Repeat of 2016?

Repeat of 2016?

I returned to California early last week, and I was in a deep funk for a couple days. My two weeks off from lab, spent with family, was JUST what I needed and my only regret was that it wasn’t longer!

At least I had a surprise package waiting for me…I tried Enlightened Roasted Broad Bean Crisps for the first time thanks to a little box with some fun-flavored goods:

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Enlightened saved me from the doldrums!

They were the dessert flavors: Cocoa Dusted and Sweet Cinnamon.

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Cocoa Dusted description

I had both flavors straight out of the bag. Out of the two, I loved the cinnamon-flavored ones the most since they reminded me of those churro twists from Taco Bell I had long ago…

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Sweet Cinnamon

Cocoa Dusted was good too, I just preferred cinnamon over chocolate coating 😛

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Cocoa Dusted up close & personal

I decided to keep close to West LA since I knew DTLA would be abuzz with the LA Fit Expo going on. I also had to go into lab, which would have cut into any day plans if I had scheduled any. So after lab, I came back to Culver City and had lunch literally across the street from the train station…at Sweetgreen! I find it hilarious that my first outing to a restaurant for 2017 is Sweetgreen once again…I dined at a Sweetgreen in Mid-City last year as my first outing in 2016! I wonder if it will become tradition…

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Sweetgreen’s newest—Culver City

They recently opened up shop here in a complex called The Platform. It was already in full swing with customers eating outside even though it was cloudy out.

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Order at the counter

The seating arrangements inside were too small, and if everyone in line had decided to dine in, there would have been no way. I did get a seat however, by the window. It was just a table that wasn’t wiped clean since the last customer, and only had one chair so I had to sit with my bag on my lap, haha!

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Lot’s to choose from!

When it was my turn to order, I decided to get a warm bowl. The Shroomami sounded amazing, with glazed tofu, rice, kale, …, and it was vegan so even more of a plus!

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My Shroomami bowl [vegan] ~ organic wild rice, shredded kale, raw beets, bean sprouts, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello mix, miso sesame ginger dressing
I also got a slice of bread on the side, and enjoyed the bowl while people/train watching through the window.

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Slice of bread, and look at that tofu!

After eating lunch, I got grocery shopping done at Sprouts. I love it when restaurants/grocery stores are all in one area since it makes running weekend errands so much easier.

While picking up staples for the week, I came across another RX Bar flavor I have yet to try—Peanut Butter! When I was checking out in line, there was a guy in front of me who noticed my purchase-to-be, and asked where he could find them. As soon as I told him, he dashed over to the bar aisle while the cashier began to check out his items!

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RX Peanut Butter bar…has exactly 14 peanuts?

I tried the bar as I was waiting for the train to go home. I like the smooth texture of the bar, and it kind of made me think of the Chocolate Coconut flavor without coconut, and with a mild peanut scent reminiscent of how the maple scent defined the Maple Sea Salt flavor. I guess I could understand why that guy at Sprouts was in such a mad dash to get those bars for himself?

Have you eaten out since the new year began?

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

Matcha Cha Cha

Matcha Cha Cha

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

There was once a time I used to be OBSESSED with matcha green tea. When I was in undergrad, the only drink I would get at Starbucks would be a matcha green tea latte. There was something about that earthy green color, combined with a milky tea taste and warm froth that was just so comforting. I must add however that this was all before I developed a liking for coffee. I actually had my first cup of black coffee during grad school interviews and (with two packets of sweetener) it didn’t taste as bitter as I’d imagined.

I bring up coffee because it sort of got in the way when it came to my drink choices for some time. There was a whole world of coffee and coffee drinks that I was eager to try, that I left green tea and tea drinks to the side.

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But the reach of green tea has expanded a lot since then. Now there are matcha shops in LA and probably other major cities. Matcha green tea is staking its claim, and companies like Tenzo Tea are aiding the effort.

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I was able to sample and review a variety box last month, featuring a number of flavors. All of the packs have matcha green tea powder, but some are even flavored. In my box, I had Premium, Latte, Raspberry, Blueberry, Blend, and Organic flavor packs.

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On the back, it gives simple instructions on how to use the packs to make a hot cup of tea. I had to go to lab the weekend before leaving to Tulsa. As a pick-me-up of sorts, I mixed a Blueberry pack with some hot water, and put it in a ceramic thermos my friend gave me for my birthday.

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To be honest, I was expecting a blue powder and a blueberry flavor to totally overwhelm any hint of green tea, but the powder was pure green, and one would not suspect any added blueberry. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste any blueberry either.

I brought some packets with me to incorporate in meals when I was on vacation. All of them happened to be breakfast meals too!

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I had some mixed with some waffle mix, and as a result, had waffles with a green hue. I think an extra packet of matcha would have made this waffle as green as grass.

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I already knew protein powder mixes so well with yogurt, but what about matcha? To answer that question, I mixed the blend with key lime Chobani. Topped with some Krave cereal, it made for a delicious morning treat.

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Then there was oatmeal. The latte blend (one packet) made this bowl beautifully green. I added it in after cooking the oats in some milk. I also topped it with some craisins.

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I gifted some of the duplicates I got to family friends, and they were definitely intrigued. They are tea drinkers, so I’m sure they’ll enjoy these Tenzo tea packets as much as I did!

Are you a tea or coffee drinker? Or both?

Gringo Bandito!

Gringo Bandito!

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

For the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve been able to spice up the holidays with some wholesome hot sauce!

Gringo Bandito is a hot sauce brand based in So Cal, which has humble origins. The brand was born in 2004, started by Dexter Holland who is a singer for the band The Offspring. It was created as a gift for a friend, but since then, has blossomed into a flavor threesome featuring red, green, and super hot sauces! It’s even ranked in the top 10 hot sauces on Amazon!

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Gringo Bandito Super Hot / Red / Green

The green sauce wasn’t too hot, but it did leave a kick! I added a lot to one of my crockpot bowls one night and had to stop and take a picture because so many colors were popping out at me. Talk about nutrient-dense!

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This bowl SINGS with flavor

I also added some to a supposedly spicy pepper soup with shiritake noodles. Let me just say the soup would not have been spicy if not for the hot sauce that was added in!

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Spicing things up!

I also love the humor in the ingredients list. Of course there is going to be “more peppers”, haha!

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“More peppers!”

Of the three sauces, I first tried the Super Hot flavor that had scorpion chili pepper as an ingredient! Make sure you take this sauce seriously and be gentle with the portions!

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Take me seriously.
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Scorpion chili pepper…

When I visited my family over the holidays, I brought all three bottles over to enjoy on home-cooked meals!

About that super hot sauce…I made the mistake of adding a lot to a pot pie crust I had for dinner one night, and my mouth (and stomach!) would not forgive me for it!

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Doesn’t look like a lot but it is!!

It definitely adds a lot of flavor, and a little does certainly go a long way.

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Temperature-hot stew, chemical-hot crust

My sister is one of those people who loves Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but who dislikes spicy food. She tried the “regular” hot sauce though, and thoroughly enjoyed it! She had it on a sandwich my Dad made her.

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Not super aesthetic, but the hot sauce was good according to my sis 🙂

My Dad also treated me to some eye-popping, healthy-licious meals. I gave my stomach a break and tried the regular hot sauce on these:

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Vegetable medley w/ spiced up tofu
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Spicy stuffed pepper!

It harkened the tofu to get up and dance, and my stuffed bell pepper to boogie—in my mouth that is!

Are you a fan of hot sauce?
Spiraling Out of Texas

Spiraling Out of Texas

We left Houston on Thursday morning, and since we left in the late morning, the four hours to Dallas seemed longer than it actually was. We got to Dallas around 3:30pm, and we were all ravenous. My sister and Dad had taken turns driving during these four hours, but I had a lingering headache which grew as the hours ticked on.

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Spiral Diner on Beckley Ave., Dallas

We stopped at a vegan diner on Beckley Ave, just outside of downtown Dallas—Spiral Diner! Once we were inside, I was immediately reminded of Saturn Cafe in both Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

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Have a seat!

We were seated right away and my sis and I ploughed through the menu trying to figure out which entree would satisfy our raging appetites. For me, I had to go with the nachos. I was craving some chips and faux queso like crazy! My sis got a faux Philly cheesesteak and my Dad a pesto pasta dish with toasted bread.

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Just guess what I got…

All dishes came out beautifully presented, and close-to-perfection in taste.

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Oh hello nachos…

I ate every single chip (plus some of my sister’s) drenched in vegan queso, sour cream, beans, olives, jalapeños, and guacamole. It hit the spot, and with several gulps of water, my headache magically went away 😉

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Guac!

Whatever headache my sister may have had prior to this sandwich must have gone away too, no doubt about it!

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Sis’s gorg sandwich

I also had some of my Dad’s pasta dish. It wasn’t packed with flavor but it definitely tasted rich and filling with this particular sauce and pasta. The pasta was like a version of rigatoni that was smaller.

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The vegan parmesan & peas made it pretty.

For the next four hours on the road, my Dad agreed to drive since it was getting dark and I did express my tiredness from lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We made it back to Tulsa close to 10pm, and I went to sleep right away.

My sis and I only had four more days back in Tulsa, and ended up having to pack in more errands than “fun” things, but I didn’t mind too much since at least we had each other’s company. We did see Fences with a family friend, but it was too long and slow for me. We also didn’t do anything exciting for New Years…on the agenda was wearing fuzzy robes, watching whatever was on TV, and sleeping before midnight struck!

