September DegustaBox

September DegustaBox

With the start of a new month, I was anticipating a hefty box to be at the door at any moment…

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September DegustaBox collection of items!

And when this month’s DegustaBox came, I couldn’t contain my excitement!

There was only one item I couldn’t have because it was non-vegetarian (the
BustaNUT! Maple Bacon Flavored Peanuts), but everything else was up for grabs.

The first thing I tried was the Toosum oatmeal-based bar, and it instantly became one of my new favorites. The flavor I got was acai and cranberry, but the soft cookie-like texture is what sold me. I haven’t seen these in stores though, so I’m going to have to be on my toes and really look out for any more flavors of these!

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Toosum Bar – “Bites with Benefits”!

The BustaNUT! Bourbon Flavored Peanuts were peanuts packed with flavor, obviously waiting to be “busted out” of the package.

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BUSTANUT! Flavored-peanuts

I only had the Bourbon flavor (it doesn’t actually have alcohol) and left the Maple Bacon flavor one in lab. I found the package half opened the day after I left it…someone must have been real picky, haha.

One of the most useful items from the box was Hak’s Pak One Pot Cooking Sauce. It was essentially made for crockpot cooking, and I was the most eager to try out this item out of everything because it was so crockpot-friendly! My crockpot meal was cooked for about 5 hours, and when I came home I piled everything up high on a flat plate. I was ravenous, and seeing the sauce soaked into the pores of my sweet potato discs, shredded cabbage, and cooked bell pepper was making my mouth water.

crockpot-sauce
Hak Pak’s One Pot Cooking Sauce

In my last box, I had a beverage that I also hydrated with after a long run. Even though that was an aloe-based drink, both that beverage and this month’s featured tonic water truly hit the spot.

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Sparkling Bitters – Grapefruit Mint

I try to take my long runs easy, going at a pace about a minute slower than I want to race, so I don’t worry too much about dehydration. But sometimes, even a slow long run can induce a strong thirst. I’ve always been able to calm this thirst down with a tall glass of ice cold water, but lately I’ve noticed sparkling water does the trick too. This month’s bottle of Sparkling Bitters came in the grapefruit mint flavor, and that spicy citrus, yet refreshing aftertaste was the perfect post-13 mile stabilizer.

I also received another Honey Bunches box, this time the honey cluster flavor. I used to be in love with Honey Bunches for a short while in middle school, doing so much as to try every flavor in the cereal’s family, and after exhausting the boxes of each flavor I came to realize that I honestly was a bunches fan. When my hype for the cereal died down, that’s when the Just Bunches! cereal line came out, but I was too jaded to try it.

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Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted

This time around, I may have gotten the unlucky box that was filled primarily with flakes over the bunches, which reminded me how much I do miss the bunches!

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The English Provender Co. – Luxury Lemon Curd

The English Provender Co. provided three of their curds/chutneys to try, and while I could have spread these on bread, muffins, or bagels, I chose to top them on Greek yogurt cups. Lemon curd and vanilla Greek yogurt is one combo that can’t be messed with. As I was eating it, I realized that this could easily be mixed as a filling for pie crust!

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The English Provender Co. – Sweet Tomato & Chili Chutney

The remaining two jars were chutneys, and while I thought the tomato flavor was too savory for my liking, I enjoyed the caramelized onion flavor.

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The English Provender Co. – Caramelized Red Onion Chutney

I could actually see each thinly-sliced onion ring, marinated in a sweet, dark purple colored preserve. Now this is a chutney I could see being dollop we’d into small pieces of crostini and served atop a silver platter as an appetizer at a fancy dinner.

I first saw this cookie brand at Starbucks, but it was this month’s box that introduced me to their small shortbread cookies!

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Michel et Augustin Shortbread Cookies

Both flavors of the Michel et Augustin shortbread cookies I received were packed with smooth, buttery flavor and a crisp chocolate texture for their chocolate chip shortbread. I was more sad than I should have been after I consumed both!

