A Women’s Weekend in The Country: Vegan Style
On the weekend of May 9-11 at the luxurious bed and breakfast Stonover Farms in Lenox, Massachusetts, women will gather for the inn’s second annual women’s retreat. Like last year, Kosmic Kitchen’s Katherine Miller will be on hand to lead the guests through a vegan cleanse, and to teach them how to prepare and enjoy nutritionally balanced vegan entrees, snacks and beverages.
"I took one of Katherine’s cooking classes and did one of her cleanses, and I just liked her philosophy around nutrition," said innkeeper Suky Werman. "So we started talking and organized the first retreat here last April. It was very successful, and we discovered that the women were actually using the recipes she taught."
The first retreat attracted about a dozen women ranging in age from 24-67, who became friends while learning how to cook and enjoy cleansing, vegan cuisine. They spend down time hiking through the woods, or enjoying the available qi gong and massage.
"We had fabulous food, incredibly good instruction with explanations and a packet of recipes given to us, and people actually lost weight," said Werman. "It was a total success; the whole weekend was wonderful, so we decided to do it again."
Among last year’s culinary offerings were three types of dehydrated smoked almonds, fresh turmeric honey ginger tea, carrot ginger soup, asparagus fennel soup with cashew milk, green apple salad with miso dressing, sprouted buckwheat breakfast cereal and three or four different kinds of smoothies.
Rethinking a Healthy Diet
"The point is to rethink the way you cook, so you’re not just reducing your food intake, but considering what’s most healthy for your body," said Werman. "No one goes hungry, she’s just teaching mindful eating and having a better relationship with food. Katherine believes in vegan cooking and eating, and I discovered that you don’t miss anything when you eat this way, because you’re getting all those tastes and textures."
Miller’s business, Kosmic Kitchen, gives small-scale classes on holistic health, to teach people how to cook and eat well. What attracted her about the Stonover Farms retreat was how the food pulled everyone together.
"I stage things so that while I’m cooking lunch, people can come into the kitchen and actually learn," said Miller. "I tell them why certain foods are good for cleansing or for women, and I show them shortcuts and how to plate things. The result is gourmet foods that you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to make."
Miller relies on an organic process to help determine the dishes she’ll teach and serve, saying, "I don’t just pull recipes out of a file, I think about what kind of experience I want to give these women."
She is also mindful of what’s available during the season, focusing on nutrient-dense spring greens, vegetables, grains and beans, and hot drinks like her neon yellow ginger turmeric tea with lemon.
"I try to come up with novel ways of preparing foods that will make it easier for people to take advantage of their healing properties," she said. "I want to empower people not just to have this experience, but to go home and adopt some of these things and incorporate them into their everyday life."
An Invigorating Getaway
This women’s retreat is new for Werman, but its success has led her to consider a similar retreat for couples. If you can’t make it to the retreat, the inn is just as lovely during the summer. For the past 12 years, Suky Werman and her husband Tom have served as innkeepers for the boutique B&B’s guests, who fill up the five suites quickly thanks to its short walk to Boston’s symphony’s summer home of Tanglewood. The gourmet breakfast and evening wine and cheese service add to the destination’s bespoke beauty.
"We have a very vigorous spring and summer clientele," said Werman. "In addition, we do wonderful weddings here - eight per year in our fabulous barn." Werman said that they have had a number of gay and lesbian weddings there as well.
In addition to the main inn, couples or groups can also rent the charming School House or the rustic Rock Cottage, with its big stone fireplace, all ranging between $335-435 per night. Located just two and a half hours from New York or Boston, Stonover Farms combines the invigorating feel of a rural New England getaway with the luxury of a boutique B&B. Jump start your summer with this invigorating retreat.
The Stonover Farms Women’s Retreat will be held from May 9-11 at 169 Under Mountain Road, Lenox, MA. Cost is $998 before April 15/ $1199 after. For information or to make reservations, call 413-637-9100, email StonoverFarm@aol.com, or visit http://stonoverfarm.com.
For more information on vegan cooking, visit http://kosmic-kitchen.com.