This is Vegan? Oh Yeah!

This is Vegan? Oh Yeah!

When I lived near DTLA, everything was pretty much an hour away by public transit. Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica…it made choosing where to go on the weekends very, very hard.

My default place to go would be the Grove because all of my favorite food stores were pretty much in the same area, and there was always some new cool restaurant to check out.

Since moving to Santa Monica however, my inclination to go out has gotten smaller. Venturing out to anything past the SaMo seems so arduous! Haha. But, I don’t think I’m missing out at all…since I’ll be living in my current place until at least next summer, I might as well take in all of Santa Monica I can get!

It’s also incredibly easier to explore more of the city without time constraints, now that the Metro Expo line has expanded. I think I’ve stepped foot onto 3rd St. Promenade at least once every weekend this month, and when I lived in DTLA, this area was a destination. Now, it’s a landmark point for me to find other gems in the city. Mostly foodie-related ones, like Erven.

Walking down this classy-looking sidewalk towards Erven.
Walking down this classy-looking sidewalk towards Erven.

I think Erven took the place of RFD’s location in Santa Monica, because The interior was strangely familiar. It seemed to be a matching replacement though, since Erven is a restaurant serving vegan, plant-based cuisine.

For the lunch hours, they had their cold spread of foods like salads, cold sandwiches, and dessert goods at the front with the cashier. You also could order to dine in at the same counter.

Cold foods and hot foods on menu.

For my meal, I decided to go with a hot sandwich and get the beer-battered tofu with a side of slaw. I found a table in the next room by a large window, perfect for people watching.

A tangy side slaw with root veggies ; window view

At the tables in front of me and in my view, there were groups of women having Saturday brunch. Actually there was a 20-30 year old group and a 30-50 year old group (if I were to guess the age ranges) and not a man in sight…except for the interesting painting on the wall, haha!

Um…the painting was…interesting?

When my sandwich came, I was speechless…was this really beer-battered tofu, or a filet-o-fish sandwich?!

This is vegan?! Oh yeah!!

Literally looked too beautiful to eat.

Good stuff in this sandwich.

The bottoms of each bun had a spicy tomato-like spread, and above the beer-battered tofu, there was more of the slaw that I originally has as a side. The tofu itself had a perfectly golden crust (as evident by the full picture of the sandwich) and overall I would describe it as tangy, crispy, warm, and hearty sandwich. Definitely hit the spot, and my plate was pretty much clean by the end of it!

I also made away with THREE new Halo Top flavors this weekend. I happened to stop by a Ralph’s in downtown just to see if they had any in stock. Lo and behold they did! They also happened to be the three with the largest amount of crushes on social media, haha.

I reviewed them on Instagram and here’s what I thought:

This pint literally had the texture of butter, as the ice cream was THAT soft…like a McD’s soft serve. It also had cookie dough chunks for dayzzzzz and like, three chocolate chips in the entire pint πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ haha, #balanced ?
This pint had a mild scent of cinnamon but that didn’t seem to permeate into the actual ice cream. The flavor itself was pretty bland, and I thought I was about to choke on the oat flakes. Those things are sharper than they look LOL. Not sure how this flavor has been making people swoon…hmmm
 I didn't fall in love with it so hard like others may have, perhaps due to the off-red color that makes it look fruity even though the ice cream base tastes bland. I did like the cubed brownie bites though, and there was a generous amount mixed in! These brownie pieces are what add flavor to this pint. I have to say, even though Red Velvet wasnt' my absolute fav, it's up there πŸ‘†πŸ½
I didn’t fall in love with it so hard like others may have, perhaps due to the off-red color that makes it look fruity even though the ice cream base tastes bland. I did like the cubed brownie bites though, and there was a generous amount mixed in! These brownie pieces are what add flavor to this pint. I have to say, even though Red Velvet wasnt’ my absolute fav, it’s up there πŸ‘†πŸ½

So even though I’ve been spending a lot more time close to home instead of venturing out, at least I have places to go that make staying close worth it πŸ˜‰ !

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

Vent Sesh (Pull Up a Chair)

Vent Sesh (Pull Up a Chair)

When I came back after an eight mile run and didn’t see anyone in sight, I couldn’t help but feel a little down. I had run a solid 8:40/mi pace on legs still recouping from a 12 mile run the day before, but compared to the group I was running with that day, it felt like I had gone for a Sunday morning stroll in comparison.

For the past three months, I have been trying to find a running coach to take my training to the next level. It’s been really tough only because I don’t have any previous connections nor do I run at the elite level…I’m just trying to find someone to get me there…

I did end up contacting someone as a potential coach a couple months ago, but finding a time to meet kept getting pushed back further and further until this past weekend when I was invited to join this person’s group for a run.

I knew going in that this may not have been the best way to meet because I wasn’t about to run at a 6:30 pace overnight. Honestly I just wanted to meet over coffee, and have a real discussion about what I could do to get help with my training…without “squeezing a run in” be the main priority. I also did not want to risk being the girl who “didn’t know what she was in for”.

