Spa Treats

A few weeks back, several of us moms took a mental day. Because really... who needs mental days more than moms? As the very grateful guests of The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn, nestled in the hills of North County San Diego, the girls and I were treated to a light champagne brunch, some tasty body treatments, and a delicious lunch at poolside cabanas.

Don't hate.

We each had a choice of treatments. I had the Made Fresh Daily Special: Sangria Sensation. Sounds like food, you say? Well, you're right!

The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn is one of the spas on the forefront of bringing back fresh, raw ingredients to the treatment rooms. Using season produce, locally grown and harvested, the spa staff will buff, polish, exfoliate, and otherwise beautify guests of the spa, naturally. The Made Fresh selection changes every month to keep up with the seasons. To see all the other scrumptious treatments that The Spa has to offer, check out their on-line brochure.

My Sangria Sensation treatment started off with an Orange and Almond scrub to reveal the new layers of skin. You know... the younger layers. Next, I was covered in a Wine and Apple Clay and wrapped up in warmth to let the mixture soak into my pores. Once I rinsed the clay off, I was treated to a massage with a Vanilla Orange moisturizing lotion. By the end of the Sangria Sensation, I smelled delicious and felt absolutely amazing!

When our treatments were over (and after a bit of sniffing each other's yummy scents), the girls and I moved down to the pool to the Cabana that the staff had reserved for us. Wrapped up in luxurious robes, we sat and chatted about how wonderful it was to take that day just for ourselves.

Soon, our servers arrived with lunch. Each of us had pre-ordered our selection prior to arriving at The Spa, which was a good thing, since we were all far too relaxed to make any kind of decisions. In fact, not until I opened my own bento box could I recall what exactly I had decided on as my meal. I was happy to see that I made some really tasty choices. Seared ahi with arugula, gazpacho, a small salad, and carrot cake to round up the yum.

Eventually, we had to go home.

But we'll be back.

