shedontcara

LifeStyler, Producer, Creative Cook, Health Nut, Jewelry Designer, Spinner, Yogi and Certified Wellness Coach. Take a look at things I create, cook, eat, style and do or dontCARA about.

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. 

This Sh*t is bananas, I mean coconuts!

I have never been much of a breakfast person. I’m not saying I’m not hungry in the morning it’s just that the usual suspects for a morning meal are not generally things I want or I don’t want to have them in the house. 

For example, I love cereal but that’s the problem with cereal. I could, and do, eat that crack for breakfast, lunch and dinner if it’s in the house….which is why I try not to have it in my pantry regularly. I rarely make eggs during the week, much prefer having them when eating breakfast out and I love a pancake as much as the next gal but I’m also not whipping them up before the gym and work…for many reasons.

When I don’t have time to, literally, whip up a smoothie (even though a smoothie/vitamix moment brings me so much joy) my “breakfast” winds up being a handful of whatever crackers I have in the cabinet, a bar of some sort or piece of fruit and a Kamboocha. Or the latter of picking at whatever leftovers I have from dinner the night before, real talk people. Either way the truth is that’s not very satisfying, certainly isn’t well balanced and “works” only when I’m in a jam.  

Because I am, admittedly, a dork I am kind of excited to report on a recent discovery of mine, that is revolutionizing my mornings. Ok, it’s just made them more delicious, filling, beyond satisfying, nutrient pack and good for me.

I love yogurt, always have. When I was a kid I loved me some fruit bottomed Dannon and as an adult it’s been Faje all the way. Plain greek yogurt with some granola, fruit and honey used to be a morning staple for me until the past couple of years, as I  try not to have too much dairy regularly, or daily I should say. I’ve mentioned my semi-dairyless life before, which rules out my faje mornings. I’ve tried almond and coconut milk yogurts to fill in that blank and they were just ok, lackluster at best. The texture is kind of gelatinous, gummy and sometimes watery and the flavor is just so so. Overall, I have been pretty disappointed in the market for non-dairy yogurts, until I stumbled upon Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt

Anita Shepherd is a self-taught vegan chef and baker who operated Electric Blue Baking Co. from 2007-2012. She too noticed that all the commercial brands of non-dairy yogurt are full of additives, sweeteners, and not really appropriate or useable for savory dishes as a replacement to sour cream, soft cheeses, creme fraiche or greek yogurt and got to work creating the best non-dairy yogurt I have ever had.

Anita’s yogurt comes in a recyclable cup with a 100% tree-free wildgrass label. It is simple, tangy, tart, unflavored and unsweetened. Made of organic coconut milk, organic coconut water and probiotic yogurt culture. I admit the price is a little higher than most, but that is only because she doesn’t add thickeners, sweeteners or preservatives to make it cheaper to produce. I’m telling y’all it’s beyond worth it the price. 

I have been enjoying my Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt for breakfast, with a little Vanilla Agave and Q’ia(pronounced Kee-ah) which means energy, Superfood Cereal. That’s because every bag of Qi’a starts with three powerful ancient grains: chia, hemp and buckwheat. This power trio of seeds and grains is full of plant-based protein, fiber and Omega-3’s. I personally like the vanilla-dusted cranberries and almonds flavor the best, but test them all out and see which one youCARA about. 

Here is how I have been enjoying my new morning jam:

1/2 Cup Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt

2 tablespoons of Q’ia cereal 

Drizzle of Madhava Vanilla Agave Nectar ( probably about a teaspoon) 

* and if I’m feeling hungrier than usual I also add 1/2 of a banana. 

Anita’s is currently available for purchase at the following locations click here and Goodeggs.com. If you live in the NY/NJ area, ask your local market to get it on their shelves or shoot Anita an email to see how to get it near you…..that’s how the coco love gets spread.

The game was lame but the food was not! 

I have to be completely honest, I didn’t know who was playing in the Superbowl until a few days ago. Not to sound all girly but I just wasn’t paying attention. I don’t generally root for a specific team, ever. I am only mildly loyal to the Eagles because it is the closest thing to a home team I have…but then there’s the who Vick situation…..so not really. The big game was here in my hood of NYC this year and even still I didn’t know what we were doing for Superbowl until the day before the game, which is probably not too surprising given my lack of attention to the sport. 

Anyway, I may not know who was playing, winning, on defense blah blah blah but I do enjoy the commercials, the half time show, and of course the social and culinary aspect of a Superbowl party. And really, I probably wind up enjoying myself a little too much in the food and beverage department by over indulging on things I would not otherwise go for….burgers, bbq, ribs, mac and cheese, etc.etc. etc. 

