THe Longest Flight
As the excitement amps up for our Bali retreat the long long long flight becomes even more dreadful to think about. The journey might be long but the destination is well worth it! Since we are coming from Napa we usually have a 1.5 hour drive to San Francisco. From San Francisco we fly to Taipei, Taiwan which is about a 13-14 hour flight. Once in Taipei which I must say is not the most entertaining airport we have a two hour layover. Our next flight to Denpasar, Bali is about 5 and half hours. After we land in Bali you would think the journey is over but for some reason the immigration and customs line likes to take another 1 hour to 1.5 hours. Once you survive this line we make our way through the sea of drivers trying to grab your attention for a ride and find our driver Made. Balinese children are simply named by his or her order of birth. The first born, boy or girl, is Wayan. The second born is Made (pronounced ma day). After we find Made the last leg of the trip is venturing into the jungle of Ubud. Depending on time of day this journey can either be 40 mins or 2 hours....generally leaning more towards that 2 hour marker and then we are in PARADISE.
Now given this 25 plus hours of travel time as any good fitness professional would do I have a routine that I prepare and complete before any international flight.
First you must always consider hydration on trips like this. I usually do not drink any alcohol the day before and I make sure I have good electrolytes such as a coconut water and plenty of water throughout the day. On the day of the trip I make sure I make enough time to complete at least 60-90 mins of cardio and do my full set of postural exercises. A week before the flight I will call in for a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal which is there vegan meal. This helps reduce the amount of salt I would be consuming on the flight.
Additionally I bring snacks onto the flight such as:
Other goodies I pack onto international hauls:
Our villa is situated in the cultural and arts center of Ubud and wow is it magical! It is right off the main street of Ubud and tucked into the huge jungle trees overlooking a river. Upon arrival at the villa the staff have beautifully decorated it with marigolds and intricately folded palm leaves. The palm leaves and marigolds are scattered all over the grounds and hanging from the ceiling to give a beautiful floral effect. The villa beautifully cascades down the property, as the property is multi-tiered with multiple villas on each layer of land. Each door on each villa has an been intricately carved with Balinese designs which really adds to the Balinese decor. The place has a feel of both modern yet artistically cultivated from the Balinese designs. The first layer of land has 3 villas and then you walk down a staircase that goes over a beautiful pond filled with fish and turtles and enters into the main house that is completely open. The main house overlooks the cascading pool and the beautifully landscaped lawns with day cabanas that are perfect to read a book in.
After everyone gets settled into their rooms we have a welcome banquet dinner outside with live bamboo music and Balinese dancers. The dinner and the retreat is fully vegan and features items such as a Balinese rice tower, vegetables in peanut sauce, tempeh skewers, corn fritters, fresh fruit, fresh cut vegetables, tofu skewers and tapioca pudding for dessert. Our chef Wayan Nurdi is pretty over the top amazing. She has heightened her vegan food cuisine to a new level I have never experienced in Bali before.
Balinese dance is an ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression. It is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive. They are extremely talented at moving there eyes and hands in an artistic style. Which makes it extremely hard to replicate!!!! You can definitely tell they are the masters of this art as we have failed attempts at replicating the art. The Balinese dancers tried to teach us how to do the dance but with the combination of being exhausted from flying and also not being coordinated I think we all failed. After an embarrassing dance we all headed to bed in preparation of a big first day of activities.
Stay tune for our day 2 blog to hear more about our Bali festivities. And don't forget to head to our website to place your deposit on our Bali Bare Health retreat next year!
Plus they had a DJ, giant jenga and corhnole, and set up a photo booth in the caves to take funny pictures. Our goodie bags included a Sommelier Experience where we can take guests on guided tours through library wines and select reserve wines while nibbling on an artisanal cheese and charcuterie platter (well they’ll be nibbling since I’m vegan lol!) while looking out over the prettiest most Napa view ever… I mean… I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. But before I get any deeper into the event itself, let me tell you a little about @minerfamilywinery.
Miner Family Winery
Dave and Emily married each other and released their first miner wines in 1999. Five years later Bon Appetit included them in the “Top Five” All-American wines. What a whirlwind! After more than twenty years of Miner, they’re still full steam ahead and their wines are as strong and beautiful as ever.
If you want to learn more about them before making your visit (because you really have to see it and taste it for yourself!), you can check out their blog or find them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Anyway, back to the Spring Fling. If you’re lucky enough to go to one of these, you can expect to be treated to a truly delicious and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Rosato. But the specific blends and flavors are always different, so let me tell you about the wines we tasted this year.
2017 Rosato of Sangiovese
One of my favorite things to do when trying new wines is to think about the best vegan pairings to really bring forward all the right flavors. So I’ll do that for each of the wines I tried, starting with this one!
