Turkish Delight!

Turkish Delight!

The semester is coming to a close for most, but I technically don’t become a “fourth year” until after this summer. And this summer is gonna be a doozy with all the work I have planned and have to get done, oh boy.

There’s so many things to do for trip prep and managing work here, I’m proud of myself for not going absolutely crazy and still finding the time to go about my usual daily tasks without worrying too much.

Lab was a necessary task that needed to be addressed on both Saturday and Sunday. E had to come by Saturday morning to help me get into the building since I forgot my set of keys in my desk (lol), but after I finished up, we made plans to have lunch.

She had been mentioning that we check out this Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills sometime, and I thought it would be perfect to finally do so.

The bus we took that was supposed to drop us off at Beverly Blvd cut its route down by Fairfax near Little Ethiopia, so we ended up walking for another 45 minutes due to construction and having to take the most roundabout way to our destination.

Needless to say, we had rallied up a strong enough appetite to chow down on some mouthwatering Turkish food. Our appetites would be appeased at Cafe Istanbul.

inside
Cafe Istanbul

It’s hard to believe I passed by this joint without much thought. I used to frequent this street a year and a half ago, visiting the likes of Panera Bread, Creamistry, Momed, and Beverliz Cafe. I had been meaning to come back, but time flew by!

chips
Pita bread chips and sauce.

Now I was here with E, and I was making the most of this experience. E is Turkish-German, and so she volunteered herself to order in Turkish for the both of us. The servers spoke English, but E wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to show off, haha!

pita rolls
Pita bread and grape leaf rolls

We were served some crisped flat bread with a tomato-based dipping sauce as an appetizer. We also got vegetable dolmas, and for our entree, the Imam Bayildi.

imam_bayidli
IMAM BAYILDI ~ Fried whole eggplant, stuffed with onion, tomato, garlic and slowly baked in the oven, served with tzatziki sauce and with pita bread.

Our entree featured three eggplant strips topped with tomato, onion, and pepper. We were able to cut through the soft, chewy boats, and top them on some pita bread after adding some tzatziki.

I thought we were done after this meal, but E insisted that we finish off the right way—with Turkish tea and Kunefe.

tea-kunefe
Tea and Kunefe

The tea was a dark crimson liquid served with sugar cubes. It paired well with the soft, sticky dough pastry that is Kunefe. It was like a sticky bun rolled in pistachio grounds. The small, rich dessert was the perfect way to complete the feast. I’m glad I trusted E, haha!

We walked around for a bit, and then departed to commute home. I made a stop at Sprouts for groceries, and decided to pick up a pint of Nada Moo to try later as a night snack.

nadamoo
Birthday Cake Cookie Dough

I picked out Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, and for my first time trying Nada Moo, I was mad at myself for not trying this fluffy goodness packed in a pint much sooner! Birthday Cake Cookie Dough has a bright white base of fluffy coconut milk-based ice cream, mixed in with thick chocolate chips and sizable pieces of cookie dough. If you are looking for a pint-sized cloud with a varied texture of mix-ins, look no further!

Earlier in the week, I tried some new items I picked up from Trader Joe’s. One of which was one of the three new RX Bar flavors—Mixed Berry!

mixed_berry
RX Bar Mixed Berry

The eye-catching bright pink wrapper was what caught my eyes first, but the taste of the bar was quite interesting. It had the usual density of an RX Bar, but the flavor reminded me of fruity pop rocks, and it really hit the back of the mouth in regards to flavor intensity. Not sure if it’s my favorite, but the bright pink color made it seem like it would match well with a cute pink dress!

The second item was the Birthday Cake Bar from Trader Joe’s! I first saw it on Instagram, and was ecstatic to find it sitting on the shelf with the other chocolate bars πŸ™‚ !

birthday-cake
Birthday Cake Bar

Sprinkles and cookie crumbs gave the bar its full textured appearance, and the chocolate had a smooth flavor profile. It’s definitely a treat that can’t be missed out on!

Cafe Istanbul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On the Horizon

On the Horizon

It’s hard to believe that in about two weeks, I’ll be walking, running, and skipping (maybe? haha!) across Europe. The plan is to start in Iceland, fly across the pond to the UK, and then end the journey in Paris. It’ll be quite a way to celebrate my sister’s upcoming graduation from her undergraduate university!

pizza-studio
Hello Pizza Studio!

But what I’m most excited for is her move this fall to Irvine. Yes, she’ll be about 60 min away from me by car, and I could not be more excited. We may not be moving in together right away, but I foresee a bunch of weekend adventures with her, and hopefully we’ll be able to find a place to live together when she gets more settled in!

interior
Pizza Studio, South Los Angeles

In the meantime, work has been keeping me busy, and weekends in lab have become commonplace again. Obviously all that work stirs up an appetite, and pizza has been my carb craving as of late.

I’ve finally been getting on board with the popularity behind the whole make-your-own-pizza trend. First it was Blaze, and now I got around to trying out Pizza Studio.

