How to Bring the Yoga Retreat Experience Home with You

Spa experience at Kripalu

March 23, 2020

By Beth Lipton

Picture this: You’re at the gorgeous, serene Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires. You’re doing yoga. You’re meditating. You’re getting Ayurvedic massages. And, of course, you’re eating amazing, nourishing spa food. You feel peaceful and powerful.

And then, you come home and thud. Life hits you in the face and you’re back to rushing around, stressing, eating… not spa food. That restful, lovely experience feels like another lifetime.

The Kripalu Kitchen

Not this time. We wanted to figure out a way to incorporate some of that restful feeling into our regular lives, so we’re sharing some recipes from The Kripalu Kitchen, the new cookbook by Kripalu executive chef Jeremy Rock Smith (below). And we asked Chef Jeremy to share some of his thoughts on how to recapture that feeling a few days of uninterrupted relaxation and rest in your day-to-day.

Step 1: Be quiet

Breakfast is silent at Kripalu, as a way to begin the day mindfully, and Smith recommends taking this ritual home with you. “The experience at Kripalu is that you’re not distracted by anything else,” Smith says. “You’re in the moment and in self care. Having a silent meal once a day is a big thing for a lot of people, you can be really in it, enjoying the food and being mindful and setting intentions for the day.” Another benefit of a silent meal? “People experience the taste of the food much more,” he says.

Step 2: Pay attention

Applying mindfulness to other parts of your day—especially things you have to do anyway—is another way to recapture that peaceful spa feeling, he says. “You get a benefit even if it’s just a few minutes” of mindfulness, Rock says. “If you’re cooking a meal, just be cooking that meal, or just be eating it, without screens or anything else in the background. When you’re washing the dishes, just wash the dishes. You get so much more out of the experience that way.”

Step 3: Think of cooking in a new way

It’s hard to think of cooking as a fun, positive thing when it’s a chore, so try to look at it in a different way, Rock says. “People view cooking as this arduous process. But really look at what cooking is to you—is it about nourishing yourself, or your family? Look at it as serving that higher need, not just a chore,” he suggests.

It’s also helpful to manage your expectations of yourself; starting small is a good way to find success with healthier cooking and mindfulness.

“Assess where you are and start from there comfortably, work from there,” Rock says. “Commit to one new recipe a week; don’t over commit. Think of cooking as a practice. A practice is something that’s attainable, you do it without judgment of yourself, you’re not attached to the outcome. When something goes wrong, that could be the moment where you learn the most. Think of it as an opportunity to observe yourself, and let go of the end result a bit.”

Get started with these simple, delicious recipes from the book.

Spiced Quinoa Cream Cereal with Dates

  • Serves: 4
Spiced quinoa cream cereal


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or Raisin Sauce
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, any kind
  • 6 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (or whole roasted and chopped)


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups water with all the ingredients except the milk and almonds. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the grains are almost tender, about 10 minutes, stirring now and then as the cereal thickens.
  2. Uncover and let simmer gently until most of the remaining liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk and almonds. Serve hot.
  3. Option 1: Amaranth Cream Cereal: Use 1 cup amaranth and 4 cups water.
  4. Option 2: Millet Cream Cereal: Use 1 cup millet and 3 cups water.
  5. Option 3: Creamy: Use milk, almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, and/or coconut milk.
  6. Option 4: Spicy: Use cinnamon, cardamom, ground or fresh ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, and/or allspice.
  7. Option 5: Sweet: Use dried fruit (dates, figs, cherries, apricots, etc.), maple syrup, coconut sugar, or Raisin Sauce.
  8. Option 6: Nuts and seeds: Use flax, chia, sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds; or walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and/or hazelnuts.

The Kripalu dining room buffet is an exercise in liberty, and this hot breakfast cereal illustrates that freedom. Here, we provide a basic cooked grain with dried fruit, nuts, and spices. But we encourage you to customize these elements to your heart’s content.

Ayurvedic Insight: This is a tridoshic breakfast that anyone can enjoy. To fine-tune it for your own doshic balancing, see the optional mix-ins. Pitta and kapha should favor seeds, while vata should favor nuts. Raisins are also more kapha balancing than dates.

