A few months ago, my dear friend Kate of BeyondFit Physiques asked me to be a part of a special event she was planning:
A weekend retreat for women who love fitness and nutrition, and who deserve a little break from the hectic, 24-7 hustle & bustle of daily life.
She wanted to create an event that would give women time to relax, unwind, and connect with other like-minded women who shared common interests: staying fit, eating healthy food that tastes amazing, learning the latest in fat loss fitness & nutrition, AND getting pampered!
What girls’ weekend is complete without massages, yoga, shopping, and time in the sun & water?!
The event was held in historic New Bern, North Carolina, a quaint town on the coast that offers great restaurants, boutiques, and access to sand, water, and sun!
Kate pulled out ALL the stops for our big weekend:
- A professional hair & make-up team and photo shoots with one of North Carolina’s top fitness photographers, Ariel Perez.
- A massage therapist on hand all weekend to knead the knots out of our tight muscles and stressed bodies.
- Education sessions on the latest in fat loss fitness & nutrition.
- Saturday and Sunday morning workouts – a Bikini Boot Camp and yoga.
- Sunday morning girls’ brunch.
- Afternoon activities like Stand-Up Paddle Boarding on the river, and leisure walking around downtown New Bern.
- The SWAG BAGS to end all swag bags and more prizes and giveaways than you can shake a stick at.
BUT, my absolute favorite activity of all was the Fit Girls Dinner Party on Friday night.
Kate knows I love to cook, so she called me in to organize a dinner party at Batten Farm using real food, seasonal ingredients, and fat loss-friendly recipes that ANY busy Fit Girl could recreate in her own kitchen.
Of course, I said YES – and immediately started planning my menu.
I was inspired by the potluck Summer dinners we used to have back in Virginia with my friends Micki and Jenni:
Everyone made or brought something to share – usually Farmers’ Market finds or things we’d picked up at Trader Joe’s or Cheesetique (a local cheese shop) – and we kept everything really simple.
We were all busy, they both had kids, and who wants to stand in the kitchen slaving over food when you’d rather sit and have a glass of wine and chat with your girlfriends?
They were some of the best times AND some of the best meals I’ve ever had – and that’s what I wanted our Fit Girls’ Dinner Party to feel like:
Just a group of girlfriends getting together on a Friday night to have a glass of wine, throw together some simple, healthy eats, and then just RELAX and have fun.
I had a general idea what I wanted for the menu, and then went shopping for ingredients the day before the party at the Piedmont-Triad Farmers’ Market.
This is how I meal plan in everyday life. I let the seasonal ingredients determine the menu.
Local food at the height of its flavor requires VERY little work in the kitchen – saving you time and money.
Here is the final menu:
At Batten Farm
As I drove onto the property, I was greeted by cows, horses, chickens, and a little gray cat who kept me company while I prepared for everyone’s arrival.
A log cabin complete with a HUGE kitchen, commercial range, butcher block, and plenty of counter space.
To say I was in heaven is a total understatement.
TIME TO WORK!
I started the pork first – 8 pounds of pork tenderloin rubbed with garlic, fresh rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil, then covered in foil and refrigerated.
I roasted the sweet potatoes, fried a few slices of bacon to start cooking the greens, and sliced the melons.
Several of the girls arrived early and asked, “What can I help with!?”
I put them to work!
“You can shuck this corn! Slice these melons! Peel these baked sweet potatoes! Cut up those strawberries!”
And they did:)
It was like my Fat Loss Cooking School come to life!
I felt so blessed to share the kitchen with this group of women who wanted to learn how to cook & eat REAL food to nourish their bodies.
I even had two of my FLCS Alums in the kitchen with me all night: Suzanne and Alaina.
Everyone arrived by 6:30 p.m., we cracked open the wine and started the appetizers.
In my opinion, you haven’t really lived until you have a glass of chilled Viognier in one hand and a slice of prosciutto-wrapped melon in the other, and the melon juice drips down your chin and arm after the first bite.
Meanwhile, I seared the pork tenderloins while Alaina mashed the sweet potatoes with the Garlic & Basil Goat Cheese, fresh from NC’s very own Goat Lady Dairy!
Jill and Suzanne worked on the Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad, and Jill even learned some mad new knife skills to impress her husband with once she gets back home to Georgia.
The whole meal came together perfectly and I was confident the meal would be a success. Why?
1) Because I used great ingredients, and
2) I had the girls taste-test the dishes as we went.
I’ve watched too much Top Chef, people. If Tom Collichio hates your dish, the first words out of his mouth are,
“Did you taste this dish before you served it?”
FAT LOSS FOODIE TIP:
Always, always, ALWAYS taste a dish before you serve it!
Fit Girls Eat Dessert
As soon as everyone was eating dinner, I got started on dessert. I already had a gallon of fresh-picked North Carolina strawberries macerating in a little coconut sugar in the fridge, so all that was left to do was throw together some gluten-free shortcakes and a little whipped cream.
To save myself the trouble of dragging my ENTIRE gluten-free baking arsenal to New Bern, I went with Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking Mix.
It’s all the EXACT same ingredients I would use at home starting from scratch conveniently combined in ONE BIG BAG.
Hot-from-the-oven shortcakes topped with strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Really. Does life get any better than this?
Throw Your OWN Fit Girls Dinner Party!
Couldn’t join us in New Bern?
I’m giving you ALL the recipes you need to throw your own Fit Girls’ Dinner Party!
YES! Send me the Fit Girls' Friday Night Dinner Party Recipe Guide & Shopping list!
To Wendy: for letting us use your AMAZING cabin and kitchen (which I hope we left cleaner than your husband and his friends;)
To Lisa: for helping coordinate logistics getting everyone and everything to the farm, and to all my sous chefs and clean-up crew members who helped throw one of the best dinner parties I’ve ever been to, and one I will never forget!
To Kate: for your vision, and for making me feel like Martha Stewart for a night;) “It’s a good thing.”
To Micki and Jenni: for the inspiration and friendship built around good food and wine.
To my mom Martha: for teaching me to cook and entertain. I learned everything I know from watching you!