Monthly Archives: July 2011

Tree Pose: Root your toesies!

Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed this beautiful, juicy nectarine while watching Ellen.

They are definitely underrated!  One of my favorite fruits of the summer 🙂

I was in charge of making dinner, but while I was cooking I got a bit snacky.  So I had some sunflower seeds to satisfy that salty snacky feeling

and some semisweet chocolate chips to satisfy that sweet snacky feeling!

Then I got hard to work making garlic sauteed shrimp to go with pasta and marina sauce.  My mom and sister were running late, so my Dad and I had some Cabot cheddar cheese while we waited…

Sam and Mom finally arrived (they were waiting at the doctor’s office for over 1.5 hours!) with Italian bread it tow!  I had a HUGE plate and ended up being waaaaay full!  Gotta love that Italian comfort food 🙂

There are shrimp on that plate somewhere!

Last night, Dominique called me asking if I would come over to keep me company while she packed for her weekend trip to NYC.  When I showed up, she offered me a dark chocolate Ghiardelli square, which is one of my favorite chocolates, as a reward.  Good company and good chocolate!!! xoxo

When I got back home, I finished a fantastic book I have been reading this week, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

I really enjoyed this memoir about a group of young women who read and discuss banned books in Iran.  This book has so many resonant insights into both classic literature and revolutionary Iran.  It was frequently deep and intense, and I really loved how true it was; I learned so much.  I wish that I had read more of the books they studied, like Lolita, but I absolutely gobbled up the portions where they discussed Jane Austen!  “‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Muslim man, regardless of his fortune, must be in want of a nine-year-old virgin wife.'”  Though that was my favorite bit, the book is full of fascinating parallels between their veiled existence and the lives of so many literary heroines.

Today, I woke up a bit early and scarfed a quick brekkie:

  • coffee with almond milk
  • water
  • sunbutter-stuffed date
  • 1/2 banana
  • strawberry 0% fat chobani greek yogurt

before going to yoga followed by a BodyPump class.  Today I added some more weight onto my bar for each track, so I was really feeling the burn!  But the whole weight system confuses me a bit.  The BodyPump bars measure in kilograms, and 1kg is a lot more than 1lb!  I’m having trouble conceptualizing how much I am increasing my weight by, but either way, I know the more I give, the more I get!  It’s funny though, even after I added on weight, I’m still the wimpiest one in the class!

At lunchtime, I realized I hadn’t had oatmeal in, like, 2 WEEKS!! Who am I?  So I quickly got a nectarine and the rest of my breakfast banana chopped up and in the pot.

Followed by oats, water, almond milk, cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla extract.

Full to the brim!

GOD I missed that stuff!  So delicious and filling.

My brother believes that bagel places spread too much cream cheese on toasted bagels, so when he brought one home for lunch, he scraped the excess cream cheese and set it aside for me!  lol!  So, when my tummy was raging in the mid-afternoon, I toasted myself half of an everything bagel and schlepped it on top.

The cream cheese was FANTASTIC!  It was some kind of tomato and herb blend.  Holy yummykins.

I really missed bagels while I was in New Zealand.  You couldn’t get an authentic one anywhere!

My mom and I made some vegetable stir fry for dinner with tons of different veggies, and some jasmin rice on the side.  To make things more exciting, I made a peanut sauce for on top!  I started with 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, and 1/4 of a lemon (juiced), but then I adjusted it a bit to taste.  It was the perfect light but satisfying meal that we needed the night before we leave for vacation!

Tomorrow, we are leaving for our yearly week-long family trip to the beach.  We are headed to Emerald Isle, North Carolina for a week of relaxing on the beach.  I’M SO EXCITED!  Though I admit, I won’t be doing anything different down there than I have been doing at home.  Reading, running, cooking, eating, doing yoga, and spending time with my family.  We’ll just be doing it all on the beach!  And with more family members and more BOARD GAMES!

I love doing yoga on the beach.  It’s one of Earth’s best natural yoga studios.  The warmth, the ambiance…you couldn’t ask for anything more perfect!  I’ll be sure to post more about it later…  But for now, I would like to share my favorite pose to do on the beach….tree pose!