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Michel et Augustin Shortbread Cookies (w/ chocolate chips)

The featured item in the box this month were Zolli Drops hard candies. They are are sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher. They remind me of flattened-down versions of Brach’s hard candies, and are just as fun to snack on as a bag of popcorn. Actually, these mixed in a bag of popcorn doesn’t sound like such a bad idea…

zolli-drops
Zolli Drops!

My favorite snack item was hands-down the PopCorners Carnival Kettle chips. These tortilla-chip look akin have a texture and flavor akin to mini, flavored rice cakes…except they are flatter, crunchier, and bolder in flavor. I could not stop eating these, and had these after a particularly exhausting, energy-draining day. No regrets, because this bag was oh so worth it.

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PopCorners Carnival Kettle chips

As far as sweets go, I’d say this month’s DegustaBox did an excellent job with its offering. I didn’t immediately come to this conclusion, since at first glance of these Entenmann’s Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins, I was doubting how “luxurious” all these food items really were.

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Entenmann’s Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins

But these small baby muffins proved me wrong. They were extra soft and chewy—like cupcake balls without the pretty icing and sturdy dowel.

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So soft-looking!

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I honestly felt like I was spoiled this month with the different products I got. In fact, I have yet to try two items by the time this post publishes: Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce and corn & quinoa pasta.

I’m looking forward to having the pasta in future crockpot dishes, as a base for marinated veggies.

items-not-tried-yet
Still need to try these!

The Nando’s sauce is something I’m looking forward to try as well. I think it will definitely come in handy when I use up my apple cider vinegar and will need a new flavorful liquid to flavor my veggies with. And for some reason, I’m curious to see how it would taste poured over pizza…

Which of these items sounds the most appealing to you?

Race Recap – The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K

Race Recap – The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K

This past week started off a bit stressing, but then ended on a surprisingly pleasant note. Our boss in lab decided to drop by the lab unbeknownst to us (he’s on sabbatical right now), which caused some anxiety among everyone as far as putting together reports just in case he asked for them. Turns out he was busy with other things, and even though I did end up having a meeting with him, it turned out better than I thought!

I have been loving these RX Bars lately! I've only tried two flavors so far, one of which was Blueberry. And the chunks of this particular bar was quite photogenic.
I have been loving these RX Bars lately! I’ve only tried two flavors so far, one of which was Blueberry. And the chunks of this particular bar was quite photogenic.

This left me feeling more relaxed going into the weekend, and actually feeling more motivated with my current projects as well. I did get home late though, and had a late (though delicious) dinner. I also had some Halo Top, and went to bed with a stomach that still needed time to digest. It was a frustrating situation: I wanted to sleep, and catch up on all the hours I missed this week, but I couldn’t fall into a deep sleep because of all the food that needed to be digested.

I even almost thought about missing the 10k I signed up for only because I wanted to sleep in. Fortunately I didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing this post!

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Waiting for the race to start.

I missed getting up at the time I set originally on my alarm, but I still had enough time to assemble my things and get out the door. I caught a bus that’s final destination was my destination: Wilshire/Western. The location of Saturday’s 5/10k run was in Koreatown, and benefiting a Korean organization I believe. I wasn’t actually sure because I signed up for what I thought was “The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K”, but there was no word of childhood obesity or the Let’s Move campaign. The race was benefiting some charitable Korean organization…I just didn’t know what it was 😛 ?

I spent some time warming up, but not as much as some other runners. There was a father-son duo, and they were stretching/warming-up so much that they were sweating by the time it was time to start the race!

We were supposed to be off by 8am, but of course things got delayed, and we didn’t get the signal to go until at least a half an hour later. The race course was a straight out and back, but done twice to account for the 10k distance vs. the 5k distance.

Unlike running in Santa Monica, running in the more urban areas of Los Angeles can definitely feel much warmer. I was running at a comfortable 8:20-8:30/mi pace, but my pace dipped into the 8:40-8:50/mi pace from miles 4-5. My legs felt heavier at this point, but at least my pace didn’t dip too much!

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Finisher medal…for LoveShare?? Lol Active.com didn’t say that was the name of the race when I registered!!

When I reached the finish, I was handed the medal which looked pretty cool, and I think helped me figure out what this event was exactly…

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A Ginseng drink samples I didn’t get to have because I accidentally broke the bottle inside my bag when shopping afterwards!

