I Love You More Than Cupcakes (and Free Food and Mediterranean Bowls)

Last Sunday ended up being a low-key day, despite my plans to head to SaMo for a run and a brunch at some new-to-me place. I guess the heat from the previous day’s adventures got to me, as well as the voice inside my head telling me I should do some studying so that I wouldn’t be playing catch-up later in the week. I was also feeling a bit of loneliness, and honestly, I just didn’t feel like stepping out on a solo adventure that day. 

But a close family friend must have sensed my thoughts, because she sent the most adorable sign accompanied by a lovely letter: 


No new-to-me restaurant on Sunday, but I did have a new-to-me bar! This thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber Chunky Chocolate Peanut bar was a $0.50 steal from Ralph’s (after their sale + my coupon). It was my “impulse/going-grocery-shopping-when-hungry” purchase. 

Snail mail can provide the best solutions sometimes…and so can free food. On Tuesdays, my apartment complex gives out free food, and so I spent 45 minutes in line to get a cup of the one thing that was vegetarian. There were also mini tortillas available, but that became a huge no-no to grab since the cooks placed them on the same surface as the chicken/beef that was being cooked for taco fillings.  


At least this rice made for a decent, packable lunch for me to bring to school the next day. Mixed with some tahini, it was actually not that bad.

The rest of the week went by so quickly, it all seems like a blur now. Between studying, eating, and sleeping, I also had to make a trip out to meet a potential lab rotation mentor for my first rotation on Friday. I’m not surprised that my busy schedule has already started to effect me. Even though I had plans to go for a morning run before 9 am on Saturday, I just did not want to get up. Instead I slept in until 8:30, made myself a cup of tea-infused hot milk, and finished organizing my laundry from Friday night. 


I still managed to get a weights work-out in at the gym, and after slowly getting ready, decided to continue with my plans for the day: lunch in Pasadena!

To get there, I started off at Union Station in order to connect to the Gold Line. After learning that fare prices are increasing starting on the 15th, I knew I had to make the most of my trip! It also got me thinking…why did they have to wait until after I moved to increase prices? 


Waiting for the train.

The time it took me to get from Union Station to Lake Station was about 24 minutes, but with a growling stomach and a sleepy head, it felt much longer. And after getting off, the heat wave outside felt unbearable—but I had to remind myself, food was waiting for me just a mile ahead! 

I got into such a heavy rhythm of walking that I almost missed my destination. If I had not turned my head at the corner, I would have missed the discrete Real Food Daily sign! 


I stopped to take a look at the menu outside, and went in confidently with my order in mind. 


At the counter, I ordered an item from their salad selection, specifically the Mediterranean Bowl. Flatbread and feta sounded so appetizing at the time, especially alongside a cool salad. 

Since the inside of the restaurant was packed, I volunteered to sit outside, which wasn’t so bad at all since there was shade and I had the whole area to myself. 


Out of all of the vegan restaurants I’ve visited in LA so far, this establishment has to be the quickest in terms of food delivery. Despite the busy crowds, my food came to the table within ten minutes.

Arugula, tomato, avocado, lemon herb Za’atar dressing, cucumber kalamata salsa, white bean basil salad, quinoa tabouli, almond feta, whole wheat Za’atar flatbread

Arugula, tomato, avocado, lemon herb Za’atar dressing, cucumber kalamata salsa, white bean basil salad, quinoa tabouli, almond feta, whole wheat Za’atar flatbread

I loved the almond feta dollop in the middle, and did a pretty good job of “eating my veggies first” so I could save the feta and coat my bread with it.


It took me a while to get to the bottom of the bowl, but the mission was accomplished.


I also took my time eating because I wanted to savor my time in the shade before absolutely having to get back out in the sun. You’d think that after I heard about how there would be a heat wave over the weekend on the news, I’d make plans to head west and cool off at the beach, but no—I go and do the exact opposite and head even more east.

Oh well. The sights in Pasadena are well worth it. 

 Stopping at the Vitamin Shoppe for my weekly box of Quest bars / taking a break in the shade near some bank or corporate building / approaching Colorado Blvd.

Stopping at the Vitamin Shoppe for my weekly box of Quest bars / taking a break in the shade near some bank or corporate building / approaching Colorado Blvd.

I made my way down Colorado Blvd. to eventually get to the Memorial Park Station. As I waited for the train, I admired the intriguing artwork hanging from above:


I made it back to Union Station within 20 minutes, but had to wait another hour for a shuttle to get back home. In the meantime, I people-watched…since there are some pretty interesting characters using public transport :P . There was this one guy trying to sell off his day-pass or something, and it got serious enough that a lady reported him to security and from there…it just turned out interesting. Such is city life!

