Labor Day Weekend ’17

Labor Day Weekend ’17

I can’t believe Labor Day weekend was only a few weeks ago…it feels like it’s been ages! This year’s holiday weekend was another one spent in lab for me (meaning no day trip to Malibu like last year…), but I did make the most of the snippets of free time I could gather.

My friend J from lab was given a handful of “1  free Perfect Bar” coupons, and gave them to me before checking out for the holiday weekend. He wasn’t a fan, and asked if I’d make use of them. Obviously, yes!

Free bars, woooo!
Free bars, woooo!

It was convenient for me to redeem them at Trader Joe’s as a on-the-go breakfast, since it’s on my way to campus.

Almond Butter is a classic, and it’s crumbly texture with sesame seeds on top reminded me of an Indian powder sweet (Sathu Maavu). I commented on Instagram on how it truly was a “Perfect Bar”!

"This really is perfection ✨"
“This really is perfection ✨”

Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter had a softer, more compact texture, and enough mini chocolate chips on the top to add a cute touch. And given that these bars can cost up to $3-4 retail, I was very grateful to J for those handful of coupons!

"Another perfect flavor 🍫🥜🍪"
“Another perfect flavor 🍫🥜🍪”

On Friday evening of Labor Day weekend, E and I were invited to attend our friend’s birthday. She’s the sweetest undergraduate who works in a neighboring lab, and we were excited to celebrate the special day with her.

Dockweiler Beach Sunset
Dockweiler Beach Sunset

We carpooled with her and her roommates to Dockweiler, and found a spot on the beach to set up camp and lay out some food.  She’s a fan of this local African taco place, and so we had that catered along with other party food fare (chips, cake, cookies, etc).

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Setting up a bonfire at Dockweiler Beach—another must-do for anyone living in LA!

More of her friends showed up, and as the sun set turned into night, we eventually were able to claim a fire pit and get a bonfire going! It definitely was a fun and memorable night.

Since I was spending Sunday night in lab, I did my best to finish up with my daily tasks on Saturday as quickly as possible. I was super hungry when I left, and didn’t want to venture out too far from my normal route home. Mod Pizza in Culver City was close enough, and pizza sounded appetizing, so that immediately became my destination.

Mod Pizza
Mod Pizza

The Art Lover is my go-to at Blaze, and at Mod Pizza, the closest thing I could find to that was Lucy Sunshine.

"First time trying Mod Pizza, and I was happy with my "Lucy Sunshine" choice 👍🏽 🍕. Red sauce dollops and artichoke hearts on a flat, crispy piece of CARB is really all you need 😜"
“First time trying Mod Pizza, and I was happy with my “Lucy Sunshine” choice 👍🏽 🍕. Red sauce dollops and artichoke hearts on a flat, crispy piece of CARB is really all you need 😜”

It was a smaller pie, but it did not lack in toppings. The mozzarella, parmesan, artichokes, garlic, and dollops of red sauce were all there.

The Culver City location was small and awkwardly placed facing the busy, traffic-packed Venice Rd., but it served its purpose as a clean dining area to sit down and finish off a pizza to fuel the rest of my Saturday.

Sunday was the day I was ready to dread, and since I would not be sleeping in the comforts of my bed that night, I took my time getting ready in the morning, before heading to campus.

I spent more time than I wanted to preparing for Monday’s early morning experiments, but I did give E a heads up on when I would be done, so she could meet me for an afternoon snack (and give me some company before I locked myself up in lab for the night!)

Cafe Amadine
Cafe Amadine

We found a cozy little spot called Cafe Amadine, and while they did have warm, savoy sandwiches, we opted for some frappucinos and split a banana cream cake slice. Wasn’t a fan of the cake (ugh, bananas!), but my green tea frapp was able to cover up the gross banana flavor, haha!

Sunday snackin'
Sunday snackin’

 After accompanying me back to lab, I said bye to E and settled in for my overnight stay. Funny how my Labor Day was definitely going to be packed with labor 😉

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

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

Also working to not get left behind of the pack is a good motivator too 😉

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

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

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

Crowded quarters.
Crowded quarters.

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

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

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

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A green swampy soup of sorts!

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

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

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

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

Netflix & Chill

Netflix & Chill

I consider myself an expert when it comes to staying in. It’s pretty much what I do every weekend night, and rare are the occasions when I actually have plans to go out on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. Last weekend was one of those rare moments since I was able to celebrate my sister’s 21st with her and our two best friends, but my plans for the coming weekend include nothing more than long runs, lots of rest (naps!), Netflix/Youtube/TV and snacks to accompany all of it!