I could have gotten creative and really asked to make up my own combo—perhaps even have it all on a spicy pizza crust—but one of the ready-made combos, Truffled Mushroom, seemed to sound quite appetizing.

truffled-mushroom
The Truffled Mushroom

This magical combo was composed of a rosemary herb crust, garlic alfredo, freshly grated mozzarella, truffle roasted mushrooms, fresh parmesan, and baby spinach. It came out soooo warm and with the cheese all melty, I had to be incredibly careful when picking up the slices because it was hot to the touch.

mushroompool
All those mushrooms and that cheezzzzzz…

But the taste was all worth it. I’m thinking with all the things planned and events coming up, my carb cravings are only going to get stronger…and I think more pizza places are going to be crossed off my list in the process πŸ˜‰

What do you crave the most when you are super busy and get super hungry?

The Pizza Studio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hot Weather Shenanigans

Hot Weather Shenanigans

The day after my first double run, I granted myself a rest day and enjoyed the extra hour or so in bed resting my sore head (later on in the week, I had my first migraine, and I’m thinking the trigger might have been the extreme weather change). Surprisingly, my leg muscles felt fine (probably due to the rolling I did!), but my head felt heavy, which I’m assuming was due to spending so much time exerting myself in he heat.

Needless to say, the rest day was absolutely necessary. I went into lab later in the morning, but since E was also in, we decided to head downtown together for some lunch. It was unbearably hot outside though, and the walk from 7th st. all the way to Grand Central Market had us feeling like we were melting. I was even in a tank top and shorts and felt like I was burning!

It was my first time visiting GCM (and I call myself an Angeleno!), and seeing all the foodie shops clustered in one place like that reminded me of a more crowded, packed version of the Tustin Marketplace. We first thought about checking out Eggslut, but the line was so serpentine that we thought it’d be best to try it out some other day. Instead, we opted for meals at two different stalls.

berlin--currywurst
Berlin Currywurst at Grand Central Market

I found my meal of choice at Berlin Currywurst. The last time I had a vegetarian currywurst was ages ago, so I was happy to be able to have it again.

Berlin
Small space, crowded counter.

My options were limited, but I was able to get a medium spicy tofu kielbasa currywurst plate. It even came with half of a crusty bread roll to mop any of that excess thick tomato-based sauce!

berlincurrywurst
Spent a hot Sunday trying to keep cool at Grand Central Market. It was my first time visiting the place too! Eggslut had a serpentine line, so I hopped on over to Berlin Currywurst, and chowed down on this spicy Tofu Kielbasa Currywurst with a hearty chunk of bread πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

E found a stall selling avocado toast that came out with such beautiful presentation. My side beet salad was nothing in comparison. I’m not even sure why I got it…I had assumed it was part of the meal but then I realized I had to pay extra for it πŸ˜›

food
Why did I get this excuse for a salad?

After lunch, I hurried on home to catch up on sleep and just chill. I also tried another flavor of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter—Brownie Batter! Now I only have one more new-to-me flavor left to try…

fluffbutter
Brownie Batter? This flavor from @dsnaturals is more like Brownie BUTTER. The texture was smooth, yet each spoonful was dense. There was a strong cocoa taste that was the defining feature of this flavor. My only complaint—with all of the D’s Naturals Fluffbutters actually—is the oil separation. It’s always so difficult to make the oil mix through evenly, even though I attempt to do so with each jar. The last couple tablespoons at the bottom of each jar are always the driest as a result.

Overall, I thought it had a very sharp cocoa taste, and quite a thick texture. I still have issues with mixing up all the oil thoroughly in the jar—it just has a tendency to pool up on top!

I also managed to order four new The Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors to try during the week. My favorite of the four I purchased was this “Teddy Dough”.

"Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH 🐻 🐻 πŸͺ πŸͺ!! It's been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order---long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven't tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in...guess they just ground them down 🐻 😧"
Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH 🐻 🐻 πŸͺ πŸͺ!! It’s been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order—long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven’t tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in…guess they just ground them down 🐻 😧

I thought this cookie dough would have crushed teddy graham cookies, but I think they were all finely-ground because the texture of the cookie dough was so smooth. It was like a crumbly sunflower butter jar with a mild cinnamon flavor. I could even detect a taste of honey.

The one I was most surprised by was Red Velvet. I had much higher expectations for this one, but the jar I got had dough that was too sticky, and with a texture that was reminiscent more of cake than cookie dough.

redvelvet
I have to be honest—wasn’t a huge fan of @thelionschoice Red Velvet Cake cookie dough. My batch at least had the consistency of a gooey sponge cake, rather than a thick, paste-like cookie dough which I was expecting. The flavor was quite bland, and the chocolate bits did little to help enhance the flavor profile. Ah well, I have to admit I can’t complain about the quantity I got—my jar was literally full to the brim!

Butterscotch Maple Cookie didn’t come across as a flavor worth remembering. Sure, there were a decent amount of butterscotch chips thrown in, but the flavor base was quite bland.

butter
Butterscotch Maple Cookie: not sure what’s so “cookie” about it!