Thankfully this Superbowl Sunday was shared likeminded friends who  really enjoy food but don’t love how some of the aforementioned dishes make you look and feel after the fact. So, the game may have been lame but the company and meal certainly were not. 

Our gracious hosts Laura and Anthony made a delicious Roasted pork and Black Bean Chili, Veggie-ball sliders with spinach and basil pesto, a beautiful Kale salad, and I brought one my favorite fake out dishes….. Buffalo Cauliflower in lieu of sinful chicken wings. 

I first had Buffalo Cauliflower this summer at an adorable little restaurant in Park Slope called Thistle Hill Tavern, and I loved it! I love cauliflower and i hate to admit it but I do love me a buffalo chicken wing, so using one of my favorite cruciferous vegetables as a vehicle for the spicy tangy taste of Franks Red Hot sauce and blue cheese is beyond perfection…..to me. I am pretty sure the version I had in Park Slope was battered and fried, because it was just too good to be true. So I googled recipes, tested a few out, tweaked things a bit and settled on a version that is gluten free, vegetarian and baked ,which iCARA about, and think you will too. ( my husband gave it his stamp of approval last night as well, calling it the best batch yet) 

So without further adieu here is my recipe for baked Buffalo iCARAflower: 

What you need: 

1 cup goat milk ( or low fat cows milk) * i use goats milk for a few reasons. It is easier to digest, naturally homogenized, rarely causes lactose intolerance, and matches up to the human body better than cows milk) 

1 cup chickpea flour ( or regular flour, whatever you like best) 

1 tablespoon Simply Organic garlic pepper

1 tablespoon Adobo Seasoning 

1 head cauliflower (seperated into little florets)

1 and 1/4 cup cup Franks Red Hot Sauce

1 tablespoon Ghee ( or regular butter) 

Crumbled Blue Cheese

What you do: 

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl combine the milk, flour, and garlic pepper, and adobo in a bowl and whisk until well combined.

Add in cauliflower florets and coat with the flour mixture. Place pieces individually on shallow baking dish lined with parchment paper. Don’t pour everything on to the dish as you find yourself with excess batter all over the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo sauce and ghee in a small sauce pan until the ghee and hot sauce are blended. 

Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, plate and top with a little crumbled blue cheese. 

You can also put some more blue cheese in a bowl next to the dish and let everyone add their desired amount. 

Football Season may be over but Buffalo iCARAflower season is not. 

If you want to make the Chili and Veggie Balls too, which I recommend doing,  here are the recipes:

Game-Day Pork and Black Bean Chili

The Meatball Shop Veggie Balls with Spinach and Basil Pesto 





New Year - New Routine

I’m sure everyone is painfully aware that the gym, spin studio, yoga class and local juice bars are all at capacity right about now with the masses trying to tackle their new years resolutions or working off the 5 pounds they gained over the holidays. We have alllllll been there, and maybe you currently are there…. diving into a cleanse, a 30day spin challenge, signing up for a 5k or just hitting the gym extra hard right now. I take no issue with that, other than the extra sweaty bodies I have to contend with and the added stress Monday at noon when im trying to book “my” bike. The only issue we all have with it is how to sustain it over February, March, April………always?

If you’ve been following my posts, you probably noticed that I’ve referred to myself as the “goldilocks” of fitness….meaning I am always trying new things until I land on something that’s juuuuuust right, as in… it “works for me”.When I say “works for me”  I don’t mean just physically and how I feel it’s changing or improving my body. It also has to “work for me” in terms of how motivated I am to get there and how easy it is for me to keep getting there. So, I have a running checklist of things iCARA about when committing to a class:

  • I have to like the instructor and the shape they are in. 
  • I need to feel that there is value physically, mentally and monetarily.
  • The studio/facility HAS to be clean.
  • It has to be convenient.

In my opinion, convenience is EVERYTHING and essential to anything becoming part of my or anyones daily/weekly/always routine. I need to be able to hit a class on my way to the office or on my way home and if it’s near a juice/smoothie/organic market or a coffee shop with almond milk, it’s on like donkey kong!  

One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday or Sunday is stroll down Smith Street, get a coffee at Roogla, maybe pop into Bird and check out the latest mark downs and calmly head to my favorite hot vinyasa class with Be at Prana. I really feel that yoga is an essential component of my fitness and wellness repertoire. Not only does it round and stretch out my cocktail of cardio and sculpting but it is more importantly, the yin to my yang that is the constant hamster wheel in my head.  So I needed to create a similar weekday experience and find a studio that “works for me” when I’m commuting from Brooklyn to west as west can be Chelsea.  

