Family vacay | San Diego to Sebastopol

We’re coming off of 2 weeks of family vacation and I wanted to document some highlights.

My grandparents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on Saturday, June 30th. Mike and I flew down to San Diego to meet them, my mom, little bro, and stepdad. San Diego was the first place my grandparents lived together as a married couple so it had sentimental value. Mike and I also celebrated our one year anniversary there years ago. I will say San Diego was more crowded than I remember.

This time around, we all stayed in the same Airbnb in downtown. Unfortunately the parking at our Airbnb was terrible. We had the 2 cars my family drove there in and risked a ticket every night by parking in the church lot next door. Our Airbnb was also very cozy for 6 people, plus a baby, but we managed.

After we settled in, we drove to Old Town. My grandma used to work at Wells Fargo so I planned a surprise tour of the Wells Fargo museum for her. Our guide was very informative and fun. After, we had lunch at Bora Bora. My mom and I spilt the cheese enchiladas and they didn’t disappoint!

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Exploring Old Town

That night, we went to dinner at Donovan’s Steak House to celebrate my grandparent’s milestone anniversary. Parking in downtown was a nightmare, as to be expected, but everything else was perfect. We basically all ordered steak and I didn’t hear a single complaint. The waitstaff was friendly and attentive, even holding Gio for a bit!

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After dinner Mike and I went to the National Comedy Theater. We had been there years ago and knew we wanted to go back the second this trip was planned. It is the funniest improv show. Like, bent-over-belly-laughing funny.

When traveling, some of my favorite things to check out are local improv/comedy clubs, yoga studios, and walking tours. Which, speaking of… on Sunday we made a spur of the moment decision to do a walking tour of Coronado. Mike and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on the island ~2 years ago and fell in love (you can read about our stay here and here). The walking tour was $20/each for 90 minutes. We saw a bunch of historical houses and ended at The Del. I thought it was well worth it for everything we learned. Plus, we were the only ones on the tour, which is always a nice surprise.

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Gio’s first walking tour; catching a ride from SISTER
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Canadian cutie outside The Del

We had lunch after at Tavern. I’m surprised this place wasn’t more crowded because it was really good. It’s a big win when your entire group is happy with the menu and their food. The decor here was really cute too. And I’m a sucker for ambiance. My family was ready to head back after but Mike and I stayed to enjoy a drink on the patio together. Then we took the fairy back to San Diego, which I definitely recommend as it is pretty cheap and just fun.

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That night my friend from high school came to visit because her son is a huge Andy Z (my stepdad) fan. It was so cute to see him starstruck by Andy. We all just chilled out with some wine and heavy apps. As with most family vacations, we turned in pretty early; tired from a full day of activity.

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Patio chillin

On Monday we went to the San Diego Zoo and I was like, #OutOfOffice y’all. What’s better than being on vacation on a Monday? I knew the SD zoo was huge so we had to get an early start. First up? Flamingos!

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We had an okay lunch of hummus wraps and pasta salad that, surprisingly, didn’t break the bank. Food at any of these places (theme parks, zoos, etc.) is typically so unhealthy and expensive. I was glad our lunch was decently priced but I really should learn to pack a picnic instead.

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The whole fam.

The real highlight of the zoo was when Mike and I were strolling along and a zookeeper came out saying “please move to the left side of the walkway so we can walk our cheetah.”

Wait, what!?

Sure enough, seconds later, there is a cheetah walking a few feet from us (obviously on a leash). The trainer stopped at a bench right in front of us to feed the cheetah. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen and completely unplanned.

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…not the best picture but the Cheetah is behind her dog buddy, who were introduced when the cheetah came to the zoo and are now BFFs (the dog helps the cheetah stay calm and relaxed).
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Hi there!

Sadly, we were all had to go home on Tuesday. Before heading to the airport, Mike and I went to a cute cafe we discovered, Lofty Coffee. Best house made chai lattes. I typically don’t order chai unless I know it isn’t made from a powder, so I was happy to see a solid option on the menu.

It is a quick flight home from San Diego. Being that we were on vacation, we headed straight to our pool. That night we went to our neighbors for apps, dinner, and gallons of wine. ūüėČ It was so nice to catch up over good food and a few drinks. Plus, the girls and I decided to start a book club. (tipsy Prime usage FTW) so we’ll be getting together again soon.

