The Blissful Chef
Log in or Become a Member!

Week 3 Circuit Workout – Only needs a resistance band!

This week’s workout only requires a resistance band! Try to shoot for at least 4 rounds of this full body workout. Depending on your level, you’ll complete 10-15 reps (on each side for unilateral movements) of each exercise.

Why circuit training? Particularly for fat-loss training in a circuit manner can be helpful because it keeps you moving and your heart rate up. Circuit training is moving through a set of exercises, one exercise to the next, with no or minimal rest between exercises then taking a 1 to 2 minute rest at the end of the completed circuit. Then you repeat for a number of rounds.

1. Biceps Curl with Resistance Band
Pick a band that is challenging! You can place it under both feet and space them apart to make if more challenging.

2. Triceps Extension with Resistance Band
Stagger feet and place band underneath the back foot. With handles clasped together in both hands behind your head, tuck in elbows close to your head and press up toward the ceiling. Be careful when you release the band from your foot so it doesn’t fly up and hit you in the behind!

3. Lateral Lunge with Balance
Finish one side before moving to the next side. Really push off that foot to pop up to the balance. Make sure your knee doesn’t go over your toes and you push your butt back.

4. Cross-body Mountain Climber
Hold a good plank position through the entire movement. Knee should touch elbow or get close.

5. Jump Lunge with Pulse
If you don’t have good balance for the jump step up and back to switch. Do at least one little pulse after each switch.

6. Flutter Kicks
Beginner would keep arms out beside the body for support, advanced is to hold shoulders off the ground while fluttering and you can do up to 60+ kicks

7. Upright Rows with Resistance Band
Pull up and back, place band under one foot or both to make it more challenging.

If you try the workout let us know how it went in the comments!

Find Week 1 Circuit Workout here!
Find Week 2 Circuit Workout here!

Posted on 01/23/2015 | 2 Comments

Week 2 Circuit Workout

IMG_8572

These week’s workout got my heart pumping, my brow sweaty, and had me sucking air! Happy Flex Friday!

Why circuit training? Particularly for fat-loss, training in a circuit manner can be helpful because it keeps you moving and your heart rate up. Circuit training is moving through a set of exercises, one exercise to the next, with no or minimal rest between exercises then taking a 1 to 2 minute rest at the end of the completed circuit. Then you repeat for a number of rounds.

What you’ll need:
– A mat
– Medium-sized non-bouncing medicine ball (I used an 8lb Dynamax ball)
– 2 light dumbbells or small plates (I used 2 10lb plates)

Shoot for 4 to 5 rounds of this circuit. Each round should take you about 5 minutes. Move through each exercise with no to minimal break and rest for 1 minute after the completed circuit. If you have any shoulder issues do not do this workout or try the modified less advanced versions of the exercises. Enjoy!

1. Medicine Ball Burpee with Tricep Push-Up
Take out the push-up is that is too difficult. 10 reps or more.

2. Staggered Push-Ups
If you can perform on toes with good form try it! Or go on knees. Switch hand position after each push-up. 12 reps or more (6 on each side, or as many as you can do with good form).

3. Squat with Knee Raise and Twist
Holding one dumbbell or plate, after you do a deep squat with good form raise up the knee and twist to one side (20 reps, 10 on each side, or as many as you can with good form).

4. Elevated Hip Thrusters
Elevate your feet on the medicine ball. Beginner would be to keep arms on the ground along your body for support. Advanced would be hands behind your head, then try one leg at a time (15 reps, or as many as you can with good form)

5. Plank on Med Ball with Toe Taps
Flip on over and get in a solid plank position with your toes elevated on the med ball. Tap toe on the ground one at a time (20 taps, 10 on each side, or as many as you can do with good form).

6. Skaters
Beginner would lose the plate and the back foot with touch the ground. Advanced alternate plate touching down lightly near front foot with back foot raised off the ground (20 or 10 on each side, or as many as you can do with good form).

7. Bent Over Rear Delt Fly
Keep neck in line with spine and do not round back. Booty out, abs engage, squeeze shoulder blades together (10 reps, or as many as you can do with good form).

8. Boat Pose with Med Ball Toss
Get in a boat pose for yoga, resting on your tailbone, chest proud, shoulders back and down, holding the med ball. Beginner could keep feet on the ground while leaning slightly back. Advanced would hold boat with legs elevated and straight (15 reps, or as many as you can with good form).

