Cafe Gratitude

This past weekend was busting at the seams with amazing and memorable moments. Three of my best friends from college came to San Francisco and we had a truly amazing weekend. There was dancing, running, watching the CrossFit Games, laughing and a whole lot of food. One of the major聽highlights?

This place!

Cafe Gratitude has been on my Must Try list for years but I almost never make it to the Mission so I’ve never had the pleasure before. And, WOW, what a pleasure! This is a famous San Francisco vegan landmark that supports local farmers, sustainable agriculture and聽environmental-friendly products. The quote at the top of the menu really says it all:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

The four of us girls have all vegan or vegetarian at various times over the years and were genuinely thrilled to try this place on for size. My boyfriend, however, was slightly less enthusiastic. He was a good sport about it though and I ordered him Indian once we got home. 馃檪

We spent an insane amount of time looking over the menu and finally settled on just ordering half of it.

Drinks:

  • I Am Enlivened: High protein algae shot
  • I Am Luscious: Vegan milkshake w/ hazelnut聽milk, figs, dates, cacao & vanilla bean – UNFREAKING BELIEVABLE!!! This was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had.
  • I Am Courageous: Organic slow dripped coffee

Eats:

  • I Am Complete: Mediterranean plate featuring raw green falafel聽(not a huge hit), live crackers (yummy) and a seriously聽delicious almond hummus
  • I Am Grounded: Roasted organic potatoes w/ spicy cashew nacho cheese – I’m not going to try to lie and say that we behaved like ladies, we didn’t, we practically licked the plate clean.
  • I Am Transformed: Corn tacos w/ brown rice, black beans, salsa & cashew nacho cheese – This was my order and I ate it in under two minutes. And then promptly started on my neighbor’s food… 馃檪
  • I Am Warm-Hearted: Organic polenta w/ Puttanesca聽sauce, cashew ricotta & Brazil nut parmesan – Delicious &聽hearty, this would be a great dish for a chilly winter night
  • I Am Elated: (Entirely raw)聽live spinach tortilla enchilada w/ sprouted seed filling & topped w/ spicy mole & cashew sour cream – This looked delish, but it never made it around to me
  • I Am Grateful: This is a really great dish and聽consisted of brown rice & local community-grown veggies w/ an amazing tahini & garlic sauce

Immediately after trying the cashew nacho cheese in the I Am Grounded聽appetizer my friend Emi and I bounced out of our seats and ran to the front to buy the Cafe Gratitude聽cookbook. Be on the look out for some recipe adventures once I dig in!

Unfortunately there was a major downside to this lunch… Namely that I’m now addicted to a restaurant that is really, really far away from my apartment.

I also聽want to offer a quick congratulations to Crystal & Ashley for their amazing time at the SF Half Marathon!

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Slowly catching up with the times…

Moi Contre La Vie now has its own Facebook page, so please take a look when you have time.

As you can see, I’ll be posting much more frequently and more informally on Facebook than on the MCLV blog. Expect interesting and provacative articles on food, health and fitness, tons of fashion ideas, photos, news and聽sale notices,聽as well as links to great blogs that cover topics that I think you’ll find to your liking.

Don’t hesitate to let me know what you’re interested in seeing or learning about, always happy to take requests!

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The cookies that passed the test!

I’ve been struggling聽to find the ideal cookie recipe, one聽that would be healthy and non-vegan (i.e. boyfriend) approved. Not always an easy feat, let me tell you!

My first attempt at vegan cookies turned out fine. Not awful, not great. My first attempt at vegan, gluten-free cookies was… Not so good. At first they wouldn’t stay together, then they were too dense. It was quite a balancing act to get the right level of sweetness (I balked when I saw a recipe that called for 2 WHOLE CUPS of refined sugar), oil and flour. The coconut flour smelled divine, but the cookies fell apart when you touched them, while the spelt flour with just oil was too cake-y and not light enough.

Finally I had my Goldilocks聽moment and they came out juuust right.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flour (I used Bob’s聽Red Mill)
  • 3 tbsp cocao powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar (brown rice syrup will also work quite well)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup carob chips
  • 1/4 cup coconut shreds (unsweetened)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350掳F
  • Combine dry ingredients:聽flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt & coconut,聽and stir until well combined
  • Separately, combine syrup, agave nectar, vanilla and coconut extracts with the apple sauce and stir until well mixed
  • Combine mixtures, add carob chips and stir lightly
  • Spoon batter onto lined baking sheet (these cookies spread so keep this in mind when you’re spacing)
  • Top with raw grain sugar and/or more coconut shreds if desired
  • Bake for 13 minutes & immediately remove from oven
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy

These cookies are soft so be sure to let them cool or they’ll crumble around the edges. And聽if you聽want to save some for later, they’re great frozen. The flavor is聽chocolatey聽and rich, with a聽barely detectible hint of coconut .

