Getting Ready

It’s hard to believe that within a week, I will be living on my own for the first time. I commuted as an undergrad, and even though I did spend my first year in the dorms, I came home almost every weekend without doubt. Seeing as I will now be about 7 hours away, that’s not going to be possible.

But that’s okay. I’ve been waiting for this transition—for this time to stand on my own two feet (as cliche as it may sound)—for quite some time now. It’s just hard to believe that all this waiting is coming to a close and that it is finally happening.

My Dad and I had to fly down for my program’s orientation last week (he for business), so that also gave me a good opportunity to check in on my apartment and get some other errands done. The orientation was in the morning, and I was out by early afternoon. I was able to cool off with a chilly find from Sprouts as a snack.

Artic Zero Sea Salt Caramel

One of the newer flavors of Artic Zero—Sea Salt Caramel :) ! It was so scorching outside and in the car, so this was a great way to cool off on the way to the hotel. I also think this is my new favorite flavor, since it actually tastes like a caramel fudgesicle, if not ice cream. 

After checking into the hotel, I spent some time resting up before we decided to head out to some place local for dinner, since driving in LA traffic didn’t seem like something my Dad and I both felt like doing. Finding some fresh and filling food was not a problem, however, since Natural Selection was only 5 minutes away from the hotel.

Outdoorz

The restaurant itself was located in a small space, but inside decor was beautiful.

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indoors

The ceiling was my favorite part—it’s raining fruits :) !

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There was a menu on the wall, but I already knew what I wanted since I had taken a look at their menu online prior to heading out.

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We found a spot to sit at near the front window, and on the wall across from us were some picture collages of organic food/local farm produce logos cut out from boxes.

Wall Decor

After about ten minutes, my Dad’s drink came out: a strawberry-kiwi all-natural juice. It definitely tasted like the fruits were freshly-pressed, but it was a bit watery for my taste.

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Soon after the drink came out, our plates arrived. I tackled my Hawaiian Burger with a knife and fork. The pineapple ring was what classified this burger as Hawaiian I suppose, but overall it was a tasty burger. I especially liked the teriyaki/yogurt mayo combo (and adding siracha helped with the flavor too)!!

Hawaiian Burger - Veggie or turkey patty, jack cheese, grilled organic pineapple, organic tomatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt based mayo, teriyaki sauce on a whole  wheat bun

Hawaiian Burger – Veggie or turkey patty, jack cheese, grilled organic pineapple, organic tomatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt based mayo, teriyaki sauce on a whole wheat bun

My Dad’s Meditteranean Wrap—he was eating the other half when this picture was taken :P .

Mediterranean Wrap Grilled chicken breast, feta cheese, black olives, organic baby greens, cucumbers, hummus and homemade Mediterranean dressing

Mediterranean Wrap – Grilled chicken breast Veggie patty, feta cheese, black olives, organic baby greens, cucumbers, hummus and homemade Mediterranean dressing

While it would have been nice to have more fruit on the side, I appreciated how they were at least blackberries and kiwi—in other words, a “pricier” offering ;)

Not sure when my next post will be up, but since this week is going to be jam-packed with things I need to do, will do, and hope to do regarding my move and school, blogging may have to take a back-seat until when I am all settled in ;) !

What are your thoughts on moving?

Natural Selection on Urbanspoon

Birthday = Crossing Places Off the Foodie Bucket List

What’s the best way to celebrate a {summer} birthday? A lot of bloggers definitely know how, since there have been many birthday recaps as of late ;) , but for me, certainly three things are necessary: close friends, things to do, and tasty food. My birthdays in recent years had all of these “ingredients” and were successful as a result. Last year’s was memorable for sure, but I truly appreciated being able to celebrate my birthday this year with those closest to me and at places I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while.

The day started with a run to the gym, and then after getting ready, my friends and I drove to SF. We first dropped off my friend’s brother at his friend’s house, and then made our way over to SoMa (after fighting traffic and keeping our eyes peeled for a parking spot…). I let the frustrations get to me, and let my Dad take over to look for a spot while my sis, friend, and I walked over to the restaurant. We found him waiting at the entrance…apparently, there was parking right in front of the restaurant.

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After laughing at the irony, we perused the menu hanging on the window in front, then made our way to the cashwrap.

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I insisted that lunch be on me, and took care of the bill. I also suggested we get four dishes to share family-style so we could all try different things. I was surprised by how empty the place was, even though it was lunchtime.

source inside

I took advantage of the opportunity however, and tried to discreetly take pictures of the space. Source was featured on an episode of Mystery Diners, and has been on my bucket list of places to eat after finding out it was a vegan restaurant in the Bay Area. They also have a smaller location, Source Mini, in Berkeley.