I was inspired by AdoreMe to share what my perfect “Netflix & Chill Night” would look like, from snacks to sleepwear. And because food ranks supreme, might as well start with that:

When it comes to snacks, it goes without saying that bars are the first thing that come to mind for me. Bringing home new bars to try alone, or along with an ice cream pint, are one of my favorite things to put together in regards to a weekend snack I can cozy up with.

Recently, I tried three new-to-me flavors of bars that were mostly misses, but at least I knew which ones I would not be obsessing over in the future.

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Combat Crunch – Chocolate Cake

One of these major disappointments was this Combat Crunch Chocolate Cake flavored bar. It was dry, too crunchy, and left an icky aftertaste. It was like a Crunch bar desiccated on the inside and left a stale chocolate shell…gross.

The two FitJoy bars I tried afterwards were like chocolate truffles encrusted with gold flakes in comparison, but when not compared to anything else they were pretty mediocre.

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FitJoy – Chocolate Iced Brownie

The Chocolate Iced Brownie would have been perfect has it not been for the random nuts.

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FitJoy – Frosted Cinnamon Roll

Same thing with Frosted Cinnamon Roll. While the bar was soft and looked decadent, the nuts mixed in threw me off.

If I want to make sure I’m going to have a perfect Netflix & Chill kind of evening, I’ll probably stick with an RX Bar or a Combat Crunch flavor I do like, such as Cinnamon Twist.

I hinted at this earlier in the post, but it also goes without saying that ice cream is one of my weekend necessities. Over the summer however, my acai/smoothie bowl cravings overthrew my ice cream ones, and I had a few weekends where it was all about the smoothie bowls.

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Juice Crafters, Santa Monica

The picture above suggests it was a foggy, cool morning, but on this particular Sunday, I wasn’t feeling the whole ice cream thing. Turns out I wanted something colder, fruitier, and healthier??

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So much wood going on!

This led me to my first encounter with Juice Crafters. It promptly opens at 7am and closes at 6pm. If I had thought about my weekend plans in (in advance), I could have ordered a bowl to take back home.

I know this now for the future…this particular bowl however, was enjoyed at a local park before embarking on a weekend stroll.

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Time to demolish this.

I’m not sure why I did not think of bringing home smoothie bowls earlier…my weekend nights in have become so saturated with ice cream (not like it’s a bad thing…), but a Protein Acai Bowl is not such a bad option either. When you have an acai blend base mixed with vanilla protein, a whole lotta walnuts and almonds, almond BUTTER, strawberries, and a raw banana (not exactly my most favorite part, but I somehow managed to eat and keep it down when I mixed it completely into the bowl), it’s a combination that can’t be beat.

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Absolute YUM.

So now that I’ve established I need bars and some sort of frozen treat for a night of chillin’, what would be a cozy & fun ensemble to wear? My sleepwear drawer looks almost identical to that of my workout clothing drawer to be honest. Given that confession, it makes sense that I would pick something along these lines from AdoreMe’s current collection:

A sleeveless blue top with crossing straps is in trend with the criss cross strap bras of late, but obviously has more coverage.

An on trend, but soft-looking sleep top!

Normally I’d pair this kind of sleep top with shorts because it gets so hot in LA (and stays that way even at night). Plus I tend to overheat when I sleep! But sometimes cute overrules convenience…

Looks super cozy, but probably very warm! Too warm for LA even.

…these pants look incredibly comfy and warm, but realistically I’d probably wake up the next morning sweaty as if I completed a long run in my sleep!

With snacks on hand, comfy PJs on, and something entertaining to watch on Netflix/YouTube/TV, it’s difficult for me to imagine that I could—or would even want—to do something else to relax. Isn’t this honestly what we all wish to do every weekend 😉 ?

Do you prefer weekend nights out or in?

Juice Crafters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The 100 Degrees Solution

The 100 Degrees Solution

Over the weekend, temperatures reached record highs, and it was extremely hot! It made no sense to walk outside, but did I consider that? Obviously not…

I wouldn't have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!
I wouldn’t have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!

But I don’t regret that decision too much because I finally tried an acai bowl! At Kreation Organic, in the “fancy” Beverly Hills to be exact 😉

I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!
I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!

I stepped in and wasn’t sure where to look because the walls were covered and everything was calling my attention! I did spot the “cacao” Amazebowl on their wall menu though, and decided that sounded delicious enough to order. In the meantime, I sampled their kale chips…

Or should I say, chip??
Or should I say, chip??

My bowl came out in a compostable bowl, and I was ready to rip the plastic bowl off! Looking at this meal in front of me, I realized that this is probably the only way I will be able to get my fruit intake up (and eat bananas) !!

The Cacao Amazebowl - cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.
The Cacao Amazebowl – cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.

The bee pollen sprinkling was so eye-catching.

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Oooh bee pollen….

