True Nature Travels Blog
True Nature Travels Blog
True Nature is so fortunate to be working along side amazing, inspiring, and talented teachers that lead global retreats! Two of our newest instructors is leading a Costa Rican retreat in February 2017.
Join Virginia natives Becky and Betty for a week of self discovery and reconnection with the core of our infinite being. Surrounded by nature, nestled between the ocean and the jungle, warmed by the tropical air and embraced by the infinite sky, we will take advantage of the surrounding elements by combining asana practice with workshops that invite earth, air, wind, and fire to parallel the elements within us.
We will explore the beauty of the external landscapes of Playa Uvita, Costa Rica while navigating our internal landscapes; flowing freely on our mats while quieting our minds with stillness and meditation. As we partake in island adventures, we remain open to infinite possibilities. As our journeys take us within, we invite you to dive deep through opportunities for ceremonial work, self reflection, and healing. Stripping away the distractions of everyday life, we will get back to basics, cultivating our ever present and universal truth that lies within.
Becky shared with us one of her inspirational poems with us. Take a look below……..
Something deep within me knows. Knows where I have been and where I am going. It is not a knowing in my mind. It is a knowing deeply rooted in the depths of my soul. It is the animal of my body; constantly in touch with my instincts no matter how distracting the stories become.
A tiny seed does not need instructions to grow as it fearlessly roots down into its loving mother two then courageously grow up towards its father. The seed does not think. It knows.
A delicate spider does not study an instruction manual to weave her silver miracle that comes forth from within; providing her with everything she needs to survive. The spider does not think. She knows.
A stallion does not need permission to run wildly through the fields when his muscles ache to move. He listens, he feels, he unapologetically flies. The horse does not think. He knows.
Why must I think?!
I shall leave you to your thoughts as I grow… As I weave… as I fly… Empty and free…
This is what it is to trust.
Here is a little bit about this good vibe goddess!
Becky Eschenroeder—a Richmond Virginia native—is an accomplished Yogi who is recognized as a 500 hour RYT, 200 hour E-RYT, RCYT and was voted as one of the top three yoga instructors by Richmond Magazine in 2015. Becky studied under Arlene Bjork and Grace Yoga Training Systems prior to Arlene’s passing in late 2009. Becky then obtained her 500 hour RYT through Om On Yoga under the guidance and wisdom of Jennifer Elliot. It is through this experience that she made the commitment to be a full-time yoga teacher. Becky made the conscious decision to dedicate her life to bringing her love of yoga, movement, and learning to all walks of life as evidenced by her deep commitment and involvement in such initiatives as Project Yoga Richmond and YoKid.Golden Goddess
With a degree in Psychology from James Madison University combined with her elementary school teaching license from Mary Baldwin College, Becky uses both her knowledge and experience in these disciplines to design yoga workshops, classes and retreats, here and abroad, that expand the senses, broadens the mind, and opens the heart to what is truly possible. Her ability to meaningfully connect with those she serves so selflessly arises out of her personal commitment and disciplined approach to deepening her own learning and practice of yoga, philosophy, and meditation.
Becky has been a proud Ambassador for Lululemon Athletica, Project Yoga Richmond and YoKid Stretch Your Limits. Becky is a certified YoKid Facilitator Trainer responsible for training fellow adults in ways to incorporate yoga into children’s lives. Becky is also trained to teach children’s yoga through the “Yoga with Nitya” format, and yoga to individuals who have undergone trauma.
Becky can be seen riding her bike around town as she commutes to and from teaching yoga classes, private lessons, and meeting with community leaders. You might also see her leading a Yoga Hike along the James River during the warmer Virginia months. These only a couple of many examples of how she lives her life in full beauty and in alignment with the yoga teachings and practice. Becky is a creative and passionate woman who loves art, freelance photography, hiking, kayaking, traveling and running along with most outdoor adventure activities. She adores doing all these things with family and friends—both old and new.
