shedontcara

LifeStyle Producer, Creative Cook, Certified Wellness Coach, Fashion & Fitness enthusiast, and Yogi in training. Take a look at things I create, cook, eat, style, do and dontCARA about.

Put it in a letter. 

I have not posted in quite some time, that’s not to say that I don’t have about 10 drafts started, but I just could not get it together over July and August. I was definitely a little stressed about it but also needed to enjoy what was left of my summer, post Yoga Teacher Training (TT). My last post was written during my last days of TT with a recipe for some kick- a*s fish tacos ( perfect indian summer meal, so if you haven’t made them yet…you should.), the one before was an under eye trouble shooting god send ( buh-bye eye bags ), and before that a recipe for a smoothie that got me through training and continues to get me through, but in each of those posts I made very vague mention of all the wonderful and challenging things I was experiencing in my teacher training with promise to share more later. So here we are and what do I have to say for myself? 

Well, there is really so much to say and probably not what most people would expect. I say that because when I told friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors that I was doing a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training I got a lot of questions and feedback. The friends I hold dearest to me were nothing but supportive but some others offered up words of “wisdom” like,  I hope you don’t turn into a total yogi weirdo..I’ve seen it happen, Are you going to be able to contort your body in crazy positions?, You are going to lose so much weight and be ripped- is that why you are doing this?, So what are you going to do…quit your job and open up a yoga studio???… No Judgements, Right? I went into this experience without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I had so many questions about myself, about yoga, about spirituality, and about where I am in my life.

On the first day of TT we all had to come with a letter we had written to ourselves about why we were there, this caused me some anxiety because I had a feeling it would be “on offer” to share with a group of people I didn’t really know at all, and I did, and It went a little something like this:

Cara, 

I am so thrilled for you and the yoga adventure you are about to embark on. You’ve been searching for greater fulfillment, contentment, a spiritual connection, a tribe, and ultimate happiness for some time now. You deserve to find all of that and more on this journey…. and I am excited to see ALL of that realize for you. You started your yoga practice as a way to balance out all of the other physical exercise you are/were involved in. By practicing yoga you realized it was providing soooo much more than a good stretch. I hope and know that these 200 hours will prove to do the same. Wishing you transformation, a deeper connection to self, the ability to just be, and movement towards the life you are searching for. 

Love, 

Me

I can’t say that I got allllllll of the answers, in fact I think I left with more/different questions than I started with. I’m learning that, I’m learning so much but have soooooo much to learn, especially about myself. But as promised and in the spirit of sharing here are some of the most important things I learned in TT: 

1. Breathe. Seriously, Just Breathe…..it makes yoga and pretty much everything better. 

2. Yogis really have a problem with words like “should/shouldn’t”, “supposed to” and “the right way”….. I am realizing, we all “should” too.

3. Sticking a handstand does not means you’ve reached enlightenment, but that one time when I did for 2 seconds…..it felt pretty damn good. 

4. You can learn more about yourself by staring into someone else’s eyes for 5 minutes than you would imagine. Try it.

5. I am sensitive, and that is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness.

6. It’s good to let yourself cry when you need to, and sometimes that happens in pigeon on your yoga mat….and that’s ok. 

7. Yoga is weird. I am weird. Fitting in some “box” is also weird. And isn’t that great? 

8. Just because you think something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

8b. We are also not all the things that have been told to us. 

9. EVERYONE has their shit. (period) 

10. Saying Hello to a feeling, thought, or memory is important, but don’t forget to say GOODBYE to it. ( *breathing is also really good here.) 

11. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. 

12. It’s okay not to have all the answers. 

13. It is not okay to thank people for letting you “practice on them” *Oh, hey Pauli ;) 

14. Chant. Trust me…..CHANT!

15. Writing letters to yourself is just as therapeutic as writing a letter to someone that you never send. Write one, put it away for a few months and then read it out loud to yourself…….

Which brings me to the letter I wrote myself at the end of TT:

Dear Me, 

I think you were supposed to write this letter to yourself weeks ago, but somehow we missed that. Normally I would be pretty hard on you about messing that up….but I think we are both pretty tired of that. You came into this training looking to find a deeper sense of self, community, a spiritual connection, fulfillment, maybe tone up your arms, and answers to many many questions. Even though you were excited for this experience you doubted that you would actually get what you were looking for…and here we are on the last weekend and it has far exceeded expectations. You are stronger than you think you are, you found a safe and loving tribe, you don’t have ALL the answers, you are still working on that handstand and that is OKAY because you are on the right track. You have a beating heart that is full of love and a throat that’s ready to share and a life ahead of you that is full of possibilities with some new amazing, smart, crazy, weird, intuitive, beautiful, supportive yogi friends. Now do us a favor and give yourself a hug. You aren’t stuck anymore. 

So that my friends is a little insight as to what I learned in my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. I highly recommend it, whether you want to be a teacher or not. Stay tuned for more on what I’m going to “DO’ with all of that and more posts on the things I do and dontCARA about. 

Much love and Namaste B*tches. 

xoxo

Happy Summer, Happy Friday, Happy Tacos!

The past 8 weekends of yoga teacher training have been so full, as in full of information, self-reflection, prana, asanas, and inevitably emotions (speaking purely for myself, lots of them). It’s been an incredible experience and continues to be for all of the above mentioned reasons, and then some. I mention this, again, because well right now it’s very much where my head is at AND also because it’s the inspiration for a meal I prepared this week and want to share.

Two weeks ago after wrapping up a FULL weekend of Yoga Teacher Training one of my teachers and friend, Conor, posted a hilarious meme to our group (oh and by the way my 38 year old a$$ just learned that the cute quote images I post on instagram are called memes’) that said “I wish I was full of tacos instead of emotions”. That had me not only cracking up but, craving some m’er f’ing tacos. Fish Tacos, to be specific.

To say that I have not had a lot of time to cook lately, is kind of an understatement. Grocery shopping has been few and far between, which is a bit of a hinderance for preparing a proper meal. I love to cook, and love to eat so being unable to find the time to do it has had me twitching and SNACKING more than I’d like to admit. 

