Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vegan Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Wraps

This super simple recipe can be adapted and flavored differently depending on personal preference. It only takes about 20 minutes to prep and 20-25 minutes to cook. If you're looking for a filling, healthy meal then this is it!



Some additions can be tabasco, smoked paprika on the sweet potatoes in place of cumin, sour cream (if you're not vegan), etc. Also, if you don't want to add this to a wrap you can just throw it over mixed greens. Warm, roasted veggies are delish in salads.

Vegan Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Wraps


Serves 4-5
Ingredients
3 cups sweet potato peeled and diced (2-3 medium sized)
3 cups torn kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sale
3 tsp ground cumin (separated)
3 medium sized beefsteak tomatoes, chopped (3 cups total)
1.5 cups black beans (if you're using dried beans, this is the amount cooked; 15 oz canned is equivalent - rinsed and drained)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne (adjust according to preference)
4-5 Ezekiel sprouted whole grain tortillas (available at Whole Foods by the breads in the freezer)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss sweet potatoes, olive oil, and 3/4 tsp cumin. Roast for 20 minutes, until soft and lightly browned.

Combine tomatoes, black beans, bell pepper, kale, cayenne, and 2 1/4 tsp cumin to a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes and stir often. 

Place the tortillas in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to soften and warm them. Spoon out equal parts of the sweet potato and tomato mixture onto each wrap.

To fold the tortilla into a burrito, fold the sides of the wrap in and then roll from bottom to top, keeping contents in the center - here's a picture tutorial that makes it super easy. 






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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Skincare Routine

I was going to make the title of this post something along the lines of "I'm a big girl now," but that just made me think of the wonderful line from Full House: "I'm a big girl, you're a big girl, yada yada yada yada ya." Just a fun fact.

Last weekend I was looking for something to do on Sunday (yes it was 9 pm on Saturday night..) and I attempted to book a facial, but none of the top spas in NYC had any availability. Then my suitemates and I got on the topic of our skincare routines and makeup. My routine is very simple, but I have a tendency to buy random products at Duane Reade, Sephora, Ulta, etc. and blow my money because I didn't research enough.

My skin has been a tad bit dry at night because (1) I wash my face with water that's probably way too hot, (2) it's winter and aside from yesterday and today, it's been 2 degrees, and (3) NYC water is different on my skin than the NJ water at home. I looked into a bunch of different options to get myself into a "big girl" skincare routine that I can follow through with for life. I didn't want anything crazy that would be great the first two nights and then just felt like a hassle after that. While I did do my online research to figure out what options to keep in mind, I went to Sephora the next day for a consultation regarding a BB Cream, moisturizers, etc.

All in all, it went well and here's what my current routine consists of. Not everything works for everyone, but it's a good starting point when thinking of different possible options! My skin is generally normal, very rarely oily but sometimes dry. I also have rosacea, but it's not bad at all. When my face gets flushed my cheeks get red and when I take way too hot showers (it's an issue I struggle with..) I get red and splotchy.


Cleanser
I have 2 different cleansers because as I mentioned, the water in NYC is way different than NJ's. At home I use philosophy Purity Made Simple cleanser. I love it because it's light, has a fresh smell, doesn't leave any residue on my face, and works well with a Clarisonic! I'm not a fan of gel cleansers, so I like the consistency of this one. I bought the travel size one to try it out before I got hooked, which I recommend doing when you're thinking of getting any new beauty products!
At school I use Cetaphil, which I hated at home. For whatever reason, when I started this semester my pores got really red after I washed my face so I just decided to try this to see what happened. It's also a light cleanser with a decent scent. It comes off nicely and you don't have to use too much.

