Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Goddess Retreat

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a half day fall goddess retreat with massage therapist, Shannon Branstner. Shannon had originally approached me in the spring, asking if I would help with a cooking demonstration for her long time dream. Over the months it evolved to co-hosting with her. The goal of the retreat was to allow women a chance to take off their many hats (moms, wives, daughter, sister and work/professional) and relax, rejuvenate and learn. Shannon's dream was to help women ease into the hibernation season of fall and winter.

Having never attended a retreat, I wasn't sure what to expect. But in doing some research and talking with others, I realized what a gift a retreat can be to us women. We couldn't have asked for a better day. The sun was shining and our hearts were light. We started the day learning about each other. Even though I knew several of the women, I learned new things about them.

Shannon then led the group in an introduction of Ayurvedic Medicine. We answered some questions to learn our dominant doshsa. We learned about the different doshas: vata, pitta and kapha; how they influence our bodies; and how our choices influence our bodies.

During the discussion we snacked on some fresh Michigan cheese (of course I have to talk about the food!). We had Reny Picot's Camembert Fermier (from Benton Harbor) and Grassfield's Organic Raw Milk Gouda. This was served with organic grapes and organic red and bosc pears. We accompanied these with Almond and Pecan Blue Diamond Nut Thin Crackers.

Bonnie Schnautz, Wellness Coach from B-Renewed, lead us in a discussion of essential oils. These oils were used to make the salt scrubs and bath salts. She discussed lavender, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, orange (my favorite), grapefruit and rosewood.

She gave us the benefits and several uses for each of these. It is amazing how much these natural ingredients can do for our health.

By learning about each oil, its benefits and how fabulous it smells, it gave all the participants a better idea on how to make their bath salt or salt scrub.

From here some decided to ride the zip line while others began making their scrubs. We had four daring riders on the zip line.

After riding the zip line and making their scrubs everyone went to the kitchen to make dinner.

The menu: Salad with Green Goddess Dressing, Lentil and Winter Vegetable Soup with Parmesan Crostini and Spiced Raisin and Apple Crisp.

We broke into small teams and made each piece of the dinner. The green goddess dressing was a blend of Greek yogurt, garlic, fresh herbs, baby spinach and lemon juice.

The Lentil Soup consisted of sautéed leeks and garlic, with diced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, lentils and fresh herbs.

The soup was topped with Parmesan crostinis which consisted of a French baguette sliced, brushed with oil and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Dessert was a blend of fresh apples, raisins and spices topped with a traditional crisp topping of butter, sugar and flour.

After dinner, we tasted three Riesling wines: a dry from Germany, a semi-dry from Michigan and a sweet from Michigan.

The evening ended with reading some additional meditations and discussing what we were thankful for.