The other night I decided to leave work a little earlier, this time not to run to a class, or try to see a friend, but to grocery shop and actually prepare an easy, healthy and delicous meal for the husband and I.  I stopped in Chelsea Market on my way home to pick up the makings for a meal FULL of fresh, nutritious, flavorful, and delicious things iCARA for. Given my hankering for fish tacos I decided to make a grain free, carb-less, version with one my favorite antioxidant packed salsas made with blueberries instead of tomatos and the always welcome avocado goodness we call guacamole. 

I want you to trust me when I tell you that blueberry salsa is the BOMB. My friends Danny and Heather introduced me to it 2 summers ago and it has been in my repertoire ever since. The slight sweetness and tartness of the blueberries mixed with garlic, lime, shallots etc. kind does the tango on your tastebuds. Soooooo good. TRUST! Wrap that up in a Collard Green leaf, combined with freshly marinated grilled fish and creamy guac and you’ve got yourself a guilt free fiesta. 

I love a lettuce wrap, whenever applicable, and love a Collard Green wrap even more. Collard Greens are right up with with Kale. Infact, according to my most recent Whole Foods shopping bag “Collards are the NEW Kale” They both provide rich sources of two fat-soluble vitamins, A and K,  boost your intake of water-soluble vitamins and contain a range of B vitamins, including vitamin B-1, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and vitamins B-5 and B-6, which are nutrients that support your metabolism and help maintain healthy skin and hair. Anyway, enough about the Collards. Nothing says summer like a fresh grilled fish taco, so why not celebrate the Solstice this weekend with these? 

Mahi Mahi Tacos with Blueberry Salsa and Collard Green Taco “Shells”

What you need:

for the salsa

1  pint of fresh blueberries halved

1 long red chile, jalapeno, or pablano *can modify and pick a pepper to meet your desired level of heat

1 shallot chopped

1 garlic clove finely chopped 

1/4 cup cilantro chopped ( or more, depending on how you feel about cilantro ) 

Juice one small lime

Salt, Pepper and Adobo to taste. 

*if you want extra for chip dipping, which i highly recommend , just double up on everything. I love this salsa with Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

for the fish

1 pound mahi mahi or another white flaky fish, like orata

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Juice from 1 lime

1/2 tsp. Lime Zest

1 tbsp. Adobo

1tsp. Cumin

1-2 tsp. chipotle chile powder, ancho chili powder or smokey paprika (again depends on how caliente you like things, I used chipotle powder) 

a lil’ Salt to taste. 

1 head of Collard Green stalks/leaves - your Taco Shells

Guacamole, for topping.

What you do:

Preheat grill to medium-high heat, or in my case and anyone else preparing this in an apartment and not on a grill, turn your oven on to Broil. Place fish in a medium size dish. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, lime zest, chipotle powder, adobo, and salt. Pour over the fish and let it marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the fish is marinating, get started on your Blueberry Salsa. In a large bowl combine halved blueberries,chopped shallot, crushed garlic, chopped cilantro, *jalapeno or red chile, lime juice and seasonings. Stir well and set aside, so all the flavors can meld. 

*for the jalapeno or red chile you can moderate the level of spiciness by seeding your pepper. I love things VERY spicy so I actually used 1/2 of a red chile and 1/2 of a jalapeño and did not de-seed either . If I were making this for guests I would probably use 1 small jalapeño and no seeds, for a more mild kick. 

If you plan to make your own guacamole, do that at this time as well. For my chunky guacamole recipe (always a crowd pleaser) click HEREThis go around I opted to buy already prepared guac to save time. 

Clean and Trim the ends of your Collard Greens. Some of the leaves are pretty big so i cut about 3” off the bottom of some. Pat them to dry and set aside until you are ready to stuff them with your grilled fish, blueberry salsa and guac! ( insert mouth watering here ) 

Remove the fish from the marinade place onto a hot grill, flesh side down or into your oven on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. If broiling place the fish about 6” under the broiler flesh side up. If Grilling- Grill the fish for 5 minutes on the first side and then flip for another minute and remove. If broiling- cook under the broiler for about 10 minutes. Turning the pan every couple of minutes to evenly distribute the “char”. Then, for either grilling or broiling, remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. 

Now take your Collard Leave and stuff with all that good stuff. I flaked off ( crosswise) 3/4” strips of the mahi mahi, about 2 tablespoons of the salsa and guac per taco. But do you, go nuts, and stuff yourself with tacos AND emotions! 

Happy Summer! 

xoxo

Fridge to Face

OMG it feels like it has been foooooooooooooorever since I have been about my tumblr game, and that’s probably because it HAS. With good reason though. Yoga Teacher Training has been consuming a substantial amount of my time along with work, practicing, working out, marriage, un petit peu of socializing, and sleep…..which I haven’t been getting much of either. It’s all good, I’m not complaining because I am truly, happily, intensely, joyfully, open heartedly, and gratefully immersed in my training and will soon have so many things to say and share about this incredible experience. In the meantime, I have few less enlightening but noteworthy things to say about a little all natural, paraben free, plant based beauty product I’ve been using to help fake my lack of sleep and (fingers crossed) is shaving a few years off my “old” peepers at the same time. 

Up until this past year dark circles, puffy, “troughy” eyes wouldn’t have been on my list of problem areas. Buuuuuuut as the gap between me and the big 4-0 tightens my list grows (sigh), which ,I like, donotCARA for, at all. I mean, I get it. It happens and makes sense because age, stress, lack of sleet and a variety of other factors eventually all take a toll on one’s (mine) appearance over time and it’s most obvious around the eyes, specifically underneath the eyes. Oy! So I started testing a few different eye products with promise of correcting those issues and found something that’s working, I love, and want to share with all y’all.

Let me introduce you to my new “friend” and quicker picker upper, Frownies Anti-aging treatment Eye Gel patches. These little miracle workers are made of natural ingredients and powerful anti-oxidants that help protect your skin, fight free radical damage, promote beauty, reduce puffiness, and help improve the appearance of the skin around les yeux.

