Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gluten Free at the New Life Hiking Spa - Day 1

I arrived Monday evening at the New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, Vermont. I was nervous about so many things... can I really do this? Will I be lonely? Will they leave me for dead at the top of the mountain when I collapse from exhaustion? But mostly, will there be anything I can eat?

The meals at the spa are highly regulated -- this is a weight loss program. There are two options for each meal -- vegetarian and not vegetarian. If I can't eat one of those two meals, I'm going hungry. That's not really how I want to lose weight.

Before the trip I called and spoke with the owner, Jimmy LeBron, who assured me that the kitchen was used to handling special diets and that they make all their own food from scratch. When I got here, I discovered that one of the employees is gluten intolerant as well, so I began to relax.

Dinner the night I arrived was delicious and there was no gluten in anything except the dessert. I had a salad, pork with apple sauce, steamed veggies with balsamic vinaigrette, and potatoes with chickpeas. They brought me a fruit cup in lieu of dessert, and I think I got the better deal. The "carrot cake" looked pretty dismal to me.

The next morning, I was up for Stretch class at 7:00 am, then off to breakfast. The waiter was serving a choice of three meals, and the only one without gluten in it was a blueberry smoothie with hemp protein. Let me just say... hemp is not something I want to eat ever again. It was god-awful. Fortunately, a woman who had been there several days told me a secret. You can ask them for plain scrambled eggs. Hallelujah! The waiter let the kitchen know I was there and they sent out a "tortilla" made of tapioca with my eggs so that I would have a carbohydrate with my meal. The eggs were yummy and I even asked for, and got!, salsa to go with it. It was a meal to make this Texas girl very happy. (For the record, I should note that several other guests loved the smoothies, and one said it varied a great deal from day to day depending on who made it.)

Tuesday's hike was in Woodstock and we wouldn't be back in time for lunch, so they packed us a sack lunch, and they kindly made a special one for me using the tortilla wrap instead of bread for my sandwich. The sandwich had turkey and hummus with shredded carrots and chopped tomatoes. In addition, there was an orange and a little baggie of trail mix with nuts and dried fruit. Then we had a little time to shop in Woodstock and many of the participants went straight for the coffee shop to get a caffeine fix. I went with them, but instead of coffee I had a smoothie made from non-fat yogurt and fresh strawberries. It went a long way towards erasing the memory of that horrible hemp concoction.

After the hike, I made the mistake of scheduling an early massage BEFORE the yoga class. My plan was: massage, then dance aerobics, then yoga, then meditation class, then dinner. I was full of pep when I headed off the massage. After the massage I went night-night and didn't wake up until dinner. Next time, I will schedule the massage for the evening instead.

For dinner, I chose the vegetarian option of red beans and rice with mozzarella. It was a good sized portion and very filling. It was not a cajun rendering of this dish, it was more like eating a lasagne, hearty and rich, but not spicy at all. It was served with salad and green beans. Again, I substituted a fruit compote for dessert, which was a very dry looking apple tart with a mountain of oats on top. I'm pretty sure I was better off with the fruit.

So far, I am feeling very good about the whole experience. I have been well fed with healthy, gluten free food in managed proportions so that I don't overeat. But if worst comes to worst, I still have leftover pizza from Monday in my room fridge if I get desperate. Let's hope I don't have to resort to that.


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