Balance poses are extra tricky on the beach.  Sand is hard to balance on!  Heck, a perfectly level studio floor is tricky to balance on!  I always starts by spreading all of my toes apart and rooting them into the ground.  God gave us 5 toes on each foot — use them all to balance!  I bring my foot to the highest point possible on the inside of my thigh, but I always have to guide it there with my hands. Some day I will have the strength and flexibility to just float it into place!  Once I feel grounded, I grow my upper half out of my hips into perfect posture, and I always extend my prayer hands above my head.

It is really challenging to stay balanced while gazing towards your hands, but they say that if you gaze at the floor, that’s where your pose goes.  AKA you fall down lol.  So I always try to bring my gaze as high as possible.  Balance poses are great for the mind and also great for your concentration.  I can always tell if something is distracting me in life because I can never hold my balance poses that day!  Balance poses are great for strengthening your core, but more than anything they teach you to focus.  Having trouble focusing on some task?  Stand on one foot and gaze straight ahead for 30 seconds.  That’ll help ya 😉

PS – for a midnight snack in the middle of a packing frenzy, I had some p’nut m&ms and this chocolate bar that Mrs. Benzio brought for me from Scotland.

It was melted when Dominique delivered it to me, so I’ve been letting it sit the freezer, waiting for the right moment to enjoy it!  Such a great treat.  I need chocolate.  And Cadbury is THE BEST.  It beats gross old m&ms any day 😉

Do you find balance poses more challenging than other yoga poses?

Namaste.

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Down with the Dog

I got a hair cut yesterday!

I love how my hairstylist gives me cuts that encourage my natural waves.  It makes styling easy!  AKA – air dry!  I hadn’t had a haircut since January, so I needed to get it cleaned up, desperately.  He barely took anything off, and it feels so light!

Despite the new do, Ghia and I felt like this for most of the day:

Blagh.  Snacking which watching Ellen cheered us up, though!  I had some roasted garlic hummus,  first with a poblano pepper, then with some multigrain club crackers.

Ghia had some crackers, too 😉

But dinner was a huge let-down.  Ew it was so gross.  It was the worst quesadilla ever known to man.  First, I used whole wheat tortillas that got really soggy and from the cooking spray and flimsy because I was too impatient to let it crisp up.  Then, the shredded mozzarella inside didn’t melt because I was too impatient to wait for it to warm up.  The chickpeas were bursting out of every corner of that round tortilla, but I guess chickpeas are a bad idea for a quesadilla anyway.  The only good part was the salsa and chipotle Tabasco sauce I doused it in.  Yum?  Not.

Then for dessert, I had a cheesecake bar that my sister made.  It was REALLY good, but my stomach didn’t think it was that good.  I HAD to get the ghost of the quesadilla out of my mouth, and it was certainly the best option 😉

But I was pleased because I spent the entire day trying to find someone to go on a bike ride with me, and finally my sister agreed!  I love my bike – it’s my mom’s old bike from the ’70s and my parents fixed up for me before I went to school.

However, last fall, someone damaged it and left it in ruins on the bike stand for me to find one morning.  Guess I’m not riding my bike to work today!  I finally had it fixed two weeks ago, and I finally went on a spin last night!

The weather was perfectly cool and breezy.  We we went on a long ride and had funfunfun!

This morning, I really couldn’t decide what I wanted for breakfast, so I had a whole wheat mini bagel with whipped cream cheese on one side and PB&J on the other side.

I also had a p’nut butt- stuffed date, for dessert.

Today’s workout consisted of a spin class and pilates.  We did a lot of sprints today, which I haven’t done in a while, and they totally wiped me out!  Pilates was pretty challenging, too, because we did a lot of new moves!

After my workout, I made lunch.  Again, I couldn’t decide what to have (my appetite is ALL overtheplace) but I decided to make a veggie burger.  It’s always satisfying!

I put the veggie burger on some whole wheat bread (using one end so it was more bunlike) and put some Dijon mustard and chipotle Tabasco sauce on top. Then, I also added an orange poblano pepper, some cherry tomatoes, and roasted garlic hummus on the other side.  I tried that pickle but took one bite and said, “NO!”  Luckily, I can always count on corn-on-the-cob-off-the-cob these days.  But yikes!  There is only one left!! dundundun  For dessert, I had a slice of cantaloupe.  Smile!

I had a few chores to do this afternoon, including watering the plants.  Immediately after I finished watering them all, it started to rain.  I hope those greenies were extra thirsty today!  I also picked some fresh cherry tomatoes from our garden.

joy.

I am usually very obsessed with Down Dog, but for some reason I am extra obsessed with it today.

