Better Than Cheesecake: 2 Years Later

Better Than Cheesecake: 2 Years Later

Disclaimer: I was provided samples for review by ANSI Nutrition. All opinions are my own.

It’s hard to believe that a little over two years ago, I tried these bars for the very first time.

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The newest line-up of ANSI Nutrition Gourmet Cheesecake Bars!

Well, not the bars you see pictured above, but rather the original ANSI Gourmet Cheesecake Protein Bar flavors that are no longer produced. After looking back at my old review, I realize that I paid most of my attention to the soft, doughy texture of these bars.

But things have changed over the past 2+ years. I was contacted by the company to do a review of their new flavors, since they had a major revamp since I last tried them!

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Still soft and chewy!

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor is no longer in production, but I found my new favorite to be Chocolate Truffle.

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Chocolate Truffle

The bars, while still having a soft, doughy texture, now have a coated chocolate layer on the bottom.

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Now with a chocolate coating layer on the bottom!

This addition I feel adds more character to the bar…and also makes for a good oatmeal topper since the chocolate is quick to melt!

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Oatmeal + Chocolate Truffle Bar ♥

The Chocolate Peanut Butter was a satisfactory flavor in my opinion.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter

It could have been an even better flavor if I didn’t see this oozing out.

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Surprise?

I’m thinking it was just oil condensation since the wrapper was sticky as well. The ingredients list was all either plant/milk-based, so this was more of an aesthetic flaw than a taste one.

My least favorite flavor was Raspberry Truffle. I wouldn’t mind if they brought back the Strawberry Supreme Cheesecake.

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Raspberry Truffle

The raspberry flavor had a somewhat bitter flavor, and overall with the chocolate coating actually tasted quite bland.

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Raspberry Truffle

I think it’s safe to say that Chocolate Truffle was a winner of a flavor, but Chocolate Peanut Butter and Raspberry Truffle were not the best of improvements. I think bringing back Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the Strawberry Supreme flavors, while keeping the Chocolate Truffle flavor, would be a trio of flavors worth having around!

The 100 Degrees Solution

The 100 Degrees Solution

Over the weekend, temperatures reached record highs, and it was extremely hot! It made no sense to walk outside, but did I consider that? Obviously not…

I wouldn't have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!
I wouldn’t have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!

But I don’t regret that decision too much because I finally tried an acai bowl! At Kreation Organic, in the “fancy” Beverly Hills to be exact 😉

I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!
I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!

I stepped in and wasn’t sure where to look because the walls were covered and everything was calling my attention! I did spot the “cacao” Amazebowl on their wall menu though, and decided that sounded delicious enough to order. In the meantime, I sampled their kale chips…

Or should I say, chip??
Or should I say, chip??

My bowl came out in a compostable bowl, and I was ready to rip the plastic bowl off! Looking at this meal in front of me, I realized that this is probably the only way I will be able to get my fruit intake up (and eat bananas) !!

The Cacao Amazebowl - cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.
The Cacao Amazebowl – cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.

The bee pollen sprinkling was so eye-catching.

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Oooh bee pollen….

The following day, my acai/smoothie bowl craving was still going strong! Sunday was immensely hot, and so that craving was very much justified. Since I was on my way to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, I stopped inside Bon Bon Berry and tried the Aloha Bowl (as much as I did want to try the chocolate flavor, I decided to go a different route to change the flavors I try)!

Strip mall smoothie bowls...anything to cool off on a hot day!
Strip mall smoothie bowls…anything to cool off on a hot day!

Since absolutely no one was walking outside, I wasn’t surprised that no one was indoors either. But at least it was at least 30 degrees cooler inside (or at least it felt like it)! I ordered the bowl at the counter, found a seat near the far wall, and waited for my bowl to come.

Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!
Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!

Unlike the bowl from the day before, the Aloha bowl I had before me was covered in coconut shreds and more fruity in flavor, perhaps due to the mango and banana combo. It still had granola and honey swirled in.

Aloha Bowl!
Aloha Bowl!

Obviously not as fancy as the Kreation Organic bowl, but it was just as satisfying. The customer service was great too, and it seemed like they really took care in fulfilling the order and making sure the bowl was cold, refreshing, and full of flavor!

You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!
You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!

Are you a fan of acai/smoothie bowls?

Kreation Organic Juicery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Last weekend, a friend from my first year cohort (who I had not seen in almost a year) sent me a text asking if I was doing anything Saturday evening…it was her birthday, and she wanted to celebrate with her friends at Street Food Cinema in Griffith Park. I thought it would be a fun thing to join in on, since I had been meaning to catch up with her for several months! Plus, it would be my first time going to an outdoor movie event, and this one would be showing Monster’s Inc.

Prior to the evening’s festivities, I had work in lab (of course) throughout Friday and the first part of Saturday. When I was in need of a pick-me-up snack on both days, bars from BPI Sports came to the rescue. I found these “BEST” bars recently stocked at the campus bookstore, and tried the S’mores flavor first.

It’s not been getting much love on social media, but I honestly really liked this flavor! I felt like the bar really lived up to it’s name, with chocolate chunks—and even what seemed like cookie or graham cracker pieces throughout—since the bar had a noteworthy crunch to it at some bites!

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BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – S’mores

I had to try the Cookies and Cream & Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors as well, but these flavors were satisfactory in comparison to the S’mores flavor. Cookies and Cream had a decent amount of crunch to it like S’mores, but the CPB flavor was dull, and seemed to me like a flavorless piece of “chocolate jerky”. It even looks like jerky too (right-bottom corner).

