Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


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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

Alicia Marie Health 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.

Xoxo,

Alicia Marie Health Blog


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Healthy Globe Trotting for Your Family

I envision spring as a season of promise—promise of new beginnings. There is new life in the form of budding flowers, scattered sunshine, unsuspecting friendships and anticipation of adventure. Thus it seems fit to introduce a new virtual friend of my own. I am delighted to introduce, Kendra Thornton, a travel expert and dedicated health junkie in her own right as a thriving, energetic mother of three. You might recognize her as a regular presence on national stations including ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC and CW affiliates. 

Kendra Thornton

As Kendra is preparing for an adventure of her own to Orlando, Florida, we decided to put together a list of our favorite tips and tricks for staying healthy on vacation.

Grab Your Sneakers and Go!

Exploring your new home away from home on your own two feet is in my opinion the best way to find the closest and most scrumptious restaurants, one of a kind boutiques, picnic destinations, romantic strolls, yoga studios-you name it! Take mental notes and you will be so distracted by all there is to see, it won’t even feel like a workout. Whether you decide to jog around town or take a leisurely walk, if you have energy to spare after your arrival, simply moving around is a sure-fire way to reinvigorate yourself.

Market Meandering

Support your local market! Well, “local” might be temporary, but what a better way to give back to your current environment. Before your trip, spend a quick moment researching farmer’s markets in the area. Choose your snacks at the market in order to save money and eat sustainably at the same time.

Ditch Airline Food

Just say no. I snapped a picture of the long paragraph of ingredients for a chex-mix type snack on the Hawaiian Airline. To summarize, Yellow #5 was listed multiple times as were various kinds of oil and not much else. Pack your own snacks or opt for a quick stop at Starbucks before your flight. While I would not recommend most of the eye-catching baked goods Starbucks has to offer, they do offer fruit cups, parfaits, energy bars, trail mix and salads for healthier options.

Redefine Indulging and Do it Often

This is a tip straight from one of my previous posts about healthy traveling. I cannot emphasize it enough. Everyone wants to splurge on vacation and it is entirely possible to do that without feeling restricted. If you are traveling somewhere warm, let fruit be your biggest friend for your natural sugar fix. 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 or sorbet, a protein smoothie, or froyo topped with fruit and granola. You will not regret it.


Kendra’s Words of Wisdom

Staying healthy has always been a priority for my family. I make sure the kids always have healthy snacks to enjoy when they go to school. The kids also participate in sports, and we exercise together as a family also. When vacation time rolls around, I have to incorporate new tricks to help keep everyone healthy. Check out some of these ideas to use when you go on vacation:

Pack Healthy, Dry Snacks

I always take plenty of snacks along on vacation. Mealtimes aren’t going to be as structured when we’re away from home, and snacks help keep little tummies from rumbling. They also help me refrain from overindulging at restaurants. Some of my favorite snacks to pack include homemade trail mix, granola, dried fruit and fresh veggies.

Drink Plenty of Water

Everyone in my family has a refillable water bottle that comes with us on vacation. In places like airports where we can’t bring full water bottles, I buy bottled water for the family once we pass through security. If we’ve planned a day of activities in the sun, I often chill full water bottles in the freezer before we leave. Never tell your kids they can’t have a drink of water in order to avoid potty breaks. An extra bathroom stop is much better than dehydration or heat stroke.

Family Fun Runs

When planning a trip, I like to see if any 5k runs or similar events are taking place while we will be visiting. The whole family can participate. We like to run together at home, and running together on vacation is a special treat. We get to meet new people and learn more about the community where we are staying. A lot of times there are even special races for the children under 10.

Walking

Vacation with my family always means a lot of walking. We walk around the various attractions. We also will walk rather than ride to activities. If a young one gets tired on our return to the hotel, their dad or I get an added workout by carrying him or her. We also make a game out of taking the stairs whenever possible rather than riding elevators.

Healthy options are always available. Families need only pay attention in order to take advantage of them. I know my family will be incorporating these healthy and hit practices on an upcoming trip to Orlando. With so many places to stay, it can get a little overwhelming as I like to try and book hotels that have a quality gym in case of rain. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews so you can feel more comfortable about where you’re staying. I hope these tips help you have a healthier family vacation this year.

 

 


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Aloha Maui Virgins!

Aloha Mauiiii Virginsss!-We were welcomed with enthusiasm by our round, happy Hawaiian shuttle driver. Driving was questionable and included talking, texting, showing pictures and giving history of the landscape often simultaneously. Pictures were of shark attacks and sunrises; the tour of a whale sculpture apparently resembling his wife. An interesting guy to say the least! If you prioritize money over safety “Trans Van” is your best option over a taxi from the airport and is $30 vs $50.

Upon arriving at our condo, I unpacked quickly so that Shane and I could fill our tummies and enjoy the beach across the street! What a view…not bad for youngins on a budget.

Travel on a Budget

Travel on a Budget

At one of Shane’s close friend’s recommendations we headed to Maui Tacos. It was maybe three minutes walking from our condo. No time was wasted making the decision. And we had no desire to find energy analyzing restaurant options regardless, thus it was a perfect destination for our first meal. We took it to go and enjoyed it by the ocean.