There was lots of water, ginseng drink, and Yakult/probiotic drinks to go around.

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Keeping it cool!

And several tables serving up watermelon, popsicles…and compression socks?? I’m talking about those leg mannequins, haha.

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Grab some watermelon and…socks??

After the race, I walked over to a small courtyard mall that was right across from the Wilshire/Western Station. It was there that I found Paris Baguette Cafe, the perfect place to replenish my glycogen stores!

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Paris Baguette Cafe

When I stepped inside, I was immediately overwhelmed by the selection! There were fresh savory baked goods stuffed with cheese, cold sandwiches, beautiful cakes, and cute confections (the array of macaroons though)!

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So much selection…

After much pondering and wandering up and down the aisles, I grabbed a wooden tray, a thin sheet of paper along with some metal tongs that they had near the entrance, and placed a cheese pretzel on top. One thing to note about this pretzel—one of the main ingredients is white chocolate! The bread has white chocolate added into it, so the bread part of the pretzel was actually sweeter than what you would expect of a cheese pretzel.

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A cheese pretzel…with white chocolate?

The cheese wasn’t off-putting at all, and overall was a unique savory confection. Even though I refueled, I felt very tried and physically drained, so much so that I took a two-hour long nap the minute I got home. Guess I needed some catching up from waking up early every day this week? Whatever the reason, it felt amazing putting in so much effort into my runs this week, and the completely crashing for the rest of the weekend!

Have you ever had a savory food item that was changed to taste sweeter?

Paris Baguette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Santa Monica Classic 5k/10k

Race Recap – Santa Monica Classic 5k/10k

On Sunday, I ran the Santa Monica Classic, which happened to be a sold out event catering to 4K people! In the days leading up to the race though, I snacked on some new-to-me bars that refueled me after my weekday runs.

Sprouts was having a sale on Perfect Bars, so I tried two different flavors even though my first experience with the brand was horrible. Looks like their revamp of the brand and flavors had made a huge difference!

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Perfect Bar – Peanut Butter

The Peanut Butter flavor tasted like a cold, peanut version of cashew burphi.

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Perfect Bar – Almond Coconut

The Almond Coconut flavor had a mixed texture, and even crumbled a bit, but the flavor was still subtle and sweet.

The FitJoy bars have been a recent hit on social media, and even when I stepped into GNC a few weeks ago they were trying to promote the bars with free samples. I caved in and bought a box of chocolate chip chip cookie dough from Vitamin Shoppe the week after.

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Fit Joy – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

This flavor was particularly chewy, and gave my jaw a workout for sure! It had some crunch to it as well from the small chocolate chip chunks. I didn’t notice any weird after taste, and another added bonus is that these bars don’t have sucralose!

Back to the race though—itt was a celebration indeed! How could you ask for better running weather with cloudy skies overhead and a fair ocean breeze drifting in the from the west?

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The health festival the day before the race where I had to pick up my bib. They also had therapy dogs and oh were they adorable!

I ran to the race start since it made for a nice ~2.5 mile warm-up run from where I live.

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Running to the race start…

The starting area was already buzzing with activity, and since I had at least another hour before the 10k start, I found a patch of grass to sit on for people watching.

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Now to find a piece of grass to sit on.

I watched the 5kers take off, and soon after, the 10k runners made their way to the start line.

For the first mile, I was averaging a 7:45/mi pace even though my legs felt heavy. I wondered to myself if I would be able to pull this off the entire way, but that’s when the mental struggle butted in. If I was running the 5k, I think I would have been able to maintain that pace the whole way through, but knowing that I had double the distance of a 5k, one of my most immediate thoughts was “pacing, pacing, pacing“.

At Mile 3, just like I had expected, the heaviness caught up to me and I settled in at a 8:30/mi pace. Mile 4, which was on San Vicente, created an incline which slowed my pace quite a bit, but by Mile 5 on the turnaround, that “feeling of fatigue” seemed to vanish! Maybe it was because I was no running down an incline, but at least it helped.

