s
cooking… I mean, preparation. If you think that you’re eating healthy just because you’re purchasing foods that appear to be healthy, you might want to hear Elena’s take on what is considered healthy, and what is being passed as being healthy. Did you know that it is acceptable for the makers of honey to add corn syrup to their product, without the appropriate labeling? A conversation about healthy eating with Elena is a real eye opener, even for people who believe that they know the drill when it comes to wholesome eating.
Yes, there’s the healthy aspect of what Elena does. Then there’s the knockout recipes that the certified holistic health coach delivers. Take her carrot cake for example. I’m not usually even a fan of carrot cake, but Elena’s raw concoction using lemon cashew icing is jut about the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. “And it’s 100% guilt free!” Elena told me [laughing]. “You can eat that all day long… it’s that good for you.”
Then there’s the almond joy brownie, prepared with cacao, nuts, dates, coconut and sea salt. OMG. Don’t even get me started. Or my dad for that matter. My dad loved the creation so much that he refused to believe that he was eating anything healthy. “Out of 10, I’m a 9.75 sweet tooth,” Elena exclaimed. “I could eat sweets all day long, but typically I feel like s@#t after eating regular cakes or brownies – it’s just not worth it. My goal has always been to come up with tasty foods that are equally good for the body. Food should make you happy and satisfy your hunger.”
Enough about desserts already. Elena, who has a degree from the Institute for Integrated Nutrition, has whipped up a couple of lunch menu items that taste as good as they look (menu changes regularly depending on product sourcing). First, there’s the Kale Caesar salad with sun dried tomatoes, creamy Caesar and parmesan “cheese”. There’s no dairy in anything that Elena creates, but she does make her own almond milk, cashew milk, and anything else that calls for a dairy ingredient. Once again, she does this because she is of the belief that you should know exactly what you are putting into your body… and if you don’t know where it’s coming from, then you don’t know what’s in it and how good it is for you. If you think that Elena’s taking it too far, then just look at the “big industry” and the overall health of our nation. It’s hard not to think that our food production and eating habits haven’t contributed to a relatively unhealthy society.
It is Elena’s desire to help change the way that we look at our food intake. She’s not expecting you to over-analyze everything that you eat, she’s simply “taking one for the team” and passing along what she has learned from her studies and assessments.
Next up: Elena’s Tu-Nut Wrap (a vegan take on tunafish that tastes like the real thing), made with nuts, seaweed, fresh veggies, herbs, sprouts, and sunflower seeds, in a collard wrap. Eating one of these and washing it down with a Liquid Sunshine Shake is like fueling your body with the rawest and cleanest form of the earth’s bounty (kale, kumquat, pineapple, banana, parsley, cinnamon, dates, essential oil and “mylk”). The plastic container is biodegradable.
I tried the Liquid Sunshine shake and was energized by the thought that I was not only loving the taste, but giving my body the nutrients that I need to get over a spring cold (and back ache). “If you need a real pick-me-up,” Elena asserted. “Then you must try the Mexican Chocolate smoothie made with raw cacao, lucuma, banana, hemp, cinnamon, cayenne and “mylk”. It will get you going and give you a flavor kick at the same time.”
If you’re wondering where Elena derived her passion for the business end of healthy eating, you might say that it all started when she began to sell organic cupcakes to her friends in college. “That’s really where it all began,” she recalled. “Later on I worked on Oles Family Farm, and then in a health food store (where she still works to pay off her college loans). I always knew that I wanted to do something like this for a living, and when I paid a visit to the Horsefeathers Winter Market, I saw this space and knew that it was the perfect place to start something up. There’s a commissary kitchen in the basement… but since I don’t actually cook I use it to store stuff that would only clutter my space.”
At this point, Nature’s Apothecary is in the business of preparing cold press juices, raw desserts, ready to go meals such as zucchini pesto noodles, and some mighty fine smoothies.
Elena’s raw food culinary apothecary opened this past Saturday in the Horsefeathers Building on Connecticut Street. In the near future Elena is working on introducing cold drip coffee and teas, dehydrated breads and cold brewed frosties. I asked Elena what her perfect day of eating looks like and she answered, “A huge ass kale Caesar salad with avocado, veggies and green goddess dressing. Every morning I have a green smoothie to start the day.” She didn’t say anything about the desserts, but I have a feeling that there is some joyful guilt-free sampling conducted along the way.
Nature’s Apothecary offers pick-up and limited sit-down. There is a four-top table and a community table, where Elena hopes to attract book clubs and community groups. “I can just imagine feeding a group of eight people, seated at the community table… I would bring them my zucchini rolls, a pitcher of raw juice, and a couple of spectacular raw desserts. Good food heals the mind and the body. Plus, it always tastes better when someone makes it for you.”
Elena is also working on coming up with some cleansing plans for her customers, and will continue to source plant-based foods that retain the essential enzymes, vitamins and minerals that the body requires to keep up with fast-paced living. According to Elena, “Buffalo has a lot more healthy eating options these days, which is nice to see. It’s important that we respect our bodies, and the easiest way to do that is through food.”
Nature’s Apothecary | Horsefeathers Building | 346 Connecticut Street | (716) 866-9513 | Check hours on Facebook, or call for more info.