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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: food

this post comes in response to a post by one of my favorite bloggers: medicinal marzipan. today mara wrote this beautiful piece on self-love. i am not truly writing in response, but rather i am writing in reflection. here it goes.

one of the biggest and most important aspects of my life is happiness. i strive to achieve happiness through self-love, a topic i feel like i talk about a lot. so far though, the road to self-love has seemed less like a road and more like a round-a-bout. it seems to come in cycles. cycles i’m sure a lot of you can relate to.

my initial first step towards self-love started the moment i got off the plane from south africa almost two years ago. i was nineteen and filled with a new sense of self, of environment, of life. i felt empowered, capable, and, for one of the first times in my life, border-line beautiful (i never fully let myself believe i was beautiful during this time). something inside switched on and my perspective on the world and me in it started to shift. i returned how with a new sense of purpose and immediately surrounded myself with healthier options. i started running. i met new, down-to-earth people. i became vegetarian. i got really involved in the kitchen. i was happy.

then the slightly winding path to self-love took a sharp, crooked left and steered me into a darker direction. i wandered away from self-love and happiness. whatever newly unearthed sense of being still oozing in my chest just withered away. anxiety replaced it. depression. anger. negativity. suddenly, the person i was almost willing to accept turned into the one person i despised. the one person i could not please. the one person i did not want to be.

i took another sharp turn in another crooked direction and wound myself deeper into a hole. running four days a week became seven days a week. with added in late-night secret work outs to combat the secret binge from earlier in the night. the skipping lunch every other day turned into skipping lunch almost every day and sometimes a complete dinner, too. portions shrunk. as did my waist. but so did my happiness.

the comments of “you look great!” morphed into “you look really, really thin, zoe.” i liked the second of the two comments the best. i secretly prized those comments and didn’t believe them at the same time. because me? really, really thin? obviously they did not see the pouch i obsessed over every-single-second-of-the-day. obviously they didn’t see the muffin top, the hips, the thighs, the butt, the every-little-thing. i only just recently realized (seriously) these thin comments were not complimentary but only said out of concern.

an incredibly close friend of mine shared with me a few months ago a thought she had around this time last year, when i was sunk in the middle of my self-induced misery: “i saw you at a party one night and thought you were going to break.”

i didn’t realize how awful i was being to myself. not even when my period disappeared. not even when i cried all the time. not even when my knees hurt constantly and walking became painful. not even when i was tired and sore almost every hour of the day. not when i couldn’t focus on conversations because i couldn’t focus period. not even when i stopped eating nourishing meals. not even when i compared girl after girl after girl to myself. not even when i preferred skipping social events in favor of eating and exercising till i fell asleep.

the wickedly twisted road on which i wandered took a turn for the brighter side over the summer. something in me clicked again and i saw through a new lens. i saw my unhappiness for what it was. and it was ruining my life, my sanity. i found something in myself to start the long climb upward.

i embraced yoga. i reconstructed my vegan diet and actually started eating. i loosened up food “rules” and quit exercising in secret. in fact, i quit the gym altogether. running and i broke up for two long, months. i started conversations with my mom, my friends, a counselor, and the healing process began.

something new turned on here. something i want to call self-love. around the time of my birthday i accepted myself for who i was, inside and out. i was beautiful, one-hundred-percent beautiful, never border-line anything. everything looked and felt brighter. i felt lighter, in mood, body, and spirit. i truly felt like i was almost there, that just a little farther up the road and i’d finally run into self-love. well, that feeling faded the day after i turned 21.

a lot of things started to happen. i gained weight. my body started changing. i based my self-worth on the attention and affection of those around me and ended up losing the one person i based the most of my self-worth on. i felt like i lost control and the happiness around the corner appeared farther and farther away. now, i realize that i am caught in a cycle. and i’m back at square one again. i’m embarrassed, scared, and upset.

i am back to under eating, bingeing, compulsively exercising. i am back to obsessing, fretting, doubting. almost every day i think back to how i felt around the time of my birthday: beautiful, settled, comfortable, happy. every day i want that feeling back.

i know i can’t get it back without self-love. i can’t feel all those things until i accept myself and all the little intricacies that make me up.

mara sums it up spectacularly:

The difference between loving yourself and not loving yourself is not in the things that you do it is in the way that you feel when you are doing them. It means being honest and brave, and not spiraling into a pit of self-hatred when you don’t like what you see or how you feel. It means reassessing, doing what is best, and being very, very sweet to yourself when you are scared. It means proving to your body that you are capable of providing a safe and healthy environment to grow and flourish. It means melting away the shame that you’ve developed over the years about yours size. It means going to bat for yourself, the way you would for someone that you love.

i know i can be honest. and i know i can be brave. i know i can not spiral into a pit of self-hatred when i don’t like what i see or how i feel. the truth is, i just don’t want to let go. loosening my grip feels like losing control yet i know it is the right thing to do. i know in my heart it’s the right thing to do. this cycle is hellish. and it’s taking its toll on me at the moment.

the last time i went to cafe gratitude, i found a pendant at the table i was seated at. a lovely silver leaf with red streaks.

the back held a surprise for me. engraved in the silver are three words: with the current.

how brilliantly accurate. and how wonderfully timed for this message to fall into my lap. i need to stop forcing against the current, as it brings me farther from happiness and creates unnecessary unhappiness and strife in my life.

i need to trust in my self.

i need to trust that the confusion and uncertainty i feel now will eventually bring me peace of mind.

i need to believe i am experiencing what i am experiencing for a reason.

i need to remember that it takes some work to make it work, it takes some good to make it hurt, and it takes some bad for satisfaction.

most of all, i need to start loving myself and just let it be

once i do that, once i flow with the current instead of against it, well…i think self-love will be inevitable. and that path to beauty? it starts now.

here’s to health, happiness, and wholeness. truly.

namaste

zoe

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let’s get all high school english paper here and crank out a solid dictionary definition before we go any farther:

endurance
–noun

1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
2. the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance.
3. lasting quality; duration: His friendships have little endurance.
4. something endured, as a hardship; trial.

endurance and the act of enduring has been on my mind lately.

it was on my mind mid-way through level three of jillian michael’s 30 day shred earlier this morning. as i sunk down into another push-up, a thought occurred to me. some little voice went, “huh, i’m not huffing and puffing like i was two weeks ago.” then it went, “huh, i seem to not be doing the modified version, either. what the hell?”

my endurance is up. across the board. my runs feel stronger, my yoga sessions more solid. while climbing i don’t feel as fatigued as quickly and recovery feels speedy. mountain climbers don’t kick my ass like they used to. am i getting stronger? all signs point to yes. thank you, strength training. you are amazing. i don’t know why i shunned you for so long!

i endured a lot emotionally during the entire month of february. now that the month has officially come to a close, i feel better. k put me into a position where i doubted myself. a lot of these doubts have left me not feeling like i am enough. doubt prompted me to say, “i’m not good enough. i’m not pretty enough. i’m not funny enough. i’m not smart enough.” worst of it, doubt told me i am not worthy enough to eat. that if i was thinner things would be different. i’ve been enduring that voice as best as i can. i know those thoughts are not true.

sometimes, though, it’s difficult to convince yourself you are worth health and happiness so you reach out for the the only thing available to you for instant gratification. which, in this case, is converting back to old, awful habits that bring you nothing but a twisted, unreal sense of happiness. i know i need to eat and i know that not eating is unhealthy, but i’m still finding myself avoiding certain foods and feeling an uncomfortable, familiar sense of panic when confronted with them. example? for lunch i planned on eating a gluten free, brown rice wrap filled with veggies and beans. but when it came time to take out the wrap, i chickened out and stuck to the veggies and beans. it was kind of a downer.

the positive parts about this are i know these feelings of doubt will leave me soon. very soon. most already have. i feel loads better than last week. each day brings a stronger sense of renewed happiness. i credit this shift in attitude to friends and my family. sometimes i forget the support system surrounding me. i also credit this to the fact that i am seeing the situation realistically. this has nothing to do with me.

so on that note, i’m going out for a low-key bike-ride. i’ve got new music on zee old ipod (mumford & sons officially owns my soul, by the way) and i’ll bring along my camera, too. it’s beautiful outside in an almost-spring-but-still-winter kind of way. i can’t wait to show you! i hope you are all having a spectacular tuesday. i’ve got work later tonight but also a chance to see my friends as well. it’s shaping up to be a decent tuesday! (my least favorite day of the week!)