Is there a huge heat wave right now where you live?

Real Food Daily on Urbanspoon

Total Fake-Out

I need to make a habit of walking to downtown a lot more…especially on the weekends. The first couple blocks are not exactly picturesque, but once past the Staples Center, I can’t help but not look up at those tall buildings and just think, wow…I live in the city.


I decided to walk to the 7th St. Metro Rail Station in order to get to my restaurant of choice for lunch. Since where I wanted to go was a little place located in Hollywood, the fastest (and cheapest) way to get there was via the red line. The station was busy on this Saturday afternoon, and when I was waiting for my train to arrive, I was reminded of my brief subway adventure in NYC back in February.  

About 20 minutes later, I arrived at the Hollywood and Vine station, stopping to admire the palm-tree themed columns. It’s hard to see in the picture, but the ceiling is covered in film reels! The station also steps right out onto the Walk of Fame, but I had to walk fast towards my real destination so that I wouldn’t be prey for tourist predators and their brochures and whatnot :P


The restaurant of choice on this Saturday was located in a strip mall area, but even squeezed between thai massage and beauty salon establishments, a vegan restaurant cannot be missed in my eyes—especially one that specializes in vegan-izing old-fashioned American diner/southern food. 


Doomie’s Home Cookin’ was a Yelp find that I knew I had to set out and experience for myself. When the waitress handed me a menu, I took it politely and pretended to glance through it, but I came in already knowing I wanted to try the Southern Fried “Chicken”.


I found a small table with one seat and settled in while waiting for my order. I couldn’t help but notice the adorable cow jar with glasses sitting on the counter (which I assume was a tip jar? I paid tip through my receipt so I’m not sure…). I also had a clearer view of the kitchen (more so than the other patrons), so I was able to watch the cooks go about their duties. 


When my plate came out, I was amazed at what appeared before me. I think my non-veg friends would easily have been fooled by this plate as well. Roasted red potato coins, corn on the cob, a chewy bread roll, and two thick, crunchy pieces of realistic, but “not” fried chicken. 


Oh, and a side salad with Asian dressing was part of the meal. Can’t forget that…


But—back to the “chicken”. It honestly is the closest thing to meat that fake meat will ever be able to reach! When biting into the square-ish piece, I was able to see the soy meat resembling the chicken meat. Three layers of textured protein covered the softer soy meat in lieu of real chicken skin, all of which was coated with breadcrumbs and fried to a crisp. In the second piece, they even inserted a dowel to mimic a chicken bone! I even bit into it at first and was like, what is this?!


As a whole, the meal was delicious and satisfying. Just comes to show that Hollywood strip mall establishments have their share of gems, and that quality vegetarian/vegan food can be found in the most random places :P .

After lunch, I walked about 3.3 miles in the hot sun to get some specific grocery purchases. My walk soon became a game of “find the shady spots”, and I ended up turning onto June St. and walking down a long, quiet road of gorgeous houses. 


^ Hmm, maybe someday. Just having a nice, clean apartment to crash in after another weekend of exploring is good enough for me right now :)

Have you ever eaten something that was vegetarian/vegan that resembled the real thing a little too well?

Doomie's Home Cookin' Veggie-Vegan on Urbanspoon

Lyfe on Labor Day

Labor Day weekend was both a productive and relaxing one for me. I woke up on Sunday morning still feeling the excitement from the group run with Nike the day before. I was all geared up to go for a long run (longer than 6 miles…aiming for 10), but since I woke up later than planned, I ended up going only for 6 miles. Still though, I made it a priority to do some running on paths not yet traveled. I even found $0.10 along the way and stopped to pick it up—comes in handy when you are shopping in the city and forgot your reusable bags ;) !

After some afternoon studying and study sheet making, I hopped on the Metro Rail to head over to Culver City for an early Sunday dinner. It was simply the best thing I did that day—taking the short walk from the station to downtown, soaking some sunny Sunday rays, and admiring my surroundings. Will definitely be considering Culver as a possible place to live in next year…

 Nothing like the sunny outdoors on a Sunday afternoon.

Nothing like the sunny outdoors on a Sunday afternoon.

My dinner destination was at the corner of the central plaza area—Lyfe Kitchen!


Upon entering, the theme of wood and orange hit my eyes. It reminded me of a more upscale Native Foods, even though here they serve non-veg items as well as veg/gluten-free items. I was able to order and pay at the front, and then find seating for one in the middle of the restaurant—which surprisingly was already busy with other patrons at what I thought what was early-ish time. 


