Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

It felt so freeing to be able to take a break from being a “city girl”, and take a week off to go to my first home of Tulsa, OK. It was an easy-going week filled with naps, cuddling with my cat, runs at River Park (though they were shorter than what I’m used to doing, due to some shin pain I’ve been having), ice cream and custard runs, get-togethers, shopping, movie and Olympics-watching, and getting in as much home-cooked dinners as possible.

I had this Chobani Flip flavor (Chocolate Haze Craze) with hazelnut pieces and chocolate as a snack my second night there.
I had this Chobani Flip flavor (Chocolate Haze Craze) with hazelnut pieces and chocolate as a snack my second night there.

In the beginning of the week, I spent most of my time at home, and when my Dad got off work, we would go grocery shopping or to River Park for some breath of fresh air. After familiarizing myself with the area, I went to River Park in the following days for morning runs. My left posterior shin was acting up, so my runs ended up being short and semi-sweet.

Braum's Dairy
Braum’s Dairy

On one night, we went stopped by Braum’s—a ubiquitous dairy shop in Oklahoma—for some late night ice cream. It’s almost like the dessert version of McDonald’s in Oklahoma. I got a cup of birthday cake ice cream, which ended up being a bright blue scoop with soft chunks of vanilla pound cake mixed in.

Braum's Birthday Cake
Braum’s Birthday Cake

Since my Dad had a free pastry to redeem at Panera, we went there for breakfast. We split a coffee, an egg sandwich with cheese and avocado, and a sugary-sweet bearclaw.

Panera Breakfast with Dad!
Panera Breakfast with Dad!

We didn’t eat out much on this trip because I wanted to take advantage of having home-cooked meals prepared (with love J ) and we also ate at get-togethers at friends’ houses. For lunch on my last full day in Tulsa, we went to a housewarming of one of my dad’s co-workers. They had Desi food catered, and we piled on the trays as we made our way down the marble countertop in the kitchen of their new home.

Desi food!!
Desi food!!

Later that day, my Dad and I went to the movies to watch Ghostbusters (while I love the SNL ladies, the movie was ‘meh’), and afterwards, had a treat to cool-off that’s favored in the Midwest and South over froyo! I think there is only about two froyo places in all of Tulsa, and if you have a craving for something sweet, frozen, but not ice cream, your next best thing is frozen custard.

Welcome to Andy's!
Welcome to Andy’s!

Andy’s Frozen Custard was very close to the theater we went to, and I told my Dad I would pay for the both of us. My way of saying thanks for not having to buy groceries that week 😉

How is custard made?
How is custard made?

They had so many variations on frozen custard available. While vanilla and chocolate are the main base flavors, they can be included in the creation of a sundae or concrete, the latter of which involves a crazy amount of mix-ins and sauces depending on what combination caught your eye.

Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard
Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard

My Dad and I decided to keep it simple and just get a cone/cup of the base flavors chocolate and vanilla. We enjoyed our desserts outside, and I took note of the smooth, creamy taste of my custard. It was light, but not froyo-light. It actually had the creaminess of a soft-serve you’d get at a fast food restaurant.

I knew that after giving one of the base flavors a try, I would have to come back to try a concrete. Seeing as my next trip won’t be until December, I’ll probably have the chance to choose from seasonal flavors…like candy cane!

Overall, my six-day trip to Oklahoma was a good one. I was sad to leave so soon, and honestly wouldn’t have mind staying another week. Time will fly by before I know it though, and I am planning to make my winter stay a longer one.

Until Next Time...
Until Next Time…

Andy's Frozen Custard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ice Creamin’

Ice Creamin’

After scarfing down a beautiful pizza, and before face-planting in bed into a deep sleep, I walked along Main St. back to Venice for an ice cream fix. Before finding Areal, I had walked past Kippy’s, a vegan ice cream shop proudly serving coconut-milk based frozen desserts.

Kippy's!
Kippy’s!

At the front, several cartons of coconut milk ice cream were on display, ready to be scooped as if I were in a vegan Baskin-Robbins.

Ready to scoop!
Ready to scoop!

The “mini” was actually a small, compostable cup with two scoops of coconut milk ice cream.

Yessssss
Yessssss

From the flavors featured above on the menu, I decided that my two flavors would be Coconut Honey and Cinnamon Date, and since I couldn’t forget toppings, I asked for some mulberries even though they were $1 extra.

