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zoe & the beatles

just a twenty-something vegan navigating healthy, positive living with a little help from her friends john, paul, ringo & george!

Category Archives: cafe gratitude

(points for anyone who can correctly identify the movie the title of this post came from!)

but seriously. lately, my kitchen has been pumpin’ out some seriously bitchin’ foods.

take, for example, coconut butter!

quite possibly the easiest thing in the world to make. take unsweetened, flaked coconut (i used bob’s red mill brand but who really cares) and process in a food processor until smooth and creamy and oh-so-delicious.

other oh-so-deliciously bitchin’ food?

the yo soy mucho bowl, a la cafe gratitude! k and i cooked it up a few nights ago. in that (cafe gratitude bowl!) is wild black rice (our modification!), shredded romaine, delicious guacamole, and salsa fresca. all homemade, all awesome. the cashew nacho cheese comes straight from ashley of edible perspective. girl knows what she’s doing! this was a huge hit (four friends joined us for dinner!)

another huge hit? (am i annoying you yet?)

spicy swiss chard wrap! served alongside some mary’s herb crackers & hummus (duh)

the innards

wild black rice (a new favorite) and sprouted quinoa mixed with left-over cashew cheese and hot sauce, diced red onion, julianned orange bell pepper, and some avocado slices. peeeeerfection at its finest.

more perfection? (yes, i am entertaining myself) today’s lunch!

roasted carrots with roasted cauliflower and a delicious cheesy (vegan cheese, of course) quesadilla on the side…

you bet i smothered that in hot sauce. although i love daiya, i don’t think it quite likes my stomach…

but know what did like my stomach?

this pretty pink smoothie! made with frozen mango chunks and frozen organic raspberries. and water. topped with unsweetened coconut flakes and puffins! i found puffins on sale (like serious sale) and totally swooped up two boxes. score!

i’m having so much fun in my kitchen again. some foods still make me anxious (hellooo pizza, pasta, and bread!) BUT guess what? i eat rice. yeah, i said it — I EAT RICE! not white because i hate it (always have, nothing new) but brown, black, wild — throw it at me.

i’m proud of myself. i’m striving to create a happy, healthy, balanced environment in which to live in. and it feels amazing. some days it’s difficult to beat down the negative voice in my head and i compensate by over eating or under eating. and, sometimes, the grumble in my stomach ignites a feeling of happiness. on days i feel anxious skipping a meal or working out past the point of exhaustion sound like solid ways to deal. sigh. i’m working on it. it’s an incredibly odd thought, really, to want so desperately to be healthy in mind and body yet want, at the same, time to cling desperately to unhealthy habits.

this year i need to focus on one thing and one thing only: to let my negativity go. i know the happy, whole person i can be without this awful negativity constantly in the back of my mind. i need to find the happiness in myself. i’ll get there, with a lot of patience and determination and self compassion, that much i know.

i wish you a wonderful start to your week as this lovely weekend draws to a close. well, not for me actually! somehow i managed to get saturday, sunday, AND monday off! tomorrow i will enjoy a climbing session with k and my friend joe. i’m excited. are you interested in rock climbing? ever wanted to do it? ever done it?! regardless, keep your eyes out for a post about climbing soon!

have a magnificent monday!



…it’s so hard to stay positive?

today was not filled with sunshine and rainbows. instead, it matched the color of the murky sky obscuring the sun i miss so desperately. the negative voice in my head today told me i wasn’t worth it.

and no, i had no desire to feel this way today.

i know positivity is a choice. we possess the power to squash negativity and choose to be and feel positive but i am finding it ridiculously hard to stay committed to making that decisiom. in fact, i’m finding it hard to even find the ability to do so. no matter what i seem to do, i cannot make myself feel positive, happy, and brimming with life.

today was my day off. reason enough already for it to be a good day, right? i even got my hair cut and colored today. but the funk still persisted. so i took myself out to lunch to cafe gratitude for a little soul soothing. the yummy macrobiotic bowl and slice of i am devoted coconut cream pie did nothing to alleviate me from my own self-induced misery.

and i know where all this emotion and negativity is coming from. it’s all stemming from feeling insecure in my person and appearance right now. i feel it controlling my days. i hate getting dressed in the morning. i am staying home instead of seeing friends because i am embarrassed of how i look. i am wearing baggy clothes to hid my self from view. it’s sad and pathetic, and it’s true.

though, i can say there is one positive aspect i have noticed here: i am not taking it out on myself physically. i am not bingeing. i am not compulsively exercising. i am not restricting. i am treating myself well by eating enough and eating well. i am moving when i want to and how i want to.

