Crockpots, Shower Glass, and Running Into Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What a night...

What a night…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Made with clearance vegetables :P

Made with clearance vegetables :P

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

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

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

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

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

 Quiet Grove // Nike Running // Trying on Pegasus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LA Living, Week 1

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

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

Day1

The view from up here.

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

Day2

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

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

Day3

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

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

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

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

Day5

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

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

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

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

 Awkward construction

Awkward construction

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

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

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

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

Inside Currywurst

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

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

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

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

Getting to the Details

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

 Total demolition of food.

Total demolition of food.

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

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

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

summerdayathegrove

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

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

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

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

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

Currywurst US on Urbanspoon

Moving In

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artic Zero Orange Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

ok is ok

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

elephants in the bathroom

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

Inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

Moving Out

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

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

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Last cup of froyo with fam for a while…

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

Urbane Cafe Storefront-1

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

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

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

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

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

I moved out on Saturday morningto be continued ;) !

Urbane Cafe on Urbanspoon

Getting Ready

It’s hard to believe that within a week, I will be living on my own for the first time. I commuted as an undergrad, and even though I did spend my first year in the dorms, I came home almost every weekend without doubt. Seeing as I will now be about 7 hours away, that’s not going to be possible.

But that’s okay. I’ve been waiting for this transition—for this time to stand on my own two feet (as cliche as it may sound)—for quite some time now. It’s just hard to believe that all this waiting is coming to a close and that it is finally happening.

My Dad and I had to fly down for my program’s orientation last week (he for business), so that also gave me a good opportunity to check in on my apartment and get some other errands done. The orientation was in the morning, and I was out by early afternoon. I was able to cool off with a chilly find from Sprouts as a snack.

Artic Zero Sea Salt Caramel

One of the newer flavors of Artic Zero—Sea Salt Caramel :) ! It was so scorching outside and in the car, so this was a great way to cool off on the way to the hotel. I also think this is my new favorite flavor, since it actually tastes like a caramel fudgesicle, if not ice cream. 

After checking into the hotel, I spent some time resting up before we decided to head out to some place local for dinner, since driving in LA traffic didn’t seem like something my Dad and I both felt like doing. Finding some fresh and filling food was not a problem, however, since Natural Selection was only 5 minutes away from the hotel.

Outdoorz

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

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indoors

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

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There was a menu on the wall, but I already knew what I wanted since I had taken a look at their menu online prior to heading out.

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We found a spot to sit at near the front window, and on the wall across from us were some picture collages of organic food/local farm produce logos cut out from boxes.

Wall Decor

After about ten minutes, my Dad’s drink came out: a strawberry-kiwi all-natural juice. It definitely tasted like the fruits were freshly-pressed, but it was a bit watery for my taste.

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Soon after the drink came out, our plates arrived. I tackled my Hawaiian Burger with a knife and fork. The pineapple ring was what classified this burger as Hawaiian I suppose, but overall it was a tasty burger. I especially liked the teriyaki/yogurt mayo combo (and adding siracha helped with the flavor too)!!

Hawaiian Burger - Veggie or turkey patty, jack cheese, grilled organic pineapple, organic tomatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt based mayo, teriyaki sauce on a whole  wheat bun

Hawaiian Burger – Veggie or turkey patty, jack cheese, grilled organic pineapple, organic tomatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt based mayo, teriyaki sauce on a whole wheat bun

My Dad’s Meditteranean Wrap—he was eating the other half when this picture was taken :P .

Mediterranean Wrap Grilled chicken breast, feta cheese, black olives, organic baby greens, cucumbers, hummus and homemade Mediterranean dressing

Mediterranean Wrap – Grilled chicken breast Veggie patty, feta cheese, black olives, organic baby greens, cucumbers, hummus and homemade Mediterranean dressing

While it would have been nice to have more fruit on the side, I appreciated how they were at least blackberries and kiwi—in other words, a “pricier” offering ;)

Not sure when my next post will be up, but since this week is going to be jam-packed with things I need to do, will do, and hope to do regarding my move and school, blogging may have to take a back-seat until when I am all settled in ;) !

What are your thoughts on moving?

Natural Selection on Urbanspoon

Birthday = Crossing Places Off the Foodie Bucket List

What’s the best way to celebrate a {summer} birthday? A lot of bloggers definitely know how, since there have been many birthday recaps as of late ;) , but for me, certainly three things are necessary: close friends, things to do, and tasty food. My birthdays in recent years had all of these “ingredients” and were successful as a result. Last year’s was memorable for sure, but I truly appreciated being able to celebrate my birthday this year with those closest to me and at places I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while.

