A Brief Bar Break?

A Brief Bar Break?

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

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

mocha_chocolate_chip

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

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

protein-crunch-waffle

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

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

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

hummus_bar_express_

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

hummus_bar_express_2

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

hummus_bar_express_1

And the bread…the bread I could eat for days

laffabread

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

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

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

P’s (Birth)day Off

P’s (Birth)day Off

After coming off a tumultuous and stressful week, I was more than ready for my birthday to come around! After meeting my sister and our friend at the hotel close to 10:00pm, we all went down to the hotel’s jacuzzi to soak our legs, relax, and spend some time together since we didn’t want to go to sleep just yet.

We soaked for ~20 min, and then went back upstairs to get some serious shut-eye. I still woke up early around 7am the next morning, but it was my birthday and I didn’t want to waste a minute of it 😉 . The girls woke up a little while after, and we were all ready and out by 11am. We missed the hotel breakfast hours, so by the time we hit the road for Aliso Viejo/Laguna Beach, we were already discussing lunch options!

I knew right away that Native Foods was my #1 pick, since I’ve made it my personal mission to visit all of the Native Foods locations. I’ve pretty much accomplished that goal for their Cali locations (just need to somehow get to Palm Springs to officially do it), thanks to our stop in Aliso Viejo.

nativefoodsaliso
Native Foods in Aliso Viejo

I captured more photos of the restaurant and our food orders, but in the middle of transferring pics from my phone to laptop, I somehow managed to delete a bulk of them. Definitely made me irritated, but at least I was able to salvage a couple thanks to posting earlier on Instagram.

I didn’t feel like trying anything new or new-to-me, but I also didn’t feel the need to get my all-time favorite platter of vegan nachos. Instead, I stuck to another ol’ favorite of mine: the Soul Bowl.

Made me soulllllfullll
Made me soulllllfullll

I’ve seen this dish morph over the years. Back in 2012 when I first stepped foot into a Native Foods, the bowl was drenched in sauces and had two fried “chik’n” skewers pierced through the top and center. Now a little over four years later, the presentation is a little less extreme…it’s more elegantly-styled, but still full of flavor. It’s hard to see in this pic but the soulful-ness from this bowl comes from what’s underneath all those greens. The quinoa and beans at the bottom were just as satisfying and filling as I remembered them!

My sis and friend shared a Soul Bowl and a burger+fries kind of dish, while my Dad had a Thai “meat” ball salad (and after looking back at this post from last year, he basically ordered the same exact thing as last time!!). When we got our fill, we drove out west towards the coast, and pretty much hopped out of the car once we knew we were as close to the coast of Laguna Beach as we could get.

I mean, look. at. that.
I mean, look. at. that.

After being awestruck for a good 30 minutes, we finally asked a local how to get down to the sand where the real action was. When we made it, we spent a good portion of the afternoon appreciating the liveliness of our surroundings and the excitement of the ocean.

Ahhh so pretty...
Ahhh so pretty…

I didn’t bring my swimsuit so I couldn’t get more than knee-deep into the ocean, but it was fun enough to run to/from the waves every time they splashed onto the shore.

After soaking in enough sun, we took an ice cream break (sadly no pictures since I accidentally deleted them 🙁 ), and made the long trip back to LA since we all had to get up early the next day. We had dinner once we got back, which consisted of chips+cheese dip and a large veggie pizza split amongst the four of us. Of course, we couldn’t fall into a deep slumber without a few minutes of jacuzzi time.

I did my best to fully take in every single minute of my birthday since I knew the next day would be a grueling one for me. I had to wake up at 4am in order to go into lab and begin a procedure that kept me up until 2am the following day…it was FAR from fun, but at least I did get my birthday off? Hmm…I’m just glad that I’m taking next week off to visit my family in Oklahoma. I see that as my ultimate birthday gift.

Native Foods Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milk in Cookies

Milk in Cookies

We had our fill on Thanksgiving and Black Friday no doubt, but my sister had her heart set on venturing out to the one and only Dirty Cookie in Tustin for their trademark cookie shots.

