Ecotourism in Asheville, Day 3

Reader Contribution by John D. Ivanko

Asheville, North Carolina, possesses a rare trait of being many things to a lot of people.  A culinary destination, a gateway to nature, an artists’ community – and a place for wellness, the focus of this blog for Day 3 of a three day visit to the city. 

I previously blogged about how my wife and I embraced nature on Day 1.  On Day 2, we were on an adrenaline rush high in the trees on a zipline.  But for Day 3, it’s time to chill, revitalize ourselves and do some rebalancing of our mind, body and spirit on a health and wellness tour. 

As it turns out, Asheville has a long history of attracting people searching for a tranquil place for personal retreats and wellness. Perhaps due in equal parts to the city’s spectacular scenery and mild climate, Asheville has long been an oasis for the health conscious.  Today, even more so, with more than 630 message therapists, numerous yoga centers, plentiful vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free restaurants, and eco-minded lodging options.

A Wellness Tour

For the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation, we joined the two-hour-long Asheville Wellness Tour that covers the highlights on foot.  First, we soaked up the restorative powers inside the Asheville Salt Cave, the only all natural salt cave in the United States.  With over twenty tons of curative salts imported from Poland and recomposed into a cave, our half hour “salt therapy” and silent meditation helped us center ourselves and, perhaps, detox a bit.  It’s believed that on-going therapies inside the salt cave can be beneficial in the treatment for those suffering from respiratory ailments, skin problems or arthritis.

Following our salt therapy, we were joined by the bubbly Cameron Gunther, founder of Traveling Yogini Tours, for some simple yoga stretches and breathing inside the cave before she led our small group of five through the city on a guided walking tour.

Our final stop and our favorite — having just come from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair — was Wake, a foot sanctuary and shop. After a foot soak with warm waters infused with fragrant herbs, a warmed neck wrap and a cup of herbal tea resulted in the busyness of our day magically melting away. A little pampering goes a long way when you’re a homesteader with calloused hands.

Gluten-Free Indulgence at Posana

With an emphasis creative preparations and mouthwatering flavor combos, executive chef and co-owner Peter Pollay of Posana Cafe sets the bar high on cuisine that’s local, farm-to-table – and gluten free. You’d never know that his restaurant is gluten free since the salads, soups, entrees and desserts don’t miss a beat on flavor or texture.

Chef Pollay showcases local artisan food producers and farmers, many listed right on the menu.  Here, the taste is both delicious and local.  It’s so good, even if you’re normally a glutton for gluten, you won’t miss it.  Perhaps the only clue is the rolls missing from the table.

“This is like us, eating at home,” says Pollay, who followed a gluten free approach in the kitchen after his wife had been diagnosed with Celiac disease.  “Veggies, a protein and a starch.  We’ve been this way since the start.”

We savored his Sunburst Farms trout, served with a warm quinoa salad, endives, shaved carrots, black radish and orange vinaigrette, lobster mac and cheese with ricotta gnocchi and aged cheddar cheese, and North Carolina monkfish with a curry mussel soup, potato gnocchi, royal trumpet mushrooms and local ramps.

Posana Café has received a 3-Star certification from the Green Restaurant Association, in part for Pollay’s artful cuisine made from organic, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, but also for their solar thermal system on the roof, repurposed materials used in their renovation, and numerous energy and water conservation initiatives.

Detox at Asheville Green Cottage

For those with chemical sensitivities, or anyone who wants to avoid anything toxic that they might be sleeping on, eating or sitting in, then the Asheville Green Cottage is the place to go. 

Nestled in a quiet historic neighborhood, the cozy B&B was completely renovated by innkeepers Vicki Schomer and Neeraj Kebede, leaving no details overlooked when it comes to removing any toxic substances in their 1920s Arts & Crafts granite block house.  Besides no or low VOC paints and finishes, area rugs made from wool, hemp or sisal, and hardwood or bamboo floors, numerous energy conserving products are used throughout the home.

Their internationally-themed rooms feature natural latex foam mattresses and cruelty free duvets and chlorine filtering showerheads.  The simple and immaculate property has attracted travelers with special needs or chemical sensitivities.  Most special dietary requests are happily accommodated.  For other bed and breakfast options in the area, check out the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authoredRural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winningECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef, along with operatingInn Serendipity B&Band Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer andphotographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, “9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine.