I just returned from a beautiful retreat in Sonoma that I booked for my future self, back in May when Pantry to Plate was about to pop. I knew August would follow before I could blink, arriving with a book tour behind me, a heart full of sweet memories, and a tired bod and mind.
I booked it months in advance because, A.) I work my butt off and a small voice inside said I needed the break, B.) I read that it was a “holistic retreat for the feminine spirit” (yes, please), and C.) because if I waited too long, I might have found some reason not to go like: I could work on Gluten-Free Baking Academy, I could purge my cookbook collection and closet, I really should start that new project I dreamt up driving to and from Charleston, and again, see “A.).”
Part of really rocking the self-care is protecting against self sabotage. As the book was wrapping up, I knew I had a lot ahead—commitments to see through and then big changes to make. I had a new chapter in mind for my business, but know my Type-A ways too well, so my instincts said BOOK IT NOW—create space for pause, reflection, and maybe a little gratitude (instead of diving right into the next thing). I wanted clarity so “what’s next for YumUniverse” insights could come into view.
I kept it all low pressure—didn’t spend a ton of time researching the retreat, where we were staying, or Sonoma in general. Just knew I needed to go and that I offered to drive a retreat-going gal I hadn’t met to the retreat once I got to SFO. So, I overpacked my suitcase the night before my flight, woke at 4am to drive to the airport, and off I was.
Now, what’s so cool (among many surprises that were served up), is that the retreat was Ayurvedic focused. In my lack of preparation, that didn’t really register. Thank you universe for the reconnection though, because in the past few years when I’ve felt my best (it goes in waves for us all, no?) I was practicing a decent amount of Ayurvedic goodness.
If you’ve ever heard me talk about my big shift in my sleep patterns or “Frontier Times,” that was thanks to Ayurveda. This drink is thanks to Ayurveda. One of the reasons I moved to West Virginia was thanks to Ayurveda, which in a nutshell really is about living your life according to the rhythms of nature. I love nature! Except mosquitos—I can’t stand those little devils. I digress (scratch, scratch)…
Ayurveda has helped me a lot in this life. I have great respect for sleep, I’m outside (and barefoot) as often as possible, I talk to my plants.
I’ll be honest though, since GFBA launched, Pantry to Plate released, and the book tour kicked off, my digestion is all over the map to a frustrating degree. Maybe you can relate, but it’s disheartening when you feel like your doing everything right, you’re eating the best food, and then it all changes. Out of (what seems to be) nowhere. Spoiler alert: There’s a reason, and it’s likely something we are or aren’t doing.
We all hear about it a thousand times a day, we see it like a layer cake in social feeds, we read it in magazines: all you gotta do is “listen to your body,” to “live your best life,” right?
Have you ever read/heard something like that, rolled your eyes and thought, What the !@#$%&* does that mean? How on earth do I “tune in” to my body? I am tuned in to my body! What’s wrong with me?
Those are normal thoughts.
Next: stop listening to the voices outside yourself and take a moment to recognize that the power to feel good is already in you. I think this reminder is SO important and it’s where we can start to find our way back to balance.
Seriously, put down the phone. Take a deep breath so big your belly pushes out. And another. Imagine all the chatter in your head is light instead (like the half moons from the eclipse pics we’ve seen, or the “million sparkles on the water” Forrest Gump talks about) and shine that down your body to your feet for a moment. Just do it, “woo-woo” or not.
There is powerful energy in our bods, and one way to feel this is to simply touch your pointer fingers and thumbs in a circle and gently press enough to feel the pulse. Or connect all the fingertips in your left hand to your right. Close your eyes and feel the energy moving in the tips. There’s no denying it.
THIS is what matters. Start by quieting the chatter outside and bring focus inward. (You can close a loop with pointer finger and thumb around the steering wheel in traffic, FYI. Did it yesterday.)
“Connecting to your body,” literally is that. Mentally too of course, but have you ever just massaged your own belly? Or feet? With the care and attention a professional bodyworker would? Have you ever stood in front of the mirror naked, and instead of judging the crap out of yourself (I mean really, would we talk to our BFF the way we talk to ourselves?) just say something kind?
Here are some “tune in” ideas that you may want to try that I picked up at AOS.
Abhyanga. Game-changer. So far I’ve done this every day since my return and so far my belly is transformed. Transformed! I’m amazed at how much bloat and water retention is reduced. I’m addicted to the meditative factor and calm mind I have all day afterwards. No more book-tour squirrel brain. Honest moment: I’m afraid that it may not be practical and I’ll stop doing it after a few weeks, but I feel so amazing, and I hope that’s motivation to keep going. I’m also putting it out there if anyone wants to hold me accountable or check in on my progress… 😉
Smell your food a few times before you put any food in your mouth. Try this and watch how your tongue starts kicking out digestive juices. So simple, but we forget—thanks Claire for the amazing workshop that served up that total palm-to-forehead “duh” moment. Of course.
