Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


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Wake Up It’s Fall

I return to my blog the first week of Autumn after almost half a year’s passing. I became consumed in interviews and adjusting to my new job at the headquarters of a prestigious local nonprofit. Prior to this I was working for the government. Biggg mistake. I was treated poorly and it damaged my self-esteem more than I could fully comprehend at the time.

My current position is a much better fit. The work can be high stress and the commute is horrible, but I have learned more than I could have imagined possible in such a short amount of time. I coordinated a team volunteer event within my first two months, co-facilitated a large meeting, went on my first mini business trip, covered for my manager while she was travelling–the list goes on!

Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

Last week we were lucky enough to have Arianna Huffington present at one of our speaking events. Of all the inspiring wisdom she shared that day, this particularly resonated with me:

“Taking care of yourself is not an indulgence. It is a necessity.”

This was a wakeup call. And it most definitely was not a coincidence. I have been so moody, sleep deprived and down on myself for the last two weeks. The first seven days I called it hormones. After that, I knew something needed to change. Everything pointed me back to blogging.

I miss connecting with people from all different walks of life around the world, cooking and baking, photography, taste testing, reading about nutrition (just received “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek in the mail!), sharing the vegan love, inspiring people to get outside and run—everything.

With that, I built myself a light box, found some recipes for inspiration and renovation and started cooking!

I experienced doubts building my light box. It certainly didn’t turn out as perfect as Angela Liddon’s light box in her how-to demonstration, but it serves its purpose. I can always revamp it in the future 🙂

Light Box Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

I love how delicious that salad looks with the bright colors illuminated. I have to be honest. It tasted like shit. I literally threw in any colorful fruit or vegetable I could find to test out the power of my lightbox…no consideration to taste whatsoever (haha!)

I showed my mother a picture of my lightbox this past weekend and talked to her about really dedicating my time to blogging. She was so encouraging. It really made me feel like sometimes “mom knows best.”

I talked about how I wanted all of my pictures to be perfect, just like Angela Liddon’s gorgeous recipes on her Oh She Glows blog. I wanted to write everything ahead of time, etc., etc. The pep talk from my mom went something like this “People like to hear about failure and people like to watch you grow. It gives you more human qualities and its gives people something to relate to. Don’t worry about everything looking perfect right now—just keep blogging.”

Aww! It really inspired me to continue doing what I love most—writing and throwing myself into nutrition education, connecting with other foodies without the fear of living up to some unrealistic standard that I set for myself.

Another good point from mom, “I truly believe every woman needs her own kitchen.” And that I so agree with. It is so hard to make space for my photography and cooking when borrowing a kitchen. All I can do is work with what I’ve got and do the best I can. So that is the plan!

I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned over the past several months. It has been quite the journey and I look forward to sharing it with you again. Sneak peek to my upcoming reci-post! Any guesses?

Chickpea Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

So happy to be back!! Happy first week of Autumn 🙂

Alicia Marie Health Blog


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Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the cookie baking, spiked holiday eggnog drinking and dessert obsessing begins. And if you are a victim to gluten, this time of year is starting to become torturous. I feel you. I usually avoid gluten 90%, but after visiting with three different types of doctors for a peculiar rash, it sounds like I need to commit to a gluten free diet 110%. I am still not convinced that that is what my body is reacting to, but I need to feel like I am doing something to stop my incessant scratching.

So I have my tunes playing (It is a Frank Ocean kind of week), I am laying in bed enjoying my three day weekend and I am sharing a bomb gluten free raw strawberry cheesecake recipe. I shared it with friends, family, and coworkers. Everyone loved it. It tastes quite similar to cheesecake, but it is fairly guilt free and it does not leave your stomach twisting and stretching the limits of your pant buttons. Who can say no to that?!

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe

*Do note that you can substitute strawberry out for any kind of berry according to your preference.

Prep (Do this the day before you make these)

Soak your cashews in water the night before.

Soak your dates in water the night before or an hour before. 

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Crust

½ Cup Raw Almonds

¼ Cup Raw Pecans

¼ Cup Raw Cashews

4 Medjool Dates (pitted and chopped)

½ Cup Shredded Coconut

2 Tablespoons Date Water

Place dates in a glass of water for at least an hour. Take the dates out of the water and set aside. Refrigerate the date water. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until ground into fine crumbs. Add the dates and coconut. Coat muffin pans with coconut butter or earth balance. Press the nut-date mixture into the muffin holders. (Doing it over I would use the back of the muffin pan as they would be much easier to take out!) Press mixture evenly and place in freezer for two hours.