I freshened up in the bathroom while my order was being prepared, where I was hit again by the orange and wood theme:


After about 20 minutes, my order came out on a carving board—the roasted mushroom and goat cheese flatbread!

 Includes roasted onions, fresh herbs, and pomegranate-balsamic drizzle.

Includes roasted onions, fresh herbs, and pomegranate-balsamic drizzle.

I thought the bread would be softer, chewier, and even thicker, but it was more like a flatbread crisp. Despite not meeting my expectations in the bread, I absolutely loved the pomegranate-balsamic sauce. I probably would have dipped my flatbread as-is into a cup of that sauce if they gave it to me on the side!

So since my early dinner was not as hearty as I thought it would be, I still had that empty feeling inside. Seeing Menchie’s across the way immediately gave me the idea to satisfy that empty feeling with some soul-nourishing froyo.

After a family with 4+ kids under the age of 12 finished ringing up, I was finally able to chow down into this:

menchiessunday-lemon meringue, iced coffee, cookie dough, hazelnut, and poppers, mochi, carob chips, cd pieces

A Menchie’s kind of Sunday – lemon meringue/iced coffee/cookie dough/hazelnut froyo flavor mix with poppers, mochi, carob chips, and cookie dough pieces

After dessert, I took the Metro Rail home and was home when the sun was still out. The only thing I have yet to do since moving to the city is to go out at night. Obviously, it’s not a good idea to go wandering on the streets on your own when the sun’s down, especially if you don’t have a car and rely on public transport/walking, but I feel like there is a whole other aspect of city life adventure that can only be experienced past 8pm, like going to events, concerts…even evening running group meet-ups! Definitely hard to do if you are going solo 100% of the time!

So in true independent nature, I spent the rest of the night unwinding from the day at home, talking with family on the phone, and turning in at 10:30pm.

Monday morning’s events were a repeat of Sunday’s. I managed to hunker down after another morning 6-miler, and accomplish my homework goals set for the day (love it when I don’t have to play catch-up!). Even though Saturday’s groceries were ready-to-go for the week, I didn’t feel like cooking, and since my roommate was still with her family for the extended weekend, I decided to head out to Beverly Boulevard again to check out the Veggie Grill in that area…mostly because they had enticed me with a “try our summer menu item on us” coupon. 

I arrived in time to have a late lunch, and as I was walking, noticed that people were standing outside of the CBS building to get free tickets for the Late Show with Craig Ferguson or something like that. They were even giving away free umbrellas :P !


Never have seen the show, so I wasn’t about to get in line. Also, I had to be practical and remember how exactly would I get home after attending a late show viewing? 

Instead, I kept trucking towards my original destination. 


It seems like time isn’t an issue for LA folk when it comes to lunch or dinner—the place was packed even at the “odd” eating hour of 3pm.

 This picture is contrary to what was the real deal. Those tables were all full as I was standing in line!

This picture is contrary to what was the real deal. Those tables were all full as I was standing in line!

The two customers in front of me probably came in for the same reason I did, since they both whipped out their phones to show they had coupons for the free summer menu item—which was the sweet char-grilled corn! It was funny to watch the cashier yell “CORN!” at the cooks both times she saw the coupon.



Along with my free corn, I ordered the B-Wing Salad without the creamy ranch dressing, and found a seat outside so I could soak in the sun…and people watch ;)

going out on labor day to veggie grill (5)


Even after waiting a while for my food, I had to wait longer when my order did come out since the waiter didn’t bring utensils with him the first time. I had to wave him down and ask him personally, though he seemed a bit surprised by my request since I guess everyone knows utensils are inside. I didn’t want to leave my bag (or food!) out in the open (the issues of eating out solo), so he did grant my request after realizing this.

With a fork finally in hand, I was able to chow down on my B-Wing Salad:


The b-wings were coated in a spicy sauce that added a kick when mixed with the salad. There really wasn’t a need for extra ranch, but that probably would have made it a fuller and more savory meal. I wasn’t remorseful however, since I also had my corn waiting on the side!


It was drizzled with some sort of spicy mayo, which I also used to the my b-wings for some additional flavor!

The rest of the week was routine in regards to my meals—mostly crockpot dinners and Quest bars—but I did get a chance to try Julian Bakery’s Coconut Paleo Bread which I have fallen in love with. It’s very pricey though (at $11.99 from Erewhon!!), so it will definitely be one of those “indulgent” purchases going forward :P !

Julian's Bakery Paleo Bread Coconut

It’s great with peanut butter, but I mostly had the slices on their own—even though it has that characteristic of feeling “dry” when it goes down your throat, but it is pretty moist since it is supposed to be kept refridgerated? Odd, but the bread was delicious nonetheless.