Wanna know what they are made of and what that means? Here’s the list of ingredients and their benefits:

  • Cactus collagen is thought to boost the collagen and promote skin elasticity.
  • Bear berry extract (Arbutin), is used to brighten skin.
  • Vitamin C, helps build collagen.
  • Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant to reduce oxidation damage on the skin.
  • Hyaluronic acid, Recognized as the most effective moisturizer ever discovered. Hyaluronic acid is such an excellent water reservoir, and ideal lubricant, that in skin care products it helps lead to a perceptible, and visible improvement, in skin condition ..
  • Glycerin, is a natural humectant.
  • Aloe vera, is absorbed into the skin and stimulates the fibroblasts to replicate themselves faster and it is these cells that produce the collagen and elastin fibers, so the skin becomes more elastic and less wrinkled.
  • Vitamin B3 niacin, increases circulation.
  • L-Lactic acid, brightens skin.
  • Dimethicone, natural preservative.
  • Xantham Gum. thickening agent, natural and mild on the skin.

Wanna know how to use ‘em?

Use your first set of Eye Gels three nights in a row, then use them once a week for best results. 

  • Remove the eye patch tray from the foil packet. 
  • Apply one patch to one under eye area adjusting it to cover the corner and under the eye. 
  • Then apply the patch to the other eye area.
  • Once on the skin gently smooth out all the lines under the patch with the pad of your finger over top of the patch, so all areas of the skin are affected by the active ingredients. 
  • Leave on for 30 minutes. 

* I often do my eye gel treatment just after the shower so they can sit while I’m gathering my things to start the day and I also love a little treatment just before a night out on the town….just before I put on my makeup. 

OH, and the eye gels are reusable, if you do the following:

Gently remove the patches and place back in the eye patch tray. Re-wet the patch in the tray with FROWNIES Rose Water Toner Hydrator to extend the life of the patch, place it in a sealed plastic bag and put in the refrigerator to use again. 

I keep the rosewater, new and used eyegels in the fridge at all times. Feels so amazing when they are cold on your face. 

*The patches start to dry and become brittle after some use, because the ingredients ARE the patch, they are being applied to the skin. Re-wet the patches with the Rose Water Hydrator between applications to keep it active for as many uses as you can before it dissolves.

I’d like to think they are working, because they are somewhat new to my routine and just the other day I told a new friend my age, to which they responded “What?,How are you 38? Are you a witch?” ( thank you Conor, legit the best compliment I have ever received and have been smiling about it since #yogajokes.) The yogi in me knows I shouldn’t be so concerned with getting older, because it literally is a blessing to be alive and healthy, and each aging year just means I get to continue to live my life. BUUUUUUUUUT I care, I guess I’m a little vain, and in this life I’d like to hold off the wrinkles taking up real estate my face and puffiness around my sleepy eyes for as long as I can. If you feel the same way, check out Frownies because they will make you smile :)

How to buy them:

FROWNIES Eye Gels : $29.95  frownies.com

FROWNIES Rosewater Hydrating Spray $10.97 drugstore.com

And if you like my Robe, which my fabulous friend Pippa gave me for Christmas, you can find that here:  Fleur Du Mal

 

Stress Free Smoothie

  

Back in February I made the decision to sign up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program, that started this past weekend. I have sooo much to say about deciding to embark on this journey and I am sure I will have lots to share and post over the course of the next 10 weeks, as I can already tell this is going to be a transformative experience, buuuuuuut for today I thought I’d share a little bit about the time leading up to day 1, which took physical form by way of a new smoothie recipe. 

Pretty much since I committed to this 200 hour adventure, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy thinking and worrying about…what to worry about.  

How am I going to manage my entire weekend schedule for the next 10 weekends? Will I be able to dedicate myself to yoga? Can I still take that Saturday AM Vinyasa class I have been loving so much, is that too much yoga? Is there such a thing as too much yoga? Am I going to “freak out” having to decline many social gatherings? How on earth will I read all those books? Learn the sutras? Understand sanskrit? Figure out how to meditate? Hold a hand stand?  And so on, and so on……and in addition to all of that I somehow found the space to think a LOT about what the heck I was going to EAT during this journey? As if yoga training meant there would suddenly be a shortage of food.(?) What’s even sillier about my “stressing” over how and what I was going to eat is the fact that the studio I am training in is not only in my hood, just up the street from many restaurants I go to, a couple health food stores and some juice bars I frequent, it’s also like a 15 minute walk to my apartment. So really there was/is NOTHING to worry about, but such is life in my head. 

The good news is I figured out the food thing, which is the actual point of this post, the TBD news is, I haven’t quite figured out all the rest….but have faith that it will all work out juuuuuuuuust fine. ohmmmmmmm.

So back to my training sustenance…….

About a year ago a great little juice bar/coffee shop opened up on Smith Street and just happens to be one of the few aforementioned places that is on my way to and from both of the yoga studios I practice at, as well as my yoga teacher training studio. I have recently come to frequent Farsk juice with my husband after our Saturday Morning Vinyasa together at Prema with Amanda, as well post Hot Vinyasa with my friend Laura at Prana. Most recently both Scott and Laura ordered a smoothie there I believe they call the Almond Dream. It’s delicious, yummy, healthy and filling without being too filling. It’s pretty much the perfect “meal” for me to put in my tummy before a day of learning and training. 

I believe the ingredients they use are something along the lines of banana, almonds, dates, almond milk and protein powder. I personally am always reluctant to order any smoothies or shake that contains protein powder, for a few reasons: 1) a lot of them have a distinct chalky taste and when too much is added I find it very overpowering. 2) depending on the place I question what kind of protein powder they are using 3) I worry about how many added calories, sugar and fat the supplement contains. All that being said, when I tasted this particular smoothie it was love at first sip. That lead me to do some research for an all natural protein supplement, with so sugar added, that made sense to me, so I could prepare a smoothie iCARA about, at home that is reminiscent of the Almond Dream from Farsk. 

