Heartland Revival

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Drink To Your Health

Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For many people who are eating healthy, their beverages can be sabotaging their efforts to achieve the level of health and vibrancy they desire. Are you drinking empty calories that prevent you from losing weight? Are you putting toxic additives and chemicals into your body? Upgrading your beverage choices can be the key to taking your health and wellbeing to the next level.

Making the switch to a healthier diet came pretty easy to me. I loved researching the benefits of plant based food and experimenting with new recipes. But for a long time I could never kick my diet soda habit. I was in total denial about the harm it was doing to my body. I still get a craving, especially when I am stressed and honestly, sometimes I cave. For the most part though, I can say that I feel good about the choices I make when it comes to hydrating. Here are a few switches and tips so you can drink to health:

  • Instead of reaching for the coffee pot the moment you wake up, try a cup of warm water with fresh lemon juice (about 2 tablespoon). This invigorating beverage supports liver detox – with fewer toxins in the body, you have more energy. Moreover, coffee promotes blood sugar fluctuation and sugar cravings – both of which can send you on the spike and crash energy roller coaster.
  • If you drink coffee throughout the day, you can transition yourself off caffeine more gradually with beverages that contain less caffeine instead of going cold turkey – e.g. black tea, green tea or green tea.  Green tea and white tea, in particular, have much less caffeine and are rich in health-promoting antioxidants.

  • Sugar in soda can cause a lot of health issues. Diet soda is no better – artificial sweeteners are toxic to our body, causing many health problems including weight gain and low energy. Instead of sugary soda, try mixing sparkling mineral water with pure fruit juice – start with a 1:1 ratio and as you get used to the less-sweet taste, increase the amount of sparkling water. Eventually, you will feel satisfied with just a splash of juice or a squeeze of lemon.

  • For those on the go, try having packets of green juice powder handy. They are great for boosting energy and provide a ton of antioxidants and micronutrients that are essential for vibrant health. I recommend the Daily Good Greens from Aloha.

  • In social occasions when you desire a drink or two, alternate your alcoholic beverage with water or sparkling water (add a twist of lime and it looks like a gin and tonic!) to help you reduce your alcohol intake while stay hydrated.

  • Don’t forget water! Clean water is the most healthful beverage. Dehydration can cause headache, low energy, sugar cravings etc. Carry a water bottle with you and sip often. 

I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks for choosing beverages that benefit your health! Stay tuned for the next post of the "Healthy Eating for Busy People" series. I'll be talking about eating healthy while traveling..

Interested in learning more on how to break unhealthy habits and change your life? Let's talk! Contact me for a complementary session to discuss how we can work together and transform your health. 

Plan Smart To Eat Smart

Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment

Just a few years ago my meal planning mainly meant stocking up on frozen "meals" as breakfasts and lunches. After a LOT of practice, I can now say that I am at meal planner level: expert. If the thought of meal planning seems overwhelming, no worries. Keep reading for some tips to becoming a successful meal planner yourself.

Most busy clients I work with are actually very intelligent and knowledgeable when it comes to what a healthy diet and lifestyle looks like. The challenge is to make it happen in their hectic and over-committed lives. If you are like most busy people who are also very driven, you can turn this into your asset to help you implement healthy dietary changes.

For busy folks, planning smart is key to eating smart. If you make healthy choices available to you when you need them, chances are you will make better decisions. Here are a few tips to help you plan better so you can eat better and feel better:

  • Plan for the week ahead – plan out your meals for the upcoming week on the weekend, and do all your grocery shopping in one trip (which will save you time too!) If possible, set aside a couple of hours during the weekend to prep your meals – e.g. you can chop some veggies, or even cook the entire dish and put it in the fridge or freezer. You can even get your kids to help out, and make it a family ritual. Kids will have fun and they are more likely to eat the meals that they take part in preparing.

  • “Cook once eat twice (or more!)” – when it comes to healthy eating, nothing beats home-cooked meals made from scratch (a whole foods based diet). Having to scramble for dinner every evening can be challenging, and “Cook Once Eat Twice” can help you save time and headache. You can prepare more than one meal worth of food so you have leftovers for one more meal. You can also cook a big batch of grains and use them in different combination. For a meat option, grill a bunch of chicken breasts to keep on hand to shred for tacos or for quick casseroles.

