Rancho La Puerta 2017! Food for the Soul & Protein Bites!

KitchAnnette RLP Protein Bites Featured

General, Snacks | August 5, 2017 | By

Well it was another glorious week at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico! This was my SEVENTH visit since 2000. Yes, it’s THAT good! It’s so good that ever since I returned, I’ve been creating a bit of “spa-life” by going to the gym a LOT and as you may have noticed, missing a blog post last week. So now I owe you one which you will receive soon!

I flew to San Diego Airport where wonderful people from the Ranch are ready to whisk you away. It takes about an hour to drive east and then go through customs into Mexico. You’re only a couple of miles over the border but it feels worlds away. The gates open to welcome you. Your bags are taken to your very own little house, or casita. And so the week begins!

KitchAnnette RLP Alex's Oak

Like a nut, I got up every morning at 5:30a (well, that’s a reasonable 8:30a EST for this East Coaster) to make the 6:00a hikes. I HATE the first half, which is the bulk of the uphill climb. I am SLOW. You can bet I made good friends with the shepherds on each hike! What I LOVE is getting to the top… seeing the beauty… encountering the grand rocks steeped with ancient lore and wisdom… and then as I made my way down, visiting Alex’s Oak – the one tree that gives a moment of shade and great views of the Ranch.

It’s about this time that something wonderful happens – a clangy-clang bell rings loudly. It’s time for breakfast! WOO HOO! That gives you all the energy you need to finish the hike, do a stretch, and get back to your casita to free your feet of your hiking boots, grab your bag, and bound to the dining hall for breakfast!

KitchAnnette RLP Spinach Enchilada KitchAnnette RLP White Sea BassThat bell rings for every meal and just like a Pavlov experiment, we are instantly ravenous  and everyone does a little skip to encounter the next scrumptious selection prepared by the magnificent staff of culinary professionals!


KitchAnnette RLP Quinoa Brownie

I choose to hike and take various types of fitness classes whereas friends just wake and bake by one of the three glamorous pools. After lunch, I would take it easy and stroll around looking at the beautiful grounds,  go to a presentation of the weekly specialty speakers, or hang by the pool. Since I worked hard, I treated myself to a daily late afternoon spa treatment – Classic Massage, Herbal Wrap, Rosemary Loofah Salt Glow (well, I ask for sugar for my sensitive skin – ha), Hydrating Facial, Mountain Sage Hot Stone Massage, something called Happy Hands & Feet (hand and foot massage that makes you melt into the table), Jetlag Reflexology, and one of the 5 Elements Treatments – Fire! I saved the Loofah treatment for last so I’d come home with perfectly exfoliated skin that feels like a baby’s!

KitchAnnette RLP Inspiration 3

So here’s a little story. Before I left for the Ranch, a friend of mine asked if I would create a protein ball on the blog. I was in such a flurry of activity, I promised I’d do it when I got home. When I saw the menu at the Tierra Alegre Juice Bar at the Ranch, I was overjoyed – they make Protein Bites! It was fate. Last year we learned about the yummy Electrolyte Smoothie recipe shared by Alejandra Garduño and this year she did NOT disappoint, demonstrating how to make the ever-delicious Alegre Protein Bites.

Here’s how:

KitchAnnette RLP Protein Bites bag

KitchAnnette RLP Protein Bites Up CloseOh how good they are! The dried cranberries and dates are the only sweetening element and which perfectly balance the nutty goodness.

They make them in orders of 4 bites – cute little 1″ cubes of fabulous flavor. They give you the zest you need to keep rocking your day.

They’re fun to make too! Get the kids to help out. Clean their little grubby hands well and let them mix it all up. You can replace the cranberries with dark chocolate chips. You can “sell” them as healthy candy only instead of a sugary energy spike followed by a cranky lack of vim, these will give you a steady energy burn to take you up a mountain or just get you to dinner.

KitchAnnette RLP Inspiration 2

KitchAnnette RLP AZ WineI am the biggest dork about Rancho La Puerta. I encourage you to check it out. I truly believe that a visit there or to any other fitness retreat should be a medical expense write-off. The overwhelming peace, positive disconnection (there’s only wi-fi in few designated areas and NO TV’s), communing with nature, and making friends with people from all over the country (and the world – also, capacity per week is only about 160 guests), not to mention the “incidental” walking, variety of fitness options, and healthy yet incredible menu is transformative.

If you can’t get away, create your own retreat – turn off the phones for the weekend. Tell friends & family you’re leaving town so they don’t disrupt your escape. Hide the remote. Prepare only healthy but easy menus, drink lots of water but dress it up with lemon, lime, cucumbers, mint, cinnamon, orange, etc. Have a glass of wine if you like! HAVE A STASH OF PROTEIN BITES ON HAND! And spend the day moving – biking, walking from one end of the nearest town to the other, put on your favorite music and dance through all of it! Read a book! No computers! Yeah… it might seem impossible but if you plan it like you would any other vacation, you can create a wonderful shangri-la of your own!


Rancho La Puerta 2017! Food for the Soul & Protein Bites!

Annette Zito, KitchAnnette™
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • • 1 cup roasted salted cashews
  • • 1 cup roasted salted shelled pistachios
  • • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • • 1/4 tsp salt
  • • 16 fresh medjool dates pitted


  • Combine cashews, pistachios, peanuts, cranberries, and sunflower seeds in a bowl. Handful by handful, chop in the blender for a second or two to create a smaller yet still chunky texture.
  • Mix in cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  • Blend dates in the blender and mix into the nut mixture until evenly distributed.
  • Press the mixture into a parchment-lined 8” x 8” x 1” pan. Cover the top with parchment paper and wrap the pan in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the fridge and remove wrap & paper. Cut into 1” cubes and enjoy. Makes 64 pieces or 16 servings of 4 bites each.


You can replace the cranberries with dark chocolate if you'd like a chocolate sweetness!
Adapted from Rancho La Puerta - Tierra Alegre Juice Bar

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