I also bought ready-made vegan pumpkin rice lunch on campus one day before meeting with my study group. Surprisingly, it was pretty good—with a decent amount of pumpkin cubes tossed in for added texture and flavor!

eatingduring the week

The featured crockpot in the picture above includes the plantains I purchased at the Farmer’s Market. I think that’s what contributed to the more-brown-than-usual-looking broth, but the added flavor was phenomenal. Definitely will be experimenting with this starchy fruit (or vegetable?) in the future.

How did you spend the “last 3-day weekend of summer”?

Lyfe Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

Goals for September ’14

With September finally here and it being “back-to-school” time and all, it got me in the mood to put my thoughts together and prioritize what I hope to accomplish in this month and beyond. I certainly want to make sure that I put my best foot forward and be able to challenge myself, but not to the point where I feel too stressed or uncomfortable—that’s why I’ve given myself three fitness goals and two academic-related ones to strive towards for the time being. 

Fitness Goals

1. Complete a weekly long run, and at least three more runs in a week, depending on how I feel.

I am scheduled to run a half marathon in late October, so building back my long run mileage is definitely a priority if I want to beat my PR from this summer. It would be amazing to break 2 hours (or slightly under ;) ), and I’m also hoping the numerous amounts of runs I did in the heat over the summer will have helped me develop a faster pace once the cooler weather starts to set in. 

2. Take the time to explore each of the 3 gyms I have access to.

As a student and resident of the apartment complex I reside in, I happen to have access to three different gyms. It’s insane, and unfortunately I have only used the one on my property, even though the campus gyms apparently have a lot to offer. I will say that I was able to run on the campus track last week, so I guess that sort of counts? Even if I don’t make use of the campus gyms on a daily basis, I should plan on visiting the gyms at least once this month…

3. Check out more running groups and races.

After stumbling upon Nike at the Grove and my awesome first group run with them, I am eagerly looking into running with other clubs and checking out the scene so to speak. I also want to register for some more races in the area (as I miss that atmosphere and the freebies!), but transport tends to be a conflicting issue. Arriving in Santa Monica at 7AM on a Sunday morning via public transit can be difficult to plan, but if the race is worth it, I shall find a way!

 Academic Goals

1. Take advantage of study groups.

As a commuting undergrad, study groups were not very convenient for me since most students preferred meeting up at night to study, or I just found it easier to get into the zone with my books and notes in the comfort of my home. But now as a graduate student in a small program, I think it will be easier to get together with other students to work out issues from lecture. And since the two required classes we have to take have a four hour gap in between them, it’s almost as if we should meet together and use that time to study…

2. Do a solid chunk of work each day to stay up-to-date and to avoid overwhelmed feeling.

So far, this hasn’t been an issue. I’ve only had three days of class so far, but I’ve been able to balance my time so that I get some condensed, quality study time in without sacrificing my whole day. This may change once exam dates near, but for now, I’m enjoying my weekend morning runs, afternoons of studying, and heading out to dinner afterwards. In the end, it’s all about balance

What are your goals for September?

Crockpots, Shower Glass, and Running Into Fun

Last week was a lively one. Classes started, and naturally, a routine has started to take shape. But even though I am finding comfort in settling into a pattern, that doesn’t mean I want each day to predictable. Perhaps I should watch my words though, since the unpredictable did happen earlier in the week…

On Sunday, I ran my first long run in the LA area. I decided to board the Metro Rail and hop on over to Culver City to get in some city AND residential running sans downtown LA traffic. 


It was such a beautiful sunny day out, and riding on the rail gave me the opportunity to take some pictures from a better perspective.



I was able to find my footing once I reached downtown Culver City, which was a short distance away from the stop I was dropped off at. I ran through some residential areas, near the Sony Entertainment Building, and near a park where an outdoor fair was set up.

 Running on the streets of Culver City---love it!

Running on the streets of Culver City—love the emptiness a Sunday morning brings!

Unfortunately, the run wasn’t as spectacular as it should have been, since finding a bathroom was my body’s priority for the first six miles. I eventually did have to cut down my planned 10-miler to 8, after a restroom break at mile 6, since it was starting to reach noon and the heat was picking up.

But I did treat myself to lunch at Native Foods, nacho style.

 I think they serve the lunch portion on a smaller plate cause I still felt a little hungry afterwards :9

I think they serve the lunch portion on a smaller plate cause I still felt a little hungry afterwards :9

Monday was a simple day. I woke up to make a great cup of coffee in one of my favorite mugs (it has a giraffe inside!!) and a Quest bar on the side.