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Post-run requirements – fuzzy socks and a snack. Tried the Oh Yeah! One Cinnamon Roll Bar: “NYE snack from yesterday was the Cinnamon Roll Oh Yeah! One bar. The swirl and caramel ombré color of this bar were 😍 but the taste not so much 🙁. Was it too much cinnamon? That’s my guess because something was overpowering the sweetness. Okay, next time at @vitaminshoppe it’s on to the next one!

I also went back to running on a trail I grew fond of over the past two weeks. I hit 40 miles total for both the weeks I was away, and was even running at faster-than-normal paces. I had to stop and take a picture on my last run on Monday. I literally can’t believe that two weeks went by so fast…

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“I’m going to miss running on this trail! I was able to run 40 mi/week for two weeks (consecutively!), most of which was done on this trail by the Arkansas River. I also had to include some muggy Houston runs 😅 haha but I’m so excited to see my mileage ramping up, and to be running faster paces that look to be consistent. Ready to head back to Cali and keep up the work!!”

This trip was special in so many ways, and I think that’s why I felt pretty blue in the days leading up to my departure and my departure day. Time is so, so precious, and it’s trips like these that make me wish we could pause frames in time to replay over and over again. While I do plan to see my sis before her graduation, I may not see my Dad until then…so not for at least another five months! But at least it will be an exciting time then as well…Europe is in our future!

How did you enjoy the last days of 2016?

Spiral Diner & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Last Road Trip of 2016

Last Road Trip of 2016

Last year, we had a Christmas Day lunch since our Christmas Eve dinner was spent with family friends. This time, our schedule was flipped so that Christmas Eve was spent at home and the dinner-turned-lunch on Christmas Day was spent with the same family friends as last year.

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Plate #1 of my Christmas Eve dinner and a bird’s eye view of our feast.

Our menu was usual as years past, but now, it’s given us the opportunity to make up for Thanksgiving (at least in food). While my sis and I enjoyed this year’s humble Thanksgiving, it was nice to have Dad cook for us again, haha!

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I also did well in eating when I felt hungry throughout the day on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I didn’t “save” all my calories for the evening feast, like I would have in the past. When I felt like having a melty Lemon Meringue No Cow Bar with a melted L&L Snickerdoodle cookie, I did just that.

We exchanged gifts after our dinner, and had a relaxing day the day after. After lunch at our friends’ house, all of us collapsed into a deep nap.

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Another bar and snack combo—Chocolate Banana Bread No Cow Bar was a new try for me. Didn’t like the banana odor of course, but the bar texture stayed true in comparison to all of the other No Cow Bars.
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I accidentally deleted the unwrapped picture of the Chocolate Banana Bread flavor, but the Dark Raspberry Truffle one pictured here was pretty much identical in appearance. Not a huge fan of this one either!

We had an extra day to run errands/prepare for our short road trip on the day after Christmas. I also stocked up on some bars at GNC, including some new FitJoy bars. I tried the Birthday Cake flavor and immediately was a fan. I haven’t been a returning customer of FitJoy (except maybe for their chocolate chip cookie dough flavor), but their Birthday Cake flavor has a nice balance of vanilla cream coating with confetti crisps in the center. Something I can return to and enjoy!

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I can get along with this FitJoy!

Tuesday was a travel day on the road with a stop in Dallas to see a cousin we haven’t seen in YEARS and her newborn. Before leaving, I had the two seasonal FitJoy flavors I picked up: Iced Gingerbread and Winter Peppermint Bark.

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I love the dark green color on the wrapper!

I was a fan of both, and while Birthday Cake still “took the cake” in comparison, I couldn’t help but appreciate the cinnamon-looking flakes atop the Iced Gingerbread bar, and it’s holiday aroma. The Winter Peppermint Bark bar looked festive, as well as having a minty fresh taste.

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Pink peppermint pieces! A white icing swirl! Why aren’t all their bars like this??

It was a four hour trip to my cousin’s apartment, but it was so nice to catch up. The last time we saw her, my sister and I were in elementary school and she was 12! Her baby boy was adorable, and we had a humble lunch before leaving for Houston. It was another four hours from Dallas, and I gave my Dad a break from driving by taking the wheel. When we got to Houston that evening, we encountered intermittent but harsh rainstorms! It was an adventure to drive through for sure, so it was nice to have my Dad alongside me to guide me through it, haha.

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A fancy mall/apartment complex in the Upper Kirby area of Houston.

We reached my cousin’s place around 8pm, chatted for a bit, and had some pumpkin chili with bread rolls before going to bed. The next morning, I ran in the humid Houston weather and was drenched in sweat after five miles…was it really still winter? Haha, I did get a bit lost after taking a wrong turn, so I actually ended up having a 30 min cool-down walk before getting back to my cousin’s house.

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Pondicheri

We didn’t have any set plans, but we did finally leave for lunch once my cousin’s son and husband were ready. For lunch, we went over to a trendy Indo-fusion place called Pondicheri (not to be confused with Pondicherry, an actual city in India).

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Love the India decor!

