Who doesn’t struggle with their weight? Very few people. And if you have a (walk-in) closet filled with investment-quality couture clothing, it’s all the more reason to stay the same size. I do all I can to stay a size 4 at the ripe old age of 63 – and it’s my other fulltime job (in addition to travel-writing). That’s why I love – no, make that LOVE – going to a world-class, award-winning spa destination such as Canyon Ranch. Everything about this spa is organized so that you either slim down or stay svelte – and it’s done in the most pleasurable way possible. You can motivate your spirit, and do lots of exercises – but most important – you can enjoy delicious cuisine – and dine completely guilt-free. In my book, that’s a winner.
There is a wealth of reason to visit Canyon Ranch (I visited the spa in Lenox, Massachusetts). But it is pure joy to travel and visit a destination where you don’t have to worry and feel the anxiety about every calorie. At Canyon Ranch, they have kicked out all the calories, made smart substitutions, and best of all, listed all the fat grams, protein, salt, sugar and more on the menus. That means you can make extremely wise food choices. You’ll still have a delicious meal – and you will probably lose pounds. “Every recipe is nutritionally analyzed,” says Dan Hardy, Executive Chef. “The process makes the menu development take longer – but that’s what makes Canyon Ranch what it is. Everything is GMO-free, and we use as many organic ingredients as we can.”
Indeed, one of my most-favorite-ever foods on the menu is the Southwest burger, containing 352 calories, 14 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat. In a word, it is scrumptious – and it’s on the lunch menu every day. The vegan burger is made with corn, oyster mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, oats used as a binder, a Southwest spice blend, and onions. It is served on a potato roll with avocado (yum!) and with a house-made pickled relish. Another delight for your appetite is the chocolate-hazelnut chia pudding, which Chef Hardy says “is a guest favorite” containing no eggs, only a small amount of sugar, and which has “a silky mouthfeel.”
He adds, “We want to provide good, tasty food, and plant-forward cuisine.” He added that the resort only uses organic coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil (no nut oils); honey or maple syrup instead of white sugar, and that “We order specialty products for guests all the time.” Those items might include kosher chicken, 2% lactate, special cereals, or honey from a favorite flower. The resort also features a special department to handle all of your culinary requests. In other words, you can eat petite at Canyon Ranch and love every bite.
There’s also an entire medical department. “Many guests work with our nutritionists and medical team,” says Chef Hardy. “It’s an extra service we provide, which sets us apart.” For example, I met with an exercise physiologist to discuss how I can stay thin in my old age. His recipe? Get on the elliptical from time to time (to ease sciatica pain); do as many weight repetitions as possible on the Nautilus machines; and if I want to lose weight, keep the daily calorie counts down to 1,000. (Not easy, but possible).
I wish I could eat at Canyon Ranch every day, as it makes life so darn enjoyable, especially the part about, well, eating. Adds Chef Hardy: “We use very little butter and just a little sugar. In fact, the sugar we use is honey, or maple syrup, organic cane sugar, molasses or fruit juice concentrate. Plus we use low-fat sour cream and cheese, and our own in-house mayonnaise made with yogurt, canola oil and eggs.”
Then there are the Canyon Ranch classics that are uber-popular, which bring back repeat guests over and over. These include a Chicken Milanese with yogurt mayonnaise, breading and crushed nuts; miso soup (“People rave about it,” says Chef Hardy); chicken pot pie (“It’s amazing); and a fantabulous baked cauliflower. Hold onto your saute pan – it’s made with a little extra-virgin olive oil and baked at 300-degrees in an oven for an hour. “It elevates something so basic,” says Chef Hardy. “It’s complex and nutty.”
All the pastries are made in house – can you say ‘strawberry scone?’ – and the burger meat and lamb come from local farms. Two bread bakers make every day’s selection of cranberry-pecan; olive; artisan wheat; gluten-free; potato buns; and pizza shells. And let’s not forget the quinoa and millet bars – just 130 calories each – featuring dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, almond butter, and rice syrup. Best of all, they’re gluten-free.
And here’s the best tip of all. Canyon Ranch serves hot-fudge sundaes — yogurt-ice cream that served with a delicious “fudge” made my Wax Orchards. Everyone adores this treat, and it’s low-calorie and vegan. You can even purchase it here. So, in other words, you can continue your Canyon Ranch regimen – while in the comfort of your own kitchen. Enjoy!