Just before the holidays my friend Alexia told me about a Yoga studio that’s conveniently located a few blocks away from my office, which made me so happy because very few things are just a few blocks away from my office. She had recently tested it out, loved it and KNEW I would too. ( Alexia knows me, my aesthetic and my checklists all too well.) 

I recently went to Yoga 216 and loved it! First of all, the studio is adorable and so are all the instructors. It smells really good, there are some shabby chic lockers for your things, a shower, powder rooms and mats, towels, water, tea and gluten free ginger cookies are included. So you don’t have to worry about carrying all of those things with you.  The other amazing thing about Yoga 216 is that you can sign up online and don’t ever have to worry about fighting for a spot, swapping sweat with a neighbor during class, or wish for some assistance from your instructor. All of their classes are limited to 6 students or fewer, so each teacher has the time to help guide, adjust, and challenge your practice in safe and productive way.  

It is described by Yoga 216 as……

a place for more than just exercise. Yoga 216 is where you can have a conversation with a fresh pressed juice in hand; where you can relax with friends and a cup of tea; and where you can discover a part of you that wants to come out and play. Each month we feature an asana that serves as a focus for each class, regardless of level, tying all of our students together; plus, we offer an ongoing sutra study to enliven the mind and to deepen our practice.We also offer additional wellness services that complement a healthy lifestyle.  The same teachers, with whom you’ll work in the yoga studio, offer Acupuncture and Massage therapy – all in an effort to make Yoga 216 a welcome respite from our beloved, but intense city.

So the moral of the story here is, do some legwork and “goldilocking” of your own. The initial research to find a workout that works for you, conveniently, and your own personal checklist will result in a sustainable fitness routine. And if you are in NYC check out Yoga 216, you will not be disappointed. First timers can try 3 classes for $75.00. 

Namaste. 

res·o·lu·tion-noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something.

It’s been about a minute since I’ve taken a pause for myself to sit and dedicate some time to this thing iCARA about so much. But I’m back and well, geez….. HAPPY NEW YEAR Y’ALL!

We’re about 14 days into 2014 and I still can’t believe how quickly 2013 flew by. I don’t know about everyone else but I have spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on the year behind us. I’ve been thinking about how many things changed and how so many remained the same. How some people left my life, some entered, stayed and continue to make it better and make me smile. How new memories have been made, pictures have been taken, tears have been shed and laughs upon laughs upon laughs have been had.  

It was a great year in oodles of ways. I started this blog, I completed my course and received my certification to be a wellness coach, I’ve taken on much more responsibility at my agency, I’ve been to some fabulous places and events, have watched my best friends children & god children grow and have welcomed some new ones into the world. It’s been an incredible year, but with all of that being said I would be lying if I said I was sad to see 2013 go…… because truthfully, it was also a year met with a lot of personal challenges. LOTS of self reflection, lots of thinking and analyzing, indecision and some major dental work. Those of you who really know me, know allllllllllllll about the goddamn dental work! 

I did so much, probably too much, looking back in 2013 all while trying to move forward and ultimately felt STUCK which was then coupled with often not being present or living in the moment.  A.K.A- analysis paralysis, which I am beyond over. 

If you follow me on instagram you probably noticed that Scott and I were away over the holidays in magical Tulum.  We were there along with a large group of the most fun and fabulous friends. It was awesome, crazy, and at times fun to the point of exhaustion. Of course, of all nights, New Years Eve I was sick as a dog. The clock struck 12, I kissed Scott and our friends, wished everyone a Happy New Year and promptly went back to my hotel room and crawled into bed. Between being sick and all that was going on in Tulum I realized once we got home that I hadn’t made a single New Years resolution. Not one. I started making a list and it just seemed more like tasks or promises I may not be able to or actually want to hold up to. Then it dawned on me….my resolution for 2014 IS resolution.  

For me, last year was all about thinking and this year is all about resolving…..and doing. If you think about it it’s sort of the point of any New Years resolution we make. If you want to lose 10 pounds, maybe it’s that you need to resolve some problems in your relationship with food. If you want to make time for the gym, see more friends, plan more trips, finish projects ….perhaps it’s actually about resolving how you manage your time. 

Soooooooo, NOW  I am ready for this new year, this present year, and I am happy to be looking forward and starting anew. Moreover I’m really, truly hopeful and excited for all that 2014 will bring. My resolution is to resolve my shit so I can be the best version of me. And all the rest will fall into place. I really do think it is that simple. 

