Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


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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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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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Tips and Tricks to Healthy Travel

  1.    Happycow.net will give you a quick list of veg-friendly, vegetarian, and vegan restaurants at any given location. I want to give a big squeeze to the genius who invented that site. (There is also an app for $2.99)
  2.   Scope out menus online first.
  3.   Don’t be afraid to ask if there is dairy (or any animal products). You might find yourself pleasantly surprised. I sure did! Ono Gelato in Maui has several vegan flavors. When I started inquiring to the woman scooping gelato “This might be a weird question…but is there dairy in all of your gelato flavors?” She said “No there isn’t, not a weird question at all by the way” and went on to show me nine different options I had to choose from! And yes, one of those was chocolate! I went with the tasty creamy pina colada with real fruit chunks while Shane got a combination of Maui gold pineapple and lilikoi.Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling
  4.   Ditch your rental car. Travel on foot. The first four days of our trip, we did not have a rental car and walked everywhere. It was equivalent to going on a good run for some cardio which was great because my injury prevented me from jogging on all but one day.
  5.  Blogilates. Pilates is my favorite form of injury prevention and healing. It is also my favorite way to build a six pack fast. I remember training for cross country in college. I was running 5-6 miles consistently each day. I went to one pilates class for an hour and could not move or work out for the next three days. It will kick your butt and tone you up. You can count on Cassie Ho to keep you motivated and challenged on any given day. She was my go-to youtube college dorm and apartment workout. She just came out with an app that I used religiously in Maui. It is awesome because you can choose which part of your body you want to target.
  6. Scope out nearby health markets. They are multiplying like rabbits. Who would have guessed? There was an amazing health market a short three minutes from my condo. They made these delicious “Aloha Bars” that are actually almost identical to my A-Game Energy Bars. In this cute hippy town Paia, there was a gigantic one of a kind health market. An entire room consisted of bulk items as did a separate room for natural supplements and medicine. There was a hot bar and quite the selection of premade meals. The big downer was that the people who worked there were rude and seemed to dislike tourists.  I fit quite the tourist portrait with my hefty camera. I had one man practically ignore me when I asked where the restroom was located. Had they known I was a little health nut hoping to contribute to their profits with my love of unique vegan products, I should think they might have been a bit more amiable. Oh well 😦

Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Redefine Indulging and Do It Often. I consume fruit in two ways, as dessert and as breakfast. And sometimes dessert occurs more than once a day. I am a fruit fanatic. Ditch the ice cream, get some vegan gelato, a soy based protein smoothie, vegan froyo if you can find it. If you are traveling somewhere warm, let fruit be your biggest friend for your natural sugar fix.

Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling

8. Read Ingredients. I was fortunate enough to find a ginormous vegan oatmeal walnut cookie that was decently healthy! Organic cane sugar was the fifth ingredient followed by apple sauce. Typically recipes are ordered in the proportion of that ingredient. Therefore if organic cane sugar had been the first ingredient, I may not have selected this as my breakfast cookie two or three mornings in a row. But it was the fifth ingredient, alas I had a delicious breakfast cookie more than once.

Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy TravelingAlicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling

9. Careful with Airplane Food. Check out the ingredients on this snack. Is the color yellow edible to you? Personally, I would opt for avoiding airplane meals altogether. You can usually find a veggie dish at one of the airplane restaurants, oatmeal, salad, or fruit cups at Starbucks. And never fear because there is always a Starbucks.

Alicia's Marie's Healthy Travel Tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Relax. How many of us tell ourselves we are going to be bikini body ready in x amount of time. Congratulations if that works for you, but I am going to bet that for most people it does not. Our lives are crazy, overbooked, overwhelming in all respects. Hence the need for vacation. This is your time to indulge and relax. Find some love and self-acceptance to truly enjoy this gift to yourself. Struggling to do that? Hop in a yoga class. Make a habit of going for a morning walk to start your day off right and let go. Make any healthy habit to start your day off right and let go. Have a cup of tea. Watch a concert of your favorite band. Watch an inspiring Ted Talk. You are not going to get fat in ten days. You are not going to get completely out of shape in ten days. You can still feel good about your body and indulge in copious amounts of tasty treats at the same time.

These are tips that worked for me. I am sure there are many more ideas that would suit your lifestyle and eating habits wonderfully as well and I would love to hear them! 

xoxo,

Alicia Marie's Wellness Blog


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Falling in love with soup

It is difficult not to love fall. Even as I prepare to leave for my trip in paradise tomorrow, I can’t help but wonder if I will be missing the very best part of the season. The temperature during the day is still warm in the northwest-high 70’s, while the mornings are starting to become nippy. I can visualize one of my favorite running trails with the heavy fog setting in across the valley and that golden autumn sun shining overhead. There is nothing quite like an autumn sun.

Some of my best fall memories are from high school football games. I loved being in the stands with my best friends surrounded by a strong, fierce and fun loving community of highly spirited classmates. Overlooking the football field was a neat crescent row of tall cedar trees casting sharp black silhouettes against the flawlessly clear blue sky. Breathing that beauty in with good company and a big win at the end of the night was like nothing else I have experienced.

After a pretty illustration, I can sadly almost always fit my stomach into the equation in one way or another. This brings me to soup.

Simple and sweet. Or in this case, spicy!

Soup is a your diet’s saving grace when you get the evening munchies. While comforting, it is also nutritious, low calorie, easily digestible, and soothing for those chilly fall days.