I pushed through all the way until the finish, and ran under the arch with a final average pacing of 8:27/mi. I grabbed a hold of the first water bottle I saw in the hands of a volunteer, and guzzled it down within 10 seconds.

walking-o-pier
Walking to the pier to get those freebies!

The race organizers where sneaky in that the runners had to head down to the pier to get their race shirts. To tide us over during the walk down to the pier, we were able to have Clif Nut Butter filled bars, bananas, and water.

After getting my shirt, I managed to only get a handful more of race goodies. For the race registration fee, I didn’t get much as far as snackables.

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Fruity freebies!!

Meb was there for a meet-and-greet, but I didn’t stop to stay hello. He was taking pics with the high school winners of the high school challenge between Santa Monica and Malibu high schools.

I needed to go into lab that afternoon, so I made my way home around 10:30. I got back 45 minutes later, and quickly got ready to go about my day.

Overall, I was very proud of my pacing and final time. There were a lot of competitive runners, and I believe the women’s top finisher in the 10k was an LA Marathoner top 10 runner/definitely elite status.

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Medal :)

I only hope that as I continue my training, I’ll become more competitive, faster, and stronger especially endurance-wise. I know I have it in me, but my recent injuries and mental mindset play a big role as well.

One thing I’m looking forward to is receiving help from a coach. I’m in the process of finding someone as I write this, and we’ll see how that turns out soon enough!

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Running Shoes

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Running Shoes

I mentioned in an earlier post (this one actually) that since mid-July, I have been dealing with a posterior shin splint isolated on my left leg. Interesting thing is, I found that using a compression bandage (like the one found at Walgreens) happened to help a lot! I’ve been wrapping it around the sore area a few hours before my run or the night before, and it seems to do the trick as I don’t feel the sharp pain I felt when I was running before. So a $2 bandage seems to be the solution versus a $20 Graston treatment—go figure! 

When the pain first appeared though, I went through a list of items trying to figure out what the problem was and how to fix it. I was thinking my now-older, orange Newtons, which had 500+ miles at this point, could be an issue, and I visited a local running store to get their opinion. The guy helping me out was pretty knowledgable, and helped me narrow down some options that provided arch support, cushioning, and some stabilization for my overpronation. I’ve had a tendency to over pronate since my high school tennis days, and while it’s not a major issue, having shoes that help prevent the pronation occur less can go a long way. 
 
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Color Selection: Black with Bayside & Lava
 
I ended up deciding on a pair of New Balance Vongos. When I put them on at the store, they had a cushy feel, and while the height was not exactly as extreme as my Hoka’s of past, they felt higher off the ground compared to my Newtons.  
 
The color combination also was eye-catching, so that was definitely a deal maker. 
 
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That criss-cross though
 
My Dad and I used to joke that New Balance shoes are “old people shoes”, and even Saturday Night Live made a skit about it. For me however, I don’t really care as long as they allow me to run properly, aid in healing my injury (that is now responding to a treatment!), and perhaps even help me to run faster! 
 
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Flat & spacious
 
At the time of this review, these shoes will have about ~150 miles on them. I also swapped out the inserts with some other stabilizing inserts for extra support just in case. So far, things are going pretty smoothly.
 
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These inserts already look pressed in lol

We’ll just see how things still are another 100 miles down the road 😉

I Seriously Only Buy Food

I Seriously Only Buy Food

After walking over to Malibu Country Mart, I actually felt like shopping! What held me back was my wallet…even though there were some cute clothing shops, I couldn’t justify paying the prices that they were asking for.

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Malibu Country Mart

There was even a Lululemon, and usually I humor myself when I go in there. Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to “treat” myself to a luxuriously-priced piece of clothing that will, at the end of the day, end up being drenched in sweat (especially if worn for a long run). For now though, I usually walk in, notice how unenthusiastic the employees are about doing their job (i.e. helping customers), and walk out proudly, knowing that I did not succumb to fitness peer pressure.