Wanted to share another new Halo Top find, even though unrelated to this vent session (haha) ~ Cookies & Cream! The packaging is gorgeous but the flavor did not blow me away…I was expecting CHUNKS of cookies πŸͺ mixed in, but the “cookies” were more like crumbs that lacked much flavor ☹️.

It feels like there are tons of resources for recreational runners or runners who have been running their whole life at a competitive level, and basically nothing for transitioning runners: anyone who wants to take what started as a hobby and grow it into something more serious—especially if they’re still running at a pace slower than 7:00/mi.

So yeah, I’ve got to admit that it hurt to come back to everyone gone. I got a text later from the potential coach apologizing for running ahead so quickly, explaining that they had been in a rush to get somewhere else. Would it have really been too much trouble to let me know beforehand??

I’ve been the victim of this kind of “ding dong ditch” behavior of other people my entire life, and while I have learned that this kind of behavior is not a reflection of myself but rather the lack of sensitivity, etiquette, and professionalism of others, it still sucks to have to say “no problem” or “it’s alright” or “I understand”.

At least this potential coach got back to me later that evening about how this person thought I needed extra training….um, yes, that’s exactly what I asked you three months ago in email. And at least I was given a contact for someone else I could try, and my quest to become a competitive runner continues.

Caption straight from Instagram πŸ˜‰ ~ Sea Salt Caramel 🌊 🌊 🌊 ! There was a decent amount of caramel swirl throughout the pint, and I’ve always been a fan of the Vanilla Bean flavor, so having that as the base was a good decision made πŸ‘. By the time I dug into it (after walking for 30 minutes from the grocery store in the heat at high noon), it was nice and melty on the top while still solidified at the center. It was my snack while watching The latest SNL episode πŸ˜‚.

I hope that my next opportunity to find someone will be more fruitful. In high school, I spent an entire summer serving 100 tennis balls a day in order to make my way into singles varsity from junior varsity. I also ran for president of my Robotics team and held that position for two years when my teacher thought I wasn’t interested in being there in the first place. I wasn’t a track star—in fact I hated running with all my heart—but somehow, it managed to crawl back into my life and now it is one of the things I want to immerse myself in fully.

I will do whatever I can to get to the level I want to be because that’s just my character. I’ve always been a lone wolf, partly due to my life circumstances and as a defense mechanism to protect myself from the drama brought on by others. This has led me to find my own solutions and figure out ways to help myself when no one else could.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this applies here too. I’m not going to stop my journey even if others around me aren’t fit to join me, or don’t understand my purpose. I do not have to have been a collegiate cross country star in order to relish in running today.

I hope that reaching out to my next contact as a possible running coach proves more successful, but no matter what I’m going to keep pushing. Being the underdog has been my specialty for so many years, and that’s one thing I don’ need help on improving…

Well, that was how my Sunday went in case you were wondering! But even though this situation didn’t exactly help to boost my self-esteem, I tried not to let it affect my body image and eating plans for the day.

As I was walking back and pondered over what had happened that morning, I also kept my eyes peeled for cute coffee shops and brunch places. I found myself again on Montana Ave., and with no particular place in mind, I just decided to walk until I found something.

Waiting for FF Co to open!!

I stumbled upon Frozen Fruit Co. and when I saw they offered “fruyo” bowls, I just had to have one.

I was their first customer that day because they opened at 11am and I was literally waiting outside the door trying not to look like a hungry and delirious runner.

Love the color scheme!

As soon as I saw that a bowl was an option, I immediately went for that! For $8, you actually get quite a lot of variety and textures! I had granola as my base (honey and almond), then had a banana, coconut milk, dates, and pumpkin spice “fruyo”. On top of all that, I got to pick four toppings—pretty much what you’d find in a froyo shop πŸ˜‰


I picked mango, strawberries, confetti sprinkles, and mochi because mochi is my jam.

Granola peep!

I walked a little bit further down the street and found a solitary park bench to sit down and enjoy this healthier-than-it-looks bowl. I truly needed all of this food…even though I didn’t run at an elite runner’s pace, I was still starving!

Later on in the day, I stopped by Whole Foods because I still felt hungry. I had satisfied my weekly craving for Halo Top, so I was pleased to find this in the refrigerated aisle.

Edoughble, we meet again!

It’s been a while since I had this cookie dough, and since I had not tried Cookies N’ Dream, I couldn’t think of a better time to have it! This, and the fruyo bowl, while not completely uplifting my mood, did do their part to help.

How do you vent (writing, talking it out, etc.)?

Frozen Fruit Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

October’s DegustaBox!

October’s DegustaBox!

October’s box was full of winners, and unfortunately…some not so amazing finds. Hopefully I can demonstrate my reasons why clearly in this bound-to-be long post!