The following day, my acai/smoothie bowl craving was still going strong! Sunday was immensely hot, and so that craving was very much justified. Since I was on my way to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, I stopped inside Bon Bon Berry and tried the Aloha Bowl (as much as I did want to try the chocolate flavor, I decided to go a different route to change the flavors I try)!

Strip mall smoothie bowls...anything to cool off on a hot day!
Strip mall smoothie bowls…anything to cool off on a hot day!

Since absolutely no one was walking outside, I wasn’t surprised that no one was indoors either. But at least it was at least 30 degrees cooler inside (or at least it felt like it)! I ordered the bowl at the counter, found a seat near the far wall, and waited for my bowl to come.

Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!
Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!

Unlike the bowl from the day before, the Aloha bowl I had before me was covered in coconut shreds and more fruity in flavor, perhaps due to the mango and banana combo. It still had granola and honey swirled in.

Aloha Bowl!
Aloha Bowl!

Obviously not as fancy as the Kreation Organic bowl, but it was just as satisfying. The customer service was great too, and it seemed like they really took care in fulfilling the order and making sure the bowl was cold, refreshing, and full of flavor!

You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!
You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!

Are you a fan of acai/smoothie bowls?

Kreation Organic Juicery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lotsa Snackin’ and the Expo

Lotsa Snackin’ and the Expo

In the days leading up to my second marathon (!!!), I honestly did not feel as amped or excited as I did for my first marathon. Part of it was due to the fact that it all felt rushed. The race itself (LA Marathon) was pushed up to Valentine’s this year instead of its usual date in March. I also felt like my training runs didn’t feel as accomplishing (even though I should have felt accomplished!) because I was going through a lot of changes with my body in regards to my eating disorder recovery. I plan to write a more detailed post about this in the future, when I have more time to organize my thoughts and piece everything together.

But even though I wasn’t feeling 100% positive about this race, I did my best to enjoy the fact that I was opening new doors for myself, and that by going through the tough challenges now, I (and my body) would be so much more grateful in the future.

So in the few days before the race, I munched on some new-to-me bars and tried new snack combos.

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D’s Naturals – No Cow Bar – Blueberry Cobbler

I tried No Cow Bars for the first time, in two different flavors.

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D’s Naturals – No Cow Bar – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Upon opening each flavor, I found that the bars were quite limp! Peanut butter chocolate chip had a chunky texture to it, while blueberry cobbler had a smooth, but grainy aftertaste. I ended up liking PBCC more, but I’m looking forward to trying this brand’s other flavors!

I mixed in this Mission1 protein bar with an Arctic Zero pint and a generous serving of macaroon cookie butter from Ralph’s, which made for the most excellent Monday night dessert! The bar was supposedly “chocolate chip cookie dough”, but it mainly tasted like a chewy chocolate protein bar throughout. It was nothing spectacular, and actually may have tasted slightly better if it had been warmed up in the microwave for a little bit.

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Mission1 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Other snacks during this week included a jar of Buff Bake Cookie almond spread, chock-full of chia and flax seeds, which meant it was supercharged with protein.

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Buff Bake Cookie Almond Spread

Another bar also made its appearance later on in the week—Combat Crunch’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. When I had this bar before, I believe prior to a team long run actually, I found it too hard to chew on and less than appetizing, but this time around it wasn’t too bad.

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Combat Crunch Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

When the weekend finally arrived, the first thing I did was dash on over to the race expo. There was a line that curved around the entrance area, but when the expo officially opened at 8:00am, we were able to enter in an orderly fashion.

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LA Marathon Expo

The first thing I did was collect my bib, shirt, and bag, admiring this year’s shirt design inspired by Valentine’s Day.

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Race shirt

I then ventured into the expo, and took in my surroundings. I noticed a life-size piece of Quench gum casually walking around 😛

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Quench gum walking.

The first booth I visited was the KT booth. They were applying one free taping, and I asked for one for my right foot, since the “top of my foot” tendinitis migrated to the top-middle of my arch…weird. The taping seemed to help at first, but when I bent my foot outwards to see if I still felt sore, the soreness was still there…oh well, at least now my feet were shiny pink?

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KT Tape!

After doing some more exploring, I got my picture taken and tacked it onto the photomural board. We even got two Polaroid copies so we could keep one. Last year, it was a board with all of the participants names.

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Photo-mural

I soon got bored with the expo (within an hour…shows how my attention span really is!!), and ventured outside onto Figueroa. The Olympic Trials were about to begin, but I still had to pop into lab that day! I didn’t get to see any of the celeb elites in action, but I did see some runners warming-up down the street. It was refreshing to see a race taking place on the downtown LA roads I frequently run myself…yeah, I may not run as fast as these elites (yet), but one can hope and dream about it 🙂

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Olympic Trials about to start!!