SOURCE

In their menu, they use fake meat, but refer to it as “cluck”, “oink”, or “moo” depending on what meat it is “supposed” to be. Our four dishes came out after ~15 minutes even though it seemed like longer. The first to come out was the Vegan Mousaka. I originally wanted to get the Jamaican Jerk Cluck (cluck <– fake chicken & veggies cooked in jerk sauce, with organic brown basmati rice, black beans & chutney), but they had unfortunately sold out :( . Although it wasn’t meant to be an appetizer, it served its role as one, and worked as a great thick tomato dip for the pita bread pieces it was served with.

grilled layered eggplant with cinnamon, all spice, garbanzo, mushroom, tomato, topped with cashew “béchamel” sauce

A little while later, the waitress arrived with the “real” appetizer: Baked Vegan Spinach Artichoke Fondue. My sis and friend were enthusiatic about this particular dish, and so I let them have at it since I wanted to save room for the other two dishes that had yet to come to our table.

roasted peppers, spinach cashew cream, truffle oil & pita bread

We had to ask for some more pita bread to get all of the dip out of the bowl!

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My absolute favorite was the Chile Cluck Pizza. It had a sweet and spicy flavor that was out of this world, and it was made on such a thin crust so it didn’t make me feel too stuffed to tackle the…

cluck, mozzarella, plum tomato sauce, sriracha sauce, parmesan, truffle oil & balsamic glaze

Country Shepherds Pie! My sis picked out this one and I thought she made a good choice. I wasn’t a fan of the mashed potato topping, but the filling was warm, satiating, and perfectly paired with the mini, sliced sourdough on the side.

moo (fake meat), mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion, topped with roasted mashed potatoes

After our nice, quiet, and fulfilling lunch, I drove us over to the Golden Gate Bridge. My friend and I were talking about how she never could walk across the whole bridge because her family would always complain it’s too cold/long, so I wanted us to be able to finally do it together. It quickly turned from sunshine to fog, and I sort of regretted not bringing a jacket (you think I would remember after all these years…), but fortunately I was at least wearing longsleeves.

While we were able to stop for photos and take in the view, the walk was anything but pleasant. There was a strong wind, noise from passing cars, bikers who didn’t know how to bike politely, and it was very, very cold. I honestly felt like having a warm cup of coffee on the way back!

Golden Gate Bridge

After the walk, it was time for birthday cake vegan cinnamon rolls! Cinnaholic was another foodie-destination of mine, and I thought why not celebrate the b-day with a different kind of sweet? Leaving the city during rush hour was madness, but we still made it through to the other side—even if it was an hour and a half later than we would have liked.

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I learned about Cinnaholic after the owners appeared on an episode of Shark Tank. At first, I thought they just shipped out orders of vegan cinnamon rolls, but when I learned they had an actual establishment (actually very near to Saturn Cafe!), I knew I had to make a visit.

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The idea behind the custom roll is you pick your flavor of frosting followed by toppings. They also have recipes for their own combos (like S’mores), have other baked goods for sale (cookies, brownies), and have mini buns too!

inside cinnaholic!

We all decided to get two rolls and share. Our first roll was a rootbeer frosting + graham cracker topping combo, and our second was a pina colada frosting + raspberries combo.

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To be frank, the rolls were not as amazing as I wanted them to be. While we attacked the rolls with excitment at the beginning, our initial excitment plummeted mid-rolls. The roll base itself tasted dry, wasn’t that sweet, and both frosting flavors didn’t have much flavor other than the taste of pure icing/sugar. At least I can now cross it off my list…

Despite nourishing myself with food I had my heart set on for months, I still felt hungry. Actually, I felt oddly ravenous all day. While the girls felt full (and spent some time in a book shop), my Dad and I thought it would be best to end the day with the frozen yogurt, this time his treat. The Yogurtland on the corner was the solution.

Mix of different flavors. Toppings include mochi, cookie dough pieces, mango poppers, white yogurt chips, mini caramel cups.

Despite the nuissance of city traffic and parking, it was a splendid day overall. I also had that “letdown” feeling that usually passes over me after a great and eventful day, so I knew that I had spent my time the best way possible. It’s hard to believe another year in my life has gone by though! Should I be scared or excited ;) ?

Do you like the season that your birthday falls under? Summer birthdays are the best, period. Sorry to you spring/fall/winter babies ;) !!

