We are home from our retreat – and still absolutely dying over our experience there. It just felt magical; so full of love; so, so, so good for the soul. Our bodies and spirits have never felt better!!!!
There were about 15 people – all ages – and we stayed together at a property steps from the beach.  We all got to know each other quite well during the 8 days! It was beautiful and inspiring to be connected with people who all came together to improve their lives in some way. 

These are the INCREDIBLE, INSPIRING people who ran the retreat: Alexandra Molina (a Gestalt Psychotherapist, Yoga teacher & Ayurveda educator from Ecuador); Anthony Spencer (a cleansing consultant and raw and living food guide from Canada); Gabby Santermer (a yoga teacher from Argentina); and Guilherme Munhoz (a raw food chef from Brazil). They literally served us all for 8 days straight with the most pure love. Being the recipient of that was unbelievable- truly an experience that just goes straight to your soul and makes you feel so alive and connected to the best part of life. I will never forget the love they had for us. So thankful for the work they’ve done in their own lives – to even have that kind of love and light to give.

We were awakened each morning at 6 am to the sound of Tibetan bells. I loved that so much! The moment I became conscious of the bells it was like I just felt beauty, hope, and desire for a wonderful day ahead. I never want to use an alarm clock again!

Each day began with oil pulling. I LOVE IT!!! We are still doing it and I’m telling you, it makes your teeth sparkle and feel so, so clean and smooth – like you just got them polished. I am totally sold that it helps to remove harmful bacteria from your mouth. You can actually tell a difference in the way your mouth feels. I can’t recommend it enough. (Use a spoonful of coconut oil; swish for 20 minutes as soon as you get up each morning, before you drink or eat; don’t spit the oil into the sink drain; and rinse and gargle with water after you’re done. Also, if your jaw feels tired, no worries. After a week you’ll be a pro.)

It was so, so perfect to be with a group of people all eating raw food or drinking raw juice for the cleanse. Surprisingly, it was so easy! Doing it together made it feel fun and less of a burden. We all bonded sitting around drinking our juice for “lunch.” (It was also pretty amazing to be served instead of wondering what the heck to make next.) A few times we did all start fantasizing about our favorite foods. 🙂 But we were all so well fed with healthy juices or raw foods that we really never felt physical hunger. And to be honest, my energy was feeling off the charts!!! I’ve never eaten so many vegetables in my life. 

I *LOVED* the spiritual aspect of this retreat. Each day included meditation, yoga, chanting, singing,  and so many other ways of connecting your spirit with your body and with the Divine. I felt that connection. I felt myself connecting with peace. I felt myself realigning with virtues that I aspire to have. It was so healing and rejuvenating. I had moments of freedom from the things that were troubling to me at the time. And for that reason, it felt like a gift from God to be there. (I’m also now totally obsessed with yoga!!!!! And cleansing breathing techniques!!!! I had no idea how amazing it all was. It all really, really makes a difference and not only affects your spirit, but um….completely changes your body in a short amount of time.)

Every person there just LOVED the experience. We all felt so, so lucky to be there. Everyone was just GLOWING by the end of it – you could see a physical difference in all of us.

On the last night, we had a bon fire on the beach!!!! Heaven, I tell you. 

And yes, there was a FULL MOON!!! 

And let me just say that if you find yourself on the beach during a gorgeous full moon, you MUST slip away from the crowd and walk far, far out to the low tide and swim to the light of the moon.  🙂 🙂 

Would any of you want to go on a retreat like this? I’m so thrilled to say that they want to do another retreat and you’re all invited!!! I would be SO DANG HAPPY if some of you could experience this.
The date will likely be mid-September in Olón, Ecuador (3 hours from Guayaquil, where there is a major airport). And they’ve asked Danny and I to speak at the event or do some workshops, which will be such an honor. I’ll post the exact date and prices soon. There will only be space for about 20 people. Fingers crossed that some of you could make the trip!!! I really do feel this would be the most amazing, healing experience for anyone wanting to change their lives for the better or for anyone who would like to dedicate some time to caring for your body and your spirit. Plus, Ecuador! 🙂
Much love,
P.S. At the end of the retreat, some of us decided to continue the cleanse and eat all raw fruit, vegetables, and nuts for a full thirty days!!! And holy crap, Danny and I are doing it. We’re on Day 15. I hope to write more about what it’s been like. But so far I can say that our skin is still glowing and I’ve even had a few health issues disappear. But, we’re running out of recipes. Please send any, if you have some! We’re trying hard to power through.