I’ve had many yoga teachers who tell me that Down Dog stretches all of your muscles.

I can personally vouch that it stretches your lower back (as long as you point your tailbone skyward) and your hamstrings (as long as you straighten your legs and work your heels towards the floor).

It can be really tiring on the shoulders, but once you build up that strength, trust me when I say that you could stay there all day.  Today, I might just!

It also helps you pay more attention to your breath.  I always aim for 5 full inhales and exhales at a time.

It also helps to realign your skeletal structure, as long as you have the right alignment.

  1. Hands slightly wider than shoulder width, fingers spread, middle finger parallel with the sides of the mat
  2. Hands and feet are about the same distance apart that they would be in plank.
  3. Shoulder blades sliding down the back and tailbone pointed up in the air
  4. Feet hip width apart, toes facing forward, heels striving to (some day!) reach the mat

I can also vouch that it helps you focus inward and quiet and clear the mind.

Have you learned to love Down Dog yet?

Namaste.

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Legs Up on the Wall

Before we left for Trivia Monday night, I was hit by intense hunger!  So I ate some Big Cheez-Its, which are obviously better than the regular kind, and I also tried some dark chocolate-covered prunes, which are actually really good!

At dinner, my mom and I ended up splitting the vegetarian nachos after some buttered rolls as an appetizer.  Then, we each got a pear salad with walnuts and goat cheese, which is really good!  My favorite thing on the menu; every pub should have it.  My friend Nicole and I went crazy and ordered the warm brownie with ice cream for dessert, which was simply heavenly!  It had whipped cream with chocolate AND vanilla ice cream.  Plus, it was sprinkled with espresso powder.  I told you it was heavenly! Should have photographed it…

As for trivia, we came in third place.  Respectable.

Yesterday, after a very filling breakfast

(of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and some banana slices) I did a yoga session from Yoga Today.  This week’s free class is a beginner’s class, but I really enjoyed it!  Since I’ve been doing a lot of strength training and intense cardio lately, I am leaning on my yoga practice as more of restoration and meditation than anything.

After yoga, I hit up the Y for a pilates class and a good hard run on the treadmill.  It was actually one of my best runs, ever!  For someone like me who does not own a Garmin watch, I like treadmill runs so that I can really see what I am accomplishing.  Yesterday, I did 3 miles in under 30 minutes, which I have only been able to do a few times!  Yay!

Once back from the gym, I made a wrap with roasted garlic hummus and a little egg frittata with peppers and tomatoes.  Corn-on-the-cob-off-the-cob on the side!

As a little lunch “dessert” I had the rest of my banana from breakfast…but with some nutella!

After lunch, I ran many, many errands.  My car does not have working air conditioning so it is very the “h” word.  My cars radio has also recently become posessed by the devil, so it is going a bit haywire.  Result: I was going a bit haywire.

So once I got home, I had another slice of pound cake as a snack 🙂

Then, I made a really easy, delicious, and exciting dinner!!  I made naan pizzas, and all you need is onions,

gouda,

chickpeas,

BBQ sauce,

and whole wheat naan!

These naan pizzas were inspired by this recipe from Eat, Live, Run.  She even baked the dough, but I just topped the naan with some BBQ sauce, shredded gouda, caramelized onions, and some chickpeas.  Then I just popped them in the oven for 8 minutes at 450*!

They were a hit 🙂

After dinner, Dominique and I went to her house for dessert.  We had some digestive biscuits they brought back from Scotland, plus I had a lolly pop we brought back from NZ.  They are called “Starburst Sucks”

HAHAHHA!

Then, Dominique and I proceeded to do even more errands, during which we ate a box of Hello Panda.  Have you ever had them?  They are awesome and currently on sale at Target for a dollar.

(source)

When we came back, she made us a smoothie from frozen berries, almond milk, and protein powder while we watched America’s Got Talent.  Turns out, America doesn’t really have that much talent.

This morning, I played it safe and just went to a yoga class after having a similar breakfast to Monday’s.  It was actually a really great class!  It was relatively challenging while still opening my muscles gently.  This class has an extra half hour of restorative postures at the end, which I LOVE these days.  Everyone should try this today: it’s called “Legs Up on the Wall”

You can even do it in the dorms! He we are before bed at Pitt.