Mike’s parents arrived for a visit on Wednesday, 4th of July. For the past 4 years, we’ve spent the 4th with our friends Gary and April (in Calabasas last year and Mexico the year before!) so I was happy that they could make it too. We grilled chicken at our house for tacos and played a few games. It was a fun, low key 4th of July.

Having taken the week off, we decided to take Mike’s parents to the Barlow for an overnight stay Thursday to Friday. They’ve been to California a number of times and have done almost everything touristy in the area. This was a new adventure so it was extra fun. The Barlow is a sweet little area filled with organic food, wine, breweries, cafes, and our favorite distillery.

We started with a wine flight and cheese plate at MacPhail tasting lounge. It was nice to be outside enjoying the warm weather and catching up between pours. It is a particularly exciting time because we’re in the middle of wedding plan, which I always find fun to talk about.

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Next we went over to Pax and spilt a bottle of wine, plus an order of warm olives. Again, such a nice time.

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After we went to a brewery for burgers and a few rounds of games. Sadly, I lost both… Specifically Jenga, when I pulled the block that made the tower tumble. Boo!

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Faaaaiiiilll

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub and a discussion of wedding songs. ūüôā

Friday started with coffee at Taylor Lane, where they serve organic coffee and creamy almond milk. Win. We took Mike’s parents to Spirit Works Distillery after to show them the barrel room and spilt a tasting flight.

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Wanting to beat rush hour in SF, we left shortly after. On the way home we met my dad for a light bite at The Fish Market in San Mateo. The Fish Market has a few locations throughout California but the best one is in San Mateo, without question. It was a nice day so we sat outside on the patio. I was happy my dad got to spend some time with Mike’s parents since they live far away and our families don’t get to see each other often.

The week was fun and family filled. We packed in a lot of activities in a short amount of time. But, to be honest, the rest of Mike’s parents stay was just as jam-packed as the first few days. They were here for 10 days total and we did something almost every night.

On Saturday, we had our lovely engagement party hosted by my mom and fam. It was great to see our closet friends and family come together and get to know each other before our big day next May.

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On Sunday we enjoyed a cheese, cracker, and beer night to get through some of the leftovers.

On Monday I went back to work but we still went to a Giants game that night. Which they won. Go Giants!

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Tuesday was dinner at home. Mike cooked. The best.

Wednesday we were back at The Fish Market for an official meal there. My dad joining again. ūüôā

Thursday we visited the hotel that our room block is at for our wedding. Notably also enjoying a glass of wine on their cute patio and brainstorming after-party ideas.

Friday was their last night here (sad), which called for a fancy dinner at Dry Creek Grill. This was our first time there and we loved it! I can see it becoming a go-to place to dine for us.

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Cheers!

Overall it was such a fun 2 weeks with family. I can’t believe how fast time is going. Our wedding is just over 10 months away and I have a feeling it’s going to go by in a flash…!

‚̧

The Happiest Place on Earth

The S.O. and I took some time off last  week and headed to southern California for a long weekend visiting friends and exploring Disneyland! We left around 2pm on Wednesday and drove to Chatsworth, where our friends Gary and April moved a few years ago. It was so good to see them again, even if it was only for one night. We were able to see their new house, have a few beers, and entertain ourselves with the face swap feature on snapchat.

On Thursday morning we woke up early to beat the infamous LA traffic and get to Disneyland on time. I snagged a cup of coffee before we left Gary and April’s but we didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. Instead of overpaying for food in the park, we stopped a few miles before our hotel and got breakfast croissants at a little one-off coffee shop. Our intention was to go to Subway but found this place instead and, wanting to support local businesses, decided to eat here.

We stayed at the Carousel Beach Inn¬†¬†right across from the park entrance. The hotel wasn’t anything special but it was about a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. The lack of amenities¬†(no WiFi or breakfast!) was doable given the great location. Besides, when you’re at Disneyland, you’re really only in the hotel to sleep and, believe me, sleep comes hard and fast after 12+ hours of walking.

Mike and I got the 2 day park hopper tickets ($$$$) and started our adventure in Disneyland. Growing up, I went to Disneyland often with my mom, grandma, and grandpa but we only went to California Adventure  once; so Disneyland is really the beating heart for my childhood memories and nostalgia.

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The main entrance!
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The photographer wanted us to “stare into each other’s eyes” and I was barely able to keep ¬†it together…
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Secretly giggling at the awkwardness

Needless to say, like most of the population, I was pretty stoked to be starting the day in the happiest place on earth. (If only it wasn’t so crowded…) We walked to Space Mountain* first to grab a fast pass¬†and were completely overwhelmed with how insane Tomorrowland was. Star Wars has taken over. We made an agreement to spend as little time as possible there.

