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Fourth Time’s The Charm?

October 8, 2014 by Carolina


It’s no secret I’ve taken a long hiatus from running. The last half marathon I ran was the Iron Girl, that over two years ago — can you believe that?! After running the NYC Marathon & having a knee injury running just hasn’t been the same for me. Every once in a while I go out & run but I haven’t ran regularly like I used to a few years ago…that is, until this past month. I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who requires a goal to constantly stay motivated. For running that goal comes in the form of a race, a date to shoot for & a schedule to follow. A friend of mine & I have been talking about getting back into running & doing another half marathon (it would be my fourth) & after going back & forth I decided why the heck not? It’s about time I get back out there!

And so I began to train, realizing very quickly that running is not like riding a bike: it takes a while for you to learn it again. The breathing, the rhythm, the “zone” you get into once you’ve ran for a while, those things don’t just come right back. They take a lot of time, a lot of dedication & a lot of work. After my first run I became super discouraged because I was slow, I barely go through it & hated almost every minute of it. But after the second week I caught myself thinking it wasn’t so bad & actually enjoying portions of the run. And that’s saying a lot considering I live in humid Florida where we still have temps in the high 80s! Here’s the schedule I’ve been following/will continue to follow, focusing on the number of miles & not the speed I run them in. The date is the start of each week:

  • 9/15: 3 / 3 / 4
  • 9/22: 3 / 3 / 4
  • 9/29: 4 / 4 / 5 *I did not actually run this week, more on that below*
  • 10/6: 4 / 4 / 5
  • 10/13: 4 / 4 / 6
  • 10/20: 4 / 4 / 6
  • 10/27: 4 / 5 / 8
  • 11/3: 4 / 5 / 8
  • 11/10: 4 / 5 / 10
  • 11/17: 4 / 5 / 12
  • 11/24: 3 / 4 / 7
  • 12/1: 2 / 2 / OUC Half

So you know that second week of running that felt pretty good? The Sunday when I did the four mile run ended with severe back pains. After doing a lot of Googling & asking around I think I pinched my sciatic nerve, which is oh so unpleasant! All I could do was take it easy, ice it & do some stretching when I could bare it. My back put me out of commission all week, afraid to make it worst by running. This Monday I woke up with full range of motion again so I’m going to try out running & see how I feel, going really slow & building back up to my regular pace. I’m also going to get fitted for running shoes again, I think that may be part of the reason why my back was hurting but I don’t know for sure. It’s been a while since I bought running shoes & since I plan on running a Half Marathon in December I know it’ll be a good investment.

Runners, have you experienced back pain like the one I describe above? Would love to hear your remedies, I don’t want to give up on training for this race!

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Avocado Toasts.

October 6, 2014 by Carolina

Avocado Toasts

Have you ever become obsessed with eating the same thing for days on end? I’m not typically someone who likes to repeat meals but these Avocado Toasts are different, I could eat them all day every day. I got the recipe for these from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Its All Good cookbook & let me tell you, they’re so good! Since I’ve been eating these non-stop I figured I’d shared the goodness with you guys, because lets face it, avocado makes everything better. Plus, these toasts are super easy to make, vegan, gluten free & the perfect treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee to kick off you morning. Let me introduce you to my new obsession!

Ingredients (makes 1 serving)

2 Gluten free slices of bread (I used brown rice bread)

1 teaspoon soy-free vegenaise 

1/2 hass avocado, sliced

Juice of half a lemon

Himalayan salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Toast the two slices of bread then spread the soy-free vegenaise (or mayonnaise if you don’t mind them not being vegan). Place the avocado slices on top of the toasts, squeeze half a lemon over the avocado slices & season with freshly cracked Himalayan salt & pepper. It’s that simple!

Please make these, then let me know how much you love them because I have no doubt you will. Buen provecho!


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Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery: Denver, CO.

October 1, 2014 by Carolina

Devil's Food Bakery and Cookery

First things first: Happy World Vegetarian Day to all our fellow veggie lovers! Hug your neighborhood vegetarian today & enjoy delicious vegetables in their honor.

