I feel so lucky to have a birthday that every year falls on or around the Labor Day 3-day weekend.  Thanks to the long-weekend, Mike & I did quite a bit of celebrating – in fact, we celebrated too much to fit it all into one post!

Here’s how we celebrated Friday & Saturday of my birthday weekend. 


Fun Fact:  Did you know that my Dad and I share the SAME Birthday? We were both born on September 3rd, just a few decades apart.  Happy belated Birthday, Dad! Here’s a funny picture of us celebrating together 15 years ago.

And my older Sister’s Birthday is just 4 days after (and 3 years before) mine!  Happy Birthday, Jane!


Friday night:

After enjoying take-out Korean rice bowls for dinner and treating myself to a 60-minute massage, Mike and I decided to watch a movie streaming on Netflix… And, since I was the birthday girl, I got to choose the movie!

I chose Forks Over Knives, a documentary that shows that a plant-based, whole-foods diet is nature’s best medicine.

The information in the movie was quite powerful.  In fact, after just reading this review, Mike became as eager to see the movie as I was, and said that he wants to cut-back more on Meat and Dairy products.

This movie showed me that even as a vegetarian, in order to prevent disease, my diet still needs quite a bit of improvement.  This movie motivated me to try even harder to reduce the amount of oils, dairy, and packaged products that I eat. 


Since Saturday was my actual birthday, after being serenaded over the phone by my family in Florida (including a beautiful solo by my 20-month old niece Charlotte), we started out the day by opening presents!

Mike completely spoiled me by getting me not just 1, but THREE fantastic gifts. He picked out a pair of earrings with trees etched into them, and a purse made out of a recycled rice-sack that he thought would be perfect for our upcoming trip to Asia.  These were both from one of my favorite stores -the Andersonville Galleria – which has over 90 small-retailer tenants that rent out store-within-a-store space to sell their goods. 

And, as you can see, he also got me a beautiful new Cuisinart Food Processor!  He even did quite a bit of research to pick out the model rated #1 by Consumer Reports.  My old food-processor was about 1/5th of this size and a lot less powerful, so even the simplest recipes required multiple batches and extra effort.  Plus, this model apparently can knead bread dough too!  I can’t wait to try out my new toy and some new recipes too.

Thanks to rainy, stormy weather, the rest of my birthday was quiet and relaxing.  We only ventured out of the apartment to go to the Library and to go out for dinner.

Coincidentally, after placing the book in my library queue several weeks ago, my copy of the Engine 2 Diet had just come in and was waiting for me at the library!  I spent most of my rainy birthday reading in bed.

From what I’ve read so far, the information in this book is basically the same as the lessons in Forks Over Knives (the author is featured in the movie and his father is one of the film’s two primary subjects). However what this book adds to the movie experience is 100 pages of recipes, and an exercise plan, to help in the transition towards health.  

Saturday evening, Mike and I went to the brand new Lakeview location of Native Foods Cafe.  If you recall, Mike and our friends Krin and Etan attended the Wicker Park location’s Grand Opening a few weeks back, but I wasn’t able to join them, and was eagerly anticipating this visit! Since Mike guest-posted a full-review of Native Foods Cafe, I’ll keep my re-cap fairly short.  Be sure to check out his post if you’d like more information!


Upon entering the restaurant, I got a pleasant surprise when I was greeted by Chef Tanya (pictured above), acclaimed vegan chef and owner of the entire Native Foods chain!  She was so friendly and laid-back, just like the rest of the restaurant staff.


I enjoyed everything we ordered, especially the Lavender Lemonade (pictured above, far left) and the Soup of the Day – Coconut Lemongrass (pictured below, far right) which was sweet and spicy.


For our entrees, Mike and I each ordered different “Earth Bowls” topped with skewers of Tempeh.  Mike had the “Gandhi Bowl” (pictured below, left) of brown rice, steamed veggies, cranberries and mango with a yummy curry sauce, which paired very well with the soup.  I ordered the “Sesame Kale Macro Bowl” (pictured below, right) of brown rice, steamed kale, and sauerkraut with a ginger-sesame sauce.  The combination of Kale, Sauerkraut, and Sesame was surprisingly amazing.  My bowl also came with a side of the Cucumber & Seaweed salad pictured above, a perfect pairing!  


Although we were stuffed, we couldn’t leave without ordering a Peanut Butter Parfait.  I loved how creamy and rich and nutty it tasted, with just a hint of sweetness… and it was completely vegan and only $3!

Although that concluded my actual birthday, stay tuned to see how we spent the rest of our Labor Day Weekend!

 I’d love to hear from you!

What’s your favorite foodie book or movie?

Do you have any great recipes to share that require a Food Processor?