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$6 for a jumbo sized burrito or a hearty taco salad. A mouthful of Shane’s food is always sacrificed to his better half and thus I can attest to the AMAZING enchilada sauce on his burrito! So many flavors and spices. They whip it up in under five and hand you a creation that will blow your mind. My taco salad had yummy seasoned potatoes and the black beans had some sort of brilliant chipotle flavor. We kept agreeing they should bring their goods to the mainland!

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Following our dinner we walked down the beach and further downtown towards the bars in Kihei and indulged in Froyo from Tutti Frutti. I had the soy vegan cherry flavor topped with granola and fruit. Shane had some concoction of a fruit smoothie.

Immediately I found success with a plant based diet in paradise. I had been warned that there was fish, fruit, fish and nothing but fish! Nonsense! Over the span of my trip I indulged in plant based sushi, gelato, coconut based coffees, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Italian, and more.

Even on the airport there are options if you are willing to work with them. I sought out Starbucks for peppermint tea and a warm, filling cup of oatmeal with raisins and nuts to hold me over through the plane ride. Shane had a veggie noodle salad from a sushi stand.

We were off to a good start. Little did I know there was a local health market in our neighborhood and my soon to be daily smoothie/coffee stand as well! Food, freedom, boyfriend, beach. Awww yeah 🙂

How do you stay healthy while leaving PLENTY of room to indulge while traveling? Lots of personal tips coming up in the next post-would love to hear yours too!

Plant Based Travel Tips


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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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The Elitist Vegan

You know when you’re with a group of people and there is that one person that doesn’t want to drink any beer? Or that one individual who passes on dessert when everybody else has chosen to indulge? Maybe it’s the day you decide you decide to skip the gym, or the third day you’ve decided to skip the gym while your roommate is taking on their second workout of the day. When you have chosen to partake in the drinking, or the eating treats or the passing on a work out–sometimes you feel guilty. But we don’t like to feel guilty-so it’s always easier if we can convince the odd person out to drink with us, to eat with us, or to take a rest day with us. When they refuse, it can make you feel jealous or maybe even competitive. The odd person out can make you unconsciously question your decisions and in turn that can throw you on the defense.

Then consider veganism. It can be a healthy lifestyle that lowers your risk for cancer, heart disease, clears your skins, reverses various other illnesses, and it can also be a diet for weight loss. Let’s be honest, usually the word “vegan” doesn’t conjure up an image of a fat person. So sometimes automatically hearing that someone is a self-proclaimed vegan causes people to react in negativity and guilt-about their diet, about their moral decisions, and on a deeper levels maybe their identity or their personal image. I think that following a healthy vegan diet can make a person feel proud, but I think that to outsiders who don’t follow the same lifestyle may see it as elitist. It can be perceived as a threat and veganism unfortunately receives a lot of stigma. In defense people may tell you to be careful because a vegan diet will cause your body to waste away, that you will look sick, struggle to obtain adequate amounts of protein, etc. Those assumptions are simply not true. It’s a common misperception and in my opinion, an ignorant one. Choose the diet or the lifestyle that you believes works best for you, but before accusing your peers of their own health decisions consider opening your mind and doing your research (and by that I mean reading and hearing out both benefits of consequences of the issue at hand) first.


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My Adventure With Plant Food!

Here is a snippet of my story that brought me to where I am today.

I have always been “different.” Raised by two healthy parents with vastly different eating habits, my diet was naturally most influenced by  mother, the cook of the family. Unlike my father, my mother was a tenured, committed vegetarian. My father, not so much. To this day, despite his preference towards meat, my father admits he is much healthier abiding by a predominantly vegetarian diet thanks to my mother. I owe her the same appreciation.

Growing up, the way my mother educated me about the vegetarian diet was biased and lacked factual grounds. Fortunately being the rebellious young girl that I was, I participated in a secret venture and sampled meats of various kinds. Still though, I usually found myself hunched over the sink spitting up the taste. It wasn’t until college that I began researching vegetarianism. Upon injuring my hip flexor, I was determined to find the best diet for my active lifestyle, whether that be vegetarian or not. From my research and a visit to the doctor, it was found that my vegetarian diet was sufficient for my activity level. My injury was a result of overworking my body and also a lack of variation in my work out routine. Two years later and finally able to put in the miles the way I used to, I became extremely satisfied with my diet and my fitness.

Until.

Over conversation with my aunt I nonchalantly sipped on a protein shake to prepare for my afternoon run. She mentioned the importance of reading the ingredients on protein shakes because some of them contain meat. I scoffed in response. “What? I’ve never heard of that. There can’t be meat in my protein shakes.” I would soon find out, quite the contrary. Begrudgingly I googled one of the ingredients in my protein shake: casein. What I gathered is that casein, a milk protein, is processed with rennin, the lining of a calf’s stomach. Raunchy. I was not expecting that. Nor was I expecting to find that many of the products I consumed my entire life such as cheese, ice cream, and milk also contain this animal-processed protein. It took a millisecond for me to declare myself a vegan. As I have come to find, easier said than done.

Most vegetarians were once omnivores. As a lifelong vegetarian, I never had to give up meat. I never had to give up anything I loved. The journey to become vegan is appealing and daunting. Above all, it is an opportunity for me to learn and explore, understand, and emphasize with the challenges omnivores face when making this drastic dietary transition to a vegetarian diet. Equally important, I hope to understand why so many people are fiercely turned off from the idea of trying a vegetarian or vegan diet.