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.

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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.

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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).

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

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 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…

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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. 

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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. 

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

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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.

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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 ;) .

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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)!!!

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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.

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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!

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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

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese “Steak” Waffle (and Other Things)

Last week, I really wanted to be in a more patriotic mood for the 4th of July weekend. That got me brainstorming about coming up with new dinners to try, since I’ve also been in a dinner rut for quite some time. I wanted to save the hot  veggie dogs and corn on the cob  tradition for the 4th, so the dinner I came up with in the meantime was this:

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese Steak Waffle

Here’s how my thought process got me to the end product you see above: 4th of July -> Red, White, and Blue -> Philadelphia -> Philly Cheesesteak -> “How can I make this vegetarian?” -> Boca Meatless Crumbles ->“Wait, we don’t have any of that thick, roll bread in the house and I certainly don’t feel like making that too.” -> Waffles.

Yup, when you don’t have hoagie rolls in your house, waffles are the perfect substitute. And I’ve been wanting to find some reason to have a savory waffle for a while too!

The Veg-Friendly Philly Cheese Steak Waffle
Serves 2
A savory waffle base with all the fun fix-ins of a philly cheesesteak. Only thing is, this one's lacto-ovo vegetarian-friendly!
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Waffles
  1. - 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  2. - 1/4 cup cornstarch
  3. - 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. - 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  5. - 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  6. - 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  7. - 1 egg
  8. - 2 tbsp. oil
  9. - spices (i.e. cayenne, basil, thyme, oregano)
  10. - 3/4 cup of milk
Topping
  1. - 1 medium onion (thin slices)
  2. - 1/4 cup frozen or fresh peans
  3. - 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  4. - salt
  5. - 2 tsp. oil
  6. - 1/2 cup of Boca Meatless Crumbles
  7. - mushrooms (optional)
Gravy Sauce
  1. - 2 cloves chopped garlic
  2. - 1 tbsp. butter
  3. - flour for rue
  4. - 1/4 cup milk
  5. - 2 tbsp. sour cream
For the waffles
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add oil and blend.
  3. Add egg, milk, and whisk.
  4. Add cheese, and whisk.
  5. Pour into waffle iron, and let cook until ready.
For the topping
  1. Roast cumin seeds in oil.
  2. Add onions and caramelize.
  3. Add peas, Boca, and optional mushrooms.
  4. Cook, adding spoons of water to keep from burning.
For the Gravy Sauce
  1. Roast the garlic with butter in a pan.
  2. Make a rue by adding some leftover flour.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of milk.
  4. After boiling, add 2 tbsp. of sour cream, and mix well.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Then pour this (in addition to the topping) over desired amount of waffles.
  7. Serve and eat!!
Notes
  1. Waffle batter makes around 9 waffle quarters. Topping is enough to be split between two or eaten by one.
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Pieces of the recipe.

Pieces of the recipe.

This veg-friendly philly cheese “steak” topping was amazing. I think I’m going to have to find reasons to make savory waffles a lot more often—especially if I have this much success with future endeavors!

Along with this fun savory waffle experiment, I also had some new-to-me snacks I managed to accumulate pictures of over the past two weeks.

I found a new-to-me flavor of Chobani—blackberry. It actually didn’t have that much of a blackberry taste to me however, and actually reminded me more of the blueberry flavor. It’s not going to be a flavor worth seeking out…like any of the flips are (key lime crumble, I’m looking at you!)

 Chobani Blackberry Yogurt

Chobani Blackberry Yogurt

I also recently found a vitamin store that sells Quest bars near where I work, so I stopped by during one of my breaks to pick up the chocolate peanut butter flavor. I felt like taking a break from Cookies & Cream and White Chocolate Raspberry (wow, did I just say that??), and going back to a tried-and-true flavor combination of chocolate and peanut butter sounded perfectly appetizing at the time.

 Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter

Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter

For some reason I forgot that there were actual peanuts mixed in all that chocolate-y fudge of a bar. With all the hype surrounding the newer flavors, I almost forgot how delicious this flavor was! Plus, it gave me the much needed afternoon pick-me-up necessary for me to complete the last couple hours of work before calling it a day and heading home for dinner. 

Another bar that I snacked on that week was a Corazonas Oatmeal Square White Chocolate Macadamia Nut  bar, thanks to a free item coupon I found online. It would have been a cheap find even without the coupon though, since it was only $0.98 at my local grocery store. 

 Corazonas Oatmeal Square White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

Corazonas Oatmeal Square White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

It tasted like a soft oatmeal cookie with white chocolate chunks. Couldn’t detect any hint of macadamia, unfortunately. This bar might have been even more of a treat after some nuking in the microwave, but I just didn’t have the patience time for that ;)

Do you like savory waffle recipes?

What new foods have you tried lately?

Race Recap: Zooma Napa Valley

My last race in June was a 10k, a short and sweet distance to end an incredible month of fitness accomplishments for me. I didn’t originally plan on it, but after running my best half marathon to-date only a few days prior, I felt the urge to push myself and set a new 10k PR for myself. It was a good thing a half was taking place in this race as well, since I was able to use the pacers to my advantage—even if only for the first three miles!

The day before the race, I had work so I couldn’t find the time to pick up my bib & swag bag and partake in the pre-race expo. The race organizers were at least nice enough to allow friends to pick up your race items for you, so I was able to have someone pick up my things for me in advance. My pre-race goods included a small Zooma bag with the following inside:

 Items included the race shirt, Feetures hot pink socks (!!), Emergen-C sample packets, a cute running hat. $30 value apparently.

Items included the race shirt, Feetures hot pink socks (!!), Emergen-C sample packets, a cute running hat, justgogirl bladder leakage “help” (<—where was this when I ran this?). $30 value apparently.

After work, I spent the rest of the night unwinding and going to sleep early, since I was on my feet all day and had to work around a bruised knee (fortunately, it did not hinder my running abilities!). The next morning, I woke up an hour early since I was feeling hungry and needed time to fuel and freshen up.

Two bars and a smidgen of coffee did just the trick. I had the brownie crunch flavor of a thinkThin bar and an Amazing Grass super food bar. The thinkThin bar was my favorite of the two—plainly because of the chocolate insides and outside. The AG bar was not that bad either, thanks to the chocolate chips that served as a good binding agent for the other trail mix-esque ingredients.

thinkThin brownie crunch

amazing grass green superfood

After nourishing myself with just the right amount of protein and carbs, I felt ready for the race. I arrived at the start around 7:40am, after we parked the car in a nearby residential area. The race start was near a church, and the starting line wound around like a giant snake with runners running both the half and 10k mixed up in the crowd.

the start

The main sponsor of the race was Muscle Milk Light, made prominent on the starting line blocky arch:

zooma RACE (36)

I got in line beside the 2:00h half marathon pacer just as announcements were being made. She would (unknowingly) be my guide for the first three miles ;) .

announcements

The race organizers did a great job of getting us out on time. We were off by 8AM, running to the sounds of Gangnam Style. It was embarrassing, but at least no one embarrassed themselves by stopping to do the dance moves :P

Because the half marathon and 10k runners were packed together for the first three miles, there was some crowding issues in the first mile of the race. I found myself at all sorts of angles near the pacer, and felt much more focused and in tune with her steps. I barely paid attention to my surroundings, even though I could hear others exclaim to each other how beautiful the vineyards looked against the backdrop of a clear sunny sky in late June.

After hitting mile 2, I noticed that my shoe lace was getting untied and had to hop over to the side of the road to get that taken care of. I still didn’t want to lose my running rhythm, so I immediately sprinted back to my spot behind the pacer, after making sure my shoe laces were tight enough. Before hitting mile 3, I found myself getting ahead of the pacer and from that point, decided to just keep going. Why slow down if I had the itch to speed up?

After the 10k turnaround, there was no looking back. I sensed my posture straightening up, and my stride getting slightly longer. I kept note of my pacing and breathing, and tried to keep things consistent as I made my way back to the finish. Since the majority of the runners were running the half, I was now a solo runner—since there was a length of space between me and the closest runner ahead.

Along the way, women didn’t hesitate to shout the occasional “Good job!” or “Nice work!”. I either smiled or replied with raspy “thank yous” so that I wouldn’t be rude but still preserve my energy towards running. I also came across some fun Zooma signs, like a sign starting off with “you know you’re a runner when…” and following with signs in response. It got me thinking about various ways I could finish the phrase as well.

After passing the last aid station at mile 5, I found myself zooming past two women, and yearning to finally get to the end. I was averaging an 8:23/mi pace for that mile—the fastest I’ve run in “recent” history. By the time I got to the end and checked my Garmin, I realized I had met my goal of a new 10k PR, in addition to a new 5k PR. I had run the first 3.1 miles at an average pace of 8:40/mi, and the total 6.2 miles at a speedy-for-me pace of 8:51/mi. Oh yes, I’ll take it! :D

I also noticed that the elevation chart looked like two mountain peaks after analyzing my stats later…haha!

zooma RACE (3)

After being handed my medal and taking a moment to catch my breath…

medal

…I walked over to the Muscle Milk vendors and helped myself to a bottle.

muscle milk

Chocolate flavor!

chocolate

I had to drive back to work an hour after I finished, so my Dad and I hurried over to the Marriott where they were holding an indoor post-race expo. It was awkward because I was the first runner to arrive since I didn’t take the shuttle. Whoopsies?

 Muscle Milk truck parked outside // waiting in the lobby for some other runners to arrive before looking at food // shuttle I didn't take

Muscle Milk truck parked outside // waiting in the lobby for some other runners to arrive before looking at food // shuttle I didn’t take

After the first group of runners arrived via shuttle, I joined them as they gravitated towards the buffett table in the center of the room. The spread included apples, bananas, and serving trays of wraps that had either turkey or chicken. I wasn’t hungry for fruit, nor could I have the wrap due to the meat filling, so I ended up forfeiting my snack coupon. I was somewhat surprised that they didn’t have a veggie wrap or vegetarian-friendly option, but I was disappointed because I was expecting some sort of snack box similar to what I’ve seen in other bloggers’ race recaps of past Zooma races.

 I'll pass, thankyouverymuch.

I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch.

Since the buffet didn’t provide me with much munchies, I found another Muscle Milk ice chest out on the patio. I asked for another bottle (Vanilla Creme) and my Dad got the banana flavor. We found a seat on some couches and drank our shakes.

patio

Other vendors were behind the pool, which I figured out after peeking around this walkway.

walkway

I was offered an electrolyte sample, as well as an Honest Tea fizz pop sample.

samplezz

The other vendors behind the pool didn’t offer much in freebies, but there was a yoga group assembling by a tree, and massage tables.

zooma RACE (7)

There was also a booth selling sunglasses. I didn’t want nor need any though :P

zooma RACE (8)

Just as the party was getting started, I had to leave so that I would have enough time to make it to work. To be honest, I didn’t mind taking off earlier than everyone else since there really wasn’t much to do, frankly speaking.

I found the race to be, overall, a fine experience in regards to the course layout and organization. Perhaps I would have had “more fun” if I had been able to make it out to the pre-race expo the day before, or if there had been more variety at the buffet table. Nevertheless, I was proud of finishing the 10k course running at a pace faster than I have ever ran before, proving that all of the hard work I put into this month with long distance running was worth it.

Finish the phrase yourself! “You know you are a runner when…”

Cosmic Cravings

After running my fourth half marathon, I felt like I was sailing through clouds from all of the endorphins surging through my system. After changing into some “proper” street clothes (from my original outfit of a loose-fitted old race tee and shorts) at a McDonald’s restroom, my Dad, the girls, and I made the fifteen minute-ish drive over to Berkeley for lunch.