Toppings & seating
Toppings & seating

I found a seat at a long picnic table inside the shop, where two women were already sitting (though on the other side). One of them was speaking about the place with enthusiasm, and it was fun to inadvertently pick up on pieces of their conversation and their thoughts on veganism.

From the two flavors I purchased, I thought Coconut Honey was actually the blandest. Cinnamon Date was excellent in comparison, with an overwhelming (in a good way) nuttiness and spice to it. The mulberries were a disappointment however. I assumed they would be chewy like the mulberries I first tried last year, but they were surprisingly crunchy and off-putting. So I only found 1/3 of my combination appetizing, but I was glad to support a plant-based dessert shop, since I can only imagine what these businesses have to go through to get started and rally support once up and running.

Later on that weekend, I tried some new-to-me pints even though they were not vegan. After seeing both the Triple Chocolate flavor of Enlightened pints, and the limited edition Empowermint Ben & Jerry’s at Gelson’s Market, I couldn’t resist not purchasing them and giving them a try.

Enlightened Triple Chocolate
Enlightened Triple Chocolate

In brief, I found the Triple Chocolate Enlightened pint to be too overwhelming after a few spoonfuls (too much chocolate for me, but perhaps suitable for a choco-holic), but the Empowermint B&J’s was actually pretty good! It was creamy, and had caramel swirl kindred to what you would find in the Vanilla Caramel Fudge flavor, with the base ice cream flavor being a minty vanilla of course (though the pint says its peppermint ice cream). Because the pint displays some political imagery, I imagined this pint would be a fun snack to have while watching the debates this fall. I wonder if this flavor will stick around that long??

Empowermint!!
Empowermint!!

A random snack I had during this weekend as well was my first flavor of Picky Bars! Now that they are at Trader Joe’s, it’s making it easier to purchase them and have another bar brand to keep an eye out for.

I first learned about them through Runner’s World, spotted them at REI, and then the other day noticed them along with other more familiar bars at good ol’ TJ’s. I had to try Cookie Doughpness first, and was intrigued by the sticky consistency and fruity, cinnamon flavor that made me associate this bar with what I think a sticky oatmeal raisin cookie would look/taste like. So the bar wasn’t exactly cookie dough, but it was DOUGHPE!

Cookie Doughpness!
Cookie Doughpness!

Again, I am loving that there is another vegan-friendly bar out there finding its way into the mainstream market, and I’m looking forward to supporting the runners behind the bars.

Kippy's Ice Cream Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nothing But Self-Care

Nothing But Self-Care

There is nothing like waking up without an alarm clock, with your eyes feeling refreshed and your body at peace. This was exactly how I felt the night I went to sleep after working for 43 hours without rest. It’s something I never, ever want to do again, but believe me when I say I have never felt more restored than I did after (deeply) sleeping for eight hours straight after that.

I needed a cookie+coffee after this all-nighterrrr
I needed a cookie+coffee after this all-nighterrrr

I didn’t get up and go run, or immediately get ready for lab (even though I did have to go in for a bit in the afternoon). Instead, I practiced some self-love by showering, stretching, and making some breakfast for me to eat on the go while walking to the train station.

My sister sent me this Fat Cell microbe for my birthday <3
My sister sent me this Fat Cell microbe plushie for my birthday <3

The last place I wanted to be that day was lab, but I was able to work up an appetite and get back to Santa Monica around 3pm for a late lunch. I strolled along Main St., stopping only when I got to Areal across the street.

Areal Restaurant
Areal Restaurant

I was slightly confused at first when trying to find the entrance, thinking I needed to walk by a bar and a huge patio in order to get to the restaurant, but instead I ended up standing awkwardly in front of what I assumed to be the kitchen, with wait-staff running around me. No one acknowledged I was even there/willing to direct me to where I should be seated, which I found to be quite rude.

Got some water in a mason jar after finally getting a seat.
Got some water in a mason jar after finally getting a seat.

I made my way back outside, and found out that the person in charge of seating was outside the wall that guarded the patio. Even talking to her was a chore, as she had that “I’m-only-working-here-until-I-make-it-big-in-Hollywood” attitude, and all I wanted was a seat.

The patio seating was gorgeous though!
The patio seating was gorgeous though!