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GROM Gelateria, Malibu

The gelato place I was more interested in was conveniently right next to Lulu. I actually knew about GROM from before because they have a location in Hollywood. Haven’t been to that one yet because it’s in a tourist hotspot that I do my best to avoid, but that won’t stop me from EVER going. This GROM was small and cleanly decorated. There were lots of children and their moms ahead of me in line, so I took that time to figure out what to get.

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Small, cute shop

They have small, medium, large, and extra large cups, as well as waffle cones. I’ve always been a cup kind of gal, but I had to do a double take on the small cup. Not sure how they could have fit even kids size scoop from Baskin-Robbins into that thing! Well, since it is an Italian brand perhaps things run smaller?

grom_sizes
100% natural, yay!

Also since I wanted to try two flavors, I chose to get the medium cup, which in my opinion holds a normal small-sized scoop. I got half Nutella and half lemon ginger which I later found out was actually sorbet, not gelato.

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1/2 Hazelnut (Nutella) + 1/2 Lemon Ginger

I sat in a picnic chair just outside the entrance, and needless to say, the Nutella side of my scoop was my favorite. It was creamy, and literally tasted like iced Nutella. The lemon ginger sorbet was fine too, but I guess I was not as thrilled by it because I had not intended on getting a sorbet flavor.

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From the top!

After savoring my sweet gelato, I walked around some more before calling it a day. I bought this cookie from a snack shop just before heading on the bus:

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Alternative Baking Company’s Cookie of the Season – Snicker Doodle

It literally smelled and tasted like pizza dough with a dusting of a cinnamon. In other words, disgusting. It’s unfortunate this one tasted so bad, as I wanted this vegan product to be so much better than it actually was. Maybe it was this particular flavor…but if they want to do better they should probably take a hint from Lenny & Larry’s.

My Labor Day off was a success in terms of relaxation, exploration, and eating nutritious foods that were also good for the soul. I felt a little bit more refreshed going into work the next day, but I’m not saying I couldn’t use more breaks 😉

Grom Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All Aboard the 534!

All Aboard the 534!

Not having to go into lab for TWO CONSECUTIVE WHOLE DAYS called for a celebration. I could have spent these days in a deep sleep induced by an ice cream coma, but instead chose to make a day trip pit of it.

So on Labor Day, I did sleep in till about 8, got ready around 10, and took a very short train ride to downtown Santa Monica to board a Metro bus that would take me to Malibu.

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Welcome to Malibu!

The 534, or the Malibu line as I like to call it, drives alongside the beach up to Pacific Palisades and then Malibu. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic, which made its strong presence the morning I left and when I got back around 5.

I got to Malibu at the perfect time: when I was hungry and ready for a proper lunch. I got off close to the Malibu County Mart/Mall, and then walked over to another strip mall where Ollo Restaurant was located.

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Ollo Restaurant, Malibu

I had to wait 15 minutes for a table, but once I was seated I was able to appreciate the decadent decor.

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Seating at the bar.

Morning talk shows were playing on a TV across the room, and every table was packed with couples, families, and brunch enthusiasts (identified by their penchant for plates of pancakes, eggs, and coffee mugs).

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Ollo Menu

There were plenty of veggie friendly options, which made it hard to choose, but ultimately I decided to get the Tumeric Tofu Bowl.

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Tumeric Tofu Bowl

If I had to describe the bowl, I would definitely say it was like a rice bowl with salad on the surface. It was as if I ordered a rice bowl and salad bowl, and decided to combine them on my own!

tumeric_tofu_closeup
Tofu bowl close-up BECAUSE!

Everything was dressed in a green goddess dressing, which seemed to be a creamy avocado dressing if I had to guess. The tofu was soft and lightly spiced, but my favorite aspect of this dish was combining the crisp romaine lettuce along with a spoonful of rice that was already doused in dressing. Texture at its finest!

The bowl was pretty pricey ($17 after tax and tip), but I thought of it as paying for the experience vs. paying for a solitary bowl.

lagoon
Off to the beach!

The lagoon/beach was just a 10 minute walk away, so my meal went to work for me right away. I was totally unprepared for the beach, but I didn’t mind not packing a swimsuit/towel/sunscreen/etc.

lagoooooooooooon
BEEEEAAAACCCCCHHHHHH

I came, I saw, I took selfies by the lagoon, and then headed back toward civilization…because gelato was calling my name!