October’s haul

I received two flavors of Hometown Bagel’s Bagel Chips: garlic and cinnamon.

Hometown Bagel Bagel Chips – Cinnamon

I had the cinnamon ones first and they had a rough texture and hard crunch, but I did like them since it was a unique flavor profile for bagel chips. At least for me, since I haven’t seen sweet bagel chips before. The garlic ones were alright, but to me could have used more seasoning.

Hometown Bagel Bagel Chips – Garlic

One thing that wasn’t lacking flavor were these Crown Nut Co. almonds:

Crown Nut Co. Sriracha Almonds

These almonds were sriracha flavored, and even though it was a sample-sized packet, each almond was generously coated and as a result, there was no compromise on flavor.

My favorite product from this box were these fruit chews from Lovely Candy Co.

Lovely Candy Co. Chews

They honestly reminded me of Starburst, except they had a softer, chewier, and sweeter texture. You could also see fruit pieces within each chew.

Sooooo chewyyyyyy

Finally, an alternative for a childhood candy that once wasn’t suitable for vegetarians/vegans because of its gelatin content!

My least favorite product hands down were these Energems.


They are supposed to be a “dietary supplement” and are basically chocolate drops with extra caffeine in them. They do have a caution statement on them saying that they should not be given to children, and for people with sensitivity to caffeine to watch their intake, but the amount of caffeine for one serving (three chocolate drops), 133mg is actually a lot in my opinion.

I didn’t think these would have a strong effect on me, but definitely take caution if you have more than one serving at one time. I didn’t respond well to these, based ony my feelings of cramping, nausea, headache, and even dizziness. Honestly, there are much better ways to get energized (go for a run!), and I don’t think I’ll grab these any time I need a pick-me-up in the near future.

Even though the Energems brought me down, I was happy to find these in the box…

La Tortilla Factory – Low Carb Tortillas

I’ve tried La Tortilla Factory tortillas before, but it’s been a while since I had them! They are slightly doughier and chewier compared to regular tortillas, but their stretchiness makes it easy to load ’em up with monstrous fillings. I, however, enjoyed them on their own.

I thought the Wasa Thins were tasty on their own as well. This particular flavor was Sesame & Sea Salt, and while the crisps were thin, they have the loudest crunch that is realistically possible for a cracker!

Wasa Thins – Sesame & Sea Salt

I personally did not try the Palo White Cheddar popcorn, as I wasn’t sure if the cheese enzymes were animal-derived or microbial-derived. Since I brought them to lab, I actually let my lab mates try them. I thought the packaging was a little retro, but I’m guessing the popcorn tasted like the cheese popcorn found in those giant Christmas popcorn tins that are sold during the holidays in Costco.

Palo White Cheddar popcorn

I still have to try the Numi tea—this box actually has eight different flavors ranging from green teas to fruity teas!

Numi Tea Assortment

They’ll be much more appreciated in the winter months, since LA is still having issues deciding if it’s still summer or not, haha!

Numi Tea – 8 different flavors

I wasn’t able to get around to trying the pasta either, but it’s interesting to see that the “high protein” trend has permeated into the pasta world too. It used to only be that white was available, but now along with the varieties of multi-grain, whole wheat, gluten free, and veggie, we now have a higher protein choice.

Barilla Set

I did have time to make use of the sauce though! This jar contains seven cups of sauce, which I have been using as a wonderful coating over piping hot crockpot veggies. Try this with cooked cabbage, carrots, and squash—you won’t complain unless you are a picky five year old who subsists on chocolate pudding and chicken fingers πŸ˜‰

Crockpot veggies with marinara!

One of the items that came in this month’s box couldn’t be more fitting with the season. Jones Pumpkin Pie Soda was an odd but intriguing item to say the least. I looked them up because I was curious about the company and the idea of bottling such a flavor. Apparently this isn’t their “most creative”. In fact, they even produced a Turkey flavored soda for Thanksgiving (and even Tofurky flavored soda for vegetarians). Not so sure if I’d be down for trying that, but this Pumpkin Pie soda was not too shabby. It honestly looks like beer here:

Jones Pumpkin Pie Soda

So there were some hits and misses, but the good items made up substantially for the not so good. Overall, October’s box was full of variety in regards to the kinds of food that were featured. I just know that for me personally, I’m going to stay away from the Energems…

Which of these October DegustaBox items would you try?

Race Recap – Race for the Rescues 5k/10k

Race Recap – Race for the Rescues 5k/10k

Last week, the signs of a true fall began to take shape. Will LA finally have a fall that doesn’t feel like the depths of summer?? Only time will tell, but if the past week is any indication for what’s to come, maybe I will get to wear some of my sweaters gathering dust!

Early on in the week, I participated in the unofficial scavenger hunt for Halo Top, since they released 10 new flavors on the 10th. I managed to find a (now) older flavor the day before the new flavors were released, but since my second trip to Ralph’s was later on in the week, my options were down to Pistachio.