Source on Urbanspoon Cinnaholic on Urbanspoon

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast

Happy Monday! Thought I would keep things short, sweet, and protein-filled with a recipe for today:

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast
Serves 1
A weekend lunch with three simple ingredients---figs, brussels sprouts, and egg whites!
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. - 10 or so plump fresh brussels sprouts, halved
  2. - 4 or 5 figs, quartered
  3. - 1/2 onion sliced
  4. - Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  5. - Chili powder
  6. - Salt
  7. - 1 tsp brown sugar
  8. - Dill or rosemary (some dry green herb you like)
  9. - Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Spread sprouts on a foil. Spray lightly with Pam.
  2. Broil at 400F for about 10 minutes.
  3. Turn and broil another 10 minutes or until done (browned, but not burned).
  4. Saute onions in a pan and add sugar, salt, and spices.
  5. Add mushrooms and cook a bit.
  6. Add sprouts and toss.
  7. Turn off stove. Add figs into toss, and serve right away.
  8. Serve with bread :) !
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Okay, so the protein mostly comes from the hard-boiled egg whites in this dish (per 100g, egg whites have 11g of protein while brussels sprouts and figs have ~3 1/2g and ~1g respectively), but I can’t deny that combining figs, brussels sprouts, and egg whites all together was pure serendipity. My friend’s grandparents grow figs in their backyard, so when we were gifted with a plate full of green California figs, I had to figure out some way to make use of them instead of just gobbling them all up as is (even though they tasted incredible on their own!!)

 Green fig glory.

Green fig glory.

Adding brussels sprouts and egg whites “just happened” to follow, and what resulted was a great way to refuel after a Saturday morning gym session and running morning errands.

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The last of my friend’s figs gifted to us were used in the making of this dish…sometimes you just don’t know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone! Now I’m left with two options: 1) wait till next summer to make this again or 2) bring the empty plate back to my friend’s house, leave it nonchalantly on the counter top, and keep reiterating to her howmuchIloved♥ those figs ;)

Figs—love ‘em or hate ‘em? 

Kites and Colucci

Last weekend, we were fighting a small heat wave where I live, so a trip to the Bay to meet up with my cousin was an agreeable decision made by all of us. It just so happened that Berkeley was also having its annual Kite Festival, and what a stupendous coincidence it was.

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We met my cousin around 3pm, and boarded a free shuttle (which was really a school bus) to take us to where the kites were. The ironic thing was that it wasn’t really free, since we couldn’t get out of paying for parking :/ . After leaving the shuttle, we were greeted by so many beautiful sights in the sky and on the ground.

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Even a little after 3pm, the crowds were still strong.

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As we approached the center of the scene, I got a close-up of some professional kites. Like these multi-themed octopi:

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I thought the swimmer & scuba diver kites were an interesting idea! The only odd part was they had no faces(??)

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There was even a group helping the tiniest of kids control a kite. This little tot had a tight hold of..

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…this kite wayyyyyyyyy up high!

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Running around in a gerbil ball in a kiddie pool looked like a lot of fun too—except even if I could, I wasn’t appropriately dressed, wearing my nice work dress and all…

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We soon made our way down the hill to where the food stalls were all lined up. They had everything from knishes to pupusas. My cousin got a potato knish, while my Dad got a bag of kettle corn that we split among all of us.

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After mulling about where to stop and sit, we found an area behind the food stalls where people were sitting down and families were busy flying their own kites. We sat down ourselves, and chatted while also gazing up at the marvels in the sky now and then.

It was also pretty breezy, and about a half an hour later, the wind started to pick up even more. Noticing that my sister and I had goosebumps, my cousin suggested that we head back. At that point, I could not believe I was complaining about how hot it was earlier in the day. The Bay Area will forever be a weather anomaly!

Since it was 5:30pm by the time we packed up and reached the car, dinner plans were discussed. We first headed out to a cute Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, but the line was 40+ people long and it was inching towards 6pm. I wasn’t too bothered though, because once the word “Ethiopian” was brought up, I thought yesyesyes, but really said, “That sounds good.” :D

We carpooled with my cousin for a 10 minute drive to Oakland, and saw our destination across the street. 

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All of the outdoor seating was taken on this Sunday evening, which prevented me from getting good pictures of the outdoor area. (I didn’t want to look like a stalker to those sitting outside!)

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Once we were situated inside, we were able to take a look at the menu. 

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The breakfast items featured on the half-page sounded delicious, but obviously it was way past morning-time. Even if they were available for purchase at the time when we arrived, I still think we all would have defaulted into ordering the usual: two Veggie Combos to split family-style. It does come with all the fix-ins and injera you could ask for. We also asked for a side order of the mushroom tibs, you know, because we were feeling ultra-daring ;) .

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I later learned that the restaurant used to be an Italian Restaurant, but the owners decided to keep the name. I think they did a pretty good job with the decorations, artwork, and logo—despite not being so creative with a name change :P

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After some time spent people-watching and conversing, our food arrived.

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They combined two Veggie Combo orders plus Mushroom Tibs all on one plate apparently. It was most certainly a feast for the eyes first.

Veggie Combo - Azifa, Buticha, Messer Wot, Kik-Alicha, Gomen, & Atakit

Veggie Combo – Azifa (lentils), Buticha (the white hummus-like looking dollop of chicpea deliciousness!!), Messer Wot (spicy legumes), Kik-Alicha (split pea in tumeric sauce), Gomen (collard greens), & Atakit (cabbage, carrot, potatoes) + Mushroom Tibs (sauteed mushrooms)

Once we all got our own share of napkins and gluten-free, 100% teff flour injera rolls, it was time to dig in!

