Ask Me Anything!

I was inspired to start this site by my friends and families questions about my health, cooking and beauty habits. In the (two!) years I have had this blog I have loved sharing my healthy tips and finds helping others on the path to cleaner, greener lives.

This summer, while I was taking a break to snuggle Hermione I started to get many questions from friends, readers and colleagues about my approach to pregnancy, childbirth and the first few months of having a baby.

I have loved answering your questions so much that I am launching a new video series entitled “Ask SJM.” In each video I will answer a few questions on everything from cooking to childbirth, beauty to babies! Want to know my daily skincare routine? Ask away! Curious about my favorite baby products? Ask me! What I am eating these days for dinner? I’ll tell you!

Submit your questions to me in the comments section here, tweet me @sarajanemercer using #AskSJM, or leave me a message on Facebook. Then stay tuned in the coming months to see if I answer your question!

 

 

Merry’s Hemp Truffles

At the beginning of the summer we added another new member to our family, Hermione’s nanny/best friend/partner in crime, Merry. I cannot express enough how lucky we are to have her in our lives. Not only does she adore my baby girl, shower her with love and affection, read to her, play with her, and cuddle her but she is also a very talented vegan chef! This summer while the little nugget was sleeping we would have tons of conversations about food and health. I always found myself anxious to try what she was making herself for dinner!

One afternoon I saw Merry snacking on these delicious Hemp Truffles and asked if she would share the recipe on my blog. They are the perfect sweet bite, incredibly easy to make and loaded with energizing fuel. As a runner, Merry’s inspiration for this snack came from a desire to fuel her training:

I came up with the recipe because first and foremost, I am always trying to come up with yummy raw snacks.  I also wanted it to be perfect because of training for running longer races. As my runs get longer and longer, I wanted to be able to tote along one or two of these to keep my energy up after 10 miles! I love dates as a source of carbs and potassium for those longer training runs.  The types of snacks they sell for long distance runners are crap, so I wanted my own nutrient-dense,  easy-to-eat energy bite while on the run (literally.) :) Sometimes you just need that little boost to avoid hitting the wall.

Merry’s Energy Balls

  • 3/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 1/4 cup dried mulberries
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Add everything into the blender/food processor except for the hemp seeds
  2. Pulse or blend on low until ingredients are well mixed.  It should be sticky enough to form into bite sized balls.
  3. Form tablespoon size balls and roll in hemp seeds.  Makes approximately one dozen.
Tomato, Watermelon, Basil Bites

It’s August which means tomatoes! I wait most of the year to eat local tomatoes in their peak. You really have not eaten a tomato until you have had one straight from a Long Island farm in August. Yum! I plan on spending the rest of this month eating as many tomatoes in as many different ways as I can.

A few weeks ago Doug and I hosted some friends for casual Saturday night cocktails. I love hosting gatherings but have to admit it has become a lot more difficult to pull off since Hermione. I no longer have hours to spend in the kitchen preparing hors d’oeuvres for my guests. Instead I have to make simple things that can be prepped ahead of time and pulled out of the fridge when our guests arrive.

These tomato, watermelon and basil bites are the perfect combination of summer flavors. Paired with a chilled glass of rose they are my new summer party go to!

Tomato, Watermelon, Basil Bites

  • 1/4 of a watermelon cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (grape, pear or baby heirloom tomatoes will also work)
  • 1 bunch basil
  1. Spear one watermelon cube on a toothpick followed by a rolled basil leaf and a tomato
  2. Devour!
Grilled Romaine with Spicy Avocado Dressing

With a very small person in the house who needs most of my attention, dinners have been fairly simple affairs the past few months. By the time Hermione goes to sleep at night the last thing I want to do is start cooking a complicated meal. I am much more interested in quickly ingesting something fresh and healthy so I can get some sleep myself before she wakes up and needs me. Fortunately the Hamptons are overrun with farm stands selling produce so fresh it needs little manipulation from me to turn it into a meal.

I am also lucky that Doug loves grilling (is their a man that doesn’t?) which makes summer dinners even easier! Is there anything better than freshly grilled food eaten outdoors on a summer night? Perhaps if you throw a chilled glass of rose into the mix!

Grilling romaine is a fun way to play around with your salad. I love it paired with the creamy, spicy avocado dressing!

Grilled Romaine with Spicy Avocado Dressing

  • 2 hearts of romaine
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • sea salt
  1. Heat a charcoal grill or grill pan
  2. Using your hand lightly rub the outside of each romaine heart with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Grill the romaine until lightly brown on all sides
  4. Top with Spicy Avocado Dressing before serving

Spicy Avocado Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 jalepeno sliced, seeds removed
  •  1 medium avocado
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup water
  •  sea salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender or Vitamix until smooth
  2. Add more water to thin out dressing if necessary
  3. Adjust spiciness to taste

 

Pronut Holes

I am a sort of, kind of, semi superstitious person. I will not panic over a broken mirror or a black cat. I do refuse to call my unborn daughter by the name we have chosen for her. Doug calls my belly by her name all the time and it freaks me out a little bit. This may seem strange since I have fully finished her nursery, stocked closet and all but to each her own right?

