Chilling in Walnut Creek

Chilling in Walnut Creek

The next day, I woke up earlier than everyone else (6am of course) but forced myself to go back to sleep just for a little bit. My cousin got up to make coffee a little over an hour later. I wanted to get a run in, so I opted to have coffee when I came back.

I ran along the Iron Horse Trail for 10 miles, and when I came back my cousin and her wife had left for the gym, haha. My sister and I spent the rest of the morning just chilling around the house.

Quiet Saturday morning
Quiet Saturday morning

When my cousins came back, we wanted to go out for some fresh air while they caught up on house errands/work. My sis and I used that time to go into downtown to pick up snacks and walk around.

Walking around downtown Walnut Creek
Walking around downtown Walnut Creek

I noticed that they had an acai bowls shop by the name of Vitality Bowls, and I remember I had bookmarked it years ago as a place I wanted to visit if I ever stopped by in the East Bay. My sis also wanted to get a bowl, so we stepped inside.

Vitality Bowls
Vitality Bowls

There was ample seating inside, and despite the cold temperatures outside, there were many groups of people inside eating away at fruit-filled concoctions that were held in wavy-shaped stainless steel bowls.

whaisgraviola
My sister and I spent a good amount of time pondering over what is graviola…

My sister was craving a bowl that had ample amounts of banana and peanut butter. I wound up getting a classic Vitality Bowl.

bowlz
On the left ~ a Nutty Bowl with an almond milk base, apple juice, PB, banana, strawberries and flax seed topped with granola, (more) bananas, almonds and honey // On the right ~ a Vitality Bowl made with organic acai, bananas, strawberries and flax seed and topped with granola, honey, bananas, strawberries, and (not enough) goji berries

I loved my bowl, but wish there had been more goji berries. The base was also somewhat more watery than I expected, and my sister’s bowl base seemed to be as thick as ice cream. The stainless steel bowl kept things nice and cold however.

close up
Close-up shot of my Vitality Bowl 🙂

After finishing the bowls, my sister and I headed back to the apartment. We just worked on our computers and enjoyed the company of my cousin and her wife. One of

their friends came over for tax help, and my cousin got started on cooking dinner while the NBA All-Star game played in the background. My cousin ended up making a “less spicy” version of Pad Kee Mao. The original recipe called for 22 chili peppers, but she generously cut that down to 7.

pad_kee_mao
Pad Kee Mao that wasn’t supposed to be spicy, but still was!

Even so, everyone commented on how spicy it still was! I however like spicy food, and didn’t find it off-putting one bit.

After dinner, we played a card game called Judgment that my cousin’s wife was a pro at. She beat us all by a wide margin. Soon after that, we called it a night and retreated back to our rooms. We had plans to go into the city the next day, so we had no problem turning in early to save up our energy for that. 🙂

Vitality Bowls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waffle Love

Waffle Love

It’s hard to believe that it’s March, and what’s harder to believe is that even though it’s spring break time, I have more work than ever!! On the agenda is a 20-page paper, getting ready for a meeting involving a number of professors revolving around my lab project, and keeping up with the work I do on a daily basis. But this too will pass…and going out and having delicious dessert plates will make it easier for it to go by!

Before having it really hit home that I have TONS to do in the next two weeks, I actually had a pretty chill week last week, as well as a fulfilling weekend. I treated myself to two new B&J pints that week, including a core and a vegan flavor:

I am so glad PB & Cookies was the first non-dairy B&J pint I tried, because it was insanely delicious! It had legitimately-size cookie sandwich chunks, and thick PB swirl pieces. The almond milk-base was surprisingly tasty as well!

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Non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s—vegans rejoice!!

I would even go far as to say that this flavor is part of my top picks! The brownie batter core flavor though…

b&j_browniebatter
Brownie Batter Core

Besides having to “deal with” the chocolate, I was a fan of everything else. It was funny how most of the brownie pieces were on the vanilla side. I also did a pretty good job saving the core for last, when I was able to truly taste the crunchy, yet smooth brownie batter.

On Saturday, I was able to catch an afternoon showing of Zootopia, and I was thoroughly entertained by it. It may be animated, and a product of the Disney factory, but the story, (heart of the) characters, and poignant moments were all too real. I knew I wanted to see it after seeing the sloth trailer months ago, and after my sis saw it own, we spent one morning texting each other all the funny and our favorite parts of the movie.

Sunday was even more low-key, and after morning lab work, I hopped on a bus in downtown and headed towards Monterey Park in east LA. After seeing countless pictures of lattes decorated with classic anime characters and potted plant puddings, I knew I had to pay Macchiato a visit.

Macchiato
Macchiato

Macchiato is just one of countless Asian coffee/tea/dessert shops strung together on the same block. Even so, it was packed on Sunday mid-afternoon, and I assumed it was because so many students who work well in coffee shop settings needed to get their study on for the midterms they needed to take before spring break!

Studying away (and snacking away!)
Studying away (and snacking away!)

I looked at the menu at my seat, which was in the far corner of the cafe close to the employee kitchen. It was by no means the prettier part of the cafe, but at least I was able to get a seat. As other patrons came in after me, most ended up getting their goods to go.

Menu
Menu

The ‘Feed Me Waffle’ section was calling out to me—so I went with the Macchiato Sundae Waffle.

Feed Me Waffle
Feed Me Waffle

After fifteen minutes or so, a plate stacked with waffles, ice cream, and fruit was placed before me.

My Waffle Sundae
My Waffle Sundae

The waffles were crispy, drizzled with chocolate syrup, and had a small schmear of Nutella on the bottom. The ice cream was of the Neapolitan variety, with a small ball of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry and whipped cream in between each!

Ice cream up close.
Ice cream up close.

The fruit was a balanced mixed of berries, mango, and banana.

Crispy, crispy waffle!!
Crispy, crispy waffle!!

I had the waffles first, and tried to mix the berries and ice cream together to add to the waffle, but that ended up being too complicated! The ice cream alone on each waffle was good enough. That meant saving the fruit for last, but that was no problem 🙂

What’s your favorite waffle topping?

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

When I Don’t Study, I Eat

When I Don’t Study, I Eat

Last week was insane school-wise.

I had two intense exams in both of my classes on the SAME day, as well as a paper that was due over the weekend. Fun times in grad school…

 An hour before one of my exams, and not even free coffee could keep me from being distracted!
An hour before one of my exams, and not even free coffee could keep me from being distracted!

I still managed to have some “fun” and gave myself study breaks by making myself go out for some fresh air food. I was able to do just that on both weekends that sandwiched my horridly-scheduled exam week.

I mentioned that after my half, I had a late lunch. It was more like a super late breakfast, since I ended up ordering something to satisfy my sweet tooth from Jacks N Joe—a snug breakfast-centric restaurant tucked behind a strip mall.

SAMSUNG

I arrived about half an hour before their closing time in the mid-afternoon. One of the employees was putting away the outdoor seats and tables, but she pleasantly held the door open for me as I approached the entrance. After declining a spot at the counter, I gladly took a table for one near the cash register, and didn’t mind since it gave me a central view of the restaurant.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

After looking over the menu another time (I looked at it dozens of times online 😛 ), I decided to order one of their signature french toast plates.

SAMSUNGAnd it ended up being a heavenly choice 😉

 7 Minutes in Heaven French Toast ~ 3 slices of Hawaiian french (lol) toast with nutella, bananas, and strawberries.
7 Minutes in Heaven French Toast ~ 3 slices of Hawaiian french (lol) toast with nutella, bananas, strawberries, and of course powdered sugar.

The bread was soft and chewy, and can you go wrong with strawberries and chocolate spread? I would have enjoyed this dish even without the bananas, but I’m not exactly a fan of the fruit so I’m a little biased there 😛

 I tolerated the banana slices because there was chocolate!
I tolerated the banana slices because there was chocolate!

