Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


How Do I Get Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet?

How Do I Get Enough Protein?

The big secret here is that vegetables have protein too. Most of us have heard that nuts, legumes, beans and rice contain protein. Well, so does kale!

Here is a screen shot from nutritiondata.com illustrating that one cup of chopped up kale contains two grams of protein.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5.33.16 PM

One cup of kale makes a pretty small salad. Most of us should be striving to eat more vegetables. If you eat a hearty big salad with or for your dinner you can rack up quite a bit of protein in the salad alone. Let’s say your salad is three cups of chopped up kale. It would look about this size:

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The kale alone in that salad makes up six grams of protein..but really, who is just going to eat kale, right? Let’s add a medium sized carrot. That’s one gram of protein. If you throw in half of a sweet red pepper that’s another gram of protein.

So far that’s eight grams of protein…but let’s make it wild. I love avocado in my salad. If you throw in half an avocado—that’s two more grams of protein. I like nuts in my salad too so dump in a quarter of a cup of pecans. That adds another two and a half more grams of protein.

Already your salad alone is now a total of 12.5 grams of protein. Is your mind blown?

I like anyone get tired of salads sometimes, adding nutritional yeast to your salad is a great way to spice things up. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor and can be used on anything just like cheese. A serving of Nutritional yeast is one tablespoon at only 20 calories with three grams of protein, B-vitamins and folic acid.

Voila! Your salad is 15.5 grams of protein. If you take anything away from this—remember even vegetables have protein.  l

Avocado Lemon Kale Salad

Delicious & Simple Avocado Kale Salad. Simply mix up avocado, lemon juice, montreal seasoning, and sliced apple with kale.  https://aliciamariere.wordpress.com/


4 Cups of Kale

1 Avocado

1 Apple

Lemon Juice from Fresh Lemond

Steak Seasoning



1. Mash up an avocado and mix into kale. (I found it easiest to use my hands.)

2. Cut up an apple and mix into the avocado and kale.

3. Sprinkle montreal steak seasoning over kale.

4. Squeeze lemon juice over kale and mix salad again.


Seriously delicious and so simple! Enjoy🙂

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Nutrition Inquiries? Don’t be shy!

Nutrition is what makes my heart sing. Questions about leaning out, feeling more energized, kicking your coffee addiction for good—ask away! I’m happy to help and charge zero dollars. I’m genuinely interested in spreading the plant love, fighting disease and helping you feel like the sexy super star that you already are. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll do my research and find it for you.

Wellness Journey Inspiration: Meet my dear friend, Kelly (name changed for her privacy). Kelly hates vegetables. She won’t eat them period. I eat lunch with her regularly and her meals consist of coffee, white rice, white bread and chicken. Kelly is gorgeous the way she is and did not need to lose weight, but was interested in implementing more healthy foods into her diet and becoming more active in general especially given the fact that cancer runs in her family. Better to start eating healthy for disease prevention sooner than later.

Take a peek at Kelly’s kitchen table only a few months later. I don’t think anyone in the office would have seen it coming. Kelly replaced coffee with kombucha, started drinking green smoothies, practicing yoga and running regularly. Go Kelly go!

Alicia Marie Wellness Connection Nutrition Blog

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Blog Makeover: Wellness Connection

I started this blog two years ago to rekindle my love of writing by connecting with the online world about my passion for nutrition and overall wellbeing. What began as a place for me to share my recipes and experiences transitioning to a plant-based diet became a way for me to inspire people to ask more questions and take their health into their own hands—to own their lives completely.

The internet’s wealth of information is an opportunity for self-education. It is one of the most powerful tools for creating change on a global scale.

In a time when I see many of my peers several years out of college struggling to find a sustainable job, where by law a business is considered a human being, where the government is profiting off an unsuspecting 18 year-old’s education, where racism is persisting and women’s rights are rejected in soon to be 2015, the internet is our best chance for creating rapid, widespread change.

I changed my blog name to Wellness Connection and created a Facebook page to complement the current events, research and positive affirmations I post regularly on my site.

I want to motivate you to do the same. Whether you use your voice to write about sports, fashion or heaven forbid turkey eating and Chihuahuas, I encourage you to dive deeper into what you love, use it as opportunity to learn and speak up for what you believe in.