The interior was colorful, with reds, yellows, and blues thrown everywhere like no tomorrow. The seating arrangements were slightly crowded though, and for a group of six we had to squeeze two small tables together.

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Rajma (what I got) description, and a colorful wordy wall by the restrooms.

All of us had a paneer cheese and spinach samosa to start off with as an appetizer. Hot sauce was used for dipping, and added some chemical heat to the temperature heat that was still stored inside the golden crust of the samosa. Steam came out so rapidly that it fogged up my phone camera!

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Aww, it looks so cute too!

For my entree, I had some rice with spicy vegetable rajma, which was basically a curry type dish that was spicy and bean-rich. I ultimately mixed the rice into this and had is as one combined bowl. I also picked at. T Dad’s morning thali, which had a variety of different sides, including oddly enough, oatmeal topped with pistachio!

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Rajma & tumeric rice

Everyone else had dosa, burgers, or a wrap called a Frankie, which is apparently a common street food Mumbai-style stuffed roti & egg wash wrap with cilantro chutney & marinated cabbage.

After filling up on lunch, we walked back to the van we drove in and made our way to a temple. The drive was long with traffic, so I dozed off along with everyone else in a passenger seat. We spent a good hour at the temple, and even took a moment to check out the peacock garden. There were four fluorescent blue males busy grooming their extravagant tails, and three bored females.

It was 4:30pm when we left, and we stopped at a strip mall with some Indian grocery stores and restaurants for some late afternoon coffee. The coffee was too milky for me, but it was enough to keep me slightly awake until we got back to my cousin’s house. We spent another two hours in the area for some Indian grocery shopping. Then another hour or so in traffic! Needless to say, at least my sister and I were exhausted by he time we got back. I immediately changed into my pajamas and did some data analysis on my laptop until dinner was ready.

We concluded the day with a spaghetti dinner, dessert from the bake shop Pondicheri that my cousin picked up when we were still at the restaurant earlier in the day, and board game playing. My cousin’s son had a board game called “Ticket to Ride” that he insisted we all participate in together. My sister compared it to the game Risk, and while it was a fun game, I honestly wanted to just head to my room and sleep since it had been a long day. We finished up around midnight, and I couldn’t have been more ready to land on my pillow! But at least I was the fun kind of exhausted.

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

A Hiatus from Life

A Hiatus from Life

Last year, I only had the chance to spend one full week with my family over the winter holidays. I had to fly back to LA a few days after Christmas in order to take care of things in lab that were time-sensitive. I spent New Year’s alone, and everything just felt out of place and deserted because others were lucky enough to spend all the time they could with their loved ones—my labmates included, haha.

Fortunately, I have some help this year and so I don’t have to rush back for anything. I am able to spend two whole weeks with my family to completely recharge, rest, run, and relax. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much relief departing LA! Even city girls need their sleep.

This whole week has been full of catching-up, and falling into a routine similar to how things used to be when I lived at home. Mornings have been spent sharing a coffee with my Dad at 7am, and splitting desserts and egg sandwiches at Panera.

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Pecan Braid from Panera Bread

I’ve been able to enjoy the fresh air during runs alongside the Arkansas River.

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Breathing in some cool, crisp air while running by the river.

The flat terrain and cold temperatures have allowed me to run at faster paces without TOO much effort 😉

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Pleased with my pace on this particular run 🙂

It’s also been nice to have access to a car, and just drive where I need to go. My sis and I went out a few times, just to run some errands, but even those moments have been so freeing! Blasting the radio and driving around town singing in the car with my sis has inevitably resulted in non-stop laughter and a dopamine high.

We’ve been splitting ice cream pints while watching stuff on Netflix, including this Confetti Cake ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s from Wal-Mart. It had a vanilla base, but there were chunks of birthday cake throughout and colorful bead-like sprinkles. I tried to cut the pint in half, but instead we did the safe thing and just scoop out half into a bowl.

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Pint night with the sis gets better when you find a cake-based flavor of ice cream!

I ate what was left in the carton, and that night we started Fuller House.

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Just look at the top of this thing!

We also went out to eat one night with my Dad before watching Moana at a discount price ($4/ticket!). We ended up going to Qdoba since neither of us have ever been, even though they have locations all around the country. 

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First time trying Qdoba…

The set-up reminded me of Freebirds, but the options were limited to what could be found at Chipotle. They didn’t have a veggie protein option though :/

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So orange + brown in here…

The three of us each got different things. My item was a “naked” burrito bowl with cilantro rice, black beans, greens, onions, tomatoes, corn salsa, hot sauce, and regular salsa.

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“Naked” Burrito Bowl

My sister and Dad got three veggie tacos and a veggie burrito respectively. My sis loved her tacos, but since my Dad found a long strand of hair in his burrito mid-way, it made sense that he lost his appetite and had his burrito refunded. I thought my burrito bowl tasted alright, but I felt the rice lacked flavor and overall, wished there was some veggie protein available to add some body to the bowl.

