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Mantras, Birthday Ridiculousness, and The Chicago Diner

Posted May 16 2011 10:25pm

Hello everyone! I cannot tell you how wonderful and uplifting it has been to read all of your open, thoughtful comments regarding my latest Monday Motivation post . I’ve read through them several times already and each time I come away with even more motivation to cut the ties between my confidence and the opinion of others.

You suggested so many fantastic mantras and strategies for increasing self esteem and confidence that I couldn’t help but compile a link love summary list of your wonderful input. Not only am I going to use many of these strategies, I am going to turn to this post whenever I need help staying on track.

Lisa : Do what is best for you and your family.

Lindsay : Self doubt robs you of your happiness IF YOU LET IT!

Miranda : Self doubt is a bitch.

Fran: Yoga is practice, not perfection. Living in the moment is too.

Grace : A balanced mind is as important as a balanced body.

Wymberley : Taking the time for self reflection speaks worlds about your self confidence.

Elle : Remember you successes and try to anchor something to that feeling, like a bracelet or ring you wear all the time. When you look at the ring or bracelet, recall the feelings of success.

Brenna : You can do it!


Christine : Take 5 minutes each day to reflect upon your abilities and sheer awesomeness.

Emily : Meeting everyone else’s goals won’t make you happy!

Carrie: Remember that we judge ourselves much more harshly than other people judge us. We give ourselves a MUCH harder time than anyone else would.

Cait : Take a step back and examine the bigger picture

Molly : Take advantage of hardships to learn and grow.

Momma: You have successfully gotten through much tougher times.

Melissa : Let go of your ego and realize that your best IS good enough. It is an uphill battle but a worthy one for sure.

Kelly : The goal is progress not perfection. Feel good about progress instead of beating yourself up because you haven’t achieved perfection.

Michelle : Use times of self doubt as opportunities for growth, become a better person BECAUSE of it.

Kelly : You are beautiful and capable of overcoming negative thoughts.

Bonnie : You are the only one in charge of your happiness. Screw everything else.

Tiff : Understand that challenges are difficult to accomplish, but not impossible.

Kim : Focus on your accomplishments thus far. Remember that your journey is a marathon and not a sprint.

Allison : 99% of people aren’t judging you because 99% of people have their own insecurities!

Kristen : What other people think of me is not my business.

Andrea : Take time to take a deep breath and just be thankful for who we are to ourselves and the people we love in our lives.

Ari : Look up and stay positive.

PB Addict : Taking time and to reflect upon your actions and the motivations behind them really puts the kind of person you are/want to be into perspective.

Tessa : When you let other people influence your actions or the way you think then you are constantly trying to please others and doing nothing for yourself.

Parita : It is hard not to care about what the people closest to you think about you, however, if they love you then they want you to be happy!

Nowell : Be thankful for all that you have and remember that there is always someone in a worse situation and that you are not alone.

Lisa : Take care of your body through healthy eating and exercise and let that self love overflow into my your self-confidence.

smokey emp cropped best ingred

Whew! What an awesome list, I can’t thank you all enough for sharing so much wisdom with me and FHF readers.

Today I wanted to share the ridiculous and delicious fun that Nick and I had last Thursday on his 32nd birthday. I say ridiculous because the day started off like this: I was sitting at the dining room table, enjoying my breakfast and Nick came over to join me with his huge smoothie in a bowl and one of our large soup spoons. I jokingly said “is that spoon big enough for you, birthday boy?”

Well Nick took my comment as a challenge and decided to get our three largest spoons and proceed to try to eat his smoothie with each of them.

birthday fun 3

The first spoon was easy…

birthday fun 4

But the larger two were a bit more difficult.

birthday fun 7

Needless to say, things got pretty silly and messy!

birthday fun 12

However, Nick certainly was proud of himself!

birthday fun 8

Simple pleasures people. Simple belly ache causing pleasures…

birthday fun 17

birthday fun 14

Anyone else think that Nick is loving the blog limelight? ;)

After we had our breakfast fun we spent the rest of they doing errands and work before heading out to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner.


Please excuse the circa 1983 picture, I forgot to take one of the exterior! The Chicago Diner was opened shortly before this picture was taken by Mickey Homick and Jo Kautchner. As the website explains, the notion that a vegetarian (and now almost exclusively vegan) restaurant would survive in Chicago in the early 1980′s was far-fetched to say the least. However, in the last 28 years, the Diner has not only survived, it has thrived. In fact, we rarely eat visit during the weekend because there is always a line of people waiting to be seated.

To be honest, prior to eating at The Chicago Diner for the first time I was turned off by the menu because all of the dishes looked quite heavy i.e. Nachos, Country Fried Steak, Reubens, and Cheeseburgers. However, about a year ago I was watching TLC’s Best Food Ever show featuring the top 10 diners in the country and low and behold The Chicago Diner was ranked at #2!

TLC producers went into the kitchen with the Diner’s new mother-daughter chef team who explained how they make their seitan by hand and described the care they take to prepare healthy meals, most of which contain less than 500 calories. I was sold. We have been there several times since and have never been disappointed.

For his birthday dinner, Nick started with a huge bottle of wheat ale brewed by Flossmoor Station Brewing Company, located just outside of Chicago.

Flossmor Station Brewery

He also enjoyed a plate of vegan mozzarella sticks served with housemade marinara sauce.

vegan mozzarella sticks 2

I abstained from the cheese sticks because I ordered the BBQ Bacon Cheezeburger with Coleslaw for my meal.

Vegan BBQ Bacon Cheezeburger the Chicago Diner

It was absolutely fantastic. The burger patty was made out of soft, savory seitan with a slightly crisp exterior. The housemade bacon seitan was smoky and paired pefectly with the sweet BBQ sauce. The freshly baked whole wheat bun soft, hearty, and slightly nutty. I was pleasantly surprised that the vegan Monterey Jack cheese appealed to me as I am a die hard fan of real dairy cheese. Despite all of the delicious components, the real winner of the dish was the coleslaw which was slightly sweet and wonderfully creamy. I am so glad that I thought to put it on top of the burger.

Nick ordered the Dagwood, which is a setain roast, corned “beef”, seitan bacon, cheeze, pepperocini, and special spicy sauce served on a fresh baked hoagie roll.

Dagwood Sanwich the Chicago Diner

He’s ordered it several times before and it didn’t disappoint!

By the time we finished our main courses, we were stuffed. However, the waiter was nice enough to mention that the Diner offers free dessert to birthday boys and girls. We certainly weren’t going to pass up the chance to try more of their scrumptious baked goods so we ordered a slice of Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake to go.

Once we got home, it didn’t take me long to digest my meal so that I could savor some of this delectable torte.

vegan chocolate peanut butter cake the chicago diner 2

The cake itself was delicious, though a touch on the dry side. The frosting was surprisingly light and fluffy with the perfect balance of vanilla and peanut butter flavor. I had started with half a piece, however, when I learned that Nick was too full to eat his half, I happily finished it off.

I mean, how could I not? ;)

vegan peanut butter chocolate cake the Chicago Diner

Goodness me this post is long. I hope you made it to the end so that you could drool over this dessert!

I would love to hear from you…

What is the best thing you have eaten lately?

Have you ever eaten an awesome faux meat dish?

Thank you again for all of your wonderful input regarding self confidence. Don’t forget to share the list of strategies and mantras with your friends and family!

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