Heartland Revival

holistic health

Interview: SOL Sweat

Interview, Out and AboutAmber BransonComment

As a wellness coach, I like to have a "toolbox" of holistic health modalities that I take part in regularly as part of my self-care routine. My latest obsession is sweating it out in infrared sauna! I've always wanted to try out a sauna but for some reason was never able to find one that wasn't hidden in a very expensive, private gym. Enter SOL Sweat! While searching on a whim a few months ago, I could not believe my eyes when I found a studio dedicated just to infrared saunas. I promptly made an appointment to check it out and try my first session. The studio is easy to find and very accommodating, with 3 rooms dedicated to saunas (one even being for couples who are open to sweating together ;) ).  Each room also provides a water cooler to stay hydrated, chairs and hooks for your belongings and my favorite part, a cool washcloth infused with essential oils to help you feel refreshed after your session. Needless to say, I am hooked and wanted to share the love!

Stacy Sullivan is the genius behind the operation so I reached out to her to learn more about SOL Sweat and learn her wellness necessities. See her thoughts below and check out the beautiful space she has created: 

Q: What compelled you to open SOL Sweat? I have always loved heat, hot yoga, and going to spas. My body and mind relax when I sit still in heat. After joining an expensive gym and only using the steam room and sauna, I had an idea to open an easy access sauna studio that doesn’t require a membership.

Q: What are the top three reasons someone should incorporate infrared saunas into their holistic routine?  The top 3 reasons an infrared sauna should be added to any holistic routine are:
1. Stress relief
2. Self-care and sweating out toxins is very important to our well-being
3. To feel the radiance of the sun’s rays without exposing oneself to UV rays.

Q: What are the top three questions asked by your customers?  
1. What is the difference between a traditional gym sauna vs an infrared sauna? (A gym sauna is usually a hot room, where an infrared sauna penetrates the body and it is a gentle, more effective way to experience heat therapy.
2. What do I wear in the sauna? People can use the towel provided, a swimsuit, or light cotton clothing.  
3. How often should I go? We recommend 2-3 times a week, if working on a specific lifestyle change or wellness initiative. However, 1 session will bring relaxation and stress relief. Everyone’s needs are different - it comes down to time and budget.

Q: If you had a list of ‘best-kept secrets’ (websites, books, local businesses) you’d recommend, which would you include and why? I am very open-minded to all new activities that stimulate the mind, body and spirit. I am always reading the paper and checking out Facebook events for happenings around the city. Float, Yoga Buzz, Grand Basin Yoga, Women’s Weekend, Sym*Bowl, Sound Healing with Anu French and Southtown Yoga are my favorites.

Q: What is a non-negotiable in your self-care routine? Why?  Sleep. I absolutely need 8 hours of sleep to be motivated to be my best.

Thank you, Stacy for sharing your thoughts! For more info on SOL Sweat, follow along on Facebook, Instagram or book a session at gosweattoday.com

 

Hello 2015

At HomeAmber BransonComment
Namaste Everyday goals (on and off the mat) written on the studio wall!

Namaste Everyday goals (on and off the mat) written on the studio wall!

Hello friends! I hope your Holidays were filled with good food, good company and good health! I am finally back into the swing of things over here and can't wait to start putting my plans for 2015 in action. I know resolutions are always a touchy subject, some people make them and then some people are vehemently against them. I like to think I'm somewhere in the middle. I like to start right into the New year with a few goals that I know I can complete or get started on in good time. Work, life, etc gets in the way so why not make some short term resolutions that are do-able and will ultimately have a lasting impact? Here are my goals for the beginning of 2015:

Complete the Namaste Everyday Challenge - My favorite Yoga studio is hosting a challenge where you practice yoga every day for the month of January. My goal with this challenge (besides completing it) is to establish a better yoga practice and continue to go a few times a week once the challenge is over.
Read  - This one is pretty self explanatory and I have no excuse considering I received some great books for Christmas (see below).
Travel  - So far my guy and I have a trip planned to Chicago in the spring and then have talked about the possibility of taking a longer trip in the fall.
Devote time to documenting my cooking + health adventures - I finally invested in a good camera! Now I can actually enjoy playing with my food as well as show off the healthy places that St. Louis has to offer.

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

And don't forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter for more recipes and healthy tips!

CSA:7

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA7

Pretty obvious who the star of this week's CSA is, as well as the next few weeks I'm sure. Fine by me since I recently bought myself a canning set and a huge canning pot. Here's what I did with this share. (as I am a few weeks late posting this)

Tomatoes - made into canned stewed tomatoes and salsa
Cherry and Plum tomatoes - salads and
LOTS of bruschetta
Onions - in breakfast hashes
Cucumbers - raw or made into Whiskey Brine Pickles
Zucchini/Summer Squash  - breakfast hash and yet to be used...
Fennel - in juice
Basil - in bruschetta, pesto and still on my counter... I've figured out how to make it last forever!
Lettuce
- used in a Mexican-type salad since it was bitter

Already looking forward to my next pickup (which is tomorrow) and canning some pasta sauce and more pickles. How is your CSA going? Are you canning anything?

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!

 

CSA: 2

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA2

These are the contents of my CSA from last Thursday. So many greens! Here's what I have planned:

2 heads of bok choy: crunchy slaw

2 heads of lettuce: lettuce wraps and salads

1 bunch of kale: cheesy kale chips

Bag of spinach: salads and for juicing

Bag of baby kale: juicing

Bag of mixed greens: used for a Greek salad for Memorial weekend camping

Small container of strawberries (not pictured): in overnight oats and strawberry chia jam

I am most worried about using it all before it goes bad. I did some research on storing greens and so far, so good! Do you have any tips for storing greens? Let me know in the comments!