The Rosato practically sings with joy when you add a side of flatbread lightly smeared with olive oil. Or of course you can dunk for some added fun. But really any fat will work beautifully with Sangiovese grapes since it helps to balance the tannins. You can try other oils like avocado or walnut, or try drizzling oil over other foods like tomato and basil. If you want something non oil-based, hazelnuts, pistachios and fig work really well here.
2017 Sauvignon Blanc
You can also pair sauv blanc with cucumbers drizzled with coconut aminos and black sesame seeds, seasonal green veggies like broccoli or legumes like green or fava beans. And of course a little vegan pesto pizza never hurt anyone….
If you’re not feeling salad vibes, first of all, I think you just haven’t found your salad soulmate yet, but ok ok, you could also pair with sweet root veggies like sweet potato, carrot or parsnips. Eating them raw will give you the highest nutrient bang for your buck, but feel free to roast them with a little cinnamon, ginger or turmeric if you’d prefer to eat them warm.
2014 Grenache Sierra Foothills
2014 Syrah Stagecoach Vineyards
Because of the smokiness, I love pairing syrahs with Mediterranean food like dolmas, falafel, hummus and pita, or Greek salad.
2015 Emily’s Cabernet Sauvignon
PS - for those of you event lovers like myself, Miner hosts a stage at BottleRock (May 25th - 27th) that will have music, shade and games. It’s super fun so make sure to stop by. There’s also going to be a First Friday Sunset Lounge Tasting Event on July 6th. If you’re into eating, drinking and sunset viewing, this is your jam. Space is limited so make sure to snag your spot while you still can.
Thanks for the help Talia Chakraborty
Your vegan vacation guide to Cabo San Lucas
Where to stay
Now if you happen to find yourself in a villa, it’s pretty easy to eat vegan in Cabo. You can ask your chef to prepare healthy Mexican vegan meals so you’re not missing out. I highly recommend ordering skinny margaritas with fresh lime and your favorite tequila. And of course, enjoy all the fresh, made to order guacamole your heart desires. Just remember to ask for veggies for dipping instead of chips.
When you’re ready to venture out and try some local cuisine, you absolutely have to try these gems. I’m seriously still dreaming of them:
- You can hang by their insane infinity pool that overlooks the ocean, grab a drink at their swanky bar, and get a bite to eat at their Mexican restaurant on the beach, eating guacamole with your toes in the sand… or
- You can go to their dayclub. Maybe I’m not cool enough but for me this is a nightmare because loud music during the day is not amazing!! But it’s really up to you and the vibe you’re going for I guess.
Warning - try to avoid Rambo if you’re being good because he’s The Office’s tequila master. No joke, he’ll tip your head back and pour tequila down your throat!
I really like the story behind their location. It’s no accident that El Farallon is in the Pedregal. To put this marvelous restaurant and hotel where it is, the owner had to literally drill her own cave through the Pedgregal! I can’t even with that.
Other cool things they offer are live music, a champagne bar with stunning champagnes and a vegetarian menu. For our appetizer we had mixed salad with a lovely vinaigrette and asparagus soup, and for our main course I had a stuffed tomato with quinoa and extra veggies on the side (peppers, mushrooms, beets and carrots).
I had a chilled asparagus soup with toasted almonds and olive oil and a massaged kale salad with thinly sliced beets. One of the most fun things on the menu is their “walk through the garden” appetizer selection of today’s freshly harvested vegetables. If you’re into seasonal produce, you’ve got to try it.
Still hungry for VEgan?
If you’d rather stay in and cook, California Ranch Market is the perfect place to stock up on vegan goods. Vive Organiko is great too if you have any snack or toiletry needs.
Keep in mind that new restaurants and hidden local gems pop up all the time. So to stay on top of the best food of the moment, follow my tips in this blog post. If you’re in a pinch, you can always try ordering a fajita with no meat. Skip the tortilla and rice and replace with extra beans and some leafy greens. Enjoy!
And though I stuck to skinny margaritas (“when in Rome…”), I wouldn’t be a Napa girl if I didn’t recommend some cool wine bars for you to check out while you’re there.
Annnnnd I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give you a coffee recommendation. Interestingly, coffee isn’t grown in Baja California, the state that Cabo’s in. This means that roasters in Cabo need to import from somewhere in order to offer coffee, whether that’s mainland Mexico or anywhere else in the world. I really like Cabo Coffee Company’s solution to this. They import organic beans from a private grower in Oaxaca and then roast the beans daily themselves. You can really taste the difference between these beans and other imported roasts.
