chef・food as medicine & culinary educator・herbalist・food + plant nerd
Karina Hines is a total food nerd who trusts in the healing power of plants.
An Australian-born farmer’s daughter, Karina grew up in the kitchen and garden of her family’s farm in Drake, New South Wales, Australia. Her connection with the earth and its bounty has been with Karina from inception, greatly informing her cooking style as a chef and seasonal approach to food.
Over twenty years of experience as a private chef focusing on healthy food, Karina has a diverse knowledge of cooking with seasonal ingredients, plant nutrition and the relationship between the food we eat and how that can impact our health. Karina spent over a decade in Europe and the Mediterranean working as a chef in private homes and aboard sailing yachts before landing on US shores. She ran a private chef business in the Boston area for the past 8 years and taught classes with local businesses, farms, schools and plant-loving communities until recently moving to Portland, Maine.
A lifetime student of food and plants, she is a herbalist and an avid gardener believing that good health begins in the soil and sustainable growing practices create flavour, nutrient density and biodiversity. Karina is a big believer in eating locally grown in-season food and advocates for regenerative agricultural practices like permaculture, organics, and biodynamics.
For decades, Karina has been travelling, cooking, growing and learning through experience, compiling her encyclopedic knowledge of seasonal food, recipes, and how to cook well while accommodating many dietary needs. Botanical Kitchen was born out of Karina’s drive to share her knowledge, passion and energy to help people obtain vibrant health through food. Her practical and delicious philosophy for all: “Nourishing food is the best medicine”.
Q&A with Botanical Kitchen founder Karina Hines.
How did you decide to become a chef?
I think I was born that way; my grandmother was a brilliant cook, and my mother loves to cook. I grew up in the kitchen and garden. Cooking makes sense to me, an endless source of joy, discovery, inspiration and creativity – after you have cooked, you get to eat, and I love to eat!
What led you to focus specifically on healthy food?
I was pretty sick from years of infections and stress-related illnesses treated with antibiotics in my late teens. I went to a naturopath who helped me reclaim my health with herbs and radical dietary changes. It was such a potent life lesson at a very young age in the power of food and its relationship to our health and well-being.
What inspired you to create Botanical Kitchen & your seasonal weekly membership?
I want to help people buy locally and cook seasonally with confidence. I’m a farmers daughter. I deeply believe in small local farms and small food business models for quality, flavour and healthy farming practices. Botanical Kitchen is a way to share my knowledge as a chef to help support farmers and the people who want to buy their food.
Why is buying locally so important?
We have a health & environmental crisis in our world today; we pour chemicals over food and into our soils and wonder why ~ we need to change the way we grow food. Small local farms can grow vibrant food using chemical-free regenerative agriculture and feed their communities; I want to help support that and help people skill up cooking local & seasonal produce.
Botanical Kitchen focuses on Anti-Inflammatory Diet, Food Allergies & Dietary needs tell us why?
I want to put as many food allergies & dietary recipes as I can to make it easier for people who have health concerns and want to make some changes – my goals are to help with the “how-to” of making dietary changes using food as medicine.
Millions upon millions of people have food-related health concerns. There is a gap in our healthcare system with little food-focused support or time for medical practitioners to help their patients around diet. Change is hard, especially with food and habits. I wanted to create a practical and supportive space to share my chef knowledge and experience to help people make the changes they want to achieve their health goals and find joy in the Kitchen.
Who is Botanical Kitchen for?
Botanical Kitchen is for anyone who wants to focus on healthy cooking and eating seasonally. Whether a kitchen novice or a seasoned chef, I feel there is something for everyone. Some people want to buy locally to support their food communities and focus on cooking local, seasonal, sustainable food. Others want to make significant dietary changes to improve their health and need some “how-to” help. Some people are interested in incorporating medicinal herbs in their life and want to learn more about different botanicals’ properties and use food as medicine.
What do you hope Botanical Kitchen does for people?
I hope it helps people buy locally, eat seasonally, and prepare healthy food with ease and joy. I hope it makes cooking and dietary changes approachable and straightforward. I hope it helps us all focus on supporting our small farms eating local, seasonal and sustainable food. I hope Botanical Kitchen introduces people to plants and helps every~body eat to thrive.
Eat to Thrive is Botanical Kitchen’s motto – what does that mean?
It means eating nourishing food to support your body and using plants every day to help balance your health and wellness.
Can you tell us about how you approach creating recipes?
When I create a dish, I am thinking about getting the most nutritional bang for your bite and using a core set of pantry ingredients, so it makes sense. I think about the plants, their benefits, who and what the dish is for. I want to balance flavours and textures, time, practicality and affordability with nutrient density and make it taste great – it’s a multi-layered approach.
What are some of your favourite ingredients?
Olive oil, sea salt flakes, black pepper, scallions, citrus, berries, passionfruit, lots of herbs & spices, tomatoes, rocket (arugula) leafy greens and beans of any kind & colour, potatoes, chilli, salted roasted pistachios, honey, dark chocolate and wine – I could go on……
What has been your experience creating Botanical Kitchen
As a chef, teacher, herbalist & gardener, typically, I step into the Kitchen or garden when I want to create or grow something. Learning, creating and navigating in a digital space to bring Botanical Kitchen to life has been quite the learning curve! It is really cool & really hard, fascinating and terrifying, a wild, joyful roller coaster ride of an adventure for sure.
Who is involved in Botanical Kitchen?