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

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

I’m wondering if I should rename this blog “Will Study for (Mediterranean) Food” because that pretty much seems to describe what I eat when I go out on the weekends…but I mean, what’s there to be defensive about? The cuisine speaks for itself—it’s balanced, wholesome, flavorful, and pretty much can be found anywhere you look in LA.

Fala Bar, Venice
Fala Bar, Venice

Moving to Santa Monica has made it much easier for me to check out all the places (by foot) that were inaccessible to me before, due to the long travel time of public transit or, in some cases, because public transit did not pass through those areas. The row of shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney was one of those areas. When I had a sudden craving for Medi-food on Saturday, but I didn’t want to venture too far east of West LA, I decided to stop by this hidden gem of a neighborhood for a late lunch.

I first tried Fala Bar >back in April at their Melrose location. Since I was in the Fairfax/Grove area most weekends when I lived in DTLA (DTLA to Mid-City is easy to travel back-and-forth by bus), visiting this location was not a problem. Now that it’s a little out of the way and the Venice one isn’t anymore, I was eager to dig into some familiar food in a new locale.

food
Need help deciding what to get?

I have plans to explore Abbot Kinney more in the future, as there are so many cute shops and eateries lined up side-by-side. The area reminded me of a small district in Disneyland—the sidewalks were small, and the buildings were close together as if it was a movie set for a small town.

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Abbot (Kinney) that Fala Life :P

I found Fala Bar nestled between Blue Star Donuts and a cafe serving up acai bowls. Last time I visited Fala Bar, I proposed to have one of their burgers if I ever visited again, but I truly wanted a hearty plate. I ended up getting the Baba Plate, which didn’t come with falafel but instead a fluffy, round piece of soft pita bread.

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Unpictured Tahini and Babaganoush -> Cucumber&Tomato Salad + Cabbage + Tabouli -> Pita Bread

I carefully carried my compostable tray outside, and sat at the counter positioned just in front. It was an awkward seating arrangement because it was literally on the sidewalk, and my back was facing those that were walking by. Funny thing was, people would slow down their stride to take a look at what I was eating. Some even went inside Fala Bar after seeing my plate of colorful cabbage and creamy tahini.

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Plate of beauty in full view!!

Everything was eaten until only drops of lemon juice colored purple were left on the tray. I could have spent the rest of my afternoon checking out the shops, but the heat/crowds got to me, so I chose to save that as an adventure for another day. I also wanted to get home and just completely relax since I didn’t have to make plans to go to lab (for once!) for the remainder of Labor Day Weekend! I needed to make time to plan my adventure on Monday…;)

What cuisine do you tend to mostly gravitate towards when eating out?

Fala Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Local Among Tourists

A Local Among Tourists

In the week I came back from Tulsa, work continued as usual…as if I never even left! I was glad I had enough things to keep me occupied so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time longing to be back hanging with my Dad.

On my way to lab my first day back, I snacked on two new-to-me Picky Bar flavors: Smooth Caffinator and Ah, Fudge Nuts! Surprisingly, I wasn’t blown away by either one, but both had a smooth, chewy texture and a rich, nutty flavor. I just don’t think I’ll be gravitating towards these bars again and again.

smooth_caffinator
Smooth Caffinator
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Ah, Fudge Nuts!

The rest of the week kept me extremely busy, since I had experiments to take care of, reports to write, and people to train. One good thing is that I was able to snag an undergrad to assist me in my daily duties…perhaps I’ll be able to snag a few more free weekends as a result 😉

When Friday night rolled around, I was an exhausted noodle. Funny I say that, as I had an interesting meal for dinner that night before scarfing down a pint of Halo Top. This bowl of cauliflower rice and soybean noodles in a succulent, sweet sauce (that I wish I remember the name of now, since I threw the package away 😛 ) was out of this world! It was a package my Dad brought over when he came out to help me move, and happened to be one of those unique foodie finds at Big Lots. Hmmm…I’ll just have to keep an eye out for it if I’m ever in a Big Lots in suburbia…

The next day, I wanted to stay local since I still felt tired and not in the mood for traveling. I decided to finally check out True Food Kitchen in Downtown Santa Monica, since I’ve heard rave reviews about it, and because I’ve always walked past it whenever I was at the Promenade.