Moisturizer
I went to the derm to have them confirm what I already knew (because let's face it.. I am always right. Only not really but I was this time!) - I have rosacea. There's nothing you can do about it, but certain things can minimize the redness (don't eat spicy foods, limit coffee intake to one-two cup(s) per day, don't use abrasive exfoliators, etc.). They did give me (aka I bought) La Roche-Posay's Rosaliac Anti-Redness Moisturizer, which was okay, but not $40something okay. It definitely didn't make any difference and sometimes my skin was still mildly dry after applying. Again, not everything works for everyone!
I switched to Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins and I'm a huge fan. I've heard a lot of good things, but I still talked to the skincare expert to make sure it would work for me. It has a light citrusy smell (which usually I hate - I can't sit next to anyone eating an orange.. or a banana) that's actually refreshing. It doesn't make your skin greasy or shiny - you just look normal! My skin isn't irritated, dry, oily, etc. I even use it in the am too. The whole trick to putting it on is use a tiny amount (you get so many uses out of one jar) and press it into your skin, then massage.

Tinted Moisturizer/BB Cream
I used to use my regular moisturizer (that I mentioned before) and then a powder to help cover up random splotches which makes no sense since my skin was still dry.. this is my lack of skincare/makeup knowledge kicking in. I wanted the Bobbi Brown BB Cream because people rave about it, so I went in and am so glad I had someone test the makeup on my skin because it was too yellow. I loved the way it sat, but the color just wasn't right for me. See a pattern here? New beauty products really are trial and error and this is the one time online reviews really don't help much at all. I tried Hourglass' Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint and it matches my skin well, sets nicely, and looks super natural. Just an added plus - it's vegan and Madonna and Margot Robbie both use it. It makes sense because the three of us are super pale, so the undertones of makeup are extremely important.

Mask
I wanted a face mask to use once or twice a week just because it sounds fun. After looking into different ones, the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask stood out for New Yorkers like myself who need to get all of the pollution and toxins off and out of your pores. I used it once and it didn't dry out my skin, irritate it, and it cleared my pores! I'm very happy with it and can't wait to use it again.

Overall, this last beauty purchase was a success. It took some time and effort, but was definitely worth it. It's super important to start really taking care of your skin in your 20s because you'll end up with wrinkles way earlier than you want if you're not careful. After the age of 19 I decided that being tan doesn't really matter to me as much as having wrinkles by 25 or leathery red skin when I'm older. There's nothing worse than that and there's no reversing the damage. At least thinking about starting a routine and talking to someone who knows (not the Sephora/blog reviews we all read) what they're talking about will take you a long way.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Gossip Girl Outfit Inspiration

Gossip Girl will forever be a guilty pleasure of mine. Like I Love Lucy, I could watch reruns endlessly and never get bored. I've been back on a Gossip Girl kick again because no movies seem to pique my interest and it's always a safe bet.

Aside from dreaming of my Upper East Side apartment in The Palace, the show makes me want to shop. Desperately. Eric Daman was the stylist for the show, and he did The Carrie Diaries as well. You end up with serious outfit envy after watching either of these. Last night I thought it would be fun to round up some of the countless amazing looks from Gossip Girl because, well, why not?

There are way too many looks to choose from - truthfully, you could put a potato sack Blake Lively or Leighton Meester and I'll want it - but I just picked at random. I might even make a whole inspiration board dedicated to GG inspiration. A majority of these are Serena & Blair, but there will be some Lily, Vanessa and Jenny thrown into the mix, too.























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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spring Kimonos

Last year I got on a kimono kick & I'm happy they're still in! Not that I really follow what trends are in and what I "shouldn't" wear that season (always wear what looks good on you.. not what's in), but they're easier to find if they're still "in." Here are a few of my favs that I've seen lately.
Lace Inset Floral Kimono from Express
Kimono Jacket from Target

Kimono Jacket w/ Lace Detail from Target

Pom Pom Kimono Jacket from Target

Floral Kimono from Shoptiques

Pins and Needles Night Bloom Embroidered Kimono from Urban Outfitters 

Floral Kimono from Shoptiques






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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Fluffiest Oatmeal: 2 Ways

I'm a true grandma. I love oatmeal for breakfast and eat it every single day. I don't change it up either- no weird dried fruit (I can't do the texture) or different fruits for that matter because I just don't like them in oatmeal. I always use 1/2 banana and that's it.

