By Gabriella Cook
When Casie and I first discussed her vision for leading a pelvic health yoga retreat I was immediately inspired by her passion. Without hesitation I offered my energy, creativity, and culinary skills to the endeavor! The final result was “Retreat to your Root,” a beautiful life giving weekend in Ojai that focused on empowering and unleashing the potential of every attendee. It was an honor to have met the wonderfully fiery women who made this retreat a success, and who were willing to try all of my culinary creations!
Since pelvic floor dysfunctions often require a multifaceted treatment approach in which diet is usually a key component, my goal was to provide balanced meals to satisfy the tummy so that the retreaters could focus on healing their pelvic floor. Yet finding recipes that support strict dietary restrictions, that won’t flare up symptoms, and aren’t monotonous or bland is quite a challenge! Nevertheless with the help of bloggers such as Autoimmune Paleo and Amelia Freer, I was able to craft a menu that supported vegan and autoimmune dietary protocols while still preserving nutrition and developing flavor. I was overjoyed that the ladies loved the meals! Inspired by their rave reviews, I’ve decided to share a few of the recipes below. Please feel free to modify the recipes and substitute ingredients to meet your dietary needs. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Sweet Potato and Lime Soup with Coconut and Chives
Recipe courtesy of Kate Jay at Autoimmune Paleo
This was the first recipe I served up to the ladies that set the tone for a healing weekend. Filled with tons of nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, B6 and Beta-carotene, this root vegetable was the perfect star ingredient that kept the retreaters focused on their pelvic health rather than a pesky rumbling tummy. Below is an ad-libbed version of the recipe but you can view the original version HERE.
Confession time. True to my nature I didn’t completely follow the rules. I tweaked the recipe, foregoing celery (we forgot it while busily filling 4 carts of food!), adding extra garlic because well... GARLIC, substituting chicken broth for low sodium vegetable stock, and by adding turmeric powder. Oh and using the blender at the retreat home was a total fiasco (it sucked) that sabotaged my hopes for the smooth soup texture noted in the recipe. But as my husband always says, “adjust to fire baby!” In the end, our chunky-smooth soup was just as fabulous!
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion
4 plump cloves garlic, minced
2½ lb orange sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
Zest of 1 large lime
Juice of 2 large limes (6 tbsp)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp of turmeric
*optional toppings: swirl of coconut cream, chives or almond slivers for garnish
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch slices and steam for about 7-10 minutes to coax out flavor and maximize nutrient preservation.
Heat fat in a large saucepan and add onion. Cook until translucent, then add garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add sweet potatoes to the pan, together with broth and lime zest and bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.
Pour into warmed bowls, swirl a little coconut milk on the top if you like, scatter over some snipped chives and serve.
Veggie Chili a La Gabriella
Please note: This recipe will not work for individuals following an autoimmune diet protocol which recommends steering clear from all legumes, yet it works perfectly with vegan diet requisites!
This is one of my go to recipes! Aside from the staple spices, this chili is organically composed every time since it’s the perfect dump-it-all-in recipe that’s usually formulated by any veggies currently in my fridge. This time around, the shining ingredient was Heidi Ho Organic Ne Chevre Cheese aka the most insanely delicious cashew cheese on the planet! Random nerd moment: Heidi Lovig, the owner and creator of this magical brand appeared on Shark Tank making a very successful deal with entrepreneur Lori Greiner, oh and the cheeses are also a favorite of Ellen Degeneres! I know I know, I have a problem. Ok onto the recipe!
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 large red onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced (red works too)
2 serrano peppers, diced
2 Tbsp cayenne Pepper (I’m a spice monster and prefer the heat, use less if needed!)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp black pepper
Sea salt to taste
2 Tbsp cumin
2 15-ounce cans of fiery diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans of black beans
1 15-ounce can of Ranchero Beans
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 cup (420 ml) water, plus more as needed
1-2 Tbsp agave or honey
1-2 tsp of cornstarch to thicken chili OR 2-3 Tbsp of tomato paste
1 Tbsp of coconut oil
*optional toppings: Chives, cilantro, avocado, Heidi Ho Ne Chevre Cheese.
* optional ingredients: diced carrots, squash, quinoa, sweet potatoes, corn.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, garlic and sauté until onion is translucent.
Add green peppers (and other veggies you’d like to use) and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Add ranchero beans, kidney beans, black beans, and diced tomatoes.
Add salt and pepper, spices, cornstarch or tomato paste, water, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then simmer while reducing heat to medium low.
Simmer for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Chunky consistency is desired. If chili is still watery add an additional 2 tsp or cornstarch or tomato paste and simmer for additional 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, add toppings, and enjoy!