After finishing up some morning lab work, I immediately got myself out to get some grocery shopping done. I obviously wouldn’t have time on Marathon Sunday, and since I had to go into lab on President’s Day, it was just easier to get the grocery shopping done and in bed all by 7pm.

Since I wanted to go to Sprouts, I ventured to the Westwood location and even sat down for a quick bite to eat at Tacos tu Madre. It was more like a little food shack than a restaurant, but there were some veggie-friendly options on the menu.

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Menu

Because the inside of the “food shack” was incredibly small, I was awkwardly standing by the door for a few minutes before finding a seat and actually sitting down.

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Inside Tacos tu Madre

I could have sat outside, but I also wanted a break from the hot sun.

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Decorations!

My huevos rancheros dish came out in a small tin bowl, and featured two stacked fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and guac, and two fried eggs. It was satisfying enough to get me to Sprouts a few blocks up ahead.

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Huevos Rancheros in a bowl

When I finally made it home, it was almost 5pm! I quickly got all of my race gear for the marathon ready, and had a pint of Arctic Zero that I picked up from Sprouts. It was a new exclusive chunky flavor, Snickerdoodle Dandy. It was a cute flavor idea, but I wish there had been more sugar cookie chunks. I feel like it’s a similar issue with the cookie dough flavor. Still, it’s a flavor worth trying!

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Arctic Zero – Snickerdoodle Dandy

What have you been snacking on lately?

More Fun in Proteinland

More Fun in Proteinland

I wrote a post way back when expressing my love for some protein-rich products, and couldn’t resist following up with some of my recent protein-rich finds.

Recent meaning, since summer. Back in July, I hopped on the PEScience bandwagon after seeing so many rave reviews about the company’s protein powder collection. The first flavor I had to try was Snickerdoodle.

 Select Protein - Amazing Snickerdoodle....this giant tub lasted me a while actually!
Select Protein – Amazing Snickerdoodle….this giant tub lasted me a while actually!

I also received a free bottle, which I now use for getting in an adequate daily amount of H20 😉

 Not for shakes, but for water ;)
Not for shakes, but for water 😉

I did get a chance to try Blondie though, since I was given a sample packet of that with the giant Snickerdoodle tub I ordered.

 Sample packet of Amazing Blondie
Sample packet of Amazing Blondie

I pretty much only use protein powder as a thickener (for yogurt, which makes the wonderful creation known as proyo 😉 ). But with the sample packet of Amazing Blondie, I mixed it with a spoon of Nutella for an interesting, sweet mix!

Amazing Blondie Protein Powder with Nutella
Amazing Blondie Protein Powder with Nutella

Just like cookie dough or icing, it would probably be perfect if added as a topping to something else, but it tasted just as good on its own. 

Some of the fun proyo bowls I made using PEScience’s Select Snickerdoodle Protein Powder included the following: 

A proyo mix with a base of pear yogurt with chia seeds:

Snickerdoodle Chia Seed Pear Proyo
Snickerdoodle Chia Seed Pear Proyo

Another proyo mix with a strawberry base and chocolate caramel-filled eclairs:

proyo
Strawberry Greek Proyo with Caramel-Filled Eclairs

I wasn’t able to get a homogeneous mixture every single time with my bowls, but I liked the oatmeal like appearance. As long as its thick like greek yogurt, I’m good!

I also made an almon milk-based protein puree with the powder, and added Nutella of course 😉

Almond Milk Protein Puree with Nutella
Smoother in consistency than yogurt, but super tasty!

Once I noticed my PEScience jar diminishing in its contents, I knew it was time to stock up and try my next protein powder. Vitamin Shoppe was finally having a sale on Garden of Life products, and so I bought myself a tub of RAW Meal to try, in chocolate cacao flavor!

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Garden of Life Raw Meal – Chocolate Cacao

I couldn’t wait to dig into this tub of plant-based goodness.

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Inside the tub!!

Here’s just a collage of some of my proyo creations to-date made with this powder. The jar is still sitting in my cupboard, becoming lighter with each passing weeknight 😉

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Raw Meal proyo bowls!

Along with exploring more of the protein powder world, I managed to finally come across a Combat Crunch bar! It was at my campus bookstore of all places, and I munched (more like chewed heavily) on the White Chocolate Raspberry flavor as an appetizer before dinner.

combatcrunch_wcr
My first Combat Crunch bar.

I love the appearance of these bars—a smooth coating with small, crunchy puffs—but the bar was far from crunchy. My jaws had to go to work with chewing this bar, but at least the flavor wasn’t off-putting. The filling stayed true to its raspberry name. I noticed that in the ingredients list for Muscle Pharm’s Combat Crunch bars, they specifically state if a certain flavor contains vegetable glycerin or just glycerin. Fortunately the WCR flavor contains the former, but some of the flavors may require further inspection if I come across them in the future!

