Bolder Sisters, one thing is for sure, we can’t be bold if we aren’t healthy. One of my ongoing goals from year to year is to take better care of my body. Unfortunately, I still struggle from time to time. However, my recent interview with Olivia Parr, Founder of Caramel Coated Wellness, reminded me of why my health has to become priority #1.
Here’s what Olivia had to share about pursuing your passion, her new cookbook and plant-based eating and wellness.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your Caramel Coated Wellness.
Well, this time last year I was working full-time as an intelligence analyst in Washington, DC. After my husband and I got married in August I moved with him to North Carolina for his assignment in the US Marine Corps. I had the opportunity to continue my government career but I felt no desire to spend any more of my energy doing something that did not bring me any satisfaction. So, I left my job behind.
Shortly after we moved I started investing more time in my first love—cooking. I started to research how my cooking could change the way people interact with food. I stumbled upon the research of Dr. Pam Popper and Dr. T. Colin Campbell. The research done by these two nutrition powerhouses supports the Whole-Food Plant-Based diet which minimizes the consumption of all animal products, oils, and refined foods like white sugar and white flour. I spent about two months reading books and research journals, watching documentaries, and taking an online course in plant-based nutrition at Cornell. Exploring my love of food in combination with the ability to make an impact on public health opened my eyes to a new career path.
In January 2017 I founded Caramel Coated Wellness—an organization that seeks to bring the whole-food, plant-based diet to the mainstream. This company offers plant-based personal chef services in the Wilmington area and also maintains an online presence that shares recipe ideas, inspirational stories, and product reviews. My goal is to use this company to reach people wherever I can to show them how easy it can be to change their diets and take control of their health.
Why was it so important for you to encourage people to invest in their health? A significant issue I discovered in my research is the disproportionate effect of poor nutrition on people of color. Minority communities are the ones plagued by diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and a slew of gastrointestinal issues. In spite of that fact, it does not seem as though any organization makes a targeted effort to show minorities how to make a transition to a diet that minimizes animal products and encourages the consumption of whole, plant-based foods. It is important for me to make sure that there is an organization out there that caters specifically to people who have largely been ignored.
It there was one thing you wish everyone knew about healthy eating and a plant-based diet, what would that one thing be? It is not expensive. I have found that the primary hang-up with people considering the transition is that they assume they will have to start shopping at Whole Foods and start spending all of their disposable income on chia seeds and avocados.
For example, one of the healthiest foods that we can eat are beans. Beans are full of protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, and they also happen to be one of the cheapest foods on the planet. Whole grains like brown rice, barley, and quinoa, foods like sweet potatoes, kale, and spinach are not expensive and will also fuel the human body efficiently without breaking the bank.
What gave you the courage/boldness to leave your intelligence analyst position and begin your cooking and blogging business? Honestly, my husband and my mother are my two reasons for getting serious about blogging and starting my own business. It takes a strong support system to make this leap of faith. Throughout the journey they were the ones telling me that I wasn’t crazy, that I could make this work, and that there is validity in my dream. It was because of their support that I was able to make the decision to invest my money and time in something that gives me deep satisfaction versus pursuing a paycheck.
There are so many women who aren’t doing what they love, what advice would you give about being bold and taking risks? There is no better time like the present. Sure, I could have waited a little longer, saved a little more money, experimented with more recipes, but I decided to just go for it. Planning is necessary but at a certain point you either go for it or you don’t.
After you decide to go for it you have to be prepared to not be an instant success. People will tell you no. You will feel lost sometimes. When those occasions come you have to stick to your guns and stay focused, looking for a new angle, and keep hustling.
Finally, you have to redefine your definition of success. Your passion may not ever develop into a multi-million dollar company, but if you are able to do what you love, touch people’s lives, and make a few dollars along the way, you are successful.
What’s one quote/motto you live by that continues to inspire you? “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn
This quote continues to inspire me because it reminds me to constantly reevaluate my inner circle. If there is someone who is not adding something to my life I have to be comfortable removing them from my circle. If you are surrounded by people who are not encouraging, unsupportive, or small-minded, they will rub off on you and limit your ability to grow. Growth is uncomfortable and sometimes, it can even be lonely.
What does being a Bolder Sister mean to you? To me, being a Bolder Sister means living in your God-given purpose. I do not believe that I have this gift and passion for food for no reason. I believe that we all have a purpose that extends beyond receiving a paycheck for a job. Unfortunately, so many women are relegating that passion to a hobby or a side-gig instead of pursuing it full-time for fear of losing financial security or status. Being a Bolder Sister does not mean that you are without fear, but that you acknowledge that the fear cannot stop you from living boldly.
How can we learn about you, your cookbook and what you have upcoming? Feel free to visit and subscribe to my website at caramelcoatedwellness.com to receive recipes, inspirational stories, and information about plant-based products. You can purchase my cookbook, Cooking for a Life Well-Lived at caramelcoatedwellness.com/shopcaramelcoatedwellness.com. I plan to host some events in Washington, DC in the next couple of months, so stay on the lookout for those, too!
Bolder Sisters, let’s show Olivia our support as she continues to support our communities with the information we need to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.