Food

Bananas are one of those fruits always lingering around my kitchen. They’re a reliable snack and make a nice addition to a bowl of cereal, yogurt, or peanut butter toast. But not soon after they start getting covered in brown spots, my affection for eating them quickly fades away. Over time, I’ve learned to love them… Those overripe bananas on the counter are practically begging me to turn them into a banana bread! Banana bread is a classic, and one of my all-time favorite baked treats but pound of butter may not always be the best choice for breakfast. 

The secret to an amazingly delicious breakfast is the Kodiak Cake mix – boxed whole wheat, high fiber, and high protein muffin/pancake/waffle mixes – and voilá, Banana chocolate chip power muffins are served! These quick muffins are super easy to make, full of protein and fiber, and have just the right amount of sweetness for everyone to enjoy! What’s not to like about turning protein pancake mix into delicious and fluffy muffins? They’re packed with protein having 7.5 grams per muffin. I try to stay away from regular muffins at breakfast time, but since these are protein-packed, they keep me satisfied right up until lunch, especially when paired with almond butter, yogurt, or a smoothie and they are an excellent choice for an after-school snack. They also freeze and re-heat well in the microwave. I usually freeze half the batch, so a semi-healthy chocolate fix is always only 30 seconds away!

banana chocolate chip power muffins

This is my kind of breakfast – simple, delicious, and very photogenic. Happy Monday!

Banana chocolate chip power muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Kodiak Power Cakes Mix
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup skim milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mash bananas and add to a large mixing bowl followed by the milk, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir together.
  3. Add the Kodiak Cakes Mix and stir until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Add batter evenly to muffin pan to fill each 12-muffin cup evenly.
  5. Bake for about 22 minutes or until golden brown.

** For high altitude baking, add half a cup of almond meal, only 1 cup of milk and bake for additional 10 minutes! (3,000 FT or more)**

Food

Hot damn, I love cauliflower. It’s a good thing that cauliflower is cheap because I go through it like crazy. If 2015 was the year of kale, 2018 is all about the old time favorite…cauliflower. Once old and forgotten, this giant flower has become cool again. Cauliflower doesn’t need much to be delicious on its own. Cauliflower can get along very well with meat. But it can also put meat straight out of a job. After all, the cauliflower is a magic vegetable.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

It’s Monday night, school night…I needed a quick, simple and flavorful dish and I turned to my old time favorite, Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower dish.

Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower is one quick Chinese vegetarian main dish recipe, which is a combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors.

A happy and fulfilling meal filled with flavorful bites is what you can expect from this dish. You can serve it with noodles or rice. My choice tonight was Kiki’s favorite, Jasmine rice. The girl can’t get enough of it.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

Easy to prepare, fast and simple, Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower packs a punch in terms of flavor and healthy eating. Go ahead, add it to your meal planning rotation. And if you’re not sure if your kid will like tofu, I promise you with this recipe they won’t even know. Make sure you buy the extra firm tofu, it will be much easier to prepare.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-in. cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock, divided
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups thinly diagonally sliced celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

 Directions

  1. Pat tofu dry with paper towels. Place 7 teaspoons cornstarch in a large bowl. Add tofu; toss to coat. Remove tofu from bowl. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add tofu; cook 6 minutes or until golden and crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove tofu to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  2. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup stock in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup stock, soy sauce, vinegar, and hoisin.
  3. Add cauliflower to remaining oil in pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add celery and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add ketchup and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add stock mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened. Add cooked tofu; toss. Top with green onions.

Food

I’ve discovered a secret to a stress free week…Meatless Mondays and Meal Planning! With that, meatless Mondays are here to stay! Choosing meat-free meals on Monday is a great way to look and feel better, it kind of goes along with that new week, new beginning theory.

Flexitarian Kid

I am definitely not a vegetarian (after all, I haven’t met lamb chops I didn’t devour), but certainly a flexetarian…yup, technically, a faux vegetarian. In the faux foodie home, we eat significantly more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, chocolate and occasionally meat. Meat is usually our side dish! If it was up to Kiki, chocolate/Nutella would be our main dish, but who can blame her!!

Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and quinoa with mustard dressing

The main gist of the fauxfoodie flexitarian diet is exactly what it sounds like: It’s flexible. And in keeping with the flexible theme, there are various approaches: beginner, advanced, and expert. We are definitely the beginner flexitarians…about two vegetarian meals (dinners)  a week. Since Kiki is still in development stage, I am very conscious of what I feed her, focusing on eating “calorie-poor but nutrient-rich”, meaning bulking up our meals with fiber-rich veggies and plenty of other protein sources like quinoa, white beans, lentils, and chickpeas. It’s definitely not an all-or-nothing approach.  Instead, like many things in life, moderation is key. A little bit of veggies, a little bit of meat, a little bit of sweets!Kiki and Trader Joe's Pembroke Pines

This week’s dinner plan is here and it’s a good one! It’s filled with hearty, delicious, flavorful, vegetarian dinners, and great for meal prepping on Sunday (and having lunches for the next few days!) And if you decide not to spend meal prepping on Sundays, these recipes are fast enough to get on the table nightly and they are not salads!

weekly menu

Sunday: Stir fried veggie rice

Monday: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, quinoa with mustard dressing

Tuesday: Dinner with Mr. S

Wednesday: Peanut noodles with orange and red peppers

Thursday: Black bean burgers with tomato, corn and avocado salsa

Friday: Mr. S’s bday celebration starts

Saturday: Mr. S’s bday celebration continues…

Here are ten easy and quick ways to go enjoy flexitarian diet without feeling restricted and if you want to learn more about flexing your diet, I would highly recommend reading this book…it was truly an eye opener how easy it is to switch meat to a side dish and veggies to a main course!

  1. Grill a veggie burger and enjoy it with all the classic toppings such as ketchup, mustard and pickles.
  2. Enjoy hummus as a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread in place of mayonnaise to add flavor with fewer calories and less fat.
  3. Toss canned white beans (rinsed and drained) into your favorite pasta dishes for extra protein and fiber.
  4. Make a fast and flavorful burrito with canned low-fat refried beans, lettuce, tomato and guacamole.
  5. Top a whole grain pizza crust with pine nuts and veggies such as spinach and onions instead of heavy cheese and meat toppings.
  6. Heat canned vegetarian chili and pour on a baked potato for a healthy meal in a hurry.
  7. Make a speedy stir-fry by adding frozen veggies, frozen pre-cooked brown rice, frozen edemame or tofu and teriyaki sauce to a hot wok or pan.
  8. For a quick brown bag lunch, mix Italian salad dressing with canned lentils (rinsed and drained), shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, sliced red bell pepper and stuff into a whole grain pita.
  9. Stash an emergency snack in your purse or desk drawer for times when hunger hits.
  10. Mix together canned black beans with jarred salsa for a satisfying tortilla chip dip.

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 As always, if you have meal plan feedback, please send me an email at fauxfoodiegirl@gmail.com! I’d absolutely love to hear from you! Wishing you a great week!

Food

Well, hello March! February definitely flew right by, without so much as a whisper! So cheers to sending February off and welcoming March with lots of motivation and sunshine. I also wanted to say hello before my blog grows cobwebs. I have so many blog topics running through my head, albeit time, priorities… but I miss writing. I miss seeing words float on the screen and pressing PUBLISH. Writing helps me reflect, and when I reflect, I learn.

The lesson I have learned this week… there is very little that escapes the little eyes aka Kiki’s eyes. People have told me she’s a mini me, but until I woke up this Sunday morning and saw her writing out her version of the weekly meal plan, I never took it seriously.

meal plan

On Sunday mornings, I usually I drink my coffee, peruse cookbooks and recipes and based on the schedule, I pick out a few meals and share them with Kiki to get her approval. Kiki approved dinners are always a guaranteed success on school nights, and like her mamma, she feasts with her eyes first. We really do teach by example – modeling affects behavior far more than telling our children what to do. This lesson wasn’t just about imitating the meal planning but rather imitating life the way I lead it. I know that I have to do my best to be the kind of person that I want my child to be, we all do; because our children are watching. We are the teachers of the next generation and they are learning from our beliefs and behaviors.

If it was up to Kiki, our weekly meal plan would look like this:

weekly menu plan

But lucky for us, our meal plan this week looked like this:

weekly menu

Sunday: Pasta with goat cheese, chicken, asparagus and broccoli

Monday: Work dinner

Tuesday: Roasted brussels sprouts salad

Wednesday: Toasted tuscan rustic bread with avocado and

Thursday: Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Friday: Kiki’s home made pizza

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What did you make this week? I’d love to hear what you’re cooking up these days…please share your recipes, I am always looking for ideas.