Finally, there was Cran-Orange. The mix-ins definitely overpowered the cookie dough base with this flavor, and it was definitely the frutiest of the bunch. It even had some white chocolate pieces thrown in so that was a plus!

cranorange
Honestly, this flavor (and its colors) reminded me of Fall…

Has the weather drastically changed where you live?

Do you get migraines?

Berlin Currywurst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

April Degustabox

April Degustabox

This month’s Degustabox had a mix of familiar favorites and interesting new ones! Laying everything out, I couldn’t decide what to try first!

April's surprises!
April’s surprises!

I decided to try the Lovely Candy Co. Caramels first, since I remembered how much I loved the fruit chews from this brand when I first had them back in October.

caramels
When has a caramel NOT made a day a little bit sweeter? 🍬 🍭 ☺️

They were easy to chew, had a gentle sweet flavor, and were so irresistible that it was impossible to refrain from eating the whole bag in one go.

The PR Bar was also a product I was familiar with.

prbaryogurtberry
PR Bar Yogurt Berry

I was a fan of the Chocolate Peanut flavor, and found this Yogurt Berry flavor just as enticing. It had a subtle vanilla coating with a melt-in-your-mouth texture filled with berry pieces, almost like having berry cream-filled cookies!

I’ve also had the Better Oats oatmeal brand in the past, but it was the first time I’ve seen their new packaging. At first I didn’t realize it was the same Better Oats company I was used to seeing being sold in green-and-white colored packaging.

better-oats
How to amplify your oats.

The flavor of the oats was Maple & Brown Sugar, but I added some pumpkin spice-flavored greens protein (which mixed well with the oats, and allowed for a thicker texture which I love!) and some Lingonberry jam for a more hearty, sweeter bowl of warmth.

felix-lingonberries
A Europe trip is in the cards later next month (!!) but I’m wondering if we should stop in Sweden πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ͺ πŸ€”…this Lingonberry jam (a Swedish delicacy) is very convincing #ImaginingBreakfastsInSweden

The Lingonberry jam was definitely a new try for me, but after reading more about it I learned it was a Swedish delicacy. The flavor of the jam itself was not too sweet, and even though it had a fair mix of plump red berries, the consistency was smooth, pourable, and not too thick at all!

These Wilton Candy Salted Caramel Drops were also a new find for me, and certainly a winner.

candy-melts
“Straight up ate these little Wilton Candy Melts, because what PhD student has the time (and the patience) to melt candy πŸ¬πŸ˜‚??”

One could display patience, melt them to a more liquid consistency and pour it over delicate and already-beautiful looking desserts, but a hungry girl like me prefers to eat them drop by drop. Each drop packs a huge punch—I found them to be REALLY salty, and they even had a slight crunch to them also.

Dinners this month had some flavor help thanks to Nando’s. I loved seeing a bottle of Nando’s in a Degustabox again, and was eager to try this garlic flavor.

peri-peri
“When you mix a baked sweet potato with garlic Nando’s Peri-Peru sauce, your tastebuds are in a treat for something both nourishing and magical πŸ πŸŒΆπŸ˜‹”

It was labeled as being “medium spicy”, and doused over a hot sweet potato, it definitely had a kick to it. The bowl also featured cooked cabbage, sliced carrots and yellow squash discs. Yum!

Another condiment product featured in this month’s box was a fancy squeezeable tomato paste.

tomato-mutti
Looks like paint—but this is edible!!

I had not heard of the Mutti brand previously, but according to the old school toothpaste/paint packaging, this double concentrated tomato paste was made purely from tomatoes of Italian origin. The tomato paste could have even passed as a dark crimson colored paint!

This month’s box also featured a number of drink items. Depending on what subscribers prefer, this month’s box either included Skinnygirl Peach Bellini Green Tea K-Cups, or instant coffee from Cafe Bustello and a can of Zenify natural energy drink.

peach-bellini
Tea anyone?

I took the K-Cups with me to lab since I could make use of them there with our Keurig. I’m mostly a coffee drinker nowadays, so I didn’t think I’d be in love with a green tea K-Cup, but I have to say this flavor won me over. When prepared hot and with a packet of stevia, it’s certainly a sweet treat! There’s nothing green about it—certainly all peach!

I’ve had Cafe Bustelo coffee before, but it was my first time trying out their instant packs.

cafe_bustelo
Easy as 1-2-3!

It’s almost too simple to prepare, as I literally have been heating up a mug of water for about 2 minutes, then add a packet of the intant coffee with stevia, and voila! A smooth, flavorful cup of coffee that’s easy on the wallet.

tru
How to make coffee, fast.

The Zenify drink I sampled was the “Zero” version, which contains 0g of sugar. The ingredients are basically sparkling water, erythritol, citric/ascorbic acid, and added vitamins. In addition to being sugar-free, it also contains no caffeine (to balance out the instant coffee I suppose!).

zenify
Zenify Zero

I love how it had a refreshing taste to it due to the carbonation, but knowing that it also served to work like green tea due to it containing a similar combination of antioxidants made me appreciative of it a bit more. I also think it’s pretty cool that the company pledges to work against polarization and intolerance by donating 5% of its profits to the Coexist Foundation.