2 - Monday - coffee, quest bars, papaya & pb (1)

After my roommate got up, I rode with her to campus. It was her first day of classes but my classes didn’t start until Tuesday, so I spent the majority of the morning in the library. After she got out of class, I met her at the bookstore and then we made our way back home…where I proceeded to do more reading/answer sample questions that one of my professors assigned “to test our understanding”.


At least I had papaya and peanut butter to snack on—trust me, it’s delicious!


I woke up extra early on Tuesday morning to get a crockpot dinner going, as well as make a comforting cup of coffee before heading out the door for my first day of class. Using just almond milk didn’t work out too great with my coffee press, but at least the grinds that did get in my mug settled to the bottom on their own…for the most part.

3 - Tuesday - almostperfect almond coffee, underground lounge, a pretty good crockpot stew, and accidents happen in the bthrm  (1)

With morning rush hour traffic, the commute time starting from when I left the apartment to when I got to school (using mass transit) was about 2 hours. I made it to class right on time, but felt a little guilty when the professor said that “he expects us to be on time” right after I sat down.

After class, I had lunch with some other students in my program. Since we had two more hours to kill after we finished eating, we found an underground lounge area that was perfect for napping studying ;) . Then it was time for my second class, followed by a long commute home. I surprised myself by going out for an evening run prior to dinner. I felt so drained from the day’s events, but I pounded out 4 miles and felt much more refreshed. It made me feel like I truly earned dinner: 

 I love my crockpot - peppers, squash, tomato, carrots, almond meal, spices, salt, pepper---aka, so good!!

I love my crockpot – peppers, squash, tomato, carrots, almond meal, spices, salt, pepper—aka, so good!!

And while my evening plans included relaxing on the couch and going to bed early to catch up on sleep, the most random thing happened. My roommate was having issues with the shower doors, as they were sliding out of place and starting to bend inwards. We tried to take out the panels and call management, but then one of the glass panels just shattered, and glass went everywhere.

 What a night...

What a night…

Fortunately, I only had a small cut on my calf. My roommate had some cuts on her legs and toes (nothing major), but seeing glass and blood on the floor was definitely a signal to get this cleaned up and this situation taken care of ASAP. The service desk responded pretty quickly, and we got all of the glass pieces vacuumed up by one of the employees. We had to wait about two days to get new glass panels for the shower though…

Wednesday brought about a busy morning, but I was free in the afternoon. I found it to be a particularly hot LA summer day, so I got my drink of choice at Starbucks to cool me off. They also had a club fair going on (for undergrads and grads), so I browsed the booths while helping myself to some freebies. Ah the perks of being a student again…


After my roommate came back from class, we decided to go out for dinner. She had a craving for Chipotle, but Freebirds was nearby so we “settled” for that. She had never been, so I was able to enlighten her on what I learned from a previous visit.

 I also stuck with what I knew best---a hybrid burrito.

I also stuck with what I knew best—a hybrid burrito.

We also were unfairly charged for parking. The lot we parked in apparently gave the first 45 minutes for free if we had validation, but when we tried to leave, there was no place to validate so the lady over the intercom was practically yelling at my roommate to hurry up. My roommate ended up getting charged 9 pricey dollars…the trials and tribulations of owning a car in LA!

Thursday was similar to Tuesday with classes and all. I had another successful crockpot dinner, and was excited to go to sleep and not have to set an alarm for the next morning. 

 Made with clearance vegetables :P

Made with clearance vegetables :P

Friday turned out to be a pretty productive day. I woke up when I felt like it and took my time getting coffee pressed, casually got ready to go out for a morning 4-miler, treated myself to a Quest bar, and picked up a clearance yogurt/quinoa bowl from Fresh and Easy. With almond meal and white chocolate peanut butter thrown in, it tasted like perfection.


My roommate came back to the apartment for lunch, and I hitched a ride with her when she had to go back for one of her lab classes. I hunkered down in one of the libraries, and studied for an upcoming lecture. My roommate ended up getting out early and decided to drive back home for the weekend, and after about four hours in the library, I came home to none other than a crockpot dinner :P . I also decided to get some laundry done, and despite having some issues with the machine, was able to get the load finally washed and dried by yesterday night.

Yesterday turned out to be a fabulous day as well. During my trip last weekend to The Grove, I learned about the Nike Run Club events hosted by the Nike Running store there. When I learned that they were having a promotional series of events starting off with a 10k group run, I immediately knew I had to check it out.

So on Saturday morning, I got myself up at 6:30AM so that I could get to The Grove on time via public transit. I was the first one there (naturally) but I took in the quiet environment around me as more and more people started to show up.