At home I make egg white oatmeal on the stove, but I just discovered that it works in the microwave, too! Using egg whites in your oats make them so fluffy and adds great flavor. Here are all of the things you need to make them and the two different ways to do it (aka real life vs. dorm life). You can choose different fruit or spices, but I prefer cinnamon & banana.

World's Fluffiest Oatmeal

Ingredients
1/2 cup dry oatmeal (I use Trader Joe's Multigrain, not instant)
3/4-1 cup water (depending on method)
2 egg whites
Ground cinnamon (I use a ton!)
Banana

Microwave Directions
Put 1/2 cup dry oatmeal in a microwave safe bowl (make sure it has at least 1 inch of room above where the water is at the top) with 3/4 cup water. Let sit for 10 minutes so water gets partially absorbed.

Add 2 egg whites into bowl with water and oats and mix for 30-60 seconds. 

Microwave for 3 minutes, stirring every 30-60 seconds.

Add cinnamon and sliced banana and enjoy!

Stovetop Directions
Put 1/2 cup dry oats in a saucepan with 1 cup water on medium-high heat. 

Once the water starts to boil, add in egg whites and stir every 30 seconds. Once the egg whites appear firmer and your oatmeal is fluffy, you're done! The whole process is about 10 mins.

Add your cinnamon & banana (or whatever you choose) & eat up.

Side note: Nut butters, chopped nuts, dried fruit, apples, raspberries, blueberries, etc. are all great toppings, too. 


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Moroccan Lentil Stew

My mom has been making this stew for me for over a year now & I'm obsessed with it. You can freeze it and save it for later or just eat it day after day until it's gone (what I usually do when I'm home because it's that good). Every time I bring it to work for lunch people can't get over how good it smells. It makes a ton so this is great if you're feeding a crowd or, as I mentioned before, is perfect to freeze for those busy weeks when you don't have time to cook!

Side note: I brought this for lunch and never took a picture beforehand, so I apologize for the lovely presentation.

Moroccan Lentil Stew

Ingredients
Spices
1 tsp ground cinnamon (a little-or a lot of-extra cinnamon never hurt anyone)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp curry powder

Veggies for the Stew
1 tso olive oil (for sautéing) 
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cups finely shredded kale (I like more kale, too, so feel free to throw more in as it cooks)
4 14 oz cans organic veggie broth
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight or 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (don't drain)
5 med-large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup dried lentils (always rinse!)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 Tbsp honey
ground black pepper to taste

Directions
Combine spices in a large bowl and set aside

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until they're soft and are starting to brown (5-10 mins). Stir in the 2 cups of kale and spices. Cook until the kale wilts and spices are fragrant (2-4 mins).

Pour the veggie broth into the pot and stir in beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils, apricots, and honey. Bring everything to a boil, but the reduce the heat to low and simmer until vegetables and lentils are cooked to the texture you like. Throw in any extra kale you desire now so that it softens and wilts while cooking. 

After about 30 minutes your stew is done! You can serve it right away or let it cool and divide it up into containers to store in the fridge and/or freezer.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Favorite February Finds

This February has been a really great month shopping-wise (and in general!). I found great deals and some of them are still available! Unfortunately, the shoes I got at C. Wonder aren't avail any longer because it was the last day the store was open (70% off!), but some other sales are still going on.

To start off, this wasn't on sale but I can't get over the amazing customer service & return policy that went along with my purchase. I had a mascara that I tried to love but just couldn't no matter how much I wanted it to work. After 2 months of denial I decided I needed to go back to my normal Diorshow mascara. It never fails me, so I have no idea why I ever try any others. I went back to Sephora with the mascara and they took it back-no receipt or packaging- and gave me a full refund. It was phenomenal and I'm still so in love with my Diorshow. No clumps, spider lashes, flaking, etc.


Presidents Day weekend I went to the mall & there were amazing sales going on. I found a turtleneck in Old Navy & it was on sale for $11. The price is a little higher now, but not much & I love the way it looks so I really recommend it!


