Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Health Coaching Support for Women with HPV or Cervical Dysplasia

Image courtesy of Marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sharing a message of hope today on MindBodyGreen, a message worth sharing with all the women in your life! If you have ever felt alone after receiving an abnormal pap result, please take the time to read my article here. And if you feel you need extra support processing your diagnosis and learning to heal your body naturally, check out my coaching programs here. I work with clients in person in NYC OR by phone, and I would love to help you through the process!

post signature

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year from Strictly Nutritious!

Image via republicofyou.com.au
How in the world is it 2014 already? I mean, I remember hearing Prince's song 1999 during my freshman year of high school in 1999 and thinking "wow, the future is here!" (while simultaneously thinking... "what if Y2K screws it all up?!?"). 

And now look at us! Here we are, 14 years in!

Like most people, I always take some time to reflect at the turn of the year. You know... where have I been? where am I going? (that sort of thing). 2013 was one of my BEST years yet - I got engaged while on vacation in California, spent most of the year celebrating with family and friends, and wrapped up the year with an intimate wedding in Costa Rica with a mini-stopover in Mexico!

If I had to pick one word to describe this past year, it would be "celebration"!

But in 2014, I have decided that I must get down to business. This year will be about building things for myself and my loved ones! More specifically, I want to nurture my relationship with my husband and my closest friends, cultivate those hobbies and interests that have fallen by the wayside, and find more ways to make an impact on the people that God has placed in my path.

This year, I will "build".

With that being said, I will be taking a little sabbatical from the blog. While I love writing for you and connecting with you, blogging is a full-time job (and I already have one of those!). In just a year and a half, Strictly Nutritious has made its mark with a whopping 318 posts! I've had many incredible guest bloggers (thank you, everyone!), and having a blog has afforded me the ability to connect with people I might never have met otherwise! 

By taking a little break, I hope to free up more time to "build" for my future in 2014! And don't worry, this isn't goodbye! I'll be back soon!

I'll leave you with a few pictures from the holidays...

Check out our toasty fireplace!
Christmas brunch, compliments of the hubs.
Adam's famous pork tenderloin for a Christmas dinner shared with friends!
Opening presents with my two favorite guys!
And lots of lazy afternoons with Walter!
I wish you all the best in 2014! Thank you for all you've done for me!

post signature

Saturday, December 28, 2013

So You Want to be a Farmer? What I Learned My First Year of Running My Own Farm!

Tara harvesting haricots verts in September.


In March 2013, I wrote a post for Strictly Nutritious explaining why I had left my corporate job to pursue a career working in the dirt... with plants. The post was published on the eve of my first season of running my own farm, Serafina Says Farm - a vegetable, superfood and wellness farm in Canton, Connecticut. Today I'm back to share all the unexpected revelations I had during my first season!

I was prepared for the hard physical labor, the dirt and bugs, and even for the long days of monotonous labor that ended in happy exhaustion. I had adjusted to these aspects of farming during my apprenticeship. The demands on a worker bee, however, differ from those on the solo-preneur starting and running her own company. During my first season as a farmer, the physical labor became secondary to the transformation my thinking underwent. Physically, yes, I changed - I put on 7 lbs. of muscle this summer. But my greatest transformation has been in how I view myself and the work I do.

Napoli and Dragon carrots ready for CSA pick-up

Revelation #1: How do I define success?

The big question everyone asks me is this - "Was your first year of farming a success?". Answering this question, however, is not so simple. What does it mean for me to be "successful"?

In the past, I measured success based on the metrics provided to me by the institution I was a part of. In school, it was grades given to me by teachers. In the office, it was projects I was assigned to, the reviews and promotions I was given, and the way my financial compensation grew over time (with a big emphasis on financial compensation). In life, success and progress are usually measured via a comparison to others. Suddenly, as a start-up farmer, I had no metrics by which to measure success. I had to really ask the question - "What does success mean to me?".