If you do the workout let us know how it went in the comments!

Find Week 1 Circuit Workout here!

Posted on 01/16/2015 | Leave a Comment

As Promised: Week 1 Circuit Workout

Hey friends! As promised in my last newsletter I plan to post a free workout each week this year! You probably set a resolution or goal to get healthier and fit this year and these full body workouts will help you get there!

Why circuit training? Particularly for fat-loss training in a circuit manner can be helpful because it keeps you moving and your heart rate up. Circuit training is moving through a set of exercises, one exercise to the next, with no or minimal rest between exercises then taking a 1 to 2 minute rest at the end of the completed circuit. Then you repeat for a number of rounds.

This can be done in various ways, either doing all upper or lower body exercises or working the full body. I prefer to do full body circuit training to utilize all the different muscle groups and I find it burns more calories. I usually do a mix of bodyweight exercises and those that utilize weights; dumbbells, barbells, medicine ball, and/or TRX if you have access to one.

The workouts I will post each Friday will be full body circuit workouts that can be easily added to your weekly routine whether you are training for strength, building muscle, or do mostly endurance training. You determine your level of intensity and if you want to use weights for the exercises that call for it. Choose the appropriate weight for the exercise. I included the weight I used below to give you an estimate. Remember excellent form first then add weight.

Week 1 Circuit Workout
8 exercises, 10-15 reps (each side) depending on the weight you choose, 3-4 rounds of the circuit
– Beginner would use no weight or lighter weights
– Intermediate would use weights when needed

1. Hang, Clean and Press (30# barbell, or hold dumbbells)
2. Reverse Lunges (holding 15# dumbbells)
3. Push-ups (on toes, or elevate hands)
4. Bench Dips (straight legs, or bent)
5. Bodyweight Squats
6. Renegade Row (10# dumbbells, or none)
7. Medicine Ball Push Jacks (10# med ball)
8. Russian Twists (10# med ball)

If you try the workout let us know how it went in the comments!

Posted on 01/09/2015 | 3 Comments

New Recipe: Chunky Monkey Flourless Cookies

I love sweets. It’s my one dietary downfall. In order to have (more) treats in my life without feeling guilty I do weird things like sneak protein powder in them. This is sort of a “thing” in the bodybuilding/powerlifting community. Is it something you should start doing? I would say yes!

chunkymonkeycookies2

These cookies are magical. Granted they aren’t perfectly shaped or anything, but peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven! I think we can all agree there, am I right?! When you add protein powder to cookies you make them more magical and balanced.

Say what?

All foods are made up of the macronutrients carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Usually treats are high in carbs and fat, but have very little protein. That is unbalanced. By adding in a bit of protein powder we bring the protein up and the ratio of fat and carbs down making it a food we can eat and still support our health and fitness goals. Win!

chunkymonkeycookies2

I got the inspiration for these treats from a seemingly healthy cookie recipe (found here), but I made them better by ditching the flour all together and adding in NuZest Vanilla protein. Also, I reduced the sugar content (the protein powder is sweet and so we don’t need as much maple or bananas) and the fat by reducing the amount of peanut butter used. I couldn’t be more thrilled to share these with you! I’ve made them twice already! And at only 98 calories per cookie you are going to be glad you made them yourself.

I realize that I call them flourless because they have no flour in them. We use oats, which I know some people who are gluten-free are sensitive to but I really don’t have a substitution for them. You could maybe try a gluten-free flour and let me know how it goes! It will completely change the texture though.

Chunky Monkey Flourless Cookies
Makes 15 cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed (medium size)
6 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (or half pb and almond butter)
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 scoop NuZest Vanilla protein powder (or your favorite brand)
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (I possibly used more than this, eye it)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Add in oats, protein powder and salt and stir until well combined. The dough will be sticky. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place about 2 tablespoons worth of dough, spaced evenly on cookie sheet making 15 cookies. Lightly press down with a fork or fingertips. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet before eating.

Nutritional Info (per cookie): 98 calories, 12.3g carbs, 3.1g protein, 4.3g fat, 5.4g sugar

Everyone can save 10% off their order using the code BLISS10 and get free shipping for orders over $50 if you want to try out NuZest!

Posted on 12/22/2014 | Leave a Comment

NuZest: The newest plant protein to rock your world!

nuzest

It’s time for a giveaway!