Last weekend I found a check scarf at Cotton On & it was on sale for $5 and still is. I've been looking for a blanket scarf for so long & this one does the trick. It's big and warm and the navy & white looks great with so many tops.

I love finding things on sale that I actually love. The worst is when you want to love something because the price is amazing, but if it were full price you wouldn't even give it a second look. Hopefully my shopping streak continues on into March & the rest of the year. Happy shopping!
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Friday, February 20, 2015

How to Stay Healthy at Work

Staying and feeling healthy isn't the easiest when you have a 9-5 desk job (which doesn't really exist because most hours are 9-6 and if you actually leave before 8 you're lucky). There are certain times in the day when hunger strikes and it's not just boredom hunger. Despite the fact that you're more or less sedentary all day, your body still needs calories to function properly (your brain is probably doing a lot of thinking because we all know how demanding jobs can be now). Most people try to cut calories because they think sitting all day burns nothing, but if you cut too many then your metabolism slows down and you end up storing more fat than if you actually ate more throughout the day.


1. First off, drink a lot of water. I recommend keeping a 15-20 oz bottle with you that you refill periodically. Aim to finish at least 2 per day. Staying hydrated has so many benefits: (1) it keeps you from feeling hungry when you're just thirsty, (2) your metabolism needs a lot of water to function at its best level, (3) your skin will look so much better if you drink 70+ oz of water per day (and staying hydrated helps combat dry skin.. hello NYC winter woes), and (4) it flushes you out so you won't feel so bloated if you've been eating too much salt or whatever lately.

BKR has the cutest water bottles & a great story too!

2. Keep healthy snacks around. This is an obvious one but often we're too lazy to actually carry the snacks to work or think about what to bring so we opt to just stop at Starbucks for a croissant that one day and then bring something tomorrow.. and tomorrow never seems to come. Some of my personal recommendations are:
  • baby carrots are a great snack to keep in the fridge no nibble on 
  • healthier granola bars and snack bars are great because you don't even have to think about portion sizes. Just steer clear of the ones that are like eating candy bars such as: special K anything is not good, BelVita breakfast biscuits, and Quaker chewy granola bars. Some healthier options are as follows (or you can always make your own!):

  • Ezekiel sprouted grain bread is the best bread I've found texture-wise and health-wise. You can keep it right in your office freezer and pop it in the toaster for some mid-day toast (have some tea too!)

  • Kale chips are becoming really popular and they're super easy to make too. Just make sure you read the ingredients (which you should always be doing anyway!) to check if there's anything funky in there. Brad's Raw Foods makes a bunch of different flavors that are not too bad for you

  • Mixed nuts are great to get some healthy fats into you if you've just opted for a salad for lunch. I buy the fancy raw mixed nuts from Trader Joe's because nuts can be pricey, but theirs are cheap and they don't have any added oil or salt, which is extremely uncommon when you're buying nuts. 
  • Yogurt is fab to keep in the fridge too, but don't buy the fruit flavored ones that are loaded with sugar. Just buy plain yogurt and either add fruit, nuts, granola, or whatever your heart desires! I used to love Chobani plain, but since I'm lactose intolerant I love WholeSoy & Co's unsweetened plain
  • Peanut butter and almond butter (all natural, no sugar or salt added) are a great thing to dip your carrots in, add to your yogurt, or spread on your toast. I also get these from Trader Joe's. Make sure it's the consistency you like (crunchy or smooth) and that it says unsalted.
  • Popcorn is so easy to make and it's such a great snack. Opt out of buying the bags of movie theater butter/kettle corn/salted whatever that are awful for you. Buy plain kernels and brown paper bags, put 2 Tbsp of kernels in a bag, roll it closed & pop it in the microwave for about 2 minutes (keep an eye on it because you don't want anything to burn!). No oil or butter necessary
  • Fruit such as apples, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, etc. (whatever is in season) are great to snack on at any time or to put in your yogurt (side note: toast with banana slices & peanut butter is delish)
  • Almond milk is great to drink instead of water or coffee and it fills you up. My favorite is Califia Farms unsweetened plain. If you keep cereal in the office this is great for that too. Plus, almond milk doesn't go bad as quickly as regular does!