Food

 I am constantly on the quest to put more vegetables on our plates. Kiki is a great eater, but the older she gets her palate is changing and she is less and less adventurous or shall I say less willing to try new things. As my good friend L once said – outwit, outplay and outsmart, raising a child is like a game of survivor and I am still winning this game of vegetables 😉 and intend to for some time at least…

cauliflower-rice

We eat some form of Mexican food at least once a week, whether it be tacos, fajitas, burritos, taco salad, etc. And, of course, guacamole. Guacamole is our spirit food…let me not digress…

Mexican food…instantly makes me think rice and avocado. I love a good bowl of rice just as much as the next person, but once you start substituting it for this Mexican cauliflower rice you won’t miss it. The taste and texture are amazingly the same. And if you are following the Paleo or Whole30 now, this is a perfect dish for you.

Just in case I haven’t mentioned this before, I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s, it is my definition of heaven on Earth.  And as you know, I am all about finding shortcuts around the kitchen, so if your store or TJs carries chopped cauliflower, do yourself a favor and Spend $2.00 on the bag.  Of course you can also do this yourself in a food processor.  To do this remove the core of the cauliflower and coarsely chop into florets, then place in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice – try not to process so it doesn’t get mushy. Best part of this recipe is that the Mexican Cauliflower Rice can be on your table in 15 minutes, start to finish! I was pretty amazed how this dish turned out. The portions are definitely more than generous and you get at least two servings of veggies in each bowl.

You can turn this into a vegetarian meal all by itself by adding some yogurt and avocado. It is very filling and if you go the route of protein, it gives you a serving of vegetables along with your meat. The possibilities are pretty endless while using shrimp, chicken or ground turkey.

Cauliflower is an amazing vegetable because of its versatility, and provides essential vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that have been proven to help prevent cancer.

In case you have some extra cauliflower, instead of the tomatoes and spices, you can also use the cauliflower to make an Asian version, the faux fried rice and add some protein.

The classic Mexican rice gets a healthy spin with this delicious cauliflower rice bowl!

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Food

The first week and weekend of the year flew by, didn’t they? Getting back into the swing of things was somewhat tough, but I’m feeling high on life after a super productive weekend that included an interesting wine and cheese tasting, lots of reading – finished the first book of my 2017 reading list, dancing with my gals [yeah, I know, I said I danced, but it was me saying YES to opportunities], lots of sleeping, walking almost 15 miles over the three days, cooking up healthy and vibrant recipes for my weekly menu [full menu is listed below], and enjoying some extra sunshine.

10,000 Steps

This was my first weekend alone home since the Labor Day – no travel, Kiki was with her dad, all my guests were gone, and unfortunately my little sous-chef is no longer with me…so truly a ME weekend, which was rejuvenating, recharging and energizing, so freeing. If you know me, you know I love to read, but do it FAR less often than I would like. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to audio books like they are going out of style, but just sitting down and reading… I almost never do it. I have all of these amazing books (that I keep buying and there are probably about 60 books in my house as of now waiting to be read..) but when I sit down to read, something inevitably comes up and I get distracted or just fall asleep. It took me four months to finish my last book. That is just crazy compared to what it used to be for me… one week or ten days was the most it would take me to read a book.

behind-closed-doors

Anyway, this weekend I decided that I was going to try something new…I read in the morning when I woke up for an hour and instead of picking up my phone to “just check the social media” I picked up the book instead throughout the day! Eureka! I finished this book, and went back and forth between these two books. It was one of the best things I did for myself this weekend.

  the-one-thing-extraordinary-results   Getting Things Done by David Allen

I also watched “Under the Tuscan Sun” movie. My mom loves loves loves the book, but is not a fan of the movie (and except the title they really don’t have much else in common), but there are some good lessons in the movie. Have you seen it? Diane Lane takes a trip to Italy to get over a nasty divorce and ends up buying a house in Tuscany. She heals her wounds by renovating the house and building beautiful friendships in her new town. It’s a feel good movie and it sent me right to my kitchen and I cooked up the storm and I wished for the whimsical garden, daydreaming of the rolling hills and sunflowers…and 5 years ago, I wanted to be Diane Lane and escape it all! I am glad I stuck around….

One of my favorite scenes is when Diane Lane’s character is complaining about the things she doesn’t have and what she’d hoped for: a baby and a wedding in the garden. Her friend points out to her that she has both: her friend and her
baby are staying with her and she just hosted the wedding in her garden.