 Ahh so many cookie shots!
Ahh so many cookie shots!

I hadn’t realized it before, but they happened to be in the same Tustin Ranch area as the Native Foods I visited over the summer. Unfortunately, the Native Foods closed, but I did not venture into the Union Market last time…

 Union Market
Union Market

Little did I know I was missing out on A LOT. Dirty Cookie was one of them. Thanks to my sis, I know I’ll have to be back so I can check out the other foodie stalls inside—everything from customizable s’mores to ice cream crepes!

Gorgeous digs
Gorgeous digs

There was one employee working at the time we visited, and she gleefully filled us in on the concept. We got to choose our flavor shot glass-shaped cookie, and pick chocolate milk, regular milk, or vanilla cream as our milk to go inside the cookie shot. Each cookie was also coated with belgian chocolate :9 !!

 The Dirty Cookie - Union Market, Tustin Ranch
The Dirty Cookie – Union Market, Tustin Ranch

I chose the pumpkin spice cookie, which was coated in white chocolate and topped with cinnamon spice. I had the vanilla cream as my milk.

Pumpkin Spice Cookie Shot with Vanilla Cream
Pumpkin Spice Cookie Shot with Vanilla Cream

My sis got the chocolate (of course) cookie, and filled it to the brim with regular ol’ milk (which surprised me—I thought she would choose the chocolate milk without fail 😛 ).

Chocolate cookie shot + milk
Chocolate cookie shot + milk

We also got a chocomint cookiewich to share, which tasted like a soft peppermint whoopie pie. It actually ended up being my favorite, since I found the cookie shot too sweet. Even the vanilla cream tasted more like regular milk…I was expecting it to be thicker and well, creamier.

Chocomint cookie-wich!
Chocomint cookie-wich!

My sis absolutely adored her chocolate cookie shot, and her sweetness quota was maxed out for the day. I’m glad that it at least met her expectations 😉

What’s you favorite cookies + milk combo?

The Dirty Cookie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Coffee

Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Coffee

Who wouldn’t want a bowl containing all of the above 😉 ?

I knew that after “dining” on some sub-par salad, dessert had to be beyond exceptional.

Good thing icdc was only a half an hour walk away.

 icdc front --- stands for ice cream, cookies, donuts & coffee
icdc front — stands for ice cream, cookies, donuts & coffee

Apparently this colorful little hole-in-the-wall has been around for quite a while. I recently learned of its existence while surfing through Instagram one day, and bookmarked it for later travels.

 Colorful interior!
Colorful interior!

But the time had come for me to feast on my first ever donut sundae. Trust me, icdc made it a good one.

 Coffee shop essentials.
Coffee shop essentials.

I first picked my donut, then ice cream, which was all topped with whipped cream and my choice of caramel or fudge sauce. I picked caramel to “lighten” things up.

 Ice cream selection and cups/cones.
Ice cream selection and cups/cones.

The employee behind the counter took her time making the masterpiece, carefully scooping a generously-sized portion of mint chip ice cream and balancing it at the center of a vanilla donut with rainbow sprinkles. She then moved towards the cash wrap area, where she topped everything off with whipped cream and a giant swirl of caramel.

Indeed, it was a beauty.

 View from the top!
View from the top!

There was no seating inside, so I carefully carried my sundae outside and enjoyed it while people-watching/grateful for the fact I wasn’t one of the poor drivers stuck in traffic.

 My customized donut sundae ~ vanilla donut with sprinkles + mint chip ice cream + caramel sauce + whipped cream
My customized donut sundae ~ vanilla donut with sprinkles + mint chip ice cream + caramel sauce + whipped cream

I ate the whipped cream first, and then was met with a pleasant surprise by the flavor of the ice cream. It didn’t taste like that sweet, artificial mint stuff you usually find—it had the flavor of mint leaf infused in it or something, because it tasted refreshing and truly minty!

 Mint chip ice cream, actually infused with mint leaf!
Mint chip ice cream, actually infused with mint leaf!

