This trip changed my life. Imagine being fully sated and never feeling deprived while still eating “healthy.” Imagine having endless energy and (most shocking for me) staying off the snacks all day long. At The Conscious Gourmet Culinary Retreat, mornings began with a gentle yoga session at Sunrise Springs Resort Spa, a spiritual and healing retreat just outside of town, then moved to the kitchen, where instructor-founder Diane Carlson, a former director and copresident of the Natural gourmet Institute, in New York City, schooled us in such things as making almond milk for dairy-free desserts and introducing ingredients like expeller-pressed oils and Japanese starches into our diet. We prepared all kinds of dishes—mostly vegetarian (including a delicious creamy corn soup with roasted red-pepper sauce), even vegan—and ended each session with a leisurely shared meal. Not every recipe worked for me (particularly the non-gluten ones), but Diane taught us how to experience food, not just taste it. (203-622-1189; theconsciousgourmet.com; $1,545 for four days, including most meals and yoga classes but not accommodations)
What I Learned
A great method for making polenta. (Cook it over a double boiler, stirring only occasionally.)
Eating healthy doesn’t mean having to settle for bird food.
Before You Go
Bring an open mind, long pants, and covered shoes for the kitchen.
Where to Stay
Sunrise Springs Resort Spa (800-955-0028; sunrisesprings.com; from $125), where the retreat takes place. While spare, the center’s gardens, hot tub, and serene setting make it an ideal match for the cooking course.