 As for the products I was unable to try, the Chiridos cricket snacks and Wild Planet canned chicken since they obviously contain meat products. My labmates enjoyed them though!

hummus
Garbanzo bean hummus I have yet to make.

I could have made some garbanzo hummus this month to share with my co-workers as well, but didn’t get a chance to in time for this post! Seems easy enough though—the hummus flavor packet simply says to add a can of Bush’s Garbanzos.

Coffee or tea?

Do you prefer jam or nut butter on oats?

Time Flies When You’re Living Life

Time Flies When You’re Living Life

Ahhh, no post for about two weeks! I kind of needed the break, and life has been “much too distracting” to find the time and patience to put a post together. I haven’t even been perusing through the ‘gram much lately either. It makes me happy that I’m busy/engaged enough with life right now to not be glued to a screen.

I didn’t even go out for lunch or dinner over Easter weekend. That Saturday, I was extremely exhausted and ended up taking naps in the afternoon in addition to “sleeping in” until 7:30am. I did get some new flavors of bars to try and a jar of D’s Naturals spread…

salted-caramel
Post run noms from this morning! Got around to trying the Salted Caramel Oh Yeah! One bar and thought it tasted fantastic! Definitely has a salty kick, but the caramel-flavored shell coating and fudge-like center of the bar helped to balance it all out. And there’s something about that purple-colored wrapper that’s just so eye-catching. πŸ˜œπŸ‘πŸ½

I did force myself to get out of the house to go see a critically-acclaimed anime movie called Your Name. I went to a late afternoon showing at an indie film place in Santa Monica, and did not regret it! The movie was fantastic—the animation, storytelling, plot twists—critics say the director of this movie is the next Hayao Miyazaki and if they are coming to that conclusion based on this movie alone, I feel they are right on the money!

maple-glazed-dnut
This Maple Glazed Donut Oh Yeah! One nutrition bar definitely hits you with the scent of maple syrup when opened, but the flavor is quite bland in comparison to the other new flavors I tried in my previous recent posts. Be wary of delicious sounding flavor names!

Because I felt so exhausted on Saturday, I moved my long run workout for the week to Sunday. My coach usually has me doing Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday workouts as my “key” workouts, while the rest of the days are easy aerobic recovery days. So on Sunday, I set out to do a mix up long run that was 30k in distance, with fast intervals thrown in. Since the workout was broken up in 5k chunks, it was mentally manageable.

blueberry-cobbler
This Blueberry Cobbler Oh Yeah! One nutrition bar may be one of my new favorites. Served cold, it tastes like a blueberry ice cream bar. 🍦

Obviously, I was ravenous and smelly by the time that was over. I quickly showered and took the train over to E’s place since she invited me to her landlords’ Easter brunch. I didn’t have pics from the event since I wasn’t in a phone picture-taking mood, but we were fed well. I was also introduced to the delicious treat that is a Ferrero Egg. Where can I get more of them??

cocoa-glazed-cinnamon-roll-
On Saturday, I felt dead exhausted πŸ’€ sleep 😴…the kind of tired that makes you feel like staying in bed ALL DAY is a very good idea…but I did manage to have this Cocoa Glazed Cinnamon Roll @dsnaturals Fluffbutter from Vitamin Shoppe. After snacking on this, and taking yet another nap, at least I had enough energy to go see @yourname.movie ! Loved this cocoa scented jar that had a soft butter texture just as much as I loved the movie πŸ’•

Afterwards, E and I spent the rest of the day in downtown SaMo, walking down the pier and laughing at a sign that said “Weed Week” that was flying through the sky attached to a plane. We then walked in circles around the promenade only to sit down for coffee and later Pinkberry. When I got home, I crashed and fell into a glorious night’s worth of sleep!

The following week kept me busy—I honestly can’t recall all of the things I did, but there was so much done, yet so much left to do! #LifeofAResearcher . I was so exhausted by Friday night, and a new pint flavor was exactly what I was craving:

justlike a milkshake
This legit tastes like a {vegan} melty chocolate milkshake with cream-filled cookie chunks. Sometimes it pays off to try a new flavor—I was about to buy Snickerdoodle (which I know I love), but felt a little daring on a recent trip to Ralph’s. Now I think I may have another new So Delicious favorite…

It was also an interesting week for my training program too! My coach had me try a double run on Saturday…15.5 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the PM. It sounded daunting at first, but I was also looking forward to the challenge! I ran the morning run with one of my marathon team teammates, but the weather was not in our favor. It got hot really quickly, with temperatures reaching the 80s by 8AM. It was a tough workout for sure, but having someone to run the longer run of the day with certainly helped!

I noticed that my upper left calf started to feel sore, so I made sure to spend some time rolling it out/massaging it when I got home. Before getting in some hours of rest and recovery, I stopped in Culver City to address the other “R”: REFUEL.