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  1. Alexa June 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Peace and acceptance, that's what that sounds like! I've been trying to find something like this to experience due to my current health issues. We just discovered why I've been so very sick all these years – I have a special allergy to dairy, land animals and oranges (?) (so basically, I'm now a fish eating vegan, on day 8!) and I'll tell ya, dears… it's been a freeing and frustrating experience. I'm SO excited to know that I'll no longer eat the foods that have been harming my body for so long, but becoming vegan is a whole new animal!! This retreat sounds like paradise to me… and let's talk about the power of Yoga and Meditation for a minute – so very life changing. Do you think there are things like this in the States? I don't think I know what to Google!

  2. Lisa June 23, 2014 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    This looks like such an incredible experience! I would love to go to a retreat of some sort, especially in such a special place. A group from an international charter school I went to visited Ecuador to volunteers in a few schools and raved about the culture and people there.

  3. Lady Natalie June 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Mara, have you seen the website The author posts tons of recipes there and on food52, and I believe she now has a book.

    • mara June 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      I'm looking at it now and it's amazing!! Thank you so much for the recommendation!

  4. Jessica Hall June 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I love doing Yoga and Meditations regularly, when I do I always feel so much for aligned, balanced, and connected. Someday soon I will go to a similar retreat, I know my soul has been craving one. Good luck with the rest of your raw food journey for the month.

  5. cindy smith June 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Sounds so fun!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Anonymous June 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Loved reading more details of your retreat. What kind of yoga did you do, what types of poses? How long do you recommend meditating for? Sounds like yoga and meditation would be helpful for me right now, guess I'm looking for some specifics on how/where to start.

    Didn't realize you had some health issues, good to hear the raw food is clearing them up. Wonder what kind of health issues this type of eating helps with? Would like to try, but seems like a lot of thought is needed in what to prepare, and not sure I can make that commitment now. But I would if it could indeed help with health issues. : )

    • mara June 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      I'm actually not sure of the type of yoga we did (I'm still pretty new at learning about it.) But we did tons of poses that assist in detoxing and cleaning your organs.

      For me – I had a small rash that cleared up, which was great. And also I had a pain in my shoulder that went away. Small things, I know. But it was awesome to see my body just heal itself. A raw food diet is known for allowing your body to do what it's meant to do and heal on it's own. We watched documentaries each night about people who had cured themselves of diabetes (in 30 days), cancer (!), depression, auto immune diseases, obesity, heart disease, and loads of other chronic illnesses simply by going all raw. It's pretty amazing what the body is capable of when it's full of nutrients. We're pretty sold on the idea and while it will be very difficult to eat 100% raw all the time, we going to continue doing it as much as possible, even after our 30 day cleanse.

      Also, I have found that it does take a lot of thought – as it's a totally different way of eating. The retreat helped to teach us quite a bit to realize that you can make some really, really delicious things – all with vegetables! But we're still learning and testing out recipes. It's also VERY helpful to have a Vitamix, a food processor, a gadget or spiralizer that can make veggie noodles, a mandolin, etc. Part of making a great dish involves preparing it with the right texture. Also, a dehydrator is very helpful to have! It doesn't overcook the vegetables/fruit so they retain the enzymes and nutrients. We hope to get a dehydrator soon.

  7. MaeMae June 23, 2014 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    I follow liveloveeatraw on Instagram. Their recipes are beautiful….but I've not tried one yet. The website is the same…

    I cannot wait to go to a retreat! One day…..

    • mara June 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      THANK YOU! And holy moly – those recipes look amazing. So many desserts! I'm already seeing some amazing things to keep in mind for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  8. CIRACA June 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Mara- I'm starting on raw eating- (usually do the first two meals raw and eat a whole foods cooked meal at night) and just curious to know if you have had digestion issues at all? For me, eating whole foods has taken some time to adjust too, and I have been bloated, etc. Just curious if you have noticed anything like that? Would love to come to the retreat;)