I didn’t even touch the bottle of syrup that my waiter put on the table prior to my french toast coming out. There was truly no need!

SAMSUNG

Despite averaging ~8 hours each day researching/writing for my paper the weekend after exam week, I still managed to get out for some eats. I decided not to venture off too far, since it was chilly as far as LA weather was concerned, and because my “free” time was limited.

I kept things simple by busing over to Fairfax Ave. since I could do some grocery shopping in the same area, while grabbing a bite to eat at Swinger’s Diner.

SwingersDinerHollywood
The parking lot, entrance, and waiting near the door.

 The place was packed at 3pm on a Saturday, and no one wanted to eat outside since it was windy and cold, so I ended up having to wait twenty minutes for a seat. Even then, I was given the suggestion to get a booth at the back of the restaurant, and so I didn’t get to continue people watching. 

interior.
People watching while waiting for a table. Mod art on the wall.

Instead, I ended up facing the cow wall, and had these condiments to entertain me.

SAMSUNG

The menu was…entertaining as well, haha. I just quickly scanned through it to find the vegetarian and vegan options I had read online about, which was easy to do since a “thumbs up” icon next to a menu item meant it was vegetarian, and a peace sign meant it was vegan.

the menu
Had to blur out some non-PG images, which I didn’t notice at first but then was like whoathere

After reading the fine print, I learned that tofu could be subbed in for chicken at no extra cost, so to my pleasant surprise, that opened up a lot more meal options! Because of that, I decided to get the grilled jamaican jerk chicken tofu 😀 . 

Waiting for my food to arrive took just as long as waiting for a seat. It was probably because the diner was still busy, but since I was literally facing a wall, time seemed to pass by slower than reality. Sure, there was a window to my left, but the view was the back of a hotel, and an obscured view at that since my booth was at a low level. 

When this came out, I wasn’t sure what to think exactly—why were the tofu pieces so thin and pathetic-looking? or plantains that look like french fries?? YES 😀 

SAMSUNG
Grilled Jamaican Jerk Tofu ~ jerk-marinated tofu with fried plantains black beans and sauteed quinoa.

Even though the tofu was a disappointment, the plantains picked up the slack—having just enough crisp on the outside, yet chewy on the inside. The black beans added flavor that the “marinade” on the excuse-for-tofu was lacking, and the quinoa added some extra crispiness to the dish, since it was sauteed.

SAMSUNG

So after getting some food in me and doing some grocery shopping at the Grove, I got back home just as the sun was setting and felt refreshed enough to revise another draft of my paper. Sunday’s “adventures” were limited to a long run at Griffth Park with my running group, and then literally sitting at my kitchen table for almost 8 hours total wrapping up the paper that controlled my weekend.

Well, at least it’s done now!

How often do you need breaks when you study/work?

Jacks N Joe on Urbanspoon

Swingers on Urbanspoon

Race Recap: Rad Runs Reyes Adobe Days 10 Miler

Race Recap: Rad Runs Reyes Adobe Days 10 Miler

In exactly a week and a half from today, I will be running my 5th half marathon, and my first second race in So Cal. While I originally planned for my 5th half to be my first So Cal race, my impromptu registration for a 10 miler fit my training schedule (and personal schedule) too perfect to resist signing up. Since my family was visiting, I was able to get a ride up to Agoura Hills for a great Saturday morning long-run race interspersed with hills. 

This race hit all the right notes on many accounts: 

The price – I found the price tag of $30 for a 10 miler to be quite a bargain, and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that all participants got a medal. I have participated in races where you have to pay extra for a medal (which I can say I have not done before…), so having that included in the (cheap) race registration was pretty awesome.

A great race for locals.
A great race for locals.