Tara washing parsnips, October 2013.
Answering this question led me to yet another question - "What do I value?". Do I value money? Time spent with family and friends? Time spent with plants? Do I value helping others achieve greater health? Do I value growing and offering beautiful, nutritious, delicious produce? I had never asked myself these questions. Someone else had always told me how to define success. The realization that I have the ability to shape my own metrics for what a fulfilling life looks like was a completely new concept.

Yes, my first year was a success based on the metrics that I lived each day full of joy, that I continually learned about plants, food, business and health, that my farm customers ate very well, and that both my health coaching clients and farm clients experienced improved health and lived more authentic lives with greater vitality. But... this is still a work in progress. For my second growing year, I am learning to set concrete metrics to lead to a clear vision of what personal and business success means to me.

Revelation #2: Forget the To-Do List!

What does it mean to be productive? Is productivity working 60 hours a week? Is it being connected 24/7? As an entrepreneur, it is too easy to think that one is never working enough, as there is always more work to do. Halfway through the summer, I had an epiphany - I am a farmer... I don't have a To-Do List. I have a This-Is-All-Happening-In-Warp-Speed-Right-Now-So-Just-Try-To-Hold-On-The-Best-You-Can List. Life happens without me. Plants grow without me (and can I just add an aside here?: Hallelujah! Thank you for this miracle!). So even though I have a long list of tasks as a result of my business plan, life is still happening, pointing me towards the most important task - making sure the vegetables on my farm grow into a delicious harvest.

Which task do you think takes priority?

The potato field on July 4, 2013.

After one season, my business is no longer run on a static business plan-generated to-do list, because following a to-do list does not ensure that the required end result will occur (I suspect this was always the case, but I never realized it before being 100% responsible for the end result). Now my weekly activities are directed by the following dynamic considerations - the weather, bugs, weeds, plants, the external aspect of the business, the internal maintenance work and then the annual business plan.

The result of following a more dynamic list dictated by external circumstances versus my own internal plans has changed the way I work. First, I am more aware of what is happening around me, and I react more quickly to situations and make decisions immediately. Second, I procrastinate less. I have witnessed firsthand the destruction that not making quick decisions has on a farm. For example, in June I noticed squash bug eggs on my summer squash. I started to pick them off, but they kept appearing and I realized I needed to take more drastic actions. I researched the various options available to me, but I was unsure as to which approach to choose and therefore, did nothing. By the end of July, my summer squash were gone, and I had lost the winter squash crop too. I learned then that it is better to make the wrong decision than to make no decision at all.

Cherry Tomato harvest, September 2013

Revelation #3: Perfection does not exist.

I recognized one reason that was holding me back from making quick decisions - I was worried about not making the right decision. I didn't want to do things the wrong way. Well, perfection does not exist in nature, and certainly not in human beings. The realization that I will never be a perfect farmer translated to me realizing I will never be perfect in anything I do. What a liberating realization! Releasing myself from the expectation of perfection has freed me to take more risks, to create more, and most importantly, to have more fun with work! After all, if I am not having fun, then what is the point?

By mid-August, I was exhausted from the long weeks. And I realized that my mindset was similar to what it had been while I was in my corporate job - I was thinking and reacting the same way I had while going to work in an office every day. I asked myself: what was the point of changing careers, countries and leaving my comfy, cushy life if my own mindset didn't change?. From that point forward, I started working out of joy rather than out of obligation.

I realized that changing circumstances does not necessarily change a person. We have to be ready to change ourselves.

Tara selling microgreens, sprouts, wheatgrass and artisanal raw food at the winter Coventry Regional Farmers' Market, November 2013

Revelation #4: Transformation is liberating.

As 2013 wraps up and I start my planning for 2014, I see the steps I took this past year as an integral step along the path towards living my own authentic life as a steward of the land. To live authentically means to live liberated from conceptions, judgments and the expectations of who you should be. It means to be present in each moment, embodying courage and joy, and living in peaceful harmony with one's environment. Leaving my corporate job to follow my dreams was one step towards living authentically, but the plants and the world still have much to teach me, and I still have much to experience and realize about myself.