One superstition I have grown more attached to recently is that full moons can bring about labor. I have heard stories from friends, nurses, and my own doctors about babies being born on full moons. Some say it has to do with a change in air pressure, tide and gravitational pull. Some say it is more primal than that. Either way tonight is a full moon so we shall see if baby girl decides to make a slightly early arrival!

As my pregnancy draws to a close I have been trying to really focus on preparing myself for labor and delivery. I have been resting as much as I possibly can and eating for strength and energy. Recently I have become very dependent on healthy snacks. The bigger my baby gets, the less room I have to fit big meals. Eating for two? Forget about it! My stomach and the rest of my digestive system is so squished that eating a full meal is nearly impossible.

These protein bites or Pronut Holes (protein doughnut- get it?) as Doug named them are the perfect pregnancy nibble. I keep a batch of them in the fridge and grab one or two whenever I need a little pick me up or protein infusion. I definitely plan on having some on hand to eat during early labor, whenever that may be!

Pronut Holes

  • 1 cup Sun Warrior Vanilla Protein Powder or other vegan protein powder
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk, coconut water or water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • stevia to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Add more liquid if needed to get a thick dough to form.
  3. Roll into small balls.
  4. Allow to set in fridge.
Weekend Brunch Idea- Granola Bar

In most respects I am as much of a New Yorker as they come. I was born and raised on the island of Manhattan and do not plan to leave anytime soon. We might move someday if we decide to give baby girl a sibling and need more space but that would not be for several years. Even then, the farthest we would go is Brooklyn. As a NYC “lifer” I have been taking taxis practically since birth. I always know which route I want to take depending on the time of day and never, ever let the driver decide.  I still catch myself calling Manhattan “The City,” which I realize is a little closed-minded but old habits die hard!

Despite all of my native New Yorky-ness there is one quality I possess that in very un New York. I hate brunch! While most of my fellow New Yorkers look forward to long heavy meals on a saturday or sunday afternoon I have never been able to get into it. I don’t like eating allot during the day as I find it slows me down and makes me feel sluggish. I am not a fan of eggs, pancakes and other typical brunch fair. Nothing sounds worse to me than drinking Mimosas and Bloody Marys at noon and being hung over by 2pm!

My dislike of brunch aside, friends are family are always asking me for some healthy ideas to serve at their own brunches. While my first instinct would be to suggest a variety of green juice, I realize this is not what most people are looking for!

A healthy granola bar is a great idea for any breakfast or brunch gathering. Your guests can create their own bowls based on their personal tastes and desires. Similar to a Chia Pudding Bar it guarantees everyone gets what they want.

Granola Bar

  • One or two types of natural, sugar free, gluten free granola. Besides my own homemade variety I like Hail Merry Grawnola and Purely Elizabeth 
  • A few non-dairy milk options such as OMilk Almond and Cashew Milk 
  • A variety of fresh fruits such as blueberries and raspberries
  • A variety of dried fruit
  • Some “fun” topping such as dried coconut or dark chocolate chips
  1. Set out all of the supplies in various bowls and let your guests go to town! Much better than booze, pancakes and eggs if you ask me!

Have a great weekend! Mine includes my evening, cocktail party baby shower (as I said- not a brunch fan) and finishing up our nursery!

Spicy Sweet Express Guacamole

Despite my best efforts my fridge is not always perfectly stocked. Ideally, I try to always have a good supply of greens, raw veggies, fruit and staples such as lemon juice and almond butter on hand. In reality a busy week and no time to get to Whole Foods sometimes leaves my fridge lacking. This has been happening a bit more recently. As I get bigger and more tired a trip to the store sometimes feels like just too much to handle. Putting my feet up and reading is much more appealing! There are many days when I peek inside, ready for a snack, only to find random fruits and vegetables such as one avocado, a red pepper, some pomegranate seeds and a bit of lemon juice. Not quite the perfect lineup for my favorite Pomegranate Guacamole. Well, as they (who they are I don’t know) say necessity is the mother of invention. When an eight month pregnant lady wants a healthy snack, sometimes she just has to invent one!

This Spicy Sweet Express Guacamole is super fast to make and cannot be messed up. If you don’t have pomegranate seeds you could add some other diced fruit such as pineapple or just omit the fruit altogether. If you are not a spice junky like me feel free to leave out the hot sauce. It will still taste just as good! Hey, even just an avocado mashed up with lemon juice and sea salt is a delicious and incredibly good for you snack! Recently I have been enjoying this guacamole inside of red pepper halves but it also works great as a dip for carrots, celery, romaine leaves or any other other raw vegetable you may have on hand. After all this is snacking and should not be taken too seriously!