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BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Peanut Butter

I headed out to Griffith Park from downtown, since I had to do some errands there in the afternoon after lab. From there, I took a bus (with waiting at the bus stop + total transit time = ~2 hours, grrr…) and arrived close to 6pm where the theater screen was set up on the lawn withing Griffith Park.

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The lawn was already packed with people by the time I got there!

After finding my friend, giving her a giant hug, and catching up with her for a few minutes. I then walked over to where the food trucks were line up (the reason this event was called “Street FOOD Cinema” 😉

SAYfish
Say Fish Taco Truck

Out of all the food trucks available, funny thing was I found a vegetarian option at a fish taco truck, haha!

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(Veggie) Bowl

This bowl was packed with everything imaginable veggie-wise. And there was no escaping that generous scoop of guacamole! With my bowl in hand, I went back to where my friend set up camp, and sat with another one of my friend’s who had joined while I was off finding food. After catching up and eating with eachother, we expanded our circle as more people arrived. Since the movie didn’t start until 8pm and we had an hour or so until then, we decided to play a game of Phase 10, which is like Rummy and Uno apparently (I’m one of those people who learns how to play a card game when asked, and then promptly forgets how to play later 😛 ).

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Grilled veggies, dill cream, black beans, cauliflower rice, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, corn tortilla strips, and LOTSA LOTSA GUACCCC

When the movie started at 8pm, we all settled in with our own blankets and relaxed under the dark, cloudy sky as we watched the movie play on the giant screen in front of us. When the movie ended around 10pm, I was glad one of my friends offered to drop me off at home since otherwise I would have had to call for (and pay for…) an Uber!

The next day, I decided to give myself a break from doing a long run since I had some lingering soreness in my legs from Friday. It felt so good to sleep in, and later in the afternoon, my roommate offered to drive us to the new 365 by Whole Foods store that recently opened in Silver Lake!

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The new 365 store and by CHLOE.

Before shopping, we ate of course! At by CHLOE :) .

small space
So crowded inside though!

The space was adorable, it was just extremely packed, and my roommate and I were lucky to find a space to sit down! My meal choice was 100% influenced by the first dish I saw someone eating while I was standing in line. I didn’t have to worry if it was vegetarian, because everything on the menu here was vegan!

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Cute graphics!

^ Even the ketchup was beet ketchup.

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With my bowl…I got a free juice?!

I got the Quinoa Taco Salad which was the dish I saw someone eating while standing in line. With my order, I ended up getting a free juice to my surprise. It was ginger-based flavor that I had later at home, which I thoroughly enjoyed while looking over some data for work 😉

quinoa taco salad
Quinoa Taco Salad…so fresh, cold, and delicious!

Back to this salad though…it took forever to come out, but at least everything was presented and placed nicely. Crispy tortilla chips to one side, quinoa in the middle, and some soy chorizo crumbles in the far top corner.

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Grocery shopping!

My roommate got a portabello sandwich that came in a hot dog bun, which she found to be a choice well-made. After eating up, we walked right into the store, collected the items we had in our mental grocery lists, and were out within 40 minutes (most of that time was spent in line!).

Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of the store, but I wouldn’t mind paying another visit to by CHLOE again! And if I’m ever in New York City again, I have to make sure I check out the original location 😉

Are you good at card games?

My First Degusta Box

My First Degusta Box

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

Two weekends ago, I surprised my roommate by dropping a huge box on the floor of our apartment with a loud THUD! I had carried this box for ten minutes straight, as it made its was from apartment mail center to elevator to apartment door. But it was a box worth having an extra arm workout 😉

My hefty Degustabx filled with lots of goodies! The box was heavy and bulky, but I can't complain too much because it had full-size bottles and cartons of tasty products!
My hefty Degustabx filled with lots of goodies! The box was heavy and bulky, but I can’t complain too much because it had full-size bottles and cartons of tasty products!

Degustabox is a monthly box subscription that is currently active in five European countries and is now starting up in the United States! Each box is packed with food products featuring all sorts of brands, and if the regular monthly boxes are like anything the box I received, then you will be getting a workout carrying it back to your apartment/house from the mailbox.

Degustabox also offers a points system through friend referrals and completing surveys about products that come in the box. There are many ways to collect points in order to get to 100 points to redeem for a free box 😀 . I had to lay out all of my products in one picture because I couldn’t believe the amount and variety I had before me…

Degustabox Products for June
Degustabox Products for June

The featured product of the month was Topo Chico, sparkling mineral water straight from Mexico!!

Topo Chico Mineral Water
Topo Chico Mineral Water

I tried both Topo Chico bottles on my long run day, one right after and one later in the evening. I had the lemon-flavored one right after my run and it felt SO refreshing! If you are someone that needs an incentive to drink water because it’s “too boring”, carbonated water is the way to go. Sure, you may be burping for a while afterwards, but a sip from each of these bottles was a party in the mouth!

Jif Cinnamon Peanut Butter Spread
Jif Cinnamon Peanut Butter Spread

The item in the box that I was most excited to try was the Jif Cinnamon peanut butter spread. Nut butters and spreads (especially new brands and flavors) always make me go weak at the knees, and this jar of cinnamon-y wonder was no exception. I had little more than a dollop of it with a Fage Crossover yogurt I’ve been meaning to try, which featured a coconut curry yogurt and cashew topping. Everything together, mixed in, was just…ahhh. I probably would have been able to enjoy it more if it was a post-run treat versus a way to get in some pre-run fuel. It was just that good!