For those of you who follow my fitness journey or have seen me speak on nutrition know that I’m not one to blow off protein. Yes, as vegans we don’t need as much as an average omnivore is eating. Even as athletes or those wanting to build muscle do not need to eat as much as the traditional bodybuilding diet. We are talking up to 50% of calories coming from protein, which is usually in the form of animal flesh in the omnivore diet. Ewww, right? We shouldn’t be asking “Are you getting enough protein?” but “Are you getting the right kind of protein?”.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is anywhere between 10-35% of calories. This range and your personal needs are based on age, activity level, gender, genetics, and more. Thankfully, we can get all the protein we need from plant sources no matter what our goals! The magic number is around 20-30 grams of protein at one time (per meal) for muscle protein synthesis. So having a post-workout shake is my go-to to get the protein I need for recovery and repair of my muscles after I work out.

Enter NuZest Clean Lean Protein…

NuZest came onto the scene in 2012 in New Zealand and quickly rose to the top. I couldn’t be more excited they have decided to come to the US! One serving has 21 grams of delicious, absorbable, alkaline, plant protein. It’s just the perfect amount to have post-workout.

fitnesscollage2014When I first started my fitness journey two years ago I ate a healthy plant-based diet but really didn’t pay attention to how many calories I consumed or how much protein I was getting. It wasn’t until I started lifting weights that I started to experiment with protein shakes. I noticed when I incorporated a post-workout shake, and made sure I ate enough calories, I got stronger, was able to lift more, recovered faster from my intense workouts, and was able to build muscle and completely transform the way my body looked and felt. My clients have experienced the same benefits. Many of them were following a plant-based diet but were not able to meet their fitness goals until they paid a little more attention to how much protein they ate (along with healthy carbs!). Another great thing about using a protein supplement is the full range of amino acids it provides, which aren’t found in many of our plant protein sources.

nuzest

I’ve tried almost every plant protein powder on the market. If this is something I’m going to consume regularly it’s gotta be awesome. Here are the very important reasons why I love NuZest Clean Lean Protein!

Taste
Over the years, protein powders have stepped up their taste game. Many of them are still chalky and just powdery tasting, but not NuZest. It’s literally the best tasting protein powder I’ve ever tried. And it has the most exciting flavors! Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Cappuccino, and Natural. I often mix them to make new flavor combinations.

Texture
The number one complaint I hear about protein powder is the texture. If it tastes not-so-great you can put it in a smoothie, throw in some flavored-extract or cinnamon to cover up the taste, but nothing can change the texture. If it’s gritty I can’t choke it down. It’s just not going to happen. NuZest easily dissolves when shaken with water or non-dairy milk. It’s smooth and creamy. No grit in sight!

Quality
I don’t want to put crap in my body. So the quality of the protein powder I take is crucial. NuZest is gluten-free, soy-free, gmo-free, sugar-free, and made from European golden peas. It contains all 9 essential amino acids and more. These help build, repair, and recover. You may notice that it’s a bit more pricey than other protein powders, but I’m happy to pay for quality when it comes to what I put in my body.

Sugar & Stevia-free
I don’t know about you but stevia does not settle well with me. The aftertaste I can’t handle. It also messes with my digestive system. I can’t use many of the other protein powder brands out there because of the excess stevia. If a protein powder doesn’t have stevia it most likely will have cane sugar. I refuse to use a brand that has sugar in it. It’s just not needed! So NuZest uses a special sweetener, called thaumatin, harvested from the West African Katemfe fruit. This makes it perfect for smoothies but also to use in baked goods and recipes like this Gingerbread Granola.

I hope you are ready to try it for yourself! 

I’m super excited to offer a giveaway for NuZest Clean Lean Protein! One lucky winner will get a full size tub of their favorite flavor with a shaker cup. Then 6 other winners will get a sample pack of all the flavors to try! This is for US and CANADA readers ONLY.

Everyone will save 10% off your order using the code BLISS10. Plus they are offering free shipping on orders of $50 or more. So grab some today! I promise you’ll love it as much as I do! Head on over to their website to place an order.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760315/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22357161

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein

Disclaimer:
Product was provided for me to try free of charge in order to get my honest feedback. I love this product so much that I wanted to share it with you! All thoughts and comments are my own. Affiliate links may be in blog posts, which allows me to keep bringing you great, free content across all social media platforms.

