Maintaining your wellness can be a daunting task; you can easily feel overwhelmed while trying to choose the right wellness routine. Austin-based chef Kiele Jael Stanton tries to address this issue by connecting food and the self.
Stanton is a certified health-supportive chef and nutritionist, with a personal chef certificate from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. Known as The Sensual Chef, she focuses on healing the body and soul with her sensual cooking philosophy, which centers on the relationship between the self and food.
After healing her own health issues using her philosophy, Stanton opened Kiele Jael Wellness in 2018 to share her wellness wisdom with other women. Her programs combine her culinary training with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and ancient food wisdom to create unique wellness routines for women. She aims to educate women on using their senses to create healthy meals.
“I teach tangible cooking skills and ancient food wisdom to help women strengthen their relationship with food and cooking,” Stanton says. “This makes cooking and eating less of an obligation and more of an enjoyable, sensual experience.”
Stanton grew up on the island of Guam, surrounded by fresh produce and a tropical paradise. Because of this, she always wanted to be her own medicine woman, but it was her grandmother who ignited Stanton’s passion for flavor and cooking.
Stanton spent a lot of time with her grandmother in the kitchen, learning the connection between food, the body and nature. During her health-supportive culinary training, she began noticing the importance of that connection.
“While working in restaurants, I noticed that connection was gone — no one was honoring the food they ate or how it was prepared, and it all seemed empty,” Stanton says. “I wanted to help women heal themselves and bring balance to their bodies and lives, and to do that, it’s important to tap into all the senses.”
With this philosophy, Stanton teaches her clients the benefits of each food and how to cook it properly and efficiently. Stanton teaches her unique wellness wisdom through self-paced online courses, which encourage clients to focus on combining Stanton’s tangible cooking skills and ancient food wisdom to create a personalized nutrition plan. Stanton believes each woman has her own needs and ailments to heal, so she caters her teaching to each client.
“There is no one way of living, and there is no one diet,” Stanton says. “My job is to help women identify their own unique needs and find their balance.”
There are two driving forces in all her programs: self-love and self-acceptance. She focuses on restarting her clients’ relationship with food by giving them the power to take healing into their own hands and understand what their body needs. Therefore, her unique method encourages forming a connection with food first, then she dives into TCM and ancient food wisdom.
In TCM, there are the five elements — earth, water, fire, metal and wood — that correspond to everything in life. They each have their own specific connections to the seasons, produce, colors, feelings and organs. Stanton teaches that understanding each element and the foods and cooking methods they correspond to helps women learn how to create balance within themselves.
Stanton’s teachings emphasize that her sensual philosophy is ultimately about cooking. Her favorite cooking method is blanching and shocking raw foods, particularly produce, because it optimizes your digestion by brightening the vegetable and disposing of some of those harsh, raw qualities. According to Stanton, eating too many raw foods can over-exhaust your digestive system, and the key to wellness is a healthy digestive system.
Ultimately, it’s not enough to simply eat healthily; the method of cooking and the combinations of foods impact the energy within our bodies in a major way. Stanton’s sensual cooking philosophy encourages nourishing yourself properly by nourishing your whole self — body and soul.
“Everything in life has energy,” Stanton says. “So even the way we cook food has an impact.”