Travel: Canyon Ranch the ultimate wellness spa resort
Where else on earth can you go to enjoy devils on horseback — yet return feeling better than ever? Canyon Ranch Miami Beach — the newest addition to the ultimate wellness spa resort that originally began in Tuscon, Ariz. In contrast to its desert location, Miami is where arts, ocean and long walks await along a strip of surf connecting to the famous South Beach.
As a holistic experience, a balancing of mind, soul and body was in order, but culinary delights topped all senses with inviting aromas, artful presentation and scrumptious, yet healthy tastes. So it’s not surprising Canyon Ranch Miami Beach secured one of the best chefs.
Chef Elizabeth Barlow hails from New Orleans with culinary training in French classical cookery. Fourteen years ago, she headed to Florida, where she worked at Intercontinental Miami, then for five years in the famous Delano South Beach kitchen.
She’s been around the beach, for sure. But since July 2009, Barlow began to work outside of the French cooking butter box, and instead has risen to nutritional intelligence. Working at the ranch, she’s successfully taken on the challenge of becoming a “foodie mixologist” of sorts, with calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and fiber in working order.
“I love the new niche,” she says of the culinary corner she turned. “I’ve always appreciated food — not only that tastes good, but food that’s good for you.”
One of Barlow’s earliest nutritional challenges was with soda. As it turned out, there wasn’t one healthy version on the market for Canyon Ranch to serve. But she didn’t give up. Instead, she decided to make her own soda, utilizing fresh ingredients of ginger root and passion fruit, among others, mixed with evaporated syrup – agave to be exact, and a special brand of club soda. After attempting to re-create the drink at home, I decided that a close second is tasty enough in between visits to the most amazing wellness spa resort I’ve ever visited.
In between circuit walks, 20-minute abs workouts and classes such as "Improve Your Immune Response," I enjoyed many a lunch oceanside, and dinners in a meditatively lit restaurant, where I took pleasure in my first tastes of hibiscus lemonade, pinto bean salad, Chilean sea bass and homemade chicken sausage and Parpadelle pasta, to name a handful (pun intended, due to the portions served).
For those of you who think a trip to Canyon Ranch is tasteless travel, I say, no way!
Portion controlled, calorie and fat conscious? Well, yes, but you do have a list of tasty choices. And you can always order double servings. But I can honestly say I was never hungry while there. And there’s no shame in ordering the sample-sized 175-calorie desserts, which eliminates the embarrassment one might experience if ordering up dessert at, say, Joe’s American Bar & Grill, where a brownie sundae clearly serves five (I had to walk away).
My two favorite Canyon Ranch Miami Beach menu items could not be passed along to share, due to two reasons: 1) certain ingredients are not available, such as veal bacon and fresh artichoke bottoms; and 2) for proprietary reasons. But, I can offer you my revised versions that I’ve been making at home. They may not make the culinary cutoff in caloric, fat or salt intake that Canyon Ranch abides by, but they’re close enough to enjoy a healthy taste of Canyon Ranch!
Devil’s on Horseback, revised version
Maytag blue cheese
Stuff a pea-sized amount of Maytag blue cheese in a date, roll with half a strip (cut in half as well) of turkey bacon. Stick a toothpick through the middle to hold the bacon in place. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes, and broil for about 2 minutes before removing from oven and enjoying!
Baked Artichoke (fries), revised version
One can artichoke bottoms
Seasoning of choice and/or breadcrumbs
Cut bottoms in length-wise slices and line on an olive oil-coated baking sheet. Add seasoning and sprinkle olive oil on top. Bake for approximately 15 minutes and broil for 2 minutes (you can bake both recipes on one baking sheet).