All you do it lay down, scoot your butt against a wall, and straighten your legs up above you.  If your hamstrings are super tight, you can put a pillow or blanket under your bum.  I like to use a strap to pull down your feet for an extra stretch, or you can simple lay your arms comfortably out at a T.  Hold it for at least ten minutes, then do a forward fold afterwards to make sure everything lines back up right.  It’s awesomeness!  It’s great for opening your legs, back, and even your chest!  All in a very gentle, restorative way.  I try to do it every night because you can do it lying on a bed against a wall, too!

After yoga, I made some cinnamon toasted chickpeas!

I pasically sprayed some chickpeas with cooking spray, drizzled them with cinnamon sugar and nutmeg, and then put them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes.  They were a great little snack, but I also had to have one of these Special K bars to curb my hunger.

I love them because they are only 90 calories and they taste like a rice krispy treat, but I also hate them becuase they are highly processed.  I should have just had another serving of the chickpeas!  But I eventually did get that extra serving of chickpeas…on some leftover pizza for lunch!  And of course…corn-on-the-cob-off-the-cob.

Try the “Legs Up on the Wall” pose and let me know how you like it!

Namaste.

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Spin, Pump, & Read

I love Mondays!!!!  I made myself a lovely yogurt bowl for brekkie:

  • Strawberry 0% Fat Chobani Greek Yogurt
  • Blueberries
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Sunbutter

MMMM!  I started my day with a spinning class.  I thought one of my favorite instructors was teaching, but there have been a lot of subs lately since everyone is going on vacay.  But the playlist the sub had rocked my socks off!  It was like a freaking dance party!  Here were my favorite bits:

The “Hellish” Double Feature:

  • “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne
  • followed by…
  • “Gives You Hell” by the All American Rejects

Also, we did a standing jog to “Dance Part Anthem” by LMFAO–my new favorite song–followed by a hill to “Rolling in the Deep” by ADELE–my other new favorite song.  I love to sing along while I spin.  It’s just plain fun!

After spinning, I went home and snacked on some peach slices and a p’nut butt- stuffed date.  Then, Sammi and I went to get pedicures!  My mom treated us to one so that our feet don’t look so skanky at the beach next week.  I chose this hot pink color.

Tara! Hi! These are my Chacos!

It’s called “Beets Me!”  Did I chose it because the name references food?  Maybe.  Yes.

After we got our nails did, I was ravenous and ate some corn-on-the-cob-off-the-cob.

Then, I whipped up a delicious wrap!

On a whole wheat tortilla:  roasted red pepper hummus, feta cheese, grilled asparagus, grilled red bell pepper.  But I felt something was missing, so I added some cherry tomatoes and sweet pickles.

Much better!

After lunch, I decided that I wanted to go to a BodyPump class, so I did!  There was practically no one there, so I enjoyed sprawling out and leisurely choosing whatever weights I wanted.  But it was tough on my pumpin’ body!  I consider myself very “yogicly” strong – meaning I can hold yoga poses forever minutes on end, and I can do approximately 50 vinyasas without needing a break.  Yet I can barely lift the smallest weights for all those reps!  I guess I just need to go more 🙂

My treat for going to BodyPump was aslice of the blueberry pound cake from David’s birthday.   yummyummyummyummy

In other news, I got a big surprise today in the mail today: two new books!  My mom took us kids to Border’s the other day to see if there were any good sales since it’s closing and we are headed to the beach next week (I read an average of 8 books on our week-long beach vacay!).  I picked these two books:

to learn about the vegan lifestyle

and

to learn more vegan recipes

But they weren’t on sale, and David loved to emphasize how you can get them cheaper from Amazon, which is why Border’s is going out of business anyway.  Hmmf.  Regardless, they ended up ordering them for me as a surprise!  Thanks, Mom (and David)!  I’ll cook ya something soon 🙂

Now I can add those books to my birthday present from Dominique,

and start my own vegan book library!  Funny how I have so many aegan books and I’m still not a vegan yet, huh?  In that spirit, I had some cheese and crackers as a snack 🙂

Tonight is Monday, so that means it’s trivia night!  I went to a weekly pub quiz in New Zealand, but that was all inspired by the trivia nights I attend with my parents and their friends when I’m home.  We are getting dinner in the bar beforehand this week, and my mom and I can’t decide whether we want a pear salad….or quesadillas.  Stay tuned to see what we order! 😉

Get any new books lately?

Namaste.

