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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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

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Eating Yummy on your “I’m Broke” Budget Part. 1.

Now that I am back from vacation and it is Fall the most inspiring season for baking and cooking, I plan on making some more yummy creations.

However, I am keeping it simple until my budget is less depleted from spoiling myself. Steamed veggies and rice are a favorite of mine. If I am ever having tummy troubles, hoping to get back on track and eat more healthy, or do a mild detox for a week or so, this is something I love to cook.

I grab whatever veggies I want to steam from Whole Foods. This time I grabbed a container of pre-cut veggies for about $7.00. The organic brown microwaveable rice was on sale for $3.69. That will last me three servings totaling about $3.50 per meal.And after all that is said and done I will have tons of rice left over for future cooking creations. This is IDEAL for your college budget or your I’m out of college, still broke and can’t get a job budget.

It is the easiest thing you’ll ever do. Fill a pot with water about an inch and a half high. Place your steamer inside the pot. The water should not come up over the steamer at all or your veggies will get soggy. Cover the pot with a lid for a few minutes and cook on medium high for 7-10 minutes. They are finished when the broccoli is bright green! You can test the veggie with a fork. It should be tender but it should not crumble into mush in your mouth. (That would be gross.) Add a tiny smidgen of earth balance butter and soy sauce if you like! I did 🙂

Rice & Steamed Veggies with Avocado

Yummy! You can do the same thing with quinoa. See below.

Healthy Quinoa & Steamed Veggies. Fitness eating on a budget!




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.


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!


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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An Open Mind

I have “cheated” a few times along my journey to become a full blown vegan. “Cheating” did open my eyes to a few new things. For one, I understand how important it is to have an open mind when considering life style changes as simple as trying a new food or as difficult as losing weight. To take on a vegan diet, having an open mind is essential for trying new flavors and considering the new theories and research that compements that lifestyle. For example, opening your mind to the notion that your taste palette changes when you become vegan.

As a new vegan, this is one of the first significant changes that I have noticed. This observation started with pizza. I “cheated” by having a few bites of non-vegan pizza. It was horrible. I immediately felt sick. I later cheated again and  sampled my boyfriend’s fancy smoked blue cheese dressing with a couple of carrots. As a former lover of all things dairy, I could appreciate the rich, original taste of the dressing. The flavor began as blue cheese, but settled into a taste similar to gouda. Quite unique—and had I not been eating vegan for the past month I am sure that I would have really enjoyed it, but something about it just did not taste pleasant.

While I have become accustomed to cutting dairy out of my diet, there was an interesting flavor that accompanies dairy products that you cannot quite pick out until you give them up. I am sure many would claim that this is all mental—but I would argue not.

The same thing happened when I tried non-vegan butter on my toast after running out of my vegan earth balance butter. The vegan butter now tastes better to me and agrees with my stomach much more easily. I once cheated and tried a few bites of Ghirardelli brownies—they are truly no match for vegan brownies. The only downside I found to the delicious vegan “Ooey Gooey Brownies” made by The Craving Place brand was the price—something like seven dollars for the mix; a little out of my budget, but worth splurging if you get a chance. Only 90 calories per brownie, and they taste like sinfully delicious unadulterated brownies. Better though, I promise. So far my experience switching to a vegan diet has been very positive, but it is not without its challenges. There are many stigmas against veganism that surround me, but I use this as motivation to commit to a healthy vegan diet.