Fresh Start Retreat: sign me up!



Create a healthful snack with all of the crunch you want – with kale!

Fresh Start Retreat : sign me up!


By Michelle M. Winner the Culinary Traveler ( as published in Oregons Gazette Oct 1, 2010)

I love spas. The Vichy water baths, essential oil massages, sugar exfoliation rubs and flower facials are a divine way to spend an afternoon away from the outside world. But what about rejuvenating the inside of your body? That is a whole different type of spa, requiring re-setting your mind, goals and digestive workings. And you have to jump in with both feet.

An offer to experience the Fresh Start Retreat Program crossed my desk a few weeks ago. Based at the tranquil Ocean Resort Retreat Center in Oyster Bay, Vancouver Island, Canada, they offer a ten and fourteen day Advanced Whole Body Detox and a Five Day Juice Fast. Hitting the downside of my fifth decade recently in June, I decided that no matter the obligations and deadlines I thought I had, not one was more important that giving myself the gift of renewed vitality.

I went to Fresh Start’s website at   and read this claim:

Stunning Ocean Resort Retreat Center houses Fresh Start program on Oyster Bay, Victoria Island B.C.

“We specialize in advanced whole body detoxification and self-care for individuals with mild to moderate health conditions. We have hosted over 125 retreats serving over 650 clients since 2005. We have helped and continue to help people improve their digestive health, weight, back problems, arthritis, diabetes, blood pressure and other conditions, resulting in increased their energy and vitality.”

Pretty heady stuff. So I signed on for the five day Juice Fast program which includes their proprietary pre-cleanse guidelines, fresh organic fruit, vegetable and wheatgrass juices, colon cleanse, blood cleansing tea, probiotic supplements, daily steam bath with aromatherapy, yoga classes, health lectures, daily facilitated Group Time, “Tips for the Journey” to take home and of course either a private courtyard or an ocean view room. The information makes it clear that this is not an isolated journey. You are required to attend classes and share your experience with other guests along on this “journey.” There is plenty of support staff including a Naturopathic Doctor and yes, there are some relaxing spa services offered in addition during your program. The Kelp Wrap, Salt Scrub, Reiki, Hot stone massage are all on my list .

The ten and especially the fourteen day programs are described as “having it all in one package” and are purported to “have the biggest impact on your health; an all-in-one wellness program, lifestyle makeover, major degenerative condition reversal, advanced whole body systems detox, new habit formation and health renewal on a cellular level.” In addition to the juice fast these two programs incorporate raw organic meals, healthy meal preparation workshops, group exercise and meditation sessions.

The process has begun. I received a call from Vasili Kastashchuk, program coordinator to review my health questionnaire. He was thorough in describing the benefits I might expect and in delving beneath the surface questions on their pre-registration questionnaire to uncover some of the basic problems I was having. Waking up tired, a hard time falling asleep, tired eyes, leathery skin, craving sweets and salty nuts, stress, lack of energy by two o’clock in the afternoon, etc, etc, etc, . You get it. You most likely share some of these symptoms with me. He also cautioned me to adhere to the two week preparation program they would send me . It is important,” he said, “to prepare my body for the retreat so that the toxins in my organs would already have gone from a plaque stage to a jellied stage and started to be expelled. .” “Success,” he said, ” would be greatest if you did the preparation.”

So I’m going in early November. I thought I’d be overjoyed that I still have an entire month to eat what I wanted. All of the cake, sweets, salt, wine, processed cheese, chips, pork, steak, oysters, fried green tomatoes and whipped coffee drinks that I could stuff into my face. But after reading some of the literature provided in the Fresh Start Pre- cleanse Preparation file, I am not too excited about these things any more. I might even give up my late-night cookie.

Here is a Crunch-Munchy Kale Chip recipe from Fresh Start Retreat:

2 head kale, washed and torn
¾ cup Tahini
¼ cup Tamari
1/4 cup cider vinegar
½ cup Water
2 scallions
1 clove garlic
1 lemon (juice of)
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

Place kale in a large mixing bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth to get a thick consistency. You may have to add more water. Pour over kale and mix thoroughly with your hands to coat the kale. You want this mixture to be really glued onto the kale.
Place kale onto a Teflex sheet, on top of a mesh dehydrator screen, and dehydrate for 6 hours @ 115 degrees. You’ll need to use two trays. Rotate kale occasionally to dry uniformly.

About the Author:

Michelle is a freelance journalist specializing in luxury and experiential travel. Her readers number in the millions through her various online outlets and print magazines. She loves to explore a culture through their culture and food. "Sometimes, " she says , "luxury can be a shack on the beach with a sand floor and a ceiling of stars."


  1. Pamela October 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Great pre-view of Fresh Start! Hope you enjoy it and feel recharged after. BTW The kale chips go great with guacamole.

  2. Allen Cox November 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    This place sounds fabulous. Your article makes me want to check in for a week. A beautifully written piece. I am a big fan of your blog so I couldn’t resist posting a link to it on mine:

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