Health is her mission

By Ginny Raue

West Milford - Teams of oxen replace tractors, goats nibble away at resting fields, monkeys abound, as do colorful birds. This is Luna Nueva, a biodynamic farm located on the edge of a rain forest in Costa Rica. Not exactly where you’d expect to find a couple of West Milford residents.
In 2007 Sally Malatras and her husband John, the owners of Harvest Moon Health and Nutrition in West Milford, took a trip to that farm in Costa Rica. Their purpose was to see first-hand how crops are grown for the New Chapter vitamins and herbal supplements they carry in their store.
Speaking of the organic farm Sally Malatras said, “They have a great respect for the land and the medicines that it provides, planting their organic ginger and turmeric within the rain forest, but never cutting or destroying the natural habitat.”
While there, the couple toured the farm and attended educational lectures. They also had time to enjoy the exotic location, visiting the Arenal volcano and bathing in the restorative thermal pools. “The beauty of the rain forest is amazing,” Malatras said.
A true West Milford native, Sally Malatras now lives again in the West Milford home that she grew up in. She has been married to John for 11 years and she has two adult children and three grandchildren.
The couple has owned and operated the store in the center of town for 11 years. Malatras said their nephew, Steve Keil, who has been working with them for several years, has been an asset to the store.
When Malatras’ children were young, she was very attuned to the importance of their diet, often preparing food from her own garden. Her job in a health food store at that time left a great impression and a thirst for more knowledge.
Over the years she took many classes and is currently enrolled in a two-year course in healing arts. John Malatras is a herbalist and, according to his wife, he is constantly studying, keeping updated on the latest information. He spends time with his customers, offering suggestions and providing nutritional guidelines.
Malatras is an advocate of natural vitamins, those made from whole foods. The Vermont-based New Chapter company that the store deals with supplies supplements from sources grown around the world. “Healthwise, it really makes a difference,” she said.
Besides vitamins and supplements, the store also carries organic foods, natural cosmetics and earth-friendly cleaning products. Malatras said that in today’s green-minded culture people are becoming more aware, looking for safer household and personal products. “We are very careful of what we select for our store,” she added.
Malatras devotes most of her spare time to the classes she is currently taking but finds a few hours for gardening. She is also a collector of Tibetan singing bowls. When rubbed on the rim these hand-crafted vessels, constructed of seven different types of metal, give off a vibration and produce a sound that is said to be soothing and balancing.
Malatras enjoys getting to know her customers. Since she has lived in the town all her life, she gets a particular kick out of seeing an old school-mate walk through the door. “We are so fortunate. We have met some wonderful people,” she said.
Keeping with her belief in healthy eating, Malatras has submitted a recipe chock full of organic foods and fresh vegetables.

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
Combine the following ingredients:
1 and 1/2 8 oz. packages organic feta cheese, crumbled
4-6 leeks*, rinsed well and chopped
2-3 bunches of scallions*, rinsed and chopped
16 oz. organic low-fat cottage cheese
12 oz. package fresh organic spinach**, rinsed and drained
2 organic eggs, beaten
Fresh dill*, a few tablespoons, chopped
Salt and pepper
(A day before you plan to make this, thaw package of frozen fillo dough)
Separate sheets of fillo to line a 9x12 baking pan several layers thick
Add filling and top with another several layers of fillo
Brush top with either organic melted butter or organic olive oil
Bake in a 350-degree oven for about an hour or until crust is golden brown
*Try to use organically grown produce when available
** Always use organic because conventionally grown spinach is laden with as many as 36 pesticides and has deficient vitamin and mineral value. You can find organic spinach in the produce aisle in Shop Rite