What I settled on and have been enjoying is Garden of Life’s certified organic, RAW, vegan protein powder. It contains 13 RAW and organic sprouts, is an excellent source of complete protein, providing 17 grams, or 33% of the Daily Value, plus all essential amino acids. RAW Protein is dairy free, gluten free, contains high quality plant-based protein plus live probiotics and enzymes, fat-soluble vitamins and nutrient Code Factors™ such as Beta-glucans, SOD, glutathione and CoQ10. Perfect for overall health, vitality, digestive health and function. 

RAW Protein can be used to increase the protein content of meals  by simply adding it to food or in my case, smoothies. It mixes instantly and has a neutral taste ( although I buy the Vanilla flavor ), making it the perfect foundation for a refreshing, high protein energy shake or smoothie. This powder is suitable for almost anyone, including those on vegetarian or vegan diets, low carbohydrate diets or for those with gastrointestinal sensitivities to milk, whey or other protein sources.

Upon purchasing my RAW protein powder, which is readily available at many health food stores or in the groovy section of your supermarket,  I got to work creating a shedontCARA version of the smoothie Farsk, Scott and Laura turned me on to. 

Chocolate Banana Almond Dream

What you need: 

( this recipe is good for 2 medium sized smoothies) 

1 Ripe Banana fresh or frozen 

1 small handful of raw almonds (about 1/4 cup) 

1/2 scoop of Vanilla Raw Protein Powder (comes with a scooper) 

1.5 teaspoons Raw Cacao Nibs

1 tablespoon Raw Cacao Powder

1-2 pitted dates (depending on how sweet you like things) 

1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond/Coconut Milk (or any milk of your choice) 

a couple of handfuls of baby spinach *my husband opts out of the greens so it is totally optional but I love any opportunity for some fresh green roughage in my diet. 

a few ice cubes

What you do:

This part is easy. You literally just put all of the above mentioned ingredients in your vitamix or blender and blend on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, and serve. Because I am often making these for a grap and go situation I pour it into one of my many sippy cups and off I go. 

A couple things to note:

The banana- If I am making this for myself I will use half of a banana and put the other half in a ziploc bag in the freezer to use for the next time. As far as the rest of the ingredients, I just use a little less of everything when making it for 1. Oh and I actually prefer when the banana is frozen, so when I have a bunch of ripe bananas in the fruit basket I peel, halve and freeze them to prep for my smoothies. 

Another note- none of the measurements listed are exact and can be catered to your liking. For example I like mine very chocolatey which is why I added the cocao nibs but not too sweet, so i use one small date. If you are the opposite you can leave out the extra cacao and add a second date. Just play around with the ingredients to find a version that youCARA about. 

I will warn you- if you add the spinach, which you do not taste at all, it ain’t a pretty color but it is delicious and nutritious. 

Enjoy your stress free smoothie today! 

Spring just got Sprung…..

There is really nothing better than Spring in NYC and, with the exception of some friggin’ snow the other night, I think it has finally sprung! People are eating and drinking outdoors, albeit with a little help from some heat lamps, we are all unarchiving our pastels and brightly colored clothes, and generally speaking everyone seems to have a little pep in their step. How can you not when the magnolias are in full bloom, cherry blossoms are just getting started, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are showing their pretty faces and finally, finally, finally new life and vegetation is starting to pop up at the farm stands and grocery stores.

I’m sure you are all probably starting to notice a more bountiful selection of asparagus, radishes, spring onions, and PEAS taking up shop in the produce section. Spring Peas are one of my favorite vegetables and I love stumbling upon and/or coming up with new and unexpected ways to enjoy them. Peas are an excellent source of Vitamin A, K, and C, as well as fiber, thiamin and folate. So not only do I love the taste and texture of fresh cooked peas but they are also a great nutritious addition to salads, as a side or even just a stand alone snack. 

A couple of weekends ago my husband Scott and my other husband/best friend Brendan had brunch at ABC Cocina. It was our first time dining there and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. We started with some briny yummy oysters, a fluke crudo with a tangy insanely good green chili dressing ( still working on replicating that one) and a phenomenal fresh guacamole with um, you probably guessed it.……fresh spring peas! What’s funny and what I adore is that almost simultaneously, after taking their first bites, both Scott and Brendan said “Cara, you have to figure out how to make this”. I seriously love that. Of course, before I even tasted it I had every intention of doing just that. 

I love guacamole and prepare it pretty regularly in the spring and summer. It’s kind of a staple in this house, so I love a new twist on an old favorite. Aside from just really enjoying peas, I love adding them to the guacamole as a way to reduce some of the fat. Peas have high water content and are low in calories so while avocados are full of good fats, in fact theavocado is virtually the only fruit that has good monounsaturated fat, it’s nice to crowd some of it out with peas….please. I mean, who doesn’tCARA for a less fat, more flavor situation? 

So here is my recipe, which is a slightly adapted version of ABC Cocinas’, for guacamole with fresh spring peas, cilantro, mint, spring onions and more.

Spring Pea Guacamole

Here’s what you need:

1 cup shelled sweet peas 

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 medium jalapeño

2 ripe avocados

3 scallions/ or spring onions *white parts mostly, thinly sliced crosswise

juice from 2 fresh limes

sea salt to taste

*fresh pea shoots ( totally optional )

What you do:

Fill a large bowl with ice and water. In a medium saucepan of boiling water, add the peas and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes.  Strain the peas and plunge the strainer into the ice water to stop the peas from continuing to cook. Once the peas are cool, transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. 

Place a skillet over medium-high heat, add the pumpkin seeds and toast until fragrant and golden-brown, about 1 minute. Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a medium plate. Now place the whole jalapeño to the same hot skillet. Cook, using tongs to turn it often, until the jalapeño is charred on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the jalapeño to a small bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes ( to help steam the skin off of the pepper). Now peel the charred skin from the jalapeño, remove the stem, halve it lengthwise and remove the seeds with the tip of a paring knife. ( I leave about half of the seeds in mine because we like things a little caliente’ at shedontCARA HQ) 

Now add all but 2 tablespoons (set them aside) of the cooled peas, cilantro, mint, garlic clove, the charred jalapeño and about ½ teaspoon of kosher salt to a food processor or blender. Pulse the mixture until it is coarsely chopped, about 20 one-second pulses. Transfer the pea mixture to a medium bowl.

