The kitchen at Milestones Ranch Malibu is a surprise, a bit of magic among the trees and flowers and gardens tended by Kate Roberts. It is a joyful, separate place where staff congregates for the occasional early morning dance party and where clients can relax a little from the rigors of their internal work to learn how nutrition supports their recovery and, for those who are interested, how a spot of gardening vegetables is therapeutic and creative.
Kate Roberts runs her kitchen on a variety of philosophical principles. “Food is medicine,” she states as her primary understanding of her work. “I have been nourishing people for nearly two decades so I’m pretty lucky. It’s all about intention, the intention you put behind the food can be just as healing as the nutrients. People feel it here. Long days pay off for Kate, who spent 32 years looking for the authenticity she has finally found at Milestones.
She cooks with the needs of the clients in mind, understanding that the basics of recovery is a three-fold process. “This is the only place that I can bring all that balance – mental, emotional and physical – to food. It’s about working with all three of them.
“When I got into cooking for addiction recovery,” she goes on, “I realized how our culture’s processed foods leads to depression and anxiety which leads to drug use. The body becomes nutrient deficient. I pump them with micronutrients.”
This means Kate has more than a passing understanding of nutrition. Knowing that recovering clients have hurt their bodies’ ability to absorb nutrients, a bunch of kale is not just waiting for olive oil and garlic to make a tasty side-dish, it’s also a source of badly needed vitamins that, among other things, helps brain function and maintains mood. It’s through organic, whole foods that deficiencies are supplied.
“I start from the ground up,” Kate says of her cooking. “When I make soup, I start the stock from the bones; when I make sauces, I start with the onion and the garlic. And I see the effects. I spent two-and-a-half years trying to eliminate sugar here. We don’t serve sodas or juices so I make the watermelon juice or the ginger lemonade every day.”
Most recently, going processed sugar-free has meant dropping the use of agave in the kitchen. Kate now sticks to honey and stevia. Her next improvement is convincing the staff that raising their own chickens will increase taste, healthiness and, probably, a running community joke.
“I have yet to have a complaint,” she says of the clients, staff and the Milestones nutritionist-consultant. “In fact, our clients have told me my cooking is, ‘The best food I ever had and I’ve never felt so taken care of’.”
Such statements prove how positive intention and medicine come together in grilled vegetables from the Milestones garden or chocolate avocado mousse. Our hope is that if we provide enough education, clients will take the nutritional lessons with them.