After being told the brunch selections were no longer an option since it was past 3:30pm (gasp!), I was pretty much left with salads, sandwiches, or pizza. My 43-hour sleep deprivation experience still left me craving an immense number of carbs, so pizza sounded more appetizing to me than usual. When Mr. “I’m-only-working-here-until-someone-discovers-me-walking-shirtless-on-the-beach-and-makes-me-famous” came by, I gave my order for a marinara pizza with pineapple, onion, and artichoke hearts (basically a Hawaiian without the ham).

Look at that flying saucer beauty...
Look at that flying saucer beauty…

My pizza came out with steam still flying off of it, on a black pan and its own elevated stand. Across 10” of thin-stretched dough was a coating of marinara, mozzarella, onion, artichoke hearts in cubed, layered pieces, and pineapple cut in the most exquisite way.

That pineapple slice though!
That pineapple slice though!

I was accustomed to associating cubed pineapples as a pizza topping, but seeing pineapples sliced like this—in disc form—was much more aesthetic in my opinion. I finished every last bite, and with no crumb on my plate or tray, I felt sleepy in the best way. Walking home under the bright sun only exacerbated my sleepiness, and once I got back home all I wanted to do was take a long nap.

My plans to finish packing Saturday night for my week-long trip to Oklahoma were thrown out the window, but I believe my reasons were justified. I needed to honor myself for working so hard during the week, and if it meant scarfing down a pizza and napping away the rest of my Saturday, then that’s just something I had to accept 😉

Areal Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Legendary Foods Review

Legendary Foods Review

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Legendary Foods, and all opinions are my own.

Nut butters that literally taste like melted blueberry cinnamon buns or pecan pie? Almonds powder-coated with spicy and tangy seasoning? These are only some of the creative food products being rolled out by Legendary Foods, and they have quickly been making their rounds on social media.

I wanted to see what the hype was all about for myself,  and asked the company if they could send me over some samples to try. Within a few days of moving to my new place, I received a small-sized box with two mini jars of nut butter and two almond packs. The small size of the nut butters made them especially attractive for eating straight out of the jar, and that’s exactly what I did.

My favorite out of the two was Blueberry Cinnamon Roll. It had chunks of blueberries swirled into an cashew paste spread that had a touch of cinnamon.

Yum!
Yum!

It wasn’t as thick as a regular nut butter like peanut, almond, or even regular cashew butter, but even with it’s more fluid, spread-like consistency, it was a suave snack on its own. The Pecan Pie was just as delicious, but the blueberry flavor was the overall winner for me since it had a less nuttier texture. The pecan flavor had the appearance of a thicker nut butter, most likely due to all the pecan chunks mixed in.

Pecan Pie flavor---actually looks nuttier!
Pecan Pie flavor—actually looks nuttier!

I was provided with two almond packs to try, but I was only able to try one of them. Buffalo Blue Wing was the only one, since Cheddar Bacon obviously made itself unattainable for me.

One for me...one for someone in lab??
One for me…one for someone in lab??

I was actually quite surprised by how large the almonds were! And even with their large size, they had a commendable coating of seasoning around them. They had a mighty crunch as well!

A hefty-sized almond
A hefty-sized almond

After consuming these samples, I wondered why more companies didn’t make smaller nut butter jars to begin with? Just like it’s possible to find single cups of ice cream at the grocery store, why is it rare to find snack-size PB jars? (I don’t count pouches since I feel like so much of the nut butter in those things goes to waste cause you just can’t get it out)! Any company that does that and goes against the grain is legendary in my book 😉

Do you prefer nuts like almonds and cashews in their sweet or savory form?

August Degusta Box

August Degusta Box

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

In regards to moving, I was for the most part OK with leaving my old place behind. Yes, it was closer to work and provided a lot of conveniences, but after two years it was time to move on. Funny thing was, I had to come back to pick up a package that couldn’t get forwarded in time…I didn’t mind though, because I came prepared with reusable bags to stuff all of my foodie goodies in!

Degusta Box for August!
Degusta Box for August!

This month’s box featured some portable snacks, great add-ins to my weekly yogurt bowls, and snacks that made me recall my childhood.

