Winter 2024 Newsletter

A Note from Sue & Alex


Dear Ranch Alumni,

As we welcome 2024, it’s only natural for us to view January as a time to start anew. Often when making “resolutions” we put lofty restrictions around a behavior we want to change – eliminate this, don’t do that, take this away – and while that approach might work for some, we’d like to challenge you to think of those things you’d like to add into your life. What do you truly enjoy doing? Where can you get more playful?

This will look a little different for everyone but some ideas might be:

  • Learn a new skill or sport like drawing, language, pickleball or photography
  • Cook or bake a new recipe each week
  • Set a time of day or evening that you put your phone away for an hour (don’t cheat!)
  • Add an additional fruit or veggie to each meal
  • Set a weekly or monthly date night with your partner and alternate who picks where you go/what you do
  • Give yourself 20 uninterrupted minutes each day to do whatever you want – meditate, dance, play with your pup listen to music – whatever makes you happy
  • Try every pasta shape out there
  • Start a gratitude practice by listing 3 things you are grateful for each morning and each night

And remember, while the outside world might be telling you this is the time to start fresh, the truth is we can take this opportunity on any month, day, hour or even moment.

In health,
~ Sue & Alex

The Ranch Coffee

You can now start your day at The Ranch with a distinctly new experience – The Ranch Roast. Created especially for us, this high-quality, regeneratively-farmed light roast coffee boasts a shorter roasting time to maximize antioxidants like polyphenols while also being mold-free and low in acidity for a more authentic tasting experience. For those seeking an alternative morning ritual, a selection of caffeinated teas will also be available.

Colon Hydrotherapy

We are delighted to announce the addition of Colon Hydrotherapy (colonics) to our elective service offerings! This supportive modality is safe and effective for a wide range of ages and fitness levels and enhances the detoxifying benefits of our program. Learn more about this treatment and practitioner Fatima Rivas who is profiled in our Staff Chat Section!

Energy healing

Experience the transformative benefits of Energy Healing; now one of the most requested services by our guests. Led by integrative healer and program guide Niki Mare, our 50-minute sessions have surged in popularity and can offer profound shifts, increasing balance and energy flow, promoting a sense of calm, reducing stress and helping one connect with their true self.

World's best award

We are excited to share that we have been nominated in Travel + Leisure’s Annual World’s Best Awards and would be so grateful for your support. You can find us by selecting United States -> California -> Destination Spas -> The Ranch Malibu.


Staff Chat: Fatima Rivas

This month we welcome Fatima Rivas, holistic nutritionist and advanced practitioner and instructor for the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy, to our Malibu team! With more than 25 years of experience, Fatima leads our new Colon Hydrotherapy practice at The Ranch. She crafts personalized treatment plans for each guest that blend modern and ancient wisdom for a unique, comfortable and effective experience.

Learn more about Fatima and why you should consider a Colon Hydrotherapy session on your next stay.

– What are you grateful for?
Everything! Particularly my family, friends, and nature.

– How did your upbringing influence your career path?
We have a long lineage of herbalists and natural healers in our family for many generations on my mother’s side. My mother learned from her mother, and I also learned from her mother.

My grandmother and I were very close for 43 years. She lived a strong, healthy life and kept up her garden with a machete, almost daily until she was 93.  She started teaching me about plants and how they work with moon and sun cycles before I could even talk. Many of her stories included stories of her mother and how people would travel from all over their region to seek her guidance.

– What do you love about your job?
I love that these practices use the most basic and common elements on earth and that they have been tested and true for thousands of years. They can be found in the Vedas of ancient India, the Papyruses of Egypt, the Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.

– How many treatments should one consider during their stay?
The number of colon hydrotherapy sessions desired will depend on the individual’s goals, lifestyle, and what they tend to eat and drink.

Just as some people exercise on a daily or weekly basis to tone and tighten their outer body, some people also have their own ongoing cleansing, toning and rebuilding regimen for their inner body.

Colon hydrotherapy at The Ranch may be used as a continuation of a regular maintenance program done at home. Or, if a guest has never done a session, at least 3 will likely be recommended.

– What type of additional support do you offer during treatment?
Pressure point techniques, calming breath work, sound healing, and aromatherapy are some of the ways I provide additional support to make the session more relaxing and effective.

– Any special practices or foods guests should eat before or after treatment to enhance results/make the experience more pleasant and effective?
Hydration before the session ensures the best result. Guests are advised to focus on hydration, especially the weeks leading up to arriving at The Ranch, so guests tend to come hydrated.

Guests can focus on foods that have high water content, for the weeks leading up to The Ranch ie, veggies, fruits, soups, salads, smoothies, juices, teas, and lots of water for an optimal result from their sessions.

Following the session, I generally recommend skipping anything spicy and heavy. Meals like those served at The Ranch are great.

– How do guests feel after their treatment/what are the benefits?
A healthy digestive tract helps support a healthy immune system. A healthy colon produces Vitamins B, and K, and absorbs water. The colon has been referred to as the sewer system of the body. It is the place where we store the waste material that most of us would rather not think about.