CSA: 1

Amber BransonComment
CSA1

Yesterday, I picked up my first CSA haul! Last fall, I made the decision to participate in a CSA in an effort to eat locally and because I eat A LOT of vegetables and it can be expensive. After some research and asking around, I decided to go with Riverbend Roots Farm. Since this is my first time participating, I chose the full share for every other week. I wanted to get the full range of what they offer but wasn't sure I could handle a full share every week by myself. I was warned that the first share is the smallest and although it won't last me long, I was happy with what was included in the share and I am excited to try a few new recipes.

Here's what I plan to do with my share:

Bok choy: seared as a side dish

Radishes: in a salad with cucumbers (to serve along with the bok choy)

Bag of greens: LOTS of salads

Lemon Balm: infused vinegar, muddled in cocktails, paired with strawberries to flavor water

I encourage you to find out where your food comes from and try cooking with a vegetable you've never had before! Here is a great resource for finding locally grown food near you.

 

Making Recipes Healthier: A How-to

In My Kitchen, Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
Art found  here.

Art found here.

Often times I find recipes that sound awesome but can be made a little healthier (IMO). I wanted to show you how easy it is to deconstruct a recipe and rework for maximize health benefits. I keep these 3 questions in mind when customizing recipes.

  1. How can I add more vegetables?
  2. Can I make this with less sugar? Or with a different sweetener (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
  3. Is there a more nutrient-dense or gluten-free grain to substitute with? (If the recipe calls for a grain)

Lets take this recipe I came across today. It sounds delicious, looks easy to make and I've been on a pineapple phase so this is right up my alley.

Here are the ingredients called for:

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. sweetened coconut flakes, optional
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • Serve over white rice

Here is what I would do differently:

  1. Reduce amount of pineapple (too much natural sugar) to 1 1/2 cups and add cubed zucchini (something green!) instead.
  2. Substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil. Vegetable oils cause inflammation (among other things) and the coconut oil will better complement the other flavors.
  3. Omit brown sugar as the pineapple has enough sugar. (reading comments on recipes that you've never made before can be helpful. many said that there was no need for additional sugar )

  4. Use unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the sweetened. Again, reducing sugar but not compromising flavor.
  5. Serve over soaked brown rice or quinoa instead.

There you have it! Cooking healthy food is not as hard as you think. What is a favorite recipe that you could rework to be healthier? Or what methods do you already use to make recipes healthier?

Let me know in the comments!

-Amber

Self Care Schedule (free printable)

Amber BransonComment
selfcare.JPG

Recently, I listened to a talk by Jennifer Louden called "Create a Life You Love" in which she speaks about establishing minimum daily requirements for self care to keep centered and grounded. They aren't goals or have-to's but simply basic things that help keep us sane and that honor our true selves. I know it can be hard sometimes to image giving yourself time out of your busy day so I've come up with a weekly reminder for you to print out and keep on your fridge, at your desk, etc.

There are no rules for what you write down, just come up with three things to do for yourself everyday. My Self Care Schedule may include: walking my dog, drinking lots of water, having tea with a friend, going to Yoga. You can write the same three things everyday, or write down something completely different for each day of the week.

Just remember, these aren't have-to's, just gentle prompts to take some time for "you" everyday.

Click HERE to download the free printable.

Library Reads

Lbrary ReadsAmber BransonComment
(clockwise from top-left)   All Natural ,  Clean ,  Animal Vegetable Miracle ,  Eat to Live

After reading this book back in July, I decided to renew my library card (free!) and start checking off (or out?) my growing reading list. I try to finish one health/self-help book a month. Above are a few that I've read in the past few months that I've taken bits from and applied to my eating lifestyle. I've been mostly reading up on diet theories and now seem to be gravitating to intuitive eating books. Next on my list are Intuitive Eating, Eating Mindfully and Health at Every Size.

Pumpkin Carving + Seeds

At HomeAmber BransonComment
PumpkinCarving.jpg

Yesterday, we finally got to carve the pumpkins we picked up at Eckert's a few weeks ago. I also had a pumpkin seed request, which I happily obliged. Since I don't eat a lot of meat, they are a great source for iron as well as making my keto guy happy. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with magnesium, potassium, zinc, fiber, healthy fats, and protein.

I made 3 variations, one simple with just olive oil and sea salt, the second with olive oil, bbq seasoning and cayenne pepper and then the third, a "sweet" version with coconut oil and cinnamon. A little trick I found helped a lot with this year's batch; boil the seeds beforehand! It makes them easier to digest as well as helping the outsides get crispy without burning the interior seed.

Pom-love

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment

Pomegranates have to be one of my favorite fall foods (after pumpkin, duh). Perfect as a snack as I had them today, or in a salad with roasted kale, butternut squash and goat cheese (last weeks lunch).  Another favorite of mine is to make chocolate–pomegranate clusters, but this recipe is next on my to-make list.

Pomegranates are high in Polyphenols, which have an array of health benefits from reducing inflammation to normalizing blood pressure . Here is a little more info along with a few options for getting your Polyphenols.

Lettuce Turnip the Beet

In My KitchenAmber Branson2 Comments
BeetJuice.jpg

 I began juicing about a year ago and although I don't do it everyday (like I probably should), it makes me feel amazing when I do. I love it. And I'm totally into the hype. My favorite juice is anything with beets.

At home my concoction usually consists of:
1 medium sized beet (top included)
1 bunch of kale (or I use about half bag of kale from Trader Joes)
1 apple
1 small lemon
1 inch chunk of ginger

I got a great deal on this juicer and couldn't pass it up. With juicing being so popular, there are a ton of resources on the internet, as well as books, explaining the best fruit-to-vegetable ratios as well as recipes and techniques. Here is a good place to start.