Sometimes the best things happen accidentally. My friend & I explored the Washington Park area in Denver a couple of weeks ago & decided we wanted to go to brunch. His original idea was to go to a corner restaurant, however, when we arrived we realized it wasn’t open. So we took a stroll down the street & discovered Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery — what a wonderful discovery it was! On quaint Gaylord Street, Devil’s Food is the perfect place to grab delicious coffee & pastry. If you’re looking for a sit down meal no worries, they have a full, delicious menu. I went for brunch & was excited to try the many vegetarian options they offer. After drooling a little while reading the menu I settled on the Quinoa Cakes: Lemon ricotta, zucchini & thyme quinoa cakes on arugula with a poached egg, romesco sauce & pecorino romano on top.

Devil's Food Bakery

It was as delicious as it looks! The egg was cooked perfectly, the quinoa cakes were crunch on the outside, soft on the inside & the arugula brought everything together beautifully. My taste buds were ecstatic! We liked our meal so much we went back a second time before I flew back home, it was that good! The second time there I had Belgium Waffles with fresh fruit. The batter was light, the fruit was really sweet & fresh, a really nice treat on a Sunday morning. One of my favorite things about Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery (besides my meals) is their commitment to staying local & supporting businesses nearby. After your meal walk down a couple of blocks to Washington Park & enjoy it, it’s gorgeous & worth the trip.

Next time you’re in Denver support the local economy & pay a visit to Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery!

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Attitude Adjustments & Postures.

September 25, 2014 by Carolina


You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging regularly lately. I know what you’re thinking, you miss me right? Truth is I miss you too! If you’re not thinking you miss me & just “where has Carolina been?” the answer is I’ve been getting smacked around a few times by the beautifully tragic thing that we call life. I say it’s beautifully tragic because despite hardships life always has beautiful under currents. And despite how hard life may seem, it’s important to stop every once in a while & look around, take the beauty of the world in, & smile. Because this too shall pass & everything works out the way it should in the long run. Am I right?!

I won’t go into details about my personal life but I will say this: life has gotten in the way of my physical yoga practice lately. After completing my fourth yoga challenge (picture above) I had the best of intentions to keep the momentum going & continue to go to my yoga studio several times a week. Unfortunately my time & emotional being have been all over the place but that’s slowly starting to change. Slowly but surely I’ve started to come out of my funk, seeing past the dark clouds hanging around & noticing that life is just too short to be sad or angry. I needed an attitude adjustment & life gave it to me!

I am now ready to get back into the swing of things: do a lot of yoga, go running, cook often & be with my loved ones. I picked a half marathon to train for at the end of the year & though running is hard for me right now I’m staying consistent. I’m going back to my studio this weekend & can’t wait to get on the mat! I’m even thinking of signing up for teacher training & getting certified in January. All of these things make me smile & let me know that everything will be okay.

I tell you all this because there’s a chance one or some of you may be going through a funk like me. I’m here to tell you to breathe through it & know you’ll eventually be back to yourself. I don’t know what curve balls your life may bring but I do know this: we live in a beautiful world full of love, all we have to do is look for it & there it’ll be, clear as daylight for us to see. So pick yourself up, do things that make you happy & try to smile. You can & will get through this!

In yoga we often say the words “Om Shanti” (that’s what the shirt I’m’ wearing above says), it means peace for all human kind, all living & non-living things, everything in the universe. I leave you with those beautiful words, a positive attitude & a hunger to do yoga again. Come along with me!

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Rocher Nutella Cupcakes.

September 10, 2014 by Carolina


My sister recently had a birthday & I took the opportunity to bake the best cupcake I’ve ever made: Rocher Nutella! Ferrero Rocher has always been one of my favorite chocolates to enjoy & this cupcake recipe elevates their taste even more — seriously incredible cupcakes. From the very first bite my family was ooh-ing & aah-ing, licking their lips, you name it, everyone loved this recipe! Are you ready to please the cupcake lover in your life? Here we go!

Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)

Gluten Free Cupcake Recipe (my go-to gluten free option but you can always go the pre-made vanilla cake route)

24 Ferrero Rocher chocolates

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups powder sugar

3/4 cup Nutella

3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chopped nuts for decorating (almonds or hazelnuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Follow cupcake recipe to create the batter. Spoon one tablespoon or so of the cupcake mixture into baking cups then add one Ferrero Rocher chocolate per cupcake & cover with the remaining batter. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes, remove from heat & cool.
In a bowl, beat unsalted butter until fluffy with a stand alone or hand mixer. Add the powder (confectioner) sugar & continue mixing. Add the Nutella, vanilla extract & mix until fully integrated. Begin adding one tablespoon of heavy cream at a time, mix completely before adding the other, & continue mixing until you reach a butter cream frosting consistency.
Pipe nutella icing on the cupcakes (if you don’t have a pipping bag, place icing in a zip-lock bag & cut the end off to pipe) & place a Ferrero Rocher chocolate on top. Sprinkle nuts around the top for decoration & enjoy. Buen provecho!
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PiYo Strength.

September 9, 2014 by Carolina


We noticed several of you searching for PiYo Strength & finding our blog lately, we’re glad you have! Since PiYo is a program I recently checked out I figured I’d share my experiences with you. Come on another fitness adventure with me!

First things first, what is PiYo? Simply put, it’s a strength series class combining your favorite pilates & yoga postures (sun salutations, etc) with exercises like push-ups (among many more), all done to the latest music. For those of you who think yoga is a little too mellow, PiYo may be just the workout for you. It’s full of the poses you know but with a twist that really crank up fat-burning, toning & flexibility. This workout packs a punch while keeping you humming & singing to fun songs & cooling you down with really great stretches.

I’ve practiced PiYo a couple of times before & a few weeks ago was lucky enough to take a class with the always awesome Katy Widrick. Now that at home DVDs are available the workout is really taking off, not just as a great option for at home workouts, but across studios & gyms nationwide. I’ve noticed some of our local gyms starting to add PiYo to the schedule which tells me there’s probably a PiYo class in the city you live in & you should definitely check it out.  Make sure to bring a mat, a towel (you’ll be sweating. A lot!) & a bottle of water, no need to bring sneakers since you do the class barefoot. You should also be ready to try new things, a lot of the moves in PiYo are really unique, challenge & honestly a ton of fun.

Have you checked out a PiYo Strength class yet? If so, what were your thoughts? Would love to hear them!

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Taste of the Nation Orlando 2014.

August 18, 2014 by Carolina


What’s better than great food? Great food for an even better cause! I have been fortunate to attend Taste of the Nation Orlando for several years now & am always blown away by the event, not only due to the great food & drinks but also because of the amazing contributions it makes to Central Florida. Funding solutions for hunger relief in the area for the last 25 years, Taste of the Nation Orlando has raised almost $3 million for the Coalition for the Homeless & the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida — amazing! This year’s event was bigger & better than ever.


My guest & I had an incredible time sampling offerings from the best local chefs & spirits. Because I have such a sweet tooth I began with desserts: cheesecakes, local fruit & pastries as far as the eye could see. We couldn’t help ourselves & paired desserts with delicious wine. A wine aficionado, tasting different wine offerings is always one of my favorite things to partake at Taste of the Nation. This year my favorite wine was Barefoot‘s Sparkling Pinot Grigio, it’s the perfect drink to have on a hot summer day. Make sure to grab a bottle next time you’re at the market, give it a taste & tell me I’m not right. Heaven.


As a vegetarian, I’m always nervous I won’t have many options at events but at Taste of the Nation that’s never a problem — there are plenty of delicious plant based options! And even if a dish is listed with meat in it, most chefs are happy to accommodate vegetarians by excluding the meat. The JW Marriott station had shrimp with grits & as soon as I informed the chef I was a vegetarian he had his team prepare a non-shrimp version for me that was to die for. I’ve never been a grits fan but after that dish I’m a convert. Bring on the creamy, buttery, southern grits!


In addition to all the delicious food & drinks I had the incredible opportunity to meet Food Network’s Melissa D’Arabian. I’m happy to report she’s as nice as she looks on TV, super approachable, friendly & engaging. I would expect nothing less from a fellow Alpha Chi Omega (shout out to my sorority!); we couldn’t help ourselves & took a picture representing AXO.