Posted on 12/17/2014 | 16 Comments

Full body workouts to get results & save time

workout

Does your usual excuse for not working out include not having enough time? You don’t need to spend your life in the gym to get results and feel amazing. Full body workouts have their place. They are great for those with limited time and have to goal to stay healthy and energetic, or for those who are rehabing an injury and need more recovery time during the week.

These reasons all apply to me right now. I’m super busy with getting the new magazine ready. When I got back from my 2 month sojourn out of the country I wanted to propel myself back into lifting and exercising. Taking that much time off from the gym meant I had lost a bit of strength and endurance but also gained fat. My goal was to move the whole body three times a week to get back into the swing of things.

kb-swingHere is one of the workouts I did this week last week.

1. Alternating One-Arm Kettlebell Swings – 14 swings each side x3
If you aren’t using kettlebell training in your workout routine it’s time to start! Incorporate regular kettlebell swings and when you have the form mastered give one arm swings a try. I love starting my workout with either of these because it warms up the whole body. Watch this video to learn the movement.

2. Bench Press superset with In/Outs – 10-12 reps with 20 reps x3
Good ole bench press isn’t going anywhere. This compound movement should be in your training whether you do full body or body part split workouts. Rather than do abs at the end of my workout, I like to superset them with other larger body parts. In/Outs are easy to do right on the bench or you can move to the floor.

3. Sumo Squats superset with Seated Lateral Raise and Mountain Climbers – 15 reps with 10 reps and 30 seconds x3
I like to superset leg work with shoulders to get more work done. I threw in the mountain climbers to elevate my heart rate and break a sweat.

4. Bent Over Rows superset with Russian Twists – 12 reps with 15 reps each side x3
I used a barbell for this essential back exercise and superset it with my favorite oblique exercise holding a medicine ball.
Watch this video to learn the progression of the Russian Twist.

5. One Leg-Extensions superset with Roman Chair Straight Leg Raise – 10 reps each leg with 12 reps x3
I love doing unilateral exercises with my legs because my right leg (the same leg as my recovering sprained ankle) is weaker and less developed than my left leg. So I actually do more reps on my weaker leg. Again supersetting abs in, the Roman Chair is just a few machines down so it’s easy to move back and forth between them. If you can’t do raises with straight legs do knee raises. Watch this video to see how to do Roman Chair Knee Raises.

You would be surprised that this workout took me only an hour. I timed my rest periods between sets to keep them all under 45 seconds and didn’t lag when moving from exercise to exercise. That is one of the tricks to getting in more volume in less time! I stayed in the 10-15 repetition range to keep my metabolism pumping and encourage fat-burning. In a few more weeks when I feel ready I may switch to the 5-8 repetition range to start building my strength again.

So if you need a jumpstart to your workouts and new year try three times a week full body workouts that have at least 6-8 exercises of 3 or 4 sets each. Keep rest periods between sets under one minute!

Have you ever done full body workouts 3 or 4 times a week? What do you think of that kind of training?

Posted on 12/13/2014 | Comments Off

Travel Log: Gold Coast & Cairns

Thanks for bearing with me as I get my travels down on “paper”. After beautiful Sydney we headed to the Gold Coast. It looked so beautiful in the photos and this is where everyone goes to surf. So it had to be a good spot to visit right? Not so much. The water was freezing and learning to surf sounded like a horrible idea. It was very touristy. Supposedly this is where rich Australians vacation. So you can imagine lots of chain restaurants, everything being overpriced ($23 for a Thai curry!!), and no real culture or quirkiness. Thankfully we had a little apartment that we shared with 2 other people. After staying in a hostel with shared everything this was very nice. We cooked many of our meals, had space to do some workouts, took advantage of the free laundry, and vegged out in front of the TV.

leigh-chantelle

But it wasn’t all bad! I had the pleasure of meeting up with Leigh-Chantelle from Viva la Vegan and she took us to a delicious restaurant called GreenHouse Factory. One of my long-time Twitter friends met up with us too and brought her Blissful Bites for me to sign. The food was amazing! I had the breakfast plate, seen above, which had tofu scramble, roasted potatoes, toast, kale, and a delicious ranchero-like sauce.

nakedtreaties

After our brunch we went to Burleigh Heads and walked along the beach. It was a gorgeous day and I was happy I got to meet up with friends. The next day we went to Mandala and had vegan pizza. It was amazing and I loved the vibe of this restaurant/art gallery. I highly recommend it!

