Photos by Ron Schloerb
Cape Cod Times

Carol Williams, chef owner of La Petite Maison, puts finishing touches on buffet dishes, including citrus chicken breasts, salmon and salads. She prepared most of the food beforehand, leaving time to enjoy guests and yoga.

Photos by Ron Schloerb
Cape Cod Times

Pam Russell of Harwich Port,  Michele Cudilo of Centerville, Adelaide Queeney of Centreville and Louisa Guzzetti of Osterville visit over a healthful dinner at La Petite Maison after taking a yoga class together at the Osterville restaurant.

Unwinding with Spa Cuisine
by Johanna Crosby, Staff Writer
The Cape Cod Times

Yoga teacher Maureen Hammett and Osterville Chef Carol Williams team up to offer a healthful tasteful evening.

It was the kind of evening you'd expect to spend a pricey health spa, but for only $20, a group of Cape Codders had a choice to sample yoga and spa-style buffet of nutritious and light dishes that La Petite Maison in Osterville. The tables and chairs had been moved out of the main dining room to clear the space. A dozen women, ranging from their 20s to 70s, stretched out on rubber mats on the tile floor of the airy, rectangular room. As soothing music played in the background, Maureen Hammett guided them through the crocodile, the child pose and other relaxing yoga postures.

"Be aware of your breath, and focus on its rhythm," she said softly as she folded her slender body into a pretzel like twist. At the end of the 90 minute session, Hammett dabbed each women's forehead with a drop of refreshing lavender oil.

But yoga wasn't the only thing on the menu. The participants capped the exercise session by dining on a light buffet of ultra healthful spa cuisine: fresh fruit, granola and fish. "My girlfriend and I wanted to do something fun that didn't cost a million dollars," says Joanne Hanson of Sandwich, who came for the evening of restorative yoga and spa food. "When is the next one? I'd come in a heartbeat."

An enthused Gini Waterman-Casey of Centerville, who was sampling her first yoga class, thought the idea of pairing yoga with nutritious fare was "very innovative and creative. It's outside the box." Sue Butler of Centerville, a mother of two, enjoyed taking time out for herself with a night of relaxation.

Time to relax

The idea for the retreat - which is being repeated several times this summer - sprouted when Hammett, a registered yoga instructor was seeking a space to teach classes in Osterville. Carol Williams, one of her yoga students and the chef/owner of La Petite Maison, offered the main dining room of her restaurant.  She suggested following up the exercise with a buffet of spa cuisine.

"We are cleansing our body through yoga," she said, "and it's wonderful to nourish it with food that is delicious and externally healthy."  A yoga enthusiast for more than 15 years, Williams said the practice keeps her hectic life as an executive chef in balance. "It's a very spiritual experience that brings about calmness," she said.

For the after-yoga buffet, Williams created a menu of vitamin-packed, chemical-free cuisine, including salmon with mango sauce citrus-marinated grilled chicken breast: a salad of  baby spinach with slices of mango, avocado and oranges topped with mango vinaigrette: a fresh fruit salad of strawberries, melons and pineapple served with French vanilla yogurt: and a granola mix of rolled oats, dried cranberries, ground flax seed and Kashi cereal.

For something "yummy," Williams whipped up whole-grain low-fat rosemary madeleines - crunchy dinner muffins made with five-grain cereal.  The health food was washed down with caffeine-free ginger herbal iced tea, "because it's great for digestion and circulation," Williams said, "it's a very simply prepared food," she said, "but it's extremely healthy and works with the yoga." It's also the way the health-conscious chef normally eats. Williams prepared most of the food ahead of time. She bought fresh salmon that morning.
Longtime yoga devotee Michele Cudila of Centerville thought the evening was an ideal mix of restorative exercise accented by a good, quality meal and spiced with camaraderie. "You feel really good after doing yoga," she says,"and you don't want to put anything in your body that is disruptive to your body energy."

Williams has plans for more spa cuisine evenings and Sunday brunches, and Hammett will continue to teach yoga classes Wednesdays at the restaurant throughout the summer.

Want to treat your friends to spa cuisine a home? La Petite Maison chef-owner Carol Williams shares her recipes.

Salmon with Mango Sauce
1 1/2 pound salmon filets
1 ripe mango
1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Pre-heat grill and high. Cut salmon into four pieces, brush lightly with oil. Grill salmon pieces approximately 5 minutes on each side. While salmon is cooking, remove flesh from mango. Place in a blender and process until smooth.  Add pineapple and process until it is in small chunks.  Place mix in a bowl, add cilantro, chill until served. Serve with warm or chilled salmon. Makes four servings.

Ginger Chicken Salad with Peaches on Baby Spinach with Ginger Vinaigrette
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 ripe peaches peeled and sliced
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt (Stonyfield is the best)
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
1 pound baby spinach washed and dried

Place chicken breast, salt and two tablespoons ginger in medium saucepan, cover with cold water; chicken should be completely covered. Bring just to a boil, reduce the heat, simmer approximately 10 minutes; chicken should be cooked through. Allow to cool, than cube and refrigerate. Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, parsley and remaining one tablespoon ginger in a bowl.  Add the chicken, mix thoroughly. Divide spinach among four plates, top with chicken salad, garnish with peach slices. Dress with chicken and the ginger vinaigrette and serve.

Ginger Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups light olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup honey (regular or organic)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place vinegar, ginger and honey in a blender or food processor, blend thoroughly. Slowly add oil until incorporated. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to use. May also be made by hand using whisk to incorporate.

Here's a variation on the ginger

Orange Vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 cup light olive oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon EACH dried parsley, basil and oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Place vinegars, orange juice, onion, garlic, dried mustard and honey in a blender or processor, blend thoroughly. Slowly add oil until incorporated. Add dried herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to use.

Whole-Grain Rosemary Madeleines
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup of Five Grain mix or other whole-grain cereal
1/2 cup of sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 eggs.  
1/3 cup light olive oil or canola oil
1 cup low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease 2 madeleine tins (available in most cook shops) or a standard muffin tin. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, make a well in the center. Combine eggs, oil and milk, pour into dry ingredients.  Fold wet ingredients into dry just until combined. Mix will look lumpy.
Divide into tins, bake until golden brown (for madeleines approximately 15 to 20 minutes, for muffins 20 to 25 minutes) Remove from tins, cool on a rack. Makes 24 madeleines or 12 standard muffins.

Carol Williams
Box 812, Osterville, MA 02655
 508 965-9598
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