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Waiting for our first ride!

Luckily the rest of the park wasn’t as crowded.¬†We were able to ride Pirate’s, The Haunted House, the Matterhorn, and a few others before going back to use our fast pass on Space Mountain. Space Mountain was my favorite ride when I was little and it didn’t disappoint now¬†being¬†26 years old!

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Outside Club 33!
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Star Tours

After riding rides all morning, we were ready for lunch. We made our way to Harbour Galley and shared a shrimp salad, a lobster roll and a giant iced tea. Theme park food is often unhealthy and caloric but I’m always starving! A salad would not hold me over (plus, most of the time, the salads aren’t actually even that healthy…) so I love that ¬†Mike is willing to split things with me! This way we are able to at least get some vegetables but also splurge a bit. Win-win.

Next we went to explore California Adventure and I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was! I thought I was going to want to stay in Disneyland the whole trip (possibly clinging a little too hard to some childhood memories!) but it was well worth it to pay the money and go back and forth between the two parks.

Added bonus:California Adventure has alcohol.

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Beer sampler
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Making sure all is well with work!
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Mike and his brew

For dinner we went to Downtown Disney and sat outdoors at a place called UVA Bar. We split an order of the calamari to start. I ordered the mushroom flat bread pizza, opting for a vegetarian meal because of the ham I had on my breakfast croissant, and Mike order the lamb burger with spicy Greek fries. The food was so good but we needed to eat quickly in order to ride the Tower of Terror one more time before closing.

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Leaving CA Adventure 

After a long day of a lot of walking, riding, screaming, eating, drinking, and plain ol’ Disney magic, it was time to go back to the hotel and sleep.

On Friday we were at the park before opening, deciding to start the day in California Adventure to capitalize on the Starbucks there. Armed with my iced coffee and spinach and feta egg white wrap (a go-to breakfast for me when I’m traveling), I was ready for another round of ¬†Tower of Terror.

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We are in the front row on the left. I look like I’m going to puke and Mike is playing a prank.

We went to Cars Land after and rode Radiator Springs Racers, which was definitely my favorite ride in California Adventure.

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After a few other rides we grabbed a beer and sat down for a while. Mike had his step tracker on his phone and it calculated we had walked ~29,000 steps on Thursday and ~36,000 by the end of Friday.

Another round for us!

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Cheers!

By chance, while we were there, the Food & Wine festival was going on so we were able to try some really good beers and small plates. We snacked on chicken and 4 cheese mac and cheese and some fried artichokes while people watching.

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After our light snacks, we went back to Disneyland (a lot of park hopping comes with the park hopper tickets!) for more rides and lunch. Having eaten (mostly) vegetarian throughout the day, I was ready for some meat during lunch! (Weekatarianism isn’t really a thing on vacations…) We stopped at Bengal Barbecue for chicken and bacon wrapped asparagus skewers and split a jalapeno stuffed pretzel.

Towards the end of the day, we had our fast passes lined up perfectly and spent a fun 2 hours running through the parks to make all of our rides on time.

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After our last ride on our fast pass binge, we went to downtown Disney again for dinner. This time opting for a little fancier eatery and dining at House of Jazz. I ordered the Gulf Shrimp Pan Roast, which came with (more) artichoke hearts, andouille sausage, tomato veloute and Cajun rice. SO GOOD! I love New Orleans inspired food.

And of course we couldn’t resist the Beignets¬†for dessert!

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Look at all of that powered sugar!

After dinner we went back to Disneyland to finish out the evening. We rode Big Thunder Mountain (one of my favorites!) one last time before the park closed and we went back to the hotel for another deep, deep sleep.

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The castle. (And all of the people.)

On Saturday we woke up early and drove to Orange County to visit some very good friends of mine. I met my friend Sam in college, who was living with her aunt Robin and uncle Tony. Robin was expecting her first baby and I was looking for a job! Having experience with kids (my mom owned a home daycare and I started babysitting when I was 13), I started watching Robin and Tony’s son (and a few years later, their daughter) every week for over 2 years.

I spent basically every day with Sam and her family and love them like they are my own. Sadly in 2009 they all moved down to southern California and now I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like to.

Sam had a precious, pretty, perfect  little baby girl in March and I finally got to meet her sweet little self. It was so good to end our weekend with such close friends.

