I celebrated my 33rd birthday recently. For those of you that have been following this blog, you know that I am a person who likes to celebrate practically anything; I barely need an excuse. And celebration always entails some kind of food and beverage. So when my birthday arrives, I make no exception and generally go over-the-top in my celebratory practices. This year, I have been overwhelmed by my friends' and family's generosity, and feel completely and decadently spoiled. But I also feel incredibly full and heavy! In the two weeks leading up to my birthday, I have totally blown my gluten and dairy-free diet experiment, and have been unable to get back on track. And when I say I blew it, boy do I mean it. I haven't held back one bit, and the five pounds I've put back on are sad, sorry proof. I'm going to make a safe bet and guess that this week will be the culmination of off-limits edibles, and come Monday I'll be peeling myself away from the restaurants and placing my butt firmly back into the proverbial wagon.
As a part of the weeklong festivities, I have been taken out to eat on several different occasions and by various friends and family members. On Sunday, I attended a luncheon in honor of my friend Sarah who was home visiting from Vegas. She and her dad made a delicious Hungarian goulash I couldn't refuse. On Monday evening after my friend and hairstylist gave me a birthday cut n' color, I was invited back to his home where he and his partner enticed me into embarking on a "kitchen challenge", in which I created a dinner for four using only the ingredients I could find in their fridge and pantry. We ended up dining on rustic Italian red pepper sausage pasta with a homemade Bloody Mary sauce, sautéed veggies, fresh grated parmesan cheese, and copious amounts of wine. On Tuesday I tried to recover, but ended up going for tapas and mojitos with Amber and Ryan at our local Cuban restaurant, after which I had amaretto nightcaps at an Irish pub. Seriously, around the world in three days!
The gastro-adventure was apparently only just beginning, because today-my big day-meant surprises and treats from my wonderful co-workers. Around 1:00 p.m., I see three shiny red balloons come up the stairs with a group of singing friends trailing behind. They sang happy birthday and showered me with hugs, cards, and gifts. And of course, you can't sing happy birthday without having candles to blow out, and those candles have to be plunged into something delicious, right? My lovely friend and fellow deli goddess, Danielle, had created for me the most amazing cupcakes I have ever tasted. Staying true to her own dietary restrictions (and trying to help me at the same time), she made gluten-free, dairy-free spiced cupcakes with a chocolate-almond butter frosting, fresh banana wheels on top, and festive silver sprinkles. I almost couldn't believe how delicious they were....almost. It seems I may have forgotten over the past couple of weeks how good healthy foods can really be. But it's still fun and important to indulge sometimes, which is what I continued to do later.