Halo Top Chocolate Chip Mocha
Halo Top Chocolate Chip Mocha

I have been looking for the Chocolate Mocha Chip flavor forever, and finally finding it made me feel less disappointed that I wasn’t able to get first dibs on the newest of the new. Even though the chocolate flavor wasn’t overbearing, I thought it was a boring flavor overall. The chocolate chips were minuscule, and looked more like small pieces of crushed nuts rather than actual chocolate. And because they were so small, it was hard to detect any flavor.

Halo Top Pistachio
Halo Top Pistachio

The color they picked for the Pistachio packaging was very eye-catching…just as appealing as the color of the smooth-textured ice cream itself. I had this on a Thursday evening after what was a rough day in lab. This flavor was the perfect form of therapy.

Lenny & Larry's Pumpkin Spice
Lenny & Larry’s Pumpkin Spice

On the cookie front, I took a break from my Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle addiction to try a flavor that’s more in season—Pumpkin Spice! I’m sure it would have tasted decadent warmed up, but since the spice was baked into the cookie, it didn’t blow me away like Snickerdoodle has this entire time. At least I gave it a shot, but I guess pumpkin spice doesn’t woooooo me as much as it does other people πŸ˜›

On Saturday, I participated in a 10k and was excited to see if my speed workouts from the past month had any benefit. The race was being held in Pasadena, and while this wouldn’t have been a big deal when I was living close to DTLA, it now was since I moved farther out west. The total transit time via bus and metro train would have been a little over two hours, meaning I would have had to wake up at 4 just to make it to an 8:30am race!

I made a compromise with myself and instead of sacrificing sleep, I traveled to downtown by train and then took an Uber to Pasadena. I try to only use Uber or Lyft only when absolutely necessary (like when leaving the airport at 11pm at night for example), but in this case, time was of the essence and it was worth $13 for a 20 minute ride versus a dirt cheap two hour one!

Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday morning and race shirt.

The race took place near the Rose Bowl Stadium, so I knew the weather conditions and course would be far from breezy. When I got there at 7:30 though, it was still cloudy and the air was still cool. I picked up my bib and shirt, and since there was no bag check, I wore the shirt over the one I was already wearing. I couldn’t exactly stuff it in my running belt since that was already holding my keys and phone, and that alone causing to bulge and hang lower on my hips. This was going to be fun to deal with.

Some of the booths set up

I spent the next hour or so admiring the canines, adoring the felines, and getting a light amount of fuel from Power Crunch bar samples. They were “supposed” to be for after the race but the volunteers were chatting with each other and not paying attention… hehe.

Come for the run, stay for the fur

When it got close to 8:30am, all of the runners were asked to walk towards the race start. It took us forever to actually get started. Between the three Laker girls helping us stretch and the nonstop announcements by a local news anchor, a couple of us were getting very impatient.

“You can’t sit with us” —–The Huskies

When we were allowed to start, the first thing I did was look for someone to be my pacer. My goal was to run under 8:00, between 7:40 and 7:50 since I knew I could reach that range based on how I’ve been doing at marathon team practices lately.

I was on my own for the first mile and a half in figuring out my right pace, but I eventually found my stride with an older, shorter woman with long, untied brown hair.

She was averaging an 8:08 pace, and I felt that if I pushed any further, me legs and lungs would not be able to sustain that for the next four miles. Knowing that running 7 something pace would not be a reality in this race was disappointing, but at least now I had a pacing buddy to help me from completely zoning out.

For the 10k, we had to run two loops around the stadium. There were at least two hills in one loop so running up inclines four times throughout this 10k was a challenge in itself. At the end of the day, I was happy with how things turned out. I averaged a 8:16/mi pace and ended up placing first in my age division! Funny thing was my pacing buddy also placed in her division. She ended up with a slightly faster time than I did because she took off in the last mile.

Race medals!

After the run, I paced a bit, chugged a bottle of water, and consumed more Power Crunch bar samples. I walked around the tents and picked up a free bag so I could FINALLY put my stuff somewhere. My bladder said many thank yous after that!

Free shampoo for dogs!

They had a cat/dog “fashion” show at the end so some fur babies could get some attention and hopefully a new home. I stepped on board the Catty Wagon instead, which was a mobile shelter for cats. I played with a curious little kitten for a while and then decided to head out of the Rose Bowl area into Pasadena for lunch. I didn’t have to worry about getting an Uber back because I was ok with taking the time to train/bus to lab. I had to stop there for a bit, but I wasn’t in a huge rush to get there.

Sage Organic in Pasadena

I didn’t have my β€œrestaurant list” on hand, so I wasn’t sure where I should head to once I got to Old Town Pasadena, but then I remembered that there was another Sage location I could check out. It had been a while since I paid them a visit in Culver City and Echo Park.