Vita Coco Coconut Oil
Vita Coco Coconut Oil

I received the coconut oil by Vita Coco in three small sachets. My mom used to rub it on my scalp and in my hair when I was younger, and while I hated the smell and going to school with slicked hair, I truly think that’s what’s helped my hair remain so thick. I don’t condition it like that anymore, but having these sachets in hand reminded me of those times, so I actually rubbed up my hair with one of them before showering. It also helped that I got a haircut, so one sachet was plenty :) . I’m not sure how big of a difference it made, but at least it made the shampoo I used easier to lather, allowing me to used less of the shampoo! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown fond of the coconut oil smell, so that didn’t bother me as it lingered in my hair into the next day.

Wise Popcorn
Wise Popcorn

The Wise popcorn bags I received came in lightly salted and Cinnabon flavors. I made my usual weeknight after-dinner snack of protein powder mixed with yogurt (proyo), and topped the bowl with popcorn. In this bowl, I topped it with the Cinnabon flavor and snacked on the lightly salted flavor on the side. The Cinnabon flavor was not very strong to my disappointment, and the popcorn of both flavors tasted somewhat stale (as in they didn’t have a robust crunch to them).

Another fun topping item included in the box were packages of Cranberry Almond Cashew Trail Mix and Cashew Halves and Pieces from Orchard Valley. I was a fan of the trail mix since the cranberries tasted especially sweet and the almonds were salty and crunchy. The cashews were flavorful too, but the single note grew boring after the first two spoonfuls.

Orchard Valley Nut Packs
Orchard Valley Nut Packs

One versatile product I received was a carton of Elmhurst Harvest’s walnut milk! I have yet to try walnut milk…yes to almond and cashew, but walnut was a new one to me! Even though it was unsweetened, it helped make a rockin’ snack:

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Elmhurst Harvest milk-alternative

Into this cup went:
– 4 oz. of Elmhurst Harvest’s walnut milk
– two scoops (~56g) of chocolate protein powder
– a little over two tablespoons of cashew butter

I also added a little extra water to completely dissolve the powder, but the walnut milk certainly help bind things together and also maintain a nutty flavor in this protein smoothie of sorts 😛

I didn’t get two taste these two dressings/sauces in time for this post, but I could at least comment on the packaging!

Brianna's Home Style Italian Vinaigrette & Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade
Brianna’s Home Style Italian Vinaigrette & Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade

I was actually pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of Brianna’s dressing in my box, seeing that it costs ~$5 a bottle at Whole Foods! I’ve been having salad packs mixed with tofu and some kind of sauce/marinade/dressing for my weekday lunches lately, so I know I will make great use out of this once I open it. I’ll just have to remember to keep this in the refrigerator once I do!!

Bottles from the side.
Bottles from the side.

The Soy Yay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce also looks appetizing. This bottle is packed with sesame seeds (at least from what I can tell looking at the neck of the bottle), and it probably fetches its spiciness from the ginger puree and dried ginger mixed in. I know I will go through this bottle quickly when it makes its initial appearance one of these days in my weekday lunch salads.

Even though I wasn’t sick (thankfully) this week or the week before, I had to give the Honees honey menthol cough drops a try. Each lozenge has liquid honey on the inside, and while the outer layer reminded my of the Halls lozenges I used to have long ago, the flavor was more refreshing due to the liquid honey on the inside infused with menthol. 

HONEES cough drops
HONEES cough drops

One product I will unfortunately be unable to try are the Haribo SOUR Gold-Bear gummies. If only they didn’t have gelatin! But I do plan on bringing them into lab since we will be having a potluck this week, and I’m sure my (mostly) European lab-mates will enjoy them.

You can learn more about Degustabox on their website, Facebook or follow @Degustabox on Twitter/Instagram!

Which of these products would you be eager to try?

ALDI Product Finds Review

ALDI Product Finds Review

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by ALDI as part of Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

After hauling home a massive collection of ALDI goods almost two weeks ago, and as I stacked everything atop my living room table to get a good scope of my haul, I could not believe what I had come out with that was valued at $101.78! My table was overflowing with fresh vegetables, colorful packaging, and delectable-looking snacks/desserts that I could not wait to dig into!

Like I said in my previous post, ALDI does offer some name-brand items, but approximately 90% of the products sold at ALDI are ALDI-exclusive brands, and they are tested frequently to ensure quality. Some of my most favorite products from this haul are from the in-store SimplyNature® brand, which also includes items that are certified to be organic by the USDA and free of GMO ingredients, and one of the snacks I purchased that I truly enjoyed is part of the in-store gluten-free specialty brand, liveGfree®.

First step in making a simple, easy-to-prep dinner: a bag of steam-able veggies.
First step in making a simple, easy-to-prep dinner: a bag of steam-able veggies.

The first thing I put together since I was hungry after a long day of shopping was a simple dinner using Mann’s Family Favorites Vegetable Medley steam pack, with a Boca Flame Grilled Meatless Burger, and swirls of Burman’s  Sriracha Mustard draped over everything.

Easy peasy dinner!
Easy peasy dinner!

This mustard became one of my favorite purchases right off the bat! It’s packed with flavor, so you don’t need to add too much, but I love spicy food so I went crazy with swirling this all over my dinner!

This mustard is so spicy and flavorful!
This mustard is so spicy and flavorful!

I even had a similar dinner the next night, since I stayed in the apartment the entirety of Memorial Day, resting up from traveling the week before.