On our last day we took the bus to Byron Bay, which was the “hippy” area of the Gold Coast. We definitely felt at home there, finding a vegetarian Indian buffet and a natural food store to stock up on snacks. There was even a raw restaurant called, Naked Treaties, where we indulged in some decadent treats!

Then we headed to Cairns (pronounced like Cannes) to mark a biggie of my bucket list: to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef!

cairns

We only had two days in Cairns so we signed up for a 2 day adventure that included one day hitting three spots along the reef to snorkel and one day of visiting the land sights of the Daintree Rainforest and a river tour where we saw crocodiles! As you would expect Cairns is very touristy as well. It had a bit more character than the Gold Coast, more vegan options, and better shopping.

I’m happy I got to mark something off my bucket list! Next I’ll tell you about the incredible week I had in Melbourne, which is now one of my favorite cities in the world.

Have you traveled to Australia? What were you favorite parts? There’s so much to see that I will definitely be back!

Posted on 12/10/2014 | Comments Off

The best possible present to buy on Black Friday!

Buy one for yourself and all your fitness friends! Or maybe you have a loved one in your life who needs a little help joining the millions of fitness buffs that know the plant-based diet is best for performance and recovery. Thinking about running a marathon? This digital bundle from No Meat Athlete is a crazy good deal you don’t want to pass it up!

Click on the image below to see the amazing things offered in this bundle! And don’t wait because this deal is only good through Wednesday December 3rd!

Some of the best and brightest have come together to give content for this bundle! You’ll receive 23 Plant-Based Fitness, Meal Planning, and Cooking Guides (valued at $539.35) for just $97!

This isn’t a gimmick and it’s totally worth every penny. This is a lot of passionate vegans coming together to share their awesomeness with you. One of the main reasons why I do what I do is because I want to help people. That’s why I offered up my 7-Day Refresh cleanse as part of this bundle. It’s a great way to get back on track after indulging in the holidays.

To sweeten the deal even more I will offer a FREE 2015 subscription to my online magazine, Definition, to anyone that purchases this bundle. This year’s issues are free to read and download so check them out here. Next year we will start our subscription option so we can take it to print in 2016! We have received an amazing response about the magazine so far!

As always thank you for being a part of my blissful community! I’m really looking forward to 2015! There will be many changes in my life (moving to Portland, what!?!), continuing to build my online fitness coaching practice and broaden my education (TRX and Spinning certifications!), and I have many speaking engagements on the horizon. After a successful retreat in Bali, I plan to have mini weekend retreats all over the US and annual week-long retreats in exciting locations.

After 10 years of bringing my passion to the world I can honestly say I never get bored with my business because it isn’t “work” at all. I wake up every day grateful I have the opportunity to be part of your healthful journey! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to an exciting future!

Disclaimer: The link above is an affiliate link. My website remains ad-free so you’ll find affiliate links in different places on my site to help contribute to the cost of running this blog, producing Definition Magazine, and bringing you free content via YouTube and various websites. Thank you for reading and supporting my efforts in spreading veganism and health!

Posted on 11/28/2014 | Comments Off

Travel Log: Sydney is my kind of city

I was blessed to be taken on a three week tour of Australia by my friend Crystal after the Bali retreat. It was her 30th birthday present to herself to take a year off and travel the world. She started that trip at my retreat and asked if I would keep traveling with her. We continued on our journey refreshed and ready for anything.

opera house

Our first stop after leaving beautiful Bali was Sydney, Australia. We took the red-eye so I could arrive in time on Sunday to speak at the Cruelty-Free Festival (the retreat had ended Saturday!). We arrive at 6:30am and go straight to our hostel to sleep for two hours on their couches before heading to the festival. So I had about 4 hours of sleep if you count the restless sleep I had on the plane. Thankfully, the festival had amazing coffee, treats, and food to sustain me until after my talk.

cruelty-free-fest-grouped

Everyone was super nice and we had a great time for having no sleep. We went back to the hostel to check in and sleep a few more hours. You might ask why we stayed in hostels. First, Australia is EXPENSIVE. Second, we wanted to have a kitchen so I could make most our meals. Not only is this healthier it saved us a ton of money.