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Dad’s burrito and sister’s tacos.

The week concluded with some holiday dinners/lunches spent with family and friends which I’ll probably touch upon in the next post. We also have a quick trip to Texas planned, and then a few days left in Tulsa before I’ll have to fly back to LA! I’m definitely going to do my best to make the most of every single minute 😉

What’s your favorite part of the last two weeks of the year?

Qdoba Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat Enlightened Ice Cream Pints 2.0

Eat Enlightened Ice Cream Pints 2.0

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

I rent a room in a house of an elderly couple, so I usually feel slightly embarrassed when packages arrive addressed to me. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want them assuming things if a large box arrives that says “keep on ice” or “handle with care”. Haha, they’ve never brought up their curiosities surrounding my packages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were holding such thoughts back.

Anyways, regardless of what they thought, I was extremely excited to open up a box I received a few weeks ago to find all seven of the Eat Enlightened ice cream pints, all in brand new packaging.

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Eat Enlightened Ice Cream Pints: 2.0

I tried 6/7 flavors in earlier times, but I had not tried Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. Obviously, I used this opportunity to try the flavor that has been most elusive to me all this time.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. I love the bright orange color, and the cute little peanut butter jar doodle 🙂

The ice cream base definitely tasted thicker, and had a peanut flavor of course. The chocolate chips were more like small chocolate chunk bits. To be honest, I got tired of this combination very quickly, but I still had the whole pint in one sitting. I am now certain that this flavor isn’t one of my top favorites, but I am so happy to have finally tried it!

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One pint = 400 calories, 32g of Protein, and 18g of Fat. GIMMEEEE.

Back in April, I first tried Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch, and it left me with these thoughts:

“Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch on the other hand, made my Monday evening pleasant. After a long day in lab, coming home to this pint mixed with cookie pieces and oatmeal flakes in a caramel base was super comforting.”

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Hello polka-dotted cutie!

The new version is just as comforting as before. On first glance, I didn’t see an abundance of cookie crunch pieces, but the swirl was still there and once I got into the pint, the cookie pieces made themselves known.

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LOL, obviously that laptop peep indicates I was eating this while analyzing data—okay, maybe it was actually while watching Netflix 😉

I first tried Frozen Hot Cocoa the same weekend as COCC, and even topped it with a bar that did not spark the enlightened (he he) thoughts that occurred after tasting my first spoon of this pint:

“Frozen Hot Cocoa blew me away…probably because the ingredients listed GHEE as an ingredient (which I have never seen as an ice cream ingredient before!!) and the swirls were insanely delicious. Of course I soon got tired of the chocolate, but those swirls!!”

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I wonder how this would taste alongside a cup of hot cocoa. Would it be too much?

Yup, those swirls still had me. I can go through miles of chocolate ice cream if cream swirls are involved!

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The marshmallow is not gelatin-based, so this is vegetarian-friendly!

Apparently, I appreciated the “earthy mint” flavor of Mint Chocolate Chip in my prior tasting of it.

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I called it an “earthy” mint, but “refreshing” sounds just about right!

I knew that I would continue to like this flavor, unless there was a major change in its formulation. Fortunately, that was not the case. This time around, I topped it with a D’s Natural Mint Cocao Bar. Delicious times all around!

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A Minty Match!

“But Sea Salt Caramel absolutely took my breath away. Some would argue that the caramel swirls might be too sweet, but it was all too perfect for me…ahh, if they weren’t almost $6 a pint, I would have stocked up for sure.”

I have been in awe of this flavor from the very beginning. The bright blue packaging and cursive font has only made this admiration stronger.

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A classic favorite. If you are trying any of these ice creams for the first time, I highly recommend that this be your first!!

Since I’ve also picked up an infatuation for RX Bars, I topped it with a Coconut Chocolate RX Bar. I say, this is a tropical combo (sea + salt + coconut) that can’t be argued with 😉

caramel-with-an-rx-bar
don’t remember the caramel swirl of the Sea Salt Caramel flavor being as salty as it is now (a pleasant change IMO) but I thought I’d go along with this ocean theme and top it with a chocolate COCONUT RX Bar. This made for some happy snacking 👌🏽

I tried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough a few weeks before this box arrived, and it was a good pick-me up after learning about the election.

“I seriously had a loss of appetite after Tuesday’s events, so I’m glad its back and roared up again, haha. Despite the sadness that creeped up over me yesterday, I had to be happy about one small thing…finding the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Eatenlightened pint! I’ve been complaining about how it’s been hard to locate anywhere in LA, but I happened to find these stocked on the shelves at a Bristol Farms in Santa Monica (on Wilshire, right across from Petco, for those who are local and have been trying to find this elusive flavor yourself)! Sometimes it helps to eat your sorrows away, if it involves cookie dough chunks and a smooth, creamy ice cream 😉”

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Not sure I like a medium yellow color for the packaging of this pint, but this doesn’t take away from what’s inside…

In the past few weeks since first trying it, my thoughts haven’t changed. I may have had the newer pint when it didn’t completely thaw (so it wasn’t completely smooth), but the taste was still spectacular, and the chocolate chip/cookie dough ratio was just right.

awwwthatadorbscookiechunk
Yup, cookie dough checks out!