Things to do
1. Scuba dive with Laura at Cabo Private Guide
But if you want to take things down a notch she can host a variety of adventures for all skill levels ranging from snorkeling and searching for pretty fish to seeing a whale shark or even seals. She’ll get you covered at unbeatable prices, plus she’s adorable, so you really have nothing to lose.
2. Check out El Arco (The Arch)
3. Relax on the beach
Divorce beach is pretty too as long as you don’t swim there (it’s too rocky to swim safely). And don’t forget any of the beaches here make for a gorgeous run!
4. Treat yourself to a massage
So since you’ve gone to relax, why not treat yourself to an incredible massage from Massages at the Sand Bar, where you can actually see the ocean during your massage if you’re somehow able to keep your eyes open?
5. Get your culture on
6. Soak in that gorgeous sunset
But if you want to know my favorite place, I head straight to the Mona Lisa every night. Their Tattinger Terrace champagne bar is perfect for grabbing a few drinks and watching the sun go down over the iconic arch (El Arco). They also have a Michelin star trained chef serving up Mediterranean style food if you’re feeling hungry.
Some of my other favorite things to do were:
- Riding camels;
- Taking an atv ride; and
- Participating in a beach bootcamp by Moduvated. If you do this one come prepared to sweat! A bottle of water and a towel are good ideas. Make sure you hydrate well before working out too. It’s hot in Cabo so you can dehydrate easily.
As you can tell, there’s tons of things to eat, drink, see and do in Cabo. It’s easy to fill your days exploring, but keep in mind you’re probably also there to relax. I recommend keeping an easy pace by choosing a few bucket list activities and leaving the rest of your schedule open so you have plenty of down time to soak it all in.
So tell me - have you ever been to Cabo? What were your favorite things to do there?
First, some background:
In no particular order, our local experience makers included:
- Inn on Randolph
- Events Manager Jamie Forcier and Chef Nick Sherman of Basalt
- Silver Trident Winery
- Mallory McEligot of VineLiving
- Aonair Winery
- Mercedes Ross of Lady and the Vine
- Lindsey Kling of the brand new, amazing Dharma Movement
- Darleen Gardner of Healing Harmony Reiki and Sound Therapy and Susan Jette
- Alexis Munoz, CMT of Body & Soul
- Ritual Coffee Roasters
- Brittany Leporiere of Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant
- Matt Kathol, Tessa Mini (yes, me!), Gianni Nola and Maria Woodruff of Bare Health
- Bailie Heather of Napa Valley Paddle
- Fiorella Butron of Stonehedge Winery
- C Casa
- Faune Towery of Napa Acupuncture Practice
So now that you know who played a part in our adventure, let’s move on to:
Every step of the way we were pampered by amazing local vendors. All of our chefs made custom designed and curated vegan foods for us even though they don’t usually cook that way. By the end, we felt reset, detoxed, and totally present in the Napa Valley moment.
Over the course of our five days together, we had:
The Inn is located in a gorgeous olive toned 1800s home in Napa’s biggest historic district. You can feel its old bones before even stepping foot on the front porch. It has all the details you’d expect of a Victorian home like gorgeous wood trim and flooring, ample door frames, and tons of natural light from huge windows. Amazing touches include multiple fireplaces (I can’t even remember how many honestly, ha!), the most lovely outdoor hangout spaces, and PLUSH BATHROBES! I know they’re not part of the inn but I’m still dreaming of them... Anyway, it’s the perfect space for mindfulness as it sits on an acre of lush English gardens. And it was perfectly positioned for our getaways because it’s only a five minute walk from downtown!
Day 1 - Wednesday
Check-in began at the inn at 6:30pm. It was pretty quick to take care of the administrative stuff, which left us plenty of time to get to the point of showing up at 6:30 - appetizers and mocktails! I played Chef and made a beautiful vegan cheese board and a healthy mocktail for us. It was really hard to pick a favorite drink, but eventually I settled on la croix mixed with fresh pomegranate juice and some lime. We continued munching and sipping until our raw vegan dinner began at 7:30pm. During dinner, Matt spoke about how veganism has changed our lives and how beneficial living a plant based life is for your body and your mind (not to mention the animals, the environment, and…. Oops, I think i’m slipping into giving the speech myself!). He also gave an overview of what to expect over the coming days, and then we just kept eating, drinking and hanging out :-)
Day 2 - Thursday
After we’d gotten our bodies moving, we headed over to the dining room for a green smoothie based breakfast to help balance our insulin levels throughout the day. Chef Dianne is always a gourmet GF, local, organic, farm to table chef, but she usually doesn’t prepare vegan cuisine so it was really special that she went above and beyond to make vegan food. All of our breakfasts were inspired by my favorite vegan foodie blogger, Oh She Glows. If you don’t follow her, you absolutely have to, because she’s amazing! Anyway, each morning Chef Dianne would pair the smoothies with an additional vegan offering that changed daily. On Thursday we started with a veggie bang because the pairing was a new year glow smoothie bowl! The preparation was beautiful, perfectly smooth, and powered us for our second morning workout which lasted from after breakfast up until lunch.