A few months ago in an interview, I was asked at what point during my first season did I feel like I had arrived? As a farmer, I do not feel that I have arrived, yet that is OK with me because the realizations and tranformation I have undergone this year have made the journey much more fun!

Tara Tranguch is the owner, farmer and health coach behind Serafina Says Farm - a vegetable, superfood and wellness farm in Canton, Connecticut. If you would like to join the farm's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm Share for the 2014 season, or you would like to learn about her Wellness Workshops, sign up for the farm's newsletter at www.taratranguch.com or contact Tara at serafinasays@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

RECIPE TIME: Spicy Romano Chicken Pasta Revamped!

I went through a major pasta phase as a teen. Anytime my parents took us out to eat, I'd (not so subtly) suggest we go to Macaroni Grill or Carrabba's. In college, the obsession continued and Johnny Carino's became my establishment of choice. 

In a fortuitous twist of fate, I married a former Johnny Carino's cook. It seems that while I was chowing down on Johnny Carino's during college at the University of Georgia, he was slaving away in the kitchen of the same restaurant in his college town, making dinner for hungry Ball State University carb addicts.

So every once in awhile, we feel the need to whip up our favorite Johnny Carino's dish to remember old times by - Spicy Romano Chicken. The only problem is... the original dish has 1,219 calories and 65 grams of fat (34 of which are saturated). This dish is literally a heart attack on a plate. 

Clearly, the only way we can feel good about this dinner is by giving it a makeover! You know, a look that's a little less deadly!

The biggest offender in this dish is the heavy cream. But there's a sneaky way to solve this problem - make a cream (without the cream!) at home. Eating Well has a simple recipe that we used to make ourselves feel a bit better about our indulgent pasta night.

And since I can tell you're aching for the deets, I present to you our Cream-Free Spicy Romano Chicken Pasta! (NOTE: This dish can be made GLUTEN-FREE by using brown rice pasta OR DAIRY-FREE by omitting the cheese and using oil instead of ghee/butter... it'll still be good!).

The original "cream" recipe makes 6 cups, but our dish only needs 3 cups so that's what we're showing here. To make the "cream", finely chop 1/2 cup of onions (any color is fine).
In a medium saucepan, heat about 1Tbs. of ghee (or organic butter/olive oil) over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft (not brown) - about 5 minutes.
Now add 1/3 cup of any long or medium grain rice (we went with jasmati) and stir for 2 minutes.
Now add 2.5 cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth (free range is best!)...
...and 1/2 cup of dry white wine (which still leaves you enough to enjoy a glass or two while you cook!). Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for approximately 25 minutes (until the rice is soft and the liquid is greatly reduced). Take off the burner and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, prep for your pasta dish. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic, dice 1 medium-sized red onion, chop a handful of sundried tomatoes into thin slivers and wash and chop 1 lb. of mushrooms.
Now chop about 1 lb. of organic, free-range chicken into bite size pieces.
When your "cream" has cooled down, transfer the mixture to a blender, food processor (or NutriBullet in our case!) and puree until smooth. The texture should be like a pourable sauce. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper to taste. If you find your mixture to be too thick, just add a bit of water until it reaches the consistency you like.
In a large saute pan, cook the garlic and onions in a Tbs. of ghee/organic butter/oil for 2-3 minutes until slightly brown, then add the chicken and cook through. Lightly season with sea salt, black pepper, oregano and cayenne pepper (only IF you like it spicy).
Now add the sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and 1 can of artichoke hearts.
If you're using cheese, add a sprinkle of asiago and mix well while the vegetables cook.
Once the veggies are cooked through, pour in the "cream" (you can use all of it if you like your pasta extra creamy or less if you prefer a light coating).
Add approximately 1/2 cup more of asiago cheese (this will thicken up the sauce) and a bit more cayenne pepper (if it needs more kick).
Stir well to combine and heat through.
Now plate and enjoy erasing all those extra calories!
Doesn't being good taste so very bad? Merry Christmas to you all!

post signature

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Experts Weigh In: Cancer Prevention the Natural Way!