Tender Greens seems to have locations all over So Cal, and in my two and half years living here I had yet to visit…somehow a Saturday that got into the 90s persuaded me to walk through the doors of their Culver City location…

Tender Greens, Culver City
Tender Greens, Culver City

The set-up was ordering at the front, and then walking towards the back to pay and get your meal. I found it odd that you had to pay in the back, and then even more awkward waiting around the front to pick up your meal, since they could have easily handed you a number placard to place on your table and have them find you. At least there was ample, spacious seating at this location, and some spots out on the patio as well.

sit
Very spacious

The unusual set-up didn’t bother me too much in the end though, because the giant Falafel Plate I ordered hit the spot and vanquished my hanger.

falafel plate
Falafel plate with side kale salad (garlic dressing + parmesan), a green dollop of hummus that looked like guacamole, tahini sauce, and a crisp crostini bread.

After eating everything though, I wondered how it would affect my PM run. When I did go out for my 10 miler in the evening, I was relieved that the temperature was much cooler. It helped that it was a beach run and that the sun was setting. I felt great for the first half, but then tummy issues slowed me down for the last half. I did make it home in one piece though, and was proud of myself for conquering my first long run double.

falafel_plate
Close-up of everythang.

After talking to my coach, he affirmed that practice makes perfect and that I’ll get used to these the more I do them. He also recommended that I try refueling with foods that are simple in carbs, some fats, and low protein no more than two hours before the PM run—recommendations that I’ll definitely put into practice for the next time!

Tender Greens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

I’d say the first week of April got off to a good start. I felt like I was able to start fresh, and even began the first week of training with a running coach. Since I plan to run a marathon in San Diego at the beginning of June, we are piggybacking off my training from the LA Marathon, and using the next couple of weeks as an introduction of sorts to his coaching style. 

After San Diego, we plan to reevaluate training and prepare for a fall marathon with the goal of racing a Boston Qualifying time.  Right now I’m looking at running the Route 66 in Tulsa, but nothing has been finalized yet. Since it falls on the weekend right before Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to run the race, and then spend the following week with family for Thanksgiving. 
 
On Saturday, I ran a long run workout that was fartlek in style: I had to run 5 minutes easy, followed by 1 minute fast. With my current coach, he emphasizes incorporating speed into long runs, rather than the “long slow distance” approach, at least if the end goal is running a fast marathon. 
 
I was able to complete the workout for 11 miles, running it at a sub-8:00 pace. I noted feeling fatigue towards the end, and stopping to take water breaks at some points (especially right after the one minute fast), but I’m glad to see that the workout did its job. 
 
When I got home from the run, I got ready as soon as I could in order to meet my friend E for a hike at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.  It was the first time I actually went out for a hike in LA (lol, I still need to do the Runyon Canyon thing), and after climbing stairs that were as tall as E (she’s on the shorter side, haha), we made it to the top and were treated to some fabulous views of the city
 
As we made our descent, we chatted and walked back to the La Cienega/Jefferson train stop. From there, we thought we might as well walk over to Culver City on the bike path since the Culver City station was the next stop. We also contemplated lunch, and I figured we could get some nourishing Mexican food from a recently-established eatery in The Platform, the same place Sweetgreen is located. 
 
Inside Loqui
Inside Loqui
 
Loqui had a limited menu of soft tortilla tacos, bowls, and quesadillas, but E and I figured we’d order what looked to be a filling mushroom bowl. 
 
Ordering our bowls (mocajeltes)
Ordering our bowls (molcajetes)
 
It was served Chipotle-style, with grilled onions, beans, and guac were piled high on green colored rice. I had two corn tortillas on the side while E had two flour ones.
 
A beautifully-paced mushroom bowl with tons of rice and guac // two soft corn tortillas
A beautifully-paced mushroom bowl with tons of rice and guac // two soft corn tortillas
 
The restaurant/cafe was very small, and there was limited seating on the patio in the back. The “chairs” were small stools and the tables were pretty tiny as well. 
 
After getting our fill of lunch, E and I didn’t really know what else to do…so we walked some more. I’d say we ended up walking for another hour and a half total, eventually getting back to the Culver City Station stop, but not before a trip to Sprouts. I got some essentials for the week, and then we parted ways. 
 
And then we walked some more.
And then we walked some more.
 
When I got home, I needed a nap to recuperate from all the running, hiking, and walking from the day. Needless to say, I slept pretty well that night! 

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

What I’ve Gained

What I’ve Gained

I honestly can’t believe that March flew by so fast…to be honest, I’ve been in an emotional whirlwind for almost a month and a half! I sort of hinted at these feelings in an earlier post (that I literally feel like I wrote yesterday…), but now I feel like I’m comfortable with going more in detail.