One of those childhood-recalling snacks were the Mini Cow Tales. As soon as I spotted them in the box, I literally ripped open the bag and had them as a snack on the train ride home. I forgot how chewy and creamy they were, but after biting into my first one out of the bag, the memories came flooding back! My sis and I loved having these as part of our after school snacks, and even opted for the different flavored ones when they were available.

loacker_cowtales
Loacker Rose Chocolates and Cow Tales

Another snack that was provided in the box, but not reminiscent of my childhood, were the Loacker chocolates. They became instant favorites of mine though, since they had a crisp cookie and caramel-like filling with a smooth chocolate layer over them. All in the shape of a flower :)

The Goya Maria Cookies were exactly like the Maire Gold Biscuits my grandmother used to have. It’s interesting how the same type of cookie/biscuit is marketed under a different name on different continents. In India, they’re known as biscuits, and often seen in commercials alongside a piping hot mug of chai tea or next to a cup of milk with a chocolate drink mix if targeted towards kids. I was not a huge fan of these growing up, but the nostalgia that these biscuits brought me now made them more appetizing.

Goya Maria Cookies
Goya Maria Cookies

The box of Honey Bunches of Oats (with strawberries) was a fun find to receive, practically speaking. It obviously makes a good topping for greek yogurt.

Honey Bunches of Oats (with strawberries)
Honey Bunches of Oats (with strawberries)

And this Oregon Chai instant mix…

oregon_chai
Oregon Chai Tea Mix

While it’s intended for instant chai when added to hot water, useful for when you are on-the-go, I found it much more useful as a protein-powder sub-in. It added the mix of spicy, but sweet flavor to my greek yogurt, and this combination was a great vehicle for the Honey Bunches of Oats and a side protein bar. I put together this easy breakfast prior to heading for the train station on one of the weekends I had to stop by lab.

creallll
I had to restrain myself from eating each ingredient separately since I was craving it so bad. Everything tasted so much better when mixed and paired together!!

After a long run last weekend, I was incredibly thirsty, and I was so proud of myself for storing this bottle of Alo drink, made with mango and mangosteen, in the fridge the night I brought all of my Degustabox goods home! I drank this bottle in less than a minute, while rolling out my muscles (as well as my poor posterior shin splint, ughhh) and watching the women’s Olympic marathon. The drink had just enough sweetness and its icy punch really quenched my thirst!

Alo drink
Alo drink

Some of the savories in this box included a jar of fine-tasting mayo and a new flavor/texture of Pop Chips!

Poppin' chips
Poppin’ chips

Pop Chips has ventured into the territory of Ruffles chips with it’s new Ridges line, and the flavor I tried was Cheddar & Sour Cream. Most of the pieces were broken so I was unable to compare a full-size chip to a Ruffles chip, but the chips were packed with flavor and light on the tongue.

Sir Kensington Mayonnaise - Chipotle
Sir Kensington Mayonnaise – Chipotle

The Sir Kensington Mayonnaise in Chipotle was creamy, spicy, and provided a punchy flavor similar to that of the Pop Chips. Instead of cheese, it was chipotle, but a slather of this spread in between two hamburger buns made for an easy snack while in lab.

mayo&bun
So creamy, so simple, yet full of flavor! Also very orange…

The final product in the box that I tried was the White Lily white grape seed all-purpose wheat flower. Since I was visiting my family for a week and would have more flexibility with kitchen space there (my live-in landlords at my new space do not prefer heavy cooking by their tenants), I packed it with me on my trip to Oklahoma.

A new all-purpose flour to try!
A new all-purpose flour to try!

This flour became a staple ingredient for a delicious pot pie crust, and was part of my all-time favorite dinner…a dinner I literally had on the daily when I lived with my family before moving to LA.

Grape Seed Flour Pot Pie Crust/Bread Disc
Serves 1
A hearty, wheat-y bread biscuit, or can be used to top pot pies!
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Ingredients
  1. - 1/2 cup White Lily Grape Seed (WLGS) all-purpose flour
  2. - Greek yogurt (plain)
  3. - Cumin seeds and/or other spices
Instructions
  1. - Mix 1/2 cup of WLGS all-purpose flour with enough plain greek yogurt to get a dough-like consistency (I use about a 1/4 cup, and if necessary will add water).
  2. - Add a sprinkle of cumin seeds or substitute with your favorite bread-baking spices.
  3. - Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until dough is puffed and crisp on the outside.
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Once the crust was made, I added it to the top of a bowl of steaming hot veggies cooked in a beet (not beef, lol) broth, but you could use the crust/bread disc as a topper for any stew mix.

