Why Attending a Yoga Retreat at Xinalani Should Be On Your Bucket List!

I am so excited to announce that I will be leading another yoga retreat to Xinalani, located near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The dates are set for March 7th through the 14th, 2020. This will be my third trip to Xinalani. I have looked into other retreat centers but none of them compare to Xinalani and here’s why!

Healthy Abundant Food

The food at Xinalani is outstanding. The chef does an amazing job creating a varied and interesting menu and is able to cater to all diets and allergies. Breakfast and lunch are served as buffets and dinner is a plated meal. There is no shortage of food…in fact, if anything there is too much! Whenever possible, the chef uses seasonal, local ingredients and the menu is definitely inspired by Mexican cuisine. The fresh fruit juices at breakfast are delicious!

Six Amazing Yoga Studios

The abundance of yoga studios ensure that there is the perfect studio to par with the perfect yoga class! Groups rotate through the different studios (Jungle, Aerial, Meditation, Greenhouse, Hot Room and Sand Terrace) which is pre determined in advance. There are even two hot yoga studios for anyone who wants to try out hot yoga. The studios all come equipped with their own props and mats which means that you don’t have to lug your own stuff in your suitcase. The views from each studio are incredible. I work with the Xinalani in advance to par the right studio to the class I am teaching.

Gorgeous Rooms and Cabins

Until I had stayed at Xinalani, I had never stayed in a room with only three walls. I have to be honest and say I was a little nervous before arriving. - would animals and bugs find their way into my room? But I had nothing to be worried about. There are hardly any bugs (or at least I haven’t seen many.!) and at night time, there are luxury style mosquito nets hung over the beds to ensure that no mosquitos will bother you. I loved being able to listen to the ocean every night and feel the ocean breeze on me. The cabins and rooms are palm thatched roof cabins built on stilts and are tastefully furnishes. Every room has it’s own bathroom with hot water. All of the cabins/rooms are open to the view/ocean - instead of a wall/window, every cabin has large blinds that are drawn every night. It’s hard to go back to four walls!

Location, Location, Location!

Xinalani can only be reached by boat and as result you feel like you are tucked away in the middle of nowhere. It’s private and secluded and offers peace and tranquility. The transfer to and from Puerto Vallarta’s airport is easy and it’s truly magical to be whisked away by boat for 45 minutes and arrive on the beach at Xinalani. From Xinalani, you can walk on foot to the nearby village of Quimixto or head to the boat dock in the village and take a boat up the coast line.

The Pool!

Xinalani added the pool in 2018 and I had the opportunity to test it while we were on retreat last March. I loved it! It’s a great place to hang out, relax and cool off.

Friendly Staff

I have never seen so many smiles in one day! All of the staff are friendly and greet you with a smile. Nothing is too much trouble. The staff genuinely want you to have an amazing stay and are there to help. The wait staff remember the tiniest of details and Bernice, the front desk manager is AMAZING.

Spa

Wow is all I can say. Xianlani has a beautiful spa overlooking the ocean. Listen to the sound of the waves crash on the beach as you relax under the skillful hands of the certified therapists.

Beach Bar

The beach bar is the perfect place to relax on a comfy chair, overlooking the ocean while enjoying a cocktail. I personally love to indulge in a cocktail or too while on retreat (as well as starting my day with coffee!) .

To Wrap Up…

Everyone needs to spend time at magical Xinalani. I hope you can join us next March! See below to view photos from previous retreats:

2016

2018

Cook Book - The Recipe and Meal Planning App

I have fallen in love….wait for it…with the app ‘Cook Book’. Wow! Okay, so I guess I am a little late to the game. Up until last night, I was still hand writing my grocery list every week, looking through cook books and planning my meals for the week. Old fashioned I know. The last time I searched for a meal planning app (it’s been a couple of years!), I couldn’t figure out how I could incorporate all my hand written, photocopied and traditional recipes from books into the app. But not anymore. Technology has caught up!

‘Cook Book’ allows you to search for recipes online as well as scanning recipes from your cookbooks by taking a photo of the recipe. It takes a couple of minutes to upload the photo and ensure the app saves the information correctly but it’s worth the investment. Now all my favorite recipes can be stored in one place. I had no idea this was even an option! This morning, I planned my meals for the upcoming week, adding recipes to my ‘book’ so they are stored for future meals. I generated my grocery list and could even add extra items to the grocery list. Wow..I am so impressed. Meal planning never felt so good. It’s going to take a little time to create my data bank of recipes but I know that it’s going to make my life so much easier in the future. I only wish I had found this app sooner. It was worth the $5 investment!

Wondering what we are eating this week…here goes..

  • Zucchini and Chickpea Greek Veggie Burgers (new recipe of the week..I try to make 1 new recipe each week!)