When I finally got to the donut, the outside of it had taken in all of the ice cream meltiness, but it was resistant to the cutting of my knife. After peeling away at it, I found the donut to be quite tasty, and definitely falling under the cake donut category versus the light/fluffy kind I usually come across.

 Hard to cut through with a plastic knife, but so good to eat!
Hard to cut through with a plastic knife, but so good to eat!

icdc—secret code for dreams in a cup 

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

Gelato in a Cup

Gelato in a Cup

It was only about a fifteen minute walk to Amorino from Beverliz Cafe, and so even before all of that rice-veggie-hummus goodness had time to digest, I was ready to inhale allthegelato.

1
Amorino storefront.

I say that like I haven’t had gelato in ages, and truth is, I haven’t! Ice cream, yes, but real gelato? It’s been some time…

2
Flower gelato!

Amorino is a global gelateria chain, with only two locations in California—Beverly Hills and SF. Inside is just as extravagant as the gelato flavors offered!

3
Inside.
5
Lines on a Saturday.

And on a early Saturday evening that feels just as hot as mid-day in July, it was no surprise there was a long line.

4
THE GELATO. And ice cream macaroons!

There were so many flavors to choose from, and even though I could have gotten as many flavors as I wanted to fit a cone and molded into a shape of a flowering rose, I went for a cup as I always do. I only needed three flavors to make me happy, as long as it included speculoos, tiramisu, and salted caramel 😛

7
My precious cup. And I love the baby cone it came with 🙂

I found a table near the window, grabbed a napkin, and tried each flavor in its own first.

6
Elegant wall decor & logo napkins.

I ended up mixing everything together as time went on, but I was reminded of the identity of each flavor through the occasional uncovering of caramel sprinkles and chocolate-fudge-cake-like chunks.

8
There’s some flavor peeking through!

The portion size (the classic cup) was just enough, and I left with another happy gelato memory. True, it may have been a more unique experience if I had sampled all three flavors (plus some) in the shape of a rose, but I was glad I didn’t feel “rushed” in having to eat the ice cream before it melted!

Speaking of rushed, the following day was a crazy one—a blazing hot long run with my marathon team in the morning, followed by five straight hours in lab on my feet, and a grocery haul before coming home. There was no time to go out for more weekend foodie adventures, so I used it as an opportunity to get back to trying ice cream pints.

I’m giving B&J’s a break though, and ventured out into the Talenti section of the dairy desserts aisle. I guess I was still on a gelato kick?

9
Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch

I’ve only tried three Talenti flavors to-date, and even that was almost three (!!) years ago!

10
Such a nice swirl—and cookie pieces!!

At least caramel cookie crunch did not disappoint. It was like eating crushed Oreo ice cream with a soft caramel layer swirled in. I consumed this pint while watching SNL, and then hit the books before getting to bed early. Whatever exhaustion I couldn’t get rid of with my sweet treats, I hoped to get rid of through quality sleep!

Amorino Beverly Hills Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milky Buns

Milky Buns

We left San Diego in the early afternoon on Sunday, but when I learned Grocery Outlet did indeed have several So Cal locations (they just happened to only be in the San Diego area…) we couldn’t leave without stopping by the Oceanside location.

 Only I would take a picture of Grocery Outlet in admiration ;)
Only I would take a picture of Grocery Outlet in admiration 😉

It was certainly a worthy pit stop since I made it out with produce, eight yogurts, and low carb bread (what??) for less than $14. 

After picking up groceries, we were off towards our next destination. About an hour later (after figuring out what weird directions the GPS was navigating us through), we made it to a strip mall parking lot in Fountain Valley, where Afters Ice Cream was located. 

 Yeah...who would be able to see a small sign saying "ice cream" from so far away? This cost us two loops on the freeway, and wasted minutes circling the parking lot.
Yeah…who would be able to see a small sign saying “ice cream” from so far away? This cost us two loops on the freeway, and wasted minutes circling the parking lot.

As we got close to the storefront, we noticed there was a line out the door…even though it was almost dinnertime on a Sunday evening.