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Healthier Blueberry-Lemon Pound Cake

Thank you so much for all the kind responses to yesterday’s post!  I do want to clarify that I do not think that I need to lose weight, I just wanted to share why I hate the scale: it makes me feel fat if it shows a larger number than I have previously seen.  Even when I am in great shape and loving how I look! xoxo

Today was a fantastic Sunday!  It’s my big brother’s 23rd birthday.  Happy Birthday, Dave!

He got an iPhone. He is happy.

This morning, I joined my parents on their Sunday morning coffee date.  This creature came along, to:

Ghia

I got a nonfat capuccino (with cinnamon!) and had a few bites of a blueberry scone while enjoying some quality time with my parents on the porch of Starbucks.  After two p’nut butt- stuffed dates, I hit the gym for 30 minutes of gettin’ schweaty on the elliptical, followed by a very restorative, cooling yoga class.

After the gym, I went to Village Bagel Co. for lunch with my siblings David and Sam.  I ordered a Harvest Wheat bagel toasted with Spinach and Artichoke cream cheese.  I was so excited to see that flavor because I’ve been craving S&A dip!  We came home to eat the bagels, but we had some of my dad’s fantastic home fries on the side, too.

I also tried some of the egg whites my mom cooked up with leftover asparagus and peppers.

And some yummy peach slices, too!  Juicy and schweet and good.

After David opened presents (he was thrilled to receive a shower curtain from his loving sister ;)) I quickly got ready to see Harry Potter with Dominique and Andy.  My Aunt Paula came along, too!  I saw it last week while I was in Vermont, but I needed to see it with Dominique, too, since our mutual obsession of the series is a huge part of our friendship.  We loved it.  We always do.  I don’t feel comfortable to make any other “concluding” comments because I refuse to believe that it could “conclude!”  I will say that I always think of the movies as more of an interpretation of the books than a depiction, but I really enjoy watching the scenes come to life.

After the movie, the family headed to Ooka Japanese restaurant for David’s birthday dinner.  Edamame, shumai, and sushi rolls were shared by all.  I love going out for sushi since I can’t make it at home.  It’s just plain fun!  I also love how light everything is–I always feel full, but not in a sluggish way.

Gram L. is 86 and it was her first time trying sushi!!! And she LOVED it!  But it wasn’t her first time drinking.

That’s a joke, she just had water 😉

At home, we had cake and ice cream! Well, technically it was chocolate chip cookie dough frozen yogurt, yet equally awesome.  I had mine in a barbie cup.

Quirk about me: I like to stir up my ice cream so that it turns into soft-serve lol

DISCLAIMER: I WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO BEN AND JERRY’S.  Ben and Jerry’s is perfect just the way it is ❤

My mom, Sam and I made the cake yesterday.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I was the one to break it a little bit while taking it out of the pan.  My bad!  I’m not the best baker 😉

I wanted to share the recipe because it’s a lower-calorie, lower-fat twist on pound cake from Cooking Light Magazine (the July/August 1998 issue).  And you would never know the difference!  Its so moist, dense, and full of flavor.  We used freshly-picked blueberries, which helps too 🙂  You must try it.

BLUEBERRY POUND CAKE from Cooking Light

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light butter
  • ½ 8-oz block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-oz carton lemon low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes).  Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine 2 tablespoons flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well.  Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350* for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes; remove from pan.  Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in small bowl, drizzle over warm cake.  [Note from David: Double the glaze ;)]  Cut with a serrated knife.

Yield 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice); Calories 287 (19% from fat); Fat 6.1g (sat 3.4g, mono 1.8g, poly 0.4g); Protien 5.7g; Carb 53.9g; Fiber 1.5g; Chol 57mg; Iron 1.3 mg; Sodium 227mg; Calc 50mg

Do you have any easy substitutions to healthify your baking?

Namaste.

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Why I Hate the Scale

I never weigh myself.  There is such a stigma about wanting to see a smaller and smaller number that just isn’t good for the brain.  The number doesn’t matter–it’s how you feel.  I am much more focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle than a healthy weight.  But earlier this week–whether driven by curiosity or self destruction, I couldn’t tell ya–I stepped on my mom and dad’s scale.

And I discovered that I am ten pounds heavier than the last time I weighed myself!

It’s frustrating to think that I gained 10 pounds in the past few months, since I have eaten mostly whole foods and I exercised regularly.  I definitely felt a little beer belly growth in New Zealand, but instead of thinking of it as “gaining weight” I accepted it as an un-holy souvenier of all my beloved pubs and microbreweries.  I also feel like I’ve had one reason after another to celebrate over the past few months.  Which is a good thing! But apparently, it’s caused a little bit of excess.