Spicy Roasted Tomato Red Pepper Soup

For Roasting

3 roma tomatos

2 tomatoes

1 red pepper

½ tsp himilayan salt

1/4tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. chili flakes

For Sauteing 

Zulu African Mix 1/8 tsp

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup basil (or omit and add 1 cup of fresh basil to food processor)

½ yellow onion

1 large carrot

Food Processor

1 ½ cup hemp milk

¼ cup tomato basil sauce

2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tsp. paprkia

Side: Gluten Free Rosemary Walnut Bread & Tea!

Spicy Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

Directions:

Slice up the tomatos and red pepper. Lay on a baking sheet. Drizzle about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil over the tomatos and red pepper. Sprinkle with Himalayan salt, chili flakes, and cayenne pepper. Bake at 350 for about fifteen minutes.

While your red veggies are roasting, cut up your carrot and half an onion. Cut up your 2 cloves of garlic into small pieces, but do not mince unless desired. Heat up a frying pan and add three tablespoons of water. Begin sauteing the carrot, onion, basil and garlic. Sprinkle with zulu african spice mix. Saute for about twenty minutes.

Add hemp milk, tomato sauce, brown sugar and paprika to food processor. When finished roasting and sauteeing, add ingredients to hemp milk and tomato sauce in the food processor. Mix until smooth.

Empty ingredients into a pot and simmer for about fifteen minutes.

*To substitute the zulu african spice mix, trying adding liquid smoke.

Enjoy!!! 🙂

Complements of yours truly and my main man, Shane.


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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 Sweet Start

I started my day with sweets! It was wonderful 🙂 The only change that could possibly have made my day sweeter was sunshine. I so dearly miss those warm golden rays during the winter. Fortunately, this hot cereal will help keep you feeling toasty and energized during these nippy, grey mornings.

I am trying to limit added sugar in my recipes by implementing foods that naturally have a punch of that seductive sweet flavor. For this recipe, I used dried cranberries. Rather than adding that spoonful of sugar into the oatmeal, I added a sprinkling of coconut, a few chocolate chips and a touch-like a teeny weeny drizzle of maple syrup.

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Some things to feel good about when using this recipe:

Pumpkin Seeds contains many vitamins and minerals including zinc. Apparently many people are deficient in zinc and I am sad for them because zinc helps strengthen your bones and immune system!  Read more about the the importance of zinc here. 

Among other benefits, studies have shown that pumpkins seeds may also reduce arthritis symptoms, postpone or prevent metastasis (spread of cancer from one organ to another)  in breast cancer patients, alleviate prostate enlargement and thus reduce the risk and symptoms of prostate cancer.  (Source)

 Cranberries are most commonly known for their aid in  urinary tract infection relief. In the same way that cranberries’ anti-adhesion properties attach to bacteria and stop bacteria from sticking to the cell walls that cause these urinary tract infections, cranberries anti-adhesion properties bind and kill the H. pylorie bacteria that help prevent stomach cancer and ulcers. Additionally, studies have also shown that cranberry consumption can delay and prevent tumor growth, keep your teeth clean by preventing plaque with its chemical compound proanthocyanidine, and reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. (Source 1) (Source 2)

Winter Sweet Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Oatmeal 

1/3 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup water or milk of choice

1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

1/2 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips

Maple Syrup [A tiny drizzle 😉 ]

Shredded Coconut (sprinkled on top; unsweetened is preferable)


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The New Year Cliche: Resolutions

The holidays have moved on with the exception of New Years and I have been less than strict with my vegan diet. I have caved into my tiny grocery budget and settled for vegetarian sausages that contain milk and other products that existed in my fridge previous to my vegan adventure. I have also enjoyed more than a few completely non-vegan Christmas cookies.

And thus I have gained a few pounds and I have not felt as ripe and energetic as when I committed more fully to a vegan diet. I listed some of the challenges I faced that led me to caving into non-vegan foods. These fall-backs have become lessons and I have developed some easy solutions to help me commit more fully  to a vegan diet.

1. My boyfriend is a full blown carnivore and so is his kitchen.

Solution: I brought my own soy milk to his house once. I will commit to bringing my own vegan snacks. I accept that this is completely nerdy and I know he loves me anyways. The positive side of bringing my own food is that I know it will be healthy, it is fun to bake together and I really enjoy cooking for him. As I have said in previous posts, there is something deeply satisfying about cooking for people you love.

2.  Sometimes I absentmindedly leave my vegan packed lunch on the counter before work.

Solution: Leave myself a note. Do not settle for non-vegan food at Starbucks–buy the expensive bistro and cut out the non-vegan products. Use the ridiculous high price as motivation to remember my lunch next time! I could also utilize my fridge at work—put in some staple foods and condiments that are vegan. The next time I buy a bagel I will not be tempted to get cream cheese if I have peanut butter or vegan cream cheese in my work fridge!

3. Holiday deserts are not vegan. Ever.

Solution: I remind myself of how much better I feel when I eat vegan and I think about all of the issues that have motivated me to take on this diet. Also, I have terrible digestion problems including acid reflex that return when I start eating more cookies and animal products. Getting creative and baking my own desserts is fun, but not always realistic when the season brings chaos and a busy schedule. Preparing meals ahead of time is key. Finding some recipes before the holiday seasons hits could be helpful and save time too.

4. It’s ridiculously hard to eat-out vegan where I live.

Solution: Make more dinners. Who does not like to curl up in front of the TV with a warm blanket and a homemade meal that you can feel good about? Also, do my research ahead of time. I like to look up menus online so that I know what my options are. Worst case scenario I can eat a snack before dinner and settle for a salad at dinner. This solution probably would not work for everyone—do you have any ideas to face this problem?

5.  Life gets busy.

Solution: Prepare meals ahead of time. I like to make smoothies ahead of time as well as vegan protein bars. They are quick snacks for any one on the go!