Good luck mon petits chefs!

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What NOT to Wear to Work

While there are a lucky few whose office is home to casual/street-clothes appropriate attire, most of us are subject to more rigorous prerequisites when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. If you’re workplace adheres to a business or business casual dress code (and you don’t work in industries like fashion, music or TV/Film where more creative fashion is expected and accepted) there are some very basic Don’ts to keep in mind when you’re considering what to wear.

(1) No tennis shoes

Unless you have an injury, there’s no excuse for wearing running shoes in the workplace.聽Walking to work in comfort is 100% acceptable, but remember to change once you’re at your desk. And if heels are not your thing, there are plenty of other cute options that will聽keep you stylish AND appropriate.

Workwear What Not to wear to work ballet flats Workwear Office appropriate Blogger Etiquette Ballet flats, loafers, Oxford’s, flat ankle boots, and smoking slippers聽are all great alternatives to consider. (2)

No shorts!

Yes, there are very cute examples of summer shorts/romper聽outfits out there right now, but those are for your much-deserved聽downtime, not for the office. Even聽“dressed up” with tights or heels,聽shorts are not appropriate for the office. Dying for something cool to wear other than a dress or skirt? Try a pair of capris a la Jackie O, just remember to avoid pairs that fit like a second skin.

 

Capri

{Wool Capri – $35-$50 {on sale} @ J.Crew}

(3) 聽No. Open. Toed. Shoes.

Sandals, no聽matter how cute, are not appropriate for the office. Peep-toed pumps can be acceptable depending on the height and style, but flip-flops and sandals should be left in your closet until its time to hit the beach.聽Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you would wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to the office. Cute, summery totes excepted of course.

Lacoste

{Lacoste Shopper聽– $95 @ Zappos}

(4) Be cognizant of hemlines and necklines. Nothing too short, nothing too low-cut. Put your hands down at your sides – At no time should your hemline聽rise above where your fingers are. For necklines I don’t think that there’s a hard and fast rule. Everyone has a different style that looks best on them and I believe that you should be true to that {boatneck, sweetheart, scoop etc}. As a v-neck girl I do two checks聽when I wear聽sweaters or wrap dresses: first, look straight-on in the mirror to be certain that your bra doesn’t show and聽second, lean forward and make sure that you between your top/dress and undergarments you’re not exposing anything unexpected.

PencilSkirt

{AGB Pencil Skirt聽– $25 @ Macys}

(5) No T-Shirts – While I’m hesitant to issue a blatant ban on t-shirts, I will say that graphic, logo,聽or burn-out shirts are a no-no. A well-made shirt with a basic or conservative cut is fine (tuck one into a high-waisted pencil skirt and add booties for聽a fun high-low look). Before giving a T the go-ahead for office usage be sure that it’s not see-through, the fit & cut are suitable (no midriff baring tops!) and that it’s thick enough to hang where it should.

Top

{Ann Taylor Wrap Top聽– $30}

As for my male readers, let me pass along my number one workwear related聽pet peeve for men. I work in a predominately male office where slacks and a button-down are the worn by one and all.

Please note, khakis are not slacks. Yes, khaki/tan colored聽slacks are a great option聽to beat the heat, but Dockers聽or khaki cargo pants ARE NOT SLACKS. Sorry for the caps, I just needed to get that off of my chest.

I know that for many people聽“rules of fashion” is something of an oxymoron, as the goal of聽the industry and those that love it聽is artistic expression, but work is one of the places where you need to adhere to someone else’s rules. So take a look at聽your company’s dress code and keep that in mind when you’re shopping for work clothes.

A great tip is to separate your closet into work and play clothes, hang the dresses, slacks, sweaters and blouses appropriate for work in one section so you and can get in and out in a hurry each morning!

Bonjour for now, I’ll be back to show you some great looks to try out at the office soon.

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Busy Busy Bees

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew? Planned too many events or social engagements for a weekend? Scheduled too many meetings for an afternoon?