After training, we popped over to Oxbow Public Market for a vegan lunch at C Casa. Oxbow is a really cool, really huge marketplace with seating along the Napa River and tons of incredible local food providers. Everything is artisanal, local and carefully crafted. It’s great for groups because there’s tons of variety, so you know everyone will be able to find something they’ll love.
C Casa is a lovely little eatery that focuses on fresh seasonal foods - usually tacos and other things like that, but they also offer small plates, salads and more. Our plates were piled high with tons of mixed greens, cilantro, sweet potato and avocado, just as any good vegan lunch should be.
Thursday was such a great example of the Napa lifestyle because we worked ourselves hard, ate amazingly vibrant local foods, and after exercising we moved on to coffee and champagne!! Not together though, but pretty close haha.
After our afternoon workouts, we came back to Oxbow to visit one of my favorite coffee roasteries of all time, Ritual. They shared some of their favorite drip coffees with us, originating from all around the world. Their smooth flavors had huge range, going from juicy and complex all the way to a balanced bean forward (rather than fruit forward) taste.
Once we had a nice coffee buzz going, we thanked our hosts and walked over to Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. We were really tired from walking so long, so they took pity and treated us to champagne! Just kidding, it was only a five minute walk haha, but the champagne was REAL! We drank it sitting by the Napa River, which was beautiful.
- Green garlic and English pea hummus with asparagus, romanesco, snap peas, Calabrian chili and mint
- Pineapple poke with avocado, jicama, flax seed cracker and ponzu (except for me, since I’m allergic to pineapple, so I had a jicama version instead)
- Sweet potato tostone with green apple, candied pecans, brussels sprout leaves (did you know there’s an “s” at the end of brussel?? I had no idea all these years…) and sage honey
- Roasted cauliflower with Anson Mills farro verde, cara cara orange (so sweet, I love them), almond and capers
- Housemade vegan coconut ice cream
Day 3 - Friday
Aside from essential oil therapy, one of our favorite stress management techniques is to take a moment to go outside, be with nature, and get active when you feel yourself starting to get anxious. So after our presentation we followed our own advice and went on a gorgeous guided paddle boarding adventure down the Napa River (thanks Bailie!). And guys you won’t believe this - there was a SEA OTTER AT THE WHARF!!!! That seriously never happens. It was so special and it felt like he was there just for us.
Day 4 - Saturday
- Green Vibrance
- Chia seeds
- Bee pollen
- Cacao nibs (did you know chocolate is healthy? :)
- Goji berries
- Flaxseed oil (this is your DHA supplement)
- A leafy greens mix (kale, spinach, or anything else will do)
- Mixed berries. If you’re making this at home, you can use any fruits (ideally with skin peels like blueberries, cherries, cranberries). Just make sure to mix up your fruit and always have a variety.
- Unsweetened almond milk (enough to mix for desirable texture)
Once people were set up, they mixed smoothies according to taste. Since we encourage everyone to drink green smoothies as part of their breakfast routine (for health, not weight loss!), it’s important to find the right combination of flavors. The challenge was funny because everyone was given the same ingredients, but kept saying “wow, your smoothie is better than mine with the same ingredients!” Haha :)
At the end, we discussed our journeys. Everyone’s experience was different. Some fell into a light sleep, bodies floating mid-air. Others had flashbacks to childhood or beautiful visions. And some felt deep, consuming sadness and anxiety. These heavy feelings took center-stage at first, giving retreaters time to acknowledge them before they were released. We rediscovered ourselves through this experience and I don’t think any of us will ever forget it.
Spiritually joining hands after this, we moved on to a final dinner . We talked over the time we shared: our favorite parts, the things we need to work on, and life in general. This was a pretty nostalgic dinner because we knew the retreat would be ending soon, forcing us to return to real life.
Day 5 - Sunday
This retreat could not have been held without our vendors. Our guests left with the knowledge and confidence to implement plant based nutrition, wellness, and stress and pain relief into their everyday lives. And of course, it was super fun to relax and enjoy all that Napa has to offer!
And guess what we are doing it again next year with the Inn on Randolph. So if you want to experience this trip for yourself you can sign up now! Dates will be February 27th- March 3rd. Email me at: email@example.com to reserve your spot or pre-pay on our website here.
Special thanks to Talia Chakraborty for helping Bare Health with this article.
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.