  • Shrimp and Rocket (Arugula) Pasta (A Jamie Oliver favorite)

  • Tempeh & Veggie Stir Fry (My weekly stir fry..I use whatever veggies are in the house)

  • Chicken Curry (My daughter loves this…curry sauce from Natural Grocer’s)

  • Shepherd’s Pie (My husband loves this..comfort food 101)

What are you eating this week? Happy Meal Planning!

My Favorite Morning Smoothie

I love making this smoothie. I drink it first thing in the morning and usually don’t need to eat or snack on anything until lunchtime.

Ingredients

3 ice cubes

1 banana

1 tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter

1 handful of spinach

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

A splash of water

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder

1 teaspoon of chia seeds

Sprinkle of hemp seeds

Place everything in a blender apart from the hemp seeds. Blend together until the spinach is completely blended. Sprinkle with hemp seeds and drink immediately.

Other variations - replace the banana with fresh strawberries. Sprinkle with some shredded coconut or granola.

Asian Inspired Beef Salad - Mountain Cafe, Aviemore, Scotland

The Mountain Cafe in the tiny town of Aviemore is a gem! Whenever I visit my sister in the Scottish Highlands, we enjoy lunch or tea (the cakes are amazing!) at this lovely little place. My sister bought me the cookbook for my birthday last year and I am slowly making my way through it. I made this salad last week and fell in love with it. The marinade/dressing is fantastic and would be great just on the noddles and veggies without the meat. You could also substitute some crispy tofu instead of the beef. Here is a simplified version of the recipe - for the full recipe see page 88 of the cookbook.

For The Beef

  • zest and juice of 4 limes

  • 1 handful of coriander (cilantro) - stalks and all - chopped

  • 1 handful of mint leaves finely sliced

  • 300 ml of soy sauce

  • 60 ml of sesame oil

  • 30 ml of fish sauce (I don’t love fish sauce so I halved this and it tasted fine)

  • 100g brown sugar

  • 40 ml of rapeseed oil (I didn’t have any so I used olive oil)

  • 4 x 200 g ribeye or sirloin steaks

  • salt

  • pepper

Marinate the Beef

Make your steak marinade by placing the lime zest and juice into a mixing bowl along with the chopped coriander (cilantro), sliced mint, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, brown sugar and rapeseed oil and whisk well. Measure out 200 ml and save for later. Heat a frying pan/griddle over a high heat until the pan is almost at smoking point, spray with a little oil and put in your steaks (or alternatively put them on the grill). Season with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks for about 3 minutes each side so they are still pink in the middle. Take off the heat. Place the steaks in a tub and pour over the marinade. Leave to cool at room temperature until they are cold enough to go into the fridge, then marinate overnight (or for up to 3 days).

For the Dressing

  • 200ml reserved beef marinade

  • 30 ml red wine vinegar

  • 100 ml rapeseed oil (I used olive oil)

Add the red wine vinegar to the reserved beef marinade and keep whisking as you add in the oil. The dressing will naturally split if you to leave it to sit. This is fine - just give it another little whisk before using.

For the Salad

  • 250 g udon noodles (substitute rice or soba as you prefer

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce

  • 1 handful flaked coconut - lightly toasted

  • 1 small onion, finely sliced

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips

  • 1 small carrot, peeled and super finely sliced

  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and sliced into thing strips

  • 1 handful coriander (cilantro) stalks removed , leaves roughly chopped

  • 1 handful mint, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped

  • 70g rocket or salad leaves

Cook your noodles according to the instructions on the packet, using a fork to make sure they don’t stick together then drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water. Drain the cold water off the noddles and immediately toss them with a little rapeseed oil and sesame oil.

Toss your peanuts or cashews in a small, dry frying pan over a high heat until they are starting to brown, then add the soy sauce and fish sauce on top of the hot nuts and cook for a further minute until they take on all the liquid. Take the pan off the heat.

When you’re ready to serve, place your toasted flaked coconut, red onion, red pepper, carrot, cucumber, coriander (cilantro), mint and rocket/salad leaves in a large bowl. Toss gently to mix the ingredients, then add the noddles and the soy nuts. Drain your steaks, slice them into thin strips and scatter on top. Pour over the dressing, mix gently and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Basil Cashew Pesto

Just made this and it’s delicious! Can’t wait to eat this over some zucchini noodles. I love how tangy this pesto is!

Ingredients

1 clove of garlic

3/4 cup cashews - raw or toasted

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup virgin olive oil plus more for thinning

1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

With food processor, drop in garlic to mince. Turn processor off and add cashews. Process until cashews are finally minced and just starting to become creamy. Add basil, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt and process until well combined and smooth. For a thinner pesto, add slightly more olive oil. Serve fresh or refrigerate or freeze in air tight containers.

Makes about 1 cup of pesto.