 Injera = time to eat :D

Injera = time to eat :D

Everything tasted so fresh and summer-y, and the plate itself looked like a rainbow. My sister and I were in an unspoken race to see who could get their injera with the most buticha (the white hummus-like dip that looks like cream cheese but tastes somuchbetter), but I also made my way to the other sides on the plate. As a self-proclaimed Ethiopian food fan, I felt that it was my duty to give myself a good-size serving of everything ;)

After dinner, we spent two more hours at my cousin’s apartment for coffee and tea. We then made our way home when the sun went down since the next day was a working day…but on the brightside, at least our weekend ended, and our week started, on the most colorful note possible :)

Have you ever been to a kite festival?

Cafe Colucci on Urbanspoon

A Commercial Take on Overnight Oats

Disclaimer: I was NOT endorsed by Chobani for this review. This review is based on the products I bought on my own from a discount grocery store. 

I remember way back in 2011 when overnight oats was such a trendy thing in the foodie blogosphere. When I first began blogging publicly, I was intrigued by the concept of soaking oats overnight in milk or yogurt, and then adding things like dried fruit, nut butter, and chocolate chips to the mix the following morning.

It has taken three years for “the rest of the world” to catch up to what us food-obsessed bloggers kept secret for so long, and not surprisingly, it was Chobani that took the leap into commercializing the overnight oats concept, through their Chobani Oats line.

They have four flavors in the collection: Apple Cinnamon, Banana Maple, Blueberry, and Cranberry. I happened to stumble upon ¾ flavors at my local Grocery Outlet. Not only was I in pleasant shock after seeing that these even existed, but after noticing that they were only $0.59 a cup, you better believe I stocked up!!

I tried all three flavors that same day after a shift at work and dinner. Looking back, I noticed that I ended up eating them in alphabetical order. That was not done on purpose, at all ;)

All of the yogurts in this collection have a goopy texture from the steel-cut oats mixed in, but it seems to me that the thick consistency that makes greek yogurt what it is was downgraded by the presence of the oats. So all of the yogurts pretty much tasted like regular, more fluid yogurt mixed with oats. 

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All cups are 160 calories, have decent protein content, and ensure those who are foreign to overnight oats that it is, in fact, “ready to eat—serve chilled”.

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Apple Cinnamon was my least favorite I have to say. As much as I wanted to be a fan of all flavors, I wasn’t exactly raving about the mini apple chunks or off-cinnamon taste.

Apple Cinnamon

Banana Maple was alright. I didn’t taste the banana flavor that much though, really.

Banana Maple

I’m surprised Chobani doesn’t already have a cranberry-flavored greek yogurt, but as part of this collection, the cranberry yogurt+steel oats combo was a winner. Not only was the yogurt colored pink, but there were decent-sized chunks of cranberry thrown in too!

Cranberry

Unfortunately, blueberry was nowhere in sight when I made my grocery store visit. Perhaps it’s too popular to be overstock? In that case, I guess that means I really do need to try it ;) !

Have you seen/tried the new Chobani Oats line?

Summer Walks, Afternoon Snackin’

I haven’t been in the blogging mood much lately…mostly because I’ve been getting my daily dose of Vitamin D,and then some.

Clear blue skies and sun rays on morning walk

Clear blue skies and sun rays on morning walk.

Sure, it hasn’t been super breezy, which does make taking long morning walks a bit more challenging (fighting against the hot weather and the stink sweat that results), but I have been enjoying myself nonetheless. 

These walks have been a great time to…

do my share of drought-shaming (bad neighbor, bad!). As a Californian, I’ve gotta do my part in this whole drought awareness campaign-thing ;)

 drought shaming

If you are going to water your lawn, water the stuff that’s green only, please. The sidewalk isn’t thirsty. :/

marvel at local nature. Knowing that the scenery of my local strolls will shift in the coming months (thanks to my move :) ! ), I’ve been trying to be more present on my walks, taking into consideration the quirky nuances of  the nature of my neighborhood.

on my walk

Wild, brown grasses. Untouched by bulldozers and land developers—at least for now.

 this little tree was next to a larger one!

This little palm tree was next to a larger, woodsy forest green tree!

 Cacti growing through the fences. It's a Cali thing :)

Cacti growing through the fences. It’s a Cali thing :)

laugh at my own observations. If you look really carefully, there is a paint splattering on the sidewalk that looks like a caricature of Albert Einstein (the hair, mustache)! It’s okay if you don’t think so…I’ll just continue to chuckle to myself about it ;)

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein—don’t ya think so?

use shady spots to check how your phone pictures turn out. Since I was taking most of these pictures in the bright sunlight, I had to use the shady spots I found to check if my pictures turned out to be good. Yes, I had to—otherwise there would be no blog post!

