Hacienda Del Sol: Raw Food and Yoga Retreat

After a challenging twenty-seventh year, I wanted to kick off twenty-eight doing something completely for myself. The three things in my life that make me feel most grounded are yoga, raw food, and alone time, so my goal was to plan a trip that would incorporate all three.

For several weeks I Googled around, researched my options, and created a budget. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and thought maybe I would call  the whole thing off, but I had a couple of good friends checking in on my plans and encouraging me to book something without over thinking it.

I finally came across Hacienda Del Sol in San Juanillo, Costa Rica. The moment I saw “Raw Food and Yoga Retreat” and caught a glimpse of the menu, I was sold. 

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I stayed at Hacienda Del Sol from August 3rd to August 10th. While I was there, I tried to remain mindful of how I was spending my time, being sure I was doing exactly what I wanted. My days were filled with reading, journaling, yoga practice, lounging, napping, hiking, eating/drinking juice, chatting with new friends, listening to podcasts, and I even treated myself to a Thai oil massage. 

I did a lot of growing over the past year, and being able to step back for a few days gave me a chance to reflect on some of the important lessons I have learned. I could write a blog about what I did for the 7 days I spent in San Juanillo, but I would prefer to keep the details of the experience as my own, and instead share some of the things I meditated on while I was there.

  1. Remove negativity from your life. When something is no longer serving you, let it go. It doesn’t mean the thing you’re leaving behind is necessarily “bad”, it just means it’s not meant for you.
  2. Be genuine. I learned the hard way that if I am not being my authentic self, my entire life becomes unbalanced. Being genuine may sometimes mean you have to say or do things that upset other people, but that doesn’t make you rude or selfish. It’s okay to put your needs first.
  3. Mental health should always be a top priority. Find a good therapist that you connect with (it may take time), and work through your shit.
  4. Own your pain. Admitting you are hurt does not make you any less strong. When you are going through a hard time, people will often say,“But you’re so strong- you will get through this”. While that is true, it’s also okay to say, “Yes, but I’m hurting right now.” Your darkness is as much a part of you as your light, and it is not something to fear, shame, or dismiss.
  5. Balance. Your relationships, your work, your hobbies, your life. It is never fair to rely heavily on one person or one area of your life, but more importantly, it’s not fair to yourself.

Would I recommend Hacienda Del Sol? Absolutely. But more than that, I would recommend finding a retreat, vacation, or activity that is fitting for YOU. My retreat was the best birthday gift, because it was made up of all the things I love the most, and because I got it for myself. 

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I have been obsessed with filming and editing videos since I was a kid recording pretend “talk shows” in my living room. I went to Costa Rica without a camera on purpose so I wouldn’t feel obligated to capture anything and so I could try to fully embrace each moment. While I was there, I was reminded that being creative is a part of me, and documenting things from my perspective is my favorite way of expressing myself. I was only able to capture a few clips on my iPhone, so I created a short montage to remember my time at Hacienda Del Sol.

Raw Vegan Pad Thai

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Ingredients 

  • 2 organic zucchini 
  • 1 organic carrot 
  • 1/4 cup red cabbage
  • 1/2 organic lime 
  • 1/2 cup of raw, organic cashews
  • 1 organic orange
  • One thumb of organic ginger
  • One tbsp organic tamari sauce 
  • One tsp Himalayin sea salt
  • One tsp coconut aminos

Tools

  • Spiralizer
  • Blender

Method

  1. Soak the cashews for several hours until soft
  2. Drain cashews
  3. Blend Cashews
  4. Add in juice from orange, ginger, tamari sauce, Himalayan sea salt, and coconut aminos 
  5. Blend
  6. Add water as needed (probably around 1/4 cup)
  7. Spiralize zuuchinis to make zoodles
  8. Chop red cabbage and carrots
  9. Combine zoodles, cabbage, and carrots in a mixing bowl with the “peanut sauce”
  10. Mix
  11. Serve with sliced cucumber and lime (optional)

 

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Raw Vegan Nice Cream

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Ingredients 

  • 2 organic bananas
  • 2 organic medjool dates
  • 5 organic strawberries
  • 1/4 cup of organic blueberries
  • 1 tbsp organic shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt (optional)

Tools

  • Food processor
  • Bowl (for soaking)

Method

  1. Freeze the bananas for several hours
  2. Soak the dates for an hour
  3. Remove the dates from water
  4. Pit and chop the dates
  5. In the food processor, blend bananas and dates until smooth
  6. If necessary, add water (be careful you don’t add too much!)
  7. Add salt to taste (optional)
  8. Remove nice cream from food processor, and put in bowl
  9. Top with chopped strawberries, blueberries, and shredded coconut

Notes

This recipe turns out different every time I make it. Don’t expect the same results every time, and be careful when adding water (unless you like soupy ice cream).

