Tasty Yummies Travels // I am finding myself, once again, bitten by the wanderlust bug and therefore I have been hitting the road, traveling more and more. There is so much to explore in this vast and beautiful world, but this can also be completely daunting to those of us venturing out with a list of dietary challenges. As I hit the road I plan to share my travels and adventures along the way with you. It is important to me to share both the ease and at times, the struggles of traveling while maintaining the balance of the lives we cultivate and flourish with at home. For the first in this ongoing series I am taking you along with me to the beautiful Islands of Loreto, in the Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Growing up on the east coast, Mexican culture wasn’t exactly part of my upbringing. Enjoying the foods and all of the incredible bold flavors was something I reserved for trips to Texas or California. Since moving to Southern California I have had the pleasure of visiting Mexico on several occasions this past year and each trip is an exciting, beautiful and of course, delicious adventure.
My visit to the Islands of Loreto this past week meant I was fully submerged into all the Baja California Sur has to offer. Truth be told, these Islands off the coast and this particular region of the BCS was an area I previously didn’t even know existed as a travel destination. It’s off the beaten path, likely overlooked by most travelers in favor of it’s popular neighbor to the south, Cabo San Lucas. But, what Cabo is to college-aged Spring-Breakers, Loreto is to calm, relaxation-seeking, wellness warriors, like myself.
My stay the Villa del Palmar Resort at the Islands of Loreto was a phenomenal one I will never forget. A week of wellness where delicious, fresh, beautifully prepared food was abundant, each plate served was a work of art more beautiful than the last. We ventured out on morning hikes into the hills over-looking the serene Sea of Cortez, the many islands and the incredible, vast untouched land surrounding the resort. We started and ended our days with yoga on the beach while the sound of the soft, calm waves found their way onto shore. By boat, with the salty sea breeze and the hot sun, kissing my skin, we explored the islands and witnesses some of the many native birds. We got an even closer look at the marine-life by snorkeling amongst the coral in the crystal blue clear water off one of the islands. Our lush time at the gorgeous Sabilla Spa took pampering to a whole new level with accommodations unlike anything I have ever seen, the hydrotherapy room alone is worth the visit. We also took a guided group trip into town, complete with a visit to the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó. I loved exploring and experiencing the rich culture and history of the area and of course let’s be real, the local foods. This was the most wonderful way to feel deeply connected to the roots of this magical place I was so fortunate to visit.
All-in-all my time in Loreto was a constant reminder of balance. The balance that I work so hard to create in my daily life at home which remains equally as important for me to maintain when I am on the road. Quiet time alone on a paddle board floating along on the calm Sea of Cortez or lying on the beach at night while soaking up the stars were balanced by time spent exploring new souls from all around the world at a beach party, on a group hike or lying by one of the many beautiful pools sharing stories with new friends. The lush and luxurious resort setting complete with all of the modern amenities you could want is offset by the traditional Mexican culture, foods and surroundings. I especially loved that Loreto is the perfect balance of desert vibes with the tropical ocean goodness, the best of two wonderful worlds. Starting the day with a vegan breakfast of fruit and sautéed veggies, sipping on fresh green juice was often balanced by a fresh, locally-inspired, happy hour cocktail. Feeling as if I was in the “middle of nowhere” provided the perfect space to disconnect from the rest of the world, yet this also created the perfect opportunity reconnect with myself and with nature. I truly was exactly where I needed to be, in balance and harmony, nourishing my soul with everything that it craves.