Sit down at a table when you eat and focus only on eating. No computer. No TV. No magazine. Just sit and eat, chewing until your food is mush. It helps digestion on many levels.
Vocal toning: now, I almost skipped this workshop at the retreat because nobody wants to hear me sing. Except maybe alley cats. But in the spirit of going out of the comfort zone, and motivated by a little FOMO, Brianne Beauregard rocked my world. I now have been sitting post-Abhyanga or in the shower MMMMMMMing, OOOMMMing, GAAAMMMing, and SAAAAMMMing with total confidence. I mean, I can feel my insides viiiibrattte. It’s like a superpower, so I just don’t care if anyone hears me. Judge away…
Do something nice for your future self before you can talk yourself out of it. If I didn’t do this retreat, I wouldn’t have met the lovely Sasha, my roadtrip buddy. We wouldn’t have discussed the ups and downs of the quarter-life crisis, or have gotten lost on golden, sheep-studded back roads…
… or driven so far that the road turned to gravel, then to dirt at a sign that read something like “I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it.” My lightning-fast 3-point-turn skills came in handy…
I wouldn’t have spent an hour in a flower patch wandering until I landed here, forced to stop and admire the concentrated energy of countless flying, buzzing, flapping friends (look closely, objects were definitely closer than they appear):
I wouldn’t have known how comforting it is to snuggle a hot water bottle on a crisp evening…
I wouldn’t have experienced the amazingness that is Abhyanga (thank you, Kamala)…
And rose geranium water would have been totally unknown to me, (and that is “missing out”)…
I wouldn’t have been surrounded by medicinal, magical mullein almost two times taller than I was…
Or experienced how lovely it is to soak in a spring-fed clawfoot tub overlooking the hills and greenery of Sonoma…
I would have missed the feeling of light jumping around me as I used a tiny push from my big toes to rock a large outdoor bed swing for hours. Actually, I had never laid in a bed swing before…
I wouldn’t feel the need to put edible flower in everything I eat now, even in spring rolls, to make it extra special…
Since I’m still buzzing so hard on all the goodness my retreat adventure brought to this brief time of stillness for me, I want to share my riff on one of a zillion tasty things The Lotus Feed lovingly created for us.
Let me say, they prepared epic, farm-grown feasts for us three times per day. I lost track of how many proclamations of “I’m so full from the last meal, but pass me a plate” I heard. Mole mushrooms, homemade ciabatta avo sandwiches, cucumber-coconut-lime popsicles (yep, with flowers in ’em), pickle platters, date shakes, peach muffins with rose whipped cream, oatmeal bar, THE BEST almond milk I ever had, and the carrots. Lordy, those carrots.
The gals and I were all “what is on these carrots?! Is it sumac? Cardamom?” Well, it was coriander. Simply roasted carrots with S&P, and coriander. And some magical green sauce to drizzle if you wanted to really lose your mind.
I made my own version three times this week. The first go round, my sweetie said “those are the best carrots I have ever eaten.”
Well loves, add a little fennel to the mix for next level, just make these now. Vocal tone while you chop! (wink, wink)
If you want to add some sauce to these post roast, try:
6–7 large carrots*
1 large fennel bulb
1/4 cup of your favorite high-smoke-point oil like avocado or grapeseed (or ghee if you use that)**
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon fine-ground sea salt
Fresh-cracked black pepper to taste
* Lotus feed had smaller carrots and they roasted them whole which was very pretty, so by all means try that if you wish.
**The chef at Lotus Feed said the oil is KEY. If you don’t cook with oil, you can try veggie stock or no oil, but you may not get desired crispiness.
Let’s get started.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wash your carrots, remove tops, and slice them in half. If you have thick pieces, slice lengthwise once or twice.
Remove top of fennel bulb and set aside if you’d like to add fronds to roasted final dish (color and flavor). Slice bulb in half and then slice halves into thin pieces. If you prefer bigger chunks of roasted fennel, please do slice as you see fit.
Place all sliced fennel and carrots into a baking dish.
Drizzle with oil, salt, some fresh pepper, and coriander. Use your hands to toss everything together, really making sure oil is massaged into the veg.
Roast for 45 minutes, remove from oven and stir a bit. Roast another 10–20 minutes until crispy. If you’d like, broil for a few minutes for more caramelization. Sprinkle with some fennel frond bits, a smidge of sea salt, and pepper to taste.
Serve warm and enjoy!
If you’re not over my retreat afterglow yet, here are the vids I shared on my Instagram stories… And note, that’s where I hang out on social media these days, so follow me there for day-to-day shares of new recipes and tips.
Now, I want to hear from YU. Have you every treated yourself to a retreat? Will you try any of the practices I listed above? Will you make these carrots this week? Tell us errrrrrrything with a comment below.