Meet Sara Jane Mercer, a delightful nutritionist, whole living expert, food writer and recipe developer who is a good friend to us at Tata Harper and whose health advice, beauty tips and recipe ideas we can’t get enough of. An intrepid explorer of the world of health food, Sara, as evidenced by her fabulous blog and website, has an unfailingly positive, enthusiastic and committed attitude towards spreading healthy goodness wherever she goes. We’ve collaborated with her on a few Green Beauty parties in the past, where we’ve combined our passions for all things nutritious and nontoxic to educate and celebrate the healthy alternatives to conventional food and beauty.
We got in touch with Sara to find out more about her passion for health and nutrition, plus to get some ideas for how we can all have a healthier holiday season (and of course, get an easy, healthy recipe idea to incorporate into our holiday menus!). Read below, and just try not to be inspired to change a few of those unhealthy daily habits that we all have such a hard time letting go of…
Tell us a bit about your background: How did you first get started in the world of health and nutrition, and when did you decide it was going to be afull-time passion?
I have always been interested in health, and healthy living. However, growing up in New York City I was given a lot of misinformation about how to look and feel your best. From cabbage soup diets, to calorie restriction, you name it, I had given it a chance before I was even 18. I had always thought I was fairly healthy however, for most of my life my idea of healthy was veggie burgers, packaged low calorie food, diet sodas and fat free frozen yogurt. I certainly always liked vegetables but they were by no means the center of my diet growing up. Iwent through a vegetarian phase for about 10 years in my late teens and early twenties, but I was misguided and ate a large amount of processed soy products and other vegetarian packaged food.
In my mid twenties, I started to become more aware about what truly was and was not good for my body. I had read a lot about gluten allergies and althoughI did not show any major symptoms I decided to eliminate it from my diet for awhile. I found that after a few days I did not miss it at all. From there I slowly began to tweak my diet and cut out the less than ideal components such as processed food, sugar, and dairy. It wasnt until I got engaged that I really decided to take my health to the next level. Like every bride I wanted to look my best at my wedding. I started attempting various juice cleanses but the change was too dramatic for me and I could never complete them. It was then that I began studying and reading about the benefits of a plant-based diet, proper food combining, and detoxifying the body.
I continued to experiment with my own diet until I found what worked best for me and made me feel truly healthful.
I started experimenting in my kitchen and developing some favorites recipes that both tasted great and made me feel great. My friends began to ask for cooking and health advice so I stared monthly cooking class parties in my apartment. The more often I hosted these parties the more I realized I loved sharing my knowledge and passion for healthy living with my friends. In between parties, friends and colleagues would email and text me asking for health advice and cooking tips. I loved giving advice but wanted to get more training and make what had become an informal health-coaching habit more legitimate. I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and began to train to be a health coach. Duringthis time I also started my blog and website in order to share my tips, finds and recipes with a larger audience. What had started as a passionate love for allthings healthful has now turned into a fulltime career that keeps me excited and energized every day!
I would be lost without my Vitamix. I use it at least two or three times a day to make green smoothies, dips, dressings, sauces and everything in between. If I am going away for more than three nights (by car not plane!) and know I will have access to a kitchen I usually bring it with me.
My Kyocera ceramic chefs knife is another thing I cannot live without. It is lightweight and incredibly sharp. It cuts through almost anything and barely ever needs to be sharpened. When I got married I received a whole set of fancy knives but I rarely use anything except my one ceramic knife. A good sharp knife is key to cooking, but you really only need one or two!
Lastly I could not live without kale. Tons and tons of kale! In my refrigerator there is always at least two bunches of washed de-stemmed kale stored in glass containers ready to be used. I put kale in every green smoothie I make, and have a massaged kale salad with dinner almost every night. Kale is a nutrition powerhouse loaded with iron, calcium Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, antioxidants,fiber and much more. I truly could not live without my kale!
As for detoxing your beauty cabinet, what has been one thing that’s beenreally hard to give up, or to find a natural substitute for? What’s yourfavorite natural beauty product & why?
As I detoxed my beauty cabinet and makeup bag the hardest thing to find a natural substitute for was a great mascara. I do not wear a ton of makeup unless I am going out at night, but I do love mascara. Up until recently there were no great natural mascaras that were also effective. However, I recently started using Nvey Ecos Volumising Mascara and have been very pleased with it.
My most favorite natural beauty product is Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. I am very, very active and an effective deodorant is key to my lifestyle. Soapwalla is the only natural deodorant that has been able to stand up to a double SoulCycle class in July! Plus, it is a super creamy texture that is fun to apply with your hands. Natural deodorant is so important because your underarms are incredibly close to your breast tissue and as we know anything that you put on your skin will absorb into your bloodstream. Aluminum, which is used in conventional deodorants, has been found breast tumors.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for those living in cities who want to make a healthy lifestyle change, and how should they try to overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge for those living in cities like New York who want to become healthy is time. As New Yorkers (and I am sure this is true for other
urbanites), we are scheduled to the hilt. Many people have difficulty finding the time to exercise, shop for healthy food and cook at home. My advice for those trying to overcome it is a little hair of the dog if you will. If scheduling and time is the biggest obstacle between you and good health, then start to schedule your health in. I am always advising my clients to schedule in their workouts, grocery trips, and cooking time at home as they would any other important meeting. If you begin to give you health the same priority as work, drinks with friends and social obligations you will see a major change.
What’s one piece of advice for families who want to make this holiday season a really healthy one?
For many families holidays can be a time of over indulgence. There are sweets everywhere and it can often be hard to resist. My advice would be to try and add something green to every meal you have. Always start you dinner with a big salad; you can add some roasted squash or root vegetables to make it seasonal and satisfying. By filling up on healthy greens and vegetables you will find you have much less room and desire for the cookies, cakes and pies when they come around.
And lastly…. would you share with us one of your favorite healthy holiday recipes that we can jot down to put on our Thanksgiving menus?
My favorite healthy holiday recipe is a bit non-traditional. While I love butternutsquash soup, roasted brussels sprouts and all the other vegetable dishes you often see on a Thanksgiving table my absolute favorite dish to make for the holidays is Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Pomegranate. Cauliflower is a great source of Vitamin C, something we could all use in the winter. Pomegranates always make think of the holiday season, perhaps because they look so pretty at the bottom of a glass of champagne? The sweet tart taste of the pomegranate seeds combined with the spiciness of the curry makes for an excellent and unexpected holiday dish. I have made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners and it has always been a huge hit!
Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Pomegranate
- 4 cups cauliflower cut into small florets
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1 T curry powder
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- sea salt and black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400
2.Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
3.In a large bowl combine the cauliflower, garlic, coconut oil, and curry powder until the cauliflower is evenly coated.
4.Spread cauliflower out on the lined baking sheet. Top with just a little sea salt and pepper.
5.Roast the cauliflower for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.
6. Toss the roasted cauliflower with the pomegranate seeds and serve.
Author: Tata Harper Team
The team at Tata Harper Skincare is passionate about promoting a modern, health-conscious natural beauty lifestyle that’s committed to safety, honesty and sustainability.