The second 12/ of a nothing-but-delicious pot pie.
The second 12/ of a nothing-but-delicious pot pie.

I wasn’t able to have the Vermont Smoke & Cure sticks due to them being non-vegetarian, but when I left them in our common room in lab, they were gone within minutes.

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

Which of these products would you be excited to try?

P’s (Birth)day Off

P’s (Birth)day Off

After coming off a tumultuous and stressful week, I was more than ready for my birthday to come around! After meeting my sister and our friend at the hotel close to 10:00pm, we all went down to the hotel’s jacuzzi to soak our legs, relax, and spend some time together since we didn’t want to go to sleep just yet.

We soaked for ~20 min, and then went back upstairs to get some serious shut-eye. I still woke up early around 7am the next morning, but it was my birthday and I didn’t want to waste a minute of it 😉 . The girls woke up a little while after, and we were all ready and out by 11am. We missed the hotel breakfast hours, so by the time we hit the road for Aliso Viejo/Laguna Beach, we were already discussing lunch options!

I knew right away that Native Foods was my #1 pick, since I’ve made it my personal mission to visit all of the Native Foods locations. I’ve pretty much accomplished that goal for their Cali locations (just need to somehow get to Palm Springs to officially do it), thanks to our stop in Aliso Viejo.

nativefoodsaliso
Native Foods in Aliso Viejo

I captured more photos of the restaurant and our food orders, but in the middle of transferring pics from my phone to laptop, I somehow managed to delete a bulk of them. Definitely made me irritated, but at least I was able to salvage a couple thanks to posting earlier on Instagram.

I didn’t feel like trying anything new or new-to-me, but I also didn’t feel the need to get my all-time favorite platter of vegan nachos. Instead, I stuck to another ol’ favorite of mine: the Soul Bowl.

Made me soulllllfullll
Made me soulllllfullll

I’ve seen this dish morph over the years. Back in 2012 when I first stepped foot into a Native Foods, the bowl was drenched in sauces and had two fried “chik’n” skewers pierced through the top and center. Now a little over four years later, the presentation is a little less extreme…it’s more elegantly-styled, but still full of flavor. It’s hard to see in this pic but the soulful-ness from this bowl comes from what’s underneath all those greens. The quinoa and beans at the bottom were just as satisfying and filling as I remembered them!

My sis and friend shared a Soul Bowl and a burger+fries kind of dish, while my Dad had a Thai “meat” ball salad (and after looking back at this post from last year, he basically ordered the same exact thing as last time!!). When we got our fill, we drove out west towards the coast, and pretty much hopped out of the car once we knew we were as close to the coast of Laguna Beach as we could get.

I mean, look. at. that.
I mean, look. at. that.

After being awestruck for a good 30 minutes, we finally asked a local how to get down to the sand where the real action was. When we made it, we spent a good portion of the afternoon appreciating the liveliness of our surroundings and the excitement of the ocean.

Ahhh so pretty...
Ahhh so pretty…

I didn’t bring my swimsuit so I couldn’t get more than knee-deep into the ocean, but it was fun enough to run to/from the waves every time they splashed onto the shore.

After soaking in enough sun, we took an ice cream break (sadly no pictures since I accidentally deleted them :( ), and made the long trip back to LA since we all had to get up early the next day. We had dinner once we got back, which consisted of chips+cheese dip and a large veggie pizza split amongst the four of us. Of course, we couldn’t fall into a deep slumber without a few minutes of jacuzzi time.

I did my best to fully take in every single minute of my birthday since I knew the next day would be a grueling one for me. I had to wake up at 4am in order to go into lab and begin a procedure that kept me up until 2am the following day…it was FAR from fun, but at least I did get my birthday off? Hmm…I’m just glad that I’m taking next week off to visit my family in Oklahoma. I see that as my ultimate birthday gift.

Native Foods Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gross & Great

Gross & Great

After finishing up our final rounds of apartment cleaning on Sunday morning, my Dad and I were ready to drop off my keys by noon. It was hard to believe that it was two years ago that I moved into my first apartment, and while there were some things I would miss about it, I was very much looking forward to living in and exploring a new LA neighborhood.