My eating disorder first plagued me when I was in my senior year of high school, and I would say it had a firm grasp on me up until late 2015, when I finally started making steps towards real recovery. For 5 1/2 years, the only relationship I cared about was the one I had with food: how I could control it, make certain foods fit into a day, nap away hours in the afternoon just so I could eat again for dinner…it was barely an existence. 

havingmultipleplates offood
With each day passing day, it slowly becomes easier to push those thoughts and honor/respect my body enough to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths at a dinner, even after a full day of eating. Starving all day just to save my calories for the end of the day doesn’t make sense to me anymore…

When they say an ED becomes your one and only relationship, nothing could be truer. Yes, my Dad and close friends were still nearby, but food took priority no matter what. I would sacrifice going out to a restaurant to hang out with my sister and our close friends just to avoid the calories. I would shout at my Dad for buying too many yogurts or granola canisters because they tempted me to binge. All because I had to live by a number, and ANYONE who got in the way of that would see the worst of me…

So to say that taking the plunge and going into recovery full force only helped me physically would be an understatement. I repaired not only a relationship with myself over the course of 2016, but I also repaired old relationships as well as planted the seeds for new ones. Therapy helped me to understand why I thought about things a certain way, as well as find ways to be okay with things as they are.

When my sister and I saw my Dad over the holidays this past year, the three of us had an emotional, yet necessary, talk about the future. It was the first time we heard all the details of my Dad’s story, and having such a deep, emotionally-revealing discussion with both my Dad and sister made me feel so much more grateful for them. The discussion also helped to make me feel more comfortable with the idea of being open to pursuing a romantic relationship, or at least taking the steps to get to such a relationship in the future.

So that’s when I began to feel all the feels…and the first guy I thought about was That Tall Guy…let’s call him TTG (name changed for privacy, chose to go with the first thing my guy friend from my lab said when I told him about this whole thing, lol).

IMG_0057
The Culver City Stairs at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook—a challenge E and I took on this weekend in order to be rewarded with glorious views of the city from the top.

Preparing for my qualifying exam in January was enough to keep my feelings in check, as stress for that took over. But once that was taken care of, those flitter-flutter butterfly feelings started to come up again, and I couldn’t shake the thoughts of trying to see if something with That Tall Guy could work.

Around the time I visited my cousin, these feelings were growing even more, and I felt like I just HAD to tell someone or I would burst. My sister was the first one to know since we talk about everything as it comes up in our lives, but my friend E was the first one I told among the people I see on a daily basis (actually on my bus ride back after visiting my cousin) and since she has been actively trying to get her love life together too (lol), we thought these would be “fun distractions” to have while we continued on with our mundane lab lives πŸ˜›

Funny thing was, I started to see TTG a lot more frequently since my confession to E. He started using the same facility that I use for some of my experiments. He is a quiet/shy person in general, and I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to him. This also made things quite complicated as I soon learned. I knew that the first step in this whole process was to make him aware of my existence, so I began initiating conversations. Being the first one to say hello, how’s it going, following up on something that he may have mentioned in previous days…

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Hello LA.

But it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. Just a year ago, we were in the same class, and saw each other at least 2-3x a week for a two hour lecture. I thought he was attractive then too, but the feelings weren’t as strong (or I made myself ignore them/not allow myself to sit with them). I was also working on myself (recovery, body image issues, starting therapy) and so my thoughts were more focused on myself than seeking out a relationship. Then summer, fall, and winter came, and I rarely saw him for the rest of the year since I became plenty busy with lab/my qualifying exam.

So when I did have time to start thinking about him again, on top of the fact that I was now seeing him again on a close to daily basis, I couldn’t deny that I had feelings for him. These feelings felt so new and exhilarating—I was feeling euphoric for the first time in a long while! I didn’t mind staying in lab longer, and since my experiments weren’t time-sensitive, I tried to match my schedule to his so as not to be too obvious, but still increase the likelihood I’d encounter him. I was the first one to say hi, ask how he was/how his project was going, and smile a lot. It was so unlike me, but I was feeling adventurous and ready to get out of my comfort zone.

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Reflecting on things after the ascent.

I started leaving lab later because I learned mid-way through this whole lovesick journey that he took the same train I did, except in the opposite direction. One day, E and I secretly followed him (lol) just to see where he was going when leaving for the day, and that’s when we confirmed he didn’t drive to work. I felt like I had found a hidden clue to solving this β€œguy mystery”.

Over the course of several weeks, my mind may have exaggerated things to mean more than what they were, but I couldn’t help but think these coincidental (and intentional, lol) encounters, exchanged smiles, and reaching out for help meant something more. He sent me a very thoughtful email asking to borrow an item from our lab, and E and I were practically squealing when writing up a reply. Infatuation at its peak I suppose.

IMG_0080
When you reach the climax.

After weeks of trying to time my Monday morning train ride with his, both our trains ended up at the stop at the same time. I literally had to power walk behind him just to catch up, but once I did, I initiated conversation. After asking how his project was going, he asked how my weekend was. When I asked the same question in return, that’s when he dropped the G word. I hadn’t seen him over the weekend because his GF was in town.

I played it cool, wished him a good day, and as soon as I got to lab I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I then texted E and my sister. The game was over.

But because he is such a nice guy, I wanted to keep things as normal as possible. I still said hey to him when I saw him, and asked how is project was going. As the days went by, my feelings calmed down and in their place emotional exhaustion set in. I left lab early on some days, just to get home and rest up. I drifted from disappointment, sadness, irritation, anger, and fatigue.