how do you endure? do you rely on yourself, or do you have a support system? have you seen any physical endurance changes? are mountain climbers not kicking your ass anymore, either?! :)!

namaste

zoe

(oh, and here’s a little mumford & sons action for you!)

might be my newest obsession. it’s getting bad. but oh-so-good.

but glee is more than just a show.

glee is taking the plunge and buying the most comfortable things my feet have ever slipped into.

glee is climbing. and seeing these sites (this is from a few weeks back)

glee is baking a cake for people you love (k’s cake…) a triple layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate peanut butter glaze a la smitten kitchen. (no, it’s not vegan. i was told it tasted like “a reeses cup!”


glee is going out with friends on saturday night. and drinking a beer.


yes. i am that short.

and glee…well, glee is feeling more comfortable in your skin each and every day. it’s a process, but i’m getting there. and i couldn’t be happier.

hope you all had a wonderful weekend. i’m going to cap off this sunday with some more glee. are you surprised :)?

what brings you glee?

namaste

zoe

lesson #1
spontaneous day-time adventures might be one of the best parts about life. especially when they include a trip to the montery bay aquarium! and jellies!


“fish are friends, not food!”

i found nemo! and dori. can you :)?

another lesson? i still love penguins. i do not like penguins in boxed in environments 😦

lesson #2
i really love being vegan. especially when i can make things like this.
“meat”loaf! more like lentil, cannelli bean, onion and spices loaf!
pre-baked

post-baked

on-plate

with these guys…

roasted famer’s market leeks! a new-to-me food. and oh-so-good.

by the way…the non-vegan boy? loved every bite of this stuff πŸ™‚

oh, the recipe? well okay!

what you need
1/3 cup dry lentils (yields one cup cooked)
1/2 cannelli beans (mine were canned)
1/3 cup millet flour (i’m sure any flour would work well)
1/2 onion (i used yellow, i doubt it matters what kind you use!)
1 T tomato paste
1 t cumin
1 t red chili powder

what you need to do
preheat oven to 350
cook lentil in about 2.5 cups water with 2 bay leaves until all liquid is absorbed or until ready
chop onion, drain beans, and add everything to food processor or blender
add cooked lentils to food processor/blender
pulse a few times so the texture remains chunky
put into greased pan
bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, or until ready

plate and serve!

lesson #3
who knew it was possible to fill a costco sized almond butter jar up with juice? not this girl!

in this bad boy is two carrots, two swiss chard leaves, celery, cucumber and looove. so delicious, so nutritious!

lesson #4
giving up sugar was the best decision i ever made for my body and mind. especially when i can eat things like this instead!

avocado-banana-chocolate pudding topped with the non dairy queen’s coconut cream and a square of unsweetened baker’s chocolate!
(pudding: half an avocado, half a nanner, a T of dark chocolate poweder…coconut cream: 3 T raw coconut flour mixed with 6 T unsweetened almond milk and sweetener of your choice. SO. ADDICTED.)

sweetened with a new-to-me sweetener!

lesson #5
going without warmed lemon water in the morning definitely does not help my digestive track. the two days i forwent drinking it, i didn’t “go”. lemon juice helps jump-start your digestive fire by waking up the digestive juices! necessary for people like me who have bathroom issues from time to time!

lesson #6
the most important lesson of all: life is sweet when you let it be.

have you learned any lessons recently?

namaste

zoe

(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!

namaste

zoe

today, when i woke up, i felt this ridiculously strong need to be outside. i was all laced up and ready to embark on a lovely walk/run but then opened the door only to greet my arch nemisis: RAIN. well, guess who didn’t let the dreaded rain stop her? me πŸ™‚

i threw out an extra layer (aka my rain coat!) and started my walk! i know one thing about myself: i hate rain. but not today! i actually smiled just about the entire time. i loved the feeling of cold air in my lungs. plus since it was raining no one else was out. there were very few cars on the road and everything was so pretty and still and quiet. seeing the positive in the grey today set the tone for my day.

after my walk (which ended with a one minute sprint because i forgot it was street cleaning and a 45 dollar ticket didn’t sound too appealing) i did a 30 minute flow with chaz, one of my most favorite online yoga teachers (yogamazing podcast! seriously, check them out!) then i showered up and headed off to work for five hours.

nothing. exciting.

the exciting part? dinner, of course! i had one thing in mind: gena’s polenta stacks! i love polenta. it’s delicious. my dad makes it from time to time and it reminds me of my childhood. however, my dad also makes it with cream and cheese, two things i don’t eat. gena’s version turned out delicious and brought me back. ah, childhood nostalgia. talk about comfort food. i changed it up a little bit because i didn’t have yams on hand so i skipped that part (next time, definitely adding yams!) and instead of roasted red peppers i added raw red peppers to the beans because, again, that’s all i had on hand. but check it out…looks tasty, no?