and despite this awful mood i found it in me to treat myself to a wholesome dinner.

a little of this…

(massaged spinach salad with chopped yellow bell peppers, chopped zuchinni, and a homemade dressing [2 t sesame oil, 1.5 t maple syrup, 1.5 t mellow white miso, juice from half a lemon, a sprinkle of red chili flakes, and a splash of water] topped with sesame seeds)

and a little of that…

(a quarter of baked purple cabbage drizzled with balsamic oil (added pre-baking) and one cut up parsnip)

dessert was three dates and a melter square of 100% unsweetened Baker’s chocolate. (i really enjoy the taste of 100% dark chocolate. it’s so rich and that’s the taste i really love, not necessarily the sugar.)

today is ending on a decent note. i am feeling a bit better after an afternoon of movie watching with candace and now a game of LIFE (remember that one?) with candace and another friends.

additionally i just read such an inspiring and raw post by one of my most favorite food bloggers, ricki of diet, dessert, and dogs. it’s in regards to ricki’s diet and lifestyle but also in regards to bingeing, something we apparently have in common. it’s beautiful and honest and really put things into perspective for me. i really recommend reading though it. it’s worth the length, especially if you’re struggling with bingeing.

anyway, i’m being called to get my ass to the game board. hope you have a wonderful tuesday evening.

here’s to a better tomorrow.

how do you stay positive during negative times?



weekend = amazing.


friday day: a spectacular misty, rainy, foggy hike. nature woos me. always.

friday night: fun shenanigans with friends involving some adult beverages and children’s games. think uno and cranium. and silliness. lots and lots of silliness. and early morning baking adventures. and late morning kisses and confessions with a certain boy whose name starts with the letter k…

saturday day: cafe gratitude with my mama. wonderful food, soul-soothing company. we spent a good hour and a half chatting over our late lunch. i realize more and more just how lucky i am to have the parents i do.

especially when the first night of hanukkah present comes a little early:

can i describe to you in words the excitement i feel over this book? i don’t think i can.

saturday night: a short and lovely close at work (with said boy!) followed by a long and lovely night paired with a bottle of wine, apples to apples, and friends. and more kisses. lots more kisses.

sunday day: mid-morning brunch with boy followed by a trip to REI for NEW CLIMBING SHOES. gorgeous gorgeous climbing shoes. happiness spilled into the late afternoon and a three mile run turned into an unintentional, complete zen 10k. then family dinner. and lots of laughs and good vibes. which was washed down with two hours of rock climbing in my new gorgeous shoes with gorgeous boy.

sunday night/early morning: i am an idiot. i got boy’s car towed. karma karma karma. the universe smacked me in the face big time. 255 dollars and a monumental lesson learned later the boy and i had a big, big two hour conversation outside of the towing place regarding us and the future. to sum it up: he’s in a good place. i’m in a good place. we’ll be in a good place. we’re taking it slow. i am incandescently happy. (and a jane austen fan).

oh, and i’ve settled on my tattoo idea.

really though, are you surprised? not sure as to where i want this but it speaks to me and has since the moment i saw it on my first solo adventure into cafe gratitude earlier this year.

so even though it’s raining and all signs point to gloomy, i can’t help seeing the sunshine.

how was your weekend?



hello loves, happy thursday! hope all is well. unfortunately i feel like i am on the verge of a cold! i’ve been slamming my body with fluids and skipped my early class this morning to sleep. i also made sure my dinner was spicy in all ways it could be. hopefully i’ll sleep it off tonight but i open tomorrow (3:30 wake up call) so i’m not sure how restful my sleep will be.

but enough whining! i’ll live 🙂 besides the yummy dinner and excellent party, i received some gifts for my birthday. i am not a big gift person and usually tell people to not get me anything. homemade gifts i am always down with, however. something about people spending money on me makes me uncomfortable. however, my family still loves to give them and of course i accept them. and this year i got some really cool gifts!

like this from my brother

look familiar?

bento box! my brother and i were in whole foods a few weeks ago and stumbled across these. i mentioned off handedly how much i wanted one because of all the individual tupperwares i use on a daily basis as well as the plastic bags i use to carry said tupperwares in. apparently someone was listening because he went back and bought it! sweet broha i’ve got, hm?

and someone else was listening, too! a few weeks ago i went to cafe gratitude for dessert with my mom (yes, i have an addiction. counseling may or may not be sought.) and mentioned, again offhandedly, how much i loved their plates! well, guess what i got?