Alicia Marie Health Blog


Smoky Mushroom Vegetable Mash-up

An unexpected feast is the best start to the evening. Shane and I followed our usual grocery shopping routine and meandered around the market grabbing whatever looked appealing to cook for the next few dinners. I am one of the few who love brussel sprouts so I grabbed a heaping of those while Shane on his recent mushroom kick selected quite the variety of mushrooms.

Mushrooms are typically what I pick out of my food. I’ve never been a huge fan. Since Shane has been cooking with them he has convinced me to sample several of his recipe concoctions. He has turned me. Cooking mushrooms and caramelizing onions are Shane’s specialty. He is much more patient than I am so he is able to create the most perfect texture and derive the finest flavors.

After returning from the store, Shane and I unbagged our groceries with no specific recipe or dinner plan in mind. We combined forces and voila! A delicious surprise.

I suggest cooking the recipe below with rice or noodles for a more hearty meal.

Alicia Marie's Vegan Health Blog


Brussel Sprouts
Chanterelle Mushrooms

Matsutake Mushrooms
Shitake Mushrooms
Sundried Tomatoes
Wild African Smoke (or preferred smokey flavor, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, etc.)<
Olive Oil

Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

Smoky Mushroom Vegetable Mash-up Recipe

  1. Steam brussel sprouts half way full water in bowl for 7 minutes.
  2. After the brussel sprouts are finished steaming, pour the bowl of brussel sprouts and water into a strainer and set aside.
  3. 1 Table spoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut up carrots, celery, onions and mushrooms.
  5. Pour 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil onto a pan and start stir frying carrots, onion, celery for fifteen minutes on low heat.
  6. Add shitake mushrooms, matsutake mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, ¼ cup water, wild African smoke and mix and continue stir frying on low heat until tender (about fifteen to twenty minutes).
  7. Pour the stir-fried vegetables and brussel sprouts into a bowl and serve.



Cancer Prevention with a Vegan Diet

My blogging adventure initially started when I realized three things in this exact order.

  1. Eating a vegan diet eliminated the frequent stomach discomfort I was experiencing.
  2. Eating a vegan diet significantly improved my relationship with food.
  3. Eating a vegan diet could save my boyfriend.

I’ve talked about the first two in previous posts, but the last I have yet to share. Meet Shane, my high school sweetheart and my best friend.

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When Shane and I dated in high school I was vegetarian and he was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. That was that. Neither of us really cared that the other ate differently. I didn’t really know much about being vegan nor did I really have any interest in looking into it. Like most of us, I was happy with the way I ate. And of course, I loved cheese.

Slowly the puzzle pieces started coming together. I gave a presentation in college about the health benefits of being vegetarian and along the way I found that for every good health statistic about a vegetarian diet, there was a better one for being vegan.

I ignored this for several months. I figured I wasn’t eating that much cheese anyway and I looked fit enough, so what did it matter?

Later I as described in an older post, I learned that animal rennit (the inner lining of a calf’s stomach) was found in many “vegetarian” foods. That totally grossed me out. I stopped eating dairy right then and there.

Shortly before I stopped eating dairy, Shane and I were faced with one of the biggest scares of our lives. It was the week before finals during our senior year of college. We were preparing for graduation, thinking about our future and where we would be in the next few years. Then Shane found a lump. Just like that at the age of 22 my boyfriend was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

I don’t know whether to call it niave optimism or a type A personality, but I was bound and determined to find a way for Shane to be okay. I’m so lucky that he is now—because I know that there are so many others in my position who felt the way I did when Shane was diagnosed and were faced with a terrible loss despite their determination to find a happy ending.

I was alone in my room one night scrolling through Netflix when I stumbled upon this documentary called Crazy Sexy Cancer. The title caught my attention and I paused. I sat there for a solid ten minutes going back and forth about watching it. I didn’t need anything to make me feel more upset and I wasn’t convinced that this documentary wouldn’t make me feel worse.

I took a chance. I can’t remember if I laughed or cried, but I remember being deeply inspired because I still am today. Kris Carr was diagnosed with a rare stage IV cancer on Valentines day with no promising cure. She was basically told to go on and live her life the way she wanted until she died. Ten years later she is alive and thriving.