To the bowl of blended pea mixture, add the peeled and pitted avocados, spring onions, lime juice and about 1 teaspoon salt. Mash everything together with a fork. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds, the remaining peas, and a little extra chopped cilantro and the pinch of sea salt.

I like to eat and serve this fresh and healthy goodness a couple of ways. You can always keep it simple and a little more traditional with some the tortilla chips. I also love it on a pieces of toasted hearty multigrain bread, topped with some fresh pea shoots for added sweet greens.

If you want to keep this on the carb low, serve with fresh cut vegetables like green bell pepper, cucumbers, and my new favorite spring seasonal fresh veggie watermelon radishes. Not only are they delicately delicious, low in calories, and high in nutrition but they are also so sooooo pretty…especially when you put that beautiful bright green pea and avocado mixture on them. 

Happy Easter, Passover and SPRING! 

xoxo






 

Less of everything Pizza.

As much as I try to cut dairy from my day to day diet there are a few things that will prevent me from ever being 100% dairy free. For one there is Salvatore BKLYN Smoked Ricotta (or as my husband likes to call it “Italian Toothpaste”), Burrata, and Pizza. I seriously love me some Pizza, I realize that’s not really original because like really, who doesn’t? 

Growing up there were Domino’s delivery nights and Pizza Hut Pan Pizza parties. In college it was all about some late night Napolis “Naps” and when I moved to the city I really hit the mother load with so many incredible pizzerias to choose from. Arturo’s, Serefina’s, Lombardis, Pizza 33, Patsy’s, Two Boots, and many more. But it wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn that I found what I consider to be hands down the best pizza I have ever eaten. I guess I consider myself to be a bit of a pizza connoisseur, so believe me when I say that Lucali’s in Carroll Gardens is the end all be all. If you have not been there, go! Wether you live in NYC or are visiting make it you business to check it out.

In all honesty, I actually have a bit of a Lucali’s problem, as in I have to restrict myself from going there regularly because every time I do it’s like a pant size situation….as in I go up one after my meal. It is just so damn good……. The crust is light and thin, there’s not too much sauce, cheese or toppings, and it’s perfectly charred in all the right places. It also doesn’t hurt that Beyonce and Jay Z make an occasional appearance, it’s kind of perfectly dimly lit, B.Y.O.B., staffed with girl’s from “the neighborhood”, and the owner is almost always in the back kneading dough, shaving fresh mozz and slinging pies.

Because I have a Lucali’s “problem”, iCARA about maintaining a certain pant size and my husband requests to go to Lucali’s most Sundays…. I had to figure out a way to prepare and enjoy a contained, controlled, individually portioned, healthier version of something resembling pizza in my home. If you have been following my posts or know anything about me then you know this is my deal. I enjoy food and I take great pleasure in coming up with recipes that taste as good as sinful foods I LOVE but with less fat, calories or guilt. 

Probably about once a month and usually on a Sunday, I make a batch of MY Marinara and prepare some pasta and greens for Scott and I to enjoy it with that night. I always make enough to have a decent amount remaining in the fridge to use towards other Italian treats later in the week(s). In fact, when I posted my recipe for My Marinara last February (which is super low in oil, has no sugar, flavored with white wine, garlic and fresh basil. fresh-clean-yummy) I promised more recipes to come that use this drinkable tomato goodness. So that’s exactly what I am doing today. 

This is definitely a go to recipe of mine that is very easy to make, always a crowd pleaser, great for kids and the perfect fix for a pizza craving. I use Brooklyn made Damascus Bakery Roll-Ups as a low carb dough/crust base for individual pizzas. 1 Roll-Up has only 15g of carbs, 110 calories, 9g or dietary fiber and just 3g of fat. I always use my freshly made marinara, fresh mozzarella, sometimes buffalo, freshly grated parmesan and top with crushed red pepper and fresh basil. Just talking about it is putting a smile on my face aaaaaand making my mouth water. I have a feeling making and eating these will have the same affect on you!

Individual Flax Seed Flat Bread Margarita Pizzas

What you need:

1 Flax roll up per person ( or any low carb flat bread, wrap situation) 

Spray Olive Oil or Sunflower Oil

1/4 cup My Marinara per flatbread ( approximately) 

1 ball of fresh Mozzerella ( approximately1/4 of it per flatbread/pizza ) 

Block of fresh Parmesan 

Fresh Basil 

Red Pepper Flake (optional) 

What you do:

Preheat oven to 375. Then line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with Oil and place a Flax Roll-Up on to it. Then lightly spray the side of the Roll-Up that is facing up. ( this helps to crisp up the crust while it’s baking ) Now spread a small amount of marinara sauce on the Roll-Up ( about 1/4 cup). I make my sauce kind of chunky so it’s really about spreading out the tomato chunks and smearing the saucier stuff in between. Then I cut thin slices (about 1/4 of the ball) of fresh mozz and kind of pull them apart and crumble it around. I don’t use too much because I want to keep it as light as possible, but do you and put your desired amount on. Last but not least, take a block of fresh aged parmesan cheese and grate it right on top of everything ( again approximately 1/4 cup), sort of filling in the mozzarella blanks. 

Pop it in the oven ( I usually just do 2 at a time) and let the pizzas bake for about 15 minutes or until the Roll-Up edges are browned, crispy and the cheese melted and also slightly golden. Remove from the oven and top with some fresh basil leaves and a little red pepper flake if you like a little kick. 

The only problem with these pizzas is that Beyonce and Jay don’t show up when you make them….for that you have to stick with Lucali’s. 

GAP Body your body.