The day started with a run to the gym, and then after getting ready, my friends and I drove to SF. We first dropped off my friend’s brother at his friend’s house, and then made our way over to SoMa (after fighting traffic and keeping our eyes peeled for a parking spot…). I let the frustrations get to me, and let my Dad take over to look for a spot while my sis, friend, and I walked over to the restaurant. We found him waiting at the entrance…apparently, there was parking right in front of the restaurant.

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

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I insisted that lunch be on me, and took care of the bill. I also suggested we get four dishes to share family-style so we could all try different things. I was surprised by how empty the place was, even though it was lunchtime.

source inside

I took advantage of the opportunity however, and tried to discreetly take pictures of the space. Source was featured on an episode of Mystery Diners, and has been on my bucket list of places to eat after finding out it was a vegan restaurant in the Bay Area. They also have a smaller location, Source Mini, in Berkeley.

SOURCE

In their menu, they use fake meat, but refer to it as “cluck”, “oink”, or “moo” depending on what meat it is “supposed” to be. Our four dishes came out after ~15 minutes even though it seemed like longer. The first to come out was the Vegan Mousaka. I originally wanted to get the Jamaican Jerk Cluck (cluck <– fake chicken & veggies cooked in jerk sauce, with organic brown basmati rice, black beans & chutney), but they had unfortunately sold out :( . Although it wasn’t meant to be an appetizer, it served its role as one, and worked as a great thick tomato dip for the pita bread pieces it was served with.

grilled layered eggplant with cinnamon, all spice, garbanzo, mushroom, tomato, topped with cashew “béchamel” sauce

A little while later, the waitress arrived with the “real” appetizer: Baked Vegan Spinach Artichoke Fondue. My sis and friend were enthusiatic about this particular dish, and so I let them have at it since I wanted to save room for the other two dishes that had yet to come to our table.

roasted peppers, spinach cashew cream, truffle oil & pita bread

We had to ask for some more pita bread to get all of the dip out of the bowl!

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My absolute favorite was the Chile Cluck Pizza. It had a sweet and spicy flavor that was out of this world, and it was made on such a thin crust so it didn’t make me feel too stuffed to tackle the…

cluck, mozzarella, plum tomato sauce, sriracha sauce, parmesan, truffle oil & balsamic glaze

Country Shepherds Pie! My sis picked out this one and I thought she made a good choice. I wasn’t a fan of the mashed potato topping, but the filling was warm, satiating, and perfectly paired with the mini, sliced sourdough on the side.

moo (fake meat), mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion, topped with roasted mashed potatoes

After our nice, quiet, and fulfilling lunch, I drove us over to the Golden Gate Bridge. My friend and I were talking about how she never could walk across the whole bridge because her family would always complain it’s too cold/long, so I wanted us to be able to finally do it together. It quickly turned from sunshine to fog, and I sort of regretted not bringing a jacket (you think I would remember after all these years…), but fortunately I was at least wearing longsleeves.

While we were able to stop for photos and take in the view, the walk was anything but pleasant. There was a strong wind, noise from passing cars, bikers who didn’t know how to bike politely, and it was very, very cold. I honestly felt like having a warm cup of coffee on the way back!

Golden Gate Bridge

After the walk, it was time for birthday cake vegan cinnamon rolls! Cinnaholic was another foodie-destination of mine, and I thought why not celebrate the b-day with a different kind of sweet? Leaving the city during rush hour was madness, but we still made it through to the other side—even if it was an hour and a half later than we would have liked.

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I learned about Cinnaholic after the owners appeared on an episode of Shark Tank. At first, I thought they just shipped out orders of vegan cinnamon rolls, but when I learned they had an actual establishment (actually very near to Saturn Cafe!), I knew I had to make a visit.

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The idea behind the custom roll is you pick your flavor of frosting followed by toppings. They also have recipes for their own combos (like S’mores), have other baked goods for sale (cookies, brownies), and have mini buns too!

inside cinnaholic!

We all decided to get two rolls and share. Our first roll was a rootbeer frosting + graham cracker topping combo, and our second was a pina colada frosting + raspberries combo.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

To be frank, the rolls were not as amazing as I wanted them to be. While we attacked the rolls with excitment at the beginning, our initial excitment plummeted mid-rolls. The roll base itself tasted dry, wasn’t that sweet, and both frosting flavors didn’t have much flavor other than the taste of pure icing/sugar. At least I can now cross it off my list…

Despite nourishing myself with food I had my heart set on for months, I still felt hungry. Actually, I felt oddly ravenous all day. While the girls felt full (and spent some time in a book shop), my Dad and I thought it would be best to end the day with the frozen yogurt, this time his treat. The Yogurtland on the corner was the solution.