Kris did something different than the collective population. She took control of her own life and refused to simply accept what the majority of doctors and society told her about the path to recovery. Well actually, they didn’t really give her a path to recovery. They told her she would soon die.

Kris filmed a documentary about her own journey and her search for alternative remedies. She admits now that she thought perhaps she could fully heal from cancer, that perhaps it would go away all together. While that didn’t exactly happen, Kris’ cancer has been stable—in remission for ten years. And get this, her tumors have shrunk.

So what exactly did Kris do? Kris went on both a physical and spiritual journey. She changed her frame of mind and opened it to the possibility of healing. She stopped eating meat and dairy.

The largest health study to-date, “The China Study”, will tell you that a plant-based diet will prevent and reverse heart disease and it will significantly reduce your chance of getting cancer.

It’s really quite simple, except that we’re so used to thinking about meat and dairy as critical components of our diet, the idea of not eating meat and dairy is immediately shut down. It’s tied to our taste buds, our culture, tradition, the media and more.

It’s simple in that we put food into our bodies everyday, multiple times a day. If that food isn’t good for us—what do you think will happen?

A lot of food today is processed and a lot of that food is meat and dairy. Commercials on TV or in magazines never advertise kale. You don’t see a commercial pop up about spinach, tomatoes (unless it’s ketchup), quinoa, brown rice, but we see a lot of meat and dairy. Yogurt, Got Milk?!, hot pockets, KFC.

The former fast food king, Bill Clinton, went vegan by the way.

After watching Crazy Sexy Cancer, I watched Forks Over Knives and I was blown away. I asked Shane to watch the documentary with me and I told him that if he still wasn’t convinced then that was okay, but that I wanted to at least get his perspective on the research. I wanted to see if he would be sold too.

I really didn’t think Shane would go veg. I really didn’t. I was planning on learning how to cook him up a steak only months earlier. To this day I am both impressed, surprised and inspired by the changes he has made with nutrition and fitness. (He just made a salad and now he’s cooking tofu with rice, mushrooms and peppers.)

He did it though. Today he is cancer free two years after his diagnosis. While we will never know if poor diet is exactly what caused his cancer, the approach he is taking to owning his health significantly reduces the chances of the cancer coming back.

I could give you a million different books, documentaries, articles and statistics about why we choose to eat the way that we do, but the reality is most people will read this and save the idea for a rainy day. Most people will jump on Google and find a bunch of articles to refute a vegan diet. Go for it. You can find many of those articles. I challenge you to open your mind, to learn through our story. Don’t wait for the cancer scare or the diabetes, osteoporisis or heart disease that may come later down the road when you are 40, 50 or 60. You can take steps to prevent it.

I meet so many people with acid reflux, diabetes, weight issues, etc who come to me for nutrition advice. In a nutshell this is it. You can save yourself. You can make yourself feel better now. The choice is yours.

With that, I’d like to share some quotes to challenge you and perhaps to inspire you:

Regarding heart disease:

“Despite the apparent success of the dietary approach, some critics say eating this way is extreme. Now, with the western diet, this guarantees there’s going to be what, a half a million people in this country this year who will have to have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, then veins will be taken from their leg and sewn on their heart. Some people would call that extreme.”—Forks Over Knives

“We’ve never treated a single patient with protein deficiency; yet the majority of patients we see are suffering from heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses directly resulting from trying to get enough protein.”—Dr. Alana Pulde and Dr.Matthew Lederman

“There’s a great metaphor that one of my doctors uses: If a fish is swimming in a dirty tank and it gets sick, do you take it to the vet and amputate the fin? No, you clean the water. So, I cleaned up my system. By eating organic raw greens, nuts and healthy fats, I am flooding my body with enzymes, vitamins and oxygen.”—Kris Carr

“Never feel like or say you are “giving up” your favorite foods. Those words have a negative connotation, like you are sacrificing something. You’re not “giving up” anything. You are simply empowered now and able to make educated, controlled choices about what you will and won’t put into your body, your temple.” –Rory Freedman

“Every year in America, without mercy, we murder 10 billion land animals, and 18 billion marine animals.

