Perfectly Imperfect, Beautifully Flawed

perfect

I just want to take this opportunity to post about an issue near and dear to my heart. This past week (2/23-3/1) was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I have known many people affected by this disease over the years in one form or another. It is the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.  About 1,000 women die each year from ED due to malnutrition, heart attack and suicide. One thing to keep in mind is that an eating disorder is not about weighing 75  lbs and looking like you just got out of a concentration camp. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and it’s more about the disordered thought processes than what a person looks like. The DSM V (The diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Eating Disorders) made some changes recently to clarify diagnoses. You can read about all of the changes here.

In college, while I was on my own path of healing, I got involved in the National Eating Disorder Awareness Committee, which raised awareness about eating disorders. Our main goal was to bring programming to campus each year for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, but we always tried to promote positive messages about loving yourself as you are. Our inspiration came from Operation Beautiful, which is a blog that got its start with the idea of posting post- its in public places with positive messages encouraging everyone to love themselves. It’s a great sight to visit if you ever need a pick me up. I even had the privilege of hearing the founder, Caitlin Boyle speak one year on campus.

“You are not perfection, but you are beautifully flawed.”-Simply Kat was one of the speakers at the first NEDA week I attended during college. This quote stuck with me and was later written on my mirror in college as a reminder every morning when I did not like what I saw.

See the entire video of her spoken word- Beautifully Human below:

Eating disorders have many causes:

Dieting to look better
Major life transitions like puberty, entering high school or college or major losses or trauma
Family problems
Social difficulties like teasing, bullying or ridicule
Fear of failure or a need to be perfect (often related to dieting)
Traumatic events like sexual and physical abuse
Other psychiatric illnesses like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder
Personality traits like low self-esteem, difficulty with change, fear of feeling out of control

If you or someone you know might have an ED, please get help and visit http://eatingdisorder.org/ or http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

I could probably write forever about this topic and I probably should have been more proactive and posted something each day this past week. Better late than never I suppose.

Remember, if you aim for perfection you will fall short every time. Focus on learning to love yourself how you were made and know that you are perfectly imperfect and beautifully flawed. Spread the love today and tell someone they are beautiful inside and out!

“I would rather be what God made chose to make me than the most glorious creature I could think of. For to have been made, thought about, born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, most precious thing in all thinking.” -Jerry Bridges

Beautifully yours,

Cara

Divinely Delicious and Nutritious

love

Wow so I just realized this is the second chocolate post in a row.  Oh well, you can never have too much chocolate.

This post is a bit overdue. A friend from high school now works for Divine Chocolate and sent me a box of samples a few months ago and I still have some left. Talk about a sweet job! Divine is a company I totally believe in (and no they did not pay me to write this post). They are fair trade and claim to be the only fair trade chocolate company owned by its farmers. You may know the brand by their beautiful labels with the Adinkra symbols which come from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa and are used for decoration or special occasions. Each has a  meaning based on traditional wisdom and values.

divine

I have become quite a chocolate connoisseur over the years and my taste buds have grown to crave darker and darker chocolate. I think Divine does a great job at creating velvety, smooth and creamy chocolate even at the darkest varieties. (Unlike some brands of chocolate that tend to become dry when there is a higher percentage of cacao and less cocoa butter). I talked briefly in my last post about the benefits of chocolate, but in case you missed it: the flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) in dark chocolate have been shown to decrease blood pressure, LDL or “bad cholesterol”, decrease insulin resistance, and increase HDL or “good” cholesterol.  Sorry having another nerd moment. I love this kind of creative outlet, but I can’t seem to do it without adding in the science sometimes.

Anyways I’ll wrap this up…(no pun intended)

To Summarize: chocolate is good, dark chocolate is better, fair trade dark chocolate is best.

If you are interested in learning more about slave labor in the products you buy, check out: http://slaveryfootprint.org/ to see how many slaves work for you based on your current lifestyle.

Divinely Yours,

Cara

This Valentine’s Day, Don’t Forget to Love Yourself!

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Chocolate is probably the best part about Valentine’s Day. I picked up some yummy nonpareils from Bomboy’s Home Made Candy in Havre de Grace! I love supporting local businesses and treating myself to chocolate almost daily is one way that I love myself. Remember to enjoy some heart healthy flavonols in dark chocolate today.

photo 2

I saw this on the mirror at Johnny Rad’s last week when I was there for happy hour and it was such a great reminder. I had some dark times in college when I felt like a slave as the mirror pretty much determined my mood and happiness each day.

There is so much pressure today through the media to be thin. I feel like all of us, men and women have had some sort of unhealthy thoughts surrounding food or our bodies and it’s important to fight against them. Remember that beauty starts on the inside and radiates out!

For more positivity about inner beauty, check out my friend Carin’s blog post here

I’ll close today with one of my all time favorite quotes.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

-Dr. Seuss

Snow Day= Soup Day

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Hello Charm City Magic readers,

It has been a long time since our paths have crossed. I’m writing to you today from the snowy town of Glen Arm. The best thing about snowdays is that it forces me to slow down my life and embrace my hobbies. Today is a first for me in my blogging career: uploading an orginal recipe! I make up recipes all the time, but the problem is having the time to write them down or remembering to take a picture.