This is the fundamental lesson that keeps Becky grounded in uncertain times and one that she learned many years ago when she first began practicing on the mat. Becky lives her life holding a deep belief that it is her responsibility to guide others down this path and help lift them up through action and word. Namaste.
True Nature Travels Blog
I found myself hiking uphill in a small town on the outskirts of Turriabla on a Costa Rican adventure, wondering exactly what I got myself into. I was beyond exhausted from hours jumping from bus to bus, brain buzzing with struggling with translating the language, and was surrounded by mainly cows and leaf cutter ants. I was on an adventure.
I came straight out of a blissful week in the sweet beach town of Santa Teresa, covering a True Nature Yoga and Wellness retreat. The vibes there were strong, positive, safe, and every aspect of day to day was covered. Beautiful dishes were served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; pristine rooms, hot showers, daily yoga sessions, dancing waves, and a whole team to support you. Needless to say a yoga vacation is the way to go for a chance to relax, reconnect, and simply be. So this was quite a little bit of a shock.
I tend to be an adventurous soul. I am not a stranger to backpacking trips, traveling solo, getting lost in nature, and ultimately just figuring it out. I figured why not while I am in Costa Rica go off the beaten path and discover something new. So I did. What I did not anticipate is my banking account being shut down for what they think was fraud, my cell phone to stop working in these small off the grid towns, and the language barrier to be so strong where I wouldn’t speak english for a week or two straight. I was not on a yoga retreat anymore. Either way, I trudged along and took in all I could with an open heart and mind.
So this is where you find me, huge backpack, 5 dollars to last me a week and walking straight up hill to a tiny farm where I would spend the next 4 days in La Suiza along the river. La Suiza is a sweet little town based around sugar cane. Small, friendly, where everyone knows everyone. Within the town a beautiful rushing river cuts through the small mountains. And let me tell you, the river taught me everything I needed to know.
In our culture and day to day lives, it is all about the hustle and bustle. We push ourselves in our personal life, careers, and are usually working towards what is next. It is ingrained in us and becomes subconscious behavior. At least for me it is, and I am sure many of you can relate. Juggling professional life, family life, and self care is a never ending “to do” list. On top of that add in our constant connectivity where we can be reached and expected to be reached at any moment. Instagram, facebook, snapchat, emails, all in your pocket.
Strip this away and what are you left with. When you are forced to be out of pocket, tasks have to wait, your world literally gets put on pause. Cows. I was left with cows, muddy trails, and my monkey brain running in circles on how to get cell service, answer emails, and continue on while in this town.
Well long story short, a day later in my quaint little shack along the river, I realized it was about surrender. Life has a funny way of giving you just what you need. It is your choice if you will go with the current or against it. Will you go with the flow or fight it. By allowing ourselves space to tap into the natural progressions of life, it is no longer an upstream battle but a playful ride down the rapids.
By the second day, I woke up lightness in my step. Waking up to the rushing river, birds chirping, and the world yawning herself into the
day. I picked fresh avocados, mangos, and bananas for food. I jumped from rock to rock along the river. Sat down with the animals to read.
Examined each and every flower surrounding the house. Made friends with an old farmer. And rolled in the mud. I turned off my brain, told the world to wait and played.
I needed to be reminded it all isn’t so serious and that we all need to delegate time for play, day dreams, and simply being. Maybe it didn’t require such an extreme adventure, remoteness, and challenging situations for me to get there in my head space. But that is how it happened and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The river danced with the sunbeams, and laughed along the rocks, she pushed me right along and when I left I had a tear in my eye. I came in crying with stress and exhaustion and left with tears of joy, surrender, and gratitude.
I was off to the next leg of my journey, a True Nature Educational and Adventure trip, where uncertainty would not be an issue. I would be well taken care of, going on epic adventures in a controlled environment, speaking English, connecting with awesome student leaders, and surrounded by all the beauty of Costa Rica. All the while, in the back of my head I would hear the river whispering to me to go with the flow and have some fun.