I subconsciously saved the Triple Chocolate flavor for last, as I wasn’t too fond of it when I first tried it:

 “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)”

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Love the chocolate bar doodle!

For some reason, the chocolate ice cream wasn’t too overwhelming this time around, maybe because I was too focused on the chocolate fudge sauce swirl 🙂 ? Like I said, contrasting swirls balance everything out.

fugeisthatu
Oh that fudge!

Overall, all of the flavors have stayed consistent in their formulation and tasted how I remembered (with the excpetion of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, since this box allowed me to try it for the first time). I also think the switch from plasic to paper-based packaging was a good decision, as it’ll make recycling them a simpler task.

Which of these flavors are your favorite, or which would you like to try?

The Lion’s Pack Cookie Dough Review & An Overdue Survey

The Lion’s Pack Cookie Dough Review & An Overdue Survey

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation or product samples from The Lion’s Pack. The products were purchased by me, and all opinions are my own.

After hearing so many positive reviews about The Lion’s Pack (previously The Lion’s Choice), I decided that now was a better time than any to make my first purchase and try one of their most raved about products—their high-protein, vegan-friendly edible cookie dough! I was already spending money online with online gift shopping for friends and family, so I thought why not just get a 4-pack of the cookie dough, ignore the fact I was paying $45 for said cookie dough, and “act pleasantly surprised” when it arrived at my doorstep.

I later learned that it takes at least two weeks for an order to arrive, since it takes a week to get onto the production line (they make all of their orders fresh), and then another week to package and ship out. The USPS tracking was a mess too. I ended up going to the post office because I received a tracking notification that said the postman tried to deliver the package but the receptacle was blocked? It made no sense since the mailbox I use is right by the front door. I ended up going to the post office the next day, but they didn’t have my package either. Fortunately, it was waiting for me that evening on the doorstep.

From my calculations, it took ~16 days for a 4-pack order to arrive from the day of order to the day of delivery. My anticipations and temporary frustrations vanished when I opened the parcel:

dough____
The Lion’s Pack Edible Cookie Dough

I ordered the Birthday Cake, Snickerdoodle, Samoa Cookie, and Oreo Cookie flavors. I twisted open the birthday cake flavor first, and after gazing into the confetti-mixed concoction, I grabbed a spoon and dug in. Honestly, I had high hopes but the flavor didn’t match my expectations. It tasted like vanilla dough with sprinkles…no magical frosting swirl or cake bits like one would imagine.

birthday_cookie
Birthday Cake

Snickerdoodle was similar in that sense, but it did have a cinnamon-like flavor and what tasted like crystallized sugar beads.

snickerdoodle
Snickerdoodle

Oreo cookie was amazing. It literally had oreo cookie pieces with the cream filling still intact.

lionspack_oreo
Oreo Cookie

I mean, wow.

oreo_
Hello 🙂

And finally, Samoa Cookie. There were coconut flakes immersed throughout and chocolate chips to accompany them. Out of the four, this tasted the most like the type of cookie dough you would roll into balls for baking, and chewy, textured cookies would result.

samoa_cookie_dough
Samoa cookie dough with coconut flakes peeking out 🙂

I love how all of the flavors are vegan-friendly, and one jar is ~1000 calories, which is about what a Ben and Jerry’s pint would come out to. They can easily fit into one’s meal plan for the day, and they have a good amount of probiotics too!

Because it does take two weeks for an order to arrive, I already placed my second order so that it will arrive a few days after I come back to LA 😉

Now, time for a survey because it’s been way too long. Found this one first on Irina’s blog :

1. Do you eat blue cheese?
I love blue cheese in salads (I’m a fan of feta), and as a special add-in ingredient in sandwiches or Mediterranean plates with falafel, but I wouldn’t say it’s my go-to cheese. Actually, I don’t find myself eating dairy-based cheese on its own as much as I used to.

beanitos
I will have it if it coats some white bean-based chip puffs that are >> than Cheetos Puffs.

2. Can you whistle?
No, not really. I can blow a bubble with chewing gum.

3. Do you get nervous before a doctor’s appointment?
It depends on the type of visit. Usually no, but it depends.

4. How many televisions do you have?
One, but I predominatly use my humble laptop to mostly watch YouTube and Netflix. I did have a TV in my old apartment that belonged to the apartment complex, and since moving, now have a TV in the room I rent.