two bowls and four plates! (two of each color). my mom told me she remembered how much i loved them and how it was one of the first things i mentioned after eating there for the first time. sometimes i forget people actually pay attention to the offhanded, sometimes absentminded things i say! this time it came in handy 🙂

but perhaps the best presents i did not yet receive. my parents told me to pick out a kick ass digital camera. because i am going to spain!!!!!!!!!! i am not sure when but i know within the next year, i am going to visit one of my best friends! i’m so excited! i’ve never been anywhere out of the country besides south africa. i love new adventures 🙂

and because i feel so loved and so grateful for all the gifts i got, i have gifts to give you! in the form of two recipes!

tofu with eggplant & zucchini
what you need
1/2 block of firm or extra firm tofu
1/2 c of eggplant (okay, truth be told, i didn’t measure out anything hah! so this is just an estimated guess!)
1/2 c zucchini

for the marinade/sauce
1/4 C hot water
1/4 cup bragg’s liquid aminos (or tamari or soy sauce or whatever!)
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T tomato paste
1 T agave
1 T + 2 t hot chile sauce
1 T sesame seed oil

what you need to do
press and drain all water out of tofu. cut up into whatever size you like. stick in a tupperware and allow to marinate for a few hours (i did this before class and let it chill for a good five hours or so!). when ready to cook, grease a wok or a pan and, once hot (medium-high), use tongs to place the tofu in the wok/pan. reserve the remaining marinade/sauce. allow to cook for a good ten minutes or so (depending on how chewy/crispy you want it!). once browned to your liking on both sides, add some of the marinade to braise it. then add the vegetables and allow to cook for about five minutes before adding the remaining sauce. continue to cook.

i covered mine like this for a few minutes, too, just to steam it some and cook it faster (because i was starving)

once done, plate and enjoy! this was super good and really flavorful!

next up, a bit of a sweeter treat!

butternut squash muffins!
what you need
1 C baked butternut squash
1/3 C coconut oil
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 cup + 1/4 cup spelt flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t salt
dash of ginger
dash of nutmeg

what you need to do
preheat your oven to 375
mix all dry ingredients together. mix all wet ingredients together. because heated coconut oil will solidify upon being mixed together with the almond milk, i heated the bowl (my mixing bowls are aluminum) over a pot with simmering water to remelt the coconut oil. worked like a charm 🙂

mix the dry into the wet slowly and combine until smooth. grease or line a muffin tin and bake for 12 minutes or until done. allow to sit in pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

so these were so dense and delicious and muffin-y that i ate them all before i remembered to take a picture. phffft, figures. but i can tell you these are very filling and are an excellent breakfast or snack!

one last gift: a review! of these delicious cookies!

a few months ago a friend of mine told me about these cookies from a company called late july. late july does not use artificial ingredients or preservatives and these are vegan! i bought them and i have to say, these truly are decadent! they’re so delicious and so much better than oreos! unfortunately for me these are all gone. i had a bit of a moderation issue a few nights ago. oops! sometimes i cannot be trust around a box of chocolate decadence 😉

anyway, it’s getting to be my bed time (how ridiculous) so i’ve got to go. i’ve got some yoga and light reading to do before i sleep! have a wonderful night, kidlettes!



it’s my birthday too, yeah! happy birthday to you!

well guys, i made it. i officially arrive at my 21st year. i’m not going to lie. i’m pretty damn stoked. what does a birthday girl do in the last few minutes of the year 20? finish up her birthday cake, of course.


fitting for the season, no? and my taste buds. oh boy. do i ever love me some pumpkin. i trimmed the edges of the cake for two equal sized layers and lemme tell you, late night snacking has never been more delicious. i wish the recipe was mine but alas, it is not. it’s cafe gratitudes. what? did you expect something different ;)? just trust me when i tell you this is better than any cream cheese frosting i’ve ever had. and it might just win the award for best pumpkin related dessert i’ve ever had the good fortune of eating. it’s going to be a sweet birthday 🙂

i have a long drunken weekend ahead of me. i don’t party much but i think this weekend i will make an exception to my rule. just maybe 😉 i’ll give you the deets on sunday. (i’m sorry i just said deets.)

do you have any special weekend plans? regardless, i hope you have a great weekend!

but for now, i’ve got to go. i’ve got some dishes to attend to…


the newly 21 zoe!

confidence can be a tricky thing. one day it drives everything you seem to do. another day it plays an endless game of hide and seek. what disrupts the constant stream of confidence, though? do you get caught up in your appearance? do you doubt your self-worth? do you, for whatever reason, believe confidence to be an entirely unobtainable thing? well, i would like to tell you you’re wrong. completely wrong. confidence comes from within. you control your confidence. not the other way around!