Shady Spots

Shady Spots

The best part about long walks? Refueling afterwards! I made sure to mix it up with new-to-me products and meal combos: 

After a long walk on a Thursday morning which pushed into the afternoon, I felt drained from the effects of the sun and the heat. I guess it was a good thing that my original plan for a run “fell through”. On my way home, I stopped by one of the local grocery stores to see if they had any daily discounts worth grabbing a hold of. 

I deemed these Honey Stinger Chews (only $1) to be a worthy “splurge”.

 Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

The Pomegranate Passion was the only one on sale for a $1, and I have to admit I got these because I was influenced by my best friend’s frequent snacking on gummy bears. I have been craving something gummy to chew on for weeks now, and these gelatin-free energy chews satisfied just that.

honey-stinger-organic-energy-chew-pomegranate-passion-3

So round & adorable

Obviously these gummies were very chewy and supremely sweet. I found them to be sweeter than Shot Bloks or even Swedish Fish! I guess these babies are truly meant to be fuel for a long run rather than after a long walk. 

I also tried my third flavor of Siggi’s yogurt—Peach! I found it to be extremely thick (like Fage plain thick), and it basically was a white yogurt base with globby peach chunks. I wish that the yogurt itself was peach in color, but otherwise it mixed well with this Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal. And how can you argue with 14 grams of protein :D

Siggis-Peach-with-Heart-to-Heart

Siggi’s Peach with Heart-to-Heart cereal. 

Siggi's Peach

Doesn’t contain a lot of things—but that’s good!

 The only thing I was missing was a good source of fat from this post-Thursday walk snacking revelry, but I when I started to feel my eyes droop after finishing my yogurt mix, I knew taking a nap took top priority. 

On some of my other long walk days, I refueled with some other interesting combos: 

simple berry trifle: 1 container of blueberries, 1 container of strawberries, soaked in banana cho, topped with a mix of kashi go lean crunch and dark chocolate crunch cheerios!

Beauty in a bowl: this simple berry trifle. Literally has one container of blueberries, one container of strawberries, both of which were soaked in one cup of banana Chob. Then topped with a mix of Kashi GoLean Crunch and Dark Chocolate Crunch Cheerios!

Mississippi Mud BR Ice Cream with Kashi Cereal

Mississippi Mud Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream with Kashi Cereal. I mixed my dollar scoop with some GoLean Crunch cereal, and it made for the perfect post-8pm snack.

 Tofurky Italian Sausage with Baked Potato Cubes and Hot Chili Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese Spread

A “Meat ‘n’ Potatoes” kinda craving, except it’s perfectly suitable for this vegetarian ;) ! In the mix was one Tofurky Italian Sausage with Baked Potato Cubes and Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese Spread mixed with Hot Chili Sauce.

Do you like taking a break from intense workouts and instead go on long walks?

Feetures High Performance Socks

Seeing as though my only fitness product review to-date is this one, I felt like putting the spotlight on something fitness-related that wasn’t edible—even if it meant blogging about a pair of socks I received as part of my swag bag from this race.

feetures! (1)

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These socks were part of the ZOOMA race swag bag for the Napa Valley race, courtesy of Feetures. The company was started in 2002, and since then has been manufacturing socks for active lifestyles (and even the injuries caused by them, as evidenced by their therapeutic and plantar fasciitis sleeves).

feetures! (6)

In my swag bag, I was given a pair of Electric Pink High Performance socks.

feetures! (3)

 They are perfect for runners at least by the description, since they are described to hug your feet, prevent blisters, and keep feet from getting bogged down by sweat.

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A little picture demonstrating the “sweat-free technology”.

They even provide a lifetime guarantee—but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did wear out after some time of hard core running. I mean a runner’s socks do eventually have to give in…

feetures! (2)

I wore my pair for my first run after the ZOOMA race. They felt snug when I first put them on, especially around the ankle, but I liked how they had a no show tab. I’m a fan of ankle socks, so this fit the bill in that regard. 

feetures! (5)

As far as material is concerned, I wish they were softer. I like my socks snug, but it’s also nice to feel like there are pillows under my feet. Perhaps I should check out their Elite Merino+ pairs if I want a more cozy pair next time.

What is your favorite pair of socks for running and other workouts?

Race Recap: Davis Moonlight Race

Last weekend, I ran in my first night race. Actually, it ended up being more of an evening race, but if I had instead raced in the Half Marathon Wave 2, then I may have finished under the moonlight. Nevertheless, the race was still a new and enjoyable experience.

Since my race was at 7:30PM versus AM, I had to take a different (and perhaps more careful) approach with fueling on race day. I had a late lunch as a result: a piece of flatbread made of plain pizza dough, with a side of steamed veggies flavored with spices and coconut flakes. I also had some greek yogurt with Kashi cereal (unpictured). 

 pre-race fuelage

My favorite go-to lunch—be it pre-fuel or post-fuel depends on when I go running in the day!