A similar dinner the next night.
A similar dinner the next night.

Each mouthful was so flavorful, and it was not too filling of a dinner so I could have just enough room for dessert…

The makings for a 'mazin' dessert.
The makings for a ‘mazin’ dessert.

I love my weekend ice cream/dairy-alternative pint indulgences, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a pint of Double Rainbow Vanilla Bean Soy Cream at ALDI! I topped the pint with Berryhill Hazelnut Spread…and now as I write about it, I wish I had the same exact dessert right next to me, right now!

Yes, this was delicious and so much more...
Yes, this was delicious and so much more…

The pint was smooth, creamy, and had a soft vanilla flavor. It didn’t have a heaviness to it like ice cream would, but it was pretty much identical in taste to any vanilla ice cream pint out there! The Berryhill Hazelnut Spread was thick and had a robust chocolate flavor, even hardening over the pint like a chocolate shell!

My other ALDI finds made for great ingredients to utilize in breakfast and lunch dishes! One of my favorite yogurts that I picked up was the Fit & Active® Yogurt in Boston Cream Pie flavor. The yogurt itself has a liquid consistency, but the flavor matches that of a cream pie. It’s as if someone blended the filling of a Boston Cream Pie to the point it turned into a liquid smoothie, and poured it into a cup. I topped mine with some of Peanut Delight Creamy Peanut Butter I picked up as well, and had together had this before a morning run!

Yogurt and PB!
Yogurt and PB!

With the canister of Milville Steel-Cut oats I purchased, I made a microwaveable oat cake that I then added dollops of Peanut Delight Creamy Peanut Butter to. Can you even see the cake? 😛

An oat cake with tonnnnns of creamy PB!
An oat cake with tonnnnns of creamy PB!

Some of the items I purchased were so irresistible, that eating them straight out of the jar/bag was frankly, quite mandatory! SimplyNature® Creamy Cashew Butter is hands-down one of the best nut butters I’ve ever had. It does have a saltier odor and taste to it compared to the other nut butters I purchased, but that did not stop me from slathering it over oatmeal bowls and licking it straight off the spoon.

Creamy cashew butter...perfect just straight off the spoon!
Creamy cashew butter…perfect just straight off the spoon!

These liveGfree® Gluten Free Yogurt Dipped Pretzels also made for some tempting snacking. I did add it to a yogurt bowl one evening, but eating them out of the bag obviously makes the most sense. The coating isn’t too light or chunky, and the pretzels still have a sturdy crunch to them, even with the yogurt coating. I also saw these in chocolate flavor as well, but I’ve always preferred vanilla and strawberry yogurt-covered pretzels/raisins/almonds for some reason!

liveGfree yogurt pretzels...get some!!
liveGfree® Gluten Free Yogurt Dipped Pretzels…get some!!

During the work week, I utilized this giant jar of Deutsche Küche German Style Sauerkraut in salads, mixed with beans, and even as a side with lentil soup.

Sauerkraut!!
Deutsche Küche German Style Sauerkraut!!

Since I bought a bunch of salad packs from the produce aisle, I was coming into lab everyday that week with a humongous salad mixed with Deutsche Küche German Style Sauerkraut or Tuscan Garden Artichokes, Southern Grove Deluxe Oven Roasted Almonds, a Boca Flame Grilled Meatless Burger, and Burman’s  Sriracha Mustard. After mixing well and carefully plating them on paper plates available in our kitchen area at work, this salad fueled me through many of that week’s lunch periods, since I had so much work to do…

When you have to work during your lunch, your marinated artichokes don't fit your plate so you need a cup, and all the almonds you mixed in ended up at the bottom of the plate!
When you have to work during your lunch, your marinated artichokes don’t fit your plate so you need a cup, and all the almonds you mixed in ended up at the bottom of the plate!

I even had to put part of my lunch in a pour-over cup because my salad was THAT huge. You can’t even see the almonds cause they are at the bottom of that giant heap of greens! Everything was so gratifying though!

Of course, I had to buy a substantial amount of produce to create my easy-to-prepare crockpot dinners for weeknights after long days in lab! One night I cut up cabbage, all of my brown mushrooms, and an onion for a flavorful and humble-looking bowl of cooked veggie goodness. I also had this on a day I felt particularly exhausted so it really hit the spot.

A tasty (if not beautiful) crockpot dinner! Cabbage, mushrooms, and onions...
A tasty (if not beautiful) crockpot dinner! Cabbage, mushrooms, and onions…

Even if it means bring a suitcase or a handful of reusable bags, the trip to ALDI is definitely worth it! Your dollar really goes a long way, and you definitely walk out feeling like a winner with what you purchase.

You can find out more about ALDI via the website, or stay updated about openings through their Facebook page!

Which of these products have you tried, or would you like to try?

Seattle Adventures – Part 4

Seattle Adventures – Part 4

Our last full day in Seattle began with yet another bus ride to Ravenna, where we were the previous day drinking tea. This time though, we had brunch at a hipster cafe, and one of my favorite places we ate during the whole trip: Wayward Cafe!

Wayward Cafe
Wayward Cafe

The clientele, employees, and restaurant space all had a hipster vibe going on, so obviously my sis, friend, and I felt out of place but this did not chase us from getting our share of comforting vegan food!

Countertop eating
Countertop eating

We sat at the counter, so in a way, we were somewhat secluded from the rest of the diners. It didn’t matter though, because we were all quite hungry and didn’t mind so much that the view in front of us was a mix of kitchen gear and foggy windows showcasing a highway.