What protein-rich finds have you come across lately?

The 10 x 10 Challenge

The 10 x 10 Challenge

Starting on June 23rd, I set out to do my biggest running challenge yet (besides running my first marathon)…run 100 miles over the course of 10 days. In other words, the 10 x 10 challenge. I happened to first learn about it from other blogs, and apparently it started off as a challenge on Facebook. I thought that since I had the time (work in lab has been relatively calm compared to my crazy schedule in May!), and since I was starting to feel bored with just trying to “maintain” at 30 miles a week, I thought why not give this challenge a go?

Throughout the challenge, I learned a lot about what I could accomplish (it’s all about mindset!), some running-related tips to keep in mind for the future, and I also used it as an opportunity to try various Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors since I was on-the-go for ten straight days.

–◊–

Day 1 – I set my alarm for 5:30am, and didn’t wake up a minute earlier. I didn’t feel too tired, and actually felt ready to go and start this whole thing! I broke down the 10 mile goal in my mind, mentally “tricking” myself into thinking it was just a 6 mile run as usual, with an added 4 mile “cool down”. Before leaving for the run, I had some mulberries as pre-run fuel.

 Discount mulberries!
Discount mulberries!

I returned ~ 1 hr and 40 minutes later, and prepped dinner while munching on some Quest Bars as my post-run fuel. After dinner was set and cooking in the crockpot, I stopped by my apartment complex’s gym for a quick lower-body workout, and then went about my day as usual, doing my usual weekday things.

Day 2 – I woke up still feeling sleepy when my alarm buzzed at 5:30AM, but I still managed to get out the door after consuming two Quest Bars. I was able to mentally convince myself again that it would just be another 6 + 4 mile run. Once I hit the 6 mile mark, I could feel it start to warm up considerably, and I knew my hair was going to be a sweaty mess after this! Still, I was able to zone out, despite my quads getting sore around the 8-9 mile mark.

After the run, I prepped dinner and finished up my exercise-packed morning with an upper-body lifting session. In the hours that followed, I went about my day as usual, even though taking a nap didn’t seem like such a bad idea!

Since my energy levels did feel like they were taking a dip, I figured that after running 20 miles over two days made me deserving of an extra treat that would also keep me going for tomorrow’s run.

I had been eyeing the Red Velvet Cake flavor of Ben & Jerry’s—which is only in stock near me at a local pharmacy—just for this purpose.

D2 - RVC
Oh yes!

It literally tasted like a frozen slice of red velvet cake! The cake pieces were somewhat soggy, and had the consistency of rubbery marshmallows, but given that they were mixed in with ingredients that were cold and wet, this would have to be excusable 😉 .

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Pink ice cream 🙂

The cream cheese frosting swirl somehow managed to keep its texture and flavor, and the pink color of the ice cream brightly illuminated the living room (okay, a slight exaggeration, but it was enough to make my roommate notice my evening treat!)

Day 3 – I think the ice cream helped from Day 2, because I surprisingly ran at a faster pace on Day 3. After stopping by lab in the morning, I left early for a doctor’s appointment, and spent the rest of my afternoon running some errands since I had to make the trip all the way to Beverly Hills in the first place.

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Hangin’ in Beverly Hills

Running 10 miles in the morning + walking all over town left me with a sore left heel (the sneakers and thin socks I was wearing only exacerbated the issue), but fortunately it wasn’t debilitating enough to interrupt my challenge.

I was able to fit in another pint that night—Blondie Ambition, which I ended up finding at a grocery store closer to my apartment, even though I wasted waited almost forty minutes at a City Target closer to the doctor’s office for an employee to check if they still had any more of the flavor.

Even though the bus ride home took longer than my usual weekend trips (that forty minutes waiting around in Target cost me much more time waiting on the roads…), being able to come home and have a new pint to try after dinner was quite an incentive.

D3 - BA
Blondie Ambition

This flavor surprisingly “took the cake” (sorry Red Velvet!). The ice cream was a sweet buttercream flavor (it was certainly very smooth!), and it had blondie chunks and crunchy toffee pieces—that were able to maintain their crisp texture—strewn in. I can honestly say I was slightly melancholy when the pint was demolished.

blondieambition
Blondies and Toffee <3

Day 4 – My legs stayed sore (specifically upper/inner quads), but it was not debilitating enough to keep me from running. Once I was out the door and running, the soreness subsided, and my mood even picked up. It helped that the morning weather was overcast, but as my run progressed, I was a sticky mess once again. The last two miles were mentally challenging, but I persevered and went about my day.

I felt an incredible feeling of exhaustion around afternoon, and 3:00pm easily felt like 6:00pm. I still had to stop by the grocery store, and so in the process, picked up another pint along with my groceries. I originally was saving this one for Saturday night, but I couldn’t wait—the physical exertion and mental exhaustion from the week were just too much 😛 !

