You know that feeling? The amazing, happy-tears, only-happens-a-few-times-in-your-lifetime one where something that you have dreamed about FOREVER actually happens? And, not only does it happen, but it happens in the most perfect way and you can hardly believe it?
October 22, 2016.
Mark, my boyfriend, and I are both fitness instructors in Philadelphia. Additionally, I am a certified health coach and a professionally-trained chef. Aside from food and fitness, our loves lie in traveling, in our compassion and love for animals, and in giving back. We believe that this life we are so blessed to be living has one main purpose: to leave the world in a better place than it was when we entered it. We had been dreaming up a way to combine everything that we love into one, incredible event to do this, and then, it happened!
Enter: Mooove & Gobble Retreats. Charity retreats created with a "feel good" intention: to give back to yourself while giving back to others. Our retreats are held at animal sanctuaries and include a bootcamp-style workout, a plant-based lunch, time with the rescued animals, time to reflect, and time to just BE in nature. All of the proceeds go to the sanctuaries that we visit.
Our inaugural event was held on October 22nd at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania. Mark and I had visited this farm a number of times before, and we felt that it would be the perfect place to hold our first event. It's nestled in the serene countryside of Pennsylvania, surrounded by mountains (that boast the most beautiful foliage at this time of year). After setting the date with Indraloka, we embarked on a day trip to do a photo shoot with the animals to promote the event (dream life?!). While I can easily ramble on about this day for paragraph after paragraph, I'll spare you. But, not until you see my favorite photograph of all time: Mark doing push-ups with Lily, the pig:
The event itself was nothing short of magical. We sweat, we smiled, we grubbed, and we loved. My favorite moment, personally, was having the opportunity to bottle-feed a sweet boy named Rupert:
The seasonal, plant-based lunch that I created for the day (every one will have its own, special menu) highlighted warming and grounding foods:
- Protein Power Balls (post-workout):
- Chocolate Chia Peanut Butter,
- Lemon Coconut, &
- Spirulina Cacao Brownie Bites.
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (see below for recipe!)
- Make-Your-Own Wild Rice Bowls:
- Wild Rice,
- Pumpkin Sriracha Glazed Pan-Seared Tofu,
- Charred Root Vegetables,
- Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts, &
- Sautéed Mushrooms.
- AB&Js (for the ride home):
- Fresh almond butter & our friend Lucia's incredible homemade nectarine jam on sprouted, whole grain bread.
The week before finalizing my menu, I checked the weather and saw that the event would be chilly: in the low 50s, with slight drizzle throughout the day. I decided on a warming menu, and did a Facebook Poll for the main dish: Butternut Squash or Chili. While it was a heated battle (I think I got the most comments I've ever gotten, on anything, on that post!), Butternut Squash Soup came through with the win. I promised to share the winning dish, so, without further ado...
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4 // Vegan, Gluten-Free
- 6 Cups Organic Butternut Squash (1-2 medium-sized)
- 1 Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk (plus extra for drizzling, if desired)
- 1 Green Apple
- 2 T Olive Oil (plus extra for drizzling)
- 1 Shallot, Chopped
- 1/4 Yellow Onion, Chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
- 2 Cups Organic Vegetable Broth
- ~2 T Maple Syrup (start with 1T, add another if you'd like it to be a bit sweeter)
- Sea or Pink Salt, Pepper, and Cinnamon, to taste
- Optional: Smoked Paprika & Pumpkin Seeds, to garnish
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Place halved and seeded squash onto a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (about 1 teaspoon). Rub the oil in to cover the squash. Bake for 1 hour, and set aside to cool completely.
- Once cooled, scoop out the flesh with an ice-cream scoop and discard skin.
- Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute shallot, onion, and garlic for 3-5 minutes, or until onions are slightly translucent.
- Add all ingredients to high-speed blender and blend to combine.
- Season with cinnamon (two or three shakes), salt and pepper to taste. Blend again.
- Garnish with a drizzle of full-fat coconut milk, pumpkin seeds, smoked paprika, or enjoy as is!
We are so grateful to everyone who attended the event, everyone who donated to the event (special thank-yous to Schmidt's Deodorant & Hurraw! Balm for donating cruelty-free, refreshing products for our gift bags, Miss Rachel's Pantry for donating free coffee to our participants, our friend (and friend to the animals) Lucia for donating her incredible homemade jams, and to Whole Foods in Wynnewood, PA for donating an entire car's worth of food for the animals (it actually took two cars to get all of it there!)), and to everyone who believed in our vision. We can't do this without you! We raised close to $1,000 for the sanctuary and had an incredible day with friends new and old (and human and nonhuman!). We sincerely hope that you can join us at our next event! Check the "Mooove & Gobble" tab above to see all of the photos from the event, and "like" our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on all future events!