Lesson: Sometimes what we wish for comes to us in a different package than we expect. 

Inspired by the simple and flavorful cooking, I set out to make a weekly meal plan filled with hearty wintery comfort foods.

weekly menu

Monday: Faux Mexican Rice and Avocado

Tuesday: One Pot Chicken and Rice with Carrots

Wednesday: Dinner with a Friend

Thursday: Work Thing

Friday: Farmer’s Bean and Pasta

How was your first week and weekend of the 2017?

Food

christmas-cookies_iv

School’s officially out for the holidays, which means my kiddo is home all day, needs a lot of entertainment to keep her busy and in desperate need of something fun to do all the time. To keep her out of boredom — and provide a much-needed alternative to binge-watching YouTube Kids — I asked her to help me in the kitchen and we got busy baking. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without baking some fun holiday goodies. Freshly baked cookies are the stuff of childhood dreams, and with Kiki being at this sweet age, I wanted to do something fun and memorable. So I let go of my type A tendencies and perfection, and embraced the mess. I let the chaos happen, and messy it was…sprinkles, icing, flour everywhere. Needless to say, the sous chef was in heaven!

Best Christmas CookiesWe made simple sugar cookies and raspberry almond shortbread thumbprints…the only mistake I made was not reading the instructions carefully before we began baking as both recipes required cooling off the dough for one hour before we rolled it into little balls and baked for only about 8 minutes. I must admit they were undeniably, mouth-wateringly delicious and worth the wait.

christmas-cookies-with-kidschristmas cookies christmas-cookies

I learned a few lessons along the way, like read the instructions before you embark on the adventure, Kiki has no patience; let her do the work and don’t constantly say “let me help you with this”; don’t wear black as you will have flour all over you; set the rules about not touching the oven or any other “equipment”; let her play Santa’s helper and help you with cleaning the mess, and most importantly, eat cookies together as soon as they have cooled off…after all, she only wants the icing anyway!

christmas-cookies-_ii

Baking cookies with Kiki made an ordinary afternoon into extraordinary. It was an opportunity to share time, make delicious cookies and created memories, and lots of mess. But every bite of the cookie and a smile on Kiki’s face, was worth the mess.

I always forget how busy the holiday season gets…but in these moments of togetherness and through the eyes of a child, I find myself discovering the joy and charm of Christmas!

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Food

This weekend was just all over the map…neither Kiki nor I nor the Sous-Chef felt our 100%, so Sunday was spent nursing a fever, lost voice, lots of coughing and an exhaustion. Hopefully we are all on our way to a better health with only a week away from Christmas, as our holiday to-do list is still a mile long.

I am also slightly panicking over gift shopping, anyone else feeling the same? I’m still missing a few essentials, two birthday gifts, and some stocking stuffers, mailing Christmas cards, and then the wrapping…always down to the wire! No wonder everything always feels so hurried and holidays pass in a blur. I promised myself this year I would slow down and savor the moment…I think there is still time, especially because I will be on staycation starting this Friday!!! Now that is something to truly look forward to! and my best friend from Portland arrives on Christmas Eve!!! I am ready!

Kiki did not have much of an appetite [can’t say the same for myself] this weekend, but she did ask me to make her “Mama’s Banana Bread with Little Healthy Things” – the little healthy things are chia and flax seeds! Luckily there are always one or two bananas in our fridge that are just perfect for banana bread muffins, so I whipped up a batch and with the assistance of the Elf on the Shelf Elsa, we decorated the muffins to surprise Lexi on Monday morning! I must say, Elf on the Shelf morning surprises are by far her favorite…our Elf has been quite creative in her endeavors this years!!!

Mama’s Banana Bread with Little Healthy Things

 

Elf on the Shelf Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chia seeds and flax seeds

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray loaf pan with cooking spray
  • Combine whole wheat flour through salt in a bowl and set aside
  • Mix remaining ingredients together until batter is relatively smooth with a few lumps from the mashed bananas
  • Slowly mix flour mixture into banana mixture
  • Once batter is fully mixed, pour into the muffin tin and bake for approximately 35 minutes

 

We did manage to make a weekly menu even though I am not quite sure what this week will look like yet, but I am sharing our menu as a guide we have for this week. Hope your week is full of joy, good eats and laughter!

weekly menu

Sunday: Crescent Breakfast Ring for Dinner

Monday: Sausages, Brussel Sprouts and Pasta

Tuesday: Best Detox Grilled Chopped Salad

Wednesday: Holiday dinner with friends

Thursday: Farmer’s Beans and Pasta

Friday: Momma’s night out!!!!