In all honesty, I just expected it to be a very chill group run, but our pacers (who were employees of the store) were enthusiastic about our presence at the event. They even allowed us to run in some Nike Pegasus shoes! And um, of course I indulged in that offer ;) !

 Quiet Grove // Nike Running // Trying on Pegasus

Quiet Grove // Nike Running // Trying on Pegasus// Sprinkles Cupcakes after the run

After group stretching and a team huddle, we were off! Since we started a little after 9AM, the weather was starting to heat up and it was a bit challenging, but I still ended up running about an 8:53/mi pace. Throughout the run, I was alongside one girl and one of the employees (who also blasted some EDM for us—which was awesome)! And the shoes? I literally felt like I was flying, and I felt like such a running pro wearing them. Wishing I could “borrow” them for more runs now…

I also loved seeing the expression of cafe customers and older folk going out for their morning stroll, probably wishing we crazy runners wouldn’t shock them so early on a Saturday morning :P .

Another amazing perk was given to us after the run, in the form of Sprinkles Cupcakes with the Nike Run Club logo on top. I helped myself to two cupcakes after giving back my the store’s shoes :( .

The store is hosting two more events as part of the series (a 15k and a half marathon), and attendees who ran the 10k and who run the future two events get entered in a giveaway to win some pretty neat prizes. Running for free stuff is what I’m all about, so I made sure to mark the dates of those events in my planner ;) 

After my solid  group run, I went over to the Farmer’s Market to collect some produce, then made a couple more stops at some other stores. By the time I got on the bus to return home, my shoulders were more sore than my legs! At least my grocery haul was worth carrying all the way though:

 Staples for the week---excited about the plantains I picked up from the FM and the paleo bread! Also of course my box of Quest bars :)

Staples for the week—excited about the plantains I picked up from the FM and the paleo bread! Also of course my box of Quest bars :)

What was the craziest or most fun thing you did last week?

LA Living, Week 1

If I were to describe my first full week in LA as far as how things went, I think “pretty chill” would be the correct phrase. It’s definitely been a city living experience so far, but Los Angeles has a more relaxed tone to it.

Monday – biding goodbye to the fam / training for my grad program / walking back home from campus after a too long day


The view from up here.

Tuesday – really taking the time to realize where I am and the beginning of my “new life” / afternoon workshops / cooking a healthy weeknight dinner for in apartment kitchen for the first time


(Top to bottom) Realizing I’m living the city life I’ve always wanted to experience ~ a peek of the Metro Rail after walking back after a run ~ keys to the apartment! ~ cooked vegetables with cooked almond meal

Wednesday - No school-related events = time for me / staying @ home / cooking experiments


Coming up with a good almond bread recipe using minimal ingredients (to save $$). This one came out alright, but gotta do more experimenting! Had this with a crockpot-cooked bowl of veggies.

Thursday - going for a run downtown (too many stoplights!!) / meeting my roommate / socializing


Fried mozzarella stick, mac n cheese ball, and white cheese pizza with tomatoes—food from an early evening social. All while (attempting) to play pool.

Friday - morning run along a new route finding my roomie’s classes on campus with her + getting lost in the parking garage / grocery shopping + Friday night spent in with another crockpot dinner while doing some pre-reading for a class


Morning {milk} coffee from my coffee press ~ awkward stoplight while grocery shopping ~ crockpot meal ~ produce haul from Trader Joe’s

On Saturday I woke up and made myself some coffee while contemplating what I should do for the day. Even though I didn’t have anyone to go venture out with me (my roommate went home for the weekend), I decided I should be the city nomad I’ve always wanted to be and just make an adventure of my own! So after a morning of cleaning chores and a workout at my apartment complex’s gym, I put on the perfect sundress, some sandals, and rode the Metro over to Beverly Boulevard.


It took me about an hour to get to my destination, which at first was Vitamin Shoppe (so I could get a box of cookies and cream Quest bars to last me through the academic craziness that starts next week!!), but after doing some exploring on Google Maps and Yelp, I decided to visit the Currywurst that was next door.


Despite the awkward construction happening outside, I thought it had a cute appearance from the sidewalk.

 Awkward construction

Awkward construction

I guess I may have had that “deer-in-the-headlights” look when I walked inside because that’s when the cashier asked if I had visited before. After replying no, he broke down their menu items and I decided to go with a Currywurst made with Vegan Apple Sage sausage.