The Pasadena location’s storefront was quite small (bundled with other shops in a strip mall), and it could be easily missed if someone was not actively looking for it. Every table was empty except for one being occupied by runners from my race! Even the guy taking my order asked about the race since he noticed my bib and medals.

Inside Sage

The menu was just as overwhelming as I remembered, but I felt like having something colorful and filling (like a salad bowl with protein) with some extra crunch. When I saw that they had Dill Cheese Tostadas on the menu, I was sold then and there.

Dill Cheese Tostadas!

I only had to wait about 15 minutes for my food to arrive, and in the meantime I sipped on my water while trying to get pictures of the interior without scaring my racing brethren (haha). The guy who helped me at the counter brought over my plate, which had two small-sized tostadas topped with black beans, cojita cheese, veggies, verde sauce, and smooth avocado slices. There was also some nacho “cheese” on the side.


I tried to get everything all in one bite, but had to eat it layer by layer because it all fell apart. While the avocado was delicious and creamy, my favorite part was the hearty beans and crunchy tostada, despite being the size of the palm of my hand.

After lunch, I slowly made my way to lab, and then from there was more than ready to just go home and crash! I stopped by Trader Joe’s because I heard that they had a new (for them) RX Bar in stock…


Pumpkin Spice! I mentioned how in love I was with Blueberry a couple posts back, and this bar was just what I needed to fuel up with on my way home…especially since I’ve been devoid of my weekly bar box πŸ˜›

Cats or dogs?

Or pigs :) ?

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

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

When it comes to cookies, I feel like everyone has their own opinion on what is the best cookie. For me, I prefer soft and chewy cookies, ones with not a lot of nuts (or none at all), and if there is frosting on top I won’t complain!

My favorites growing up used to be those frosted sugar cookies that are in almost every supermarket. I knew to always expect them (with excitement of course!) when someone in my elementary school classes had a birthday. I also remember my Dad baking store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough from time to time, and I preferred eating them right away when they were out of the oven. Warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies that practically crumbled in my hands were >>> day-old, hard, crisp chocolate chip cookies that I tried to pass on to friends.

Nowadays, I like to keep things simple as sugar (or snickerdoodle) when it comes to cookies. I don’t really care that much for chocolate chips or other chunky additions anymore, but that also depends on how I’m feeling. Obviously I didn’t mind when it came to sampling these Alwheys Good Cookies:

Alwheys Good Protein Cookies
Alwheys Good Protein Cookies

I was sent samples of their three flavor to try out, and couldn’t wait to bite into these soft and dense-looking cookies. The are made for cold-processed whey protein, which are ideal conditions for preserving amino acids. The company also donates part of its profits to spinal cord injury research and related charities. Hmm…reminds me of this race I ran a while back. Maybe both groups should connect and work together? I’m sure anyone running Wings for Life in the future would love to see Alwheys Good cookies in their post-race goodie bag πŸ˜‰


Each pack comes with two cookies approximately the size of the palm of your hand. All of my cookies stuck together on their flat sides, so it actually looked like a huge Madeline cookie except larger in size!


All of the cookies were extremely soft, and tasted more like a sponge cake than an actual cookie. I actually liked this chewiness, but the people out their who like crispy cookies or thick shortbread may not favor this texture.


This flavor was surprisingly my favorite seeing that the base was chocolate versus vanilla. I’m guessing because I found it to have the most “character” from all three flavors—white chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie, how’s that for a spin on things? πŸ˜‰

Which of these three flavors would you like to try?

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Last Sunday proved to me why running in a group or with a team makes all the difference. I ran a little under 6 miles at a solid 7:30/mi pace, and was able to maintain my pacing without completely blowing out of steam! Marathon training has picked up yet again, and I’m trying to make all of the runs with my team high quality workouts.

Also working to not get left behind of the pack is a good motivator too πŸ˜‰

I was really proud of my efforts, and for lunch had to walk at least another three miles once in Santa Monica. It was way too hot to be October, and I had to get to a place that offered something cool and refreshing pronto.

Kreation Cafe on Montana Ave.
Kreation Cafe on Montana Ave.

My first visit to a Kreation Cafe/Juicery was a great one. I cooled off with an irresistible bowl full of nutrient-dense fruits and healthy fats, on what was an extremely hot day. Made sense that my second visit was on a day just as hot.

Crowded quarters.
Crowded quarters.

Unlike my first visit, there wasn’t any seating on the inside…only patio and back seating. The line for ordering and pick-up also got scrambled since there were too many people waiting inside! I wanted to try a different bowl this time around, so from the two options I had left I went with the Jungle Bowl.

Random crystal rock by the cash register!
Random crystal rock by the cash register!

The wait was ridiculosly long however. I think I was standing for at least 20 minutes until my bowl was ready. I saw that three people who ordered after me got their meals before I did, so I thought that was a bit frustrating. I let that go when I did get my bowl though!

