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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Scene (Near) South Bend: The Moringa Tree Organic Kitchen and Wellness Studio


The Moringa Tree Organic Kitchen and Wellness Studio may sound like just another restaurant catering to our generation’s health-kick craze. The Moringa Tree, however, offers customers more than just gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian options. The Moringa Tree takes great pride in its healthy breakfast and lunch options made from high-quality, organic ingredients sourced from local providers. Superfood smoothies, raw juices and delicious sandwiches jump off the menu — all prepared from real, whole foods you can pronounce. Customer favorites include the pesto chicken flatbread made with free-range chicken, and the Nutty ‘Naner sprouted-bread sandwich oozing with peanut butter, banana, raw honey and cinnamon. The Moringa Tree disproves the assumption that healthy food has to be boring. With options like grilled cheese and No-Nonsense Nachos, there really is something for all kinds of foodies. Moreover, I was pleasantly surprised to see meals reasonably priced at about $10 each — especially considering the use of first-rate ingredients. While I will definitely be back for the delicious food, the powerful mission of Moringa Tree’s owner, Jenny Weaver, explains why customers come to The Moringa Tree not just to dine, but also to cultivate wellness.

Jenny Weaver considers herself “a ministry-driven business owner” who answered God’s call to open The Moringa Tree in 2013. In a community that lacked any kind of health education, The Moringa Tree would be the way Weaver could best serve her community. A certified and licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Nutritional Counselor and Holistic Health Coach, Weaver exudes a passion for proper nutrition and believes in the healing power of pure, whole foods. To Weaver, those who walk into The Moringa Tree are more than just customers — they are people she seeks to revive using food. She states, “God designed the body to be self-healing, and placed the fruits of the earth here for all of us to use as tools.” Weaver practices what she preaches by sourcing only local, organic ingredients: “No sugar, no processed foods, no additives or hidden ingredients.” Even the cooking practices are health-approved: Weaver strays from using metals like microwaves, aluminum foil and cast irons that expose us to harmful toxins. She takes pride in the fact that every ingredient on your plate has been pre-washed in purified water.

In addition to The Organic Kitchen, The Moringa Tree’s Wellness Studio above the dining area allows Weaver to provide a variety of services for those seeking to improve their health. The Wellness Studio offers nutritional, spiritual and stress release counseling, biofeedback body scans, personal grocery shoppers, cooks and massages. Most importantly, the space allows Weaver to create optimal diets for clients with high stress levels, medical conditions and dietary restrictions. As someone who has dealt with health complications firsthand, Weaver is convinced that “food is our medicine.” She has lost one brother to cancer and has watched another suffer from Lyme disease. When Weaver learned that she herself had tumors in her colon, she ate a naturopathic diet, which successfully rid her of her tumors. As a result, Weaver devotes herself to “inspiring as many people as possible to understand what health truly means and why it’s important.” She has achieved great success with “clients and customers of all backgrounds and ages — from a stage-4 cancer patient to competitive athletes.”

So far, The Moringa Tree has thrived as an organic restaurant in Elkhart, Indiana. The vibrant storefront lures customers into a cozy yet hip dining space filled with the aroma of fresh food. Diner-style booths line the walls, and bartop seating overlooks the kitchen. At 9:30 on a weekday morning, I was not surprised to be the only customer there. Nevertheless, I got the impression that this was the kind of place where neighborhood friends come to spend time with one another. My server was friendly, efficient and prepared my delicious Funky Monkey Smoothie and Golden Immunity Bowl. I left with a full stomach and the intention to return again soon.

Weaver explains the Moringa Tree attracts all types of people because “healthy lifestyles are for everyone.”  As for why Notre Dame students should make the trip, Weaver states, “Notre Dame students are savvy, smart and driven. This is exactly why they need to know the importance of taking health into their own hands. Nobody can care for you better than yourself, and understanding how to fuel yourself with real nutrition is so empowering.” Whether you want to join Weaver in her health movement or simply crave a fresh and delicious meal, The Moringa Tree will not disappoint.