At least it wasn’t something Chunky Monkey couldn’t fix!

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Chunky Monkey

Now, I’m far from being a banana fan, but I had to give this flavor some credit for not being overpowering, and for having just enough chocolate chunks to balance whatever banana flavor was there in the first place!

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Friday Night Pint!

As soon as I finished consuming this pint, I immediately felt my eyes start to droop. I guess it was the perfect nightcap?

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Walnuts, chocolate chunks…

Day 5 – I was not looking forward to waking up as early as I do on weekdays on a Saturday morning, despite going to bed very early on Friday night. I had a good night’s rest, but sadly, had to get up at 5:30AM yet again—the challenge was calling.

I did end up running at 6:30AM instead of 6:00AM, and definitely noticed the sudden change in temperature earlier than mid-run. I kept the run simple with several loops to total 10 miles. Mile 9 was tough on the legs, but once I got through, I felt absolutely accomplished.

At least the rest of my day was less demanding in regards to time. After stopping by the new Panera Bread in Beverly Hills for lunch, I went to a nearby Pavillions to pick up the Boston Cream Pie flavor of B&Js—as you can see, one of the perks of this challenge was having ice cream everyday 😉

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Boston Cream Pie—frozen!

After leaving it in the freezer for an hour or so (the cons of long bus rides…), I dug right in, and savored the pastry cream filling and cake pieces. Seriously—how do the folks at Ben & Jerry’s do it?? True, the pastry cream filling looked more like lemon-lime Gu rather than something squeezed over a pie, but it was delicious nonetheless. And eating it while watching a complementary chick flick (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) on TV made the Saturday night in even more perfect.

bcp
Couldn’t wait to dig in!

Day 6 – I broke up the run into a 7 miler + 5k Race since I was running this race later in the morning. I still had to wake up bright and early, but at least I was able to look forward to a change of running scenery. I rode the train to Culver City, and from there, ran along Venice Blvd. as a 7 mile “warm-up”. My destination was Crescent Bay Park, where I participated in a 5K benefiting lymphedema research.

D6
5K Sunday!

Not only was the race for a good cause, but I also brought home an exorbitant amount of food bars! Quest Bars included! I decided to head home right after since I was itching for a shower (literally…).

Day 7 – Mondays are normally rest days from running for me, so waking up to go for a run had me feeling quite odd. I ended up running my favorite weekday 6 mile course, with a 2 mile out-and-back to get my full ten in. The run was hot and humid, and left me sweaty and sticky!

In other words, there was no point in showering the day before :/
I immediately put the A/C on back at home, prepped for dinner, completed an upper-body workout, and then headed off to work.

Once I got home, I literally did not feel like doing anything. Even washing the dishes—which I usually find relaxing—felt like such a chore.

D7
Do I have to wash the dishes??

Day 8 – The quad soreness crept back, and I could feel them for the entire run. I also woke up ravenous, and had two Quest Bars as pre-run fuel. I had planned a lower-body workout, but it was near to impossible to complete, at least as far as my quads were concerned. I ended up doing a lot of stretching during this time, which is something I don’t do as often as I should…

 Kept things simple after the day’s run with some protein-rich cottage cheese (mixed with protein powder) with a generous dollop of coconut almond butter on top.
Kept things simple after the day’s run with some protein-rich cottage cheese (mixed with protein powder) with a generous dollop of coconut almond butter on top.

Day 9 – My second-to-last day of the challenge turned out to be my most interesting one! Improper fueling in the morning led to a bloated stomach, and I had to stop running after 5 miles (heartburn, ick!). I told myself that I could finish my final 5 miles in the evening, and even though I prefer to get my workouts done in the morning, I managed to change back into my running clothes as soon as I got to the apartment.

Okay…so running for ice cream had a big deal to do with it, but I ended up running at 8:55/mi, which has been the fastest pace for me throughout this whole challenge!

d9
Karamel Sutra Core

Plus, who wouldn’t want to run for Karamel Sutra? It was the final B&J Core I had to try (at least from what’s currently available in the US!).

d9 (3)
Icicle surface, but still got a lot of creaminess left.

Another ice cream pint, another cause for roommate envy 😉

d9 (1)
CARAMEL…..

Day 10 – The final run! The weather was perfect (cloudy skies), and I wanted to make most of my run include downtown. I fueled just right (keeping note of the previous day’s mishap) and completed the run at a 9:26/mi pace. I would say it was a good note to end on.
The rest of the day was spent in lab, followed by a trip over to Union Station to pick up the sis since she was spending the 3-day weekend with me!

Three full days off from running to rest and recharge that happened to coincide when my sister was here?! I have to admit, I took into account the timing of the three-day weekend when I decided to embark on this challenge.