 

Spicy Sweet Express Guacamole

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (pineapple or other sweet fruit would also work well)
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sirarcha or other favorite hot sauce ( some brands of sirarcha contain fish sauce, make sure to read the ingredient list before purchasing to get a vegan version)
  • sea salt to taste
  • liquid stevia to taste
  1. In a small bowl mash together the avocado, lemon juice, sirarcha, sea salt and liquid stevia until smooth.
  2. Gently fold in the pomegranate seeds.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Serve inside red pepper halves or as a dip for raw vegetables.
03/12
0
Tea Time

Unlike my husband who cannot go to sleep without a cup, I have never been a big tea drinker. Save a few Alice in Wonderland themed birthday parties growing up my tea consumption has been limited. I find that by the time I drink all of the water and green juice I need to in a day there is little time left for other beverages such as tea.

Early into my pregnancy my friend and acupuncturist  asked me if I had started drinking “the tea” yet. I promptly asked “what tea”? She then gave me a recipe that contained a lot of loose herbs I didn’t know how to source. The recipe went into my purse and that was that. A few weeks later she asked me again about the tea and I confessed that I had not even looked at the recipe! After some urging and explanation on her part I agreed to make this special tea and drink it for the rest of my pregnancy and during the time that I am nursing.

This Pregnancy Nourishment Tea is actually quite easy to make. I ordered all of the bulk loose herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs for about $20. All you have to do is mix all the herbs in the right proportions in a big jar or other sealed container and then you can brew your tea as you want it. I like to make a jar full at a time as that makes enough to last two days or so. You could certainly brew your tea by the cupful as well if that is easier for you. Drinking this tea everyday during your pregnancy and post-partum will help with uterine toning (essential for labor), balance your nutrient levels, and aid in milk supply once it is time for that. Plus, as I am learning a cup of tea can be a great bedtime ritual. Especially for those of us that have a hard time shutting down at the end of the day!

Pregnancy Tea

  • 2 parts Red Raspberry Leaf
  • 2 parts Nettle
  • 1 part Oatstraw
  • 1/2 part Alfalfa
  • 1/2 part Rose Hips
  • 1/4 Red Clover
  • 1/4 part Spearmint Leaf
  1. Place 1/4 cup of mixture in a sealable 1 quart jar ( I use a Ball Jar).
  2. Fill jar with boiling water.
  3. Steep for 30 mins.
  4. Store jar in fridge and drink 1-2 cups per day.

 


03/07
1
Dessert with a Purpose

I love to have a bite (or several) of something sweet at the end of the night. I am not one for cakes, cookies, candy, and ice cream but somehow my evening does not seem complete without a little dark chocolate or one of my own healthy dessert creations. While I have had no major cravings during my pregnancy, my desire for sweet treats has certainly not gone away.

While pregnant I have been focusing extra hard on eating as much nutrient dense, plant based food as possible. Growing a person is hard work and she and I both need the best nutrition we can get. The general full feeling I walk around with everyday thanks to my little passenger sometimes makes it hard to eat food in any significant volume, so I try and make every single bite count- even dessert. Recently I have switched out my dark chocolate and other healthy yet not nutritionally necessary desserts for sweet bites that serve a purpose! Since healthy fats and protein are even more important than usual during pregnancy, I have been trying to load up on them whenever I can in the form of nuts, nut butters, avocados etc. These Cookie Dough Bites are a recent creation that fit the bill of a sweet treat combined with a nutrient dense bite. I can reach for a few after dinner knowing they are not only satisfying my sweet tooth but are helping my baby as well!! I like to make a double batch and keep them on hand in the freezer so they are always at the ready. Yum!

Cookies Dough Bites

  • 1 cup almond butter (preferably raw)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 T cacao nibs
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • liquid stevia to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, adjust sweetness to taste.
  2. Drop mixture by the spoonful  into a lined mini muffin pan and freeze for approx. 30 minutes-1 hour before eating.
One Sexy Fruit- How To Open a Pomegranate

Pomegranates are a sexy fruit. The juicy red arils (seeds), the way they exploded in your mouth, the sweet tart taste. Mmmm. No other fruit seems more suited to Valentine’s Day than pomegranates. However sexy, they can also be a messy pain to open if not done properly! No one likes red stained hands, cutting boards and countertops!

No need to avoid this antioxidant packed beauty food for fear of ruining your manicure! Check out this video to learn how to quickly and cleanly de-seed a pomegranate to seduce your loved one in Valentine’s Day perfect recipes such as Pomegranate Guacamole, Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters, Cauliflower and Pomegranate Tabbouleh, and this Valentine’s Salad!