A green swampy soup of sorts!

I sat at a table outside on the patio to enjoy this fully.

Jungle Bowl – Coconut milk, kale, spinach, mango, apple, almond butter

The color of the bowl reminded me of a swamp, with fruit bobbing throughout it of course. While it was a pretty bowl, the diced apple caught me off guard since I was expecting pineapple as originally stated on their menu. I didn’t really taste any hint of almond butter either. In all honesty, the bowl was less of a smoothie bowl and more of a slushie bowl—in other words, a disappointment. Looks can only take you so far…

Kreation Kafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Brief Bar Break?

A Brief Bar Break?

I’ve made it clear on this blog time and time again that I am a self-proclaimed bar queen. But I’ve been thinking about cutting back on the bars, and exchanging them with breakfast meals I’ve been missing—like a hot piece of toast smothered with nut butter or oatmeal with nutella and granola. Every time I do think about going on a “bar break” though, I ended up learning about a new flavor of a bar or a new bar brand, and FOMO sets in. I immediately have the desire to try it!

That’s what happened this past week when Quest Labs released a new trial flavor that they restocked after first selling out—Mocha Chocolate Chip.


I got a box, and when I tried bar one out of twelve, I was actually very pleased with how it tasted and its chewy, soft texture. It has a subtle coffee smell, and crumbly chocolate chunks are mixed throughout. While it was appreciation at first bite, I grew bored of the bars as the week wore on. I felt “compelled” to eat them because I didn’t want them to go to waste, but I feel like it also got in the way of me being flexible with my morning foods.

Along with this MCC bar box order, I decided to get one bar of the waffle-flavored cereal bar since I missed out the first time Quest Labs released it.


It smelled a lot like maple syrup and the cereal part of the bar did not cause my mouth to go dry like many cereal bars I have had in the past tend to do. Overall, I like the flavor and it was of a decent size, but I was relieved I didn’t have a box of them to worry about!

As much as I love bars, I think I’m going to take a break from my “box a week” pattern. There are some days I do honestly crave a protein bar, but I want to see if I can get away from being constrained to specific ones over the course of a week. I think it’ll be good to change things up like this, as it will be more of a mental relief than a physical one…though I don’t think my body would mind the change either. I’m not making promises though—I just want to try to see if I can relieve myself of this thing that has become routine.

When Saturday rolled around, bars were the last thing on my mind. I spent the majority of the day in downtown SaMo and was especially hungry for Mediterranean food at Hummus Bar Express.


Downtown SaMo surprisingly wasn’t packed. My guess was that everyone was heading in the direction of DTLA for tailgating and the football game. I took this golden opportunity to my advantage, and ordered myself a veggie plate that came with hummus, babaganoush, 8 falafel pieces, and a large slice of not pita, but laffa bread.


All was good at this moment—the falafel was green and crispy, the hummus smooth and thick:


And the bread…the bread I could eat for days


It was a flat, pliable piece of bread that tasted good with everything. Even the falafel! If I ever come back to Hummus Bar Express, I don’t think I would object to ordering just the laffa bread with maybe some babaganoush on the side…it was that good!!

Have you ever felt the need to take a break from a food routine?

Hummus Bar Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fish Shop Finds

Fish Shop Finds

The week following my weekend visit to Fresno actually went by so quickly. Before I knew it, it was Friday! To be honest, I’m not even sure what I did that week that made it so productive, but at least work was done. One thing that was hard to shake off my mind was the aftertaste of this disgusting protein bar…

Cinnamon UGH.
Cinnamon UGH.

I raved about BPI Sports Smores flavored bar a few months ago, but this Cinnamon Crunch flavor was another story…it had chunks like the Smores bar, but it left a really odd aftertaste that I just could not stomach. No wonder the Vitamin Shoppe at Fresno had it for 50% off!

Lenny & Larry's Oatmeal Raisin...this was actually top-notch stuff :D
Lenny & Larry’s Oatmeal Raisin…this was actually top-notch stuff :D

One thing I did rave about was the Oatmeal Raisin Lenny & Larry’s cookie I had on a Thursday evening after leaving lab. I do remember that I had just submitted a one-page proposal summarizing what I intend to write for my qualifying exam, and I think the exhaustion from that made the cookie seem so much more appetizing. It was super soft though, probably even softer than the Snickerdoodle flavor!

On that Saturday, I managed to have enough energy to wake up and complete a 14 mile run, with half of it run alongside the beach. I made sure my turnaround at the halfway point was on the Pacific Palisades part of the beach trail, just so I could stop for a couple of seconds to take in the views, and appreciate the fact that the environment where I run has changed completely compared to my former neighborhood. As much as I love DTLA, running in that area comes with its own issues from time to time.

After running those 14 miles, I actually didn’t feel too hungry. It wasn’t until 12pm hit that I felt my appetite come on greatly. Since I was finishing up in lab at that time, I got on a bus as soon as possible to make my way down to Hermosa Beach.