IMG_7968

We had 3 full days in Sydney after the festival. My friend Brighde told me of two different activities that we must do, one being the coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi Beach. This walk was probably my favorite thing on the entire trip. We first started in Coogee at an adorable cafe to get coffee. This cafe was seriously the coolest place I have ever been to…so much that I felt like I could just live there. Large glass panel windows all open catching the ocean breeze. Really good looking people working there (Sidenote: the people in Sydney were all gorgeous! It’s like you had to be a 10 in order to work at a cafe). Amazing coffee (Sidenote: I had no idea the coffee culture in Australia. Like seriously good coffee everywhere you turned!). I didn’t want to leave!

coastal-walk

We drank our coffee, slathered on sunscreen, and prepared ourselves for the walk. We had no idea what was in store! The walk itself was a workout; lots of steep hills and stairs. Being fit ladies we really enjoyed that! About every 20 minutes we came to a picturesque beach along the coastline. The water is far too cold for my blood but people were swimming and surfing. Then about halfway through we came upon a cemetery. Clouds loomed over us and the wind blew loudly. It was pretty ominous but beautiful at the same time. I thought to myself – what an amazing place to be buried.

bondi-beach-sculpture

Just a few more kilometers and we made it to Bondi Beach! How lucky for us that a sculpture exhibit was in town all along the beach. We spent another hour looking at all the art and then headed further into the streets of Bondi to find some grub. My basic plan for when I haven’t looked on HappyCow to find a place to eat is to find a healthy looking local and ask them where I could find natural or vegetarian food. It worked like a charm and we were lead to a small natural food store that had a deli case with various salads, brown rice sushi rolls, and treats. This coastal walk is still clear in my mind and beckons me to return!

The next day we took the ferry to Manly and walked around the national park. Again I asked where we could find some healthy food and was lead to aptly named Pure Wholefoods Cafe. We enjoyed our lunch and chatted with the owner about his favorite things to do in Sydney. We had three different cold salads (roasted vegetables that were the best I’ve ever had, a chickpea salad with mustard dressing, and rocket and avocado salad) and two patties, one that had red lentils and the other aduki beans and rice.

pure-wholefoods-cafe

We attempted to do the 9km walk to Manly Spit Bridge, but only made it about halfway through. My ankle was really bothering me and I was basically limping at that point. Before I left to go to Indonesia my ankle was doing fine. I mean it was 6 months since I sprained it! The fact that I never had it examined was finally catching up to me. It continued to hurt and be swollen during the remainder of my trip. But I didn’t let it slow me down too much!

Sydney walking tour

Our last day in Sydney we did a free walking tour to learn all about the city. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it! Walking tours are one of my favorite things to do when visiting a new place. They show you around so you can get your bearings but also teach you fun and interesting facts, including history and the stories behind certain monuments. Our guide was very funny and had us laughing along the streets.

IMG_8040

We also visited Chinatown, popped into a museum by the wharf, and had dinner at Nourishing Quarter (pictured above), a tiny hole-in-the-wall vegan restaurant serving a 5 course Vietnamese-infused “banquet”. It was divine! We finished off our last evening meeting up for drinks (and more dessert) with Julie of Laika Magazine (run over and subscribe right now!) at Yulli’s Bar. Talking shop about magazines with Julie was a highlight of my time in Sydney. It was the first time we had met and hit it off instantly! I was thrilled to meet up with her again two weeks later at Melbourne’s World Vegan Day!

Sydney is now on the list of my favorite cities in the world. I loved everything about it from the architecture, the people, the coffee, transportation, food, and beaches. It was a shame we didn’t have more time there.

More travel logs coming to you soon! But until then check out the newest issue of Definition Magazine!

Posted on 11/20/2014 | Comments Off

Travel Log: A soulful and invigorating time in Bali

It’s hard to explain what I experienced in Bali. I think most people feel this way when they travel to a place that is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. To say it’s a magical place is an understatement. Yes, it’s overrun with tourists. Yes, I wish I could have visited the Bali that was pre-Eat Pray Love. But what I experienced during my retreat at Alam Sari (and Ubud) was magical to say the least.