5. What do you think of hot dogs?
How about veggie dogs? I love veggie dogs!

6. Do you do push-ups?
Yeaaaa-no. LOL!

7. Favorite girl’s and boy’s names?
I don’t really have favorites. Never given it much thought actually.

8. Do you have ADD?
No, probably the opposite! I’m always complaining of being tired/needing more sleep.

9. What is one thing you dislike about yourself?
I feel like this is an un-motivating question…

10. What’s in your pocket right now?
Nothing because I am wearing my pajama pants with cupcakes and macaroons on them 🙂

fitjoy
If I did have pockets, they would be holding bars for sure. Maybe not these ones because these Fitjoy Bars were sub-par…
barz
Chocolate Peanut Butter (top) & Mint Chocolate Crisp (bottom)

11. Do you own slippers?
Yes! Bunny ones in fact, but I haven’t worn them since moving since my room is carpeted. My old apartment had “wood” flooring so I wore slippers so my feet wouldn’t get dirty.

12. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
I’ve had some annoying running-related injuries (groin pull and a posterior shin splint, ugghhh), but I think the worst injury that I remember was when a girl threw a softball at me in my middle school P.E. class and it hit me right on the mouth. I had braces, so my lips were swollen and bruised for like a week. Needless to say, that girl became my enemy…

13. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
This is the hardest question ever. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Birthday Cake, Strawberry, Cookies & Cream, the Ben and Jerry’s core pints…I could go on…

chocolate_sea_salt
It would also be hard question to answer if it was changed to which flavor RX Bar is my favorite. Chocolate Sea Salt is a contender though!

14. How do you ring in the New Year?
Drinking sparkling cider and going to bed right after the ball drops.

15. Favorite month?
August because 1) birthday month and 2) summer weather at its finest.

Take a spin at this survey! 😉

Choc-A-Lot Lovin’

Choc-A-Lot Lovin’

When I lived near DTLA, it honestly sometimes felt like a chore to plan long runs on the weekends. When my marathon team was training, it was easier to run the long runs with them because of the company (safety in numbers!) and varied routes/locations each week. On my own however, I was restricted to a limited route in downtown that often included multiple loops, depending on if it was a 10 or 14 miler. I also had to be weary about the time I set out to go run, either due to weather or safety concerns.

While those urban runs have a soft spot in my heart, these circumstances have made me more grateful that I have the opportunity to live where I do now. Running to the beach, running alongside the beach, and just being in Santa Monica makes running so much more easier. Sometimes just running alongside the beach can get mundane, but the views are so humbling.

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Hello home 🙂

After I finished a 11 miler on Sunday, I had to stop and take in the moment atop some steps by the pier. Once I had my moment of gratitude, I continued on forward because a certain donut shop was calling my name 😉

Another thing I love about living in SaMo is the fact that there are so many amazing restaurants, cafes, and shops here that people from all over make their travel plans around. I was (and still am) that person who has a long list of all the foodie places I want to go to. When I first moved to LA, the majority of them were in Santa Monica/West LA, and since then, the list has grown to include even MORE places in the West side of the city…

sidecar
Sidecar Doughnuts!

One of those places was Sidecar Doughnuts. They recently opened shop in SaMo, expanding north from their roots in Costa Mesa. The line was already long when I came by a little before 10.

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Hipsters wait for doughnuts.

They had all sorts of fruity and seasonal flavors, but for some reason the chocolate flavor called out to me so loudly, haha. Maybe it was the glaze, glistening brightly through the glass.

um_yeah
Um, yeah doughnuts!!

Everyone around me was getting sampler trays and boxes. I have yet to purchase more than one doughnut from a doughnut shop, but maybe one of these days I’ll have a reason to.

coool
That lady was busy picking out a box of doughnuts, lol

This time around, it was just me and this Choc-A-Lot doughnut 🙂

side
Raised chocolate ring topped with chocolate glaze and cocoa nibs

The doughnut had a cake texture, and the chocolate glaze had solidified so that the cacao nibs on top stayed perfectly in place. It was photogenic and worthy of a food magazine cover shot.

I also had a latte on the side, but it was disgusting. Sidecar, just stick to doughnuts please…

dontgetthis
This latte, ick.

I would not call myself a doughnut person, but I would rank this particular doughnut high, high up there. Plus, all the Cali hipsters were here that Sunday morning. That’s gotta count for something right 😉 ?

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

December Degustabox!

December Degustabox!

With all the cooking ingredients in last month’s Degustabox, I was elated that this month’s box featured a lot more snack-ables—including some sweet treats (hellooooo cookies 😀 ).

december_box
December’s Degustabox Delectables

The Purely Simple baking mix and frosting pack were an interesting find in this month’s box. I haven’t seen this in stores yet, but I’m glad to see that global brands like Pillsbury are attempting to make products that stray away from using artificial ingredients.

purely_simple
Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake & Cupcake Mix and Pillsbury Purely Simple Buttercream Frosting Mix

I didn’t have time to bake with them personally, but I thought it was a good idea to drop it off at a holiday cookie decorating party my running team was having. I did try a bit of the frosting mix though…in some oatmeal.

frosting-oatmeal
Frosting oatmeal…? I try 😛

For some reason, I thought that the frosting mix would “magically” turn into frosting…because that’s what it’s supposed to do right? Haha…I honestly did not notice any difference to my oatmeal after adding a tablespoon or so of the mix. So now you know.