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True Food Kitchen

Big mistake to venture out on a Saturday afternoon though—even at 2pm! The place was packed with tourists (British, German, Italian accents all-around)! And when I made my way to the front of the restaurant (I made the mistake of entering through the back, again), stating I was looking for a seat for one, I was told I could sit at the bar or at the communal tables, since all of the “regular” seating areas were taken…

ladyhair
LOL that lady with her hair :P

I was hungry (on the verge of hangry), so to the communal table I went. On my left was a pair from Russia, and on my other side, a few individuals from across the pond. Was I the only local dining at this place?!

I wasn’t too excited by the menu, so I decided to go for the menu item that looked the most filling. Under the bowls section, the Teriyaki Quinoa sounded the tastiest, but when it arrived, it looked like something I could make at home…not something worth $15.

teriyaki_quinoa
Teriyaki Quinoa Bowl, True Food Kitchen

The bowl had a quinoa and brown rice base, coated in dark teriyaki sauce. Sauteed vegetables were mixed in, and to balance out the carbs, some creamy slices of avocado were added on top along with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

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When creamy + carbs clash…

I mean, the bowl was good, but why were these poor tourists spending their hard-earned lunch money here? My meal with tax and tip came to just under $20…for a bowl that could be made for less than $3 with ingredients bought from Wal-Mart. Just goes to show that hype sells I guess!

Do you like seeing tourists spending $$$ in your hometown, or not so much?

True Food Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Owasso Marching Band Run to the Beat 5k

Race Recap – Owasso Marching Band Run to the Beat 5k

For about five weeks, I’ve been frustrated when it comes to running. After beginning to see improvements in my pace, and after finally getting into the 35-40 mi/week range, I began to feel posterior shin pain in my left leg. At first it was mild, and it came about during a week I was feeling tired all over, so I dropped my mileage substantially and took it easy. When the pain didn’t go away right away, I knew it must be an injury, and as much as I hated having to do so, I lowered my mileage for a few weeks after, and slowed my pace in order to not exacerbate the injury.  I even ended up sacrificing $45 that I paid as a registration fee for a 10K I was planning on running at the end of July, since that was when the pain really started to kick in and I decided it was best not risk making the injury worse.

It’s been something I’ve had to figure out on a weekly basis, and it’s something I wish would go away ASAP. I first had it checked out by a chiropractor at the IDEA expo as an area I could get free KT tape for. I then went to a running store to replace the Newtons I had run 500+ miles on, and got some suggestions from the sales clerk there on what I could do in the meantime to help my shin heal faster. This was about three weeks before I made the trip to Oklahoma, and with the pain still there (less intense on some weeks, and more intense on weeks I tried to increase mileage), I tried Graston for the first time. I’m not sure if it really helped, but the PT who conducted the procedure advised that I should notice the effects 72 hours after the procedure was administered. I’ll be keeping an eye on it as this week continues, but dealing with this injury (though now healing) has really dampened my enthusiasm even though at the back of my mind, I know that it is a temporary set-back.

Since I was in Oklahoma for a week, I did want to participate in a race since my Dad could attend as well. The Graston Guy (lol) said running on Saturday would be okay, and so I was able to participate in the “Run to the Beat 5K” in Owasso. The race was benefiting the Owasso High School Marching Band, and being a band geek myself back in the day, I was glad I was helping out a local band attend marching reviews, purchase instruments, and refurbish uniforms.

Owasso is a town about 20 minutes north of metropolitan Tulsa, and the drive reminded me of the drives I used to take on the way to Sacramento when I lived in Nor Cal just a few years ago…

Sunrise and new running shoes to help with my pronation.
Sunrise and new running shoes to help with my pronation.

The race, and race-check-in, was taking place at Owasso High School, home of the Owasso Rams. The weather was about 20 degrees cooler than predicted, with gray clouds looming overhead and with rain being in the new forecast as well.

