Sometimes, we need short breaks from the hustle and bustle of work life and the busyness of the city, even if it's just for an afternoon away from the stressfulness of adulthood, am I right? We were in luck recently because Vicky from The Wee Retreat invited us to a stress-free afternoon of mindful eating and a workshop on how to make delicious and beautiful raw cakes, taught to us by the talented baker and connoisseur of raw foods, Laurianne from Laurianne's Raw Cakes.
The Wee Retreat often organises very niche and interesting afternoon/day retreats involving learning and practice of the art of mindfulness and meditation. With this in mind, what better retreat to attend than one involving healthy, vegan-friendly food and desserts! Yeah!
The Raw Food Indulgence Retreat was hosted in the quaint Greenbank Garden House, south of Glasgow nearby Giffnock. It's amazing how different Glasgow looks after traveling only 40 minutes away from the city. You're instantly welcomed by fresh greenery, wild animals roaming free and peaceful views of the garden and sceneries! A perfect spot for a workshop about self-care.
Photo by Samad | Meditation and mindfulness exercise
The morning began with Vicky explaining to us about mindfulness and how we can apply these skills to our daily lives, including how we consume our food.
What I learned is that, the more we pace ourselves while eating and give ourselves time to consume our food in a more thoughtful and focused manner, the more we can appreciate the flavours and textures of what we're eating, while also realising where our food comes from and how it's being grown, harvested, delivered and made into the dishes we eat today! It's a wonderful exercise that helps you feel gratitude towards the meal in front of you.
I mean seriously, when was the last time you ate your meal mindfully? With our busy lives, it's understandable easy to quickly scoff down that finger sandwich and crisps you're having for lunch and get back straight to work, but as Vicky said, "It's about being present in the moment".
Photo by Samad | Fruits, both fresh and dehydrated, eaten during our mindfulness practice
After a bit of meditation, mindful eating and some casual chats about our thoughts and experiences, we moved to the table to begin learning methods on how to make raw cakes!
Laurianne is a French baker who moved to Scotland and has now been designing recipes and making raw cakes in Glasgow for 5 years! She's one of the leading independent raw cake businesses in the city and you can often find her colourful creations adorned with fruity or floral ornamentation in vegan-friendly cafes, restaurants and festivals.
For this workshop, she taught us how to make her Strawberry and Lemon "Cheese" Cake, Chocolate Tarts and Wee Snack bites. It was wonderful because she prepared copies of the recipe for us to take home, but also demonstrated how to make things like cashew nut cream (which commonly replaces any dairy cream) which is then flavoured and sweetened with dates or strawberries or lemon! It was such an interesting experience for me!
Another lesson I learned from this workshop is that raw food and raw cakes are known as raw because you don't actually "cook" anything with heat. You either dehydrate, sprout, sundry, ferment or even dry your food components. Everything else is eaten fresh and raw! Mind BLOWN. It seems like something so obvious but I actually didn't know this for some reason. I had the impression that raw food meant it's like any other vegan food like vegan burgers and fake bacon.
After learning how to make raw cakes, we all sat down around the table and were served a mouth-watering 3 course vegan lunch of raw food, prepared by Laurianne herself! Our table spread was incredibly vibrant!
Photo by Samad | Laurianne, showing a guest what what ingredients to add
Photo by Samad | Appetisers!
For the appetiser of the 3 course vegan lunch, there was corn chips made of dehydrated corn, mushroom pate, kale chips seasoned with nutritional yeast, and spring rolls with fresh vegetables like peppers and carrots and drizzled with soy sauce. This meal which is 100% vegan, was so delightful and fresh! I can imagine eating this every day, especially the kale chips! Here's a tip, if you want to go off dairy but still love cheese, use nutritional yeast as a substitute for parmigiano cheese. Sprinkle it on EVERYTHING! You won't regret it.
Our main course was a zucchini lasagna made with fresh layers of zucchini, cashew nut "cheese" and fresh tomato sauce and seasoned with fresh herbs, all prepared by Laurianne. She also made bowls of salad to be eaten as sides. The salad had fresh greens, olives, cherry tomatoes, figs and dehydrated sweet potato shreds drizzled with sesame oil. EVERYTHING WAS SO TASTY! Simple, yet satisfying. This just proves how much great flavours you can create from such natural and healthy ingredients.
Photo by Samad | Zucchini lasagna
Photo by Samad | Fresh salad
And for dessert, we tried the cake that Laurianne taught us how to make, the Strawberry and Lemon "Cheese" Cake, and 6 others which she prepared beforehand! Fair warning, raw food can be super filling. I was full by the time we reached dessert but I ignored by tummy and continued eating because the cakes were so irresistible!
The other 6 cakes were Rose, Raspberry and Vanilla swirl cake, Chocolate & Orange marble cake, Chocolate Victoria sponge cake, Toffee Apple & Cinnamon, Vanilla cream and Chocolate Brownie cake and Chocolate & Salted caramel tart! All very unique in their own way!
Photo by Samad | Chocolate & Orange marble cake (whole cake £30), Chocolate Victoria sponge cake (whole cake £30), and Toffee Apple & Cinnamon (whole cake £30)
Photo by Samad | Strawberry and Lemon "Cheese" Cake
Photo by Samad | Rose, Raspberry and Vanilla swirl cake (whole cake £30), Vanilla cream and Chocolate Brownie cake (whole cake £30) and Chocolate & Salted caramel tart (whole cake £30)
Photo by Samad | Chocolate tart that we made during the workshop! Decorated with mandarin oranges
Photo by Samad | These are all goodies we could take home
Photo by Samad | Laurianne of Laurianne's Raw Cakes and Vicky of The Wee Retreat
So, if you're looking for a short break from the chaos of real life, go for it and attend something different like this Raw Food Indulgence Retreat! This wee retreat was worth the money spent because not only do you learn so much about mindfulness but you also acquire the skills of making your very own raw cakes! You also have the opportunity to taste different genres of food and the lifestyle behind it, and in such a magnificent garden with such pleasant settings! What more could you ask for?
Vicky and Laurianne were wonderful hosts and I'd highly recommend for anyone to attend workshops by them! It's really worth it! Watch out for more of their workshops and events via Facebook.