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Beautiful like her mama!

Overall, we had a great vacation – a perfect couple of days spent away before I start my new job next week!

#VegOut!

*I know it has been renamed Hyperspace Mountain but I disagree with changing this classic coaster’s name so will continue to call it by the original.

 

 

Going steady…

Food relationships are a funny thing. Everyone has one because everyone needs to eat¬†to live but they¬†vary from person to person. (As, I suppose, all relationships do…)¬†¬†Some people don’t think twice about what they put in their mouth and others obsess over it. Some only eat ORGANIC while others are sustained on fast-food alone. There are millions of food blogs, videos, tips and tricks on why, how and what to eat¬†(The Veg Voyage itself is definitely food focused) but, in the end, it’s up to each individual to figure out their food relationship.

Today, I have a healthier food relationship than I did in the past but I still think about food a lot more than the average person does… (based scientifically¬†on my own personal pool of friends, of course;) Not only do I think about food a lot but¬†I love reading and writing about¬†it.¬†Those articles that have celebrities list what they eat in a day? I love those… And you don’t even have to be famous for me to care about what you eat! Who knows about¬†What I Ate Wednesday?! (Though, the fact that this exists, does bring me comfort since it means¬†what other people eat is, in fact, interesting to other people.) There are also these videos on YouTube where people record everything they ate in a day… These are pretty long (some around 20 minutes) and I usually get bored somewhere after their breakfast but … I know they are out there… so, there’s that.

For most of my life, my relationship with food was eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.¬†I’m¬†blessed because I’ve actually enjoyed healthy food my entire life. So, naturally¬†preferring veggies to Big Macs (most of the time!) paired with not over-eating, left me healthy, anxiety-free and able to eat basically whatever I wanted. This way of life continued until one semester in college when I had the crazy idea to¬†schedule¬†my classes only twice a week instead of splitting them up over the five days. I was at school ALL day and, not wanting to be left hungry (or broke from eating out 3 meals a day, twice a week), I began planning my meals, coffee breaks and snacks. This snowballed and suddenly I was planning entire weeks’ worth of meals on Sunday evenings.

Like, every little thing I was ever going to eat.

Oh, and I don’t know if you know this buuutt… most of the time, when something is off-limits (which ALL food was UNLESS it was on my MEAL PLAN), it suddenly becomes¬†the¬†most desired thing you’ve ever ¬†thought about.

So, you know, I continued my meal planning every Sunday, “cheating” most days by having a bite of something that was not part.of.the.plan., feeling bad about it, and then starting the whole thing over again.

My obsession amplified when I transferred to University where I felt out of my element. Scheduling everything I was going to eat went from¬†an obsession to, in retrospect, how I felt … in control in a new environment.

Eventually, I broke free from my scheduling (along with not allowing myself to¬†eat the same thing twice in a day but that’s an entirely different post…) and have mostly fallen back into the habit of¬†eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I can’t tell you how nice it is to let food just be food.¬†It isn’t this constant source of worry and anxiety the way it once was. I rarely feel bad about eating anything and concentrate on balancing things out instead of making them perfect.

Because really? what is a world without Jack in the Box tacos, amirite?!

Of course, I still have my circumstance-induced moments where I can feel myself turning towards food for the comfort of schedule and stability. For example, on vacations, I get antsy when I don’t know when we will be eating next. Should I eat all of my sandwich because we are having a late¬†dinner¬†or 1/2 because we are getting ice cream after this? There isn’t necessarily a schedule and sometimes that stresses me out. Or, occasionally, if it’s dinnertime and we haven’t eaten, I will want to eat more for the stability on ending your day with dinner than because I am hungry.

No matter what though, everyday, I strive to make sure my relationship with food is healthy, balanced, is given proper attention and care but is not all encompassing.

Time to make dinner!

#VegOut

‚ô° Ashley

changing the world on a Sunday night…

It seems nothing ignites my natural, whole food, plant based (hippy, granola. tree hugging, chia seeds loving) side more than a good Industry Bashing documentary, so when I found out that¬†Fed Up was (finally!!) available to stream on Netflix, I literally halted life, crawled onto my bed (too much clean laundry to fold to crawl in it) and pressed play. ¬†¬†Onepointfive hours later and I can’t do anything (laundry, shower, sleep…) besides BLOG about it.