Race Check-In
Race Check-In

Packet pick-up was underwhelming, but I did get a new race shirt along with promo cards for other local races I knew I would not be able to attend, since they would be taking place from September-November.

Packet Pick-Up
Packet Pick-Up

A fun run took place on the football field starting at 7:00am, which I assumed was about a mile based on the times people were finishing. By the time the last person was in from the fun run, everyone else began to assemble for the 5k race. I positioned myself close to the front, since I wanted to set myself up to run between an 8:20-8:50/mi pace.

Getting ready to begin
Getting ready to begin

One thing that distinguished this race from all of the Cali races I’ve run was that an actual hunting rifle was used to signal the start of the race, rather than a blow horn or…something less intense? Haha. A few girls in front of me covered their ears with their hands, knowing that the rifle was going to be LOUD. The guy holding the rifle looked so serious, as if the sanctity of the race depended on his ability to shoot the rifle, which I thought was absolutely comical.

Do you see the hunting rifle in his hands?! (Okay maybe not...the picture is blurry, haha)
Do you see the hunting rifle in his hands?!

When we were given the motion to take off, I could feel my shin slightly act up when I initially pushed off, but once I got going, the pain subsided. I was averaging a 7:45 pace (!!) for the first 0.6 miles, and for the first mile, ended up with 7:56 or something like that. As the race continued, my pace slowed slightly, but I was able to maintain within an 8:20-8:30/mi pace for the rest of the time through. I was pushing, but not so hard that I was going to keel over.

The last turn had us go around the football stadium bleachers in order to cross the same finish line the fun run runners crossed, which was next to the football field and on the track. I finished with an 8:23/mi pace according to my Garmin, and while it wasn’t as speedy as my last 5K back in June, I was very ecstatic with my performance and time, given my shin troubles in the past weeks.

Start/Finish on the Football Field
Start/Finish on the Football Field

There wasn’t much in race freebies other than water bottles, bagels from Panera (though they did have a wide variety of flavors available), bananas in the raw (ugh), and one table for an energy drink whose name I already forgot.

My Dad was patient enough to wait until everyone crossed the finish line so that the “award ceremony” could begin. Small medals were given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in male and female age groups. With my time, I ended up getting second in my age group.

After the race, we drove back to Tulsa for some breakfast since it was 9:00 and all we had that morning was some coffee. We went to an old favorite, Old School Bagels, and it was just as lively as I remember from last December.

BAEgels
BAEgels

It was warm enough to sit outside this time around though (even though the clouds above begged to differ), and my Dad and I split the same two bagels as we did last time: a savory honey wheat bagel with egg and cheese, and a sweet cinnamon bagel with Nutella. I also had a couple sips of his black coffee. They were playing the women’s Olympic triathlon on one of the TVs they had outside, so all of us on the patio had our eyes glued to the screen as we ate.

Love this.
Love this.

After breakfast, we proceeded with our Saturday wrapping up some errands, napping, and getting food ready for a dinner we were having with some family friends later that evening. The rest of my Saturday seemed to go smoothly since my mind was put at ease from the results of the race. Even though the pain isn’t completely gone yet, I was still able to run at a solid pace despite it. I think that mentally gave me a confidence boost, as well as assurance that it will eventually heal.

 I was also grateful that I was able to run a race with my Dad in attendance after almost a year! The last race he saw me run was the RNR Las Vegas in November, so having him waiting for me at the finish line was a great motivator as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a local race taking place around the holidays so he can attend again, but until then, I’m looking forward to a fun and challenging fall racing season (if my shin continues to cooperate of course)!

Have you ever had an annoying exercise-related injury?

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

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

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

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

Braum's Dairy
Braum’s Dairy

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

Braum's Birthday Cake
Braum’s Birthday Cake

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

Panera Breakfast with Dad!
Panera Breakfast with Dad!

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

Desi food!!
Desi food!!

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

Welcome to Andy's!
Welcome to Andy’s!

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

How is custard made?
How is custard made?

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

Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard
Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard

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

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

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

Until Next Time...
Until Next Time…

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

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