This post is for you!

Multitasking聽is the word dejour.

I am continually impressed, and frequently amazed, but the sheer volume of things my friends are able to accomplish in a given day, week, month, quarter… I have聽a friend who worked full-time聽and went to law school at night. And聽another who commutes hours聽to work (damn you Southern California traffic!) and still has time to train and kick booty at marathons and bike races. And another who is a law school student while working full-time for a law firm and still has a social life my 18-year-old self would envy.

Then there’s the rest of us… And by us, I mean me.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about myself, my capabilities, my strengths, my weaknesses. I, for one, am much more productive on days when I have a million things to do. I schedule, I make lists, I get sh*t done! Whereas on a day that I have a single thing to do, I’m much more inclined to skip my appointment and make a date with my couch and the Indian food delivery guy.

Staying on track with everything and making sure that I breathe every day has made me a ninja – if聽I do say so myself – in the art of scheduling. I have a planner (I’m jealous of those who can enter everything聽into聽electronic devices but I聽remember more when I write things out), a journal and a dozen or so post-it notes with me at all times.

I’ve found that with my busting-at-the-seams schedule the most important things for me are (1) staying in touch with how I’m handling things and (2) staying healthy. I can’t get anything done if I’m frazzled or sick!

When I was feeling overwhelmed in college my mother passed聽along something that she found helpful for staying focused –聽the art of affirmations. Writing down goals, making positive statements and putting your hopes for yourself on paper. I’ve always been an avid journaler, but I found writing these short, declarative聽statements to be both motivational and inspirational.聽

Each morning I write down something in my calendar, a goal or plan or hope, that I can keep in mind throughout the day. Something that keeps me focused and centered, and keeps me from wallowing or descending聽into helpless “why is this happening to meeeee?” moments.

  • Find a view on the walk home and take a minute to appreciate how lucky I am
  • Embrace that I’m a work in progress
  • Be grateful
  • Make someone else laugh
  • Think about what makes me happy
  • Relax
  • Realize that it could be much worse
  • Smile for no reason
  • Don’t dwell

When I start to feel overwhelmed or can’t remember why I’m trying to do all of this, I go back and look at what I wrote that morning, that week, that month. I take a deep breath and I’m centered again.

Each day does not go as planned. Schedules are changed, classes are skipped, appointments are cancelled, rain days are a must. But the goal isn’t to be perfect, the goal is to get through the day with my sanity in tact and a sense of humor.

That brings me to my second key to sustaining an overwhelmingly hectic life, keeping myself healthy. Stress, long hours, trudging between appointments in the rain, not getting enough sleep… All of these are guaranteed to at the very least make you feel rundown, but more likely you’ll end up getting sick.

While you’re not always going to be able to slow down your schedule in order to stave off illness and fatigue, there are a few things that I’ve learned over the years that can help keep your immune system in fighting shape and your body healthy enough to get you through your busy days.

[1] Drink your water! I cannot stress enough how important this is. Water flushes toxins and waste out of your body so drinking enough is key to keeping your system clean. And bonus, it’ll hydrate your body and keep your skin from getting tired, dry聽and wrinkly after a long day. I keep a water bottle on my desk that I refill during the day, one on my bedside table, one in my locker and one in the fridge for an extra cold post-workout drink!

[2] Try to get enough sleep. Between late evenings at the office, social obligations and trying to turn an overworked brain off at night, getting enough sleep can be a challenge. The negative effects聽of sleep deprivation should motivate you though: reduced mental clarity and memory, weight gain, overeating, puffiness… Not good! If you’ve having trouble getting to sleep at night, try a walk after dinner or a session of stretching or yoga before hitting the sheets. Part of my pre-bedtime routine includes packing food/snacks for the next day, getting gym clothes ready and prepping my work outfit. Once all of that’s done, I find that I relax into sleep much, much better.

[3]聽Get your nutrients!聽Eat your fruits and veggies, get enough calcium, protein, B & D Vitamins. While sitting down for聽multiple well-balanced聽meals a day may not always be feasible, try to stay away from packaged and processed foods, load up on fresh, whole foods in any form you can: smoothies, blended salads, raw/whole food bars like Larabars &聽Raw Revolution bars, add whole food supplemental powders to water if smoothies are too much effort (highly recommend Vega’s Whole Food Health Optimizer) and/or聽take vitamins and calcium supplements if needed.

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