After my meal, I took a 45 minute nap before leaving with my Dad, friend, and sis around 5:00PM for the race venue.  Along the way, my Dad wanted to make a pit stop at a roadside produce place since we had the time. Also on the “things to do before the race” list was getting my eyebrows threaded, and dinner for the gang. Since I didn’t want to eat anything too soon before the race, I got my eyebrows threaded while everyone had sandwiches from Subway. All of this occupied our time until around 6:30PM, when at that point we actually drove over to the race venue. 

 market along the way

Roadside produce pit stop.

This race had so many different start times that I almost freaked out about misreading my start time. By the time we got to the parking area, we could see the runners from Wave 1 of the Half Marathon already running towards us, full speed ahead. 

Wave 1, Half Marathon

Wave 1, Half Marathon

Because the lot we were headed towards was full by the time we got around the runners, my Dad dropped the girls and I off, and we slowly made our way around the DMG Mori building towards packet pick-up—doing our best to keep our steps within the boundaries of shade. 

 walking to pick-up

Walking towards packet pick-up.

After receiving my bib and shirt (which was in a lovely shade of blue!), I shuffled the girls to an area of shade near the start line. We also had a clear view of the wall of porta potties, and the bouncy houses behind us. We were rooted in this area when the start for the kid’s fun mile was announced. Despite the weather being quite hot, the kids were full of energy and didn’t seem to complain at all. They all just seemed to be focused on the getting to the finish, where a ribbon and sno-cone were waiting for their arrival. 

 getting to where the action is

Kids assembling for the fun run // bouncy house // porta potties

All three of us were beginning to get antsy with just standing around, so I suggested that we walk past the bouncy houses, since I sensed a couple of booths were stationed behind them! And indeed there were—boxes of things from free mini body washes to mini trail mix packs were being handed out. Being a group of cheap, frugal girls headed back to school, you know we stocked up!

 snack line

The booth with the most freebies.

As we delved further and further into the booth fair, we found ourselves getting lost in the crowds. How could it be avoided when there were masseuses ready to have people sign up for post-race massages, and sweaty kids standing in line for their post-race sno-cone treat?

 crowds, massage, sno cones, new balance

Unavoidable crowd // Massages—being given before the race too?! // Kids in line for sno-cones // New Balance

It took some time to persuade the girls to get into the freebie revelry, but once I had them each approach the KIND bar booth and get a KIND bar “for me”, they were soon victims of the freebie-collecting bug ;) .

So of course the freebies quest kept us busy until I had to head over to the start line. We left right on the dot at 7:30PM with a sun still high in the sky and the air as warm as ever—it was, after all, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The 5kers were instructed to hang back until 7:45, since the roads would be packed for the first mile or 2 with just 10kers and wave 2 half marathoners alone.

Mile 1 – Navigating in between hundreds of runners can be quite the challenge, only because it’s so annoying. Right when you think you’ve found “your space”, you land right behind someone running 30 seconds slower than your target pace. I thought that with all this navigating, my pace would be slowed, but it was actually quite the opposite. (9:07/mi)

Mile 2The heat was beginning to catch up to me, and I came across the first water station where I grabbed a cup and drank it down chipmunk style. I still managed to maintain a consistent pace, according to Garmin. (9:02/mi)

Mile 3 – I was starting to get bored. I finally got the space I wanted, but I was now running on a woodsy park trail, and it was difficult to discern when it would end. (9:16/mi)

Mile 4 – I approached the second water station with my eyes directly oriented towards a specific volunteer. I couldn’t get all of the water in my mouth, so I ended up just splashing it on my heated skin and bib. It then looked like I had an awkward area of sweat on my shirt, but I just had to keep going. Given how warm it was still, I had to assume that my shirt would dry in no time at all. (9:19/mi)

Mile 5 – The end was so near…we pretty much looped around and ran back across a bridge that we had to cross in the very beginning. There was a nice breeze sweeping over all of us runners, and the sun was just starting to set. If I had my phone with me at the time (and the dexterity), I would have certainly taken a picture of the gorgeous view from the bridge. My pace quickened up again, thanks to the descent. (9:05/mi)

Mile 6 – Why does the last mile always have to be so tough? I was ready to call it a day, surprised by the amount of sweat I had perspired over the past hour. I don’t think I sweat that much in a race ever…not even during my half marathons! (9:05/mi)

According to my Garmin, I completed the race with an overall average pace of 9:06/mi. Looking at my pace chart, it looks like I had a lot more speedy spikes after the 3 mile mark…

 timingoffthecharts

Speedy after mile 3.

After gulping down large water bottle (and surprisingly not getting a scolding from my bladder!), I learned that it was around 8:30PM and I was more than ready to head home. The girls were already waiting in the car, and so my Dad and I walked about a half mile to get to where the car was parked. As we were driving back, I could not resist taking a picture of the evening sky. It had finally started to cool down, and rolling down the windows as we approached the highway was definitely a good idea ;)

 sky after the race

The sky after the race.

