Last week I had the pleasure of cooking for an awesome Chakra Yoga Retreat in Todos Santos, Mexico. We stayed in this beautiful surf colony right on the water, and I spent my days in a nearby hotel cooking meals for the participants. The hotel was gorgeous, and the kitchen was so stunning. The first full day I was there, someone took this picture. I thought it was hysterical that my shirt and food literally matched the kitchen. I guess it was meant to be!
The days are blurred together looking back. I arrived two days later than expected due to flight cancellations and delays from the storm in NY. I do know that every morning I got to watch the sun rise and set on the water from the kitchen, which is a pretty incredible thing. The waves were so alive! I can’t believe how high and mighty they got! I ventured into the water once, which was so much fun, but I felt safer in the kitchen!
I had an awesome sous chef, who was also co-leading the retreat. Anthony was so much fun to work with. He never complained about walking up and down the stairs to get the food, and he soaked up all the fun kitchen hacks I shared with him (you all know that peeling ginger with a spoon is one of my favorites, right? And, my personal favorite this trip was teaching participants how to “chupar un mango” which literally means suck a mango – it’s what you do with the leftover flesh on the seed – it’s the best part!). I also had some lovely participants as kitchen helpers – which is always appreciated!
The second day I taught a cooking class on making my favorite bliss balls. We couldn’t get all the ingredients we needed, but when in Mexico! (I’m not sure how that sentence ends). The balls ended up being too soft to roll, so we just scooped them in our mouths and ate them with frozen banana! Way to improvise! You can’t go wrong with peanut butter, toasted coconut, cashews, raisins, coconut oil and maple syrup!
Day three I taught a workshop on spices! Can you guess my favorites? (hint: they all start with “C”). Cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cardamom! Garam masala is my favorite spice blend. We also did a quiz to figure out our dosha according to the ancient practice of Ayurveda. Do you know yours? You can find a free test online pretty easily. We spoke about how food relates to the different doshas. For example, if you’re primarily Vata (air), it’s best to eat well cooked foods since raw food will promote your air like qualities. If you’re primarily Kapha (earth), raw food helps give you more energy. It’s pretty amazing how many ways we can support our bodies with food – from Ayurveda to eating in season. It’s so fun to talk about!
Day four I gave a workshop on herbs and greens. Storing greens properly is a great way to preserve their life! For salad greens, put a dry paper towel in the bag or plastic container. This will help absorb moisture and prevent the greens from wilting. For greens with thick stems, wrap the end in a damp paper towel (think kale or collards) and then store in a plastic bag. I always try to cook at least a few servings of greens with each meal. Sure, you can eat them in salads, but you can also bake them into frittatas or put them in soup. There so many ways to incorporate them! (And if you’re struggling with coming up with ways, just ask me!).
We also discussed the amazing benefits of herbs. One of my favorite herbs is oregano. Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic. It’s always my go to for a cold or stomach problems. Thyme also has a secret weapon built in – it’s actually great for coughs! Just steep some thyme in hot water and you’re good to go! And parsley and cilantro are super detoxifiers. Greens are really quite miraculous.
I was sad to leave Mexico, but I really loved preparing food for all the participants and sharing some of my favorite tips and tricks. Many of the participants let me know that their digestion had improved substantially while eating my vegetarian fair on the retreat, which is always great to hear! A happy gut is one of the first steps for achieving optimal health!