I had to drop into lab even though I was starving, and during this time, my Dad helped to move the remainder of my boxes to my new place. When I finished up two hours later, my Dad was ready to pick me up and was just as hungry as I was! We ended up in Culver City again, checking out another vegan spot in the area.

veganjoint_menu
A hole-in-the-wall kinda place.

The Vegan Joint has been on my list for a while, but it was a little out of the way for me/never really a sole spot of interest to make it a worthwhile trip. And after finally going there, I realized I probably didn’t miss out on anything for not dining there sooner…

veganjointtt
Calming greens?

After getting our table, my Dad and I were given PLENTY of time to look over the menu…and at least ten more times over. I literally had to get up after almost twenty minutes to walk over to the counter and remind the lady who had seated us that we were ready to order. I was pretty hangry at that point so I’m glad I didn’t bite off her head for not coming sooner…

My order was actually not so great. I chose to get the Tofu Larb not truly knowing what it was, and I guess that was a decision that backfired on me. Normally, Larb is a meat-based salad of Laos origin—marinated meat grounds mixed with greens and lemon juice. My tofu version was certainly marinated and over-flowing, but it was far from being an aesthetic, picturesque example of a delicious vegan meal.

tofu_larb
Tofu Larb…so gross

After two bites, I was thinking “eww, why did I pick this??”, but since I was hungry/didn’t want to make a big deal over it, I finished the dish and definitely felt full afterwards (soy protein’s effects I suppose)!

After our very late lunch, my Dad and I drove to my new place to unpack. It took me almost 3 hours to get everything in order and in place. From there, my Dad and I made the long-ish drive to Cerritos for Indian grocery shopping and for a free dinner!

Luna Grill, a fast casual Mediterranean restaurant contacted me a few weeks ago to check out their Cerritos location. I knew that the perfect time to stop by would be when my Dad was in town, since he’s always wanting to go to Cerritos whenever he is in town!

lunagrillfront
Luna Grill entrance

We had dinner close to 8pm, and there were still people inside enjoying large platters of kebabs, rice, and all of those tasty Medi-fixin’s.

lunaaaa
Ordering at the counter. The lamps are beautiful!
luna_grill
Luna Grill in Cerritos Menu ~ Veggie Kabob

My Dad and I were able to enjoy two entrees on the house, and we paid for the grape leaf roll appetizers to share between the both of us.

grapeleaf
Grape leaf rolls

For my entree, I ordered the Veggie Kabob which came with rice, spicy cilantro hummus, pita bread, boiled carrots, and salad.

veggie kebab platter
A gorgeous, full plate and Dad’s salad.

My oh my was this good, and it certainly made up for my disaster of a lunch that day…my Dad loved his crisp, refreshing salad, but was in love with the basmati rice. I had to agree with him, as the rice was so fluffy and flavorful.

After finishing up dinner close to closing time for the restaurant, we were on the road again to our hotel to finally meet up with my sister and our friend. Both of them made the trip down to LA to hang out with me for my birthday, and I was beyond excited to meet them!

If you ever ordered something disgusting from a restaurant before, were you so hungry you ate it or did you remedy the situation?

Vegan Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I’m Exhausted (An Understatement)

I’m Exhausted (An Understatement)

I’ve been sooo behind on blogging, but I have my legitimate reasons…how’s about moving, a birthday, and 24 hr+ working day/night for starters?

The week before my birthday/last week in my now-ex-apartment was a very rough one. My emotions were raw, and dealing with certain people with these already broiling emotions had me on the verge of waterworks. I did end up crying, but one of my co-workers was there to talk me through it and calm me down.

Even though tension was at an all-time high, I had some comforting snacks to get me through the tormenting week.

A Promax bar mixed with four flavors of froyo and mochi pieces because mochi is life <3
A Promax bar mixed with four flavors of froyo and mochi pieces because mochi is life <3
Bar + pint
Bar + pint
Green pro-frosting made with a free tub of Vega protein powder I got from the blogger expo, mixed with a crumbled L&L birthday cookie.
Green pro-frosting made with a free tub of Vega protein powder I got from the blogger expo, mixed with a crumbled L&L birthday cookie.
A Lenny & Larry's lemon Poppyseed Cookie---so underrated, yet soooo good!
A Lenny & Larry’s lemon Poppyseed Cookie—so underrated, yet soooo good!