Mix of different flavors. Toppings include mochi, cookie dough pieces, mango poppers, white yogurt chips, mini caramel cups.

Despite the nuissance of city traffic and parking, it was a splendid day overall. I also had that “letdown” feeling that usually passes over me after a great and eventful day, so I knew that I had spent my time the best way possible. It’s hard to believe another year in my life has gone by though! Should I be scared or excited ;) ?

Do you like the season that your birthday falls under? Summer birthdays are the best, period. Sorry to you spring/fall/winter babies ;) !!

Source on Urbanspoon Cinnaholic on Urbanspoon

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast

Happy Monday! Thought I would keep things short, sweet, and protein-filled with a recipe for today:

Fig & Brussels Sprouts Protein Roast
Serves 1
A weekend lunch with three simple ingredients---figs, brussels sprouts, and egg whites!
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. - 10 or so plump fresh brussels sprouts, halved
  2. - 4 or 5 figs, quartered
  3. - 1/2 onion sliced
  4. - Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  5. - Chili powder
  6. - Salt
  7. - 1 tsp brown sugar
  8. - Dill or rosemary (some dry green herb you like)
  9. - Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Spread sprouts on a foil. Spray lightly with Pam.
  2. Broil at 400F for about 10 minutes.
  3. Turn and broil another 10 minutes or until done (browned, but not burned).
  4. Saute onions in a pan and add sugar, salt, and spices.
  5. Add mushrooms and cook a bit.
  6. Add sprouts and toss.
  7. Turn off stove. Add figs into toss, and serve right away.
  8. Serve with bread :) !
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Okay, so the protein mostly comes from the hard-boiled egg whites in this dish (per 100g, egg whites have 11g of protein while brussels sprouts and figs have ~3 1/2g and ~1g respectively), but I can’t deny that combining figs, brussels sprouts, and egg whites all together was pure serendipity. My friend’s grandparents grow figs in their backyard, so when we were gifted with a plate full of green California figs, I had to figure out some way to make use of them instead of just gobbling them all up as is (even though they tasted incredible on their own!!)

 Green fig glory.

Green fig glory.

Adding brussels sprouts and egg whites “just happened” to follow, and what resulted was a great way to refuel after a Saturday morning gym session and running morning errands.

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The last of my friend’s figs gifted to us were used in the making of this dish…sometimes you just don’t know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone! Now I’m left with two options: 1) wait till next summer to make this again or 2) bring the empty plate back to my friend’s house, leave it nonchalantly on the counter top, and keep reiterating to her howmuchIloved♥ those figs ;)

Figs—love ‘em or hate ‘em? 

Kites and Colucci

Last weekend, we were fighting a small heat wave where I live, so a trip to the Bay to meet up with my cousin was an agreeable decision made by all of us. It just so happened that Berkeley was also having its annual Kite Festival, and what a stupendous coincidence it was.

Add a Title

We met my cousin around 3pm, and boarded a free shuttle (which was really a school bus) to take us to where the kites were. The ironic thing was that it wasn’t really free, since we couldn’t get out of paying for parking :/ . After leaving the shuttle, we were greeted by so many beautiful sights in the sky and on the ground.

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Even a little after 3pm, the crowds were still strong.

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As we approached the center of the scene, I got a close-up of some professional kites. Like these multi-themed octopi:

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I thought the swimmer & scuba diver kites were an interesting idea! The only odd part was they had no faces(??)

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There was even a group helping the tiniest of kids control a kite. This little tot had a tight hold of..

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…this kite wayyyyyyyyy up high!

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Running around in a gerbil ball in a kiddie pool looked like a lot of fun too—except even if I could, I wasn’t appropriately dressed, wearing my nice work dress and all…

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We soon made our way down the hill to where the food stalls were all lined up. They had everything from knishes to pupusas. My cousin got a potato knish, while my Dad got a bag of kettle corn that we split among all of us.

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After mulling about where to stop and sit, we found an area behind the food stalls where people were sitting down and families were busy flying their own kites. We sat down ourselves, and chatted while also gazing up at the marvels in the sky now and then.

It was also pretty breezy, and about a half an hour later, the wind started to pick up even more. Noticing that my sister and I had goosebumps, my cousin suggested that we head back. At that point, I could not believe I was complaining about how hot it was earlier in the day. The Bay Area will forever be a weather anomaly!

Since it was 5:30pm by the time we packed up and reached the car, dinner plans were discussed. We first headed out to a cute Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, but the line was 40+ people long and it was inching towards 6pm. I wasn’t too bothered though, because once the word “Ethiopian” was brought up, I thought yesyesyes, but really said, “That sounds good.” :D

We carpooled with my cousin for a 10 minute drive to Oakland, and saw our destination across the street. 

