Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


Join me in Italy’s Piedmont…

aerial shot of papaveriI spend my entire life working at keeping frequent travelers healthy on the road, and I spend a good amount of my own time traveling too.  It might seem odd therefore that I elect to travel on my down time to take a group of people on a retreat to Italy. Isn’t that a busman’s holiday?

Not really.  My biggest goal with clients is to address their relationship with food.  First of all, I steer them away from processed and packaged foods to the real thing.  Next, we look at other issues that might have them opening the fridge door more often than they would like, such as habits, environment and emotions.

If you’ve lived off fast foods and processed foods for years, there’s nothing like coming back to basics.  In food terms that means getting as close to the source as possible.  And that’s what we do at Cascina Papaveri.  Most of the produce we consume is picked that day from the extensive organic garden.  Any food that isn’t produced on property comes from within a 5 kilometer radius.  Garden to belly time is minimal, taste factor is maximum!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow consider how you eat.  Are you always on the run, do you eat in your car, or do you scarf down fodder while you’re at your laptop? Do you give yourself time to register whether or not you’re full? We take all our meals at a long communal table, mostly on the extensive terrace so we can enjoy the fabulous views (on a clear day we can see the Alps).  We prepare our dinners together using the freshest ingredients and cooking everything from scratch. Yes, everything.

“You’re making the bread tonight,” says Chef Gino.  Pointing to someone else, he adds, “You’re going to make pasta.  Andiamo!” Panic sets in for a second until you realize that you’re not being left to your own devices but you’re in the hands of a top notch chef who has great teaching skills and, most importantly, a sense of humour.

IMG_1479Before you know it, you’re massaging flour into perfect eggs that are used specifically for making pasta. The yolks are as orange as the dress in my profile photo!

Are you gluten free?  Dairy free? Vegan?  It doesn’t matter.  Gino is an amazingly talented chef and you will not be left behind in the taste stakes because of any dietary limitation.

All this real food is washed down with local wine.  People who don’t drink red wine because of the sulfites have no issue here.  Appetites increase, wine is quaffed and no one puts on any weight.  Is this Utopia?

Actually  we have a secret weapon.  Cascina Papaveri has its own fully-equipped Pilates studio.  We start every morning with a mat class on the roof overlooking the vineyards.  After breakfast, duets and trios are taught on the oddly named Pilates equipment; the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair.  There’s even a 12 meter indoor pool to enjoy.IMG_1388

Truth be told, my favorite activity at Cascina Papaveri is watching the world not go by.  And that’s okay.  You don’t have to cook.  You don’t have to do Pilates.  You don’t have to go on the excursions to Asti and Alba.  You can just be.  Or you can do.  You can do it all or not at all.  That’s why I love the place.

This year’s retreat is from September 9th to 16th.  Limited space is available.  Email retreats@jaynemcallister.com if you’re ready to jumpstart your way to healthy living.

Cascina Papaveri is in the town of Costigliole d’Asti in the Piedmont region of Italy.  Milan and Turin are the most convenient airports.  If you’d like to join me, you can select from a 7-, 4- or 3-night stay.  retreats@jaynemcallister.com.


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Vino Volo – Taking Airport Food (& Wine) to New Heights

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you follow me regularly, you know that I have a bit of a beef with airport dining.  That said, I’m thrilled that more and more airports are elevating their options so we may actually get to the point where it’s worth checking in early or not suffering through a long layover.  I’m all in favor of eating before boarding so you can have more control over what you consume, but I want to see more than cinnamon rolls and soggy pizza on the menu.

Imagine my delight therefore when I had the opportunity to try Vino Volo at JFK recently.  Since I became self-employed, I  no longer have airport lounge membership.  It used to bother me but now that I’ve discovered Vino Volo, I really don’t care.  This is way better!

What’s all the fuss about?  While you’re waiting for your flight, you can indulge in a flight of a different kind, a wine tasting flight.  Vino Volo’s thoughtful and extensive list has something for everyone whether red, white or rosé, Old World or New World.  The Italian Stallions get my vote, a macho flight of Valpolicella, Barolo and Rosso di Toscana that perfectly complemented the cheese plate.  Even my sommelier husband was impressed…

But, Jayne, you’re all about being healthy on the road… That’s right, I am.  First of all, I’d rather see someone consume a glass of red wine rather than a soda any day.  The former – in moderation – is way healthier than the latter.  Secondly, wherever there is good wine, there is usually good food.  That principle certainly applies in Vino Volo’s case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe menu is small but well-planned.  You can order as little as cured olives or marcona almonds to enjoy with your wine (I really recommend that if you’re not having anything else to eat – please don’t ever drink on an empty stomach).  Or, you can select from three plates and three sandwiches and salads.  These all come in half portions, which I wish more places would offer, so the calorie counts are very reasonable.

The smoked salmon rolls are 270 calories for a half portion; chickpea and chorizo chili a mere 200, penne and cheese for the non-carb phobic weighs in at 330 calories for a half portion.  A fabulous roasted chicken breast salad has 310 calories for the half, and 510 calories for the full size.  Sandwiches are similar in energy values, and you can choose between the tuscan chicken or the brie and prosciutto.  Not too shabby!

Plus the setting is stylish and comfortable, and, in my humble opinion, more interesting than an airport lounge.  I can people watch and I’m less likely to be subjected to other folk’s cell phone conversations.  Most importantly, the wine and food options are better!

Vino Volo has 17 airport locations, including JFK, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Newark and Philadelphia. For exact airport and terminal locations, check out their website at http://www.vinovolo.com.  Now if they would just open one in the American Airlines terminal in Orlando…

Bon Appetit!