Once I got home around 9:30PM, I had my late dinner and admired my shirt.

 da shirt

As well as the goods that (my friends and) I collected.

 fooods

I think I’m good on deodorant for the next couple months…

For my first “night” race, it was a pleasant-enough experience. Based on recaps I read about this race from past years, this year was relatively mild, though perhaps only by a smidgen since I crossed the finish line with probably enough sweat to fill five water bottles. Sorry if that’s TMI…I might be exaggerating too ;)

Have you ever run a summer evening/night race?

Batons and the Next Day

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend one of my friend’s competitions in baton twirling. She’s been a twirler since her elementary school days, but even though I have known her for just as long, I had never seen her perform in a competitive setting—mostly because her competitions were held out-of-state. But since this year’s competition was in Stockton, I seized the opportunity to go out and support my friend :D !

We had some bottom-of-the-bag Honey Nut Cheerios that needed to be finished up, so I mixed that with the last of my carob chips and had that as my car ride snack. The Cheerios may have outnumbered my beloved carob chips, but it mostly looked that way because they had a tendency to sink to the bottom.

Cheerios and Carob Chip Mix

It took us a little over an hour to get to the arena where they were holding the USTA Baton Twirling Championships. My friend’s performance was closer to noon, so by the time we arrived, we were able to watch some duet performances. My favorite was this take on Beauty and the Beast by this lovely “young couple”.

 Hard to see, but they were so tiny and limber. So cute!!

Hard to see, but they were so tiny and limber. So cute!!

After watching some creative performances, the groups that were to perform in the next set came out to the front. I found this group with the pink-and-black outfits to be my favorites appearance-wise, even though they were my friend’s team’s competitors!

batons

After about an hour of watching the group performances, and seeing my friend lead her pack (and whizz by so fast that it was almost impossible for me to get some good pictures of her in action), she met us up in the stands. She was super hungry (not surprisingly), so we accompanied her to find a place to pick up lunch.

Stockton is not exactly a go-to destination for gourmet dining, but my friend was able to get an entree salad sans croutons (since she’s gluten-intolerant). She was eager to get back to the arena and watch more performances, but my sis, other friend, and I left soon after since my friend’s group was done performing for the day.

The following day I had off from work, and so I asked my friend if she wanted to go (window) shopping for some small apartment necessities (kitchen, small appliances) with me. I only made it out with three kitchen things (a peeler, a spatula, and a bowl), since I still wanted to see if we had anything in my house that was not being used (so I could save $$ by not spending it on things we already have and that I could take). In the end, I mostly just observed and compared the prices of various items so I could go back and purchase them later. 

We were out driving and running about for almost four hours, so we decided to have a late sushi lunch at Little Madfish where my sister met up with us. 

littlemadfish (1)

There was barely anyone there, since it was pretty late in the afternoon.

littlemadfish (2)

It was nice having such a large space “for ourselves”. The divider that blocked me from taking a good picture of the wall decor added to that sense of privacy.

littlemadfish (8)

After settling in, we sipped on our waters while trying to figure out what to get.

place

We came in during Happy Hour so many items were discounted. Unfortunately, the (meager offering of) vegetarian rolls were not part of the promo, so my sis and I had to pay regular price for our orders.

 The menu

The menu

 Between the my sister and I, we did not spend too much on our Gobo and Avocado Cucumber Rolls:

Avocado Cucumber

Avocado Cucumber

Gobo = root of the greater burdock plant

Gobo = burdock plant root

I didn’t expect my roll to be so tiny, but given my options, I had to settle for my humble plate for the time being. The gobo reminded me (in taste and appearance) of a carrot, but spicier in flavor. I also had a piece of my sister’s avocado cucumber roll, and scolded myself for not ordering that in the first place ;) !

My friend and her brother ordered a huge sampler plate of a variety of rolls, some even doused in spicy sauces and creams.

 Food of friends.

Food of friends.

I was desperately wishing that plate was veggie-friendly, but unfortunately it wasn’t so :(

So after nibbling at my Gobo roll, I resorted to finishing of the communal ginger and wasabi plate.

gingerwasabi

Overall, I found the restaurant to be okay, but certainly not worth venturing out to again. It’s one of my best friend’s favorite spots to eat at though, so I’m glad she and her brother at least left with full bellies ;) .

littlemadfish (9)

At least I got to practice my chopstick skillz!

Do you go to places you don’t like but your family/friends do, just so you can make them happy?

Little Madfish on Urbanspoon

A Fiery Weekend

My 4th of July weekend was wonderful. The only thing that I could really complain about was the heat—and even with the weather blazing like fire, I still had cravings for spicy food!