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All of the outdoor seating was taken on this Sunday evening, which prevented me from getting good pictures of the outdoor area. (I didn’t want to look like a stalker to those sitting outside!)

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Once we were situated inside, we were able to take a look at the menu. 

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The breakfast items featured on the half-page sounded delicious, but obviously it was way past morning-time. Even if they were available for purchase at the time when we arrived, I still think we all would have defaulted into ordering the usual: two Veggie Combos to split family-style. It does come with all the fix-ins and injera you could ask for. We also asked for a side order of the mushroom tibs, you know, because we were feeling ultra-daring ;) .

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I later learned that the restaurant used to be an Italian Restaurant, but the owners decided to keep the name. I think they did a pretty good job with the decorations, artwork, and logo—despite not being so creative with a name change :P

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After some time spent people-watching and conversing, our food arrived.

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They combined two Veggie Combo orders plus Mushroom Tibs all on one plate apparently. It was most certainly a feast for the eyes first.

Veggie Combo - Azifa, Buticha, Messer Wot, Kik-Alicha, Gomen, & Atakit

Veggie Combo – Azifa (lentils), Buticha (the white hummus-like looking dollop of chicpea deliciousness!!), Messer Wot (spicy legumes), Kik-Alicha (split pea in tumeric sauce), Gomen (collard greens), & Atakit (cabbage, carrot, potatoes) + Mushroom Tibs (sauteed mushrooms)

Once we all got our own share of napkins and gluten-free, 100% teff flour injera rolls, it was time to dig in!

 Injera = time to eat :D

Injera = time to eat :D

Everything tasted so fresh and summer-y, and the plate itself looked like a rainbow. My sister and I were in an unspoken race to see who could get their injera with the most buticha (the white hummus-like dip that looks like cream cheese but tastes somuchbetter), but I also made my way to the other sides on the plate. As a self-proclaimed Ethiopian food fan, I felt that it was my duty to give myself a good-size serving of everything ;)

After dinner, we spent two more hours at my cousin’s apartment for coffee and tea. We then made our way home when the sun went down since the next day was a working day…but on the brightside, at least our weekend ended, and our week started, on the most colorful note possible :)

Have you ever been to a kite festival?

Cafe Colucci on Urbanspoon

A Commercial Take on Overnight Oats

Disclaimer: I was NOT endorsed by Chobani for this review. This review is based on the products I bought on my own from a discount grocery store. 

I remember way back in 2011 when overnight oats was such a trendy thing in the foodie blogosphere. When I first began blogging publicly, I was intrigued by the concept of soaking oats overnight in milk or yogurt, and then adding things like dried fruit, nut butter, and chocolate chips to the mix the following morning.

It has taken three years for “the rest of the world” to catch up to what us food-obsessed bloggers kept secret for so long, and not surprisingly, it was Chobani that took the leap into commercializing the overnight oats concept, through their Chobani Oats line.

They have four flavors in the collection: Apple Cinnamon, Banana Maple, Blueberry, and Cranberry. I happened to stumble upon ¾ flavors at my local Grocery Outlet. Not only was I in pleasant shock after seeing that these even existed, but after noticing that they were only $0.59 a cup, you better believe I stocked up!!

I tried all three flavors that same day after a shift at work and dinner. Looking back, I noticed that I ended up eating them in alphabetical order. That was not done on purpose, at all ;)

All of the yogurts in this collection have a goopy texture from the steel-cut oats mixed in, but it seems to me that the thick consistency that makes greek yogurt what it is was downgraded by the presence of the oats. So all of the yogurts pretty much tasted like regular, more fluid yogurt mixed with oats. 

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All cups are 160 calories, have decent protein content, and ensure those who are foreign to overnight oats that it is, in fact, “ready to eat—serve chilled”.

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Apple Cinnamon was my least favorite I have to say. As much as I wanted to be a fan of all flavors, I wasn’t exactly raving about the mini apple chunks or off-cinnamon taste.

Apple Cinnamon

Banana Maple was alright. I didn’t taste the banana flavor that much though, really.

Banana Maple

I’m surprised Chobani doesn’t already have a cranberry-flavored greek yogurt, but as part of this collection, the cranberry yogurt+steel oats combo was a winner. Not only was the yogurt colored pink, but there were decent-sized chunks of cranberry thrown in too!

Cranberry

Unfortunately, blueberry was nowhere in sight when I made my grocery store visit. Perhaps it’s too popular to be overstock? In that case, I guess that means I really do need to try it ;) !