Mushroom Cheesesteaks

  • Serves: 4
Mushroom cheesesteaks


  • 1 cup julienned Spanish onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups julienned red and/or green bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup grated provolone cheese
  • 4 Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls or sub rolls


  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Put in the onions and oil, shaking the pan to coat the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  2. Stir in 6 cups of the mushrooms, cover, and sweat the mushrooms until they are tender and release their juices, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the porcini powder and oregano and raise the heat to high. Cook, uncovered, until the pan goes dry and the mushrooms caramelize, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. When the mushrooms are nicely browned, stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the tamari and Worcestershire, scraping the pan bottom to capture all the flavors. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the peppers and remaining 2 cups mushrooms. Cover and sweat until the peppers are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the provolone. Serve on the rolls.
  5. Option 1: You can buy porcini mushroom powder or make it yourself by buzzing dried porcini mushrooms to a powder in a clean coffee grinder. Try buzzing a mix of dried mushrooms, such as shiitake, porcini, and matsutake, to make your own signature blend.
  6. Option 2: For a vegan version, use vegan Worcestershire and omit the cheese. Or use vegan cheese such as Follow Your Heart pepper jack.
  7. Option 3: For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free rolls. Or for a grain-free version, skip the rolls.

Be prepared for a big burst of juicy, satisfying, savory flavor in these sandwiches. Caramelized portobello mushrooms, dried mushroom powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and provolone cheese are all rich sources of umami, the Japanese word for “delicious.”

Ayurvedic Insight: Enjoy these sandwiches in the fall and spring when the dry quality of mushrooms will help to absorb dampness in the body. Kapha types should go light on the cheese.

Spring Pea and Mint Soup

  • Serves: 4
Spring pea and mint soup


  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cleaned leeks
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (green and 
white parts)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-­virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 5 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock 
or water
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced spinach (chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Heat a medium soup pot over medium-­low heat for 2 minutes. Put in the leeks, fennel, scallions, and oil and shake the pot to coat the vegetables. Cover and cook gently until the vegetables are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes more. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add 4 cups of the peas and the stock, scraping the pot bottom to loosen any browned bits. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer just until the peas are heated through but still bright green, about 3 minutes.
  4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in an upright blender. If using an upright blender, avoid a blowout by cooling the soup slightly and partially removing the center lid of the blender. Puree the soup until it is super smooth.
  5. Pour the soup back into the pot (if you used an upright blender) and stir in the remaining 1 cup peas, the spinach, mint, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Heat through and serve.
  6. Option: The soup can also be cooled, chilled for up to 1 day, and served cold.

With fresh mint and spring peas, this vibrant green, silky-­smooth soup is an homage to the season of rebirth. There are no spices here, so caramelizing the vegetables is a key step in developing the flavor.

Easy Ginger-Almond Broccoli Salad

  • Serves: 4
Ginger almond broccoli salad


  • For Salad:
  • 1 1/4 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 1/4 cups scrubbed and shredded carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded bok choy (leaves and bulbs sliced crosswise superthin)
  • 1/2 cup paper-thin slices red radish (use a mandoline)
  • For Almond Ginger Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons honey, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. For the salad, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Drop in the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes. Use a strainer to remove the broccoli and then run cool water over it for a minute or two to stop the cooking. Let drain and reserve.
  2. For the dressing, spoon the almond butter into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lime zest and juice, honey, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, salt, cayenne, and cilantro until the dressing is well blended and creamy. If your almond butter is thick and the dressing isn’t creamy enough to easily coat the broccoli, whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Add the blanched broccoli, carrots, bok choy, and radishes.
  3. Toss to coat, and serve immediately. You can cover and refrigerate the salad, but as it sits it will get increasingly wet as the salt in the dressing draws moisture from the vegetables.
  4. Option: If you prepped a bunch of broccoli for another purpose and have stems left over, peel the stems then shred them and use the shredded broccoli stems instead of florets in this salad.

I’m not a big fan of broccoli that’s nearly raw, but this salad works. Kripalu guests absolutely love it. The dressing is rich and creamy with almond butter and toasted sesame oil, sweet with golden honey, pungent with minced ginger, and aromatic with fresh cilantro and lime. You could also mix this dressing with noodles or drizzle it over a salad.

Excerpted from The Kripalu Kitchen by Jeremy Rock Smith with David Joachim Copyright © 2019 by Jeremy Rock Smith. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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