City Escape: A Yoga Retreat in Peru

During my numerous vacations and road trips in Peru, I have had the chance to explore the country’s most famous destinations, as well as some of its hidden gems. This has only deepened my love and understanding of the country’s historical, cultural, and natural wonders. Peru has many different climates that offer a perfect escape from busy city life: the lush green Amazon, white sandy beaches along the Pacific coast, the Sacred Valley in the Andes mountains, and so much more.

When I packed my bags and decided to move to Peru, live in Lima, and get married to my Peruvian husband, I struggled to find a yoga studio where I could maintain my daily practice. In 2012, yoga was not very popular in Peru’s capital city (Lima); most people had no idea what it was. Over the years, this has changed and today, there is an growing yoga community, with numerous yoga studios, yoga fan-pages on Facebook, and many opportunities to go on a yoga retreat.

Also as part of my travels and experiences, I completed my RYT200h Hatha teacher training in the Sacred Valley. Ever since, I have wanted nothing more than to share and combine my two passions: yoga and travelling.

The idea to start hosting yoga retreats came about when I travelled for the first time to the north of Peru to visit my husband’s family. The family villa just seemed like a perfect place: a white house with a pool, located on the top of a hill, with ocean views and sounds, and a white sandy beach.

This year, the opportunity came up: two of my favorite yoga teachers were organising a retreat and hadn’t found a place to host it. I was very happy, excited, and a little nervous: I wanted everything to be perfect for my yogi guests, and I wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and relax.

None of the guests had any specific dietary requirements, but I planned a vegetarian menu, with some fish options. During our 4-day retreat, the menu included a variety of homemade almond and coconut milks, flavored water, smoothies, iced tea, hummus and guacamole, fresh salads, an abundance of fruits and homemade desserts.

The retreat included yoga twice a day, enjoying the sun and the beach, snorkelling with turtles. We were a group of 12 women and the feminine energy and connections offered us beautiful moments. It was the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the craziness of everyday life in the city and reconnect with one’s inner self.

Maple-Almond-Coco Granola

It’s funny because people seem to think that making your own granola is much more complicated than it actually is.

However, it is healthier than any store bought granola and you can add in whatever you like!

So here is an easy granola you can make at home:

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350F/176C.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  3. Melt the coconut oil and then mix in the maple syrup an almond extract.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and combine well.
  5. Place the granola on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes, then mix the granola and cook it for another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool.
  8. Enjoy with your favourite fruits, yogurt, milk, pancakes, etc!

Top 3 things to do in/around Curitiba

First time to Brasil, and I was SO excited once the visa was approved! I had no idea where I was going and because my hubby had already been, I did NO planning. Not even for what type of clothes to bring. And so we were off on a jet plane… to Curitiba, our first destination in the south of Brasil, in the state of Parana.

We toured around the whole city and so I chose to share my favourite things:

  • The Botanical Garden: If you are in Curitiba, this place is a must! It is great to take pictures, visit the greenhouse and smaller gardens, have a snack or just take in some sun.

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  • Historical Center: Enjoy the historical buildings, cafés, restaurants, bars and more as you walk around Curitiba’s historical center. On Sundays, there is a market you can walk around and shop in.

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  • Oscar Niemeyer Museum: Anyone who even slightly enjoys architecture and design should visit this museum! Oscar Niemeyer was an important Brazilian architect who designed many buildings in Brasilia and overseas. The building itself is different and impressive inside and out.

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Green Goddess Quinoa Bowl

I have been mainly posting  sweets and breakfast recipes on here… So today, I decided to change that trend.

I know there has been a whole thrill with the healthy bowls… I haven’t made many, but let’s face it, they are not only delicious… but oh so pretty! ahah.

Sometimes, you can just grab whatever is at hand and create something beautifully delicious, like this “Green Goddess Quinoa Bowl” for instance. Oh and its a hot bowl and I love it!

Here is what you need:

  • half an avocado
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 artichoke heart (cooked and diced)
  • 1/2 leek
  • 1-2 handful of chopped spinach
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • coconut oil (or other oil of preference)
  • 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • sprouts
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a pot and cook the leek until soft.
  2. Add in the turmeric and minced garlic. Once the garlic is golden, add in the chopped spinach.
  3. When the spinach has reduced, add in the quinoa to heat it. Mix well so the flavours blend together.
  4. Put the quinoa and veggies into a bowl and top with lime juice, avocado, artichoke, yogurt and sprouts.
  5. Enjoy!