    • mara June 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      After this cleanse, we'll probably do what you're doing – two raw meals a day with one meal made of whole foods and vegetables at night. And YES – Danny and I both had some digestive issues. Here's a lot of info. (oh well-I don't care 🙂 but for the few days during the retreat, I was a bit constipated. I still felt great – but I was thinking oh dear – my system has shut down even though I'm eating LOADS and LOADS of fiber. Yikes. I also felt a little bloated. Apparently that is somewhat normal to experience as our bodies aren't used to processing so much raw fiber (my holistic dr. said the stomach even needs to adjust the amount of bile produced). I continued to drink TONS of water and eventually things started up again and now everything feels great. You can also drink warm water and that is supposed to help (it's great at night, too.) Also, make a smoothie of papaya or eat a bowl of papaya – that is supposed to help your intestines to get moving. There are also some yoga breathing techniques that can help. One is you remove all the air from your lungs/stomach and then quickly suck your stomach in and out (like you were sucking in to button your pants or something.) I am sure you could find a video of this on youtube. They also recommend doing enemas during the transition (or during a cleanse) to keep your body moving. I know those can be tricky and many may not be open to that…but for me, I wish I had the stuff to do them as I'd be open to it. I may still do some to finish off this cleanse we're doing. Also, upon returning from the retreat I got some probiotics as I hadn't brought any with me to Ecuador. Those made huge difference, actually!! I highly recommend them. The holistic doctor here said to take one once a night, 30 minutes before bedtime – for one week. Then to just take about 1 a month for maintenance. He said the probiotics will multiply in your body on their own and create a balance, so you don't need to take them everyday. Of course that would be the case with a healthy diet that isn't causing a constant imbalance of bacteria in your gut. He also recommends kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables. I would love to experiment more with that stuff and add some to our diet. Though in the past I've only had sauerkraut with hot dogs. Oh my. haha. Those days are over.

      As for Danny – – – oh my heck, for two days he had the WORST case of digestive issues. It was seriously awful (bloating, etc. and I'll spare more details.) But it has cleared up and he has been feeling a TON better! I think overall, our advice is to carry through the adjustment period, take a probiotic, and drink TONS of water and things will improve – and then you begin to feel better than ever. Our raw food teacher says this diet "scrubs your intestines clean" and should eventually lead to no odors at all in the bathroom and hardly a need for toilet paper. ha. Ok, you can tell I'm ok talking about this stuff. But I find it all fascinating.

  9. brandymeganferguson June 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    A friend of mine recommended your blog to me about a few weeks ago. This has been an answer to prayer because though I do not know you, I feel like you are a kindred spirit. I have been on my infertility journey for 2 years now and it has been an incredibly isolating experience. I want to do life with friends I have had for years, but at different times the emotional pain has outweighed my desire to hang out with everyone with all their little dumplings running around. I celebrate my friend's children, but as you can probably relate, sometimes it just gets to be too much to hear birth stories and nap time woes. After a year of disappointment, Clomid and crazy diet and exercise efforts, a large tumor was discovered growing on the wall of my uterus. I had a surgery in which a reproductive endocrinologist had to cut it out of me (csection) and restructure my uterus and since then it's been another year of acupuncture, herbs, yoga, drugs and IUI's, diet changes, and desperate hope. I just found out on Friday I have another small tumor growing and now my doctor wants me to get serious about IVF. Would you say the IVF journey was worth it to you? If you had to do it all over again, would you have still chosen that route? We too, have to pay out of pocket for all of it, and it's been difficult to weigh the pros and cons of walking down this path.
    Thank you for sharing your story on this open forum and thank you for being my internet friend! haha I pray that God is willing to heal your body and that one day he will allow you to be a mother if that remains your heart's desire.
    Kind regards,

    • mara June 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

      Brandy, you just made my heart pound. I feel for you so much. What a journey it is, right? Oh my. I can't even imagine the amount of doctor's appts. you've had. Bless you for all you've been doing. As for the IVF – wow. That is a tough question. I guess if we hadn't done it, I would have always wondered if it would have worked. At the time, I went with my gut and felt like we should move forward, despite the risks and the money. When I go with my gut, I usually don't regret something. However, the second time we did the IVF – the feeling was a little different. It started to feel more and more abusive to my body to go through with the process. And that feeling was awful, actually. It still spooks me to think of it. Also, I started to feel like the pursuit had just gone on too long. The infertility lifestyle just dominates your entire life (and bank account) and I just started to feel like I could contribute more and be more and do more and influence more if I actually wasn't pursuing kids anymore. So at that point, I needed every ounce of energy to get through the second round of IVF. I was ready to move on to the next phase of life, even though my preference would have still been to have a baby and experience all of that. But since that wasn't happening, I just felt like it was time to put my energy and hope into my new life – whatever that was going to be.

      And, now that I'm on the other side – I can tell you that life can still be amazing. SO, SO amazing, in fact. Each day I feel alive, I feel whole, I feel excited for experiences. Danny and I look at each other all the time with shock and awe at what we've been able to experience. We're just trying to live the best life that we can. Learning new things helps a lot. Experiencing this different life here has helped a lot. Trying to always become a better person has helped a lot. Life STILL can have so much meaning and so much joy.