Gluten Free Raw Vegan Cheesecake Recipe

Filling

½ cup Raw Cashews (soaked over night)

1 Cup Strawberries

2 Tablespoons Date Water

2 Pumps of Liquid Stevia (or other sweetener of choice)

Pinch of Salt

1 Tablespoon Raw Coconut Butter (melted)

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe

Remove cashews from water and add to food processor. Pulse cashews until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients except for the coconut butter. Gradually pour the melted coconut butter into the food processor and pulse until the mixture is consistently smooth and creamy.

Remove crusts from muffin pans and spoon strawberry mixture into the crusts. Freeze strawberry cheesecakes for at least an hour. Garnish with berries. Fill your tummies happy.

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe


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Halloween Goblin Goop Energy Bars & Yoga Surpises

Goblin Goop Bars

I finally made it to yoga! I anticipated being on the struggle bus since the instructor today was one of the senior instructors known for the fire she brings to class. That, and the fact that I have not been able to practice much since I injured my hip a third time after my half marathon in June.

The class sequence was exactly what I expected. Chaturanga after chaturanga and then plank position and HOLD. And then it was move onto your right elbow, left elbow, back into plank repeat. So essentially a series of pushups integrated into yoga practice. And crunches later. And side planks. You get the picture.

Prior to class I foresaw myself taking several moments to transition into child’s pose while all of the other students continued with their warriors, crows and half moons. I would be laying on my mat in shavasana convincing myself that I was actually ahead of class waiting for everyone else to catch up.

But it was not that hard for me! I felt strong. And surprised! So this is what happens when you become better at listening to your body and give it the rest it deserves 😉 I felt that my practice was even better than it was before, as if I am starting on a clean slate. I only hope that I will continue to find good news as I strive to reach the level of exercising I was committed to before my injury. I think between my chiropractor and my adoration of crafting new kinds of nutritious fuel for my body I should be okay.

I will often joke that yoga makes me hungrier than running. Well, it does. After practice I want comfort food, chewy food, energizing food and healthy food that will not counteract all of the wonderful things I just did for my body and mind.

For a before or after yoga snack and of course for Halloween, try these Goblin Goop Energy Bars.

 

Goblin Goop Energy Bars

1 Cup Cashews

5 or 6 Medjool Dates, Pitted

1 ½ Tbs. Cocoa Powder

3 Tbs. Green Powder ( I used Amazing Grass Raw Reserve)

¼ Cup Coconut

2 Tbs. or ¼ Cup Almond Milk (optional-depends on the consistency you want. More liquid means it will be ground much finer and goopier)

Soak dates in a cup of water and set aside. Pour cashews and coconut into food processor. Grind until finely chopped. Add cocoa powder and green powder to mixture and grind briefly until mixed. Takes dates out of water with a spoon and add dates and almond milk to the food processor. Grind until dates are evenly mixed with the ground nuts and powders.

Scoop mixture out of food processor and spread evenly in a small glass pan. Cover and put the pan in the freezer for 2 hours.

Take pan out of freezer and cut goblin goop into 10 even squares.

Goblin Goop Bars

Nutrition: 106 calories each, 2.8 grams protein, 6.4 grams fat

Highlights: 22.8% vitamin A

“Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing.” (Source.)

  • Keeps skin healthy
  • Keeps mucus membrane cells healthy (this makes cells more resistant to bacteria, viruses, and cancer)
  • May relieve eye dryness

Give them a whirl. They give you instant energy!

Alicia Marie Health Blog


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Beginners Luck & Birthday Cupcakes

I adapted a recipe for chocolate cinnamon cupcakes with spiced buttercream frosting and candied walnuts. My taste testers agreed the fluffy chocolatey yumness was a success. You know you have found yourself a treasure when the entire bowl and spoon are worth licking. Admittedly I am quite proud of myself for the way they turned out. This is partly because it almost feels like a joke trying to replicate the gorgeous recipes from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows. My stomach can personally vouch for her talent in writing recipes. All of her foodie pictures completely seduce me. She is my go-to girl for finding recipes for special occasions.  Or any occasion actually. I count “I’m hungry” as a pretty good “occasion” to get things rolling in the kitchen…

This particular occasion was my boyfriend’s birthday! 24 baby! I asked him to describe his favorite dessert and he told me he liked treats that are fluffy or with chocolate. So of course I gave him both.