Here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous and FUN 2014. Fill it with love, laughter, vitamin rich greens ;) and all the things youCARA about. 

xoxoxo

B is for Brando, Pasta a’la Brando that is.

Today seemed like the most fitting day to publish this post about a very simple, delicious and light pasta dish I like to call Pasta a’la Brando. Why?, you ask…… Because today is my boo Brendan’s burfday and this recipe was made for him! ( It’s also my other best boo, Bianca’s bday too, don’t worry guuuurl I gotchu! )

For those of you who don’t know Brendan personally, or of him from my post back in October chronicling our cooking with kale, there are a few things you should know about him going into this recipe. He is amazing, has an amazing new kitchen that I am helping him get acquainted with, he is entertaining and loves to entertain, AND he has a dish named after him at one of NYC’s best Italian restaurants Il Cantinori. ( True Story)

New York City has over 18,000 restaurants and iCARA to try as many of them as I can but there are a handful of restaurants I frequent because sometimes it’s just as good to go with what you know. Il Cantinori is one of those restaurants. They serve classic Tuscan Italian dishes, that never disappoint, and they know how to pour a tall glass of wine. It is one of the first restaurants I went to when I moved to New York, so aside from always seeing someone I know when I’m there, there is also something very nostalgic about it to me. But the main reason I frequent Il Cantinori is because Brendan is pretty much the mayor there and I love me some Pollo a’la Brendan. Another dish they frequently serve is a simple traditional Italian pasta dish called Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, which is a fave of #TeamBrando and me as well. So, when Brendan and I worked on a menu for him to prepare for guests we were definitely influenced by our mainstay restaurant and dish. 

A few Sundays ago Brendan and I had our second installment of cooking  lessons, where we continued perfecting his go to menu for entertaining friends and family. We started with the kale chips from our first lesson and then moved on to a pasta dish fitting of his name, with similar qualities and flavors of the Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe that keep us all going back to Il Cantinori…….and will keep his guests coming back as well.  The only difference is - less fat, no butter, gluten and minimal oil. Pasta gone wild a.k.a. “healthy”. 

Unlike our first cooking lesson, this time we prepared the meal for a group of friends as a bit of a test market. It was a hit and if you are lucky enough to be invited to Casa de Brando for dinner, you will get to try it……or you can just make it yourself. 

Pasta a’la Brando

This recipe is for 2 people, so double or triple as needed for your group. 

What you need:
1 box of Quinoa Pasta  *we went with Spaghetti
5- 6 garlic cloves finely chopped 
1/4 cup Chili Oil  *3 tablespoons initially and 1 tablespoon for later.
1/2 cup Chicken Stock *or vegetable stock if you want this to be vegetarian. using stock of any kind is always a good way to maintain and enhance flavor without adding fat….like excessive oil or butter. 
1 Lemon 
A little pasta water *approx. 1/2 cup 
Salt and red chili flake
Shredded parmesan cheese *about 3/4- 1 cup depending on how cheesy you like it. 
*optional fresh basil leaves to top with
What you do:
Chop the garlic and once that’s done put water on to boil for the pasta. Add a little salt and olive oil to water (it helps to give the pasta a little flavor and the oil helps prevent it from sticking and clumping together). Once the water is boiling put the pasta in the water to cook. *1 box of pasta takes about 6-8 minutes to cook. 
Once you put the pasta in the water put a large sauté pan on the stove (medium-high heat) and coat the pan with some chili oil (approx 3 tablespoons, reserve 1 remaining tablespoon for later) then add all of your chopped garlic. Cook the garlic until it browns, about 2 minutes. (stirring frequently) 
Once the garlic is browned, add in the chicken stock and stir everything, scraping up any browned garlic from the bottom of the pan. Your pasta should be ready right about now.
Grab as much pasta from the boiling water with tongs as you can and put that pasta directly in the pan with garlic and chicken stock ( the wet pasta with pasta water helps to create a sauce) and stir to coat the pasta with everything. Now add little bit more pasta water to the pan before straining the remaining pasta.( 1/4 cup ) Then strain the remaining pasta and add to pan.
Stir everything in the pan, drizzle with remaining chili oil, squeeze juice of half of a lemon into the mixture, season with salt and chili flake to your desired level of spice. Remove pan from heat and add cheese.  
Plate your pasta and top with fresh basil leaves….if you are so inclined. 
Happy Birthday B, I love you more than I love this pasta ;)