Coffee :)
Coffee :)

We each started off with coffee/tea, and you know I took those extra stevia packets for the road 😉

Country Bumpkin!
Country Bumpkin!

For my dish, I was all for the Country Bumpkin. I finally got my biscuits and gravy craving taken care of on this trip!

Friend's dishes
Friend’s dishes

My sis got the Dixie Fried with a circular scone look-alike biscuit, and my friend got a gorgeous enchilada (I think) type dish smothered in sauce and aligned next to seasoned cubed potatoes.

Our grand-in-flavor brunch was also easy on the wallet, and we were able to catch a bus to downtown feeling renewed. On the way there, we rode alongside not one, but TWO adorable animals! The first was a cat “with an eating disorder” headed to the vet. He was a golden, obese tabby who had the most precious meow. The next was this adorable groomed pomeranian who obediently sat on his/her owner’s lap all the way to downtown! I have yet to see an animal board a bus here in LA so I was probably a little too excited upon observing these animals boarding the bus, haha!

LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE POM OHHHH!
LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE POM OHHHH!

Once we were in downtown (yet again), we actually took the time to go inside Pike’s Place Market (just like many other tourists), walk around, get bored, and then walked further down, ending up at the gum wall!

The infamous gum wall!
The infamous gum wall!

After taking a couple pictures with the wall in the background, doing our best to not LEAN against the wall, we walked back towards our starting point, and then made our way towards the movies to watch the latest Alice movie, since we couldn’t watch it the day before due to my sister not feeling well, and my friend was dying to see it. I never was a fan of the Disney Alice movies (I guess I liked the animated one?), so I found myself getting restless at some parts, but I was glad that watching the movie made my friend happy :)

After the movies, we obviously had dinner 😛 . And how could we pass by a Veggie Grill and not go in?

Veggie Grill, Downtown Seattle
Veggie Grill, Downtown Seattle

We all ended up ordering hearty meals like burgers, mac and cheese, and even shared my sis’s favorite chocolate pudding from when she tried it the first time we visited a VG.

Friends eat right.
Friends eat right.
Oh man, that pudding.
Oh man, that pudding.

I got the Buffalo Bomber, oozing with spicy BBQ sauce and a side of coleslaw.

How did I not have this before?
How did I not have this before?

Having warm meals in a restaurant with an orange hue made us feel so cozy with the weather starting to get cold and rainy outside.

Even though it looks the same, this VG seemed cozier than the others.
Even though it looks the same, this VG seemed cozier than the others.

After dinner, we just wanted to get back to the Airbnb and relax for our last night in Seattle. I actually ended up staying up until midnight, which is something I rarely do, but I had the energy to do so, and I wanted to really enjoy the time I had with my sister and friend because those chances are so few nowadays.

After a long night’s rest, I woke up the next morning, and got everything packed. After getting my sis and friend to do the same, we headed out to the Fremont District for one last adventure before flying out of the glorious PNW.

Welcome to Theo's Chocolates!
Welcome to Theo’s Chocolates!

Our destination was a chocolate tour at Theo’s Chocolates!

Welcome to Theo's Chocolates!
Welcome to Theo’s Chocolates!

The cost of the tour was only $10, but there were samples galore and learning about the process of making fair-trade and organic chocolate was quite interesting.

Theo Chocolates Factory Tour - waiting room
Theo Chocolates Factory Tour – waiting room

After putting on hairnets, we were guided into a small green room with benches where our guide explained to us the story of how the cacao plant becomes what we know as chocolate.

Theo Chocolates Factory Tour - lecturin'
Theo Chocolates Factory Tour – lecturin’

During her talk, she passes around samples, and I fell in love with a flavor speckled with raspberry.

Hello, raspberry.
Hello, raspberry.

After the short lecture, we were taken inside the factory, where we saw the vats and got to sample some cacao nibs: the mild and bitter ones! My sis and friend ended up buying a bag of the mild cacao nibs from the gift shop after the tour.

Inside the factory
Inside the factory

Once we made a rotation through the actual factory, we were lead into the kitchen, a.k.a. the best room on the tour. In this room, we were given the opportunity to sample truffles, limited edition chocolate flavors, and other intriguing sweet (and savory!) chocolate items. And immediately after that, we were given coupons and directed straight into the gift shop…where there were even MORE samples.

Theo Chocolates Factory Tour - store!
Theo Chocolates Factory Tour – store!

I literally made laps around the store sampling all the chocolate, even finding myself at one point just pacing near the main wall where the samples for the original chocolate flavors were. When my friend and sis were done picking out their cacao nibs and truffles, I even took some store samples for the road! I guess I didn’t completely overdose on sugar, because I still had some room in me for a small lunch! Flying Apron was just along the way, so we decided to sit down there and munch on something savory.

Flying Apron
Flying Apron

I was able to hit it right with my order of red lentil soup with a slice of their bread of the day (which I believe was multigrain).

They have shirts?
They have shirts?

My friend and sis however, weren’t so lucky. They shared three dishes among the two of them, a pesto salad, mac and cheez (with lots of spinach apparently), and a BBQ tofu pocket, all of which were doughy, and lacked flavor to the point where it tasted completely bland. I had to taste them myself just to believe it, and my sis and friend were absolutely right.

Flying Apron - the good, bad, and ugly
Flying Apron – the good, bad, and ugly

If I wasn’t sweetened out by all the chocolate I had earlier, maybe I could have tried a sweet baked good and could have given the chance for Flying Apron to redeem itself. Oh well, I was happy with my humble bowl of soup.