I thought I was starving, but my friend assured us that her growing appetite was making rocks look appetizing to her. I obviously did not want her to develop pica, so it was a good thing our destination was not too far—literally speaking, that is.

 entrance of saturn cafe

Our “real” destination was a vegetarian-friendly (and vegan and gluten-free) universe with pink-and-black painted walls, that also had a couple of bedazzled columns thrown in.

saturncafeinsiddde

I was more than ready to join the crowds already feasting away at their Sunday morning brunches/early lunches. We arrived around 12pm, walking strutting in oh so fashionably late ;)

 Ready to join the crowds already seated.

Ready to join the crowds already seated.

Once we were seated and settled in, we marveled at the shadow-box-like decor of LEGO scenes underneath the glass of our table:

lego

My favorite was this scary guy with LEGO knobs on its head:

octolego

I gave the breakfast/brunch menu a look-see, but my eyes gravitated and were fixed on the appetizer offerings, since they were cheaper and sounded more “fun”.

pass on the lego menu

I decided to go with the nachos but sub-in steak-cut fries instead of having chips. My sis and friend ordered the Saturn Sliders so they could try two mini versions of vegetarian-friendly burgers, as well as some onion strings. My Dad ordered a scramble off the brunch menu.

All of us ordered a variety of dishes, but the portions that came out could have fed about two more people. Even though I ordered a half-portion, the plate that came out was gargantuan—piled high with guacamole and cream:

 Nacho Fries - Steak-Cut Fries served with black beans, melted cheese, guacamole, green onions, salsa, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream

Nacho Fries – Steak-Cut Fries served with black beans, melted cheese, guacamole, green onions, salsa, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream

About a third of the way in, I was already starting to feel full from the starchiness of the steak-cut fries. I still finished my meal, knowing that it would go towards refueling my body after the 13.1 miles it endured. 

 Just couldn't stomach those last three fries apparently...

Just couldn’t stomach those last three fries apparently…

My sis & friend enjoyed their burgers, and were full themselves after attacking one burger each. After taking a water/onion string break, they challenged themselves with the second burger.

Saturn Sliders Four of our gourmet burgers made into a bite-size treat! Two California Burgers and Two Space Cowboy Burgers.

Saturn Sliders – Four gourmet burgers made into a bite-size treat! Two California Burgers (Saturn patty with jack cheese, sliced avocado, mayo, lettuce, red onion, tomato, and pickles) and Two Space Cowboy Burgers (Saturn patty with fakin’ bacon, onion strings, cheddar cheese, and BBQ sauce. Topped off with mayo, lettuce, and tomato).

Out of the two flavors, both girls preferred the Space Cowboy burger, since it came with fakin’ bacon and BBQ sauce—it at least sounded more delicious and unique to me as well!

The Onion Strings (and random onion coins that made their way onto the plate) were a table favorite. If they had been onion rings, it might have been even more of a knock-out. The bite-size pieces had the right amount of coating and crunch nevertheless, and I was a big fan of the ranch sauce they came with.

 Onion Strings, Served with a side of vegan ranch dressing.

Onion Strings – Served with a side of vegan ranch dressing.

I even preferred the sauce over the salsa that came with my fries!

The scramble my Dad had looked well-balanced and hearty. Who needs sausage or bacon when you have soyrizo

 Hot & Spicy Scramble Three organic eggs with pickled jalapenos, soyrizo, and jack cheese. Served with home fries and toast weekend brunch.

Hot & Spicy Scramble – Three organic eggs with pickled jalapenos, soyrizo, and jack cheese. Served with home fries and toast.

I was seriously stuffed by the time I cleaned my plate. I didn’t have a food coma, but I certainly felt like I had a food baby—at least it felt like it since I pretty much waddled out of the restaurant. 

After walking around for a bit, we decided to get back home around mid-afternoon since we were all exhausted from the early wake-up call for the half marathon, and I was in much need of a nap! Sleeping was next on my list of things to do that Sunday ;)

Do you like partaking in the occasional brunch? Or would you rather wake up early for breakfast/wait for a “proper” lunch?

Saturn Cafe on Urbanspoon

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