The changes I made to this recipe included added mini chocolate chips to the batter, cardamom to the candied walnuts and cardamom and quite a bit of additional sugar to the frosting (it tasted a little to creamy for my palette and not quite sweet enough without the added sugar), and substituted  coconut butter for the canola oil. I also changed the order for making the  different parts of the cupcake so that by the time the cupcakes are cooled off you can immediately start frosting them and topping them with walnuts.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used unsweetened Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used mini)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 & 1/8th cup sugar
  • 2.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (Grate fresh nutmeg if you have never done so! Amazing!)
  • 1 & 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8th cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • Spiced Buttercream Frosting
  • Candied Walnuts (see below)

Cupcake Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan.  Mix dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a large bowl. In a medium bowl mix wet ingredients (water, vinegar, coconut butter, and vanilla). Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon. Fill each cupcake tin about 1/2-2/3 full ( I filled them halfway and wish I had done them 2/3 full.) Bake for about 20 minutes and as Angela recommends: until the cupcake springs back slowly when pressed. She also advises you to be careful as it is easy to overbake these.

While baking, prepare your candied walnuts.

Angela’s Easy Candied Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted

Candied Walnuts Directions: Preheat oven to 275F. Spread 1 cup of walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes being careful not to burn. Remove walnuts from oven and baking sheet. Place walnuts in a large bowl and set aside. Turn the heat to medium and add remaining ingredients to the pot. Stir ingredients and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to a simmer stirring frequently to ensure that the sauce does not stick or burn.  Continue stirring the mixture for about 5 minutes. Mixture will become airy and thicken. Remove pot from stove top and IMMEDIATELY pour mixture into a bowl. Begin stirring immediately. The mixture will start to harden instantly.  When all walnuts are coated with mixture, place walnuts back on baking sheet. Break apart walnuts to individual pieces so that they are no longer clumped together. Set aside candied walnuts.

How to make Candied Walnuts

Begin making frosting!

Spiced Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance , softened
  • 2 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Frosting Directions: Stir earth balance vigorously or whip with mixer. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and almond milk.  Stir or whip with mixer a second time.

Frost your cupcakes, top them with your candied walnuts, give them to your favorite person and eat them yourself 🙂

Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes with Spiced Buttercream Frosting

Happy Fall!!

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Easy Fall Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

My first instinct was to create something yummy with pumpkin since it is fall and I am a fanatic about that flavor right along with everyone else. Instead, I thought I would move outside of my comfort zone. This is where cinnamon raisin scones came in to play. I was walking through the baking isle at Whole foods when it occurred to me that it would be super easy to take a pre-made mix and transform it into something entirely different. Bob’s Red Mill makes a variety of gluten free mixes. I noticed the cinnamon raisin bread mix, and so the experiment began!

They turned out wonderful if I do say so myself. The pictures are of the regular vegan, gluten free scones. I also made a plant based version that replaced the added sugar and earth balance butter with a couple medium sized bananas. The plant based scones still taste good, just different. It is an adjustment, just like going gluten free. And I will warn you that they also look different than regular scones. Don’t let that deter you if you are trying to be healthy. You could also substitute apple sauce instead of bananas. They may have a more uniform appearance that way.

 

Vegan Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

3 Cups Bob’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix

1 Tbs. Baking Powder

2 Tbs. Potato Flour

1/3 Cup Maple Syrup

8 Tbs. Earth Balance Butter

1 Tbs. Chia seeds + 4 tbs. water

3 Tbs. Almond milk

Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

1. Mix the dry ingredients cinnamon raisin mix and baking powder in a large bowl.

2. Cut in the earth balance butter with a pastry knife or two regular knives.

3. Mix the chia seeds and water together for a minute before mixing with almond milk.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir.

5. Sprinkle potato flour onto a surface such as a glass pan for kneading the dough.

6. Knead the dough 8 times.

7. Form a circle with the dough.

8. Divide the circle into 8 scones. *

9. Place the scones on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

10. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees.

If you want a thicker scone you can make the circle of dough smaller.

Plant Based (Also Vegan Gluten Free) Cinnamon Raisin Scones

3 ¾ Cups bob’s cinnamon raisin bread mix

1 Tbs. Baking Powder

2 Medium Size Bananas

½ Tsp. Stevia

¼ Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tbs. Potato Flour

1 Tbs. Chia Seeds + 4 Tbs. Water

3 Tbs. Almond Milk

Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

Enjoy!! 🙂

xoxo,

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Feeding My Pancake Addiction

Alicia Marie's Chocolately Troubless Pancakes

I tend to go through food phases. Or addictions rather. For the past couple of months my addiction has been pancakes.