NYC Vegan & Gluten Free Recommendations (Part 1)

When my day job asked me to go to NYC for work, my immediate thought was “YES, vegan food!” By the time I booked my flight, I already had a list of restaurants within a mile radius from the Bryant Park office prioritized from “most desirable” to “still pretty desirable” (I take organization as seriously as I take eating).

I’m calling this list “Part 1” because there were too many delicious options for just one visit.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

While living in Thailand, I naturally developed an obsession with Thai food. Whenever I’m in a new city, I always try to go to at least one Thai place. Not only do I have a good sense of what’s going to be vegan & gluten free, but the food is rarely anything less than delicious.

I stumbled upon Pure Thai Cookhouse with some colleagues. The best part? The menu had labels for items that were 100% vegan. I decided on the Wok Vegetable Medley With Tofu, and although I was too hungry to snap a pic, the meal did not disappoint.

Green Symphony

Green Symphony was only a mile from my office, so it was the perfect lunch time cafe. When I first arrived, I was a little bit confused by the set up- Fresh hot food, salads, smoothies/juice bar, and a health food store all in a tiny space? But that small space held so much greatness. I decided on a “build your own”  salad with miso ginger dressing. Green Symphony was the perfect find for a quick, healthy bite. Green_Symphony

By Chloe

Before leaving for NYC, I did an Instagram scan of #NYCvegan. I was drooling over pictures of meals from By Chloe, so it was one of the top places on my list. I ate the Quinoa Taco Salad (gluten free), and it left me speechless. I devoured the entire thing in about 10 minutes, and would have gone back for more if I had the time.

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Quintessence

I came across Quintessence in a Yelp search for raw vegan NYC cafes. It was a bit of a trip from where I was staying, so I decided to treat myself to a solo afternoon adventure. Everything about this place jived with me. After a lengthy internal debate over what to order and a consultation with the super friendly staff, I picked the Q Club Sandwich. This turned out to be my dream cafe and my dream meal. It was my favorite meal in NYC (but remember, I’m hoping this is only Part 1).

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What’s next?

My list of vegan restaurants was much longer than the amount of meals I was in NYC for, so I still have quite a few options for next time including:

If you have a favorite, I would love to hear about it!

 

Raw Vegan Almond Nut Burgers

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Ingredients (*makes 8 burgers)

  • 2 cups of organic almonds
  • 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 organic red pepper
  • 1/4 organic yellow onion
  • 1 organic carrot
  • 1/2 cup organic kale
  • 2 organic garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp organic cumin
  • 1 tbsp organic paprika
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Himalayan sea salt

Tools

  • Bowls (for soaking)
  • Food processor
  • Knife (for chopping)

Method

  1. Soak the almonds and sundried tomatoes separately for several hours to soften them
  2. Chop the carrot, onion, pepper, kale, and garlic cloves
  3. Drain the almonds
  4. Remove the sundried tomatoes from the water, but keep the water
  5. In the food processor, blend the almonds
  6. Slowly add in all other ingredients
  7. Blend until smooth
  8. Add the water from the soaked sundried tomatoes as necessary
  9. Once you are happy with the consistency, form “burgers” out of the mixture
  10. (Optional) top with cashew cheeze sauce

 

Raw Vegan Mac and Cheeze

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Ingredients

  • 2 organic zucchinis
  • 1/2 cup raw, organic cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 organic red pepper
  • 2 tbsp organic olive oil
  • 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tbsp organic oregano
  • 1 tsp organic smoked paprika

Tools

Method

  1. Soak the cashews for several hours to soften them
  2. Drain the cashews
  3. In a food processor combine cashews, pepper, olive oil, Himalayan sea salt, and oregano
  4. Blend- adding additional ingredients or water as needed to obtain the desired consistency
  5. Spiralize the zucchini
  6. Combine zucchini and cheeze sauce
  7. Top with paprika

Variations

I use this cheeze sauce on everything from raw vegan burgers (recipe coming soon!) to nachos. You can also use it on regular cooked noodles or quinoa noodles for a gluten free option.

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Zoodles with Raw Vegan Avocado Cream

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 organic zucchinis
  • 1 organic avocado (make sure it is ripe a creamy!)
  • 1 tbsp organic, unrefined, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp organic basil
  • 1 tsp organic oregano
  • Himalayan sea salt (to taste)

Tools

Method

  1. Spiralize the zucchini
  2. In a blender, combine avocado, olive oil, basil, oregano
    • You may consider adding some water in to smooth out the sauce
  3. Add salt as needed
  4. Mix the zoodles and sauce