Stock your fridge, pantry and desk drawer at work with healthy snacks – make sure you have some healthy snack alternatives handy so you don’t go for the vending machine which is usually stocked with less desirable options. If a fridge is available at work, try some hummus with celery sticks, carrots or broccoli. If you are always on the go, a handful of nuts with dried fruit or an apple with nut butter (available in single-use packets) can be great pick-me-ups. Keep in mind that fresh whole food is always better than processed foods – there are many “bars” on the market with “health claims” – however, most of them contain sugar, additives or processed food products that are less than desirable. If you have to turn to packaged foods, always read the labels to make smart choices.

  • Instead of getting caught with nothing for dinner, stock a few healthy frozen options so you don’t dial the greasy pizza place. Make a point to pair frozen meals and fresh veggies (even if it's just celery or carrot sticks with dips). My favorite thing to do is make a big batch of soup over the weekend and divide into individual containers and freeze.

  • Team up with a few other families or friends - each prepare one dish in a big batch, and then trade dishes - you will walk away with a week's worth of dinner!

 I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks for planning smart to eat smart! Stay tuned for the next post of the "Healthy Eating for Busy People" series. I'll be talking about how your beverage choices affect your health.

Interested in learning how to establish a solid, smart eating plan? Let's talk! Contact me for a pantry makeover or a grocery store tour.

Pumpkin picking + Red, White, Green "Hen" Chili

At Home, In My Kitchen, Out and AboutAmber BransonComment
pumpkinpicking2015

Happy Halloween! On Sunday, we made our annual trip to a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins for our stoop. We visited a new-to-us patch, Stuckmeyer's Farm Market, since it was closer and we were short on time. For some reason we always seem to go on the hottest day in October so we didn't hang around too long, just enough to find our pumpkins and for me to gawk at the chickens for a bit. Once we got home we each started a pot of chili (meat for him, no meat for me) and let that simmer while we carved away.

 

henofthewoodschili

Recently, we were given some hen-of-the-woods mushrooms that had been scavenged by my boyfriend's dad and when we discovered it had a meaty texture, I knew I had to use it for a mock white chicken chili.  I love white chicken chili but haven't had it since I became pescatarian. Once I started collecting ingredients, I realized I was unprepared and only h one container of white beans. So enter red beans, green chilies, bell pepper and tomatoes, making this a Red, White, Green "Hen" Chili.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion
1 medium bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups hen of the woods mushrooms (any meaty mushrooms would work - such as portobello)
1 small can diced green chilies
2 containers of beans (26.8oz combined)
1 can or jar of diced tomatoes
32 oz vegetable broth
2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Dice onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute in stock /chili pot until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent. Stir in spices and saute for about a min until fragrant. Add beans, green chilies, tomatoes, broth and maple syrup. Stir and then bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to low. Simmer for at least an hour. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in coconut milk.

I topped mine with sour cream and some tortilla chips. Here is a cashew sour cream for you vegans out there.

Note /// Spices are very subjective so feel free to improvise. The chipotle chili adds some smokiness and then the maple syrup balances out the spiciness. I actually had added some cayenne pepper to my batch and it turned out very spicy so I omitted it here.

Be well,
Amber

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As of lately

ThoughtsAmber BransonComment
asoflately

Health Coaching involves helping and supporting clients make small changes to reach personal goals and create long lasting habits. I thought I would share some of the small changes I've made to my daily routine.

After doing a 3-day cleanse, I've started drinking smoothies for breakfast. Also, my boss was kind enough to order me a balance ball chair since I am at my desk most of the day which is helping my posture and fixes my bad habit of sitting on my legs. The biggest change I've made has been purchasing a fitbit. With the fitbit I was really able to see my lack of functional activity with having a desk job so I've started incorporating walks at lunch as well as logging my workouts.

Health is always a work in progress and the adventure along the way is more fun than any result! Here is what else I've been up to lately:

eating /// using up my CSA, canning, experimenting with sourdough bread and pizza dough, incorporating more daily smoothies and juices

reading /// Miracles Now, Spontaneous Happiness

watching /// The Time Traveller's guide to Elizabethan England, Vine of the Soul: Encounters with Ayahuasca

activity /// adding walks at lunch and tracking my every step with fitbit, using yoga blocks for neck and shoulder stretching, balance ball chair at work for better posture

working on /// a collaboration with other wellness instructors (Gather & Seed), new class lecture materials, building newsletter templates

out and about /// Foraging walk, Lucky's Market Grand Opening, SLAM outdoor films

Interested in learning what small changes you can make to improve your health and happiness? Contact me to set up a free Health Consultation!