In the process of posting my original recipes, I will be following my mantra of no measuring. I’ll try to give approximations as best I can. It’s always how I’ve cooked, so why start measuring now?! I believe this method really shows cooking the way it should be: as an art form. Like any good art, the recipe starts with some sort of inspiration or craving (mine has been ethnic food these days). Then you add a bunch of random ingredients together (kind of like throwing paint a la Jackson Pollock), and you are not exactly sure how it will all turn out. Any artistic  journey is full of doubt, but in the end it is a beautiful  piece of art or in my case, a yummy dish! And you can always make modifiactions as needed until your work of art is exactly how you want it. I never measure spices and just adjust them after many rounds of taste testing.

Today was a great day to clean out the fridge and use up a bunch of veggies before they went bad. This may not be the most authentic Thai dish, but it has all of the flavor elements of Thai cuisine and was extremely practical so feel free to make changes with whatever ingredients you might have such as chicken or other vegetables.

Here is what I did–just try your best to follow my sporadic cooking style.

Prepare 1 cup of uncooked rice according to the package. Set aside

Saute in ~ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil:

1 head of chopped broccoli (crowns only), 1/4 head cabbage shredded, 1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed, 1 can of diced tomatoes (can sub tomato paste or sauce and add extra liquid as needed), and 1 red bell pepper chopped.

Add 1/2 box of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Broth (you can use plain chicken broth and add chile powder, coriander, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, minced onion, or any other thai spices you desire).

photo 1

Add in some water for extra liquid and dilute the spices and salt

Stir in ~3 tbsp minced garlic

Add 1 dash of low sodium soy sauce

At the end: Add in 1 can full fat coconut milk and the rice.

(RD nerd alert: although coconut is full of saturated fat, it is made up of about 50% medium chain triglycerides, which are absorbed differently and do not contribute to heart disease, as previously thought. I love that the science of nutrition is always changing!)

This entire recipe only took about 30 minutes. I’m all about making one pot meals that are quick, easy and healthy. And leftovers are always a good thing to pack for lunch for the rest of the week.

What are some of your favorite snow day recipes?

Green Eggs and … Duck??

green eggs

This post comes to your from Philadelphia-”The city of neighborhoods.” I had a lovely visit with an old friend from college and we enjoyed brunch at a great local spot-Green Eggs Cafe. (sans ham :( despite my love of the Dr. Seuss story growing up)

duck hash

I had my usual dilemma of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful food and wanted to order everything on the menu. I also could not decide if I wanted sweet or salty. Kristen is a vegetarian, so sharing would probably not be an option since I was craving meat. I decided to go for something salty and ordered the duck hash skillet, which included pulled duck confit, sweet potatoes, parsnips, two eggs over easy and a cabbage slaw on top. It was served over their signature brioche toast and smothered in gravy. Very colorful and tasty!

quinoa porridge

Kristen ordered the quinoa porridge with agave nectar, cinnamon, cardamom, golden raisins, and cream topped with fresh berries and fresh berry compote. She ordered orange juice and to our surprise it tasted freshly squeezed! Quinoa is a nutty grain that is also a complete protein, and I believe it’s the only plant-based complete protein source.

Next time I visit, I must get the Red Velvet pancakes, which is Kristen’s favorite item on the menu! The menu describes them as buttermilk pancakes with chocolate morsels layered with strawberry mascarpone and topped with fresh strawberries and a maple syrup and chantilly cream.

http://greeneggscafe.com/

Green was the theme of the day as we ended out visit with a trip to Green Street Consignment. I’m not usually big into thrift stores, but this was one so well-organized and had a great selection of name brand items. And it never hurts to support recycling.

http://greenestreetconsignment.com/greene-thrift/

Stay Green,

Cara

24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response

charmcitymagic:

A lovely response!

Originally posted on justaylored:

Get lost in a city where you don't speak the language.

Get lost in a city where you don’t speak the language.

I recently read this article titled, “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23″. Normally, I don’t read these as they are usually written in an in-your-face-I-can-do-what-I-want tone. For whatever reason, I read this article, perhaps because I am 24 and not married and I was curious as to why 23 was the magic number. Unfortunately, the article is pretty much the same, lame advice for twenty-somethings, written by twenty-somethings whose sum total of advice is “17. Eat a Jar of Nutella is one sitting.” I didn’t think much about it until I saw at least 3 people repost it on Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but if the highlight of my life (outside of marriage???) before I’m 23 is to eat a jar of Nutella or “22. Be selfish” then I think marriage to…

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B’more Merry

hampden

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year! I’m not usually the most merry person around Christmas time. I am so prone to let the stress of family, singleness, presents, traffic, etc. get the best of me. I usually come to peace with things this season by realizing that those things I struggle with are exactly why I need Jesus and He came into this world to be near to my brokenness.  And this year, I was able to find a little Christmas magic just in time.

I started to feel it when I decided to take the advice of my new Royal Farms friend and just “be.” I’m a big quality time person so the best thing about Christmas this year was the people I got to spend time with.