 He also gave me this card---buy 7 times, get the 8th free. I'm only gonna pass because I've got to use my weekend time to explore other LA eats ;)

He also gave me this card—buy 7 times, get the 8th free. I’m only gonna pass because I’ve got to use my weekend time to explore other LA eats ;)

I chose a seat by the window, and stared at the Deutschland-themed collage on the wall as I waited for my food to arrive. The same cashier who took my order also came over to clean off the table when he saw me reach for a napkin to do it myself. I thought that was pretty nice :)

Inside Currywurst

I was in amazement when my food was ready 15 minutes later.

 Hoagie roll with fries, and vegan currywurst underneath (tomato curry sauce was made spicy!)

Hoagie roll with fries, and vegan currywurst underneath (tomato curry sauce was made spicy!)

I tackled the currywurst first, and then used the fries and bread roll to soak up any leftover sauce. I was also given an extra sauce with my order so I picked BBQ.

Getting to the Details

After finishing my meal entirely, I walked over to Vitamin Shoppe to pick up my week’s worth of Quest Bars, and then walked eastward to check out The Grove about two blocks away.

 Total demolition of food.

Total demolition of food.

I walked by the LA Holocaust Museum entrance, that was also near a park.


So glad I was a pedestrian, and not an at-risk-of-road-rage individual.


The area was full of summer energy, color, and tourists—but the atmosphere was like that of an outdoor carnival.


Walking through the Farmer’s Market made me wish I had not bought groceries the day before…these are lessons you learn along the way!


But I didn’t worry about it too much since I had a feeling I would be visiting this place more than a couple of times ;)

After checking out the Whole Foods across the way to get some change for bus fare, I headed back home in the late afternoon.


Saturday night was again spent indoors, since I had to make sure I didn’t get behind on my pre-readings for my first lecture next week! But at least there was an outdoor concert nearby to keep my ears occupied, and it was fun jammin’ to some tunes from my balcony :P

Hopefully LA stays this good, cause I’m lovin’ it so far.

Currywurst US on Urbanspoon

Moving In

So Saturday was move out day for me, but move in day for my sister. So along with my stuff packed in my Dad’s car, we packed our other car with all of her stuff. We figured that she would get more use out of the car at her school than with me and the city…I don’t exactly want to worry about draining car expenses right now!


My sister drove all the way for three hours to her campus. I was a very proud big sis of her accomplishment—seeing as she avoided highway driving at all costs up until recently :P . After checking her in, we helped haul her things into this cozy little suite.


It was definitely a HUGE step up from her living arrangements last year: a crowded, co-ed floor with an always-messy bathroom (thanks to girls who shed like crazy). This year, she has her own room, but shares a bathroom with two other girls who each have their own room as well. She was mostly excited about the closet space however ;) . The sweetness of suites!

We made several trips with a cart back-and-forth to the car, and it was incredibly hot outside. We spent about four hours unloading and unpacking her things, while two of her friends stopped by to say hello. My tummy was rumbling after a while, and I hinted at the fact that a trip to Sprouts was necessary…even if we were going out for dinner with family friends two hours later.

Fortunately, my Dad and sis are fans of Sprouts (although probably not as much as me :P ), and we all found something to munch on. Saturday evening must have been samples prime-time, cause there was an employee manning a station with four different samples. There were key lime yogurt pretzels, gluten-free chocolate cookies, nuts, and my sister’s favorite—bruschetta topped with tapenade.

I found the perfect snack—the last flavor I have yet to try of Artic Zero: Orange Cream. It tasted like a creamy orange popsicle, but I did find myself get bored with the pint 3/4 of the way in. I must admit that it did help cool me off though!

Artic Zero Orange Cream

We checked into a nearby hotel overnight, and brought a bunch of my stuff into the room just to be safe. After freshening up/resting for an hour or so, we drove off to meet up with some family friends for dinner. They are really a sweet bunch of people, and they really helped out my sister her first year away from home. Getting together with them was one of the best things we decided to do that day :)

The next morning, we had a slow-ish start with light breakfast at the hotel. We left my sister’s collegetown around 9am, and proceeded down the highway for the next three hours towards LA. Again, the weather was a-blazin’, and it was hard to nap through the heat/bumpiness of driving through the hills/sudden stops due to traffic (yes—even on a Sunday). 

We arrived after 12pm, and after I went through the check-in process and paid my first month’s rent ( :( ), I got my keys and was able to finally move-in! I had my sister on steaming duty, since pretty much all of my clothes were wrinkled from being vacuum-packed in a space bag. My Dad helped organize the kitchen and figure out the TV system. Since the apartment came furnished, I only had to worry about putting my personal belongings in their proper place. 