True Nature Travels Blog
A Costa Rica Yoga Retreat, What’s Not To Love?
The sky ripped and roared. Lightening illuminated the sky and thunder shook the oceans. I was coming in on a ferry boat into a foreign land in the dark by myself. I have traveled solo quite a bit and I was no stranger to thunder storms. So I took in the rain and pondered what was awaiting me at my final destination. After all, I was in Costa Rica, a place of paradise, covering something I care tremendously for, yoga retreats.
In Cost Rica there is one Spanish lesson you need, Pura Vida. Hi= Pura Vida. How are you= Pura Vida. I am doing well= Pura Vida. The locals, or “ticos” joke about this, but really there is a lot of truth to this phrase that literally breaks down to Pure Life, and is virtually used as much as possible. That is the mentality of this gorgeous country; pure life. Barely the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has so much to offer from culture to landscapes. The hospitality is unreal and the abundance of love and greenery is just as mind blowing. I couldn’t wait to join the Shakti Yoga retreat!
I was excited to dive in and as I arrived to the lush tropical retreat center on the ocean, I had butterflies of what to expect. Every yoga retreat is different and beautiful in their own special and unique way. I was joining in the last leg of this trip. It was the Shakti Power Yoga retreat. I walked in at the end of dinner and immediately felt at home. Warm beaming smiles, radiating hearts, and glowing yogis greeted me. I knew I arrived.
Long story short, the Shakti Yoga sisters, Lauren and Kelly, know how to lead a robust and fantastic retreat. They have been part of the True Nature family for sometime and their global adventures have evolved to an art. The community they bring with them from Nashville and the yogis from around the nation that join their retreats all reflect what Lauren and Kelly are all about, love.
They truly love what they do and it shines. The community they build during retreat is strong with acceptance, dedication, and a playful spirit. It was such a pleasure and honor to get to know these lovely ladies and explore what retreat means on the shores of Costa Rica.
To accurately account and share the entire retreat would need more than one blog space dedicated. Alas, this is one blog post, so I will do my best to share my top 3 things I love about going on retreat with the Shakti sisters and True Nature.
1. Karma Yoga Project: The heart and soul of True Nature is the act of giving back, or Karma Yoga. Sure you can travel and participate in eco tourism. But, it is another thing to dive in heads first, roll up those sleeves and immerse yourself into the culture. Paying particular attention to seeing what work needs to be done and then physically fulfilling that work on a micro level is such a lovely way to give back to the communities your visiting. Most True Nature yoga retreats include an aspect of this. For the Shakti Yoga retreat we participated in a school that serves elementary school children. We cleaned up yards, prepped gardens, taught yoga, played, laughed and learned.
2. Family: Family is more than just blood. It is the people you connect and share with. Every one of these beautiful ladies on retreat were so sweet, accommodating, and genuine. Deep and beautiful friendships were forged. Also, there was literal family on this trip; multiple groups of sisters and moms!!! Daily practicing, group meals, excursions, and service projects made relationships strong and vibrant. Being surrounded by this energy is an amazing boost of connection that I greatly appreciated. Lauren and Kelly did an amazing job fostering these relationships and allowed a space for new friendships to blossom, and past relationships to strengthen.
3. Adventure. You can not have a Costa Rica experience without adventure. Whether your four wheeling through dense jungles with howler monkeys guiding your way, trudging through rivers to experience a powerful waterfall, or being covered with saltwater from surfing in rolling waves right outside your room’ a Pura Vida experience is at your finger tips. During retreat, excursions are abundant and supported by local and knowledgeable guides. Not only will you know you will be safe and the outing will go smooth, but you will push your limits and experience something totally new. I am a strong believer that adventure wakes something up in all of us. One of my favorite experiences with the Shakti yoga group was four wheeling through rainforests to the close by town of Montezuma, a quaint rootsy coastal town. Delicious food, local goods, waves crashing, and speed on four wheels allowed a memorable experience.