and with confidence comes the ability to love yourself and everything you do. it brings about a feeling of overwhelming comfort. and, even today when i woke up with a bit less confidence, i forced myself into happiness. i forced myself into confidence. the more you fake it, the closer you get to making it, right? i’m going to pretend i just heard you say ‘right’ :).

anyway, the point i am trying to make here is this: confidence should never be elusive. once you see the greatest that is you, everyone else will, too. treat yourself with respect and everyone else will, too. since embracing my own confidence a lot has happened. i feel lighter in body, mind, and soul. i smile a lot. i laugh a lot more. and some interesting things have happened, particularly on the people front. okay, particularly on the boy front.

i never, ever, ever, ever carried myself around with much confidence. i much preferred wallowing in the negative. i saw no positive in the positive. i was basically a professional at personal putdowns. i was always fat, always ugly, always dumb. i was never good enough for anyone, not even myself. and you know what? people noticed. i let people walk all over me. boys never noticed me because i never let them. i always hid the person i was because i knew no one would like me. aside from being incredibly lame and really, really foolish, it always paved the way for a perpetual single existence.

but now i walk a different walk, talk a different talk. my confidence shows. remember the date i alluded to? well yes, it was a date after all. and though i am not interested (i am currently smitten with another) i am incredibly flattered. i’ve noticed a lot of boys talk to me now. i made a cashier at starbucks blush the other day. yeah, i felt pretty cool 🙂 the attention is such a new feeling! i’m really not used to it. and i kind of have to admit…i like it. and i am not using it to validate my self-worth, either. because i already know and value myself. do you know yours?

regardless, i am digging this new feeling of confidence. in addition to embracing my temptress, it has lead me to attempt things i previously thought i could not do. like this…


and yes, i do yoga in my jammies. well, actually, only on that day. i usually get on my mat sans clothes 😉

ANYWAY…i’ve been working on headstand for a second and a half now. and when i got into that position i cannot tell you the feeling of accomplishment that welled inside my chest. i yelled for candace to come and look. which she graciously did. and she also took the picture. that’s what best friends are for 🙂 i feel like i need to tuck my tailbone under a bit more but hey, i stayed up until i felt like coming down. that’s saying something! my core is getting so strong!

after yoga i enjoyed a hempmilk chai. in my new cup!

these mugs were on sale at work and the beatles fan in me could not resist.

and look at the little nemo fishes on the inside rim! so cute!

know what else i couldn’t resist?

dessert from cafe gratitude! this would be the turtle “cheese”cake. honestly, i cannot believe these are raw and vegan. i bought this on the “date”. after i already ate dessert. i really wanted a slice so i got one! ate it the next day though. and i got half way through this sentence: “would you judge me if i ordered another slice of cake” before stopping at saying, “wait, i don’t give a fuck what you think. i’m getting that.” it was a great feeling 🙂

so. good. i want some right now, actually. really badly! the other day i also made chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip blondies out of the babycakes cook book. both vanished in a night. my friends kind of loved them. and so did i. i ate as much as i wanted, guilt free, went to bed satisfied and woke up happy as a calm. i am finally getting this mind body connection. and the lack of guilt associated with my eats is an amazing feeling.

so kidlettes, what have you learned through out this horribly written, rambling post? that you’re awesome and should love the awesomeness that is you? that confidence is something you should always have? that cafe gratitude is amazing? and so are headstands and little mugs from starbucks? regardless, i just really hope you find the confidence i know is in you. just free it.



helloooo kidlettes, how are all of you this evening? well, i hope!

i myself am doing pretty swell and for a number or reasons. let me share.

a) it’s thursday. classes are duuuunzo for the week. score one!
b) i’m eating a really delicious salad right now. it’s chalk full of all kiiiiinds of goodness. think lots of vegetables. lots. i went a little crazy at the salad bar at my local market…
c) both my story critiques surpassed my expectations today. i had to read one aloud too because i forgot to turn it in on tuesday! nerve.racking. but for the first time, i’m actually believing in my writing. i feel so connected to these stories i create and i feel like i am challenging myself as a writer.
d) my eats as of late have been so wonderfully amazing. like my lunch the other day…

baked eggplant, heirloom tomato, basil napoleon

tasty, tasty lunch. and all farmer’s market materials! and oh, my friends, the list of tasty food keep unraveling. i’ve mentioned cafe gratitude cakes a million times. but i am usually sans camera whenever i stop in for a slice. you’re in luck though! i brought a slice home the other day. a german chocolate slice. (raw AND vegan) side shot!

vertical shot!

what the box looked like shot!

