Hello! My name is Dillon Tisdel and I am a plant-based chef, mother of three and co-founder of Antara Retreat. I spend my time chasing after my kids, cooking for retreats and events, and helping to run the center that I started with my mama. Antara is a small retreat center in Taos, New Mexico that houses the work of Jan Birchfield (my mom), weaving psychology, spirituality and healing. An unbelievable proportion of people in the Western world are crippled by anxiety and a sense of profound emptiness. Our work at Antara is to support people in reconnecting with a source of inner nourishment, finding a resting place within themselves.
Nourishment is a central theme in the work at Antara. When groups are in circle with Jan, they hold space for each other’s individual journey, peeling back the layers of created self and wounds that keep them from experiencing the self-renewing source of nourishment that is available to all beings. When our clients are dining with me, my intention is for them to be nourished on all levels by the food that they are consuming. There is a concept in Ayurveda that explains that the the gross structure of our food builds the body and that the subtle, energetic structure of our food feeds the mind. I take the energetics of food very seriously, because as a chef, I am literally feeding our guests my consciousness. Impeccability with my energy and state of mind is my goal and constant practice.
I am a plant-based chef and it follows that we are a plant-based retreat center. The intention behind this is not militant veganism, but a desire to show people how they can eat more plants without compromising on flavor. I want to leave philosophy out of the dining experience and simply feed people really nourishing, really delicious food that makes them feel amazing. As the chef at Antara (and chef of my house), a lot of my life energy is spent curating what other people consume. I take this role seriously, making choices for my clients and family that not only limit harm, but actually promote healing. Food is our primary medicine (or poison), but it is also a deeply emotional relationship for most people. I try to bring healing, comfort and a sense of luxury to my food.
My husband is a public-interest environmental attorney and as a family, we live with climate change imbedded deeply in our consciousness. It is the awareness of the precariousness of our current position on earth and the compression of the timeline for us to do anything about it, that drives us to live ever more consciously in our relationship to our planet. This translates to our practices at Antara in many ways including buying local food, composting, reducing our use of plastic, biodynamic land management, and even buying organic table linens (we have lots of Coyuchi at Antara!).
We live in a world where we have to sift through an unbelievable onslaught of marketing to try to ascertain what the best choices are for our families and for the planet. I am that mom that scours EWG.org before choosing a laundry detergent and buys only GOTS certified organic cotton clothes for my baby. Not only do I want to reduce my family’s exposure to toxins, but as someone who has the immense privilege to do so, I feel that it is my responsibility to vote for a cleaner (and actually livable) planet with my dollar. Unfortunately, when it comes to food, textiles and supplements, we can’t go by buzzwords like “organic” alone to know that what we are buying is truly non-toxic. I found Coyuchi seven years ago, and after some digging, knew that this was a brand that I could trust deeply. All three of my kids have slept on Coyuchi sheets from birth!
I see the earth as a living, breathing, being of sentience and believe that the root of our current predicament stems from a disconnection from the very fabric of life. The feeling of separation that ensues has lead us down a path of objectification and exploitation of our home. While action is absolutely necessary to combat climate change, I want to address the underlying fissure as well. For me, the pathway forward is to continually renew my commitment to the earth, making personal choices accordingly, to vote for leaders who understand the depth and breadth of the problem and to tend to my inner landscape, finding a stance of connection, strength and peace within. It is my wish that my work on this planet is a source of beauty and healing in an age of separation and fear.
Revitalizing Morning Recipes by Dillon Tisdel
Basic Almond Milk
1 1/2 cups Almonds, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
2 Dates, pitted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
a pinch of Pink Salt
6 cups water
Blend all ingredients on high until the almonds have completely broken down, about a minute. Strain through a nut milk bag and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Vanilla Chia Breakfast Pudding with Raspberries and Cacao
This recipe is on frequent rotation in my home and on retreat menus. It is simple to make, incredibly nutritious and so delicious.
For the Pudding:
2 cups “Basic Almond Milk”
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 big, soft Medjool Dates, pitted
pinch Pink Salt
2 tablespoons Tocos Powder, utterly optional
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
For the Raspberries:
10 oz frozen, Organic Raspberries
1 1/2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
Nut Butter (I use Hazelnut or Almond)
For the Pudding:
Blend everything except the chia on high until totally incorporated, 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the power of your blender. Pour the milk over the chia seeds and whisk frequently for five minutes. Let your pudding soak for another 30 minutes or overnight. Top with the raspberries, cacao nibs and a drizzle of nut butter.
For the Raspberries:
Allow the raspberries to thaw or slowly warm them on the stove top over low heat. Once thawed, add the maple and stir to combine.
Morning Matcha Latte
I make some variation of this latte almost every day. I upgrade my latte with different Ayurvedic herbs and/or medicinal mushrooms, depending on how my body is feeling. I add shatavari and ashwagandha as restorative tonics, lion’s mane for mental clarity, turkey tail for immunity or moringa for mineralization.
1 cup basic almond milk, or milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon ceremonial grade matcha
1 teaspoon maple syrup, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ghee or MCT oil
tiny pinch pink salt
Warm the almond milk, maple, vanilla, ghee/MCT oil, pink salt and any add-ins in a pan over medium-low heat. If using homemade almond milk, heat the mixture, but do not let it simmer or the taste will change and become slightly bitter.
Place the matcha in the jar of a blender and pour a couple of tablespoons of just boiled water over the top. Add the hot milk mixture and blend until frothy and incorporated. Pour into your favorite mug or tea bowl and sip.