I could go on and on about how wonderful this week is for yourself offering a chance for one to reconnect, serve, practice, and adventure on. The best way to experience it, is first hand. We would love to have you! The Shakti sisters are hosting a True Nature Italy retreat this fall with only a couple spots available! Be sure to check it out here and hope to see you global!
True Nature Travels Blog
A Global Service Project Paints Hope for the Future
A note from Costa Rica
Lindsay is a village leader in Costa Rica who partners with True Nature Education on multiple Karma Yoga projects. She was kind enough to share how one recent global service project from a TNE retreat genuinely touched the lives of those in need. The physical support was simply metaphor for the emotional support that was given. We are so grateful at True Nature to be involved in these programs and would love to help you plan your next global service project! Enjoy the heart felt words of Lindsay!
It is sad to miss someone.
When a loved person dies, the empty space is there, you can see it, you can feel it. Our neighbor, decided to come and start a new life so far from the place where she spent half of her life. Her sad eyes seemed opposite to her beautiful and sincere smile, her deep wish to help the ones around her, made all of us to see her as one more family member.
Every time when we needed a hand (or two), she was there. As everyone here knows, I am honored to look for the community projects in the área, so every time TNE comes to visit us, they spend hours helping us to improve our village, bringing their brave spirit of cooperation and joy.
As soon as I had to look for a good one project from our list, I thought of this lady and her home.She was so excited to know about it. Not everyday you have a group of volunteers painting your house, so she decided to show her gratitude, doing something that really touched our heart…
She told us about her young son, he had an accident, it was a motorcycle crash and he passed away. So we discovered the reason of her sad mirage. Three days before the group came to start their project, there was a young man living in her home, his name is Jose and he is 24 years old, same age as the son she lost in that accident. Same name, too.
Jose was a homeless boy that because of the drugs addiction could not continue with his dream of becoming a tour guide. He came to the rehab center from the village (where my father volunteers as a motivator ) and his life changed. He became a new person and my neighbor and her husband decided to open the doors of their home for bringing him a new opportunity.
This young man has been working so hard to this family, he is thankful for the miracle of having a new family, a family that trust in his change. We all deserve a new chance to make the things right.
It is a kind of chain of good actions. You never know how far your blessings will go.I would like to thank my dearest friend Joshua and his family for bringing too much joy to our village. I would like to thank you for choosing to travel with a purpose.
While I write it, Jose is trying to find the way to go back to school. Their new parents are so proud of him, same like us, all of us.
Miracles may have different sizes, colors and names. This miracle was signed with love and painted with some rollers and paintbrushes during a rainy morning.
True Nature Travels Blog
There is a great need for global service projects in this world right now and our mission, as human beings is to pull together to make a difference. This action, known as, “Good karma,” in the yoga world, is meant to send out a positive rippling affect from one person, to the next, to the animals, to the plants, waters, skies, world, Universe.
My path in yoga has encouraged awareness. An awareness of how my actions effect others. An awareness of the,”Other,” not being an other at all, but of being one with everything, including me. According to Albert Einstein’s Quantum Theory, everything in existence breaks down into subatomic particles and is derived from the same light. So from light to the cosmos, we are all made of the same stuff, intermingling, co-existing, co-creating, all from the same source, at the same time.
Think about how this has the infinite power to create a positive and negative effect. Now think about pollution. Think about the oceans and how, for instance, the Pacific Garbage Vortex off of the North Pacific is contributing to the ecosystem at this point. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, it is an island of non-biodegradable plastics and other debris that accumulate in a swirling trash island that is about the size of Texas at this point. What you can’t spot from a plane overhead are the micro plastics that discolor the ocean, creating murky waters. What is not on the surface, sinks to the bottom.