Cauliflower Breakfast Porridge
I’m not kidding when I say that I did some MAJOR research in preparation for Retreat to your Root. I scoured the internet for hours trying to find the right way to dial in the perfect ingredients, the perfect amount of nutrients, and the perfect way to utilize them in the kitchen. Time and time again I found myself revisiting Autoimmune Paleo. Not only do I love Angie and Mickie’s story, but their approach to food was so aligned with my own vision that I couldn’t help but be inspired by their content and guest writers. Kay Jay was one such writer. Her Warm Porridge with Lemon and Berries recipe sounded so delish I knew I had to create my own version. I mean c’mon cauliflower for breakfast?! Ridic. If you’d like to follow her exact recipe it’s available HERE. Below is my interpretation:
1 large head of cauliflower
2 cups finely shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 ½ cups coconut milk
3 mashed ripe bananas
3 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Coconut sugar, agave, or honey optional
*optional toppings: almond slivers, bee pollen, hemp seeds, julienned apples, mixed berries, almond butter, honey
Start by preparing your cauliflower. Cut off the stem and chop the crown into small pieces. The smaller they are the easier the “grainy consistency” will occur.
Pour into blender/food processor and vitamix and blend until rice consistency acheived.
Add cauliflower into slow cooker, pour coconut milk, and the rest of the ingredients
Stir together and taste. Adjust ingredients and add a sweetener of your choice or add a little more cinnamon.
Turn on slow cooker for 5 hours. Remove from heat and place on warm until ready to serve.
Add toppings and enjoy!
Carob Quinoa Pudding with Mixed Berries
So this one time I decided to make 4 lbs of quinoa for lunch. Obvi that was a big mistake. You see I’m not the best at math, never have been. Give me boring novels to read and long essays to write, but for the love of unicorns please don't you dare give me mathematical equations! It’s not surprising then, that my calculations for making a recipe that originally served 2-4 expand to serve 12, got jumbled in my brain and was the reason I made said ludicrous amount of quinoa. I was stumped. Here was my perfectly cataloged menu complete with all required ingredients, and all of a sudden I had a curve ball. Enter my Carob Quinoa Pudding! Not only did this repurpose the excess quinoa, but it was a total “on the fly” moment where creativity saved my a**. Best part was that the pudding recipe was hands down everyone’s favorite. Need proof? Here’s one of our rockstar retreaters licking her plate!
2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups pitted medjool dates
3 ripe bananas
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (regular oj works too)
2 tsp orange zest
3 Tbsp carob powder
*optional toppings: mixed berries, mint, thinly sliced orange, shredded coconut.
Combine all ingredients in food processor/blender. Blend until uniform consistency is achieved.
Spread onto a baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.
After the pudding has firmed, use an ice cream scoop to plate.
Top with mixed berries or shredded coconut and enjoy!
Carrot and Turmeric Soup
The final recipe I’ll share is Amelia Freer’s Carrot and Turmeric Soup. First off, Thank you Amelia for your ahmaazing blog and resources! This soup was one of my personal favorites although again, I added my own touches such as turmeric and cayenne pepper, grilled chicken breast for the ladies who wanted extra protein, and a dollop of Heidi’s cashew cheese. Follow Amelia’s unadulterated version above. Here’s what I did:
1 onion roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
8 carrots, roughly chopped
1 root of fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
6 Tbsp coconut oil
2 ltr vegetable stock
A pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper
Sea Salt to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
*optional toppings: Heidi Ho Ne Chevre Cheese, julienne carrots, chives, grilled chicken breast, avocado.
* optional ingredients: cayenne pepper or minced serrano pepper for a little spice.
Peel and chop carrots 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch thick and set aside.
In a large pot add in coconut oil, garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent.
Add in vegetable stock, carrots, seasonings, and simmer for 20-30 minutes on medium heat.
Remove from heat and cool for 5-7 minutes. Pour into blender/food processor and blend until smooth consistency is achieved.
Stir in lemon juice, add toppings and serve!
For the sake of brevity and the fact that my fingers are cramping up, I’ve decided to omit a portion of the recipes I used. Many of the recipes noted above were accompanied by delicious salads with killer dressings, sides such as rosemary roasted veggies, and let's not mention the delicious snacks (turmeric cashews!) that I offered during the entire retreat! I'll leave you with this: It is my sincerest desire that this blog empowers you the reader, to see that nutrition and caring for your body isn't boring or terrible! Health DOES NOT have to be sacrificed for taste, and choosing protocols like autoimmune, vegetarian or vegan diets doesn’t mean you're crazy or in anyway less valuable at the dinner table. Let’s get rid that taboo people! I firmly believe that a life full of delicious AND nutritious food, love, and a four legged friend are the key to LONGEVITY and happiness.