(it’s called “i am rapture” cake. all the items on their menu are affirmations.)

e) i went climbing again. and it rocked. i’m falling in love with it, i think. it’s just so damn fun. and i feel my body and mind working together. it’s such a challenge and i am loving every second in it. i’m using muscles i never knew i had!

which brings me to…


my friend, a ridiculously amazing climber, (and oddly enough one of the boys in my boy debacle) picked up a used pair for me at his climbing gym when he went home yesterday. for 15 bucks, they’re a steal. sure, they’re a little worn but hey, i don’t have to break them in! and they’re two different colors…absolutely perfect 🙂 it matches me pretty well, i think.

g) LIFE IS JUST TOO DAMN AMAZING. although i haven’t been to a counseling appointment in two weeks (our schedules conflicted last week. i get to see her tomorrow!) i’ve been thriving. at least, that’s how i feel. i walk around with this constant smile on my face. it just won’t quit. i’m laughing at lot. i’m feeling creative. i’m eating steadily and well. i’m not breaking out. i haven’t binged in weeks. i’m not being hard on myself. i’m not forcing anything on myself. to put it simply, i’m thinking positive thoughts, folks. and it rocks. each day strengthens my confidence. i am, honestly, in love with this person i am.

sigh. i’m so glad it’s the weekend. it’s been a busy week. but i’ve got work at four tomorrow morning and need to relax before i sleeeeeep. have an excellent thursday night, kidlettes! (and don’t worry kara, i’ll have that review on thrive up for you soon!)



so i forgot to mention last post something remotely interesting.

last weekend my little broha came up to spend some time with me. i took him out to lunch and we ended up at — where else? — cafe gratitude! i ended up buying their desserts book because i am absolutely in love with their dessert as well as the rest of their food. i also bought it because my brother and i decided to spend the afternoon making one of the delicious creations! we settled in the strawberry shortcake layer cake. so last weekend i made my first raw dessert. how’d it come out? so good i forgot to take a picture before it was demolished. all apologies. it was amazing though! colored pink with beet juice and tasting like real strawberries (because, go figure, it used real strawberries!)

yesterday i somehow ended up back in cafe gratitude for a little solo dinner. i would like to blame the late friday afternoon traffic for that one. to avoid sitting in a hot car and moving a foot per minute, i decided to lounge and eat an early dinner. i ordered a latte (with steamed hazlenutmilk! this is the only place i drink coffee at) and for dinner, my waiter (my very cute waiter) hooked me up with the last special of the day: A STUFFED AVOCADO. oh yeah, i very nearly died and went to vegan heaven. it was SO delicious and served with a side salad. for dessert (because of course i had some) i had the mocha “cheesecake” al a mode with caramel sauce. which my very cute waiter did not charge me for! (the caramel sauce, i mean) pretty sure he thought the girl sitting at table ten was easy on the eyes 🙂

anywho, before cafe gratitude i took a trip to the back doctor. and never got to see her. first they were running late. and didn’t call me. then the doctor had an emergency to tend to. so after an hour of sitting in the waiting room, i bounced, kind of frustrated and annoyed. but something about cafe gratitude grounds me again. it makes me realize life is life and i should not get worked up over things out of my control. so yes, i wasted gas, energy and time going into the city (and missed the opportunity to SKYDIVE with some coworkers of mine) but i did get to spend some time with my dad. and i did get to eat an amazing dinner. and i did have an amazing ride home.

i took the backroads to avoid the moooondo backup on the freeway. no one has to tell me twice northern california is the most beautiful place and that i am lucky as hell to be breathing, to be alive, to be healthy. to be present.

i’m happy to be here and i’m happy to be happy. finally. i am choosing happiness and it feels good. this weekend looks like a great one, too. shortly after posting this i am heading out again towards san francisco for the power to the peaceful music festival! there’s music, yoga, organic food…and it’s a free event! well, it’s a donation style event. i’m so excited! i’ve never been but i think today will be a calming sort of day. don’t worry, i wouldn’t forget my camera like i usually do 😉

and tomorrow i plan on going to the farmer’s market in my home town. i need delicious fruits and veggies because my fridge is looking a little sad at the moment.

but for now, i am just grateful for what i have: a healthy state of mind and enough. of everything.

what are you grateful for? any exciting weekend plans!?!