A shipment of ANSI Nutrition’s newest protein cheesecake bar flavors was a pleasant surprise to receive in the mail. Funny thing was, I first tried these on one of the worst work days of the week, so they just so happened to be the highlight of that particular day 😉

The Birthday Cake flavor was soft, and had a mild vanilla flavor to it. It could have used some sprinkles, but it was not overwhelming.

Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake

Chocolate Coconut was my favorite flavor from the three newest flavors. It had a tougher texture with the coconut flakes and chocolate coating, and to me, was more pleasant than the Chocolate Banana flavor.

Chocolate Coconut
Chocolate Coconut

The latter was decent, but since I’m not a fan of raw bananas, there was only so much banana flavor I could handle.

Chocolate Banana
Chocolate Banana

So it was no surprise Chocolate Coconut was my winner 😉

When move out day finally came around, I was successfully able to round up an army to help me move out…well, a one man army a.k.a. my Dad, who I hadn’t seen in 8 months!! Honestly, I don’t know how I would have moved OR cleaned my apartment without him.

Before any of the hard work though, we had dinner together at Yalla Mediterranean in Culver City. It replaced Daphne’s Greek, which I had intentions on visiting someday but I guess that just won’t happen.

Yalla Mediterranean
Yalla Mediterranean

Yalla was great though. After waiting in line behind a lady who wanted to sample everythannnnng, my Dad and I were finally able to order our plates. We both got the falafel plate and got to choose from plenty of sides colorfully placed alongside eachother at the counter bar. I picked the steamed veggies to pair with my falafel, along with a slaw, babaganoush, and a dressed beets and kale salad. There was some unpictured pita side, and a whole lotta YUM.

My beautiful platter
My beautiful platter

Our trays were incredibly nourishing, and enough to get us started with cleaning my apartment…at 9pm. We even managed to get my roommate to work, with all of us retiring at midnight. BUT, we continued to work as soon as we got up the next morning…

Aided by baby falafels
Aided by baby falafels

Have you ever had to move? What was your experience like?

Yalla Mediterranean Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Closed Door to Open Sesame

Closed Door to Open Sesame

After two fun half-days at Blogfest, and a full day of work in lab on a SATURDAY, I was more than ready to take back one day of the weekend for myself: Sunday!

Chocolate proyo with loads of granola crunchies :)
Chocolate proyo with loads of granola crunchies :)

After a long run of 13 miles, I made myself a proyo mug and filled it to the brim with granola, all of which were free to me thanks to my expo haul!

This was enough to help me refuel and make it though a few hours of lab in the morning. I was out by 1pm, and immediately got on a bus to head out for lunch.

I only had to walk about 10 minutes from the stop to the restaurant, but I felt like my skin was melting off. Fortunately, I found it before my muscles started to peel off…haha.

What's behind door #1?
What’s behind door #1?

Behind the house-like door, I stepped into the brightly-lit dining room of Open Sesame, and since no one else was dining at 3pm, it was only me face-fo-face with three servers. It was awkward at first since no one out of the three said anything at first, but eventually I was given a place to sit and a menu.

Open Sesame
Open Sesame

I knew that I wanted a platter (what else is new??), and the next task was finding something that fit the vegetarian description. The menu was bound in a red, leather-like cover and was pretty much a book full of entrees, apps, drinks, and desserts. I found the vegetarian platter under the “Entrees II” section. I ordered that as soon as one of the servers came by, and it came out within minutes.

The Vegetarian Platter!
The Vegetarian Platter!

The plate was a colorful piecing of babaganoush (all-time fav), hummus, pickled peppers, fresh tomato slices, two falafel, one grape leaf roll, tabouli, and tahini in a cup.

The cutest thing though was the Open Sesame tissue paper.
The cutest thing though was the Open Sesame tissue paper.

It was almost as if the server read my mind, because just as I thought about how I would be able to mop up the hummus and tahini sauce, she came by with a crispy flat piece of pita bread. I also downed several cups of water to combat the heat I would have to face after leaving the restaurant.