3. I highly recommend having a set of measuring cups & spoons. Whether you're having peanut butter, mixed nuts, a cereal, or whatever, you should always measure to make sure you're not overeating. Also, keep plates and utensils so you're not forced to eat out of bags. This is when you get in trouble because you just keep going and before you know it, that bag is empty. Portioning everything out is a great habit to get into even when you aren't at work.

4. Do not skip breakfast! Your metabolism doesn't start, you end up binging during the day, and your hungry by 9 am because that coffee won't hold you over very long. The biggest issue with not eating breakfast is the metabolism factor though. Your body goes into shutdown mode and just stores what you eat as fat after you've been up for too long and even when you finally do eat, your metabolism isn't really up to what it can be. While living in a dorm I usually just throw a 1/2 cup of Trader Joe's multigrain oatmeal in the microwave with 3/4 cup water for 2 minutes, add some cinnamon and 1/2 banana and call it a day. Eating a healthy breakfast is key & is so easy

Those are my tips as far as snacking goes. For exercise there are just simple things that you can do to burn a few extra calories here & there
  • take the stairs if you're going 6 floors or less
  • get off a stop earlier on the train or park a little further in the lot
  • take a walk during your lunch hour, even if it's only 15 minutes
  • make it a point to get up each hour (this gets even easier when you need to refill your water bottle because you're drinking so much!)
  • get in 30 minutes of exercise outside of work 3-4 times each week, whether it's a class like yoga, spin, pilates, etc. or if you're doing your own thing at home. I really like Tone It Up's total body & HIIT workouts on Youtube 



All of the things I mention play into my 9-6 days at my internship. Sitting down on Sunday and planning your week ahead in terms of exercise and nutrition is really helpful, too. Whether you just do this mentally or actually write it out, just figure out when you're going to eat these days & which days you'll fit your 30 minute exercises in. It takes the stress out of the morning routine or running around shoving snacks in your bag, grabbing an unhealthy last minute lunch, ordering Seamless for dinner, and not really knowing when you're going to be able to make it to pilates. Some weeks are harder than others to plan & predict, but just do the best you can!
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Unwinding Metaphorically & Literally

About a year and a half ago I received a Swedish massage from Spirit Spa in Oldwick, NJ and it was phenomenal. I felt completely relaxed and fell asleep for a few minutes during it. Afterwards, though, I didn't feel a huge change in muscle tension release or anything, but I realize now that Swedish massages are more for relaxing now and not solving any muscle issues in the long run.

I loved the birds in the hall leading from the elevator to the spa
Last weekend I went to Ohm Spa in the Flatiron District for a deep tissue massage. This was a life changing experience and was 100% necessary. I hold so much tension in my shoulders and upper back. I'm constantly cold (especially this winter in NYC.. getting excited when you see temps above 30 is sad, but it's what my life has come to) so I'm always hunching my shoulders and after doing this for so long, I couldn't correct my posture for anything.

I frequently had back pain and no matter what stretches I did, nothing helped. When I take my megaformer classes or just do workouts in my dorm, I'm always told (or I tell myself if I'm in my dorm) "pull your shoulders away from your ears." I tried, but it never felt comfortable. Sitting hunched over with poor posture was preferred to the awkward pain I felt when I sat up straight, squeezing my shoulder blades together and pulling them down.

Matt and I went for deep tissue massages together and afterwards I asked if they had him move his arms into certain positions to get deeper into muscles, and his response was no. My back was so knotty that the only way my masseuse could get knots out was by repositioning my arms. Immediately after I knew I was going to be sore for a few days and I was right, but it was so worth it. After the massages at dinner, Matt and I were amazed at how we could sit properly and it felt fine.

