ParaVida Wellness, new health store, opens in Victoria

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

Nov. 13, 2017 at 9:45 p.m.
Updated Nov. 14, 2017 at 10:29 a.m.

Destiny Garcia, smoothie and juice barista, makes a cold-press juice at ParaVida Wellness, 1405 E. Airline Road, Suite A

Destiny Garcia, smoothie and juice barista, makes a cold-press juice at ParaVida Wellness, 1405 E. Airline Road, Suite A   Kathryn Cargo for The Victoria Advocate

ParaVida Wellness is a vision come true for health coach Erica Briggs.

"It was a labor of love, I can tell you - pulling this together," she said.

Briggs' store fills a need in Victoria for fast, convenient healthy food, which the community was lacking, Briggs said. The health store offers heath and nutrition coaching as well as premade cold grab-and-go meals.

"If you look around, there's no truly healthy options other than cooking at home for fast, convenient food," she said. "That's what people want. There's other companies in major markets doing this, and they've been very successful."

She's wanted to open a health store since she finished her health coaching education two years ago, when she graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her health coach clients also brought the need to light.

"As a health coach, when I started my practice, that's what people wanted - they wanted me to cook for them in addition to coach them," she said. "It comes out of a need for my clients because they're busy and don't know how to eat healthy and didn't have the time to learn and actually prepare the meals."

Briggs offers a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner items ranging from scrambled eggs and chicken sausage to turkey enchilada chicken casserole. Her meals will change with seasons, and she plans to have an entirely new menu at the start of 2018.

About 90 percent of Briggs' ingredients are organic.

"We try to do as much organic as we possibly can," she said. "Depending on the seasonality, it can be hard to get some ingredients like organic oranges now because of the hurricane."

This week, Briggs is rolling out health-based plans, including for weight loss, gut health and sugar detox. These programs range from a three-day to a 21-day program in which meals and coaching are provided depending on the plan.

"A lot of people want to lose weight, want to be healthy, but they don't know where to start," she said.

At the start of 2018, Briggs plans to offer group cooking and nutrition classes weekly, and her store has a learning kitchen. She will offer a four-week introduction to whole food, plant-based eating as well as a four-week introduction to a paleo diet.

Briggs also uses a cold-press juice machine, offering juices that help with different aspects of health.

"Each ingredient has a function for the body," she said. "(For example), we have one with cabbage in it, which is good for gut health."

Briggs said ParaVida Wellness offers smoothies with 100 percent frozen fruit made with no sugar or ice; cold-brewed coffee, which is less acidic than hot brewed coffee; and alkaline bottled water that is bottled and filtered on site. She also sells kombucha drinks, which are made non-traditionally with green tea and honey instead of black tea and sugar.

"What we put in our body creates how we are and how we live and how healthy we are," she said. "If we're putting junk in, we're going to put junk out."



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