I work with a fantastic web designer & developer. She is brilliant, kind, fun, and so patient. I also collaborate with local photographers a few times a year – they take the snaps while I do the food styling and content design. I collaborate with plant-loving businesses and communities. The rest is me – I create recipes, style and snap more photos, write content and load it all onto the website.
Beyond Botanical Kitchen – what do you like to do with your time?
Stand-up Paddleboarding is a favourite activity. Going to yoga and pilates classes is part of my routine. I like walking and spending time outdoors. I feel very much at home being on or beside the water from ponds to lakes, rivers and the ocean. I’m a gypsy at heart. I like travelling and discovering new places. I love a road trip. Sharing good food, wine, and playing cards with friends makes me happy.
Shared Experiences and Kind Words
Best present ever!
Taking a class with you on my birthday was the best present I ever gave myself! You have changed the way I see food!
Thank you for your inspiration
Karina’s down to earth, and relatable personality was spot-on when giving an incredibly educational cooking demonstration at my home! She takes all of those nutritional dense foods you hear about and turns them into completely approachable masterpieces that are beyond delicious; it is so motivational to try them on your own. My kitchen became a haven of piles of colorful vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries! I am happy to say whenever I repeat her recipes; they come out just as delicious! Thank you for your inspiration!!
“Eating is an event and a celebration and Karina’s layered garden salads with flower petals and herbs are the sparkling party starters.”
Note from a happy party goer
Shaking up your run-of-the-mill muffin
“I’ve cooked from several of the recipes from Botanical Kitchen and they always surprise me with unexpected ingredients pairings that make for subtle and complex flavors. Absolutely worth shaking up your run-of-the-mill muffin and cookie recipes.”
Breadth of Knowledge
“Hines’ breadth of knowledge of all things to do with healthy eating is astonishing. Everything from soil health, through sustainable growing practices, to cooking and eating delicious, health-supporting food and herbs – it’s all on her radar. Know too that Karina Hines is an artist. Not only does her food taste good, not only is it good for you, it’s also absolutely beautiful. Hines has a way of combining delicious ingredients to maximize their nutritive value while beguiling you with colors and textures that make you want to eat her food.”
“Several years ago, I woke up with mysterious pains in almost every muscle in my body, and it wasn’t going away. My doctor diagnosed fibromyalgia, but I was wary of the recommended treatments which addressed the symptoms but were not a cure. I called Karina. The fibromyalgia was brought on by stress, menopause and a chronic lack of self-care, and it resulted in insomnia and widespread inflammation. Karina cautioned me that it had taken me about a year to get myself into this state – it would likely take that long to get out. She recommended immediately eliminating inflammatory foods and using herbs and teas to detox and aid in sleep. She explained what was happening in the body when it is in a state of inflammation as well as why and how each of these dietary recommendations would help. With Karina’s advice and a variety of lifestyle changes around exercise and meditation, just over eleven months later, I was symptom-free and have continued to be so ever since.”
“I am so grateful to have experienced Karina’s approach to “food as medicine”. I have been honored to attend her classes, enjoy her recipes and have her thoughtful insight into my eating habits. I first met Karina at one of her fabulous classes hosted by a mutual friend. She is a kind person and so willing to share her knowledge, that when I faced a tough recovery after minor knee surgery I turned to her for her insight. Many months after surgery I was struggling with inflammation which was significantly slowing my healing. Karina showed me which foods would help reduce my inflammation and within a week the inflammation went down and I could move more easily which led to an increase in strength. I turn to Karina’s healing recipes and foods as often as I can and know that if I am struggling with my health Karina will lead me down the right path. Forever grateful”
Delights all the senses
“Karina’s passion for healthy, nutrient-dense food infuses her cooking, which delights all the senses. She made an unforgettable salad for a class she taught with flower petals strewn colorfully over shiny blackberries and minty cucumbers. It is always a joy to work with someone so enthusiastic and knowledgeable.”
“I was invited to a cooking demonstration last night, that was amazing! Highly recommend Karina and her cooking wisdom.”
“There is no one doing what Karina at Botanical Kitchen is doing. Her attention to detail and care with which she imparts information is at a level we don’t usually see. Karina is sought after for sound information, that while very deep, drawing on years of study, research, and varied experience is brought back to the student, and we leave with usable, practical tools for our own lives.”
One of a kind
“Karina’s cooking is colorful, seasonal, delicious, thoughtful and absolutely good for you! Watching her make magic with herbs and vegetables is joyful. The first time I took a class with her, I was speechless as I watched her casually make miracles! She is one of a kind!“
Joy at the table
“Freshly sourced ingredients and innovative recipes―all the joy necessary at the table.”
Eat to Thrive
“Karina’s holistic approach links how and what we eat to our overall well-being.”
“Your food is delicious, I love the recipes and they work!”
Private Cooking Class
“What a unique and fun experience! Thank you so much for your donation.”
Foods to Help Balance Hormones
“Karina is an amazing person and chef. She is extremely knowledgeable about food and how it fuels your body. Her innovative recipes are delicious and packed with a ton of nutrients that your body needs.”
Cooking with Medicinal Herbs
“I learned about incorporating medicinal plants in the cooking of grains and beans from Karina Hines, an extraordinary natural chef and herbalist.”
Lean Clean & Green Workshop
“I cook a lot and read about cooking all the time. I didn’t know I could have so much to learn! Your class was excellent. You introduced me to so many new foods and methods of preparing them. I also appreciated the information about the nutritional values of various foods that you gave throughout the workshop. And I’ll definitely be checking out the sources that you mentioned.Thanks so much for an evening well spent. I feel motivated to modify the way I cook and eat.”