Not for health, survival, sustenance or self-defense. People eat meat, cheese, milk and eggs for 4 reasons:




Taste”—Gary Yourofsky

“When we were young…When we were kids…Man!…We used to be in awe of animals. They used to make us laugh, and giggle and smile. They made us pretty happy! And there was a time in our lives, when we would do just about anything in the world to make THEM happy as well. To protect them from cruelty! Or to, at least, ACKNOWLEDGE the cruelty they were receiving. I mean, if somebody was mean to an animal in front of us when we were little, we would have screamed and cried. And that’s because we all used to understand right from wrong, when it came to the treatment of animals. Until somebody told us, and taught us differently. You better believe that somebody told us to ignore their suffering! To MOCK and excuse, their pain, and their misery. To make fun of their very existence. And this is something I want you to focus on – today, tomorrow and beyond…What in the hell happened along the way?! Who taught us to be so mean, and nasty and vicious and hateful, or indifferent towards animals when they used to be our friends? These are innocent beings, who have done nothing wrong to us. Because I’m pretty sure, we can all agree on at least one thing right now… That hatred, in its purest form, is a learned behavior. Racism. Sexism. Heterosexism. Antisemitism. Misogyny. These are all learned behaviours! When kids are 2, 3, 4 years old, playing on a playground they couldn’t care less about the color of their friends’ skin or their religious background. I don’t think there is any doubt, that hatred, in its purest form, is learned. So species-ism is no different. I want to define this word as the unethical, unprincipled point of view, that the human species has every right to exploit, enslave and murder another species. And all because we believe that our species is so more special, so more superior than the other ones, that we’re the only ones that count, and we’re the only ones that matter. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that line of thinking, that thought process, that is the basis of all forms of discrimination. One group saying and thinking that they’re more special than everyone else, and they proceed to exploit them, oppress them, denying them their right to be free.”—Gary Yourofsky

Alicia Marie Health Blog


Chia Boom Boom Smoothie

It is already almost halfway through October—can you believe it!? Walking through my office last week I overheard people lamenting the grey Seattle haze. Come Friday the question “How are you doing” prompted more “Happy it’s Friday!!” responses. Not an uncommon response at the end of the week, but nevertheless, Fridays seem more welcome when the weather starts to turn blue.

Before you reach for that second cup of coffee, try a green smoothie. If it turns out a second cup of coffee is still needed afterwards, you can find peace in knowing you hydrated yourself and sloshed down antioxidants, tackled eating vegetables even if you didn’t feel like eating them and boosted your mood in the meantime. The mood and energy boosting properties in this Chia Boom Boom smoothie come from not only the chia seeds, but also the maca powder.

Historically both chia seeds and maca powder have been used by Native Americans for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. Maca powder encourages positive functioning of the endocrine system. In my post about hypothyroidism I talked about how your endocrine system is composed of all of our glands that secrete hormones and control sexual function, fertility, brain and nervous system physiology, digestion and energy.

Chia seeds are energizing and keep you feeling full longer. Those tiny seeds expand in liquid and adopt a jelly-like tapioca appearance.

Intimidated by the price and unfamiliar sounding ingredients? One tablespoon of chia seeds is three grams of protein and only 60 calories. They are sold for a reasonable price at Trader Joes but can also be purchased in bulk at Whole Foods.

Chia Boom Boom Smoothie Alicia Marie Health Blog

Chia Boom Boom Smoothie

1 C. Soy Protein
2 Tsp. Ginger

2 Tsp. Maca Powder

2 Tbs. Chia Seeds
½ C. Marionberries (or berries of choice)
½ Banana

1/2 C. Kale or Spinach
3 Ice Cubes
½ C. Almond Milk
Dust of Cacao Powder on top

The sprinkle of cacao powder on top really compliments the ginger in this smoothie. It gives the smoothie a punch from the first sip. Cacao powder is also a high source of antioxidants.

If you’re willing to indulge on any special ingredient in this smoothie, I would first purchase the chia seeds. You can add them to oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes–anything. Next, I would go with the cacao powder as it is a bittersweet chocolate also easy to add to everyday recipes. The maca powder although nourishing does have a slightly strange, bitter taste so I might save that one for last.

Quick update on my hip. In my last post I talked about my relentless efforts to find out what was wrong and finally settled on getting an MRI. I found out that I have tendonitis. I think resting will be the first step for healing this one. I’m doing Blogilates and Tony Horton videos. (Best surprise ever was that they made two videos together! Kicked my a**.) Occasionally I walk, but my hip has been so sensitive I hesitate to do much cardio. Fingers crossed that by mid-November I can start jogging or at least going on long walks regularly.