Maybe it would have been different with the sweets...
Maybe it would have been different with the sweets…

We spent another hour strolling around the Fremont district, and then took the bus back to our Airbnb in order to get our luggage and call for an Uber. My sis and friend were sharing a second suitcase filled with books from their Amazon Books adventure, so it was necessary.

It was hard to bid goodbye to them at the airport, since I was flying back separately to LA and the both of them were flying back to Nor Cal together.

Bye, Seattle. It's been fun :)
Bye, Seattle. It’s been fun :)

Overall, I was so happy that the trip happened at the time that it did. Right now I’m already wrapped up again in my work but prior to my vacation, I was running on fumes and felt so burnt out from my work! There’s no doubt that I’ll probably need another week off (at least) by August rolls around, but until then, I think I feel refreshed enough to continue being my normal busy self. The fact that summer is just beginning kind of helps too 😉

Have you been on a food factory tour before?

Wayward Vegan Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

When it comes to protein powder, I prefer using it as a thickener for yogurts and for making smoothie bowls since I am unfortunately not the owner of a fancy blender or Nutribullet. Of course there are so many other ways to incorporate and utilize protein powder, but I stick with what I know best most of the time 😉

bobs red mill (3)
FREE protein powder, and a shaker bottle :)

However, I was nudged to try to find other ways to use protein powder when I was sent a sample kit of Bob’s Red Mill protein powders. Since they came in flavors like chai, vanilla, chocolate, and unsweetened protein fiber, the variety was a reason in itself to experiment.

bobs red mill (2)
Protein Fiber Oat Cake with Hershey’e Kisses

The furthest I went with experimentation was using the unsweetened protein fiber to make a warm, dough-y cake topped with Hershey’s Kisses. All that went into this bowl was one packet (a typical serving size scoop), a packet of maple and brown sugar oatmeal, and some water and almond milk. It didn’t have any flavor on its own (not even the oatmeal helped surprisingly), but with the Hershey’s kisses I was able to get some spreadable chocolate distribution going. Looking back however, I think this fiber could easily have been used to make a microwaveable pizza crust, and even sturdier oven-baked pizza crust.

bobs red mill (1)
Chocolate Protein Powder

For the rest of the powders though…they were destined to be a part of pro-yo creations. I also tried them mixed with just water to see how the flavors held up on their own.

bobs red mill (4)
Chai Protein Powder Packet

Out of chocolate and chai, chai had the best flavor profile, and even smelled like a warm tea blend upon opening the packet.

bobs red mill (5)
Chai Protein Powder

The vanilla flavor was the only flavor I received in a standard size bag, and I literally went through it in about a week!

bobs
Vanilla Protein “Smoothie” Bowl with PB!!!

I was adding it to oatmeal, in addition to yogurts, and even used it to make a smoothie bowl with almond milk, and topped with a very liquid serving of peanut butter (more like peanut juice?). You can even see the chia and flax seeds swimming around!

Do you find protein powder to be a necessary staple or just another product pushed by the fitness industry?

 

 

Seattle Adventures – Part 3

Seattle Adventures – Part 3

Our second full day in Seattle was a busy, fulfilling, and even almost scary!

My friend is a huge Alice in Wonderland/Victorian period fan, and so when we were figuring out what we all wanted to do in Seattle, her day included all things tea and Alice.

So that morning, we got into our “fancier” clothes and took the bus out again to the University District area. It was a cloudy day outside and seemed like it would rain any minute.

We had reservations for 11am high tea at Queen Mary’s Tea Room, and we had twenty minutes to walk to the tea room from the bus stop where we got off. We were making a mad dash, but made in time for our reservation. At first we mistook the tea room’s emporium as our destination, but right across the street was the actual tea room.

tea__room
The arrows were in a bush…of course we’d look there *rolls eyes*

Inside, there were trinkets and tea EVERYWHERE. Not a space on the wall nor a bare floorboard could be seen. After checking in, we were seated at a table close to the window amongst teddy bears, a stuffed plush corgi, and a giant rabbit. Our hostess came by with a tea menu and asked us what we were celebrating. When we didn’t have an answer for her, she still asked us if wanted to wear tiaras! How could we decline :) ?

QMtea__room
So much cute stuff ah!

I didn’t participate in high tea, but in order to have tea, I had to have a “food purchase”, so I got a large green tea macaroon with my pot of french vanilla tea.

frenchvanillatea
Our table // french vanilla tea

My sis and friend went ahead with the high tea, and were given sorbets to start off with to cleanse the palate. Then, the creams came, along with the long awaited tower tray of sweets and savories.

tea__room__macc
Sorbet // cream // macaroon

By the time the tray came out, I was already finished with my creamy macaroon. My sis and friend took their sweet time getting through the tower, took a bathroom break in between, and even then couldn’t finished! I helped out by eating some of the fruit, and one of the cucumber sandwiches since it wasn’t so appealing to my friend.

tea
Top tray: scones and biscuits, middle: fruit and pea soup (?), bottom: cucumber sandwiches :o

After a filling and satisfying tea, we walked back to the bus stop, but not before checking out the tea emporium. There were so many cute items from teaspoons to shiny tea pots, but the fact that they were breakable and expensive was not a good mix for having to pack them up and bring them back to another state in one piece.