5 Favourite Coffee Shops in Lima

Coffee in Peru has its history… but in the last few decades, it has mainly focused on exportation. Many locals throughout the country prefer to drink the Nescafe powder instead of good coffee in the French press for instance. 

When I came for the first time in 2009, it was really difficult to have a good cup of Joe. One thing that was weird to me was this coffee extract they mix with hot water. 

However, in the last two years, especially in Lima, there has been an explosion of small coffee shops and barista schools. 

So here it is, when you come to Lima, these are the coffee shops I have found that are low key, have a nice vibe, but can also make a really good cup of coffee.

El pan de la chola
I have loved this place ever since it had only a few tables. Now, although the space has considerably grown, I know I can always get a cappuccino exactly the way I love it.

Green Coffee/Cafe Verde
Green Coffee also does its own roasting. The small space always smells delicious, and they provide coffee for other shops, like El pan de la chola. 

Arabica
Arabica offers a really nice ambiance, and delicious coffee. I always ask for a double macciatto here.

Agora
Right near Parque Kennedy, in the heart of Miraflores, this small cafe allows you to sit outside and watch all the people walking by. Although it is not the most quiet place, it is perfect to meet with friends and their coffee is delicious!

Puku Puku
Puku Puku has two coffee shops and one is right near the Marriott and Larcomar in Miraflores. It is very tiny, but they promote organic coffee from the Andes and the Amazon.

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Chai Spice Bread with Ginger Icing

So. Eating healthy does not necessarily mean you cannot have anything sweet, because sweets can be healthy AND delicious (without that intense coconut oil taste, or without having a grainy texture). When winter comes along in Canada, this usually this means spicy desserts, hot chocolate, tea, coffee and anything that can give you that warm feeling.

Although Christmas celebrations aren’t my favourite, anything with chai spices (ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, etc) are good at any time of the year.

Inspired by Feasting on Fruit’s recipe, here is my version of Chai Spice Bread.

P.S. I absolutely loved using the dates infused with the chai tea and will definitely apply this to other breads I make in the future, thank you!

Ingredients

12 pitted medjool dates
1 cup prepared chai tea 
1/2 cup almond or chestnut flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nondairy milk
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 cup of chopped almonds, pecans, chestnuts, etc. (Optional)

Chai Tea
1.5-2 cups water
2 Cinnamon sticks
2 inches fresh ginger
5 peppercorns
5-7 cardamom buds
8 cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1.5 tbsp black tea

Ginger Icing
1 tbsp butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
A few drops of vanilla
1 1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp almond milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/176C
  2. To prepare your own chai tea, infuse the following ingredients together: fresh ginger, cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, black tea. You can also add star anis, but I am not a fan and omitted it.
  3. Pour the chai tea over the dates and soak for 10 minutes
  4. Blend the chai tea, dates, lemon juice, non-dairy milk, and vanilla until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix lightly.
  6. Add the date mixture to the dry ingredients and combine.
  7. Grease a bread pan or line it with parchment paper.
  8. Pour the mixture into the pan.
  9. Bake at 350F for 30-35minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry.
  10. Combine all the icing ingredients and adjust according to the desired taste and texture. Depending on the ginger powder you have, you might want to add less (if it has a very strong flavour) or more (if the powder you have is not very spicy)
  11. Remove from the oven, let the bread cool about 15minutes and remove it from the pan.
  12. Let the bread cool completely before adding the icing and the chopped almonds.

Enjoy!!

Tips for Hiking Adam’s Peak

 

Hiking Adam’s Peak, or butterfly mountain as it is known in Sri Lanka, is one of the top things I would recommend doing if you travel to the country. The mountain looks like a cone, and has al altitude of 2,243m. It is located in central Sri Lanka and can be reached by train and bus.

I was actually surprised at how many locals with their families were going up the same night as us. At the top, you can see that the footprint of Buddha in the temple, making the site an important one for Buddhism and pilgrims.

Here are a few things you need to know if you plan on hiking Adam’s Peak:

  • Dress warm! (it is cold in the morning, bring a hat, scarf, gloves).
  • A headlamp could be useful
  • comfortable walking shoes or boots
  • Stay overnight at a small hotel or guesthouse in Dalhousie and start climbing during the night.
  • Do not forget to see the unique, perfect shadow in shape of a triangle that forms once the sun rises (many tourists simply leave but it is one of the only places in the world where this phenomenon happens)
  • Busiest months are January and February
  • Weekends are more crowded, so try to plan to go during the week.

Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Include this in your itinerary! You will remember it forever

 

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Going down
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View of the perfect triangle

 

 

 

Travel and Health