 

Food

Getting kids to eat veggies, or to eat in general can be a struggle… luckily, I have a foodie kid!!! Kiki loves to eat, but not always most eager to try new things. Luckily I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. When getting our food ready, I always ask her if we are eating a rainbow and if a color is missing from our plate; sometimes I ask her to close her eyes and tell me what color of food/vegetable she’s eating, and sometimes I tell her the benefits of the food like carrots are good for your eyes, broccoli is good because they keep germs away with vitamin C, tomatoes are good for your skin, etc…and she loves these games!

Beets Recipe

The latest vegetable I introduced to Kiki were beets, also known as the world’s healthiest vegetable! In addition to being delicious, they have some amazing benefits, like boost your stamina [Kiki veggie game – play longer with Barbies], good for your bones {Kiki veggie game – grow taller], lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, anti-cancer properties, and tons of detoxification support!

I wanted a really simple recipe and since she already likes pistachio and goat cheese or as we call it the fancy cream cheese, this beet salad was a good way to eat a new rainbow on the plate, though she was quick to tell me there was no blue or real green color but she was happy with the analogy eating beets meant playing with Barbies a little longer.

In a true faux foodie fashion, I took a short cut, and bought steamed and peeled baby beets.

The best thing about these ready to cook beats, the only ingredient in the pouch are beets!!!

Beets Recipe

I have to admit, being that beets are naturally high in sugar it was an easy vegetable for Kiki to eat and she loved that they left her lips red like she was wearing a lipstick. I would say, this salad was #kikiapproved and will be making another appearance on our weekly menu!

ROASTED BEETS PISTACHIO AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package of baby beets (or 1 pound of beets if you will roast them yourself)
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ of pistachios, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ shallot minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Crumbled goat cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Cut the beets into bite size chunks.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the shallot and mustard and let stand for 10 minutes. Gradually whisk in the remaining olive oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, toss the beets, pistachios with half of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing to your desired preference. Arrange the beets on a platter and sprinkle the goat cheese.

Food

Happy Monday! New week, fresh start – I took advantage this weekend to somewhat hybernate. It was all about R&R and gluttony. And it was wonderful.

Don’t laugh now, but winter has arrived to Florida! Or at least temperatures below 70F. On Saturday morning I woke up to temperatures in the high 60s, immediately opened every single window in my house, made a cup of coffee, and tried to make that big decision – which sweater I wanted to wear first! As I was getting dressed up I contemplated wearing my faux fur vest, but I started to laugh at myself, and put it right back on the hanger.  I did ended up with a sweater and booties and I was in heaven!

starbucks holiday cup

As a faithful fan of Mojo donuts, it was hard for me to believe there is anything better…but after a year of hearing only glowing reviews about the Salty Donuts, I finally found myself in Wynwood on Saturday morning and  indulged not in one, but three of their donuts, thankfully I shopped for the rest of the afternoon. The Salty Donut is an artisanal donut shop, focused on chef-made, small-batch craft donuts using some incredible ingredients and making them taste totally homemade. These were the fluffiest, lightest, freshest, tastiest donuts I’ve ever had. The Nutella donut as you could expect was my favorite… The group favorite was the maple bacon, made with maple glaze, Miami smokers bacon ‘cracklings,’ and JWakefield Porter redux.  If you decide to go, I would suggest go there early in the AM, they might run out of your favorite! Oh, and I am totally in love with their logo! So on brand!

salty donut

The rest of the weekend  was all about the R&R…I caught up on my DVR shows, I am completely obsessed with “This Is Us” and Barefoot Contessa, a lot of sleep, and and a lot of closet cleaning and organizing…Kiki was at her dad’s this weekend which gave me an opportunity to get organized and get ready for a bit of a frenzy of the week that’s coming…Most importantly I prepared our weekly menu, and with that alone, I felt ready! and you know how I feel about the meal prep….So here is what we are having this week:

weekly menu

Sunday: Shaved brussel sprouts salad

Monday: Beets, pistachio and goat cheese salas

Tuesday: Work Dinner

Wednesday: Slow cooker cheesy tortellini

Thursday: Work Holiday Dinner

Friday: Kids’ dinner @ Noemi’s

How was your weekend?

@lifewithflavors

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