New Year, New CHOP5 Wellness Blogger!

by Alexandra Liles, CHOP5 Wellness Blogger

Meet Alexandra!

Hello my fellow lettuce lovers, foodies, and salad savants; Alexandra here, reporting for duty as the newest CHOP5 wellness blogger. A bit of background for you: I am a Columbus transplant, originally from Boston by way of Saudi Arabia where I lived for two years with my husband right after we got married. While I am new to the city, I am a longtime vegan (for over a decade at this point) and food lover, so I was thrilled to learn about CHOP5 and all the fresh, delicious, plant-forward options they have to offer!

After a year of living in Saudi, I decided to leave my career in the travel industry and I trained to
be a plant-based cook. I have also been certified as a personal trainer and nutrition coach and
have taught a variety of fitness classes over the years, from yoga to indoor cycling. Currently, I
teach individual and group cooking classes to plant-curious foodies in the Columbus area
looking to expand their vegan recipe repertoire.

While working in the fitness field, I found that conversations with clients always came back to
food– and for good reason, as nutrition is truly the cornerstone of wellness. In searching for
more tools to guide my clients, I fell in love with food all over again when I became a certified
Food For Life instructor. This time around, I fell for everything I learned about the healing power
of whole, real foods and how good nutrition can be a powerful tool for disease prevention and
even reversal.

Nutrition aside, I have always been passionate about connecting with people through food. I
love finding creative ways to transform traditional comfort foods into satisfyingly delicious and
more nutritious, plant-based versions of the dishes. I enjoy hearing about people’s history and
relationship with food and believe food can and should be satisfying, nutritious, and sustainable
to our bodies, communities, and the planet.

With the start of the new year I have been reflecting on my own food journey and nutrition goals
for 2024. It is an exciting time to be vegan. For example, before I moved abroad I was hard
pressed to find any vegan cheese on store shelves, so I was forced to learn how to make my
own in their absence. These days, you can find dozens of different plant-based products in
nearly every supermarket. These options are easy to find and fun to try, but as with most things
in life, ease does not always equate with quality and most of these vegan labeled products are
ultra-processed and not nearly as healthy as my homemade, whole-food variations.

My resolution for 2024 is to go back to my plant-based roots; ditch ultra-processed foods and replace them with real, whole-food ingredients. In light of this, I am pumped about becoming a regular at CHOP5– their entire menu is full of real, fresh, filler-free ingredients. Next time I am craving a quick fix for dinner, rather than perusing the prepared foods in the frozen aisle, I will mosey on into a CHOP5 and fill a bowl of fresh greens, roasted tofu, with toppings galore.

What are your resolutions for 2024?