Instead, we passed on purchasing these items and headed back to downtown. I had a meet-up planned with Brittany in the afternoon, and the girls planned to hang out in the area at a cafe.

kindapretty
Downtown Seattle

Brittany was so thoughtful to bring her car (on board a ferry!) so we could easily drive over to lunch. She gave me a tour along the way, and once we were in Capitol Hill, we parked by a nearby cathedral and walked more into the district.

We had a late lunch at Plum Bistro, a fancy-looking vegan restaurant that had a special happy hour menu.

menu
I decided to get the Reuben & Chips because I just can’t get enough of carbs ;)

I was hoping to order one of the Jamaican-inspired dishes that was featured on their menu online, but during the hour of our visit, only the happy hour menu was available.

plumbistro
One side reminded me of a boat deck and the other a bohemian-themed room.

Still, Brittany and I had a fun conversation while I munched on my Reuben and Chips and she, some colorful tacos and purple taquitos.

whatbrittanygotlol
Hi Brittany’s food!!

My dish was pretty filling, since underneath the rye bread were seitan strip steaks and bright purple sauerkraut-like cabbage. I didn’t even finish my fries, but I’m pretty sure my stores were refueled enough.

reuben and chips
There was so much cabbage underneath, don’t be fooled!

After our late lunch, we walked around for a bit, including through a park and then in the direction of the Starbucks Roastery. We went inside, and Brittany gave me a quick tour around the first floor. She compared it to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and I couldn’t agree more. Everything was so golden and warm…even a $1,000 bike positioned near the entrance 😮

Brittany dropped me off back in downtown so I could meet up with my sis and friend once again, but to my surprise, I didn’t find the girls at our planned meeting spot. After sending a nervous text, I found out that my sis was feeling nauseous and that she and my friend were closer to a restaurant close to the movie theater a couple blocks away, since we were planning on seeing the new Alice movie that night.

My sister didn’t actually throw up, but she felt extremely off that evening and we couldn’t figure out why. We decided to call it a day and were able to trade in our movie tickets for a Friday afternoon show. My sis felt better once we walked outside towards the bus stop to take us back to our Airbnb, but she still wanted to rest up so that she could be at her best for our last full day of the trip.

Thankfully she felt better the next morning, and we were able to continue the adventures without interruption :)

Plum Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seattle Adventures – Part 2

Seattle Adventures – Part 2

After filling up at SHN for brunch, we popped into a bookstore that was in the Fremont District before heading out and onwards. My sis and friend found some books, but didn’t go too crazy since they didn’t have too much room in their bags 😉

Since we had to pass Troll Ave., we got to take a look at the troll statue under the highway! We didn’t get too up close and personal, but we could see the eerie details from far away. He definitely did not look like this familiar face…

“I’m the grumpy ol’ troll, who lives under the bridge!”

More like this…

Bookstore // Fremont Troll
Bookstore // Fremont Troll

We then stopped at a QFC to refill our Orca cards, grab some water, and use the restroom before walking further north to Green Lake.

So blue and pretty
So blue and pretty

My sis and friends are certainly not the walking type. So when I said it was only “a 1-2 mile walk to the lake” from the QFC, they weren’t exactly excited since we already had to walk from the Fremont District to QFC. I was so relieved when we did make it to the lake though, and that we didn’t take a wrong turn along the way. I would have faced an unbearable wrath if things had happened differently, that’s for sure 😉

duckssss
Ducky duck ducks.

I do think that watching ducks take group naps and feast on seeds soaked in peanut butter being tossed out by a local made the walk much more worthwhile.

Once we had our share of nature, we took a bus westward towards University of Washington. We ended up getting off farther out than we expected, since the bus got super crowded at one point, and the three of us got separated from each other on the bus.

When we were able to reconvene at a new bus stop, we re-navigated ourselves and eventually ended up at University Village where we wanted to be.

We…well, I…was in need of a coffee, so the first thing we did was stop at a Starbucks Reserve within the shopping complex.

Recharge & refuel!
Recharge & refuel!

While our phones recharged, I recharged with a cinnamon dolce latte with a (surprising) topping of whipped cream (the baristas seem to be really artistic here, haha). My friend got a frapp, and my sis an iced tea. We also ended up sharing stuffed Bantam Bagels…so warm, chewy, creamy, and messy!

Oozy bagel!
Oozy bagel!

After our afternoon coffee/tea/snack, we walked around for a bit until we found ourselves right in front of Amazon Books. I knew from that point on, I had lost my sis and friend…they were eager to pounce on in and when I told them I was leaving them to find another store that was on my radar, they were already steps into the store with baskets in their hand ready to tackle all the books they could!

This gave me plenty of time to find Oiselle, a women’s running apparel store based in Seattle. I had read about the brand in Runner’s World and how they sponsor elite women runners. Since I was in the area, I thought it would be a fun idea to pop in and see what they had to offer.

wazel
Oiselle in University Village

The store itself was small in size, but they had all different sizes of shorts, running tanks to longsleeves, and a small clearance rack in the back. I took a couple things to try on, and found a pair of running shorts that I deemed as a worthy investment. Anything that works as an incentive to keep running, right?

oisellefitting
Cute fitting room!

I returned to Amazon Books, and spent another half an hour within the store waiting for the girls to finish up. Once they were all good and ready, I announced that dinner—Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzaeia—would be a good walk away, but they weren’t too bummed by that since they were both in their happy place.

The walk did pose a challenge though. We had to climb three flights of stairs through what seemed like the woods over the course of the walk! My sister’s bag tore, and I gave her my oversized brown bag which held my shorts.

