Monday, October 14, 2019

Yummy Yoga Retreat Eats

so beautiful, right? 

Two weekends ago it was my annual Autumn Yoga Retreat. This was my third year offering this yoga retreat, and I just love it. We gather at a really sweet studio called Trails Within in a small community called Graeagle. It's about 1 hour north of Truckee, and as you can see, it's just very, very beautiful. On my last morning, I woke up early and went down to this pretty river to do my chanting practice. So peaceful. 

Dinners and Lunches! 

One thing about this retreat location is that there isn't much vegan food in this little town, so it's best if I cook and bring all my own food along for the weekend. Plus, my excellent mom came with me to my retreat this year (and last year!) So, I made food for my mom and I both. After some contemplation and consideration, I decided to make a big batch of stuffed shells, and a big batch of chili.. it was a very satisfying combo of flavors and eating experiences! 

For the Stuffed Shells, I made a great filling with tofu ricotta (tofu, miso, lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper), browned button mushrooms deglazed with white wine, steamed spinach, and caramelized leeks. ... with little dollops of cashew-silken tofu creme on top. And homemade tomato sauce - mostly because I had a ton of perfectly ripe tomatoes to use up before leaving town. I really cooked it down so that the flavors could intensify, and it was extremely excellent. 

The chili is the Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Chipotle Chili recipe from Appetite for Reduction. I LOVE this recipe so much. This time around I used kabocha squash instead of sweet potato, and served the chili with a bunch of fresh avocado and a big slice of toast. This batch turned out a bit extra spicey (I think maybe the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce I bought were just spicier than usual). No worries though, it helped to warm up through and through... and also the avo and toast helped cut the burn! 

Sorry these pictures are kinda blah, but the lighting wasn't great in that little kitchen, and I was hungry. Ha ha. This wasn't really a moment for in-depth food styling... as much as it was a moment to put food in my face. 

A VERY delicious Group Dinner! 

Every year, my friend who hosts this retreat also organizes a group dinner. Last year her amazing friends catered the dinner and I was so stoked that they were willing to cater again this year.  Their food is seriously SO DELICIOUS: healthy, organic, gluten-free, and just completely up my alley. They made every thing vegan except for one non-vegan soup for those who would prefer that option. Everything else was vegan.

One of the women who attended the weekend also agreed to host the group dinner at her super beautiful home, which was so gracious and it felt so cozy to be in someone's house.

As soon as we arrived, the caterers had a big pot of hot Decaf Almond Milk Chai waiting for us. The weather was hot and sunny in the daytime and cold and icy in the night (so autumnal!), so the hot chai was a perfect idea. We all lined up for a glass of that goodness! 

The vegan options were: A huge Kale Salad with chickpea croutons and avocado, a Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Root Veggies, and a Butternut Bisque. Holy majoley this whole meal was just exceptional. I eat a LOT of kale salad and this was one of my favorite kale salads ever! And the quinoa salad was full of roasted beets and squash, with a very nice dressing, so it was surprisingly filling. And for dessert there was a hot Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Coconut Cream on top. Mmmmmmmm. The topping was oaty and nutty and totally delicious. Why is an apple crisp such a perfect dessert? 

Birthday Breakfast! 

While we were up at the retreat, it also just happened to by my mom's birthday! Extra special! When I was planning our breakfasts for the few days we'd be there, I figured Avocado Toast was a pretty easy and eternally-satisfying bet! So I bought some really nice whole-grain sourdough bread from our local bakery, and enjoyed thick, hearty slices of avo toast every morning - complete with a squeeze of lime juice, a liberal dousing of Everything But the Bagel (homemade of course!), and nooch (for me only!). Plus fresh nectarines from the farmers' market - and coffee!! A good hot cuppa coffee is such a great thing on a cold, mountain morning. 


Usually when I travel, I bring those little Starbuck's Via Pouches along with me - they're fast and easy and they taste good. But they're also not ethically-sourced coffee, and they come in little plastic pouches that are not environmentally sound. SO, i'm super stoked about these new STEEPED coffee bags - they work just like a tea bag, but you're left with a satisfying cup of coffee that is really legit. They come in dark roast, french roast, medium roast, and light roast. 

The best thing is: Ethically-sourced, fair-trade coffee in fully biodegradable, food-grade packaging materials! You can compost the whole thing! I'm pretty stoked to have these coffees as an on-the-go and travel option that I can feel so good about.  

Cookies, OF COURSE

As I'm sure you know by now, I believe in cookies and the importance of cookies in a well-rounded life. Every time I offer a retreat, or even a day-long workshop, I always make cookies for everyone. After 2-3 hours of yoga, a hearty cookie experience is just what the doctor ordered! 

This year I made two cookies from Hannah Kaminsky's newly released "Sweet Vegan Treats"

Apricot Biscotti - these gluten-free cookies really surprised me with their BIG burst of apricot flavor! Even when they were baking, the whole house was filled with a beautiful, fruity aroma. They have an almond meal and cornmeal base - which gives a lovely substance and bite. I think I may have packed mine up a little too soon after baking, while they were still warm, so they lost their crunch, but not their excellent flavor. As you can see, I tried writing "YOGA" in the vanilla glaze on some of them, ha ha... it was only partly successful, as the glaze started to spread and drip. hee hee.

Almond Avalanche Bars - hoo baby, these little guys are RICH! Gluten-free and also refined sugar-free (maple syrup and coconut sugar are the sweeteners), these bars are dense with an almond flour base and a nearly-gooey almond butter top layer, and then topped with sliced almonds. Some almond butter is more thick and some is more liquidy, and my almond butter was pretty loose, so I added an extra handful of almond butter to the "filling" and I'm glad I did. I cut these into pretty small squares (maybe 1.5"x1.5") and that was just about perfect since they're so rich! 

I always love having some good gluten-free cookie ideas up my sleeves for situations like this, and both of these cookies were a big hit with my hungry students! 

A Group Hike!

After a weekend of lots of yoga, inquiry, connection and laughter, we end the retreat with an optional group hike at the Bear Lakes and Round Lake Loop. It's such a beautiful hike, and as you can see, we pass by 4 hikes along the way. This year the aspens were turning yellow, there was melting snow on the ground from the week before, the sun was hot, the sky was 100% clear, and the evergreens were as green as ever. It's such a nice way to end the time together, in nature, and exploring this exceptionally beautiful part of our planet. 

A little downtime!

After all the happy yogis dispersed to drive home or go back to their hotel or get back to their tent, I headed off for a very sweet and simple little hike that took me to a small lake called Sardine Lake. I found a sunny rock to lie on, where I could drink water, watch tiny fish in the lake, and do crossword puzzles in my NYT Crossword Puzzle book. A pretty great ending to a really special weekend. I'm already looking forward to going back again next year!


  1. What a lovely sounding retreat. It sounds so peaceful and wonderful. And you did very well with the food as well.

  2. I would totally take one of your yoga workshops just knowing that there would be such fabulous treats at the end. ;) This is fantastic! I'm so thrilled that they turned out well and were such a hit. Thank you for baking- and sharing!


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