An article from National Geographic states,
“About 80% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia. Trash from the coast of North America takes about six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, while trash from Japan and other Asian countries takes about a year.
The remaining 20% of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or lose debris directly into the water. The majority of this debris—about 705,000 tons—is fishing nets. More unusual items, such as computer monitors and LEGOs, come from dropped shipping containers.”
This is creating a negative rippling effect across the world by way of cause and effect. The se
a life has been eating the trash, mistaking it for living organisms, the birds and larger marine life eat them,
chemicals consumed by them are then passed along in the food chain and we, the planet earth, are harmed. This is just one example of how what we do, matters.
I would like to invite you, as a brother, sister, mother, father, friend, and ultimately as the I in you and the you in I, to join me in an active roll to create a positive change in this world. Initiatives have already begun, and it is up to our generation and the generations to follow to continue this work. We must evolved. We all depend on it.
Here are 5 ways you can contribute to Global Service Work
- Organize a nature walk to pick up trash. When I was living in Costa Rica, we would walk up and down the beaches and rainforests together, picking up trash. I was astronished to find strollers, tired, and endless plastic bottles, cans, wrappers, you name it, strewn across the lands. This is a place that has huge nature preserve initiatives, but through tourism, the lands are being disrespected. We can make a difference around the globe. Mother Earth needs us, just as much as we need her. Join the cause. http://www.pickupamerica.org/about/press/volunteers-picking-trash-across-america2
- Recycle. During my travels to the Western United States, I was pleasantly surprised at the sustainability act to recycle and compost. You can start small. When I first moved back to the States, I moved into a home that had the recycling bins to use, but never used them. I talked to my room mates about how important recycling is for the environment and I pulled out the recycling bins. They have now been recycling for a year and while I am about to move, I encourage them to continue this sustaining habit. http://inhabitat.com/top-6-recycling-and-reuse-initiatives-from-around-the-globe/
- Fight poverty. Whether I am in New Dheli, India or Baltimore, MD, USA, I try to raise awareness of oneness through service work to others. The homeless need help. A dear friend and sister of mine made this initiative her life. She helps out at a local shelter in Baltimore and carries around cards and food in her car to pass out to the homeless whenever she sees them. She lives in the heart of the city to be amongst them. She is the true spirit of Mother Theresa and I honor her courageousness and selflessness in her efforts. While this is the extreme, we can all get involved by paying attention to our brothers and sisters across the globe who have less than we do. You can carry granola bars to pass out and if you want to get involved on a bigger scale, you can. http://www.takepart.com/article/2009/02/17/top-10-non-profits-fighting-poverty
- Build another’s value. Kiva. I love this organization so much and I contribute every change that I get. Kiva is a non-profit organization that holds a beautiful space for charitable contributions towards underprivileged people to, “hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.” You provide a loan as low as $25 to mircofinance someone in Nepal for instance to buy a cow for their dairy farm, and as they make more money in their business, they pay it back. You then regift the loan to the next person in need. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Recycled money put towards a beautiful purpose. Get involved. https://www.kiva.org/about
- Educate the next generation about global service. In this day and age, we are a culture consumed by the digital dance. Children are given glowing devices from infancy forward to educate, distract, and entertain. First, let’s use this force for the good. Show your children videos and articles on how they can make difference. The internet has been a beautiful tool for decentralization. We have the ability to reach large audiences in a matter of seconds and have access to endless amounts of information and like minded communities. Show them how to share this knowledge with others. Bring them on service trips. Get them traveling from a young age. Get them outside and in engaged in the world. Have them open a book that doesn’t glow. It is up to us to educate our children on global change. https://www.youtube.com/user/youthservice
About the author: Alana Roach is a International Yogi currently based out of Annapolis, MD. Formerly adorned by the city lights and the busy streets of America, she was then whisked away by the illustrious path of yoga and took to traveling the world to share it with others. A few years back she started to write about the transformation she undertook by practicing conscious meditation. She practices and teaches varied styles of yoga at Ruahstudio.com, leads international retreats, loves surfing, being in nature, and enjoys a good belly laugh. She is on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, and can be reached by email email@example.com
True Nature Travels Blog
It is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region, depending what is produced and in season. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated with variations throughout the country. (Read More Here)
When I think Italian food I instantly crave a homemade and hearty pasta dish followed by a glass of nice red wine. And then I realize, the food coma is always lurking around the corner. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing more appealing than a well rounded, fresh, comforting, and filling Italian dish. However, sometimes with our active lifestyle our bodies crave food more light in nature.