RX_mintchocolate
I left lab very early one day during the week, due to just feeling emotionally exhausted. Stopped by Sprouts and bought this bar. Instagram review —> “So happy to see that Sprouts has started to carry more RX Bars…including the Mint Chocolate flavor! It’s the last one I’ve been needing to try, and upon opening it, I was hit by a friendly peppermint-y aroma. Other than that, it pretty much tasted like the coconut flavor only because of it’s mixed-up texture, with the chocolate chunks and chopped nuts and all that πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹”

Overall, I see this as a life lesson. I’m grateful that I experienced such euphoria for six weeks. It proved to me—if anything—that I am continuing to push away from my eating disorder past and seek relationships. Even after hearing TTG had a GF, I did not feel the need to go to a mirror and body check. I knew that there was nothing wrong with ME, and that for whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right.

Yeah, we never went out for coffee. There was no first date, and I didn’t learn anything new about him besides what he does in his lab, but I held my head high and carried on as usual. I felt exhausted, but the self-confidence I gained over the past six weeks still seemed to stick around. I may have not gotten the guy, but this chase has rewarded me with so much more.

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β™₯β™₯β™₯

I honored myself with time to sit with my feelings, but then I respected myself to move forward from this experience. I’m just going to continue to keep doing what’s right for me. Continue to shower myself with lots of love, doing what makes me happy, making sure I feel my best…when the time is right, and when I am at my happiest, that one person will be there.

When I least expect it.

Ravenous

Ravenous

Last Sunday, I didn’t run any marathons, but I felt hungry to the point as though I did run one. Of course a trip to lab was on the agenda, but as soon as I was done, I was ready to fill my belly with all things delicious.

I truly craved a hearty, Mediterranean meal because I knew it would have all the nutrients I was craving as well as taste amazing. But having to wait for 30 minutes or so on the train with a growling stomach was not going to cut it. I got off at Westwood, just to dive into the mall and get some snacks…

fitjoy_cooksncream
@fitjoynutrition , I think you’re getting better at this protein bar thing πŸ˜‰

One of which was a new FitJoy protein bar flavor. I had no idea FitJoy released some new flavors recently, but since one of them was a “Cookies & Cream” flavor, I could not let it get away! The bar had three distinct layers, with the top being a chocolate fudge-like flavor with small crispy chocolate pieces. The bottom layer was coated with a chocolate shell, and overall the bar was a good mix between crunchy and chewy (though not too chewy—what I liked about it overall was how firm it ended up being)!

I took a bus back to Santa Monica and stopped right in front of my lunch destination—Mediterranean food at Crimson sounded so mouthwatering at that point.

crimson
Crimson, Santa Monica

When I stepped inside, it felt like the A/C was on full blast, but no energy was actually being “wasted” since it was just the cooling blacks and greys on the wall that allowed the restaurant to help keep patrons feeling refreshed.

crimson_inside
Eating inside on a hot day…

I saw that it was an order first, then sit down kind of set-up, so I walked over to the front and grabbed a menu. The Falafel Veggie Plate sounded appetizing of course, but there was plenty of room for customization and add-ons.

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Got the ‘Falafel Veggie Plate’

My plate ended up holding a gargantuan volume of eats. I was shocked, but happy, with the food that lay before me, and I was eager to tuck in.

thewholeplateandgrilledveggies
The complete plate :: the gorgeous array of grilled vegetables <3

Since it was mostly veggies and healthy fats, I got full pretty quickly.

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Tahini -> kale salad and hummus -> falafel in garlic sauce -> ricccceeee

But I’d say I did a decent job getting to all of the good stuff…only some rice and a bit of kale salad, along with half of a tahini cup was left.

alldone
So much good stuff on one plate…couldn’t finish it all!

After my hearty meal, I immediately felt my eyes droop. Obviously it was time for a nap. Home was a short ways away, so I wasn’t too far from falling into a cozy Sunday afternoon nap. After my nap, I woke up ready to eat some more! I was feeling ravenous for some reason that day, and I just went along with it. Spoonfuls of this Gooey Bananas Foster D’s Naturals Fluffbutter did the trick.

gooeybananasfoster
I was skeptical at first when I saw the Gooey Bananas Foster @dsnaturals Fluffbutter on sale at GNC for 50% off it’s retail price. It made me think “what’s wrong with the flavor?”, but no such answer exists. It definitely had the taste of bananas, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. In fact, it tasted as if the nut butter was made from finely mashed caramel-coated bananas. Bananas are my least favorite fruit, so take me seriously when I say this flavor was GOOD.

I was well-fed that Sunday indeed. Later on in the week, I indulged with other new-to-me treats that included the following…

Two more new FitJoy nutrition bar flavors: Homemade Pumpkin and Raspberry Chocolate Truffle:

Homemade Pumpkin
Homemade Pumpkin

Homemade Pumpkin bar reminded me of a giraffe based on the looks of the top! It had orange splotches and a light swirl on the top, with crispy wafer pieces scattered over the surface.