– What is the best/funniest thing a guest has said to you?
That every minute at The Ranch was amazing but their colon hydrotherapy sessions were their favorite part. I would never have guessed colonics would be their favorite part but I’ve heard that several times.

– Most asked questions by guests before, during or after their treatment?
Before Question: Does it hurt?
The answer is no.

During Question: How am I doing?
It depends on the guest and their hydration.

After Question: Will I be ok for my next session/class in 5 minutes?
It depends on how you feel. Half the time guests feel totally back to normal in 5 minutes and go on to do a massage or yoga just fine. Some guests need 10-15 minutes to be certain they don’t need to be by a restroom. Rarely, do people feel they need 30 minutes to get back to normal.

– Last book you read or your favorite book?
As a family, we are currently reading the Tao Teh Ching and The Bible with our son.
On my own, I am reading The Twelve by William Gladstone, who is my father-in-law, author, and a legendary agent to some of the top authors in the world.

Organic garden

Please join us in congratulating our Garden Team for achieving Regenerative Organic Certification by the Regenerative Organic Alliance! This honor reflects the stringent standards we uphold to growing food responsibly – meeting or exceeding the standards set by the ROA – and growing the cleanest and most nutritious, flavorful ingredients for you to enjoy.

Learn more about the certification process and how you can incorporate elements of this method at home from our Farm Manager Jordan Wesley

Organic garden– Why did you feel it was important to pursue ROA certification?
Regenerative organic cultivation means that we are going above and beyond regular organic production by nurturing and enhancing the landscape as a whole. We are giving back to the environment as opposed to taking from it.

This certificate is important to us because it acknowledges all of the hard work we have been doing to grow food responsibly.

– What was the process like to get certified?
The process included:
– Completing a lengthy and detailed paper application packet
– Completing two, lengthy on-site inspections 
– Having our soil extensively tested for quality
– Re-examining organic pesticides that are allowed under our CCOF certification, but not ROA
– A full audit of our farming activity records
– A re-examination of all our fertilizer products

– How long did the process take?
11 months

– Was there anything the inspector was specifically impressed by?
The ROA inspector was most impressed with the extensive bio-diversity at The Ranch Garden. Our existing pollinator beds, crop rotation and companion planting practices contribute to such a wide array of plant species. This translates to soil and environmental health and resilience.

– What are you the proudest of in achieving this certification?
I am proudest of The Ranch Malibu Garden for meeting or exceeding all of the extensive ROA standards set forth. We grow the cleanest and most nutritious food all while preserving, enhancing, and regenerating the land – it’s unlike any other farm I’ve ever seen!

Organic garden– What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is producing clean, nutritious food in such a beautiful, remote area with clean air and water.

– Any new tools, practices or crops you are hoping to add in the coming year?
New crops that we will be cultivating here for the menu this year include: pomegranates, mulberries, seedless grapes, and wheat grass for juicing.

– What are some easy ways people can incorporate elements of this method into their own gardens?
Home gardeners can practice regenerative cultivation by recycling their kitchen scraps into compost, covering bare soils with plants or mulch, planting flowers year-round, practicing crop rotation, companion planting, recycling yard waste into compost or mulch, using “bee-safe” organic pesticides, and brewing compost teas to decrease fertilizer purchases. And support local organic and ROA farms!

In her practice, The Ranch’s Holistic Health Practitioner and Functional Nutritionist Bridgette Becker is seeing more clients interested in cultivating habits to support their mental health along with their physical health. This trend also reflects a larger cultural shift in awareness around mental well-being.

Here she shares her top 10 tips to improve mental health.

Choose what works best for you, notice how you feel and then perhaps add a few more!

1. Eat a whole foods diet!!
The fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants provide our gut microbiome, brain and nervous system what it needs to produce adequate amounts of neurotransmitters, minimize inflammation and support blood sugar balance in order for our mood and energy levels to have greater stability.

2. Prioritize quality sleep.
Quality sleep is associated with everything from energy and mood to weight management. The hours of sleep you get before midnight are twice as therapeutic and beneficial as the hours after. Tips for sleep hygiene include: taking a bath, stopping caffeine by 1 pm, disconnecting from screens (including tv) at least 1-2 hours before bed and meditation, gratitude or prayer practice.

3. Water, Water Water!
On average, 70-80% of Americans are dehydrated. Try to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day to meet your baseline hydration needs. Consider adding electrolytes to your water. Dehydration is associated with fatigue, headaches, irritability, and joint and muscle pain.

4. Reduce sugar intake.
Sugar is highly inflammatory and contributes to mood instability. Quite often when your body craves sugar, it is actually in need of hydration, protein or mineral-rich foods.

5. Reduce alcohol intake.
Alcohol is a depressant, it irritates the gut, contributes to nutritional deficiencies (B and zinc) and is inflammatory. Try reducing your consumption by at least 50%.