So why not take a traditional Italian dish and put a healthy spin to it?
And that is exactly what you will get to experience on a True Nature Education Yoga retreat to Italy. Our partner center has a fantastic view on Italian cuisine. Offering an authentic, yet healthy twist on some fantastic dishes.
The diet for the community is extremely important, as much as the yoga practice. The cuisine follows the ph alkaline diet philosophy whose goal is to bring back to balance our organism through a healthy vegetarian diet mainly raw, organic, with low gluten, no dairies and wheat free. They serve their own fresh, organic and seasonal products from the garden; they produce their own goat cheese and milk and make their own bread, pastries and pastas with spelt flour or no gluten flour like buckwheat. The dishes are from the Italian tradition but revisited by us following this diet by introducing some raw dishes at lunch and superfoods in the recipes. You won’t miss the Italian cuisine, simply you will taste it in a healthier way!
Drooling yet? Cause I sure am. You want to experience the food first-hand? Be sure to sign-up for one of our Yoga Wellness Trips to Italy here!
Since, I can’t jet off to Italy this very moment, I decided to channel my inner cook and whip up something delicious. I am pleased to share a lovely and simple dish that reflects the decadence of Italy. Healthy and light, this is great to serve as a main dish or anti pasta.
Lightly fried eggplant with honey and rosemary:
1 each medium eggplant
2 cups whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup local honey
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt to taste
1 quart vegetable oil
The day before:
Cut tops and bottoms off the eggplant and peel with a vegetable peeler or knife. Slice eggplant into rounds that are ½ inch thick—you should get about 12 slices from 1 medium-sized eggplant. As you slice the eggplant, put it into a large container or bowl with enough milk to cover. You will likely have to weigh the eggplant down with a plate to keep it submerged in the milk. Soak overnight in the refrigerator.
Heat a large frying pan with vegetable oil about 1 inch deep until approximately 350 degrees or when a drop of water sizzles. Make sure there is enough oil to cover the eggplant slices when you put them in. Drain the eggplant from the milk, dredge them in the flour and tap off excess flour. Drop into oil and fry until golden brown but not too dark, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t crowd the pan: you want 1 layer of eggplant frying at a time. Flip the eggplant slices during cooking for even browning.
Sprinkle each piece of eggplant with a pinch of salt as it comes out of the fryer. Drain on wire rack. Drizzle some honey onto each piece of the fried eggplant while on the wire rack. And top each piece of eggplant with 2-3 rosemary leaves. Serve immediately.
True Nature Travels Blog
From sprawling mountains, sparkling coastlines, rolling countryside, ancient history and sumptuous cuisine Italy is a destination not to be overlooked.
True Nature Education is ecstatic to announce we are now offering yoga, wellness, and adventure retreats to Italy! And our center we are partnering with has us swooning…..
Quietness, Peace, Nature, Yoga, Sharing, Heart, Love: these are the key concepts to convey the spirit of our Italian retreat center, set by the countryside at about 5.6 miles from Martina Franca, in Apulia, the place is immersed in the splendid nature of Valle d’Itria.
The center is located on a hill at about 10 yards of height, halfway between Adriatic and Ionic Sea, a place that is totally immersed in peace and quietness.
