En español | Forget bitter tonics and mystery mush — or whatever you envision as the main fare at wellness retreats. These days, many healthful-eating spas are known for delicious dishes featuring seasonal and readily available ingredients. Here, four tasty options — including a main dish salad and guilt-free pudding — chosen by top wellness chefs from their summer menus.
Kripalu: Perfect Summer Mocktail
“At Kripalu, the Ayurvedic herb garden sits just above the main building,” says Jeremy Rock Smith, the executive chef at this wellness center in Massachusetts. So a couple of summers ago, with the basil and tarragon growing like crazy, “we infused them into various flavored syrups to make lemonade,” he says. This one is his favorite.
- 1/2 cup packed Thai basil or basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- Pinch of Himalayan salt (or sea salt)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemon slices
- 4 cups seltzer or water
Combine the basil, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Chill this syrup mixture until it is cold, at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.
Remove the basil leaves and stir the lemon juice and seltzer into the syrup mixture. Serve in glasses over ice. Garnish each glass with a sprig of basil and a lemon ring on the rim.
Note: You can swap in lime for lemon for another drink treat.
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The Ranch Malibu: Grilled Corn With Cashew Chipotle Crema
The Ranch recently published a cookbook called Food Food Food, and its chefs have been sharing some of its recipes on the spa's website. The cookbook focuses on nutrition over dieting, just as guests to the spa are encouraged to “enjoy the freedom of connecting with their bodies and what they need rather than counting calories,” says Meredith Haaz, chef of the spa's special four-day retreat. Haaz chose this grilled corn recipe as a flavorful take on a summer staple. “The cashew chipotle crema offers a plant-based alternative to butter with chipotle peppers and garlic, with lime juice adding a little extra kick."
Ingredients for corn
- 4 ears corn, husks attached
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat.
2. Pull back some of the husk on each ear of corn. Place the corn directly on the grill, cover and grill, rotating often, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the corn is charred on all sides. Remove to a plate and let cool slightly.
3. Pull husks entirely off corn and fold them back to use as handles.
4. Serve with the Cashew Chipotle Crema.
Ingredients for crema
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked two hours and drained
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (if not available, you can omit)
- 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or your favorite hot sauce
- 2 garlic cloves
- Juice from one lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the cashews in a blender with the water, nutritional yeast, chipotle peppers, lime juice and garlic. Puree until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more water to get the right consistency.
2. Drizzle the crema over the corn and sprinkle with cilantro.
Canyon Ranch: Strawberry, Chicken and Arugula Salad With Panzanella Dressing
This dish makes the perfect summer salad, says Dan Hardy, executive chef at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. Not only are the ingredients seasonal, the “sweet strawberries pair well with spicy arugula and the lightly acidic dressing.” For a gluten-free option, he notes, you can exchange the croutons for a serving of your favorite toasted nuts.
Ingredients for panzanella dressing
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for salad
- 4 4-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 4 slices multigrain bread
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil or olive oil spray
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 3 cups baby arugula
- Three cups of croutons can be substituted for multigrain bread slices.
1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for salad dressing and set aside.
2. Preheat grill or broiler. Grill or broil chicken breast for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Cool completely and dice.
3. Evenly spread bread with olive oil spray or brush with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil on both sides. Grill bread slices until toasted. Dice bread into bite-size pieces and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, combine chicken, strawberries and arugula. Whisk dressing until well-mixed. Toss salad with dressing and grilled bread just before serving.
5. Divide salad and place in salad bowls.
We Care Spa: Chia Pudding
The detox diet at We Care consists mostly of liquid nutrition fasting, using only natural products and no solid foods in most cases. One exception is this tasty pudding, chosen by the spa's nutritionist Bridgette Becker as among her favorites from its summer menu.
- 1/2 cup chia seeds (you can also use flax seeds)
- 11/2 cups almond, hemp or coconut milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or grade B maple syrup, or use stevia drops to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries or blueberries
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds (if available)
1. Combine in a blender all the ingredients except the shredded coconut and the fruit.
2. Mix well and place in four small jars or pudding bowls.
3. Allow the pudding to sit in the fridge at least 15 minutes or overnight.
4. When ready to serve, add coconut and fruit.
Virtual wellness programs, videos and webinars from top resorts
Given the pandemic, you may not be visiting a fancy spa or wellness center in person any time soon (although many are now open, or opening soon). But you can take advantage of expanded online options — such as live cooking classes, thought-leader lectures, spiritual workshops and community activities at top destinations such as those below.
1. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
Best for: Going in-depth with mindful lectures or healing-arts services
Try: Lectures by thought leaders like Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield and yoga master Koya Webb, webinars with tools for combating stress, even tarot card readings. Among the online programs are a three-week session about connecting to the natural world (July 13) and a couples workshop led by Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want, and Helen LaKelly Hunt (July 31). Programs are live and interactive, users are guided by teachers, and your experiences can be shared with your peers and the instructor. Webinars regularly available on social media are free to participants, while things like tarot readings and multi-week programs are tuition-based. Learn more at https://kripalu.org/content/find-your-center-online.
2. The Ranch Malibu
Best for: Easily accessed, Instagram-based fitness videos and recipes
Try: The Ranch's Instagram account features an engaging series of fitness videos led by fitness director Davey Fisher, with beginner-friendly exercise demonstrations ("Russian Twists"!) and routines (at-home body-weight circuit in five moves). Standout recipes include Blood Orange Ginger Mocktails and Lemon Coconut Bars, straight out of the Ranch's latest cookbook, Food Food Food. Learn more at @theranchmalibu
3. Canyon Ranch
Best for: Soothing solutions for trying times
Try: The spa's online “resilience initiative,” which focuses on emotional support for its guests, includes articles on “The Stress-Spirit Connection” and inspirational videos such as “Walking Meditation Techniques.” Videos made specifically to address pandemic challenges include “Staying Connected Despite Physical Distancing” and “Making Meaning Out of Adversity.” Program descriptions are found on the Experiences pages of the Canyon Ranch Tucson and Lenox websites.
4. We Care
Best for: The online equivalent of the detox-centric (think fasting and cleansing) programming for which the Desert Hot Springs, California, spa is known
Try: Every Wednesday, the spa offers a free Zoom class that includes tips on things like how to boost your immune system, make natural dishes in two minutes, and choose the best foods for yourself. “We also show you how to set up your kitchen,” says We Care owner Susan Lombardi. Beyond food, the webinar covers fasting and meditation, with a feeling that “is very much as if you were there,” Lombardi shares. We Care sends out a weekly newsletter via firstname.lastname@example.org that promotes the Zoom webinar, and it is also announced on the We Care Spa Facebook and Instagram pages.