 At least we knew what the top flavors were before entering inside.
At least we knew what the top flavors were before entering inside.

We also got to check our eye health…you know, just in case we couldn’t believe we were about to dive into ice cream sandwich decadence…

 Eat more ice cream...eat less homework??
Eat more ice cream…eat less homework??

All of these people ahead of us were hungry for some ice cream too!!

 Such a long line.
Such a long line.

Despite the length line and large crowds, we were served our ice cream sandwiches pretty quickly. This shop’s specialty is the milky bun ice cream sandwich, which is basically a scoop of ice cream (with toppings!) sandwiched in between a sliced donut-like bun.

 Buns ready to go!!
Buns ready to go!!

I knew I wanted to get the cookie monster ice cream (a blue ice cream with crushed cookie swirl), and topped with cookie crisp cereal. Funny thing is, despite all of the ice cream flavors available…

 Including Vietnamese Coffee and S'mores.
Including Vietnamese Coffee and S’mores.

And toppings…

 Fruit loops, Cap'n Crunch included.
Fruit loops, Cap’n Crunch included.

My sister got the exact same thing. Great girls think alike I suppose 😛

We found a table to sit at outside, and I had to be quick with my picture-taking since my ice cream was melting quickly.

 Top of milky bun.
Top of milky bun.

The ice cream wasn’t able to keep a thick, creamy texture because of its tendency to melt quickly, but at least most of it stayed within the confines of the bun 😛

 Looks so good, but melts so fast!!!
Looks so good, but melts so fast!!!

I also underestimated its size. The sandwich was quite small, and it only took a few standard-sized bites to get through. Still, it was an excellent dessert to conclude our weekend trip with.

 Cookie crisp peek-a-boo.
Cookie crisp peek-a-boo.

I think next time (there are still the Tustin and Chino Hills locations left to visit!), I’ll request more toppings 😉

Click to add a blog post for Afters Handcrafted Ice Cream on Zomato

The Beach Day We Wanted

The Beach Day We Wanted

A little power nap was all we needed, but my sis and I ended up taking a long 45 minute afternoon nap when we checked in to our hotel room for the night in San Diego.

 Rest!
Rest!

But when we woke up around 3, it was still bright and gorgeous outside! We still had time for a beach adventure 🙂

 Hello, downtown San Diego!
Hello, downtown San Diego!

We had trouble getting out of the parking garage (a Zipcar Honda vs. a bunch of SUVs/Hummers/Trucks is not exactly an easy battle to win…), but fortunately we made it out without a scratch.

Our destination was Coronado Beach—which also took a while to get to due to traffic, ending up at the wrong side of the beach due to GPS issues, and having to park in a far off residential area once we found the beach. But, when we found it, it was about relaxation!

 To the beach!
To the beach!

Once at the beach, my sis and I laid out our towels and proceeded to sun bathe for the next hour and a half…only because our 45 minute nap wasn’t enough 😉

 Time to relax...
Time to relax…

It was so peaceful though. Sure, there were crowds, but it was a beautiful California summer day, and we were finally able to say we were experiencing a real beach day.

Before heading back for dinner, we took pictures by the water and took our time getting to the car. The crowds had died down by then, and there was no traffic on our drive back to the hotel.

Before leaving for our weekend trip, I learned that Cafe Gratitude had opened a new location in San Diego—and it coincidentally happened to be in Little Italy, within walking distance from our hotel! Obviously this was our prime choice for dinner 🙂

 Sunny skies and lofts in SD.
Sunny skies and lofts in SD.

Our stroll through downtown was a fun preamble to dinner, but when we saw the swanky CG location, we were more than ready to eat!

 My third time visiting Cafe Gratitude :)
My third time visiting Cafe Gratitude 🙂

Since it was brand new, I wasn’t surprised by all the eager, vegan-loving San Diegans that were present that night.

 Soooo busy.
Soooo busy.

Because it was so busy, we almost had to sit outside, even though I had called in beforehand to make a reservation.