At least all of this trekking was worth it when we came upon graffiti pizza.

veganpizzapi
Vegan Pizza Pi

Before ordering at the counter, we took the menu to a table and pondered over the options.

yahthemenu
Menu

After much debate (it is vegan pizza after all), we decided to go with a large pizza, half “Aloha” and half “Buffalo Chicken”. The employees seemed to be super accommodating and were able to fulfill our half pizza request!

pizzainterior
Inside

Once the pizza arrived, I helped myself to an Aloha slice since that’s what I wanted. My sis and friend each took a Buffalo Chicken slice, and when I helped myself to a slice after finding my first slice of Aloha disappointing, I new that my choice could have been better.

pizzzzzza
1/2 Aloha, 1/2 Buffalo Chicken

The Aloha, which was pineapple, tofurky slices, tomatoes, and mushrooms on top of red sauce, ended up being a subpar combination. I thought the tofurky would actually be cubed in form to represent Canadian bacon, but that was not the case.

pizza
Slice Slice Slicin’!!!

The Buffalo Chicken had a kick of spice, a tangy ranch-like sauce, and seasoned soy chicken and celery bits. Overall this was obviously the winner.

But for ~$9 per person, and the option to have a large pizza split into two combinations, it was a great deal!

After pizza, we were more than ready to get back since it was starting to get colder. Even though we were having issues with our Airbnb (inconsistent wifi, no TV, no mirrors…), we did have a pretty fantastic view that added to the comfort vibe.

View from our Airbnb
View from our Airbnb

What are your favorite toppings and sauces for pizza?

Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzaeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seattle Adventures – Part I

Seattle Adventures – Part I

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I returned from Seattle! The trip was a blast…and man do I have so many photos! It’s going to be exhausting writing up posts, but I guess it’ll give me some consistent content for the blog while I think of some other “creative” things, haha.

I flew from LA into Seattle early in the morning on the Tuesday before Memorial Day Weekend. My sis and friend were arriving four hours after I landed, so I set up a standing work station where I worked and snacked on vegetarian sushi until their arrival.

Once my girls arrived, we figured out how to work the public transit, and got ourselves some Orca passes (the transit card used for the Metro system there).

It took us about an hour and a half to get to our Airbnb, and after dropping off our things, we caught a bus headed towards downtown to walk around Pike St. for a bit.

Pike's Place!
Pike’s Place!

We were all getting to the point of hanger since it was past six and pushing 7pm. Our original destination was El Borracho on 1st and Pike, since they had some tasty-sounding vegan nachos, but we were “kicked out” because my sis was underage, and they apparently don’t serve minors—not even food (!!!)—after 6pm. Um…okay, we’ll take our $$$ somewhere else??

The phrase that is on repeat through the minds of three hangry girls roam around Pike's Place...
The phrase that is on repeat through the minds of three hangry girls roaming around Pike’s Place…

A lot of the places were already closed surprisingly, but we did find Virginia Inn too be open, and while they were far from being a vegan-friendly restaurant, they did have some vegetarian options and it seemed to be something all three of us hangry girls could agree on.

They did have this though...lentils?!
They did have this though…lentils?!

The inside of the restaurant reminded me of a bar from the 1980s…like straight out of Cheers or something, haha.

virginia_INN
West Coast Cheers set?

My friend got a beer while my sis and I had waters (she is of age, haha). With her order of salmon, she got a plate of fries that came with ketchup and a flavor-less white sauce…as well as a side of complimentary bread because, carbs. My sis was able to get a vegetarian sandwich that they normally only serve at lunch.

food
Friend’s fries, sis’s sammie, and extra buuurrrrreaaaddd.

My dish was the curried lentils, which I did take a photo of, but must have accidentally deleted through the transfer and uploading of things! It wasn’t anything spectacular though, as it was sooooo small and definitely not worth the $16 price :( . Obviously this meant I needed to pick off my friend’s fry plate for added nourishment 😉

But I did take a picture of the back of their coaster because it was an odd thing...
But I did take a picture of the back of their coaster because it was an odd thing…

After dinner, we had enough in our replenished stores to walk around Pike’s Market (literally, we didn’t go inside until later in the trip).

Walking around Public Market.
Walking around Public Market.

We took the bus back and rested at our Airbnb for the remainder of the evening. I brought my running things just in case I’d feel like running Seattle in the mornings, but I ended up taking those days I was on vacation “off”. And man did it feel good to sleep in!!

The next morning, we took our time getting ready, and headed into Fremont District for some brunch at Silence-Heart-Nest.

SHN
The chick paintings reminded me of marshmallow Peeps.

I read beforehand they had a delicious-sounding sweet potato biscuits with mushroom gravy…and that the owners are part of a cult (??). Maybe that’s just a local rumor 😛

SHN_2
Outside of SHN // Menu

Unfortunately, they only serve the sweet potato biscuit dish on weekends, so I had to get something else. I was initially thinking I’d get an eggs benedict dish as my back-up, but the vegan tofu scramble seemed to catch my eyes on the menu.

They truly caught my attention once they landed at the table.

tofuscramble!
Vegan Tofu Scramble

My sis and friend both got egg dishes that were absolutely drool-inducing. And my friend being the total random that she is, got a side of fruit that my sis and I ended up eating 😛

ohwowzathoseeggggggs
Eggs, potaaytoooes, and strawbs (friend’s dish)

After brunch, we continued our Seattle adventures from the evening before onwards toward Green Lake! More on that in the next post :)

Have you ever visited Seattle?

Silence-Heart-Nest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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