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I just returned from a long weekend in New Jersey/New York City where some of my family members and I were celebrating a big milestone…my older sister just hit the big 4-0! It was a fabulous weekend with good weather. We went to some of the usual tourist sites such as The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Top of the Rock, The Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Times Square.

I could go on and on about the attractions — how electric Times Square is at night, how blessed and humbled one can feel at the feet of Lady Liberty, how my knees quaked while atop some of the tallest building in Manhattan, how utterly mournful and heartbroken one can still be while looking at the images and debris at the 9/11 Memorial Museum — unforgettable sights and sensations to be sure. However, what I think most readers will really be interested in is…the food 😉

My husband and I are the only vegans in the group. The other family members are omnivores; the birthday girl actually follows a paleo/primal eating diet. Fortunately, NYC is rife with places that are both vegan and paleo-friendly.

We all had an amazing lunch in Hu Kitchen, which is paleo-centric but offers plenty of vegan fare, too. They had juices, smoothies, coffee, raw snacks and desserts, and plenty of sides with lentils, or grains, or vegetables that you can piece together for a very nutritious and delicious meal. They also had a vegetarian chili on the menu.

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Lentil salad

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Kale salad

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Brussels sprouts

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Smoothie and chocolate-covered hazelnuts

Another place we went near Central Park was Dean & Deluca. They are more of a market than a restaurant or cafe but nonetheless, there were plenty of side dishes I pieced together for a main entree. The employees were kind enough to let us taste samples of things before we made our choices and were also very knowledgeable about the vegan diet and food ingredients. And because no meal of mine is complete without a little sweet something at the end, I was elated to find vegan-friendly chocolate-covered graham crackers (no honey!) from a local Brooklyn-based chocolate company NuNu Chocolates(You can order products online; vegan products are denoted by a “V” symbol. Woot woot!)

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Lentil salad and sauteed, season mushrooms from Dean & Deluca

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NuNu Chocolates vegan chocolate covered grahams

I had an incredible “vegan food moment” at DF Mavens. This vegan ice cream shop has plenty of incredible flavors to choose from, as well as four different flavors for their waffle cones, a few vegan toppings that include chocolate sauce (yummm) and plenty of additional desserts and pints of their ice cream in their freezer section. There are soy-based and coconut-based options and a few options are also gluten-free or sugar-free. So…there’s pretty much something no matter your dietary needs. (Again, you can order these products online. Yay!)

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Chocolate sugar-free ice cream in a chocolate hazelnut cone with shredded coconut

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Peanut butter ice cream in a chocolate hazelnut cone with chocolate sauce

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The photos I have below don’t even begin to capture the fun we all had. I asked my family members what the best part of the trip was; they all had different answers. For me, I think it was just being blessed enough to make new memories with my sisters. Aside from my husband, my sisters are my best friends in the world. As long as they are with me, any place is good enough for me 🙂

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*header image credit: Ashley Anstead

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