The size The race was held for the first time I believe, and for being a first-timer, it had a pretty solid turn-out for both the 10 miler and 10k. I liked the small-ish, local crowd—even one of the vendors at the booths was amazed when I told her I had come “all the way from LA” to come up for the race in Agoura Hills. 

crowds

The weather – The weekend of this race was a particularly cold one compared to what it’s been like in LA for the past two months. When I arrived at the race start around 6:30am, I had to borrow my Dad’s jacket because I was freezing (first time I’ve felt cold in a while)! The coolish, 59°F weather did benefit me though in the end, since my pace for the first five miles was quite fast for me. 

earlymorning

Mile markers – I have been frustrated quite a few times during races that had inaccurate mile markers (it really does get you from a mental standpoint if you are running the last 2 miles of a half or 0.2 of a 10k, and the mile markers don’t match up with your watch!!), but this race was certainly an exception when compared to my past experiences. I appreciated the fact that every time I saw a mile marker during this race, my Garmin would beep with my pace in agreement.

The finish feels more fantastic when your watch matches up with the mile markers!
The finish feels more fantastic when your watch matches up with the mile markers!

But like anything else, there’s always room for improvement!

 The freebies – The freebies were not bad…and that’s about it. I did finally get a chance to try the Strong & Kind savory bars, a soft (but wide) race shirt, a pack of band-aids, a random protein bar, water bottles, and varied pamphlets (including a Quest Bar recipe book) <— though I would have appreciated actual Quest bars…

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They had a good amount of vendors, but not a lot.
They had a good amount of vendors, but not a lot.

(Lack of) division ranking – I like looking at things through lists and categories, so the fact that there wasn’t any age/gender division ranking was kind of a bummer. This is obviously a very minor issue though.

 What they lacked in timing organization they made up for in water and bagels.
What they lacked in timing organization they made up for in water and bagels.

Boy, am I glad to be part of the racing scene again—and to come back when the weather is starting to cool is a major motivator to keep racing! I was also happy with my 9:27/mi pace, and am excited to see what the half will hold for me in a couple days’ time!

How do you stay motivated to run/exercise?

Dairy and Bananas

Dairy and Bananas

Memorial Day weekend was very much needed, so when Monday night rolled around, I wasn’t exactly excited to go back to school, even if for only three-ish more weeks. But though my weekend of bliss ended, I did have something to cheer me up: an empty white chocolate peanut butter jar!

Mocha Yogurt & WCPB in a Jar
Mocha Yogurt & WCPB in a Jar

We didn’t have any (sweet) yogurt in the house (well, I finished the lemon soy yogurts I bought on the weekend, during the weekend…tee hee), so I ended up making a stop at Trader Joe’s, and planned to pick up some greek yogurt. However, I got sidetracked by the word “mocha”, and instead bought some mocha yogurt to add to my empty jar.

In the end, I’m glad I decided to try something new, but I don’t see mocha yogurt as being a go-to for me in the future. At least not the kind from Trader Joe’s…unfortunately ):

Now as a self-proclaimed (raw) banana hater, I depend on my family to consume any bananas that we may have at any given time, in a timely manner. But of course, bananas slip off their food radar from time-to-time, and when my Dad noticed this yesterday, we knew something had to be done:

Bananas

We also remembered that, oh yeah, we have a waffle maker that wouldn’t mind being dusted off. So banana waffles were on the breakfast menu this morning.

Waffle Maker

Actually, with the recipe we used, you could barely taste the banana! That’s why I like to call them…

Banana Hater Waffles

Banana Hater Waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour (if regular flour, add baking powder)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ spoon cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt

Directions

  • Whip the egg and sugar in a bowl, and set aside.
  • Mash the banana, and mix it in with the milk, vanilla, and the rest of the ingredients (except egg bowl), adding the flour last.
  • Mix all these ingredients with a whisk.
  • Adjust the consistency to be slightly thick, and then add the egg and fold.
  • Pour battle onto a waffle iron, bake, and EAT :)!

We made about four full-size waffles (about 16 quarters) from this amount. I topped mine with some strawberry greek yogurt for a more refreshing chew:

Banana Hater Waffle with Strawberry Greek Yogurt
Banana Hater Waffle with Strawberry Greek Yogurt

The swirl in the middle was unintentional, haha :P!

Do you like incorporating foods you dislike as ingredients in meals you like?

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