Guests have about three hours to digest their breakfast by reading, cycling, walking, hiking, rowing, getting a massage or just plain relaxing. At around 2:30, a tibetan gong is heard announcing the luncheon. There is a grain dish, several types of salads, a bean spread or tapenade which is a delectable spread on homemade bread. There always is a green salad with at least one homemade dressing, if not two. The dishes are vibrantly displayed on the long wooden dining table. Guests look forward to savoring yet another scrumptious meal that is chock full of nutrients. The ingredients consist of all local produce from nearby farms as well as organic pantry items. Bon appetit!
Every morning at about 9:30, one can detect the aromas of a homemade breakfast being prepared in the kitchen adjacent to the yoga studio. Upon entering the kitchen, guests marvel at the wonderful scents that permeate the room. Typical dishes include an egg scramble prepared with minced garlic, jalapeño, onions, mushrooms and finely cut greens. Another dish that usually is on the table is amaranth porridge, an ancient grain from Peru that is very high in protein and the B vitamins.
The scramble can be made vegan or ovo-vegetarian. It is quite easy to prepare. Simply take a handful of minced garlic and jalapeño and sauté it in a fry pan in a little olive oil. Add your choice of vegetables. I add such things as chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, onions and any greens that you may have in the refrigerator. Bok choy leaves, swiss chard leaves, collards or kale can be shredded finely and added to the pan. After the vegetables appear cooked, add beaten eggs or mashed tofu with a little turmeric for color, sea salt and pepper to taste. Voilá!
Today is Sunday. That means it is time to prepare a delicious batch of homemade crepes. I use my mother’s recipe for French crepes but with a few changes. Instead of white flour, I use spelt flour (since I am wheat intollerant). People who are celiacs, however, can not digest spelt and other types of flours need to be utilized. Instead of using milk, I substitute unsweetened almond milk. I lightly fry them in a tiny bit of canola or coconut oil instead of butter. As an extra bonus, I have been experimenting by making a homemade “berry coulis” to drizzle over the top of the rolled crepes. After having just gone blueberry picking, I had access to wild Maine blueberries. Mmm!
After having put all my belongings in storage, I began a new chapter of my life. I travelled to Northern Maine where I found myself surrounded by pristine nature in a yoga retreat in a quaint, old fashioned hamlet.
Each morning begins with a 30 minute meditation followed by one hour of yoga for me, since I am the chef. I then scurry up to my artist’s workshop, aka the kitchen, to create a breakfast spread that is not only rich in essential nutrients but also appealing to the senses with a variety of colors, textures and aromas. I prepare a cooked grain dish (amaranth, steel cut oats, sweet brown rice) or occasionally some roasted yukon gold potatoes garnished with fresh rosemary, drizzled with olive oil and a smattering of sea salt, an egg scramble with a variety of fresh produce and spices or a tofu scramble. I grind flax and chia seeds which are rich in the omega 3 essential fatty acids and suggest sprinkling them over the sweet or savory dishes for an extra nutritional boost.
The food is lovingly prepared and presented on a long wooden banquet table. It is a feast for the senses
and nourishment for the soul. Besides my cooked dishes, there also are yogurts, organic jams, homemade whole wheat bread, homemade peanut butter, homemade granola, cheese, wild berries and a wide selection of teas.
After having my entire life come crashing down with the loss of both parents, a broken marriage, loss of a job and a house within a six month period with no one to turn to is the most devastating experience one can go through. The way I saw it, I had two choices, I could either be bitter and miserable or I could see it as a new beginning. I chose the latter.
I decided to listen to my gut feeling or the small voice within that speaks to us in subtle ways. I kept getting the hunch that enrolling in a cooking school seemed like the right thing to do. I enrolled in the full time chef training program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. I learned to prepare an array of delicious, mainly vegetarian food with all organic ingredients. This was the beginning of a food journey that I gravitated towards like a drug. Once I tasted the vast flavors and textures, there was no turning back. Good wholesome food became my best friend. It not only supplied me with the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that my body craved but it also gave me a reason to keep going forward. And forward I went. I did my internship at an organic deli where I remained for three months. I was in charge of preparing the salads and doing the baking. The next time the voice spoke to me is when I saw an ad for a chef at a small yoga retreat. I got the hunch right then and there that it would be the next move for me. I had the owners come by and sample my cooking and got offered the position. The owner, a yoga instructor, was giving a teacher training. I decided to sign up and add the spiritual component to what seemed like a gathering of healing modalities. Around the same time, I became interested in holistic nutrition and began a certificate program on line which I am in the process of completing.
The journey continues with twists and turns along an unmarked road off the beaten path. I don’t know what may be in store next, but I can assure you that I will be listening for that small voice within.