The Raspberry Chocolate Truffle bar had a slightly sour flavor (which isn’t that surprising), but it had a chewier and denser taste/texture in comparison to the pumpkin and cookie flavors I tried above.

Everything I love, all in one mug.
Everything I love, all in one mug.

There was a thin chocolate shell on the bottom, and its appearance actually reinded me of a Luna coconut bar. I broke the bar in half, and added it to a yogurt blend with pumpkin spice Amazing Grass mix. For good measure, I added a Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle cookie!

Goodie Girl Cookies - Mint Slims
Goodie Girl Cookies – Mint Slims

I also came across these cute, mini Thin Mint-like cookies by Goodie Girl Cookies. I found these at Starbucks one day, and they made the perfect accompaniment with a coconut milk cappucino, on my walk to the train station.

For Ralph’s Freebie Friday promo this past Friday, they were giving out free Larabars! I used the opportunity to snatch up a Key Lime Pie bar flavor, and didn’t regret it.

Key Lime Pie Larabar
Key Lime Pie Larabar

I hadn’t had Lara Bars in quite some time, so having this flavor made me realize I was missing on out on something so naturally delicious. I think I’ll keep coming back to this flavor, especially as the summer months approach.

On days when you feel ravenous, do you eat whatever you crave or try to reign it in?

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

Shoutfest at The Spoon

Shoutfest at The Spoon

Last week flew right on by! I took the first three days of the week fully off to recover from the marathon and let my muscles, black toe nail, and heel blister rest. I was able to get back into a running groove with some short runs, and actually felt quite refreshed!

Since E was in lab over the weekend (as was I, haha), we decided to convene for a late lunch in Koreatown after finishing up our work. We left around 2pm, but didn’t sit down to eat until about an hour later, since the restaurant we’d thought about visiting was closed for filming…despite there not being any signs/security guards indicating that the restaurant was closed to the public.

Since we were getting quite hungry, Korean-Italian sounded delicious and we immediately walked towards Wilshire/Western.

The Spoon was actually right across from the Paris Baguette I visited back in September after running a 10k in Koreatown. I remember noticing it at the time and thought how cute it looked…I then promptly forgot about it, until coming here now with E.

The Spoon
The Spoon in Koreatown

Inside, the set-up was sleek, yet adorable at the same time. Two adjectives that can only be used to describe a Korean fusion restaurant I suppose…

Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.
Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.

We both were unsure about what entree to get, so we decided to get a 10″ pizza and split it.

We waited a while for the pizza to show up, but in the meantime we sipped on some waters and tried to cool off from the brisk walk we had outside under the hot LA sun. It reminded me of how hot it got during the september 10k!

When our pizza arrived, we were more than ready to dig in. E’s a pescatarian, so it was easy to choose a pizza that satisfied both of us—the “Fresh Garden Pizza” was a thin crust pizza with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese cubes, onion, mushroom, zucchini, bell pepper, chopped romaine lettuce (that’s a first for me…), and roman tomato. The pizza was sliced up into ten almost-equivalent slices.

I actually like the crisp, cool touch of the lettuce. The cheese cubes were cute too.

Fresh Garden Vegetabe
Fresh Garden Pizza!!!

After devouring every slice but one, we got a waiter over to prepare the bill. As he turned to walk away, I asked that he split it but then E piped in right away instructing him not to do so. From that point on it was shout-fest between me and her, scaring the poor guy and confusing him as to whether he should split the bill or not.

Ultimately, E won since he said they could only put $10 minimum on a card. Our pizza was $18. So E had her way and pizza was on her—this time πŸ˜‰

How often do you like going out to eat with friends?

Are your friends willing to split the bill, or is it always a battle when it comes to whose paying?

The Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Enough to Forget My Battle Scars

Sweet Enough to Forget My Battle Scars

One thing I really wanted after the marathon was something sweet. I probably would have satisfied this craving with a giant cupcake or a pint of ice cream, but I kept thinking about this little place in Sawtelle that has a collection of unique confectionery creations, as well as rotating bread pudding flavors…

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B Sweet Dessert Bar

My feet were killing me (especially my right foot, which had developed a swollen black toenail and a rosy blister on the heel), but I managed to make my way inside and over to the front.

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Rotating bread pudding flavors—change every week!

I decided to get the “Being Good” size for my bread pudding (6oz) and even though it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and they had a Bailey’s-themed bread pudding, I decided to stick with a flavor I’d know I like: Red Velvet.

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Red Velvet Bread Pudding

They put together the pudding within minutes, and at first I couldn’t see any of it because of all the frosting on the top.

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That frosting though.

The bread pudding was warm, and had the texture of a soft, molten cake, but to be honest I couldn’t detect much flavor. Even the frosting wasn’t too sweet, which was disappointing…but at least it had aesthetics?

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Cute decor.

And it was enough to help me forget about the pain that was my black toe nail for ~6 minutes πŸ˜› .

What flavor of bread pudding would you want to try?

B Sweet Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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