July 30, 2012

Meet Cara of Cara’s Cravings (and Gluten-Free Chicken ‘n’ Waffles!)


As you can probably imagine, I read a lot of other food blogs and I chat with a lot of fellow food bloggers. Many of you reading this fall into that category, in fact! I love the community we have, and I love reading about other recipes, food, and cooking. (What can I say, it’s my passion!) But every now and then, I stumble upon a blogger that really has a unique-yet-intriguing approach to their food and recipes. Cara of Cara’s Cravings is one perfect example. Cara focuses on sharing healthy living tips, but most importantly (in my mind), she shares recipes for healthy versions of truly craveable dishes. That’s what really catches my eye and keeps me coming back for more.

Since then, Cara and I have conversed quite a bit and have gotten to know one another a bit better. Since many of you may not know Cara, (and some of her readers may not know me) we decided it was high time we do a little spotlight on one another! We asked each other some questions, and of course, we played around with one another’s recipes! So before I move on to talking about chicken and waffles, here’s some fun facts about Cara! (And please see Cara’s blog for my answers to these questions!)

- What is your proudest fitness achievement?

It’s a tie between running a half marathon and doing chinups. Since I was overweight and unathletic until my early 20′s, both were quite the feat! Here are my tips for women who want to work up to doing chinups: start with negative chinups. That is, jump up on the bar and lower yourself slowly as possible. That’s one rep. Rest 45-60 seconds and do it again. Once you can do 3 reps dragging each one out for at least 20 seconds, you’re ready to try to a full chinup!

- Latest clothing or accessory splurge?

A huge Coach tote bag for traveling. After three trips in a row in April, I realized I was sick of carrying around a laptop bag in addition to a big purse every time we were in an airport. Next vacation planned? It will be our 5-year anniversary in March, and we’re looking at Costa Rica or St. Lucia. Anyone care to chime in?

- If you could have dinner with your mom tonight, what would you ask her to make?

It’s going to sound gross, but Cincinnati Chili from the Campbell’s Soup Cookbook. This was the cookbook my mom used most often, and while today I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, I still have a soft spot for that cinnamon-spiced sweet chili made with condensed tomato soup, smothering a bowl of pasta with sharp cheddar.

- What do you do when you’re not blogging?

For 6 years I was a full time chemical engineer. Now I’m a part time engineer and part time blogger/freelancer :)

Tell us about your exercise routine.

Exercise has been a big part of my life ever since I lost weight. It makes me feel good and allows me to constantly challenge myself. My workout of choice is heavy weight lifting. Many women shy away from the squat rack, but I embrace it! Contrary to what you might think, lifting heavier weights for lower reps will not make you “huge” (we ladies just don’t have the right hormones for that) and will keep your metabolism working very efficiently. I still throw in some cardio, but it’s usually quit HIIT workouts or jogging no more than 4 miles. I am usually working out 5-6 days per week.

- Where is home?

I’ve lived in Massachusetts my entire life, even went to college here. Sometimes I wish I got to experience something different for a while… but deep down, I really love being close to family. My husband and I actually grew up in the same town (though we didn’t meet till I was in college and he had already graduated) and we live about 35 minutes from both sets of parents. It’s pretty convenient!

- Who else lives under your roof?

My hubby, of course! We’ll be married five years this October. This year we expanded our family to include an adorable black lab / beagle mix. She is absolutely gorgeous and a true member of the family.

I am seriously impressed with your chinups, Cara! I’m working on them myself, but I have a ways to go before I get there! I’m definitely motivated now! And my hubby and I celebrate an October anniversary as well – what a coincidence!

Okay, now on to the chicken and waffles. Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Memphis, Tennessee. We did the whole Beale Street tour, ate amazing ribs, and toured Elvis’ home, but one of my favorite experiences was visiting this little place called Miss Polly’s Soul Food Cafe. We loved it so much, we ate there twice, in fact. They served chicken ‘n’ waffles. To those of you who have never heard of this concoction, let me tell you, you’re in for a real treat. Think crispy, salty fried chicken with crackly skin atop a fluffy, lightly sweet waffle, drenched in maple syrup. Salty+sweet+a little chicken grease = heaven. There was nothing left on my plate at the end of that meal, let me tell you. The memory of that meal will forever be imprinted in my mind.

Unfortunately, a few months later, I went gluten-free, as my health had deteriorated to the point where I simply had to do something. While I was ecstatic to find my health returning (and still am), chicken ‘n’ waffles became nothing more than a food memory. That is, until I stumbled upon Cara’s recipe.

Cara brought chicken ‘n’ waffles back to this gluten-free girl’s kitchen.

A healthier version of the grease, gluten and dairy-laden dish I enjoyed in Memphis, Cara’s dish was no less delectable. A crisp cornflake-coated chicken breast provided savory crunch. Atop a barely sweet, fluffy waffle, drizzled with syrup, and I was reliving that memory once again, without the consequences. Truth be told – the waffle was my favorite part. Crisp edges, fluffy soft interior, and a perfect balance of sweet and that hint of salt, this waffle will definitely grace our table again. But the entire dish was sublime. Thanks Cara, for bringing what I thought was only a distant food memory back to life!

See the recipe for Cara’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles here!

9 Responses to “Meet Cara of Cara’s Cravings (and Gluten-Free Chicken ‘n’ Waffles!)”

  1. So glad you liked the recipe! Thanks for this awesome “get together” :)

  2. Awesome interview! I love learning more about two of my fave bloggers ;) I wish I could go to the gym for some heavy lifting with Cara! I’d love to see her in action.

  3. Great questions–and answers! What a terrific idea to interview each other. And hope you’re enjoying that juicer!! ;-)

  4. What a great set of interviews! I’d happily join you for a dinner of Cara’s chicken and waffles…or just skip right to the blueberry cheesecake. :)

  5. The first time I saw chicken and waffles on a restaurant sign I just about fell over. I thought it was a joke. My husband assured me that it was quite common. I have a hard time imagining the two together but the picture looks so beautiful it somehow looks right. I’m going to have to try this!

  6. what a great post! those waffles looks divine! nice to “meet” you!

  7. I still love the chicken and waffles idea!! And I have been dying to try them since Cara posted about them. I think this was so fun for you guys to do this little highlight of eachother…and you came up with great questions!
    And Cara, since you asked…I would pick St. Lucia. My hubby would totally pick Costa Rica. :D
    xo
    k

  8. I’ll chime in – can you fit me in that big coach bag on your vacation? I won’t be much trouble, I promise!

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