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Happy new year!  This also marks my 100th post.  Big thanks to all of you for sticking around!  I hope 2012 was as kind to you as it was to me.

Looking back on the year, here are my three most popular recipes of 2012:

1) Chocolate Banana CookiesChocolate Banana Cookies (1)

2) Creamy Avocado Chickpea PastaCreamy Avocado Chickpea Pasta

3) Crispy Tofu StripsCrispy Breaded Tofu Strips Earthgiven Kitchen (2)

These are some of my favourite recipes too!  I’m thrilled to hear the feedback when people make my recipes and enjoy them.  Thank you for all your comments.

I’ve recently returned from the Mayan Riviera, Mexico, where I spent the week over Christmas swimming in the ocean, soaking up some vitamin D, and relaxing with my family.  (What better place to spend December 21, 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar than with the Mayans?!)  It was a fabulous holiday!  And certainly my personal highlight of 2012.

Some photos of the beautiful resort, the Xcaret Grand Occidental…..

Mexico collage Earthgiven KitchenEarthgiven Kitchen sunsetThis photo was taken of my husband and I at the resort a few years ago, one of my favourite photos of all time.

There was plenty of wildlife to see: Coatis (also known as Brazillian Aardvarks), agoutis (a large rodent that my son described as a cross between a rabbit and a miniature hippo), iguanas, geckos, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and dozens of species of beautiful birds.  In the ocean: sergeant majors, angel fish, needle fish and countless more.

Earthgiven Kitchen creature collageThis was my fourth trip to the resort, the second time as a vegan. When I first visited in several years ago, I was a meat-eater and was only mildly bothered that the resort kept monkeys in a cage.  The last time I visited, I was a vegan and was pleased to see that the monkey cage was empty.  So I was disappointed on this year’s trip to see that the caged monkeys had returned.  The monkey cage is completely redundant as there are wild monkeys to see at the resort anyway.  I loved getting to show my children monkeys in the wild.  Watching them dash through the trees, they almost looked like they were flying, they were so fast, and you realize the vast space (including height) that monkeys need to thrive.  They moved so fast I never got a great photo.  (Howler monkeys’ cries sound like a lion roar, we could hardly believe that those little guys could make such a ruckus, but it’s clear how their moniker was earned!)

There were also flamingos and deer in enclosures; they appeared more humane than the monkey cage, but all confined animals sadden me.  The animal captivity was the only part of the resort that was a negative for me, it was otherwise a wonderful place to stay: clean rooms, great service, lush grounds, so much to do.  I doubt if I’ll return to this particular resort, but I love the Mayan Riviera, it’s a little piece of paradise.  The weather is hot year-round, the ocean is spectacular, the people are friendly and it’s less than a four hour flight from Toronto.

For future travel, can anyone recommend a great family vacation spot?  Perhaps a veg-friendly resort?

Coming up next post: the food!