When I moved to NYC from Allentown, PA almost 15 years ago I came with wide eyes, naivety, a low paying job and a closet full of clothing primarily from The GAP. There are a few reasons for this:
  • I worked at the GAP during winter and summer breaks all through college at The Lehigh Valley Mall and got a nice discount  
  • There weren’t many other shopping options at The Lehigh Valley Mall at that time.
  • To me, it was the sh*t ,and it was what I could afford. ( remember the low paying job) 
I remember that time so clearly. I knew nothing, had no idea what was in store for me and my first “goal” was to be able to afford to shop at Banana Republic for work clothes. Obviously, living in NYC has broadened my fashion awareness, exposed me to many different high end designers and has broken my bank as a result. But to this day….I still and probably always will remain very loyal to The GAP and continue to shop there frequently. 
I love an essential long-sleeve crew t, their classic 1969 denim shirt, only sleep in their super comfy cotton roll up pajama pants, have almost EVERY color of the favorite wireless bra ( ladies if you don’t own one, you should ) and over the past couple years I have grown to love and purchase many of their GAP Fit pieces….and is what this post is about. 
Anyone who knows me knows that iCARA, probably too much, about what I wear. If I see something I like I hunt it down until I find it at the best price possible. I am all about high and low shopping/dressing and pride myself on finding a good deal. I do this with pretty much everything I purchase and wear. From designer shoes, to underwear, outerwear, handbags and my fitness fashion. Because I work out so frequently I am all about a good deal on workout clothing. If it’s cute, functional and good quality I don’t care who makes it….I’m sold. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love lulu lemon as much as the next girl but it’s really not always necessary to spend $90.00 for a pair of yoga pants. Also, their items are infrequently on sale and when they are….they are final sale. So no changing your mind, which is something I also do frequently. 
Because of the quality, selection, price and MANY a discount code I now have many pieces of GAP fit in my fitness wardrobe and thought I would share two of my favorite items with you, as I feel they are must haves. 
Now that spring is here, or supposed to be anyway, this is my favorite shirt to run in. I have it in about 5 different colors. Made of 53% Nylon, 42% Polyester, and 13% Spandex. It gives the perfect balance of warmth and wicking, which pulls moisture away from skin to keep you dry. There are also strategically placed ergonomic mesh panels that ventilate sweat-prone areas and visually map a slimmer waistline. Perfect for just about any workout, especially running outdoors with it’s long sleeves and thumb openings. 
GapFit gFast leggings  $29.99- $59.99
I have lots of different running leggings in various levels of insulation and thickness. I love these for spring and fall temperatures. They are lightweight, comfortable, supportive and flattering. Made of 77% Nylon and 23% Spandex, creating a breathable high-performance fabric that keeps you comfortable during your workout. They too maintain dryness by pulling moisture away from your skin and are designed for your most rigorous workouts, including spinning and TRX. They have reflective stripes at leg, mesh ventilation in back and a hidden zip pocket so you a have place for your ipod or credit card, which is why I love them for running. 
So if youCARA about a good deal and want to look cute while you work on your physique, check out GAP fit. In fact, I just got an email from gap.com this morning letting me know about their current promotion. Enter the code FLASH and get 30% off your GAP fit purchases ( or any other full price item) today and tomorrow. Get it! 

You down with AOP, yeah you know me.

I am often asked if I’m a vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, semi lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pescatarian …… and the answer is I’m none of the above. I’m more of like an, AOP-etarian. As in “ALL OVER The PLACE” because I do not strictly follow any one diet. I’ll dabble with different recipes from specific diets but really I just try to eat as healthy and cleanly as I can whenever I can and allow myself to give in to a craving or two and indulge when needed.

It’s been quite some time since I have gone into complete reckless abandon but the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth is, lately there have been a lot more indulgences than not. This brutal winter season I have had an insatiable sweet tooth that has gotten a lot attention. Good for the sugar monster in me but bad bad bad for ME, my mind and body. I mean really, refined sugar is the last thing mine or anyones body needs. It has no nutritional value, can cause heart damage, it promotes belly fat, it’s been linked to cancer production, and I personally feel that it gives me a little brain fog. So theres that. The good news is that I have found an all natural way to satiate my sweet tooth that iCARA about without any refined sugar, dairy, flour, eggs or baking. ( how much do we love that?) 

My friend Alexia started off the year with a detox diet combo situation. No sugar, no alcohol and a strict grain free paleo diet. I love and fully support a cleanse as a jump start to better eating and feeling better. If you feel like your body needs it you should do it. I personally have yet to do one this year and Alexia’s sounded reeeeeeal good to me and my sweet tooth, um, from afar. Alexia is very good about passing along any tid bits of information she knows I would enjoy, which I love. If anyone knows my aesthetic and tastes it’s my guuuuurl Alexia. So while cleansing she shared an errr-maaa-gerrrd it’s so good paleo dessert recipe she had been enjoying and told me I HAD to try it. 

Full disclosure- when she first told me about this sweetened only by dates “dessert”, I thought….ok that sounds good but like not amazeballs. I just figured she hadn’t eaten a carb, ounce of sugar or cheese in 30 days so she was coo-koo for cocoa puffs. Well I was wrong, and this recipe for raw superfood cacao “cookie dough” balls was/is the perfect solution for my sweet cravings. You don’t have to be a paleotarian(?) to enjoy it, it’s perfect for AOP-etarians and it’s actually just unbelievably good…..so that’s why I’m sharing it here. 

Check it out……

(there are many versions of this recipe out there but I liked this one the best and added a little cacao nib to it for a little shedontCARA twist) 

What you need:
1 1/2 cups walnuts
Pinch of salt
1 cup pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( optional ) 
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs - they add a nice little crunch to the bites.
*optional raw unsweetened coconut flake ( about 1 cup )
What you do:
Add walnuts and salt to a blender or food processor. Mix until the walnuts are finely ground.
Add the dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder to the blender. Mix well until everything is combined. With the blender still running, add a couple drops of water at a time to make the mixture stick together.
Using a spatula, transfer the mixture into a bowl and fold in cocao nibs. Using your hands, form small round balls, rolling in your palm. If you want coconut covered versions. Place raw unsweetened coconut flakes in a bowl and drop the cookie balls in, roll around to coat.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. 
Try these! They are beyond delish and will trick the cookie monster in you, for realz! 

