I’m not a vegetarian or vegan nor do I have plans to be one, though we have some history with vegetarianism. We read a book in the early 90’s, Diet for a New America, and it had a diet altering impact on us and we stopped eating meat for a couple of years early in our marriage. What we didn’t spend enough time on was learning how to properly substitute meat and its protein with good alternatives. We ate a lot more cheese and a ton of pasta with meatless sauces on it. Yes, we achieved some of our desires by not eating meat, but our diet wasn’t healthy by any means. I can’t remember any details about our transition back to eating meat, but we eventually started eating meat again and have since.

The Sanctuary at Two Rivers is vegetarian and mostly vegan (there were vegans among us and the kitchen staff did an awesome job of creating 100% vegan for them). I looked forward to having a diet cleanse by eating wholesome, clean foods prepared by someone other than me! I expected lots of veggies and some pasta, maybe some traditional Costa Rican beans and rice. I was totally unprepared for the outstanding gourmet meals that were prepared and presented to us 3 times a day. They were not only clean and healthy; they were mouth wateringly delicious. Visually, they were worthy of any fine culinary magazine pages. Good food sparks conversation and each day we wondered aloud what that day’s meals would be, we discussed ingredients and preparation methods as we ate, and shared our own food, cooking and gardening stories. As soon as we sat for our big meal of the day, we would begin guessing what the dessert would be based on the dessert utensil at our place setting.

The food at the Sanctuary inspired me to think more about food and how to incorporate more vegetables in my diet and eat more deliberately and consciously. Steve and I eat fairly well, but there is room for improvement and certainly room for more inspiration in our kitchen. Upon my return (and having more time!) I’ve added a few things to my repertoire: grinding my own grains with my Vitamix, including grinding garbanzo beans and making pancakes from the flour, 2 new sauces to top roasted veggies with, a food dehydrator bag/ net thingy that hangs outside (perfect for the Desert Southwest), homemade Prickly Pear Juice and making my own Kombucha Tea.

Since Steve and I have flexibility with our schedules these days, we have adopted the Ayurveda meal schedule – late breakfast, bigger meal at the 1-2pm timeframe and light evening meal, or maybe a snack.

We lean to the 80/20 rule for most things in life, including food and eating – good habits 80% of the time with the remaining 20% of the time accounting for “real life” schedules, sugar cravings and wine. Most days we eat pretty well, but there are evenings that fall in to the 20% category, a glass of wine and leftover cheesecake for the evening meal (Michele) or popcorn and Mtn. Dew while watching moving (Steve). A life devoid of indulges once in a while seems a bit restrictive!

I’ll leave you with 2 recipes I have incorporated after having enjoyed them at the Sanctuary:

Buddha Bowl:  This is an easy, delicious way to get more veggies in your diet. You can make it with meat, without meat, vegan, with starch, no starch…. the varieties are endless. I like to roast my vegetables better than sauteing, because I like the taste better. Sautéing is quicker though, so slice, dice and saute whatever vegetables you have in the ‘frig. The sauce in the recipe was delicious. I didn’t have a can of garbanzo beans, so I left those out. I just bought my first container of nutritional yeast after having had in so many of the recipes at the Sanctuary. I think it added a great flavor to this sauce, but you could leave it out; most of the recipes I’ve seen for this kind of sauce do not have the nutritional yeast in them.

Kitchari: We had this twice a week during our training, as our evening meal. It is tasty, nourishing and delicious.  Kitchari is a porridge-like mixture of 2 grains (I used lentils and rice last night) with many nourishing spices and whatever vegetables you want. It is said to be nourishing, healing and detoxifying. I made a pot last night for Steve and I. I’m still missing a few of the spices called for but will add those at my next trip to the Indian grocery store. After the week we had, we needed something nourishing and gentle.

A few photos of meals at the Sanctuary:

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