(in the background is the rest of the sauteed greens!)

dessert was a melted square of unsweetened baker’s chocolate. i add a bit of agave (maybe about a half a teaspoon). it’s so delicious! i love the richness of it. honestly, life without sugar so far has been relatively easy. except for this little temptation…

peanut butter cookies! (not vegan, though easily made so!)

i made these for a friend and co-worker who switched shifts with me when she really did not want to (i don’t blame her — i switched her an open (4:30 AM) for a close!) and this is how i thank people!

what you need
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup peanut flour (trader joes!)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 cup sugar (i used vegan cane sugar. it’s all i have on hand right now!)
1 egg (sub a flax or chia egg to make vegan!)
1/2 cup butter (i used earth balance! one stick :))
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

what you need to do
1. preheat oven to 375
2. combine all dry ingredients except sugar
3. combine all wet ingredients
4. add dry to wet
5. grease a baking sheet or just lay down foil
6. roll dough into little balls and create hatch marks with a fork. so you’ll be pressing the ball flat!
7. bake for 12-15 minutes
8. remove from oven and immediately place hershey’s kiss in the middle
9. allow to cool on a wire rack

i was told these were really delicious!

i’ve also realized i’ve forgot to mention i’ve been on a bit of a mini-detox. i’ve removed sugar, wheat, dairy, (most) soy, and salt from my life for a second. i’ve also started taking probiotics and a vitamin D(3) supplement. here’s my spread of detox and health related items:

i’m hoping the probiotics will help with my digestion (so far, so good!) and i’m hoping the digestive enzymes will help with my bloating as well as just aid in digestion! the detox tea is pretty tasty, too!

i know i can be positive if i try. it also helps to just simply talk. i’ve learned that, for me, it works best to share with someone close the issues i am working through. i cannot do this alone (personally, i don’t think anyone can go through any struggle alone. the emotional weight of emotional situations is so heavy). tonight i spent a good twenty minutes talking to candace about the things swirling through my head. i cried a lot but it felt good to get things off my chest. i journal but journaling only goes so far. the pages never talk back, after all. sometime sharing is the best thing a person can do to inch closer to feeling whole again.

i’m not giving up on myself. yes, i am uncomfortable and yes, i am fighting the own voice in my head, but i refuse to listen to it. truth: i am five pounds away from where i started my weight loss journey. another truth: i don’t look like i did when i started this journey. the final, and most important truth: i know whatever weight i am at will not affect my happiness. maybe it will temporarily but these issues are emotional, not physical. i was miserable at 115 and i am miserable now. in order to be truly happy, i need to heal on the inside. only then will my outsides be able to fully shine.

baby steps every day.

well it’s about that time to start winding down my night. it’s almost friday and i happen to have saturday AND sunday off this weekend. one more almost five hour shift and i’m free. oh, and k comes home tomorrow after a week long absence! he’s been rock climbing down in southern california at joshua tree (am i jealous? why yes, yes i am.) and has done so sans celluar phone. so we’ve had no contact. it’s healthy, i know, but i miss the damn boy!

here’s to a happy, healthy tomorrow.

namaste

zoe

(oh, p.s: i cut and colored my hair! added some blonde in. i used to be SUPER blonde when i was little. i missed it πŸ™‚

i’m pretty stoked about it :))

lately i’ve been putting more of an effort into creating in the kitchen. i love it so much but i’m usually so hungry and impatient by the time i need to start cooking dinner i either opt for something quick (and therefore too boring to present to you all) or i go out (blaming this on k :)).

the other day, however, i buckled down and decided to make curry, a food i love with all my heart and soul and usually only eat when eating out.