Cooking for Mr. T

There’s not a whole lot I can say about my friend Brendan that I haven’t said already. Well, except that I am very proud of him and his new job as the Vice President of Luxury for the famed New York Times and The Publisher of T Magazine.  VERY proud of my successful fancy friendIn fact a couple of Sundays ago Scott and I went over to his beautiful apartment to celebrate his first issue of T Style as The Publisher, by enjoying a healthy home cooked meal prepared by yours truly, in style.

Since the fall, once a month, usually on a Sunday night Brendan and I meet at Whole Foods and shop for that nights @shedontcara cooking lesson. So far, Mr. T (a.k.a. @tstylebrando ) and I have mastered the spicy kale chip and Pasta a’la Brando but this visit was all about cooking for Brendan and introducing him to a meal I knew he would enjoy and possibly not believe was healthy, which is exactly what happened.  This just so happens to be one of my favorite things to do. I absolutely love cooking yummy dishes, serving them and seeing the shock and delight on everyone’s face when I tell them what it’s made with, how good it is for them and how simple it was to prepare. It’s kind of like the same joy I get when someone compliments me on something I’m wearing and it’s from Forever 21 or I’ve like gotten it for 70% off plus an additional 20% off with some promotional code or something. 

Back to the meal. Brendan requested Salmon and asked if I could come up with some sort of a mustard sauce and a green veggie. Ask and ye shall receive. I saw his request and raised him one. I know how much my friend loves his cauliflower, so I added a little surprise side dish of it to our meal, that I knew he would really CARAabout. If you’ve been following my posts you may have seen a couple of my salmon recipes on here and already know that I am very particular about the way I like it. Salmon is so good for you but for years I struggled getting it into my diet because I just did not think I liked it, and really it was about the way it was prepared….not the fish itself. So I decided to serve a simple variation on my go to theme for our celebratory “family” meal. 

Here is the menu and what to do’s for a delicious, healthy, well balanced meal. 

Mashed Cauliflower with Caramelized Leeks

Cauliflower is a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, which are both powerful antioxidants. Eating cauliflower regularly will help protect you from free radical damage and reduce your risk for diseases caused by oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Cauliflower also contains high amounts of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation. 

what you need:

Spray Olive Oil or Safflower Oil 

2 shallots

3 garlic cloves

1 head of cauliflower

1 32oz. carton chicken stock ( veggie stock if you want to keep it vegetarian) 

2 large leeks -Choose leeks that are about an inch thick, and have a long white to pale green shaft. The pale parts are the most useable.

1 tablespoon Ghee

Salt and Pepper

What to do:

Rinse leeks under water to remove visible dirt or sand. Cut off the roots and slice the leeks lengthwise. You want to use all of the white parts and I like to use about an inch or so of the green parts. (green is tougher and can be stronger tasting, but softens with long cooking) Discard the last couple of inches of the dark green ends. Now slice crosswise along the leek making thin strips. Place the chopped leeks into a bowl and fill with cold water. Use your hands to agitate the leeks and dislodge any dirt or sand that may be clinging to them. Strain and set aside. 

Roughly chop shallots, garlic and cauliflower.  Place a large pot on medium/high heat and  spray with olive oil, just enough to coat it. Add shallots and garlic to the pan and until lightly brown. Then add cauliflower and sauté for 2 more minutes then add carton of chicken stock. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover until the cauliflower is tender and mash-able. ( about 15-20 minutes) 

While the cauliflower is boiling and simmering place a medium pan over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add leeks and cook until browned, softened and caramelized. This should take about 15-20 minutes. (same time as the cauliflower will take to soften) 

Once cauliflower is soft and leeks are caramelized pour cauliflower mixture into a food processor until its all blended and creamy. Then add in the caramelized leeks and pulse a few times to blend. 

Salmon with Herbed Dijon Sauce

Salmon’s main health benefit is that it is an excellent good fat or Omega-3 fatty acids. Those Omega-3 fatty acids help your brain work better and improve your memory. In conjunction with Vitamins A and D, amino acids and selenium those acids also protect your nervous system from the deteriorating effects of aging. This makes salmon work as a natural anti depressant. Oh and another thing, eating salmon helps to speeding up your metabolism, which is a health benefit we can alllllllCARA about. 

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 salmon fillets, about 4-6 ounces each
  • olive oil
  • Sea salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper

What to do:

Stir together mustard, olive oil, lemon, scallion, parsley, and thyme. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450. Massage olive oil into all sides of your salmon filets. (about 1 tablespoon each) then season with salt and pepper. Place an oven safe pan on the stove over high heat, until the pan is hot then put your salmon filets in the pan flesh side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the flesh side is nice and crispy. Flip filets over, skin side down and place pan in the oven for another 4-5 minutes. ( i like my salmon on the more well done side, so if you like your a bit more rare….less time in the oven.) 

Remove pan from oven ( WITH A THICK OVEN MIT), plate and top with mustard sauce. 

Sautéed Broccolini with garlic, chile and lemon

Broccolini is a great “diet” food. Meaning it is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. It also contains high levels of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, Vitamin C and K. Making it a nutrient rich and low calorie friend to your plate. 

What you need:

2- 3 Small heads of broccolini 

2 tablespoons chili oil

3 garlic cloves

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon anchovy paste ( trust me this makes all the difference, and is in place of adding salt to this side)  

* additional red chile flake to your desired liking.

What to do:

First blanche the broccolini. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the broccolini into the pot of boiling water and allow it to boil for three minutes. Pour the broccoli and hot water into a strainer and then put directly under running cold water to stop the brocollini from continuing to cook. Set aside. 

Heat chili oil in a medium to large pan over high heat and add chopped garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned then add anchovy paste stirring around the pan to mix in with the garlic and chili oil. Now add blanched brocollini and sauté for a couple of minutes tossing to coat the greens with the pan mixture. Now squeeze half of a lemon on to everything, toss it around and add any additional chili flake if you want to boost up the heat. 