My favorite Christmas song is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It shows what I like Christmas to be about, the people (other than Jesus being born of course).

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Let your heart be  light

From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Here we are as in olden days happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together if the fates  allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a Merry Little  Christmas now..

I always think of my siblings and cousins with this song. Over the years, our family has been through a lot, but now we love the time we have together so much more and it’s just like the old days but better.

cousins
Shipley-Dembeck girls!

candyland

Candyland

cousins in candyland

All the girl cousins and nan

We made our annual stop at “candyland” aka a random house that we frolic through every year after the lights in Hampden. It’s so magical and I’m convinced one of us need to get married there one day :) What are some of your holiday traditions?

layla christmas

Get this girl an agent! She has to be the cutest baby in charm city!!

Merrily yours,

Cara

10 Signs He is just Not Into You

charmcitymagic:

Here is a reblog for those of you trying to navigate the dating game in Charm City!

Originally posted on Vincent Egoro:

2573762303_365ac020f8I read a book recently titled; He is just not that into you: the no – excuse truths to understanding guys. Witten by Greg behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. I found it a great read and quite revealing.

Here are 10 signs to knowing if a guy is not into you adapted from the book:

1- He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Asking You Out: Because If he likes he will ask you out. “Let me remind you: Men find it very satisfying to get what they want. (Particularly after a difficult day of running the world.) If we want you, we will find you. If you don’t think you gave him enough time to notice you, take the time it took you to notice him and divide it by half.”

2- He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Calling You: Men know how to…

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Coffee and a Donut

coffee

I hate traffic. It just makes my blood boil as I feel like I’m wasting my life. I know this is not a good perspective to have and God is still teaching me patience. A particular day a few weeks ago I pulled off at a Royal Farms before getting onto 95 because I had been sitting for two hours and decided to just take a break and eat.  I got my $1 coffee, some snacks and looked for a seat. There were no open tables so I figured I should sit down and make a friend. I had brought a book with me, but clearly that was not what was in store for me that night. It’s funny how wisdom comes to us from unlikely sources and when we least expect it.

I was quickly reminded by a stranger that I’m lucky to be able to sit in traffic. He went on to share about his life and how he beat a brain tumor, a stroke, a heart attack and got out of jail only by the grace of God. There were days he sat in jail and watched the cars drive by, wishing he could be out there sitting in traffic.

He was eating fried chicken and potato wedges as we talked and I had to keep a straight face, even though the dietitian in me was cringing inside. He was the epitome of a noncompliant patient I would have seen last year for a five minute “nutrition education” as he was being wheeled out the door to go home after a second bypass surgery. He offered to share his Krispy Kreme donuts with me and insisted I have one.. he would not take no for an answer. This was a moment I had to take off my dietitian hat.

Coffee always seems to open doors for conversation and inspiration. I think it often provides more comfort than caffeine. As I sit here writing this post, I owe a lot of my energy level and motivation to a dirty chai latte from Starbucks.

We sat and talked for a while and he reminded me to stop stressing over little things and just live. He told me to be grateful for each day God gives you. I told him it’s easier said than done. He asked me why that was. He said, “It’s that simple, just live. ..Everyone gets to where they need to go eventually.”

In general, I struggle to be present each day or in the moment as I am always looking ahead to the next big thing. I look at Jesus and see how present he was with people and situations in his ministry and I strive to be more like that. This night was a good lesson in that. I became so engrossed in our conversation, that I forgot all about the traffic and lost track of time. When I finally returned to my car an hour or two later, I had several texts from people wondering if I was ok. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from this man, and if it had not been for traffic which forced me to slow down or my newfound love of coffee, our paths probably would have never crossed.

Krispy Kremes can be a powerful thing. About a year ago, I was in DC with a friend, who wanted to get a Krispy Kreme donut when she saw the light- up sign turn on. She went on to inform me that it means the donuts are fresh out of the oven. I’m not a huge fan of glazed donuts or sweets but I got one for the sake of bonding. I ended up giving it to a homeless man later who was asking for money. I still don’t know if Karma is real, but there is some way that God works in the “pay it forward” movement. That night at Royal Farms I guess some of that kindness came back to me. A year after giving away my Krispy Kreme, I got another one and one for the road! I really believe that when we sacrifice and give, God somehow provides a way for you to bless you that much and more :)

I’ll end with two quotes, one from God and one from The Dalai Lama:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”-Galations 5:22-24

He said, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

Indian Vegetable Curry

charmcitymagic:

Check out the blog that inspired my latest post!

Originally posted on Kinsey Cooks:

As someone who cooks and reads for pleasure, it’s not uncommon for a book to inspire a meal or recipe. Anything written by Jumpa Lahiri is no exception. I recently finished her collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, and and enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies. Her writing is formulaic to a certain degree; her works often involve Bengali immigrants in the Cambridge area adjusting to life in America while dealing with loss or heartache. The stories are predictable, but the characterization and attention to detail is what draws me in every time. What I find incredible is her focus on food—what role it plays in the family dynamic as well as the long hours the women spend preparing and serving the food. The food shows a subtle transition to a Western lifestyle, a theme seen in all of…

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