One of the reasons my sister was excited about coming down to help me move, rather than staying in her dorm, was so that she could satisfy her going two-year-strong craving for Native Foods. Since we were all extremely exhausted, we called for a break around 4pm and decided to have our dinner early so we could also get some grocery shopping done and then head back to unpack some more. 

I wanted to visit the Native Foods in Westwood since I already crossed the Culver and Santa M. locations off my list (but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop by those locations again ;) ).


We were to hungry to park in the garage, and so it was fortunate we found street parking right in front. I immediately fell in love with the interior and the fact that they had upstairs seating. Unfortunately, it was closed off for the evening.

ok is ok

After ordering, my sis and I went to use the restroom to wash up—and to get some pictures of the elephants on the wall. I remember the reason why elephants were all over the walls from my visit to the Culver City location.

elephants in the bathroom

We found some seating in the middle of the restaurant at a long wooden table. Even though we were ravenous, the food came out to us pretty quickly—perhaps because we beat the dinner rush hour by having ours early?


These were my Dad’s Baja Blackened Tacos. I love how there is a generous dollop of avocado on top of BOTH tacos:


Two grilled soft corn tortillas stuffed with blackened Native Tempeh, creamy chipotle surfer sauce, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage and guacamole. Hang ten with your tongue! He also got the famous sweet potato fries ;) .

My sister’s Super Italian Meatball Sub looked quite appetzing—especially the bread.


Native Sausage Seitan meatballs, marinara sauce, caramelized onions, roasted sweet peppers, pumpkin seed pesto, ranch dressing and Native Parmesan on a warm grilled baguette.

I had one of their newer items, the French Market Muffaletta. I was sort of hoping the bun would be wide and round like a traditional NOLA muffaletta, but that wasn’t the case.


Our house-made Native Proteins (corned “beef”, pepper “steak”, and smoked “bacon” with spicy vegetable relish.

Still tasted great and hit the spot though. Also appreciated the refreshing crunch of the cucumber pickle on the side.

After our early dinner, we hit up the City Target and a Sprouts Market that were both nearby for some additional apartment necessities and a mini grocery haul to get me started. Then the three of us drove back to the apartment and got back to our “stations”. I had a lot of energy and would have kept unpacking past midnight, but we did have to call it a night around 11am because I had a mandatory training the next morning…and my Dad and sis had to head back on their (not-so-merry-for-me) ways.

I thought the morning of their departure would leave me seriously homesick, but actually the parting was not that bad. Of course I miss them, but I guess that’s what Skype/texting/talking on the phone is for. Plus, Monday’s events—and actually the rest of the week—kept me quite busy, and so I really had no time to sit and let my thoughts simmer.

So how busy was I during my first full week in LA? That’s something I’ll save for the next post…

Native Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

Moving Out

Wow…it’s really already Wednesday?! The past week and a half has been CRAZY busy and I’m surprised I’m already half way through my first week living on my own. Things aren’t calming down anytime soon though, and so I thought I would make it easier for myself by breaking down my moving process over a couple posts.

My last Sunday at home was a calm one. It was unknowingly my last day at the local gym I had been frequenting for ~3 years, and overall it just felt like a bittersweet day. My Dad and sis had the same feeling, and so we decided froyo was the perfect cure. Sweet mixed with bittersweet against the backdrop of a Sunday sunset…


Last cup of froyo with fam for a while…

Monday was spent packing and getting some last minute errands done before having to leave again for another orientation. This time my Dad and I drove down to LA the day before, and stayed/had dinner in the Santa Clarita area. A simple soup/salad/sandwich place sounded appetizing, and so I was glad when we stumbled upon Urbane Cafe.

Urbane Cafe Storefront-1

Inside, the cafe was vacant, but the look reminded me of a pizzeria with brick walls and brick ovens.



But after ordering, we opted to sit outside in the fresh sunshine—to get our daily dose of Vitamin D and to stretch our tight legs from being squeezed in a car too long.



I kept it simple with the Vegetable Medley Soup, along with a side of their trademark foccacia (which was warm, chewy, and overall so flavorful).


Dad had the grilled portabello sandwich made with the same foccacia bread, along with a side salad with orange wedges.


After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel. The next day was my second orientation, which took place until early afternoon. I finished off some other errands that needed to be done while on campus, and then left back for “home” in the late afternoon. The rest of the week was spent making several trips to Wal-Mart, crossing things off my to-do/to-get list, and getting in some quality runs around my quiet and peaceful neighboorhood. While the thought of city runs is exciting, I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave home without some solid runs recorded in my Garmin :D .

I moved out on Saturday morningto be continued ;) !

Urbane Cafe on Urbanspoon

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.


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



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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.



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

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