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Alabama Meditation Network

2023 Fall Meditation Retreat Cooking Recipes

Food that supports and creates a mindful space

Recipes are linked at the end of this message, so feel free to skip ahead… but I also want to share a journal entry I wrote about cooking for the retreat. Thanks to each and every one of you.

The Energy of Food

All food carries a certain energy – to me, it’s the difference in how I feel eating at Applebees vs. a home-cooked meal with some of my favorite people; while I’ve always enjoyed learning about and preparing healthy food, one of the many lessons Nick taught me is about the importance of it to support the retreat experience with its energy. The food mattered to Nick, he was very involved in cooking for retreats at Hazy Moon, and I remember watching him cook for our very 1st retreat (just a few of us, before AMN was formed) where I felt the gift of his food.


cutting veggies in the kitchen
Retreat meal time buffet

The Secret Ingredient

When my kids ask what’s in a recipe, I always end the ingredient list with “love” – I’ve been doing this all my +20 years of raising kids – it warms my heart when my 9-year-old interrupts me, rolls his eyes, yet smiles, and says “I know, I know, Mom… LOVE”. Nick connected the dots for me on what seems obvious now (and why my Nana/Grandmother’s food kicked ass): feeding people is a gift, an expression of caring through effort: planning, gathering, cooking, and serving as an act of love; this retreat made me reflect on how all of that intention carries into the energy of the food, stays with the people you feed, is passed on, etc in a ripple effect.]

It’s a Practice

Backstory on how I ended up leading cooking for this retreat despite zero qualifications… Mandy cooked for the last retreat and killed it: I offered to mentor under her, then take over the next one myself. Nick got sick and Mandy found out she had a work conference to attend. So it fell on me: an intimidating task, but I’ve helped my friend Jenny do catering for bands through Live Nation, so I figured I could pull it off. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming amount of grief I would have to face in order to do it: Nick would have been my go-to to cook for this retreat, and it took me weeks to even consider who to ask to help; I would just get so sad and miss Nick.

A friend and I have a cheesy saying we tell each other, “We can do hard things” and we have both incorporated it into our daily meditation practice because it helps us have the mental stamina to do all the hard things. Another lesson in this (thanks, Nick, for continuing to be my teacher) is that I am not alone, I have nurtured friendships and built a strong community of support, so I relied on that system, I pulled it together, and “We can do hard things” literally became my motto, I repeated it to myself, often in tears, countless times as I began to plan not just to pull this retreat off, but somehow kick ass doing it.

Cooking in the kitchen

The Plan

Planning, ordering, buying, and cooking nourishing, delicious, and simple meals for the entire weekend was hard work and a ton of fun (one schedule miscommunication had the entire retreat in on our kitchen crew conversations and that fun energy) but it also gave plenty of time for reflection. My thoughts included: “Why don’t I cook like this more often for myself?”; I contemplated how food is such a unifier and builds community through working together to meet one of our most basic needs and sustain us, yet one that also has potential to bring us so much enjoyment; how I want to incorporate some of these meals into my busy daily life as an act of self-care. I had many different conversations with people feeling the same way, and every single person at the retreat took time to genuinely thank me for the food in ways that were real and personal; that was by far one of the most rewarding parts of this experience.


My goal for the menu was:

  1. To cook what I would want to eat at a retreat.
  2. To meet Nick’s standards.
  3. To be inclusive of limited diets so we can all eat together.
  4. To make it feel luxurious on a limited budget.

I think I accomplished all of these goals and definitely learned a ton about what to do differently next time (so much lettuce!), but overall, I am proud of how it all came together. The food was good, healthy, plentiful, and people felt the good energy behind it – so much so that I had more help than I could even use. People were drawn to the kitchen, and we generated a really good energy in there that played a big part in the retreat’s success. Nick would be proud, and that makes me incredibly happy.

Cooking in the kitchen

A Powerful Experience

I’m walking away from this weekend with a very different but powerful experience vs. the last one. I didn’t have time to meditate much with the group, but my personal reflection time was plentiful and invaluable. I learned that I can do incredibly hard things that I have never done before; that by facing an overwhelming task, I was rewarded by it transforming into something enjoyable with purpose; that I am not alone, even when it feels like it, I am supported but just not in the ways I might prefer or envision; that relationships and people ebb and flow and come and go and I am learning to be ok with accepting and appreciating the time I did have with those people vs. focusing on what isn’t now.

Candace Barr

Would I do it again?

Yes, I think I would. Let me rest for a week or two first. 🙂

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart to every single person that made cooking for this retreat possible. We did something special last weekend.

Candace Barr

Recipe Links

*I used a GF flour combo in all recipes of oat flour, almond flour + rice flour

*I substituted any milk for almond milk, but did use butter

*Pumpkin muffins are GF and totally dairy free (coconut oil, no butter)

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Retreat Cancellation Policy

Refunds will be available up to two weeks before the retreat.

Later cancelations receive a retreat credit.

Code of Conduct

Alabama Meditation Network

In order to create a safe and welcoming meditation and learning environment, we ask everyone to:

  • Practice acceptance of everyone regardless of gender, race, economic status, or sexual orientation.
  • Cause no harm to others.
  • Refrain from:
    • Sexual misconduct
    • Negative speech
    • The use of drugs or alcohol.
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Terms & Definitions


Any form of present moment practice which has a foundation of body and breath awareness.

Meditation Community:

Any entity that provides group meditation in a community of equanimity, compassion and acceptance, regardless of gender, race, economic status, or sexual orientation.