All this time that I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn't sit up straight, it was because my muscles were so knotted and tense that they had to be loosened by someone else. It wasn't physically possible for me to sit up straight, pull my shoulder blades together, or pull my shoulders down away from my ears because my upper back was such a mess.

I vow to get deep tissue massages a few times a year to help release any tensions before it gets a lot worse (like what I was dealing with before). Additionally, your circulation is heavily impacted by these massages. Blood flows better to your muscles afterwards allowing you to exercise and function better. As if an excuse is needed.. I'll be getting regular massages!

Ohm Spa was fabulous. The receptionists were inviting and their voices were soothing. You have your own locker with your name on it when you get there to keep personal belongings and you're given a robe and slippers to change into. The waiting area atmosphere is calming with dim lighting and soft sounds. Snacks from chocolate and cookies to fruit, trail mix and pretzels are available to snack on while you sip any fruit infused water, tea, or hot chocolate and read a number of current magazines (Forbes, GQ, Elle, Marie Claire, etc.). My masseuse was friendly and communicated with me to make sure the pressure was okay, but didn't talk much other than that because no one wants to chat while getting a massage. Afterwards I was given chocolate covered blueberries and free sample of a body butter. You can't beat that!


Smaller lounge
Larger lounge
It's not easy to find a decent spa that you can trust to be worth the money (massages aren't cheap anywhere) and clean, but Ohm was great in every area. I don't think I'll try any other spas unless I'm traveling because why fix what isn't broken?

Disclaimer: I didn't take my own photos because I didn't want to invade anyone's privacy, so the photos on here are from Ohm Spa's gallery.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Restaurant Review: Fishtag

Going out for Valentine's Day isn't high on my list of things I enjoy, but this year it turned out to be one of the best days I've had in a really long time. Pleasant surprise!

A couple weeks prior, I made dinner reservations at Fishtag on the Upper West Side. The Executive Chef and Owner also owns Kefi, which I loved so I figured why not give this restaurant a try?

It's right next door to Irving Farm on 79th (one of my favorite coffee shops.. the salad I get there is beyond amazing and you can check it out here). You go down a few steps to get into the restaurants and it's long and narrow inside. You can eat at the bar area, which is closer to where you enter, or sit at tables in the back. It has a really great intimate and comfortable atmosphere. You almost feel like you're dining at someone's house. It's casual, yet men can wear a nice button-down and chinos or ladies can wear a cute dress and not feel out of place or too dressy.

As I've mentioned before, Mediterranean is probably my favorite cuisine. If you view the Fishtag menu online, it looks exactly the same as the one you get in the restaurant. They give you drink pairing ideas on the sides and as you move from top to bottom the dishes get more savory and heartier.

To start off I got the Greek "Spoon" Salad without Feta and Olives. It was enough for two to split, had great flavor, and was super light. The grilled kale gives it an amazing smokey flavor.

Matt, my lovely date, got the chopped bulgur salad. I tried some and it was delicious. I really recommend it as an app, and two people can split this as well. Maybe even three if everyone just wanted to try it.

For a main dish Matt got the lobster bucatini because ever since we went to Newport, RI he has a thing for lobster. He ate the whole thing and loved every bite. The fact that it has brussel sprouts was an added bonus since they're one of his favorite veggies.

I was torn between the roasted salmon and the grilled sea bass, but went with the sea bass because (a) I love broccoli rabe and (b) the salmon comes on top of the Greek salad I already had. I was extremely happy with my choice. The fish was the perfect size and all of the vegetables were so good. It has a garlic puree which added a good hint of garlic, but not too much. I read that this was a popular dish and now I see why. It's very light and the flavor is great, so I really recommend it if you don't want a heavy meal.

I definitely deserve a pat on the back for restaurant choice. Their drink menu is very extensive, too, from wine to craft/unique beers. It's a great date spot, but it also works for somewhere to have dinner with friends or family. A huge group probably wouldn't fit to comfortable, but there was a really pretty booth seating area in the back that probably fit about 6. If you're looking for a great Mediterranean place that's not too casual and comfy, this is a good choice.

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