This trip, like many, was an opportunity for me to explore and feel inspired, it gave me the room to breath fresh new air and experience a whole new culture, tasting foods and dishes I have never tried – all while continuing to live the healthy lifestyle I have become accustomed to at home. The difference in this trip from so many others I have been on was how accommodating the Villa del Palmar was with my many dietary challenges, possibly more than any other destination I have been before. They take food allergies, restrictions and dietary choices quite seriously. They have incredible chefs on staff, some of the most talented pastry chefs you will find and they make everything from scratch with the freshest ingredients, no request was too much. Every morning they served gluten-free rolls, bread and/or croissants – you guys, this alone is worth booking a trip for. They easily navigated through my additional requests for no eggs and no dairy and with ease I could avoid some of the many other foods I am currently choosing to limit and avoid, being that the meals were all fresh and uncomplicated and they were well aware of all of the ingredients used. In addition to the many gluten-free pastries they serve daily, they even have an out-of-this world, made from scratch, gluten-free pizza crust, which I of course, had to indulge in a slice of. Hands down, it was THE best pizza crust I have ever had. The chefs and the servers were continuously happy to accommodate me and my fellow travelers’ needs and not once seemed put off or irritated by our group’s many restrictions. Possibly one of my most favorite little details, is how we started the day after our morning yoga class on the beach. Continuing the focus on healthy, every post-yoga breakfast was served with beautiful arrangements of fresh local fruit and they even have an in-house custom green juice blend available every morning.
I can’t recall ever visiting a place where so much love and pride is felt, you can feel it in every big bright smile and in every joyous greeting. Big thanks to the Villa del Palmar at Loreto for one of the most incredible and relaxing trips I have ever taken and thanks to all of the incredible souls of Loreto who have cultivated a beautiful, welcoming space for guests of all kinds. Look for more recipes here on the site soon, inspired by my time in Loreto and feel free to check out my Instagram feed for more photos of my travels, by checking out the hashtag #tastyyummiestravels
In honor of balance and indulging a bit while traveling, I spent some time with Cesar, one of the talented mixologists at Villa del Palmar. We played around with local flavors and spirits, creating some of his favorite original drinks. In particular, this Spiced Hibiscus Rum Cooler cocktail stood out to me, as hibiscus seems to be a reoccurring ingredient in many of the cocktails and mocktails at the resort. Plus, of course you’ll often find it in traditional Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Agua Fresca), too. Slightly tart and a wee bit sweet, this gorgeous colored hibiscus cranberry spiced rum cocktail features the smallest amount of coconut cream which sets it apart from most other cocktails and the chile-spiced rim brings fond memories of the wonderful heat of the chiles used in much of the cooking throughout my stay in Mexico. Cesar fondly refers to this cocktail as a “Bloody Marley”. Whatever you call it, I can tell you from personal experience it is the perfect, refreshing cocktail for a summer beach party, sitting around the pool or a picnic in the park. You could also, of course, travel to Loreto and have Cesar himself, mix one up for you.
[print_this]Spiced Hibiscus Rum Cooler aka “Cesar’s Bloody Marley”
- 1 – 1 1/2 oz. spiced rum (I like Kraken Spiced Rum)
- 1 oz (2 tablespoons) hibiscus simple syrup (see below)
- 2 oz. (1/4 cup) cranberry juice
- 1/2 oz (1 tbs) coconut creme or coconut milk
- 1 dried clove
- For the Rim: Tajin OR chile powder mixed with fresh lime zest and sea salt
- For garnish: fresh mint and/or orange zest
Add the rum, hibiscus simple syrup, cranberry juice, coconut cream, clove and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake really really well. Dampen the rim of your glass using a lime or a lemon. Roll the rim into the Tajin or chile lime sea salt mixture. Strain and pour the drink over ice in the chile rimmed glass. Enjoy!
If you opt for a no-sugar-added cranberry juice, you may want more hibiscus simple syrup.
For a sweeter cocktail you can add more cranberry juice (if sweetened) or more hibiscus syrup.
For a slightly stronger cocktail opt for 1 1/2 oz of spiced rum.
Leave out the rum for a super tasty non-alcoholic mocktail. [/print_this]
[print_this]Hibiscus Simple Syrup
makes approx 16 ounces
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 dried cloves
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar* (you can add more if you like it sweeter)
In a small saucepan, add all the ingredients, mix well and bring it to a boil over a high heat. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover it with a lid and let it steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve, discard the flowers and store the syrup in an airtight bottle. Refrigerate up to two weeks.
feel free to opt for any granulated sugar such as coconut sugar (which is what I use), maple sugar or date sugar. You can also try honey. [/print_this]