 Kind of cozy actually...
Kind of cozy actually…

The set-up reminded me of both their Venice and Larchmont locations, so I felt like I was in familiar territory. I was excited for my sister to experience CG for herself!

After staring long and hard at the menu, we both ended up deciding against a sandwich-based entree since we had our fill of that earlier in the day, and so we both ended up ordering the exact same thing. We both got the ‘Resolved’ entree, described as being a southern soul food sampler containing red beans and quinoa, seared tempeh, smashed maple garnet yams, spiced collards, coleslaw, and a gluten-free jalapeno biscuit.

Oh, and we couldn’t forget adding BBQ sauce on the side…even if it cost $2 (!!) extra.

It took almost half an hour, but at least our plates came full and ready for us to dig in.

 Vegan southern food platter.
Vegan southern food platter.

My favorite parts of this plate were the sweet mashed yams, the tempeh when dipped into the BBQ sauce, and the jalapeno biscuit (when dipped into the BBQ sauce as well). My sis didn’t like the yams so much, but was a fan of the coleslaw.

 Top: jalapeno biscuit (gluten-free!) // bite of tempeh // a bed of quinoa
Top: jalapeno biscuit (gluten-free!) // bite of tempeh // a bed of quinoa

It was a meal that we both agreed as being satisfying and sleep-inducing. I’ll admit it now—we are grandmas, but at least we eat well 😉

When we got back to the hotel, we quickly changed into our jammies and watched TV until our eyes started to droop. It was certainly a summer Saturday well spent.

What do you like to do at the beach?

Click to add a blog post for Cafe Gratitude on Zomato

Wide Summer Skies & Open Roads

Wide Summer Skies & Open Roads

Once you get out of the city of LA, it’s amazing how much larger everything looks. On every occasion I’ve visited the OC, everything looks so HUGE compared to what I’m accustomed to in LA.

 But you can't deny the fact that these skies are beautiful over OC...
But you can’t deny the fact that these skies are beautiful over OC…

We left for the OC in the late morning, and surprisingly didn’t run into too much traffic. This made it a tolerable 50 minute drive, even though my Dad and I were growing hungrier by the minute!

I didn’t have a birthday freebie from Native Foods unfortunately, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to check out their Irvine location. It was quite a drive over to The District where they are located, since we spotted these spooky looking hangars circa WWII alongside the road…

 Don't let the picture fool you...these were incredibly huge in person!
Don’t let the picture fool you…these were incredibly huge in person!

The GPS made us drive around in circles before we finally reached the parking lot, but we did, found a spot to park in, and walked into the bright outdoor mall. 

 Palm trees & sunshine.
Palm trees & sunshine.

Native Foods was immediately to our right as we were walking in, and we didn’t hesitate at all as we walked inside.

nftustin
Native Foods is LOVE.

Since there was a line, we had plenty of time to figure out exactly what our grumbling tummies wanted.

 Inside the NF Tustin location.
Inside the NF Tustin location.

I decided to get something new and not the nuevo nachos that I always have to have 😛 . I guess I was still on a burger kick from my latest visit to Veggie Grill because I got the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger with a side of sweet potato fries (knowing fully well that my Dad loves them and that I would not be eating them all myself 😛 )

My Dad ordered the, Thai Meatball Earth Bowl, something new since my last visit, and the daily soup which was tortilla soup. We found some seats outside, and we didn’t have to wait long for our food to arrive.

oklahoma seitan cheeseburger
Sliced seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions and tofu bacon with BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, carrots, tomato and romaine. // Sweet potato fries because how can you NOT?
thaimeatballtortillasoup
Seitan meatballs tossed with mango-lime chili sauce, roasted red peppers and lemongrass broccoli on a bed of quinoa with our super slaw. // Tortilla soup.

I liked the burger, but I was expecting a stack of onion rings to be skewered on top based on previous pictures I had seen of the dish. But despite not seeing fried onion discs decorating my burger, I still thoroughly enjoyed the dish. I also had a meatball sample and spoonfuls of the soup. 

hello
That mango-lime chili sauce though…

As we were eating, there was an outdoor concert taking place by the water fountain in front of the AMC movie theaters. A folk singer was singing some of her original pieces, and it appropriately matched the vibe of our surroundings—summer in the California country.

sat--afternoon
Cali life.

