Moringa Tree in Elkhart tailors food to customer’s best health

By / Photography By Keith James | April 06, 2018
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Moringa Tree’s new downtown Elkhart location fits more customers and features an event space and massage therapy room upstairs. During this photo shoot, regular customer Jill Kelley came in to pick up her lunch and said, “This is my safe place. When I’m having a bad day, I come here for lunch.”

The words of Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” are taken literally at Moringa Tree Café and Wellness Studio in downtown Elkhart, IN. At Moringa Tree, you don’t have to worry about choosing the healthy option because everything on the menu is created to help customers thrive.

“When someone comes through the door, we have to take a minute to understand their story and why they’re here,” says owner Jenny Weaver. “We have to get to the bottom of their health and what will help them heal.”

Many regulars have been eating at Moringa Tree since it opened five years ago. In October, the café moved to 109 W. Lexington Ave.—and Weaver’s regulars followed. She caters to each customer’s optimal diet, based on their medical history, dietary restrictions, mental state, stress level and more.

Weaver and her husband, Andy, opened the café with a mission to help customers live vibrant, healthy lives, because Weaver knows what it’s like when loved ones get sick.

After Weaver’s brother died from cancer and her other brother developed Lyme disease, holistic health became her passion. Weaver got her bachelor’s in education from Grand Valley State University, then studied at Trinity School of Natural Health in Warsaw, IN, to become a naturopathic doctor. Naturopathy focuses on diet, exercise, massage and other alternative treatments before prescribing drugs or surgery.

Photo 1: Chef/owner Jenny Weaver checks the customer order slip as she prepares an organic lunch. Weaver knows just about every repeat customer by name and likes to chat with people when the crowd dies down and there's time for her to get out of the kitchen.
Photo 2: The mung bean noodle pad Thai with coconut peanut sauce is a favorite among regulars. Right now Moringa Tree serves this dish as a feature, but Weaver says they’re considering putting it on the regular menu full time.

The café sources all-organic ingredients, as much as possible from local sources. The menu features vegetarian, vegan, paleo and keto meals, plus dairy-free, low-carb and gluten-free choices. Drinks include “Bulletproof” coffee, blended with coconut oil and butter; a mix of hot herbal tea blends; and a smoothie and juice bar with a selection of nutritional supplements including milk thistle, spirulina, hemp seed oil and—of course—moringa.

The moringa tree, which grows in the tropics of Africa and Asia, is known as “the tree of life” due to its nutrient-rich, edible foliage and antibacterial and water-purifying properties. A single leaf contains up to twice the protein of a serving of yogurt, three times the potassium of a banana and seven times more vitamin C than an orange.

“It’s the perfect food for us,” says Weaver. “Every single part of it can be used for something. The basis of what (moringa) does is what we’re trying to do in our restaurant: using food to heal.”

Weaver has built a community of like-minded people, every one with unique experiences that led them to Moringa Tree.

Weaver has her own story to tell.

About a year after opening the café, she was struggling with significant digestive health issues and wasn’t getting answers from medical doctors. So, she turned to naturopathic doctors, who found tumors in her colon. She didn’t want to undergo surgery or chemotherapy, so Weaver devoted herself to a naturopathic diet and lifestyle. She cut out all processed foods, refined sugars and toxins. After four months of eating a “cleansing” diet, drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice, and administering herbal treatments, Weaver learned that her colon was free of tumors.

This life-changing period inspired much of what Moringa Tree offers today. Weaver added a wellness studio in the new downtown location, offering nutrition consultation, meal planning and massages. She also offers personal shopping and cooking services.

“The food that you eat, your attitude, the environment you’re around—all contribute to your health,” says Weaver. “My goal is to get people off of medications and supported naturally. Our bodies are designed to heal. They just need the right tools.”

Moringa Tree

109 W. Lexington Ave.
Elkhart, IN


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