Local Spotlight – Taos and Santa Fe

I’m sitting in what’s probably the tiniest airport in America. I’m one of five people here. The TSA checkpoint doesn’t even open until my plane arrives. The power just went out and I have to laugh because even with power back on wifi is, I’m guessing, not an option. No airport bar, no food, two rental car agencies, two airlines, one terminal. This is Santa Fe.

I have just spent five unforgettable days in New Mexico. To call this place “the land of enchantment” is an understatement. The history of the native American Indians, the adobe architecture and the endless works of art unique to this area are both humbling and powerful.

When planning my trip here I knew exactly who I wanted to take with me on my journey. My Mom. It took one phone call, no convincing and a couple months later we were landing here in this tiny airport.

This trip offered so many nutrients in these four areas of health – self-care, spirituality, local food and relationships. I was nurtured both physically and emotionally and will be reaping the benefits for years to come.

Taos

Our trip started by driving an hour north. Miles of uninhabited desert dotted with shrubby green bushes as far as you could see, casinos after casinos, the run down town of Espanola, plateaus, arroyos and finally we drop down into the town of Taos surrounded by desert, lined with mountains, dark grey clouds in the distance.

We arrived at El Monte Sagrado Resort just in time for dinner where I had my first plate of New Mexican green chile enchiladas and Mom had her first experience of eating elk.

El Monte Sagrado
El Monte Sagradon

Self Care. The following day I had one of the most extraordinary spa experiences of my life at The Living Spa in the resort. It started with using their steam room, sauna and taking a hot bath in a Japanese cedar tub.

Then I went in for my treatment which started with body brushing followed by an application of clay enriched with sage, cedar and juniper essential oils to my entire body. I was then tightly wrapped  to promote

The Living Spa
The Living Spa

sweating allowing the clay to pull out and trap toxins. While I was wrapped the massage therapist placed Staurolite crystals indigenous to Taos all along my chakras, applied reflexology to my feet and treated my face with exfoliation and the same clay mask. I was then instructed to shower and return for a thirty minute full body massage. The session was complete with a glass of cold coconut water. I felt f-ing amazing.

Lampert's
Lampert’s

Local Food. Taos has a quaint downtown filled with shopping aimed to tourists. We had a lovely lunch at Lambert’s of hummus, tabouli, pita, feta, olives, grilled local trout and vegetables.

For dinner in the evening we enjoyed regional, organic fare at The Love Apple. The lamb albondigas, red chile tamale and blue corn cake baked and served in cast iron were smoky, rich and provided some serious aromatherapy.

Spirituality. The next day we explored the Taos Art Museum at The Fechin House, the Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande Gorge and visited the Earthship community – a completely off the grid community of homes built from recycled materials, dirt and adobe.

Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo
Rio Grande Gorge
Rio Grande Gorge
The Earthship Community
The Earthship Community

Local Food. We also visited two farmers markets where we found organic cherries, yams, garlic, apricots, squash, eggs and greens. What I also noticed is everywhere we went herbs such as Echinacea, lavender and sage grew wild.

Local New Mexican chile powder and piñon
Local New Mexican chile powder and piñon
Local yams
Local yams
Red Willow Farm
Red Willow Farm
Local Garlic Scapes
Local garlic scapes
Wild Lavender
Wild Lavender
Wild Echinacea
Wild Echinacea
Desert Sage
Desert Sage

Self-care. Before heading down to Santa Fe we decided to indulge in a little hydrotherapy at the sacred Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. Ojo Caliente is unique in that it is the only hot springs in the world that offers four different types of mineral waters – lithia, soda, arsenic and iron. Each pool offers different therapeutic properties at different temperatures. Lithia offers relief from depression, soda relieves digestive issues, iron supports the immune system and blood and arsenic relieves arthritis, is good for digestion and heals skin conditions. They are all good for toning the skin and detoxing. There is also a mud bath which is made of clay. The idea is you slather yourself with mud and then lay out in the sun to let it harden on your skin which to extracts and traps toxins from your pores.

Santa Fe

New Mexican Lamb at Geronimo's
New Mexican Lamb at Geronimo

Local Food. We hit the ground running with a fine dining experience at Geronimo restaurant. House made sourdough and flatbread dusted with spices and sesame, seared foie gras with local cherries and roasted strawberries, Asian pear salad with blue cheese toast, arugula, endive and cashews, New Mexico “four corners” rack of lamb and Durham Ranch roasted chicken. We even went all out for dessert with banana cream pie accompanied by cinnamon chocolate ice-cream, a feather light orange “creamcicle” reminiscent of tres leches cake with lemongrass ice-cream and espresso and tea with star anise cookies. Wines too were fantastic. As was the service.

The hotel we stayed in, La Fonda on the Plaza, hosts a live band every night of the week. Music has always been an important part of our lives. A great way to end the night, which we did on both nights of our stay.

Avocado Toast at Pasqual's
Avocado Toast at Cafe Pasqual’s

Local Food. Santa Fe has a ton of shopping, museums, art galleries and restaurants that surround a central plaza. Cafe Pasqual’s was on point for brunch with their more healthy approach to New Mexican fare. House-made whole wheat toast with avocado, poached eggs, house-cured bacon and a seed and spice mixture called dukkah was a stand out. Their more traditional chile relleno and vegetarian tamale with black beans, jicama and cilantro rice were also exceptional.

Georgia O'Keeffe
Hawaiian flowers – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Spirituality. We went to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum where I was mesmerized by her iconic artwork and passion for New Mexico.

Self-Care. Off the beaten path we discovered Milagro Herbs. They forage local herbs, make holistic skincare products and herbal medicine. They also have an extensive assortment of medicinal teas, clays and essential oils.

