I recently took some much needed 'time out' to visit my favorite home away from home, Bali. It was my first trip back after spending a 6 month sabbatical there in 2011. Perhaps one of the things that resonates most with me, aside from Bali's laid back pace of life, is the organic and whole food movement that has really taken off since my maiden voyage 13 yrs ago. I feel like I am in whole food heaven when I'm in Bali and I swear I eat twice as much because the food is so cheap and there is so much fresh organic produce to choose from! But I rarely feel guilty for doing so, because it’s hard to go wrong when you’re eating the right proportions of healthy food.
So for those of you who may be visiting and are on the hunt for some of Bali's best healthy food haunts, and perhaps a bit of yoga thrown in for good measure, then follow my Bali food n yoga trail below and you won't go wrong!
When I arrive in Bali I head straight for Canggu, it tends to be less chaotic than Seminyak and has some great cafes, including my all time new favourite, Betelnut located on Batu Bolong, just up from the beach. I ate many a meal here, in fact nearly every breakfast, thanks to being able to maintain my morning ritual with the Green Goddess vege juice. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover they offered the gluten free bread I taught a local Balinese bakery to make from red rice, during my time there in 2011. Apparently it's become quite a hit and goes beautifully with Betelnut’s 'big breaky' of poached eggs, homemade baked beans, avocado and mushrooms or as a gluten free option for any of their burgers. The laid back Aussie owners - Justin and Gypsy - are really conscious about using fresh, organic produce in their meals and it really shows in the flavor of their food. Too many Balinese warung’s (cafes) cook with palm oil or worse still, cook with second hand oil from the bigger restaurants to fry their food, so I am really mindful of where I eat when in Bali for this reason. I highly recommend Betelnut's signature dish, the Betelnut salad pictured below and their fresh lime and lemon grass 'Cooler' is a sure fire way to experience immediate relief from the Balinese heat!
If you're about on a weekend, I recommend heading to Deus Ex Machina for their ‘Sunday Sessions’ where you can kick back on the outdoor lounges and catch some laid back live music and grab a bite to eat. They also sell a pretty amazing array of artwork in their adjoining store and of course, you can dream about escaping to the open road on one of their too cool for the pool motorbikes, made on site.
Now if you're looking for a little wind down time in Bali and want to combine yoga, massage, good clean food, topped off by a swim in a beautiful pool set amongst a tropical oasis, then I suggest you spend a day at Desa Seni. This is where I do yoga when in Canggu and the best part is their pool and café are also open to the public during weekdays. I also book in for one of the most relaxing Balinese massages you’ll ever experience with Muli at the Desa Seni spa and grab a few acupuncture sessions with Dr Sladek who is the resident acupuncturist hailing all the way from Austria and has over 25 yrs experience. One session with him had me snoring on the table, yes it was a little embarrassing!
Mocktails by the pool at my favourite yoga retreat in Bali - Desa Seni pool
After I’ve had my fill of ocean time in Bali, I head to the mountain town of Ubud. There is something in the air up there that really forces you to relax when you take a trip into the countryside. The area itself is considered to have a strong spiritual energy according to the Balinese, and I have to admit, I tend to agree after some rather 'bizarre' experiences while I was living there back in 2011 and before you ask.....NO! There were no magic mushrooms involved!
Ubud is renowned for it's amazing rice paddy terraces and farms, and if you're looking to get right amongst it then I recommend heading to Organik Sari. Set amongst the lush green rice paddies, this cafe is well worth the 1 km stroll from the bustling Ubud town centre. Your efforts will be pleasantly rewarded, after you have braved the winding pathway shared by many a moped to the open sided cafe. They serve a mouth watering array of cold drinks to wet your whistle in the Balinese heat - choose from the Padi Sunrise - lemon, soda water, mint rosella iced tea, or if a smoothie is more your style then I recommend the banana, avocado and mango with fresh mint & cashew nuts.
Organik Sari’s food will truly tantalize your taste buds, whilst nourishing your soul thanks to the fresh organically grown ingredients from their very own organic garden. My pick - the house special - Sari salad with organic chicken. You can even choose your own dressing ranging from tahini lemon; Thai w coconut lemon and olive oil or avocado. And the best part is you can eat like a king for just shy of $10! If you're a gardening enthusiast, you can even pick your own salad and vegetables from their organic garden and have them prepare your own special creation. Sit back and relax, as you sip on your freshly picked coconut and become mesmerized by the tranquility of the surrounding rice paddies and mountain back drop, peeking through the clouds. But be prepared, as the peace and quiet may be rudely interrupted by the lone rooster perched below.
Yoga and Ubud are pretty well synonymous, so when in town, I head to the Yoga Barn. I like to put myself through my own mini spa and yoga retreat by staying near by and after my yoga session, I head to their amazing raw food café 'Little K' to refuel. But be warned... their raw food deserts are not to be missed nor over indulged in, as they do use high fructose sweeteners such as dates and agave, so small servings here and there only for these is my advice! The Yoga Barn also has a wonderful Ayurvedic spa named Kush which I love to head to for a traditional Shirodhara massage where they drizzle the oil over your forehead and massage your crown for the most amazing relaxation and tension release for the nervous system.
I'd love to hear about any of your favourite healthy hangs in Bali so be sure to post any suggestions in the comments section below!