My plans to take a nap that afternoon didn’t make sense since I made it back home closer in the evening. After organizing my plans for the week, I hit the pillow around 9pm and it never felt so good…

Open Sesame Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All-Nighters and All the Freebies

All-Nighters and All the Freebies

This past week has tested my endurance, patience, and energy levels…between pulling an all-nighter in lab to attending my first bloggers conference, I was on my feet from pretty much the break of dawn till night.

A visit to the new The Halal Guys location in Koreatown wasn’t enough to fuel me (or prepare me) for my all-nighter on Monday. It was good enough for a Saturday afternoon lunch, but I feel like I needed a much longer break than that! Well, at least I did get some kind of break that weekend!

The Halal Guys, Koreatown
The Halal Guys, Koreatown

I first visited The Halal Guys with my sister at their new-at-the-time Costa Mesa location over Thanksgiving break last year. Our Airbnb was a few blocks away, so it was a serendipitous encounter indeed.

Waiting in line...finally made it inside!
Waiting in line…finally made it inside!

As expected, there was a line out the door, and I estimate that there was at least a 30 minute wait from when I first got in line to when I got a seat inside. So, not TOO bad, but in some places, even those that are not considered “fast food” restaurants, I’ve ordered and received food in half that time.

The Halal Guys - Falafel Platter
The Halal Guys – Falafel Platter

I ordered the falafel plate like last time, which came with lettuce, orange rice, five falafel, and sauces. There was some miscommunication at the register about my pita bread, so I ended up missing that. The next time I visit a Halal Guys I’ll have to remember to try the falafel sandwich, as that’s my other only option as a vegetarian :/

The Halal Guys - Falafel Platter
The Halal Guys – Falafel Platter

I didn’t enjoy this platter as much as I did the first time since everything tasted drier than what I remembered. Perhaps it was due to there being less sauce than usually administered, and I attribute that to a distracted employee. It was opening weekend, so I don’t blame her!

And even though I was feeling anxious all weekend about Monday’s upcoming events, I tried to keep my mind at ease with Halo Top and new-to-me Combat Crunch bars: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Coconut.

New Bar!
New Bar!

I topped the birthday cake Halo Top with the CCCD flavor, and I immediately wondered why I had not done this sooner?!

Combination Pint Nights!
Combination Pint Nights!

The bar itself wasn’t my absolute favorite, but the thing I like about Combat Crunch bars is the coated-crispies on the top of their bars. I repeated this combination with their newer Chocolate Coconut flavor with vanilla bean Halo Top, and found this to be the winning combination.

Better combination for pint night!
Better combination for pint night!

I prefer the white chocolate coating of the bar, and was able to detect the coconut flakes inside the bar. It seemed to mesh well with the soft, creamy, but not too overpowering vanilla bean flavor of the light ice cream.

Monday-Wednesday were far from enjoyable, but when Thursday came around, I had something fun to look forward to—Blogfest! I was able to attend this year because I was able to get my registration waived AND it was in LA, so it made it so much easier to attend and work around my lab schedule.

Idea World/BlogFest 2016
Idea World/BlogFest 2016

Gigi invited me to have lunch at Spitz with some other bloggers in downtown/Little Tokyo before heading over to the expo, and this served as my incentive to get through my morning lab work as quickly as possible!

Spitz, Little Tokyo
Spitz, Little Tokyo

Even though it was a weekday, Spitz was packed and busy catering to downtown office workers on their lunch break. I ordered the Garden Bowl, which made for an appropriate light lunch so I would have room for expo samples later!

Garden Platter: raw veggies with roasted chickpeas, hummus, tahini, and three falafel
Garden Platter: raw veggies with roasted chickpeas, hummus, tahini, and three falafel

A short Uber ride later, we arrived at the Convention Center where the expo was taking place. Since Thursday was the first full day the expo was open and all the activities were in full swing, many of the vendors had freebies galore and there were so many eager recepients wandering around.

Walking around the expo!
Walking around the expo!
One of the BlogFest Sessions
One of the BlogFest Sessions

I literally ended up hauling four full-sized bags of free stuff, and now my fridge is stocked with sparkling water to last me for days…

bags
Free stuff! Woo-hoo!!!!

I attended the expo on Thursday and Friday afternoons, met some new and familiar faces (including Julianna and Kaila), and overall had a fun time. It was what I needed to get over the overexhausted/depressed funk from the all-nighter and long working days earlier in the week.

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter for work?

Spitz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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