Image via biohealingweb.com

The word 'cancer' is a scary, scary word. And with the current statistics declaring that half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will develop some sort of cancer, the word feels even more terrifying.

But instead of focusing on the negative, this statistic can shed light on and increase our awareness of a very important topic - prevention. And, while I understand the urgency and importance of finding a cure for cancer, I believe cancer prevention is grossly overlooked and underfunded. I believe in supporting companies that are sharing a message about cancer prevention, while also offering a program to educate people about healing through nutrition.

Why am I such an advocate?

Because my father overcame cancer using nutrition and alternative medicine. He can truly credit his recovery to the plant-based diet he ate, the green juices he drank, the natural supplements he took and the mind-body work that he did.

So... this success got me thinking. If cancer can be cured with nutrition and supplements, is it really that crazy to think that it can also be prevented? I think not.

While studying under some of the world's brightest minds in the world of health and wellness, I have discovered that there are certain 'staples' of successful healing programs. Here is my list of the top 12 things you can do to prevent chronic illnesses:

Image via justjuice.org

Drinking cold-pressed, raw, organic juice is one of the best things you can do daily to give your body the nutrition that it needs to heal. It also makes it much easier to get your recommended servings of fresh produce without eating pounds of kale and broccoli.


Unlike juicing, blending soups and smoothies uses the entire fruit or vegetable - including the skin and all the fiber. The blending process breaks the fiber apart, which makes the fruit and vegetables easier for your body to digest and the nutrients easier to absorb.


Living foods are high-enzyme, chlorophyll-rich and easy to digest foods from which your body can easily receive optimal nourishment. Living foods include young organic greens, sprouted nuts, seeds and grains, fruits and vegetables, lightly fermented preparations and dehydrated crackers and snacks. Adding these to your diet is an important component of healthy living.

Image via fredericpatenaude.com

Adopting a back-to-nature diet of raw foods is extremely important to the healing process. Raw foods that are prepared correctly (to maintain or unlock their life-giving nutrients) are high in enzymes, vitamins and minerals that the body needs AND are so much more nutritious than cooked foods!


Wheatgrass is truly nature's finest medicine. It contains an impressive array of minerals, amino acids, vitamins and enzymes. This nutrient content is significant because the human body is made up of similar components. Wheatgrass helps regulate all our bodily functions and balances the body naturally.


The colon is the body's major organ for elimination, so poor functioning of the colon causes sickness. Some doctors go as far as to say that disease begins in the colon. Cleansing the colon through cleanses, enemas, colonics and/or the proper fiber intake is key to preventing sickness.

Image via vivawoman.net

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to heal the body while also positively affecting our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical body. Using Certified Therapeutic Grade essential oils on a daily basis can have tremendous healing benefits. Learn more about essential oils here!


Jumping in place daily on a rebounder (a small personal 'mini-trampoline') is a great way to exercise because it supports lymphatic circulation. Stimulating the lymphatic system is extremely important in detoxifying and cleansing the body. Rebounding puts gravity to work for you with minimum muscular effort! Learn more here!


Committing to a meditation or yoga practice is very important, as it helps reprogram your thoughts and your deep subconscious. I've learned that, without a doubt, shifting the way you think and reprogramming your subconscious mind is the most important thing you can do when facing any health challenge.


Thoughts become things; therefore, your body will become sick without a mind that is focused on health and happiness. It is very important to stay focused on positive thinking and having joyful experiences.

Image via tenayalodge.com

We tend to hang onto what we know and what has given us a sense of security in the past, so I believe it's often very beneficial to remove ourselves from our current circumstances. Attending a wellness retreat where we can disconnect in a safe, peaceful environment can empower us to bring forth a newfound sense of health and wellness. Learn more about these types of retreats here!