 Celebratory Arcitic Zero topped with almond butter and one of the free bars I got from the 5K :P
Celebratory Arcitic Zero topped with almond butter and one of the free bars I got from the 5K 😛

–◊–

Overall, the challenge went better than I expected. I was pleased to have been able to complete the distance each day for ten straight days, and I was able to prove to myself that with the right mindset and discipline in place, anything is possible. It also helps to know that, if necessary, I could run a great distance over a consecutive period of days if I had big plans coming up that prevented me from running (like traveling, hectic school schedule, etc.).

Runners: have you heard of, or completed, the 10 x 10 Challenge?

Some Things Friday

Some Things Friday

Hey there, and HAPPY FRIDAY!

Thought I would put up a short post for the day with some random blurbs:

1) Cabbage at Trader’s Joe’s

 I just had to take a pic...
I just had to take a pic…

I remember stopping by a Trader Joe’s back in November during one of my weekend grocery shopping trips. I was able to purchase all of my produce for the week from that location, but I didn’t see a head of cabbage anywhere.

When I asked the employees about this, they told me that they apparently only carry cabbage in their stores around March because of St. Patrick’s Day. An odd reason, but I remembered this exchange after I saw all of these cabbages at a Trader Joe’s on a recent shopping trip…and only $0.99 a head! I would have stocked up, but I was taking the bus home…

2) Strawberry Protein Powder

designerwhey_lusciousstrawberry_proteinpowder

I’ve never tried Designer Whey before, and so when I saw it on sale at Vitamin Shoppe, I leapt at the chance to purchase it. Since I’ve only been having chocolate-flavored protein powder as of late, I thought it was time for a change so I decided to get the luscious strawberry flavor.

 Mixed in said protein powder to make some proyo (with blueberry yogurt), and then topped that with almond butter.
Mixed in said protein powder to make some proyo (with blueberry yogurt), and then topped that with almond butter.

The first thing I noticed about this powder was how finely textured it was. It poured out like sand, and mixed in easily with the blueberry yogurt I had. This differed from how the other two protein powders I previously tried mixed with liquids. My proyo bowls often came out clumpy, and there was always a layer of dry protein powder at the bottom of my cup. Not with this brand/flavor though!

3) Sleep and Sincerity

The past week has been an exhausting one, mentally more so than physically. First I was coming off a week of studying for exams, and then I had to face some pressing student-related issues. That meant a weekend full of e-mails, sleepless nights, and anxiety due to not knowing how the situation would turn out.

I’m grateful that things are finally coming together, and that the “issue” that seemed to have such a dire outcome just a few days ago now just involves a few more exchanges before everything is all-clear again. I’ve been getting a lot of support from many people, and the way things are turning out are much better compared to what could have happened. Sorry for being vague, but since it includes a lot of personal details, I have to be. I did want to put it out in this post though since it has to do with my “trials and tribulations” as a grad student!

I am looking forward to a better weekend though. My friends and I are getting together for another movie night, and hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on ALLTHESLEEP and have a splendid 8 mile taper run on Sunday.

How was your first week of March?

GoMacro!

GoMacro!

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily compensated to write this review. This review is based on the products and information I received from GoMacro. All opinions are my own.

After coming home from work one evening several days ago, I was excited to see this box from GoMacro waiting for me in the mail! Inside of the regular mailing brown box was a trapezoidal box made from what looked to be recycled cardboard (it had that rugged feel to it anyways).

gomacro box (1)

I also love the “earthy” art piece on the top. This box was worth saving as an office supply box for my desk, or something!

gomacro box (2)

GoMacro is all about creating products that promote not just a healthy lifestyle, but a sustainable one as well. The bars are USDA-certified organic, gluten-free, vegan, Kosher pareve, and contain non-GMO ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, these bars are made with unprocessed, organic ingredients and plant-based proteins such as brown rice protein and organic pea protein. This company takes things seriously when it comes to defending the “macro” in their name.

I was given three bars to try, but they have many more flavors in their collection. The variety is even organized by color, from warm to cool. For the spring/summer season, GoMacro wanted to highlight their Sunflower Butter + Chocolate, Granola + Coconut, and Banana + Almond Butter MacroBar flavors, so that was what I received. No complaints on my end!

gomacro bars

In addition the the bars, this “10 Macro Principles to Eat By” magnet was included…

gomacro magnet

…as well as these seed coasters. All I had to do was soak them in some water and place them in some soil. Provided that they are given sufficient water and time, they should sprout some wildflowers 🙂 . I’ve already planted all five in our backyard…

gomacro seed coasters (1)

I tried Protein Purity (Sunflower Butter + Chocolate) first.

protein purity (1)

This bar had to be my most favorite flavor. How can there be any mistakes when sunflower butter and chocolate are involved? The bar was moist and sticky (which can’t be helped in this case), and tasted like a stick of chocolate fudge mixed with sunbutter. Um, super yum!