Two weeks prior to the retreat I spent time with Lori (my partner for the retreat) hanging out, cooking, chatting, workout out, and planning the final details. Even though we had only been “internet” friends up until this point, it was like we had known each other for years. If you are a blogger or part of the modern day social media world you know how that goes! My friend Crystal met me 5 days before the retreat for some time on Gili Islands and then we headed to Alam Sari to prepare for the guests to arrive!

groupphotoretreat2014

This was my first week long retreat and it went smashingly. There were a few minor mishaps here and there, but all and all I would say it was life-changing for the guests and that’s all that mattered to me. On the final night after our second cooking class we went around the table to share our favorite moments of the retreat…and there were tears. Lots of happy tears. And laughs. Every single woman received just what they needed, made lifelong friends, many celebrated birthdays and honored loved ones that had passed. Some just got the relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life they needed so badly.

first_daycollage

For a full day to day account of what happened, what we ate, and more from the retreat totally check out the Vegan Noms blog! I’d like to give you a few snippets of things I really enjoyed that make this retreat special and unlike any retreat you could go on. Our first day started with a 2 hour walking tour around the grounds and the village where Alam Sari is located (about 20 minutes drive north of Ubud). Dewa, who grew up in the village of Keliki and has worked at Alam Sari for 17 years, took us around the garden showing us all the wonderful things they grow to use at the resort. It all my years as a gardener I had never seen fresh ginger growing!

Later that day we had a cooking class at Dewa’s house making many traditional Balinese and Indonesian dishes. If only I had time to make my own sauces from scratch in a mortar and pestle every day! The recipes we made used the same ingredients in different measures for almost every dish yet they all tasted unique. I find that’s the case with many Thai dishes too. Dewa and his wife were such beautiful people and opened their home to all of us so graciously. At the end of the class he thanked me for giving him a job to do. During our walking tour Dewa shared with us the philosophies of their religion, the way to live a simple life, and be happy with what you have. It was a great reminder to us to slow down, but also showed me how completely spoiled we are in the US. I would like to do things a bit different when I finally return home. As many of you know traveling can change your very core and what I learned from the Balinese people and culture has struck a chord with me.

lunch

The meal in the collage above is lunch on Day 2, which included tofu and veggie skewers with peanut sauce, roasted potatoes, steamed veggies, and papaya salad. The food during the retreat was above and beyond my wildest dreams! I had written up a tentative menu for the week using some of my recipes, a few things off their own menu, and sample menus they gave me from other retreats held there. They had never done an all vegan menu. Lori and I planned everything out giving them leeway to make changes depending on availability of ingredients.

lunchday1For each meal we wanted to have something for everyone; something raw, rice or potatoes or yams, a tofu and/or tempeh dish, steamed veggies, some other veggie dish, sometimes a soup or appetizers, and fruit and tea for dessert. Each day had an ethnic theme. The kitchen/restaurant manager, Agoon, was my right hand man chatting with me each day about the following days meals. He made us homemade vegan and gluten-free bread from from red rice flour (traditionally the Balinese eat red rice and make flour from it). Every single thing they made for us was delicious. I couldn’t have been more happy with the food and I think the guests all had something to enjoy no matter what their dietary preferences included.

We included three fitness talks and two exercise classes along with four yoga and two cooking classes during the retreat. This made it like a conference rather than just a yoga retreat. Since my goal and passion is to educate and share my knowledge with others on healthy eating and effective exercise it was important to include these kinds of classes. We had two excursions, one to Ubud Village and one to the beach. I felt like this was a good amount of things to do and they were well attended. Of course, all the classes and talks were optional. Some guests were out and about doing their own thing while most stayed and enjoyed the program that I had laid out for the retreat.

floating in pool

The background for the retreat couldn’t be more beautiful. It was a short car ride outside of Ubud city center, which made for a more relaxing environment. Each guest had their own bungalow surrounding the pool. I wasn’t really sure what Alam Sari was going to be like until I arrived and walked up to this very spot in the photo. My mind was blown and I knew I made the right choice!

I look forward to planning my next retreat, but I’m not sure it could ever top what we experienced in Bali. I’m chatting with a friend about having an adventure retreat in Chiang Mai next fall so keep your eyes peeled for the details! I’m also looking for a place in the US to hold a 4-day weekend retreat in the spring next year. I hope you can make one!

Thank you again to all the beautiful women that attended and to my partner Lori for helping make it an experience I will never forget!

 

Posted on 11/09/2014 | 4 Comments