k came over and we picked out a recipe and got to cooking! thank you my cozy kitchen for the basis and inspiration for our first attempt at curry!

we basically stuck to the recipe but subbed the potatoes for tofu and added peas and spinach for more veggie bulk! k is not a vegan/vegetarian but he is also not a very picky eater and loves all the vegan and vegetarian foods i’ve introduced to him thus far. sounds like a winner, no? πŸ˜‰

anywho, it turned out just all right. i wouldn’t say it was as flavorful as curries we’ve tried in our favorite indian and thai restaurants. but it was good! and nicely spicy. spicy foods = absolutelymyfavorite. if anything can be made spicy, i usually will make it spicy πŸ™‚

left oveeeerrrrsss! i know it looks kind of gross, but it’s pretty tasty! especially after chilling out in the fridge for a second. all the flavors meld together well πŸ™‚

in the past if things did not turn out exactly as i wanted them to, i usually deemed it a failure and wound myself up in negative thoughts. however, now that i am practicing self-compassion and patience, i can call this a great first attempt at curry. nothing comes easily without practice. plus, i think i need to invest some money in good curry. any suggestions???

in addition to the curry, i finally got around my laziness (something i am seriously working on) and sprouted quinoa!!! talk about easiest sprouting experience ever. all i did was soak the quinoa in water over night, woke up, drained it, and allowed it to further drain in a collander all day covered with a clean cloth. did it sprout? hells yes! just look at those yummy sprouted seeds…

i’m trying to spend more time in the kitchen, yes, but i am trying to spend more time un-cooking in my kitchen. raw food fascinates me. i love every aspect of it, from the preparation to the taste, to the ingredients. it has opened my eyes to a completely new form of food preparation as well as a new form of living and eating. though i know i cannot go raw over night, i plan in 2011 to make a pretty big conversion over to the raw side. i do need to allow my stomach time to adjust though!

regardless, i am so excited and so inspired! a friend just let me borrow raw food, real world by matthew kenney and sarma melngailis. i sprouted the quinoa specifically for a recipe in there! i’ll let you know about it soon, promise πŸ™‚ also, i just ordered another book by matthew kenney and one by ani phyo. so excited! this dehydrator has definitely motivated me! be on the look out for more recipes for sure!

last night i threw together this little tostada…

brown rice tortilla topped with half an avocado, chick peas mashed with hot sauce (nandos!), spinach, sprouted quinoa, and a quarter of a yellow bell pepper which, to me, looks like the sun! which made me super happy. the yellow and orange peppers were on sale (97 cents EACH!) so i stocked up. i forgot how sweet yellow bell peppers were!

this was my first experience with sprouted quinoa. i can tell you it does taste different — it tastes sprouted! crunchy and good. i ate this alongside some roasted brussel sprouts.

one thing i’ve noticed is this: i do not require as much food as i used to. i do not work out like i used to (meaning, i don’t run 6-7 miles EVERY DAY) so my body requires less food. it’s a nice realization and i’m recognizing when to stop eating and understanding the concept of being satisfied as opposed to stuffed. baby steps!

it’s a nice sunny day (though absolutely fucking freezing) and i just completed an hour of core yoga (a la yogadownload.com). i haven’t done this flow in a while and it was challenging. definitely broke a sweat and got my heart rate pumping! about twenty minutes in the negative voice in my head started saying things like “this is too hard, i can’t do this”. but i forced myself to recognize my own strength and you know what? it was challenging, yes, but i felt empowered and strong and refused to let my negative voice dominate my flow. i ended the hour feeling awake in my core as well as in my being.

i love yoga for this very reason. it makes me feel alive and capable and humble all at the same time. and guess what? i can officially hold crow! and i got into full boat pose today (though i was shaking the entire time). i am most definitely deepening my yoga abilities. although i weighed less in past months, i was never able to do these things. my strength and endurance has improved ten-fold despite my weight gain. again, just another reason supporting the fact that weight doesn’t determine your overall health.

oh, and i just remembered i never showed you my new yoga mat!

this is one substantial mat! it’s heavy and thiiiick. i kind of love it dearly πŸ™‚

but i’ve got to go! work in an hour — and my first review! can you believe i’ve been working for starbucks for six months already? i can’t!

enjoy your monday!

namaste

zoe