Because moms need their mental days.

~~~

Here's an at-home version of the Apple Wine Clay masque that was used in the Sangria Sensation, made with every day household items. The only other thing that you'll need to enjoy this delectable treatment is a little quiet time.

White Wine & Apple Mud Mask

White wine is rich in flavanoids that help reduce the appearance of skin aging by decreasing oxidation and inflammation. Apple is naturally abundant in alpha hydroxy acids that promote the proliferation of healthy new skin cells.

Here's an at-home treatment that combines the two:

  • 2 Tbsp White clay
  • 1/4 cup fruity white wine
  • 2 tsp cinammon
  • 1 Tbsp aloe vera gel
  • 1 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1 squirt grape seed oil

Combine all ingredients until an even consistency is achieved, then stir for 30-60 seconds. Gently rub on the skin. Let dry for 10-15 minutes and rinse.

Enjoy!

Fresh from the Garden

One of the fabulous experiences we had at Rancho La Puerta was to enjoy a hands-on cooking class at La Cocina que Canta (The Kitchen That Sings) with visiting chef, Robin Asbell. Under Robin's watchful eye and with the help of the staff of La Cocina, our group prepared a wonderful pescetarian meal. (Pescatarian = vegetarian with some fish added in for those of us that are too chicken *pun intended* to go full veggie.)

The veggies were straight from the organic garden behind La Cocina. In it are vegetables that grow according to seasons and without any pesticides. Flowers bloom throughout to attract bugs and pests away from the veggies.

Lead by Salvador, the Guardian of the Garden, we picked all the veggies and herbs we needed for our lunch.

I was so proud of the leek I pulled. I'm a dork. Sue me.

We also got to sample some jujubees fresh from the tree. Didn't even know there were jujubees!

The salmon we served was wild, not farm raised. No, we did not go to Alaska and fish it out ourselves.

Once inside, we set about to chopping, shredding, cutting, slicing, boiling, whisking, stirring... and singing! We had lively music playing the whole time we prepared our meal, and with our group, it wasn't long before we were belting out Besame Mucho! It is the Kitchen That Sings, after all!

Kari and Nancy chopping away.

Kale, kale, we all love kale... right?

Caron giving an onion chopping lesson.

We all had our own stations. Some people made dessert. Others made the soup. There were a few salads and a goat cheese gnocchi that I am still dreaming about. (Oh my GOD, that gnocchi was good!!!)

The part of the meal that I prepared was really a meal in itself. Most of the time was spent in the preparation and making of the dressing, believe it or not. The rest was done in just minutes.

Looks good, right? Well, I can't just show you the deliciousness and not share. Here's the recipe, care of chef Robin Asbell:

Light Tuscan Bean and Kale Salad with Broiled Salmon and Gorgonzola Bruschetta

SALAD:

Light, flavorful balsamic dressing is made low-fat by using vegetable stock as a base in this recipe. Just a touch of flavorful olive oil and crunchy kale give these creamy beans all the flavor of Tuscany.

3/4 cup Vegetable Stock 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon salt to taste 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1/4 balsamic vinegar 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 bunch kale, stems removed 1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1 15oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced

SALMON:

1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and boned 1 large lemon, zested 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil Coarse salt and cracked black pepper

BRUSCHETTA:

Baguette bread, sliced in 1/2" pieces 1/2 cup fresh basil 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 1 pinch kosher salt 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola

1: Put large pot of water on to boil and add the kale. 2. In a small saucepan, combine stock, cornstarch, sugar, salt, rosemary, and garlic. Stirring CONSTANTLY, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until thickened. Add vinegar, pepper flakes, and oil. Simmer briefly and remove. Place in fridge to cool. 3. Remove kale when done. Drain and spread on clean dish towel. Roll dish towel and squeeze to remove excess water from the leaves. Remove and then coarsely chop the kale. 4. Rinse and drain beans, then place them on a clean dish towel to dry thoroughly. Put beans in a bowl and gently toss with the kale and dressing. Set aside and get to work on salmon and bruschetta. 5. Preheat the broiler to 350. 6. For salmon, cut into four portions, rub with oil, and sprinkle with lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Broil until cooked, 3-6 minutes depending on thickness. 7. For bruschetta, place slices on sheet pan. Chop basil finely and mix with olive oil in a small bowl. On each slice of bread, portion basil and gorgonzola on top. Broil for just a minute, watching carefully to just melt the cheese.

Next time you come over, I am totally making this for you!!

Buy Robin's book, The New Vegetarian. I did!!

Thanks again to Rancho La Puerta for hosting me for a memorable week in the Garden of Eden just south of the border. I will never forget it!!

Thanks to Vixen for making my fun apron!! She has lots more where that one came from. Check out her on-line shop, Apron Frenzy. (Yes, I paid for the apron.)

~

Hikers in the Mist

Every morning, we wake before sunrise, pull back the drapes, and admire the serene landscape. It's lush in a way that reminds the soul that even in the harshest of environments, beauty can thrive.

The morning routine is simple: Suit up in a few layers, put on your trail runners, grab your water bottle and room key, and vamonos! The layers keep us warm in the early morning chill as we cross the ranch to meet our group.

By the time we arrive, our bodies are beginning to warm up from the inside out. I fill one jacket pocket with almonds, the other with tissue. We grab some fruit and follow the hike shepherds out past the vineyards.

The pace is a quick clip out in front, and following the leader can be a bit challenging when we're still yawning. But soon we are invigorated and wide awake.

Although we all start at the same spot, all hikes vary in almost every way: difficulty, terrain, vistas. Talking to staff members about skill level and ability will give each hiker a good idea about which trail to take. Even when hikers fall back on a hike, the shepherds are always there to make sure no one is left behind or lost.

Once we conquer our mountains, we return to the vineyards for a stretch. Shepherds guide us through a series of stretches and then send us off for the day. Most hikes end by the time the old bell clangs and clamors, calling us to nourish our bodies.

We walk towards our breakfasts, knowing we earned every morsel!

This week, I am a forever grateful hosted guest of Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico.