You may know Alexandria Ewing for her work creating ethical, organic beauty and self-care items through her boutique business Balance Botanica. Her belief is that products should be good for your skin, body and the world around you. You may also know her from her mentoring work and for teaching culinary arts through Step-Up Omaha!, the youth employment program. When I encountered her, it was as Chef Lex of Soular Power Plates.
I was immediately struck by Chef Lex’s relentless pursuit to create a healthier, more empowered world through every avenue available to her. And when there are no avenues, she paves one of her own. Lex teaches mindfulness, yoga and holistic care through Omaha Public Schools, Kids & Company in Council Bluffs, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands, the Teen Center at St. Luke United Methodist Church and The Union for Contemporary Art. Her volunteer experience spans Omaha, from work with Open Door Mission to the Alzheimer’s Association and Heartland Family Service, and her compassion for her fellow citizens of the earth, human or otherwise, is as boundless as her creativity to nurture them.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Chef Lex and couldn’t wait to learn a little more about what drives her, how she fuels it, and where it’s taking her next.
Athlete Turns Activist
Lex attended college at Wayne State University, where she joined the cheerleading team. A consummate athlete, she always incorporated healthy eating and physical activity into her daily life. It wasn’t long before she realized that her goal of maintaining her athleticism meant forgoing anything that was served in the cafeteria.
“I wasn’t a vegetarian at the time, and even without that standard, I couldn’t eat anything they were serving,” Lex said. “None of it was healthy, all of it was really high in sodium and hyper processed. In addition to being an athlete, I was taking health courses, and nothing I was learning would have let me eat what was on the menu.”
Just as she was developing an understanding of what better fueled her body, a life-changing trip ignited changes she hadn’t seen coming.
“I was studying abroad, doing research in Spain,” Lex said. “I was learning about food profiles, tasting things I’d never even heard of and couldn’t pronounce. I was just amazed at how much could be done with food and with all of these spices that were completely changing ingredients I thought I knew.
“While I was there, we decided to take in a bull fight. You’re in Spain, it’s a rite of passage. But that moment, watching this innocent animal being killed, it occurred to me that most people who eat meat do so without ever seeing the cruelty it takes to make it happen. Watching this animal die really changed something in me. That was the moment that turned into everything that’s happened since.”
The concept for Soular Power Plate started taking shape in 2015 when Lex, back home and finished with school, began caring for her ill grandmother.
“I wanted to do something for her to make our time happier and to help her fight,” Lex said. “Home-cooked food gave her the strength she needed, and so I started cooking for her. I began developing this menu concept of vegan soul-food infused with love. And you could see her spirits start to rise.
“She and my mom had always had this dream to open a café. It was a continuation of their love of parties, and they wanted to serve these hearty, nurturing dishes in a fun way. I loved being part of this dream and started to put together ideas for Soular Power Plate.”
Lex’s idea grew slowly, steadily and sturdily as she started offering to serve her dishes for gatherings and events. In 2018 she found herself dishing up her signature style at Melanation Celebration. The event created a nurture-network where Omaha’s Black business owners and professionals could connect and collaborate.
“The meal was really just a way to incentivize people to come, to connect and to celebrate,” Lex said. “I was serving soups, salads, burritos and sandwiches. Food really has a way of bringing people together, and I was really excited to be part of that, especially at this beautiful, empowering event. There was a lot of surprise when people found out that the food was vegan. It wasn’t a ‘vegan event’ it was just really good food that happened to be vegan and happened to start a conversation.”
Lex doesn’t fault anyone for their preconceived notions about vegan food being boring, because her own experience with veganism had fallen flat before she took up the tongs herself.
“Vegan isn’t as widespread here, and so a lot of recipes are just a salad with an oil-based dressing, or a lot of pasta. But I have this deep love of herbs, spices and botanicals. I couldn’t imagine making any of my dishes without them.”
One Soular Power Plate at a Time
While it would have been significantly easier for Chef Lex to start making dishes in bulk, she had a different vision in mind.
“Vegans function by thinking about their food,” Lex said. “They’re considering their impact on their health and the health of our planet.”
Chef Lex gives the same amount of consideration to every dish she creates.
“Nothing works the same for two people, so I really want my clients to communicate with me. I want them to tell me if they have an allergy or sensitivity. I want to hear if they have eczema or if eating something makes them feel bloated. All of these things are your body communicating to you. I love customizing a plate for someone, because I know that even though I don’t get to see them eat it, they are loving it, their body is loving it, and it’s feeding their soul.”
Going Soular Solo
Lex’s many clients may be surprised to find that Lex creates, customizes, cooks and serves each meal entirely by herself. The one-woman powerhouse doesn’t just serve beautiful meals, but scratch-makes many of the components that go into them. Her house-made cashew milk is the creamy, delectable component that makes her baked macaroni the rich, hearty and heart-healthy dish that keeps clients coming back for more.
In addition to her catering company, Chef Lex offers a free online cooking class, as well as packages for health coaching and nutrition plans. You can make a donation to Soular Power’s mission by visiting soularpowerplate.square.site.
While many chefs will grudgingly adhere to a diner’s dietary restrictions, Chef Lex urges her clients to explore which foods make them feel strong and which leave them dragging. Her menu exists, but each dish is joyfully adjusted to meet her client’s health and nutrition needs. Following Lex on Instagram (@SoularPowerPlate) will give you a chef’s eye view of the work she puts into each dish and will leave you hungry for more.
Schedule a Friday Family Feast with Soular Power Plate, and let Lex make a believer out of your whole family! Your meatless Mondays will be a breeze with a BBQ Jackfruit sandwich, and your next potluck will be a no-brainer when you bring a side like Lex’s Southern braised collard greens, with smoked paprika, green cabbage and red onions.
No matter what you order, it will be made with love and the intent to make the world a little better place than it was yesterday.