Bon App- e- 

Just RADICAL

I don’t know about y’all but when I run into a department store for ONE thing it never quite goes according to plan, especially when it involves going anywhere near the cosmetics department. I recently popped in to Barneys to replenish my concealer and that was my only objective…..buy concealor. Do not take a peek at the 3rd floor. Do not check sale racks. Concealor. concealor. concealor..…. Somehow, on this particular trip I managed to stay somewhat focused, as in I remained on the beauty floor. I was doing well until just before my veeeeeery helpful friend at the Armani counter applied the concealer to make sure if was the right color said “do you have a few minutes???? your skin is very dry,  let me just put this oxygen mask on first…..it will change your life”. For THAT of course, I had a few minutes. (who reuses such an offer?) He applied the mask AND ya know what, it like kind of changed my life, for realsies.

I’ve used masks similar to this “life changing one” and have actually written about it on here but I have to say the Radical Skincare mask my friend at Barneys showed me is pretty friggin’ amazing. Without fail each time I use it I am complimented on how my skin looks and it is the gateway product that got me hooked on just about all of the lines products. That is a pretty solid endorsement, if I don’t say so myself, because there are few products/brands I am completely loyal to. I love trying different things and experimenting but I am loving this line so much and want to tell you all about the mask and everything else I am using at the moment.

First thing to know is that Radical Skincare is the most powerful skincare available that’s paraben free, which is what iCARA most about. The line was developed by sisters Liz and Rachel Edlich, daughters of renowned surgeon Dr. Richard Edlich. They created the best of the best in antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients using Trylacel™ TechnologyIt’sRadicals proprietary breakthrough technology which keeps it potent and powerful to deliver results. It enables the maximum concentration of actives for maximum delivery to the skin, and works for all skin types. According to Radical it outperforms leading brands in antioxidant potency* in turn providing the best defense against free radicals and has been clinically tested and has been proven to be effective at improving the appearance of aging skin. ( can i get an AMEN?) 

So now that you get the gist of why this stuff is so good. Here are the products I am currently working with and luuuurving:

Hydrating Cleanser

A 3-in-1 facial cleanser that cleanses, tones and hydrates. Radical Skincare Hydrating Cleanser is a creamy formula that effectively removes all traces of dirt, oil, impurities and makeup for cleaner skin. Almond milk washes away impurities without stripping it of its natural oils. Allantoin provides anti-inflammatory benefits to soothe irritation and prevent dryness. Sunflower oil conditions and helps prevent premature signs of aging.

Notable Ingredients: Sunflower Oil, Vitamin A, Wheat Protein, Vitamin E,Green Tea, Antioxidant, Vitamin C, and Grape Seed Extract.

Peptide Infused Antioxidant Serum

An anti-aging serum that moisturizes and renews mature skin, which is almost more important for your face than the moisturizer. This peptide infused antioxidant serum reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dryness and sagginess, helping your skin to look younger and firmer. Sodium hyaluronate binds water to your skin for a plump, full look. Tripeptides encourage skin renewal and strengthen collagen for diminished wrinkles. Caffeine stimulates circulation for a tighter complexion. Aloe soothes irritation and calms redness.

Notable Ingredients: Peptides, Aloe Vera, Wheat Protein, Jojoba, Olive Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Dimethicone, Green Tea, Antioxidant, Vitamin C, and Grape Seed Extract.

Instant Revitalizing Mask ( the gateway product) 

This revitalizing mask boosts radiance and smoothes texture to promote a youthful, healthy complexion. Formulated with TRYLACEL Technology, it enriches your skin with vital antioxidants to combat and repair visible signs of aging. Sodium PCA replenishes and locks in moisture to deliver soft, supple skin and a glowing look. Apply twice a week on cleansed dry skin. Let mask activate and dissolve after several minutes, rinse face and follow with Peptide Infused Antioxidant Serum and Anti-Aging Restorative Moisture. 

*Shake to Activate the oxygen bubbles to carry these anti aging nutrients to energize your skin.Then pump to release the Radical goodness and enjoy !

Notable Ingredients: Grape Seed Extract, Mica, Panthenol, Vitamin A,Vitamin E, Ginseng, Titanium Dioxide, Salicylic Acid, Antioxidant, and Vitamin C.

Age Defying Exfoliating Pads

These AHA and BHA-multifruit acid based pads, exfoliate, promote cell turnover, and accelerate Radical Skincare products performance.They reduce coarse crow’s feet by 50% in 2 weeks, remove dull, dead skin to promote cell turnover and absorb anti-aging ingredients to accelerate product results.As well as reduce pore size and even skin tone while significantly improving skin firmness, texture and elasticity

I apply one pre-moistened, single- use pad over face, neck and décolleté after cleansing with Hydrating Cleanser at night. They say for maximum anti-aging results, follow with Peptide Infused Serum, Anti-Aging Restorative Moisture, Eye Revive Crème And Firming Neck And Décolleté Gel. ( still need to test out the eye creme and neck gel) 

Notable Ingredients: Malus Domestica, Osilift, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, and Witch Hazel.

last but certainly not least…..

Anti-Aging Restorative Moisture

This anti-aging restorative moisturizer is a multi-use treatment that alleviates dry skin and combats dark spots for a brighter complexion. Uniprosyn acts as a shield for your skin to prevent moisture loss and environmental damage. Olive oil is a potent antioxidant that fights free-radical damage to skin cells. Green tea extract has a strong anti-inflammatory effect that helps soothe sensitive skin conditions, including redness, eczema and acne.

Notable Ingredients: Jojoba, Aloe Vera, Olive Oil, Peptides, Wheat Protein, Hyaluronic Acid, Grape Seed Extract, Vitamin C,Antioxidant, Green Tea, Dimethicone, Resveratrol, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A.

Just about all of the products I mentioned are available on dermstore.com. And right now they have a promotional code for 20% off all purchases. Just use the code SAVENOW at checkout. So if you didntCARA before, you should now! 

Also available at Radicalskincare.com, Barneys, and Sephora.