If you remember, another documentary – Vegucated – was my¬†initial muse for The Veg Voyage. I’ll admit, I have a serious fall-hard-and-fast-lust/love-affair thing going on with food documentaries. Like, it’s a problem. But really,¬†¬†I might need to get some help…¬† AMERICA needs to seriously get some help.

So, aside from hanging on to every word Katie Couric and cast spoke during Fed Up (except when I paused to check how many grams of sugar are in the tomato sauce, ketchup and salad dressing* that I buy…), I couldn’t help but make some alarming comparisons to the book I just finished, French Kids Eat Everything.

As I was reading this book, I was thinking about blogging some of the highlights. However, now that I’ve seen Fed Up, I believe a full-blown blog-series is in order; comparing habits (of both the eating and the marketing of food in the two countries) and the government vs. parent ¬†responsibility for children not only to eat¬†well but to¬†learn to eat well.

I wish I could jump into my¬†opinions now but, it’s Sunday. I have work tomorrow and there is still a giant pile of laundry that needs to be put away. So, instead, I’ll leave you with my real-life motto:

Vegetables can change the world.

Be sure to come back to The Veg Voyage and let me prove it to you! (Also, please try to read that motto in your least corny voice…;)

*I used to make my own salad dressing but then, one day, on a whim, I bought Newman’s Own at Whole Foods and, let’s just say, my life has never been the same. Luckily, this obsession/love/addiction¬†dressing doesn’t have an absurd amount of sugar in it sooo I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

A rocky start to my meatless March

It is March 2nd and my goal for being a public vegetarian has already been shattered. Why? Two words. Carnitas nachos.

Growing up and living in California, Mexican food has played a delicious and prevalent part in my diet. I am obsessed with all things beans, cheese and tortilla. Enchiladas, tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas. Give them all to me. Now!

To be clear, the meat in these dishes isn’t the main reason for my love affair with¬†Mexican food. I can happily get down with the vegetarian version of any and all Mexican dishes. You might be asking yourself why carnitas nachos already lead me to failure on my SECOND day of trying not to eat meat out… Well, you see, I can resist the meat but the nachos? the light and crunchy fried tortilla chips smothered with melted cheese and beans? the creamy avocado and flavorful pico de gallo sprinkled on top? I CAN’T SAY NO! With or without a side of animal on top.

So, today, when a friend/co-worker asked if I wanted the rest of her carnitas nachos (key word: NACHOS), I grabbed some of her napkins and didn’t breathe again until all of the ooey gooey goodness was gone. Granted, I probably only ate about 5 chips with meat on them, I still ate meat. I still fail.

Hopefully this is my only slip up for the month¬†week but we’ll see… Did I mention I’m going Nashville in 2 weeks? Is it possible to survive in the south without meat?

#VegOut

‚ô° Ashley

No More Sausage

It is Trader Joe's Chicken Sausagethe week before the start of my Veg Voyage (starting with public vegetarianism, remember?) and I have one package of Trader Joe’s sausages in the freez
er. This particular sausage isn’t worst on the market, by far. However, I’m not so sure about the quality of the chickens they used to make them and how they were treated (!!!!) so,¬†based on my last post, I won’t be buying them again.

Although I can probably find organic chicken sausages to make at home, I can’t help but wonder¬†about the social impact my new lifestyle will¬†have on my life outside of my house. For example, this past weekend I went to a wedding and¬†ate pork, bacon and steak. And no, I did not check to make sure they were grass fed or organic… I was just there, eating meat and drinking wine, dancing and having a good time.

In perpetration for March, I thought it would be helpful to breakdown the options offered and what I will still be able to eat once I give up meat in the public sector.

For appetizers, I sampled a mini¬†caprese salad on a toothpick (word to the wise, don’t plop the whole thing in your mouth at once… not cute.), seared tuna on crackers, a small potato pancake with a dollop of cream cheese and tiny pulled pork sliders.

Then dinner came which consisted of a nice green salad followed by filet, mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Dessert was made-to-order crepes with Nutella and whip cream.

After some (more) drinks and dancing, there were homemade (!) empanadas that I am assuming had meat, chips and guac.

So? say this wedding was next month. What would I have been able to eat? Being vegetarian the following items would be have still been okay to eat:

  • mini¬†caprese salad
  • small potato pancake with a dollop of cream cheese
  • green salad and whatever the veg option was (I believe it was pasta)
  • crepes with Nutella¬†and whip cream
  • chips and guac

Still plenty of delicious options that I think would/will be totally doable but we’ll see how March goes…

#VegOut

‚ô° Ashley