But see, this is why I hate the scale!  Now I feel like I need to “loose weight.”  Now I feel like I need to “watch what I eat.”

And sigh.  I know I really don’t need to.  Because at 5’6″, 128lbs is NOT in the “overweight” category.  In fact, 118lbs was probably a little too slight for someone like me.  The fear of blowing away from the top of Stowe is real.  But seriously, I love my body and I know I look H-O-T!

All this taught me is that I need to  refocus on eating right.  In addition to my normal exercise regimen, I plan to eat three square meals a day, plus snackies only when hunger calls.  (Plus one small treat each day ;))  And guess what?  I am also going to record everything I eat for the rest of the summer!  Are you excited?!  Because that means I will be blogging about it!!!

Oh yeah–and I won’t be weighing myself again 😉

What is your relationship with your scale?

Namaste.

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The Best Birthday Ever

So far in life I have had 20 birthdays, and it’s official: the 20th was the best yet!  For what feels like the first time ever, my best friend Dominique and I would be together on my birthday and she promised a weekend of fun.  And boy did she deliver!

On Friday night we started the festivities at 86 West, a hip and swanky restaurant in town where Andy (Dominique’s BF and my BFF!) works as a cook.

We ordered a few delicious small plates, which is how I like to eat out 🙂

First, we ordered a crunchy crab roll which was so freaking delicious, let me tell YOU!

Next we devoured some fried calamari (using chopsticks because we are way cool) with some garlic aioli and cajun marinara.

Next we had so stir fried Brussels sprouts flavored with ginger and soy sauce.  I MUST recreate this!

Next had a vegan sushi roll, which was basically a burrito in sushi form.  Yumtastic!

It came with some chips and guac, plus some personal touches ❤  We got special treatment becuase of Andy!

To finish our meal, we had Lollipop sushi.  I don’t remember what was in it, but I can tell you that the textures were out of this world!  And it came on a stick!

After dinner, the three of us went back to the Benzio’s house for some cake.  Andy surprised me with a vegan cookie cake that he made for me all by himself.

It was sooooo rich.  I was sooooo happy!

After devouring a couple slices, we all went to bed.  But the birthday festivities weren’t over yet!  Dominique treated me to a Hot Yoga class on Saturday morning.  We went to River Flow Yoga in Lambertville, New Jersey which was a quaint, homey studio with Bikram classes.  It was Dominique’s first hot yoga class ever, and she loved it!  I really enjoyed it too: it was actually the best Hot Yoga class that I have ever been to.  The instructor had a great sense of humor and a great balance of relaxing and inspiring.  I had a great sweat and it allowed my muscles to open up a ton, which was good since I need to efficiently get back into my regular practice!

After class, we replenished with a huge lunch!

I spent the rest of my Saturday with my mom and sister.  We did some shopping and saw a movie (Bridesmaids, which was wild and hilarious!).

Sunday, my official 20th Birthday, was another awesome day.  We headed to the beach!

We went to Belmar, NJ which is a short drive away.  Unfortunately, a 45 minute search for parking followed our mini road trip, but we eventually got an ideal spot and set up camp on the clean, uncrowded beach.

We had such a relaxing day in the perfect sunshine!  Read magazines, took a dip in the ocean, and went on a long walk along the beach.

We headed back to my house for dinner where my mom had prepared a huge feast of all my favorite foods!!!

Olive and Ciabatta Bread

Cheeeeeeese!

Caprese Salad

Pasta Salad

Grilled corn (I may be 20 years old now, but I still like mine cut off the cob)

Grilled zucinni

And grilled bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes

After we’d stuffed ourselves with all of that, my mom brought out the star of the show: a perfectly baked chocolate vegan cake!

It was topped with some chocolate icing and toasted almond slivers, too!

It was so chocolately, moist, and spongy.  I’ve gotta get that recipe!!!!!

After dinner, we watched a Harry Potter movie – the best ending to the best birthday of my life. Thank you so much lovies!!!!

I am thrilled to finally be in my 20s – what an exciting decade!  I can’t wait to see where my life takes me in the next 10 years, and I feel so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life to join me.  People who know that all I want to do is eat vegan food, do yoga, and connect with nature.  Here’s to more of all that in my 20s than ever before!

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