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Oksana Oliinyk, originally from Ukraine, has called Sayulita home since 2012. With a passion for planting spices at home for personal use, gardening, and blending spices, her transition from it being a personal hobby to a professional business came naturally. Oksana tells El Sayulero more about her business, Sana Spices Sayulita, her love of spices and herbs, her specialty blends, and more.
How did you come up with the name Sana Spices?
Well, Sana means Healthy in Spanish and For You in Turkish, and Sana is part of my name. So, it means I prepare healthy spices for you.
How did your interest in spices / herbs develop?
My mom is an herbalist – not professionally, but for our family. We never used Western medicine when I was growing up (and still don’t use it) – unless it was something serious, like a broken leg. Still every time I go back home in the summer to Ukraine, we go to collect herbs, berries, and mushrooms.
Spices and herbs do more than add flavor to foods. What are the health benefits of spices / herbs?
All spices and herbs help to preserve food and digest it better. A lot of them also have anti inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. They also contain vitamins – what also helps to boost your immune system.
Where do your spices come from?
A lot of them come from my garden (the ones I can grow here) and the others grow in other places, but I go and do onsite gardening. For example, turmeric is locally grown and I buy it here. Another example is that I saw that red peppers grow in Baja, California. So, I found a place, went there to see it, I buy it from them, and they send it to me. All of the spices I sell, I have to see how they grow them and where they grow. I want to make sure it is organically grown and it’s pure – not right next to the road and near traffic. I need to know what they use to grow it and how they work it in. I do a lot of research on the spices that I buy. I usually buy them fresh and then toast and / or dehydrate them.
What is your favorite spice / herb to use and why?
I like to use Svanetian Salt – it is a typical spice blend from Georgian mountains. It has dill, marigold, coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, garlic, and some chili in it. I use it on everything. I also like to use organic sea salt or Himalayan salt in my salt blends. It’s the best quality salt you can get around here and it’s not mixed with anything else – it’s clean. I like to use it in its whole form and grind it myself.
You have several spices at Sana Spices Sayulita that can’t be bought elsewhere in Sayulita and several of your own recipes that are available only here. Will you tell me more about these?
I have asafetida, a long black pepper, saffron from Iran (Iran has the best quality saffron in the world), dill (I grow it myself and dehydrate it), purple basil (I grow it myself), and curry leaves (I grow it myself and I’m the only one that sells it in the area). As far as blends, I have Svanetian Salt, which I mentioned above. I have Gypsy Caravan, which has an Indian influence, and is a spice blend that can be used for chicken and vegetables. I have Golden Latte Spice, which can be used in milk or milky coffee, and I have Coffee Spice, which can be used for black coffee, can be added to prepare chai, be used to make chocolate / avocado pudding, and can be used to bake. I also have a French Fish Spice, which I invented. I dehydrate my own tomatoes, lemons, and limes with their skins on, and then blend it with herbs, spices (a lot of them), garlic, onion, and chives from my garden.
You also make custom blend spices. Will you tell me more about this?
I make custom blends for people who have allergies or who don’t want a particular spice in one of my spice blends. Also, if someone has an idea of a special blend they want, I customize it for them.
You’re known for your turmeric shots? What is this and what are the benefits of taking them?
When you take turmeric in the raw form it gives you energy right away. It is better than coffee. A lot of people purchase a bottle of turmeric shots (tumeric, orange juice, lime juice, ginger, and raw honey) from me –it has enough in it to have a shot a day for five days (you buy your first shot at the market). Turmeric shots are a great way to cleanse the body, help with arthritis, skin conditions, and it also has big anti-inflammatory agent. I usually use it when I get the flu or a cold. It helps me instantly to feel better.
Where can one buy your Sana Spices Sayulita spices / herbs?
The Sayulita Mercado del Pueblo on Fridays, Las Olas Altas Puerto Vallarta Market on Saturdays, and the La Cruz Marina Market (near fish market) on Sundays. People can also contact me to order here for pick up. I can also ship within Mexico.