In all, Taste of the Nation Orlando 2014 was a delight. If you have never attended make sure to put this event on your calendar for next year. It’s a must do in Central Florida!


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Cauliflower Rice Bowl.

July 23, 2014 by Carolina

cauliflower rice bowl

Have you tried to make cauliflower rice? The first time I made it was for a stuffed peppers recipe Katie & I created while I visited her in Boston. I have been making cauliflower rice often ever since, it really is a good alternative to rice when you’re trying to cut down carbs. If you haven’t tried making cauliflower rice yet I think this recipe will convince you to, because this cauliflower rice bowl is to die for. It’s packed with fresh vegetables, made in one pan (easy clean up), simple to make & it’s finger licking good. This bowl is good either hot or cold, though I enjoyed it right off the stove. Make this for lunch or dinner this week!

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil, divided

1 cup white onions, chopped

1 cup white mushrooms, chopped

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup carrots, shredded

Juice of 1 lemon

Sprigs of fresh thyme

Splash of vegetable stock

Salt & pepper

Place chopped cauliflower in a food processor & pulse until it reaches rice consistency & set aside. In a skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil & cook the onions for 3 – 4 minutes until caramelized. Place onions on a plate & use the same skillet to cook the mushrooms with a few sprigs of thyme & a splash of vegetable stock. After mushrooms are tender (3 – 4 minutes) remove them for the skillet & cook the zucchini for 3 – 4 minutes with the juice of half a lemon. Remove zucchini from skillet, add the carrots with a splash of vegetable stock & cook for 2 – 3 minutes until al dente. Remove the carrots & add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil & cauliflower rice, salt, pepper, & cook for 2 – 3 minutes until cauliflower is warmed through & remove from heat.

Place the cauliflower rice in the middle of a bowl & pile the onions, mushrooms, zucchini & carrots all around. Serve with a few thyme leaves, 1/2 fresh lemon & salt & pepper to taste & enjoy! If you rather mix all ingredients together go ahead, still a beautiful dish that tastes amazing. Buen provecho!

cauliflower rice bowl 2


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National Dance Day.

July 22, 2014 by Carolina


This is an invitation to all of my fellow Central Floridians to come dance with me. And I’m serious. I grew up dancing, from ballet classes to cheerleading, dancing was a big part of shaping who I am today. Dance teaches you character, perseverance & most importantly teaches you how to have fun! A few years ago So You Think You Can Dance (Go Ricky!)  instituted National Dance Day, an annual celebration of all forms of dance aimed to introducing people to dance & furthering the love of the art all around.

I was happy to discover Orlando is hosting a National Dance Day celebration this Saturday, July 26, completely FREE. 15 classes offered at the Orlando Ballet campus completely free of charge to anyone who wants to participate — how awesome is that?! The day will be filled with classes like beginning ballet, improvisation, jazz, swing, hip hop, contemporary, salsa, Afro-Latin, Broadway & even dance fitness. The instructors teaching the classes are well respected in the Central Florida community & are part of some of the best dance studios in town. If you like dance this is the perfect way to discover dance studios around you & experience for yourself what they have to offer!

I plan on attending several of the classes on Saturday & am hoping all you dance lovers out there will join in on the fun. Who’s ready to dance? Let’s get to it!

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Mushroom Hash.

July 21, 2014 by Carolina

mushroom hash

Sometimes the best dishes are the easiest to make. When you use fresh, organic ingredients you don’t have to do much to them in order for whatever you’re making to taste good. That’s why I’m sharing this mushroom hash recipe with you — it’s super simple but the flavors of the vegetables really shine. If you’re trying to avoid eggs, or simply don’t have any in your fridge, but want to have all the flavors an omelette or scrambled eggs have this is your dish. It’s vegan, gluten free, super healthy & very satisfying. Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients (makes one large serving)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1/2 cup white mushrooms, chopped

1/2 cup green peppers, chopped

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 green onion, diced

Fresh cracked black pepper

Fresh cracked Himalayan salt 

In a skillet, heat coconut oil then add mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, green onion, salt & pepper & cook on high for 5 – 7 minutes until mushrooms are tender. It’s that simple! Buen provecho!

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