I would love to hear how you are doing! Fill me on in on your health journey. They are all so unique and inspiring. It can be so much fun to put our heads together to work through our different fitness and nutrition challenges.

Peace, Love and Happy Smoothie Drinking,

Alicia Marie Health Blog

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Avocado Chickpea [Eggless Salad] Sandwich

My morning started out with a needle to my hip joint. Perhaps it was silly to think that I wouldn’t need any sort of injection before getting an MRI, but I was pretty shocked when I found out I would need two!
Alicia Marie Health Blog

I injured myself over-training for the cross country team back in college. Then I re-injured myself training for my half marathon last June. To recover from hurting my hip the first time, I worked on strength and cross training with fabulous results. I was able to build up my mileage to 9.5 miles and run frequently before I hurt it again (same mistake, building on those miles too quickly under the self-inflicted pressure of racing.)

Unfortunately this time around recovery is not so easy. I am experiencing a difficult time running more than three to four miles a couple times a week without feeling my hip start to go. I can recognize the symptoms pretty quickly when it starts to get weak. I’ve been doing the stair climber, squats with weights, exercises learned in physical therapy, p90x here and there, pilates and more. Nothing seems to help for very long and it’s making me nervous. I’m hoping this MRI will give me some [encouraging] answers.

One of my newer strategies is to focus on building muscle. I am a total cardio junkie, but for my hip to heal, I am going to try replacing some of my cardio days with strengthening work.

I am eating all kinds of plant-based proteins, spoiling myself with delicious, hearty recovery meals and getting back into the smoothie-grind!

One of my very favorite dishes is this amazing, super tasty Avocado Chickpea Sandwich. I was sold by the preparation time of 10 minutes and leftovers for at least a couple of days. Very inexpensive too!

Eggless Salad Sandwich Alicia Marie Health Blog

Here’s the best part: it is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (healthy fats that are good your skin and brain–always a good thing!) and it tastes just like an egg salad sandwich (it’s true–I blind taste-tested my father.)

Avocado Chickpea Sandwich

  • Your Choice of Bread
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • ½ Can of Chickpeas
  • 2 Tbs. Minced Green Onion
  • ½ C. Chopped Celery
  • ½ Tbs. Minced Dill
  • ½ Tbs. of Salt
  • 2 Tsp. of Pepper (I used garlic pepper—maybe add some garlic powder if you don’t have garlic pepper)


Cut up your veggies and set aside.

Alicia Marie Health Blog Eggless Salad Sandwich

Slice up your avocado and place the slices into a medium sized bowl. Drain your chickpeas and then pour  ½ a can into your bowl with sliced avocado. Mash your bowl of avocado and chickpeas with a potato masher, fork or spoon until all of the chickpeas are successfully smooshed within the mashed avocado. (I switched off between a spoon and a potato masher. One didn’t necessarily seem to work better than the other.) Mix your veggies, salt and pepper into the bowl of avocado and chickpeas.



Alicia Marie Health Blog Eggless Salad Sandwich

Slather your avocado-chickpea mix onto your choice of bread. Place spinach on top of the bread with the avocado-chickpea mix.

**I used my all-time favorite gluten free white sandwich bread by the Fancy Free Bakery. I attached the link, but often I find that their website is down so feel free to contact me for any details about the bakery.

A fun fact about avocados snipped from FitDay.com:

“Avocados contain the highest amount of beta-sitosterol amongst fruits. This is a plant-based fat that plays a vital role in the reduction of LDL cholesterol. It blocks absorption of LDL cholesterol from the intestines. This helps to improve the ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol, which promotes cardiovascular health.”

Did you know that LDL is the “bad” cholesterol that collects in our heart’s arteries and makes you prone to heart attacks?

A plant-based diet prevents plaque from building in our arteries. It makes it easy to stay lean. And it enhances performance as demonstrated by professional athletes such as Scott Jurek and Rip Esselstyn.

I have provided a short interview below in the chance that you may be interested.

Interview with Rip Esselstyn

Happy eating and reading!

Alicia Marie Health Blog