The weekend began Friday evening when we set out to one of our neighborhood parks to watch the annual fireworks show our town holds. We brought the spread for a picnic, which included veggie dogs, hot dog buns, pico de gallo salsa (homemade), corn on the cob, and freshly sliced watermelon. When the sun set and the sky turned dark enough, the 15-minute fireworks show began.

4thofjulypicnic

It truly was a bittersweet moment, knowing that this would be the last time I watched my hometown’s fireworks show—but then I thought about the future 4th of Julys’ to come in LA and any sentimental feelings I had went away ;)

The next day, I had a craving for homemade pizza—but wanted to have it with a barbecue twist. So after a late afternoon shift at work that ended as the sun set, this dinner was a delicious treat to munch on when I came home at dusk:

Barbecue Pizza
Serves 1
A pizza for one, with a barbecue twsit. (Vegetarian)
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Ingredients
  1. - 2.5 oz. of pizza dough
  2. - ½ cup of Boca meatless crumbles or Tofurky meatless pepperoni slices or sausage
  3. - 1 medium onion
  4. - Sliced green pepper
  5. - 2 cloves of garlic
  6. - Spoon of jalapeno peppers
  7. - 4 or 5 mushrooms (sliced)
  8. - Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or your preferred cheese)
  9. - Olive oil (to sauté)
  10. - Sugar
  11. - Barbecue sauce (or mix ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt)
  12. - Steamed broccoli (for the side)
For Pizza Base
  1. Roll the pizza dough out to desired size.
  2. Bake in toaster oven for 8 minutes (4 minutes per side) at 375 degrees F.
For Topping
  1. Heat olive oil.
  2. Roast chopped garlic and brown the onions. Add the “meat” and mix thorougly.
  3. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté and peppers. Start to cook.
  4. Add the barbecue sauce, and cook another minute until the whole topping is not runny.
Putting it together
  1. Top the pizza with the barbecue topping, and cover with mozzarella or other preferred cheese.
  2. Return pizza to oven and broil till cheese is cooked to your liking.
  3. Add some steamed broccoli as a side, or another mix of steamed veggies, and eat up!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.

Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.

 Adding the topping to the pizza.

Adding the topping to the pizza.

 Add cheese.

Add cheese.

 Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.

Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.

For dessert, I had my most recent favorite—greek yogurt mixed with carob chips! I added even more carob chips to the cup as I ate through it, making sure that each spoonful was covered with a disproportionate amount of chips.

dessert craving of the week - carob chips with greek yogurt

On Sunday, I had the morning free so that was spent at the gym. I immediately took a shower after coming home, and got ready for another day’s shift at work. This time I would get out in the early evening, so I planned to go out to have dinner with my Dad and sis.

We chose to visit Freebirds, since none of us had ever frequented the place, but were always curious about the “world famous burritos”.

Freebirds World Burrito (3)

This location was divided in half longways, so that there was a brick divider between the ordering counter and the actual dining area.

Freebirds World Burrito (4)

Freebirds World Burrito (6)

Freebirds World Burrito (7)

I decided to go with the smallest size—the Hybrid. The next one up was Freebird, then Monster, and for the ultra daring there is the SUPER MONSTER (which is not even featured on the menu)!!!

Freebirds World Burrito (5)

Since I went with a burrito, my sis decided to try an order of the Veggie Nachos and let my Dad have some of that. We both made our way down the counter, designed in a way similar to ordering a sandwich at Subway.

Freebirds World Burrito (8)

I picked out a tortilla (cayenne flavor), skipped over the meats, asked for queso sauce, and loaded up on veggies. At the end, I had my server pour on some pico de gallo and hot tomatillo sauce. For a small burrito, the end product was still quite hefty.

 My sister's nachos sitting pretty.

My sister’s nachos sitting pretty.

There was a separate counter for payment, and a soda dispenser right across from it where we got our waters. There was also a sauce dispenser shaped as motorcycle bar handles!

Freebirds World Burrito (2)

We then sat at a table to feast on our orders—but not without looking up at the ceiling and chuckling at this sight:

Freebirds World Burrito (1)

Sort of fits in with the whole 4th of July theme though!

My burrito was bursting, but the filling was kept inside nice and tight thanks to the careful wrapping of aluminum foil—at least until I reached the very end of the burrito. I couldn’t finish my burrito without having some sauce coated over my fingers.

 Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)

Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)

At least it wasn’t death sauce.

Freebirds World Burrito (10)

My sister’s nachos looked extremely appetizing. She liked the taste, but found the chips to be too flimsy to hold all of the various nacho toppings.

Veggie Nachos

We finished up close to 6pm, but it was still blazing hot outside and felt like it was 3pm. Weather-wise, and food-wise, my long weekend was a fiery one for sure! 

What foods did you feast on to celebrate the fourth of July?

What do you like to eat when it’s hot outside? 

Freebirds World Burrito on Urbanspoon

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