It was a long ride to take, but I eventually made it to Hermosa Beach Fish Shop.

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop
Hermosa Beach Fish Shop

I was given the opportunity to visit the Hermosa Beach Fish Shop and check out some of their fresh, in-house-prepped menu items for a late weekend lunch. Even though I’m a vegetarian, the shop had plenty of things I could try.

One of the staff members was eager to help me figure out what to get, and I ultimately chose to start off with a veggie taco, seaweed salad, and a vinegar coleslaw. I also had some chips and salsa from the salsa bar as something to munch on before all the other food came out.

They reserved a booth in the back for me, haha.
They reserved a booth in the back for me, haha.

The manager was kind enough to chat with me for a bit about the restaurant, and its beginnings. HBFS has been open for almost two and a half years now, There was nothing like it in the South Bay until then, and it was inspired by the first Fish Shop located in Pacific Beach, San Diego.

Their specialty is fish of course, but they can make accommodations for those with other dietary needs like they did with me. Essentially, their menu does focus on the fish, and from there, leads to flavoring the fish with spices/marinades, and then incorporating it into a taco, salad, plate, or sandwich.

Everything came out within 10 minutes, and I was surprised at how quickly everything came out since I was still working on my chips.

The chips are so crispy. Had these with some green salsa.
The chips are so crispy. Had these with some green salsa.

Everything just seemed to pop with color.

I tried the seaweed salad first, and was pleasantly surprised by how it had just enough of a subtle, but sweet, dressing. Its firm, stringy appearance reminded me of spaghetti—a more natural, earthier version of course.

Just look at that COLOR-!
Just look at that COLOR-!

The manager noted that the coleslaw is made with a vinegar base versus a mayo base, which explained why the slaw was salty and refreshing…just like the sea πŸ˜‰ !

Colorful coleslaw!
Colorful coleslaw!

When I was told they could make a veggie taco, I didn’t imagine it would come out like this!

A custom veggie taco!
A custom veggie taco!

I imagined it would have shredded cabbage and carrots, maybe some diced onions and tomatoes, but my taco was literally overflowing with fibrous, raw, fresh veggies, a splash of ranch dressing, and a sprinkling of shredded cheese. While attempting to eat it all folded up, more than half of the fillings spilled out so I proceeded to eat the rest with a fork :)

By the time I ate through all three of these things, I was satisfied and not overly stuffed. I was asked if I wanted to try something else, and with that I ended up with a green salad in front of me!

A side salad with two dressings.
A side salad with two dressings.

The salad came with two dressings for me to try, a vinaigrette dressing and a citrus-flavored dressing. Overall, the citrus flavor was my favorite. It actually reminded me of a thinned, liquid version of a lemon-flavored custard I had a while back.

The atmosphere was family-friendly, pet-friendly, and super cozy. They even had heat lamps in the patio seating area, so it seems like it would be a fun place to have a dinner in the evening when everything cools down, after a long day at the beach. Being minutes from the beach, and easy to get to by car (for public transit users, it’s a different story), HBFS is no doubt is a prime spot for beach eats with something to offer for everyone.

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eggy Breakfasts

Eggy Breakfasts

After living it up at The Cheesecake Factory the night before, my sister and I wanted to take our friend to Benaddiction because we could not have her miss out on a Fresno breakfast institution!

Benaddiction at its finest…

My friend was pumped in anticipation for the experience. Since I already wrote a review, I’ll just say that my friend really enjoyed her eggy plate.

These mugs were fun.

Even though she didn’t agree with us that it was eggs-on-a-plate perfection, we knew that she was just trying to come off more critical than how she actually felt πŸ˜‰

After breakfast, we went to River Park, walked inside H&M, and then immediately went back to my sister’s dorm to chill. We had to head back to to the Amtrak station in order to pick up our other friend who would be joining us that night.

Now that we were a group of four, we could get ready for dinner. I was already good to go, getting dressed that morning with the intention of going out to dinner later. The others though, needed a good hour to apply on makeup.

My friend insisted on having some wine before heading out, so everyone except me had a glass to sip from. We assembled and got into the car at 7:00. We also picked up another one of my sister’s school friends from her dorm.

We went to Yard House for dinner, the perfect place to get your drank on :P. I finally found a sober buddy when my sister’s second friend from school met us at the venue.

We surprisingly had less of a wait time for our table at Yard House than with TCH from the evening prior. Our two friends (that were originally staying with us) got beers, and my sister went with a gin-based drink just to try it out. She took a sip of the beers and recoiled in disgust! Haha.

Along with my refreshing glass of water, I split the firecracker Gardein wings and Gardein “chicken” strips with my sis. I didn’t think I’d be that hungry after the days eats but I probably ate more than half of the wings. The fries were an even split.