Local Food. Just down the street from there is Kakawa Chocolate. They make ancient recipe chocolate elixers, truffles and ice-cream. Smoky red chile finds its way into all three. Pinon (pine nuts), a commonly used ingredient in this area, were used in delicious caramel chocolate truffles.

Kakawa Chocolate House
Kakawa Chocolate House

Local Food. The Cayote Café is another worthy restaurant just off the plaza. Their tuna poke was fresh and vibrant with the addition of diced watermelon and avocado. I had the salmon with house-made cavatelli, chard and English peas. Mom had a decadent pork osso buco with Israeli cous cous. Marsala-tomato sauce and apple salad.

Santa Fe Municipal Airport
Santa Fe Municipal Airport

 

On the last day Mom flew home early back to San Diego. I went for a swim at the hotel, sat in Cathedral park and had a delicious Salmon nicoise salad at La Casa Sena. As I drove back to the tiny airport I took in the desert for the last time. The adobe homes, the squatty green bushes, the majestic mountains and the dark clouds, always in the distance, never once over me.

It was monsoon season in New Mexico but it never rained once.

Travel for good health

This trip fed my soul and promoted good health in so many ways. The vast deserts, local Indians and culture offered an amazing spiritual experience. The healing power of mineral baths, clay, massage, essential oils, reflexology and the warm sun re-energized my body. The local organic food nourished me.

Relationships. But the most rewarding aspect of the trip hands down was the quality time I enjoyed spending with my mom laughing, eating, getting pampered, exploring, talking and sharing. Deepening our relationship and connecting with new experiences we had offered the most nutritional benefit of all.

Me and Mom
Me and Mom

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

My Top 10 Self-Care Practices

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Photography by Jenee Crayne

The photo above is Justine. She is my friend and one of my favorite yoga teachers. It was her and a couple of other people at my yoga studio that influenced me down my journey of taking back my life. Once a master juggler at getting several tasks done for other people all at once, now the juggling is done to benefit and enhance my own life.

This is no easy task, but the moment you let go of feeling like it is not OK to take time out for yourself, is the moment when you can really start to live.

Caring for yourself enables you to care for other people on a higher level. Feeling confident, rested and healthy gives you the energy to be there for the people who need it (and deserve it) the most in your life.

Here are my Top 10 Favorite Self-Care practices:

  • Yoga – The spiritual practice of yoga is good for both your mind and body. It’s a never-ending practice that you continue outside in the real world after you have gotten up off of your mat. It reminds us to let go of the ego, be present and mindful and to listen to your own body. It is my favorite form of self-care hands down.
  • Massage – This also falls into the category of treating yourself to a day at the spa. Find the type of massage that’s right for you and enjoy it. The body deeply benefits from human touch and massages are great for promoting circulation, treating minor pains, reducing stress and relaxing your muscles.
  • Taking a bath – Taking a good 20-30 minute soak in a hot bath is amazingly detoxifying and relaxing. Add 2 cups epsom salt, 1 cup aluminum-free baking soda & 10 drops lavender essential oil to your bath, light some candles and enjoy.
  • Acupuncture – If you have never had acupuncture do yourself a favor and make an appointment right now. Not only do the practitioners have endless ways of treating any kind of injury you may have but they can also sense how your organs are functioning and heal them as needed. Very thin needles are inserted into the body in various points necessary to treat your ailment. Sometimes cupping (to relax and stimulate energy of muscles) and or/ moxi sticks (for warming) can be used as well. At the end of the session feeling relaxed, euphoric, dizzy & a little light headed are all common.
  • Good Dental Hygiene – This can include tongue scraping, oil pulling, flossing and using a natural teeth whitener. Use natural products and set aside plenty of time to do it right.
    • Tongue Scraping – Clears the tongue of mucous, toxins and bacteria. Rinse your mouth with cold water, scrape your tongue 10 times and rinse again. Follow up with oil pulling and brushing. Tongue scraper I recommend.
    • Oil Pulling – Ayurvedic technique of swishing oil around in your mouth to pull out bacteria and fungus. It alleviates bad breath, cavities, plaque, sensitive teeth and inflammation. Swish 1-2 teaspoons of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes (do not swallow), spit the oil out, rinse your mouth out with salt water and brush your teeth. Oral pulling rinse I enjoy.
    • Tooth Whitening – Baking soda makes an effective all natural tooth whitener. ECO-Dent makes a good one.
    • Natural toothpaste – To fluoride or not to fluoride. That is the question. I pick not. Here’s what I would rather use. Or this one.
  • Body Brushing – So invigorating and leaves your skin silky smooth. Body brushing boosts circulation and lymphatic flow which detoxifies and opens pores and exfoliates for healthy skin. Using a non synthetic long handled brush gently dry brush each body part in an upward direction starting from your feet all the way up to your neck. Follow up with a warm shower and moisturize with either lotion or oil.
  • Walking or hiking in Nature – Barefoot walks on the beach or in a grassy park. Hiking through the woods or up a mountain. Being in nature is extremely grounding and good for your soul. Turn the phone off and appreciate what’s around you.
  • Reading for pleasure – One of my favorite past times (especially on vacation) and great to do right before bed to help get a good nights sleep.
  • Warm lemon water – Or even just warm water for that matter. Starting your day with  a large cup will stimulate your digestive system, alkalinize your body and detoxify your liver.
  • Meditation – Hands down the hardest self-care technique for me to do. Sit upright in a comfortable position and concentrate on your breathing. Try not to let outside noises or your own thoughts distract you. If they do, acknowledge them, let them go and return back to your breath, for as long as possible. This is totally easier said than done. I recommend a restorative yoga class which also incorporates gentle, relaxing postures into the practice. Meditation is a great way to start and end your day.

Which self-care techniques do you like the best?

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.