      Love you and wish you all the best on your journey, whatever that is. May you feel wholeness, hope, joy, and love.

      Thanks for your note and shared sisterhood. 🙂


  10. Laura June 23, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Again you and Danny do something amazingly inspirational and you're kind enough to share it with us. Thank you! You guys really are glowing. I'm so happy to read about this experience and I hope one day I can have one like it. 🙂

  11. Kyra Faulkner June 23, 2014 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Oh so fun to dream about join in with you two in September! Can't wait to hear more!

  12. Michelle Bunt June 24, 2014 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Beetroot, Orange & Avocado Salad is amazing…not sure if you will be able to have it cos you do have to cook the beetroot first then let it cool, but it is the most amazing flavor combo and so good for you 🙂

    • Michelle Bunt June 24, 2014 at 12:33 am - Reply

      Also lemon basil smoothie is yum! 8oz almond milk, 2-4 kale leaves (stalks removed), 1/2 cup mango, 5-6 basil leaves & 1 slice of lemon. Blend & enjoy!

  13. kharper June 24, 2014 at 1:54 am - Reply

    anxiously waiting for more info 🙂 sounds like something i didn't know i always needed!

  14. A Few Good Eggs June 24, 2014 at 3:49 am - Reply

    This retreat sounds and looks amazing. That full moon! I love the idea of eating fruits and veggies all the time. Do you find that the prep takes a lot more time? That is what always turns me off… the sheer time involved.

    • Mara Kofoed June 24, 2014 at 4:15 am - Reply

      Yes! We have been absolutely consumed with food prep. Though part of that includes going to the market several times a week, which we do by foot + bus. Then we return home with enough produce to fill our entire kitchen table. It's just insane. Then we have to soak it all in vinegar/water, dry it, spin it, bag it, etc. Eating this way (and juicing) has taken over our lives, it seems. Then prepping a meal takes a lot of chopping. Though some things are actually fast. Sometimes we make a soup or smoothie in the Vitamix and that takes seconds. Also we've been using a gadget to make vegetable noodles and that has been pretty fast (those cool spiralizers would be even faster). And, we are eating way, way more plain fruit, which is super fast to prepare and eat. So who knows – maybe it evens out a little. But I do often do think – there's no way we could do all this if we still lived in NYC. As I'm chopping or cleaning vegetables, I keep reminding myself that it is such a luxury to have the time to be this healthy.

  15. bananastand June 24, 2014 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Mara, I love your blog so much! You might like the vegan food blog – not all her recipes are raw, but many of them are (desserts, smoothies, main courses, and salads), and it's probably one of the most well known and loved vegan food blogs out there. Every recipe I've tried is delicious, and I hope you like it!

  16. Melissa June 25, 2014 at 6:07 am - Reply

    I want to come to this. So much, I can't wait to hear the details. I will be looking forward to it!

  17. Erin June 25, 2014 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Okay, this is the third time I am typing this long comment, and something keeps happening that is deleting it, so maybe I am not supposed to type it, lol. Anyway, this retreat is just after my 9th anniversary. I bet my husband would take me if it were my 10th. Do you know if they will be doing it again next year? This sounds like my cup of tea for sure.
    We are very big into health, and have been doing some intense cleanses and things for 3 years now. You said you are thinking of going mostly raw? I know you are gfcf, which I am also. We have been everything from whole foods to mostly vegan to paleo to Weston price. I have spent so many hundreds/thousands even hours reading about nutrition, and the more confused I become. But I have never tried raw. I admit the raw foodies look the healthiest (paleo second). I do know some raw foodies who have become terribly deficient with hair falling out and teeth rotting from the strict vegan aspect. I read Denise on rawfoodsos and this happened to her. Now she eats raw with raw fish and raw eggs. Also, one of my go-to-health experts is Walter Last and he suggests something similar. I really like his well-rounded nutrition approach, and am thinking of going that route. He says the problem with meat is the cooking of it. He also doesn’t think you need to be 100% raw all the time, but suggests raw cleanses a couple times a year, raw for healing, and mostly raw a lot of the time. He also says when you cook food it should be consumed that day, as it loses something that can be measured with, I think it’s an orgone meter. Kind of an interesting idea. Anyway, I just said all that because I don’t know if you are confused with all the conflicting info and trying to find a good fit for you, but just another idea to look at (the benefits of raw without rejecting the idea that human beings have been eating animal products for a very long time, also that cooking food saves time, and hence allows us to be human and have culture and science and not spend all our time finding and eating food).

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