6. Eat 3 meals per day with fat, fiber and protein.
This helps with establishing balanced blood sugar which reduces energy highs and lows, and mood swings. It can take time to build the timing into your day, but it pays off!

7. Schedule time in nature at least once per week.
Nature has been shown to shift our nervous system out of sympathetic and into parasympathetic mode. It helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate and create a sense of ease. It also aids the immune system.

8. Exercise!
Even 10-15 minutes of additional walking per day can make a difference. Our bodies are made to be in motion. Exercise has been shown to be helpful with anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.

9. Build and share time in community.
Loneliness is currently a national health epidemic with health consequences that are similar to cigarette smoking. Our nervous systems coregulate with one another and sharing time with at least one person per week that we feel we can trust and be our authentic selves with does wonders for our health. When possible, add in a 10-second hug to increase the sense of connection!

10. Try intermittent fasting from screens once per week or for 10-12 hours per day.
Screen time is tough on the nervous system and quite often leaves us feeling disconnected from sources of support. As a phase-in approach, try being more mindful of both what and how much you consume of digital content and match it with experiences that nourish your mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health.

We encourage seasonal eating at The Ranch because not only are you enjoying more flavorful food that is at its peak nutritionally, but also because it puts your body in harmony with the earth’s natural rhythm. Winter offers a wonderful opportunity to still eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to support the immune system, brain, nervous system and detox pathways. Filled with antioxidants and phytochemicals these recipes feature Brussels sprouts, sweet potato and squash.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4


1 cup black rice, rinsed well
2 cups water
1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
2 Tbsp rice bran oil, divided
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1 – 2 Tbsp sriracha
1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped and toasted
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F
Place the rice, water and a pinch of salt in a pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 35 – 40 minutes until almost all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

As you cook the black rice, transfer the sprouts to a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Toss with 1 Tbsp of the rice bran oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown, tossing midway through the cooking time. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 – 3 tsp of water to make a slurry.

In a large sauté pan, heat the sesame and remaining rice bran oils over medium heat. Add in the garlic, ginger and half of the green onions. Cook 1 – 2 minutes, but don’t let it get brown. Add the coconut aminos, sriracha, maple syrup/honey, rice vinegar and 2 Tbsp of water and bring to a boil.

Add the slurry and simmer until the sauce thickens. Gently add in the cooked Brussels sprouts and toss to coat them in the sauce.

Serve with black rice, nuts and the leftover green onions.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4


2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika
1 small head of broccoli – cut into small florets
1 small bunch of Tuscan kale – leaves removed from stalk and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp oil
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Cashew Dill Sauce:
1/2 cup cashews
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 small garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste
½-1 cup water

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup each chopped parsley and cilantro
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F and line 3 baking sheets with a silpat or parchment.

Place cut sweet potatoes face down on one of the baking sheets and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.

In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spices and place on another baking sheet and place in the oven with the sweet potatoes and roast for 10-15 minutes.

On the last baking sheet, spread out the chopped kale and broccoli and drizzle with the oil and a pinch each of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

While everything is in the oven, make the sauce. In a blender, combine the cashews, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and ½ cup water until smooth and creamy. Add in more water as needed to get the correct consistency. Stir in the dill and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix the cherry tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice and salt and pepper together. Set aside.

Once the sweet potatoes are soft and the chickpeas are golden brown, remove from the oven.

To serve, place sweet potatoes flesh-side up and smash down the insides a little bit. Top with chickpeas, broccoli, kale and top with sauce and tomato garnish.

Harissa Roasted Squash over Lentils and Whipped Tahini
Serves 4


4 tablespoons harissa paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of half a lemon
2 Tablespoons maple syrup or honey
salt + pepper
2 kabocha, delicata or acorn squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ wedges
1 cup French green lentils
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Pomegranate seeds for garnish

Whipped Tahini
1 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup parsley or cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F

To make the Harissa Roasted Squash
In a small bowl, whisk together the harissa paste, garlic, oil, cumin, lemon juice and maple syrup. Whisk, taste, and add salt and pepper. Place squash onto a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet. Pour 1/2 of the harissa sauce over the squash, reserving the remaining sauce aside, and toss together coating all sides of the squash. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

To make the Lentils
Wash the dried lentils and drain. Place the rinsed lentils in a medium saucepan and add 2 cups of water along with the bay leaf. Heat the water over medium-high heat, bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes until tender. Remove the lentils from the heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt, toss and set aside, removing bay leaf.

To make the Tahini
Blend the garlic and lemon juice in a food processor until the garlic is minced. Add the tahini and salt. With the food processor running, stream in enough water to reach a creamy consistency. Add the parsley or cilantro and blend again to combine. Season to taste.

To serve, spread a spoonful of the whipped tahini on the bottom of four plates, top with a scoop of lentils and roasted squash. Drizzle with some of the reserved harissa sauce and top with cilantro, parsley and pomegranate seeds.

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