Have you seen/tried the new Chobani Oats line?

Summer Walks, Afternoon Snackin’

I haven’t been in the blogging mood much lately…mostly because I’ve been getting my daily dose of Vitamin D,and then some.

Clear blue skies and sun rays on morning walk

Clear blue skies and sun rays on morning walk.

Sure, it hasn’t been super breezy, which does make taking long morning walks a bit more challenging (fighting against the hot weather and the stink sweat that results), but I have been enjoying myself nonetheless. 

These walks have been a great time to…

do my share of drought-shaming (bad neighbor, bad!). As a Californian, I’ve gotta do my part in this whole drought awareness campaign-thing ;)

 drought shaming

If you are going to water your lawn, water the stuff that’s green only, please. The sidewalk isn’t thirsty. :/

marvel at local nature. Knowing that the scenery of my local strolls will shift in the coming months (thanks to my move :) ! ), I’ve been trying to be more present on my walks, taking into consideration the quirky nuances of  the nature of my neighborhood.

on my walk

Wild, brown grasses. Untouched by bulldozers and land developers—at least for now.

 this little tree was next to a larger one!

This little palm tree was next to a larger, woodsy forest green tree!

 Cacti growing through the fences. It's a Cali thing :)

Cacti growing through the fences. It’s a Cali thing :)

laugh at my own observations. If you look really carefully, there is a paint splattering on the sidewalk that looks like a caricature of Albert Einstein (the hair, mustache)! It’s okay if you don’t think so…I’ll just continue to chuckle to myself about it ;)

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein—don’t ya think so?

use shady spots to check how your phone pictures turn out. Since I was taking most of these pictures in the bright sunlight, I had to use the shady spots I found to check if my pictures turned out to be good. Yes, I had to—otherwise there would be no blog post!

Shady Spots

Shady Spots

The best part about long walks? Refueling afterwards! I made sure to mix it up with new-to-me products and meal combos: 

After a long walk on a Thursday morning which pushed into the afternoon, I felt drained from the effects of the sun and the heat. I guess it was a good thing that my original plan for a run “fell through”. On my way home, I stopped by one of the local grocery stores to see if they had any daily discounts worth grabbing a hold of. 

I deemed these Honey Stinger Chews (only $1) to be a worthy “splurge”.

 Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

The Pomegranate Passion was the only one on sale for a $1, and I have to admit I got these because I was influenced by my best friend’s frequent snacking on gummy bears. I have been craving something gummy to chew on for weeks now, and these gelatin-free energy chews satisfied just that.

honey-stinger-organic-energy-chew-pomegranate-passion-3

So round & adorable

Obviously these gummies were very chewy and supremely sweet. I found them to be sweeter than Shot Bloks or even Swedish Fish! I guess these babies are truly meant to be fuel for a long run rather than after a long walk. 

I also tried my third flavor of Siggi’s yogurt—Peach! I found it to be extremely thick (like Fage plain thick), and it basically was a white yogurt base with globby peach chunks. I wish that the yogurt itself was peach in color, but otherwise it mixed well with this Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal. And how can you argue with 14 grams of protein :D

Siggis-Peach-with-Heart-to-Heart

Siggi’s Peach with Heart-to-Heart cereal. 

Siggi's Peach

Doesn’t contain a lot of things—but that’s good!

 The only thing I was missing was a good source of fat from this post-Thursday walk snacking revelry, but I when I started to feel my eyes droop after finishing my yogurt mix, I knew taking a nap took top priority. 

On some of my other long walk days, I refueled with some other interesting combos: 

simple berry trifle: 1 container of blueberries, 1 container of strawberries, soaked in banana cho, topped with a mix of kashi go lean crunch and dark chocolate crunch cheerios!

Beauty in a bowl: this simple berry trifle. Literally has one container of blueberries, one container of strawberries, both of which were soaked in one cup of banana Chob. Then topped with a mix of Kashi GoLean Crunch and Dark Chocolate Crunch Cheerios!

Mississippi Mud BR Ice Cream with Kashi Cereal

Mississippi Mud Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream with Kashi Cereal. I mixed my dollar scoop with some GoLean Crunch cereal, and it made for the perfect post-8pm snack.

 Tofurky Italian Sausage with Baked Potato Cubes and Hot Chili Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese Spread

A “Meat ‘n’ Potatoes” kinda craving, except it’s perfectly suitable for this vegetarian ;) ! In the mix was one Tofurky Italian Sausage with Baked Potato Cubes and Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese Spread mixed with Hot Chili Sauce.

Do you like taking a break from intense workouts and instead go on long walks?

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