I will always be a strong supporter of 'awareness' movements that re-educate those who believe in 'quick-fix' solutions for cancer and other chronic illnesses. Luckily, there is now more and more scientific evidence supporting the idea that with the proper diet, supplements and lifestyle adjustments, healing can take place from the inside out.

So, I encourage you to stop waiting for the government to step in with new standards or for the medical industry to discover 'cures'. Instead, be the change-makers. Lead by example and take responsibility for your own health today.

To support these movements or learn more, please visit: Creative Health Institute, Gerson Institute and Hippocrates.

(reference: cancer.org)

Sarah Anne Stewart is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner (AADP), writer, speaker, world traveler, free spirit & lover of life. Founder of Introducing Wellness LLC, Sarah Anne passionately invites others to experience a new-found "love for life" and WELLNESS through holistic healing. She enjoys writing about her down-to-earth life experiences and de-bunking conventional misconceptions about health and wellness.

Connect with her at Introducing Wellness, like her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/introducingwellness, and stay updated on Instagram @stewartsarahanne and Twitter @sarahannes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

RECIPE TIME: Braised Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas & Lemon

You can get just about ANYTHING delivered in New York, and believe me, Adam and I take full advantage of this perk of our great city. If we're craving Thai, it can be on the front doorstep in 10 minutes or less. If we want Green-Certified Chinese food (whatever that means), it's a call away. If we want vegan empanadas at 9 pm on a Monday, I'm pretty sure we could get those too.

But alas, when ordering delivery means some unfortunate bloke is going to have to schlepp his way over through the ice and snow, I just can't do it!

Exhibit A:

(I didn't have the heart...)

So instead, we opted for making an easy (and healthy) dinner ourselves on Sunday night. Key word: "easy". Extra bonus: "healthy". As we were cooking it, I realized that this truly is the perfect dinner to accommodate ALL diets. If you're having a dinner party with carnivores, vegans AND gluten/dairy-free folks in attendance, not to worry! This dish from Treehugger.com can make EVERYONE happy!

Ready for some Braised Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas & Lemon? I thought so!

For the prep: Mince 4 large cloves of garlic, zest 1 large lemon (saving the lemon for later), grate 1 Tbs. of fresh ginger, and chop 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes and 1 small yellow onion.
In a saute pan, over medium-high heat, saute the onions in ghee (or coconut oil) for about 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Next add the garlic, ginger, sundried tomatoes, lemon zest, and a light sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Meanwhile, if you prefer to serve this over a gluten-free grain, cook a pot of quinoa (we chose farro since we're not gluten-sensitive).
Now add 1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained. Cover the pan and cook over high heat for a few minutes until the chickpeas begin to turn golden and are coated with the mixture.
Toss in 1 lb. of spinach, one handful at a time (if ours looks light on the spinach, it's because we didn't have enough! Whoopsies!).  Let each handful wilt down before adding the next.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to add chicken on the side (or on top), saute your chicken in a little oil, broth, or ghee. Lightly season with salt, pepper and the flavoring of your choice (we chose to season with marrakesh, a Moroccan spice, which complimented the dish perfectly).
Once all the spinach has wilted, pour in 1 (14 oz.) can of coconut milk and stir in 1 tsp. sea salt (or more, if you prefer), the juice of 2 lemons and 1 tsp of ground ginger (optional).
Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes (or until the chickpeas are warmed through). Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary.
Serve over the grain of your choice - or alone! It's good either way!
And if you're catering to meat eaters, add the chicken breast on the side! Delicious!
Even Walter looked a bit jealous of our fine dining experience! Between me and you, he's pretty sick of his dry cuisine.

And just for fun, our newest Christmas ornaments - Adam gave me an owl (I have a minor obsession), and I gave him a lobster (to commemorate one of our favorite trips to Maine).

Stay warm, friends! And remember, be nice to the delivery guy this holiday season!

post signature