It’s classified as a high protein bar, with 10g/bar coming from organic sprouted brown rice protein.

protein purity (5)

Prolonged Power (Banana + Almond Butter) was the second to be devoured. It had that moist, sticky feel to it (actually, all three bars were like that as I later found out), and had a strong banana smell (of course). The almond butter seemed to act more like a binding agent than anything else, since the banana flavor dominated this whole bar.  

prolonged power

I was also intrigued by how this bar was sweetened with coconut sugar. The ingredient goes along the sustainability goals of the company, since coconut sugar is derived from the coconut tree crop—which restores marred soils without requiring much water for its own growth. 

The final flavor to taste was Balanced Goodness (Granola + Coconut). While it was a bittersweet moment, the taste was far from it!

balanced goodness

On the website, they like to compare it to coconut/oatmeal raisin cookie dough, and I have to agree. Even though it’s branded as a coconut flavor, this bar was chock full of walnuts and dates, and the brown puffed rice gave it a subtle crispiness. It was low in protein compared to the other two bars, with a humble 4g per serving (1 bar).

I’m all about supporting companies that produce wholesome food that save animals, protect our planet, and nourishes our bodies. After trying these three Macrobars, I look forward to coming across the other eight bars in their collection, which include flavors like Sesame Butter + Dates, Almond Butter + Carob, and Cashew Caramel. I think that qualifies for #6 of the “10 Macro Principles to Eat By”, right 😉 ?

Have you heard about the macrobiotic diet? 

Are you a fan of Macrobars?

Nutty ‘Bout Barney

Nutty ‘Bout Barney

Over the last few weeks, I have been appeasing my yogurt & nut butter addiction cravings in the mornings with a gourmet-like brand of nut butter: Barney’s Almond Butter.

(source)
(source)

The cute little jars were designed by a mom trying to create an alternative for her peanut-butter loving kids. The nut butter is made with California almonds, and the company is headquartered in Fresno—proud to be supporting my state ;)!

I was able to sample two jars of my choice, and decided to try the Smooth and Bare Crunchy kinds.

When I picked up the Smooth jar, I fell in love with the small and cute size of the jar, but not so much the price ($7.49 retail for a 10 oz. jar…talk about gourmet :o!!).

Barney Butter Almond Butter Smooth
Barney Butter Almond Butter Smooth

I managed to get the price down to $5 with a $1 off coupon for the Bare Crunchy jar from Whole Foods…

Barney Butter Bare - Crunchy Almonds
Barney Butter Bare – Crunchy Almonds

Upon opening this jar, I was pleasantly surprised with the contents inside: smooth and creamy almond butter! You know the first thing I would do is try it with some yogurt…

Barney Butter and Chobani Champions Orange Vanilla Yogurt
Barney Butter and Chobani Champions Orange Vanilla Yogurt

…and the miniature Chobani Champions Orange Vanilla yogurt was perfect for that! Another find from Grocery Outlet that made my change purse happy (a 4-pack cost around $2, making each cup worth about $0.50!!).

A dollop of the smooth and creamy almond butter was also the star of some breakfast bowl creations of mine:

Plain Kefir, Blueberry Greek, Maple Pecan Crunch Granola topped with Barney (Almond) Butter
Plain Kefir, Blueberry Greek Yogurt, Maple Pecan Crunch Granola topped with Barney Almond Butter

A spoon of Bare Crunchy almond butter added so much texture to this bowl:

Fage Plain with Barney Almond Butter (Bare, Crunchy) and Chocolate Cheerios
Fage Plain with Barney Almond Butter (Bare, Crunchy) and Chocolate Cheerios

I also had some hard-boiled egg whites in the fridge waiting to be consumed. Adding scoopfuls of crunchy almond butter to each half seemed like a wonderful idea ;).

Almond-Butter Filled Egg Whites
Almond-Butter Filled Egg Whites

Who knew that the texture of hard-boiled egg whites with the smooth but crunchy almond butter would be so complimentary?

I wasn’t too sad when my Bare Crunchy jar was practically empty…

YIAJ Barney Butter Bare Crunchy with Chobani Bite
YIAJ Barney Butter Bare Crunchy with Chobani Bite (Coffee with Dark Chocolate Chips)

…since it made for a perfect YIAJ with two Chobani Bite (the Coffee with Dark Chocolate Chips kind) cups. The coffee flavored yogurt, and the texture of the chocolate chips mixing with the blanched almonds…all I can say is it was the perfect. morning. breakfast.

Do you have a favorite almond butter or nut butter?

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