On retreat, food is fresh, simple, and surprisingly sumptuous. Why not try it at home?
People go on a retreat to open to something new in both body and mind,” says Hugo Roberto Gutiérrez Marrón, the chef at Haramara, a yoga retreat center near Sayulita, Mexico, known for its fresh, inventive natural cuisine. “The food they eat should caress their senses, elevate their mind, and feed their body and spirit.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if every meal you ate infused you with such a feeling of well-being? Great retreat-centre cooking isn’t about complicated recipes or spending hours in the kitchen. At Pollenca Retreats it is our intention to prepare rustic family-style meals that celebrate seasonal produce and whole grains: a layered “fried rice” with brown rice, eggs, ginger, crisp carrots, snap peas, and fennel; kale leaves sautéed with sesame oil, garlic, and sesame seeds; roasted fresh poblano chilies filled with local goat cheese. But simplicity is key, and it’s hoped that the simplicity will inspire participants to cook for themselves. Which is maybe a little of why people come on a yoga retreat in general—to reconnect, get re-inspired, and then take a little bit of that back home with them.
Eating well on a retreat feels effortless and satisfying, thanks to the thought and care put into every meal. But even amid your regular routine and responsibilities, you can create the conditions for the kind of easy, delicious, healthful eating you enjoy on a retreat by applying some of the principles of retreat-centre food preparation to your own cooking.
The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.
Be in Balance
Conventional wisdom says you should eat your biggest meal of the day at midday, with a lighter meal in the evening. But warm weather and activity-filled days call for light, easily digested midday meals that leave you satisfied but not so full that you’re groggy in the afternoon.
On retreat, guests are encouraged to enjoy a light snack of fruit first thing in the morning, followed by a heartier breakfast after morning practice. The midmorning meal gives that digestive fire substantial fuel for the rest of the day, to help with the recovery of the muscles and to energise the more subtle systems of the body. Since afternoon practice is only a few hours away, lunch is a lighter meal that might include salad greens, whole grains, and lots of fresh fruit and veggies.