Chocolaty Trouble-less Pancakes

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 cup light soy

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp honey

Dash of cinnamon

Chocolate chips (what may be optional for you…is definitely not optional for me)

These are bomb. Unfortunately they are not gluten free due to the spelt flour. I do get a tiny bit of tummy trouble when I eat them…even though they are seriously yummy. This brings me to my new favorite recipe below:

My favorite gluten free pancake recipe requires “The Cravings Place” brand’s pancake and waffle mix. I make single serve pancakes with 1 quarter of a cup of mix, as much water as you want (less water makes thicker pancakes and more water makes thinner pancakes–I like to use more water and thus get away with two pancakes from a one pancake recipe), a third of a ripe banana mashed, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, a dash of cinnamon, and chocolate chips.   Both of these pancake recipes end up being around 100 calories each, very little sugar, very very delicious.

And of course after eating half a plate of pancakes I feel perfectly fueled for my hill run! Hill Run:


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A-Game Energy Bars

So that vegan documentary, Forks Over Knives, it gets a lot of hype…and wow do I ever understand why! Really though, I have seen many fabulous documentaries-but this one was mind blowing. This was not a “feel bad you are eating a cow” show, this was a “you can reverse your cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and live longer (or just live period), etc. etc. etc. if you abide by this type of diet” documentary. (Not that I do not love cows and other animals-I completely confess to being vegan in part for my love for animals.)

Anyways, I finally watched Forks over Knives last week, made my boyfriend watch it, have plans to make my parents watch it, and the list of people I plan to re-watch this documentary with goes on. If you are someone I deeply love and care about, make no mistake, I will find a way to FORCE you to watch this documentary 😉

In addition to adopting a plant based diet, one of the reputable physicians in Forks Over Knives, Dr. Esselstyn, advises people to eliminate all oil. Now many would assume that since I abide by a plant-based diet that I must consume very little fat and sugar. Oh heavens I cannot tell you how badly I wish those assumptions were correct! For one thing, I have a friendly neighborhood vegan bakery within walking distance from my job. Check out the calories and fat content in those pastries! It is entirely possible to consume too much fat as I have sadly discovered. I am making less trips to the lovely bakery and making more of my treats that I can trust.

My strategy is to transition to mostly raw food and to eventually eliminate added sugar. This mission started the other day when I stumbled across a fabulous protein bar recipe from the wonderful blog loveveggiesandyoga. Averie’s protein bar recipe inspired me to create my own bar with no added sugar. I did not use any “healthy” sugars (which let’s be honest, sugar is sugar), so I did not use agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, nada. I consider mine to be energy bars rather than protein bars as they have a plethora of vital vitamins and minerals, but are not too protein dense with around 4 grams of protein each. They are a good healthy, energizing treat for your day, but I do recommend treating it as dessert even though they consist of healthy fats and natural sugars.

A little inspiration to stay on track with consuming less oil and fat in general from Dr. Esselstyn’s website : within 8 to 12 weeks of eating a raw food diet the fat receptor in our brain down regulates and we lose  our cravings for fat.  

 Alicia Marie's A Game Energy Bars

Alicia’s A-Game Energy Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana (small or medium size)*
  • 1.5 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/3 Cup Soy (I used unsweetened West Soy)
  • 1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/3 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • ½ Tbs. Chia Seeds
  • 2 Tbs. Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2 Tbs. Almond Butter
  • Vanilla Protein Powder (optional)
  • Slivered Almonds (optional)–Although they taste perfect on the top; highly recommended
  • Chocolate Chips (optional)
  • Love (Not optional)

Cover an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper. Let the paper drape over the edges of the plan. Set aside. Put your banana in a large bowl and smash it with a spoon and or your hands. Make sure you smoosh it well so as not to make your energy bars too chunky with banana. Add the remaining ingredients one at a time and mix between each new added ingredient. Spoon the mixture into the parchment covered pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle slivered almonds, coconut, and dried cranberries on top. Cover pan with plastic wrap and freeze for two hours. After two hours, cut into energy bars. Yield ~9 bars.

*I recommend not using a large sized banana because the taste can overwhelm the other flavors