Thursday, February 23, 2012

What I Ate On My Yoga Retreat

I am taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming of recipes to share with you the amazing food I ate while on vacation at a California yoga retreat last weekend.  I have shared vacation eats before (here and here) and quit doing it over the years because I got bored.  This time it's different because the food was so fresh, colorful, and inspiring that I wanted to share it with you.

First of all, let me start by telling you that this was a 4-day yoga, chocolate, and wine retreat (I know, right!?) on the central coast of California, near San Luis Obispo (halfway between LA and San Francisco).  I went with my good friend Alicia who has wanted to do this since before she had her baby last year.

Often I return from vacation feeling bloated, full, lazy, and poor.  I came home from the beautiful ranch at Sagrada Wellness feeling exactly the opposite:  light, refreshed, strong, satisfied, and centered.  This is mainly due to early morning hikes (with stunning views), excellent 90-minute yoga sessions, fresh air, a good night's sleep, relaxation in the jacuzzi/steam room, meeting fun new people, and most importantly....eating great food.

Alicia was worried that with my selectivity (OK, snobbishness) about eating good food, I would be disappointed in the cuisine at Sagrada.  I was worried a meat eater like Alicia wouldn't be satisfied.  Neither of us had reason to worry.  We were blown away by the meals prepared for us.  The lovely ranch owners Scott and Eva provided us with daily breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that were fruit and vegetable focused, colorful, local, fresh, substantial and satisfying, and most of all delicious.  The variety has totally re-inspired me and I want to cook more than ever now that I'm home!

Our first day at the retreat started with an afternoon yoga session, followed by a wine tasting by Michelle from local Pozo Valley wines, paired with a variety of artisan chocolates.

Dinner was baked salmon topped with a mixture of zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and olives.  On the side, a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, roasted sliced beets, and baked cauliflower and leeks.  This was our favorite meal - I loved the sweet cauliflower and leeks, Alicia went nuts over the salmon.  Dessert was a flaky and delicious chocolate chip flaxseed cookie.

Breakfasts included lots of fresh bananas, citrus, and berries with yogurt and granola or oatmeal.  Also, some just barely hard-boiled eggs, multi-grain toast, tomatoes/avocados, nut butters, and preserves.  I ate twice as much as I normally would for breakfast, with no guilt whatsoever.  It was simple, delicious, and exactly what I needed every day.

Lunch after morning yoga on Saturday was a beautiful curried tempeh salad with blood oranges from our yoga instructor's orchard.  This was served with a giant wedge of brie cheese and crackers.

After lunch, we were treated to a tour of Santa Margarita Ranch and Ancient Peaks Vineyards, plus a visit to the Ancient Peaks tasting room for a wine tasting with cupcake pairings.  Yes, you read that right: wine with cupcake pairings.  So crazy it makes perfect sense.

We began with a rose wine and a raspberry cupcake with lemon curd icing (this was my favorite and I will be recreating this as soon as it's nice enough to sit on the back deck and drink wine).

We moved to a merlot and a chocolate cupcake with caramel and sea salt (not surprisingly delicious).

We ended with a malbec and a cheddar cornmeal cupcake with creme fraiche (very surprisingly delicious).

This had been a rather chilly day, and Scott had been slaving over the stove since before breakfast to make us his grandmother's recipe for "Three Layer Stew" (or something like that).  It was a homey, comforting chicken soup with homemade stock, big beautiful Brussels sprouts, and hunks of fresh sweet corn.  The soup was topped with fresh squeezed lime, cilantro, and parmesan cheese and totally warmed us all up.  Served on the side: baked sweet potato with miso butter (a winning flavor combo that I think will make a great soup itself), and a salad with fennel and wheat pasta.  Again, I enthusiastically cleaned my plate.

Dessert was a tasty little surprise: chocolate bliss balls (I think they had coconut oil, almond butter, flax seeds, raw cacao, agave or honey, and other magical ingredients).  Not photogenic, but addictive and sweet and satisfying.  Especially with more wine.

Day three dawned sunny and warmer.  After a meditative nature hike, we enjoyed another fulfilling breakfast with organic coffee and juice, a 90-minute invigorating yoga session, and another great light and healthy lunch.  This time it was an apple/endive/avocado/walnut/gouda salad with lentil soup.

I whiled away a few hours in the afternoon sunshine with a good book and prepared for another 90-minute yoga session, this time a restorative class.  By the time 5:30 rolled around, would you believe I was ready for more wine tastings and chocolate?  Well, I was.  This time, Shannon from Lone Madrone winery brought some varietals for us to sip with our lavender, cardamom, orange, and extra dark chocolates.

After such hard work, I was ready for the dinner which was absolutely cramming the kitchen with mouthwatering aromas of Italy and I knew were having some type of homemade pasta dish.  I was right, and it was a showstopper.  Fresh artichokes to start, then roasted corn and spinach lasagna with homemade sauce, roasted green beans, cucumber salad, and green salad with radicchio and chickpeas.

Our final dessert was a decadent, rich, flourless chocolate cake with fresh strawberries.  Heaven.

This post has gone on long enough and I think you get the picture that I immensely enjoyed everything about my weekend at Sagrada Wellness, especially the food.   Owners Scott and Eva clearly share my affection for plant-based real and whole foods, prepared simply to let the quality ingredients shine.  If they ever write a Sagrada cookbook, I will be the first one pre-ordering it from Amazon.

Next time you need a vacation, consider one like this that will leave you feeling healthy, not sick and full from overindulgence.  Also, it's a great way to fill up your wine racks, as I purchased a dozen assorted bottles of wine and became a member of two wine clubs!  Viva vino!

**This is not an advertisement and I was not given any compensation to share my review of the yoga retreat at Sagrada Wellness.**


  1. Love it!! This was a the most perfect vacation and I also have been inspired to cook more yummy - good fun! Alicia

  2. Wow, what an amazing adventure! Sounds like a great vacay for sure! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Looks amazing! Glad you both enjoyed the trip! Katie

  4. LOOKS FABULOUS! Dreaming I was there with you both! XO!