When my sister left to use the restroom, I took it upon myself to tell our server that it was my sister’s birthday. Without question, the server came back with a molten chocolate cake with ice cream as a birthday treat.

Happy Birthday @ Yard House

We finished with dinner close to 10, and after chatting for a bit outside, we drove back to the dorms. We started a 3 hour movie only to make it through the first half an hour. I think the drinks made everyone sleepy, and I’m already half grandma so I was sleepy regardless!

The next morning, we had one final brunch before it was time for of the four of us to part ways. We thought Fresno Breakfast House would be a great treat, but turns out we were wrong…

Fresno Breakfast House

How so? Let’s count the ways:

  • The tacky rainforest theme (how does this reflect Fresno exactly)?
Rainforest theme? Please…
  • The chemical-tasting coffee…
My sister’s breakfast looked cute, her tea was satisfactory, but my disgusting coffee doesn’t deserve even a picture.
  • Cross-contamination of bacon on my veggie omelette…
The cinnamon toast was good, the fruit OK, and the omelette alright…but what are those red flakes in the corner?! CONTAMINATION!!!

Not sure how this place even has good reviews…we spent half the time complaining about the restaurant, and I had my sister hold onto my bill when I used the bathroom just so that our server wouldn’t see I didn’t leave a tip!

After brunch, we all had to quickly pack up and move on with our travel days. Our two best friends carpooled back together and I took the train after a quick stop at Grocery Outlet. I didn’t get home until about 8pm, making it a 6-hour long trip in total! At least my back wasn’t bruised by an uncomfortable seat on a all-night bus trip, but I did have to remind myself that it wasn’t about the journey(s) in this situation—it was all about the friends at the destination πŸ˜‰

Have you ever dined at a restaurant you thought was horrible but others thought was great?

Fresno Breakfast House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Her 21st

Her 21st

Last weekend’s events were spectacular. I am so grateful for being able to visit my sister on a milestone occasion—her 21st birthday!

Slice of chocolate birthday cake. Can’t pass up a slice in celebration!

I wanted to maximize the time I spent with her so much that I took a night MegaBus so that I could get to Oakland by 7am that Friday morning. From there, one of our besties who also didn’t want to miss out picked me up, and after getting coffee we drove 3 hours to Fresno!

My sister couldn’t contain her excitement when she knew we were close. She skipped class (haha) so that we could all have lunch together at Taqueria Don Pepe.

Taqueria Don Pepe

It was incredibly hot outside (pushing 100s!!) but they had a small, shaded patio where we could sit down and enjoy our lunch. My sister and I both got vegetarian tortes while our friend got enchiladas (despite talking nonstop about her taco craving for the 3 hours I drove with her, lol).

Pickle bar, small interior

The torta was made with a soft but toasted hoagie roll and filled with refried beans, good ol’ avocado, tomato slices, onion, and shredded cheese. My friend seemed to like her enchiladas, but she actually got bored mid-plate and started talking about splitting fries with my sister from Dog House Grill next door!

Veg torta anyone?

We went shopping for a bit afterwards at Target, and then came back to my sister’a dorm for some rest before heading out to dinner.

Everythannnng in here

My sis and friend spent forever doing their makeup, and opened a bottle of wine to drink before we left. I was “designated mommy” since I don’t drink, so I let my sis enjoy her new-found freedom with alcohol. She’s actually probably the smartest person I know when it comes to drinking safety…she did her research and did not go crazy at all. She told me she stayed hydrated and drank only after eating something substantial the night she had her first drink, on her actual birthday. Obviously I’m bragging now because I’m such a proud older sis.

After they had their fun, I drove us all to The Cheesecake Factory because my sister had a giftcard she wanted to use, and because I had never been to TCH!!

The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday…so busy!!

We had to wait about 45 minutes before we could get a table, and when we were taken to our seats we came across a server who was scrambling to set up our table. It was the most awkward thing ever, as it looked like he was literally playing musical chairs with silverware. We stood there in polite silence, but were all actually thinking what the…

Sis and friend’s drinks…I helped myself to chips and guac.

We ordered A TON, and I ended up reprimanding both ladies for it afterwards because we needed up taking four boxes home. We devoured a whole bread basket, shared chips and guacamole, and my sis and friend ordered huge plates of burgers with sides. My sis got a side salad that she didn’t even touch because she got the kale salad appetizer. I tried the mozzarella flatbread, and while it was crisp and creamy from the cheese, it was not the most stellar thing to cross paths with my tastebuds.

A sub-par flatbread pizza

After dinner, we walked through the mall for a bit and then drove back. We finished the night with the Bratz movie (just to make fun of it, and it was unsurprisingly the only thing we could all agree upon) and I was the first one to fall asleep.

I woke up the next morning to squeeze in a 6 miler, but as soon as the ladies woke up, we for ourselves ready for an eggy brunch—Fresno style!

Do you drink?

What was your first alcoholic drink ?

Taqueria Don Pepe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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