It was the first time I tried roasted fava beans, thanks to Kala Beautiful Beans. These were crisp, salted, and peppered, and added SO much texture to my crockpot bowl already full of shredded cabbage, eggplant, and bell pepper. The whole bag didn’t fit the bowl, so I had to add more as I ate through the contents of the bowl 😛

kala
KALA Beautiful Beans – Simply Peppered Beans

I’ve seen the Good Thins brand around lately, the last time being when someone from the next door lab had the sweet potato ones for lunch. This box was “the oat one”, specifically the sweet oat and flax.

good__thins
Good Thins – Sweet Oat & Flax

Each crisp was perfectly square, and had bits of flax seeds peeking out. They definitely had a malty, sweet flavor to them, and while they made for the perfect snack on their own, I’m sure they would have tasted spectacular with some dip.

A lot of people have been getting sick in my workplace, but these Ricola lozenges weren’t something I was too keen on sharing.

ricola_1
Ricola Herbal Immunity – Honey Herb Lozenges

They were Honey Herb flavored, and the packaging went on forever, haha! And while each lozenge has no artificial colors/flavors or GMOs, as well as being packed with Swiss herbs and ginseng, they could be treated and eaten like candy.

lozenge_
Really, it’s just like candy.

I actually can’t recall the last time I had jam or jelly…it’s been all nut butter for me lately. If you don’t eat PB&J sandwiches regularly, the thought of buying jelly or jam from the grocery store doesn’t seem to stick around (pun intended!).

strawberry_jalapeno
Smucker’s Fruit & Honey – Strawberry Jalapeño Fruit Spread

I received a small jar of Smucker’s Fruit and Honey fruit spread in strawberry jalapeno (yes, jalapeno), which has been sweetned naturally with honey. I think that because of the honey, the spread wasn’t as thick as a regular jam. It did taste sweeter though, which for this flavor was off-set by the jalapeno bits. While at first this mix of flavor profiles was fun, it got annoying pretty quickly. After a while it seems like a chore, having to avoid the jalapeno pieces once they start to get tiring.

The Loacker biscuits were insanely delicious!! Overall, I preferred the coconut flavor over Noir Orange, but both flavors rocked.

loacker_noirorange
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Noir Orange

I love how the coconut flavor had a generous amount of coconut flakes over each biscuit, and that the coating was milk chocolate. The noir orange coating was a dark chocolate, and even though it was a wafer cookie, it had a bumpy puffed rice texture. The nutrition was not as “bad” as one would expect either—120 calories for 3-4 biscuits, but nothing stopped me from eating more than that in one go.

loacker_coconut
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Coconut

I’ve always preferred cookies to be chewy, so I never was a huge fan of Chips Ahoy! growing up. When they came out with the chewy version, I was all about those, but it’s been a while since I first had them in elementary school!

thins
Chips Ahoy! Thins – Cinnamon Sugar

Many years later, the brand is still going strong with a “thins” version of their cookie, which are flatter and crispier, almost like thick, kettle-cooked potato chips. This particular flavor was cinnamon sugar, and it was impossible to complain about there being a LACK of cinnamon sugar! There were even white chocolate chips thrown in. Overall, I liked the flavor, I just wish they were chewier of course.

Another sweet treat was a small bundle of Honey Acres honey straws. There was an assortment of flavors that included clover, lemon, orange, raspberry, and mint chocolate. The mint chocolate was my favorite since it had the thickest consistency of all the flavors.

honey_straws
Honey Straws, yum!!

I ate them on their own, but they could easily be added to tea or on top of oatmeal for some extra flavor and sweetness.

I first tried Wise popcorn when I received my first ever Degustabox back in June. This month’s box included a giant bag of their white cheddar popcorn, but I couldn’t confirm if the enzymes used to make the cheese they use to flavor the popcorn were microbial or rennet based. So unfortunately, I couldn’t sample the popcorn myself, but at least my lab-mates got some free food out of it.

wise_popcorn_white_cheddar
Wise Popcorn – White Cheddar

One odd product in this box was a microwaveable 3-minute meal with a mix of flavored grains. The flavor was noted as “beef burgundy”, but I looked at the ingredients list multiple times and did not see the words “beef” or “meat”. I was certainly surprised, but I didn’t want to take a chance on it in case the natural flavors were of animal origin.  Yet another product left for my co-workers…

urbane_
A meat-less meat product?

There were honestly many great finds in this month’s box, which made up for the few products I couldn’t fully enjoy. Well, I must say that if there are at least three different dessert items that are equally great-tasting, then my needs are met 😉 !

Are you a cookies or crisps/chips kind of person?

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