When I first started running retreats seven years ago most of my peers didn’t really understand what I was doing.
Mindfulness, plant food and meditation were still seen as slightly hippy dippy interests, and that was by the few who’d heard of them at all! Fast forward to today, though, and we’re all plugging into meditation apps on the train, plant foods are taking center stage on mainstream menus, and green-coloured lattes are on tap at every corner.
While the rest of the world has been getting to grips with holistic wellness, I’ve been busy gathering, planning, and creating based on seven years worth of experience to bring you the best retreat I’ve offered so far.
The Ultimate Wellness Retreat
The result is Bettina’s Kitchen Retreats; 7 unforgettable days packed with food, cooking, eating, learning, healing, relaxing and rejuvenating, mindfulness, health, laughter, new friendships, exploration, connection, travel and more food (!).
After years of collaborating with and learning from incredible people, I decided it was high time I combined everything I’ve learned over the years to launch a truly immersive, food-focused retreat uniting everything that I know not only makes a fantastic and inspiring experience, but will teach you how to continue the healthy practices back home, too.
Discover the Magic of Bali
And I promise you it is going to be special!
I will take you on a transformative journey of nourishment, mindfulness, and the art of self care in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations, and one of my personal favourite places to travel – Bali.
I have been coming to Bali for nearly four years and each time there is more to discover and delight in than the last. Anybody who has visited will agree, there is some kind of magic here that draws people back time and time again.
The island is formed of a remarkable combination of clear, inspiring energy, wonderfully happy people, popping colour, wild vegetation, inclusive spiritual influence, and a whole abundance of fresh and exciting foods. And you can discover its magic for yourself!
While you fill up on the charms of this bucket-list setting you will dine on plant based foods, learn where they come from and how to cook them, and how to improve your gut health by adding them to your diet.
The Bettina’s Kitchen Retreat will take you on a gentle yet exciting journey based around three key principles:
All of the food at the retreat is plant based, 100% organic, and locally sourced. We will not only be enjoying this food at meal times but will be learning how to prepare it in numerous workshops throughout the week. We will also cultivate a valuable relationship with what we eat by visiting the farm where our food is grown and getting right to the source by picking our own produce.
By improving the health of our gut, which is our second brain, we nourish our mind; When we eat better, we feel better, it is all linked you see. In the amazing environment of Bali and our personal retreat space we will take the time to properly relax and rejuvenate our minds to supplement the great work we will be doing with our food. We will also teach you some simple mindfulness exercises that can easily be implemented once you get home.
THE ART OF SELF CARE
I firmly believe that before one is able to love others one must first love thyself. Step one in this self love practice is coming to join me on this retreat. From this initial gift to yourself I will guide you through your journey to the true art of self care so that you may truly love yourself and the people around you.
To give you a flavour of what to expect from the experience, I will take you through my typical day running a retreat. Hosting and running a retreat is certainly not the same experience as attending one but is nonetheless as magical in its own way.
A Day in the Life on My Bali Retreat
5:30 am: My alarm clock goes off! When I am in Bali I have no problems waking up early in the morning. I am often woken by the smell of incense in the air from the ladies who come before sunrise to bless the house. I shower, get dressed, and pop down to the kitchen to make sure there are teas and smoothies for everyone before they go to their morning sound healing with Sumatran master, Raden Andrie.
6:30 am: Once everyone is in their morning class, I start preparing for breakfast. I have a long standing relationship with the suppliers of the food we eat on the retreat so I can be sure everything is organic, grown locally at a nearby farm, and is 100% percent plant based.
8:00 am: Time for Breakfast. Our first meal of the day always includes a delicious choice of different local fruits. This morning we tuck into a traditional black rice coconut bowl topped off with caramelised banana, coconut flakes and fresh coconut cream. We wash this down with fresh juices, hand-steeped teas and local treats.
9:00 – 10:00 am: Free time for guests. Some treat themselves to massages and spa treatments or just enjoy time chilling by the pools. Each house has an individual private pool and there is also a big olympic-sized one that lends itself well if you are feeling social. I spend this time catching up with everyone and preparing for the workshop that will take place later today.
11:00 am: Workshop time! Today’s theme is Gut Health – an ongoing theme of the week to come. I am teaching how to improve gut health using plant based foods. We learn to cook tummy friendly recipes that are easy to replicate at home and each student takes away a recipe card to slot into the Bettina’s Kitchen Diary that everyone receives upon arrival.
12:30 pm: Back to the kitchen for me to start preparing lunch. Each day, a retreat guest joins me to help out with the preparations of the meals and today is no different. My guest helper and I prep, cook and serve the lunch together, with lots of chats sprinkled in as we go!
13:30 pm: We all sit down for a lunch that includes the tasty goods we created in our workshop, along with a “knowledge nugget of the day”, which is placed in front of everyone to keep. Today’s nugget centres around the meaning of mindful eating.
15:00 pm: After lunch I do a round of the guests ato see how everyone is getting on. I also check that our tea station is filled to the brim with goodies and that the kitchen is well stocked. I then welcome Dewa to the Retreat.
Dewa is a dear friend and someone I have known since I first started visiting Bali. He is a Balian taksu, or Holy man, who draws healing power from nature and spirits. Like most aspects of daily life here, the island’s ancient healing arts are intrinsically linked to Balinese Hinduism, which is all about maintaining balance. When a person falls ill they are deemed to be out of balance, either due to internal or external influences.
Dewa has been taught his gift for rebalancing the mind and body by generations of holy men. Everyone at the retreat meets him and receives an initial session before the bigger water temple and fire ceremony at the end of the week.
15:00 – 18:00 pm: Time with Dewa, the Balinese Magic Man. While everyone has their sessions with Dewa I prepare for this week’s excursions. Tomorrow we will visit the organic farm that supplies all the vegetables we will be eating during the week. We will pick our own and bring them back to incorporate into tomorrow’s meals.
Other trips include a visit to a local ceramic factory, Gaya Ceramics, that I have a longstanding relationship with; a traditional water temple, and dinner at an amazing plant based restaurant that serves incredible raw vegan food.
Once the outings have been organised, I return to the kitchens with another volunteer who will help cook, assemble and present this evening’s meal.
19:00 pm: We all sit down and enjoy dinner together. Balinese people are big on their flowers so every night the tables are set with fresh flowers and candles. Each evening has a different theme, feel and colour scheme.
Tonight’s theme is the Meanings of Red. We learn that red is the colour of extremes, passionate love, seduction, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from these powerful associations in the past.
20:30pm: I pop into the kitchen and heat up this evening’s ‘sleepy drink’ made from golden milk infused with Bali coconut syrup, cinnamon, and turmeric.
Every night we have a hot drink together at the end of our meals to aids digestion and reduce anxiety for a truly deep and nourishing sleep. I also hand out small portions of “magic seeds”, a mix I have been using for years, to aid gut health and digestion to help the body eliminate more easily overnight.
I stay up, bask in the ambiance and chat with everyone for a while before we eventually head to bed, ready for a good night’s sleep to carry us to tomorrow’s adventure.