It’s an ancient 17th century “Masseria” (farmhouse), recently restored and renovated by keeping its original structure intact, thus meaning to convey a good perception of space and time absence and better awareness of the present, here, now.
As of four years ago, a small community of people gathers here in order to opt deeply for a life made of sharing, far from traditional systems and life schemes: a merge arising from the awareness for the importance of life as spent together with others, based on freedom, heart, love and yoga as a discipline and a lifestyle, a chance for merging one’s inner universe and the others.
Partake on meditations, yoga practice, sight seeing, mindful cuisine, and immerse yourself in the passion of Italy!
Where do we sign-up??? Be sure to check out our retreats and book your adventure today! We would love to have you.
Be sure to take a look at our retreat video for more information.
Interested in learning more on why you should travel to Italy? Check out Huffington’s post on some sights and outings not to miss here! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minube/21-reasons-to-finally-tak_b_4910139.html
True Nature Travels Blog
Guatemala is a magical land that is so rich in tradition, culture, and natural beauty. Heavily influenced by it’s Mayan background, everyday life in Guatemala still keeps that authentic vibe. History is living, and the people truly embrace their ancestry and honor those who have come before.
So it is no surprise the food in Guatemala reflects these values. Many traditional foods in Guatemalan cuisine are based on Maya cuisine and prominently feature corn, chilies and beans as key ingredients.
There are also foods that are commonly eaten on certain days of the week. For example, it is a popular custom to eat paches (a kind of tamale made from potatoes) on Thursday. Certain dishes are also associated with special occasions, such as fiambre for All Saints Day on November 1 and tamales, which are common around Christmas. (See here for more info)
The food is diverse and rich. And everything is made with love, soul, and tradition. And did I mention yummy?
As much as sound so very tempting, I wanted to share something on the sweeter side. I have to admit I have a sweet tooth and these little desserts are a delicious snack.
Empanadas de Leche are among the most popular street foods in Guatemala, especially around the time of Semana Santa. These are made with a buttery, achiote red-tinted dough that is filled with creamy milk custard and baked to flakey perfection. I discovered a fantastic recipe for these little guys at thelatinkitchen.com
For the Dough
3 tablespoons very hot water
1 1/2 teaspoons ground achiote or achiote paste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
4 3/4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract For the Milk Filling
1 1/2 cups milk
Zest strips from 1/2 orange
1/4 stick cinnamon
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
Make the dough: Stir the hot water and ground achiote or achiote paste until dissolved. Add an ice cube to cool the water and set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Add the butter cubes and toss to coat in flour. Using your hands, press butter between your fingers into the flour, so butter pieces become smaller and mix well with the flour. Add the egg, 3 tablespoons of the achiote paste water and extract. Mix until just combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
To make the filling bring the milk, orange zest and cinnamon stick to a slow simmer over medium heat. Watch the milk carefully so it doesn’t scorch or boil over. Simmer for 10 minutes; remove cinnamon stick and zest and reduce the heat down to low.
Mix together the yolk, sugar, cornstarch, extract and salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Repeat with another tablespoon milk. Add the egg mixture to the milk pot and whisk over low heat constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, on a well-floured surface, roll until 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles from dough. Collect dough scraps, reroll, and repeat until all the dough is used. You should have about 24 circles.
Fill each circle with about 1 tablespoon cooled filling. Carefully fold the dough in half, taking care to keep the filling inside the pocket. Press the edges shut and then seal using the tines of a fork.
Place the sealed empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, taking care not to let them burn. Serve warm with coffee or tea.
Interested in visiting Guatemala? Reconnect to yourself and your yoga
practice? Explore a new and exciting land? Try new foods? Well you are in luck. True Nature Education has some amazing retreats happening! Click here to learn more!
True Nature Travels Blog
1 1/2 cups grounded corn
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter, we use the one from our área and the brand is Dos Pinos
1 cup of grated white cheese (homemade)
1 tsp of vanilla or almond