Jill Leslie, owner, Ayurveda Alchemy

Who she is: Jill Leslie is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, herbalist, wellness chef, and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who, for more than two decades, has been immersed in the study and practice of natural healing.

What she does: The entrepreneur, who has owned her own businesses since graduating from the University of Maryland in 1986, founded the award-winning retail shop Milk & Honey in Sebastapol, CA, in 1999. She sold it in 2006 so that she could dive deeper into her study of yoga and Ayurveda medicine, the 5,000-year-old medical system from India.

Why she does it: “As I discovered the life-changing wisdom of these ancient practices, I began sharing her knowledge at wellness retreats, yoga studios, and through cooking classes,” Jill explains. “My passion for herbal medicine and nutrition, and love of sweets, inspired me to establish Ayurvedic Alchemy, in 2008. I love what I do, mostly because I am helping others in the process. That’s the greatest gift of all.”


By Hope Katz Gibbs

When Jill Leslie learned the Ayurvedic adage, “Let your food be your medicine,” she put on my apron and said, “Let your medicine be delicious.” And so her company, Kitchen Alchemy, was born. She began making treats that not only please the palate — they calm the senses, and can heal what ails you.

That was in 2008, and since then she has expanded her offerings to include cooking classes, events, and consultations and dietary advice about the benefits of Ayurveda.

We talked to Jill in February, just in time for Valentine’s Day, so she shared her recipe and thoughts on an elixir for lovers.

“While there’s nothing wrong with a glass of smooth merlot or a chunk of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate,” says Jill, “with a little know-how you can choose healthier foods to ignite your passion — and not just on Valentine’s Day.”

Aphrodisiacs as part of my daily routine? Oysters for breakfast, chocolate-covered strawberries for lunch, and a bit of bubbly for my afternoon pick me up? Well, yes and no, Jill explains.

“While our Western notions of aphrodisiacs may be enticing, those selections may not be the best way to balance the body, mind, and emotions,” she notes. “According to Ayurveda, being mentally and physically relaxed are essential components to a healthy and satisfying love life. Therefore, Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs are elixirs that nourish and reinvigorate the reproductive system, increase fertility and sexual desire, promote healthy aging, and alleviate anxiety and depression.”

In fact, common foods and spices such as whole milk, dates, nutmeg, and cardamon are a few examples of foods that have been used for thousands of years to awaken desire. Below is a simple Love Elixir to fire your engines. Enjoy!

Jill Leslie’s Love Elixir

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup whole milk, or almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  • a pinch cinnamon powder
  • a pinch cardamom powder
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • 3 strands of saffron

Here’s how:

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, except the saffron.

2. Bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the flame or heat. Add the saffron threads and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat, strain and serve with honey.

Note: To make this tonic more potent, head over to the health food store for some maca root powder. This herb from the Andes is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and fatty acids, and is a good source of calcium, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. Add a pinch to your elixir.

Learn more about Jill’s services at