After walking around for a bit, we decided to kill some time at Target (apartment supplies = birthday gift 😛 ) before heading over to our dessert stop for the day. It was quite an experience, and best saved for the next post!

Do you live in a “wide open spaces” kind of place, or in a compact and confined city?

Click to add a blog post for Native Foods Cafe on Zomato

Race Recap – Bad Bass Half Marathon

Race Recap – Bad Bass Half Marathon

Last weekend was the definition of a humble summer getaway. I knew going into this summer that going on an extravagant summer vacation would not be in the cards this year—primarily due to work demands—but I am grateful for being able to have things fall in place so that I was able to have more than one occasion to visit the family.

I thought my weekend in June would be my only opportunity this summer, but thankfully, things worked out so that another weekend trip would be possible!

True, I still had to work on Wednesday, and was up at the early morning hour of 4AM in order to pack and get all of my critical, time-sensitive tasks done, but at least two things made my day.

#1 was having B&J’s Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt for “breakfast”, and realizing that I ended up satisfying a hidden cherry craving I didn’t know I had until I demolished the pint in 20 minutes.

cherry garcia froyo
It may be froyo, but the cherries were still soft, and surprisingly not rock-solid from the frozen conditions they were mixed in!

#2 was taking in this gorgeous sunset during my evening/night bus trip up north. We were at a rest stop around 8pm, and I couldn’t help but admire the sky and its golden beauty…

Reststop Sunset
Summer sunsets <3

I made it to Oakland around midnight, and was picked up by my Dad. We were both too tired to keep a cohesive conversation going, but we made it home safely and I promptly hit the hay.

Since my parents are in the middle of a move, the next two days were spent primarily at home, since we had to be available when the painters, contractors, and realtor were around. Besides going out for a run, or going to the gym with Dad, I spent those 48 hours either eating, napping, or watching TV. The life I tell ya…

I did find some time to make it out to my favorite discount grocery store though, and was able to find this somewhat rare flavor from B&J’s Greek line…

raspberry fudge chunk (1)
Wasn’t a true fan of this flavor, but I’m glad I got to try it.

I call it rare since I haven’t been able to find it in the LA area anyways! Plus, it says “Still a Pint!” along the lid, so I’m assuming that there must have been some confusion about this flavor not existing anymore…

Well, I certainly wasn’t confused after taking the first couple of spoonfuls. There was definitely a fruity tang with each spoonful (pretty much how a frozen Chobani would taste), but the sweetness from the fudge chunks was just enough to balance out that. It was quite impressive to see how one simple mix-in could do so much to “rescue” a flavor!

I bid my last goodbye to my childhood home on Saturday morning, and my Dad and I drove off towards Lake Chabot to finally run a race together! He has been on a “5K-a-Day” regimen lately, and when he suggested that he we sign up for a race together, I immediately started looking for any and all races that we could do together over the summer.

The Bad Bass 5k/10k/Half Marathon fit our schedules, but it was far from being a simple run in the park. It was where this race that I participated in at the tail end of last year took place, and I remember the hills being extra killer. Even the race organizers call it an ULTRAhalf, and the course is part of their “Ultra Half Challenge”.

It was somewhat chilly when we arrive in the parking lot, but I was able to walk comfortably in my shorts + tee over to the starting area. The weather was much more tolerable when compared to how things were back in December!

1-getting to race
Race start.

Even though the course wasn’t expected to be, packet pick-up was quite easy. I’ve become more appreciative of race day pick-ups and bag checks as of late…

registration
Time for packet pick-up!

My Dad ended up getting a cotton tee while I got a women’s tech tee. I actually don’t remember registering for one, so that was a pleasant surprise!

bad bass shirts
The race shirts were fun :3

After pinning on our bibs and taking care of things in the restroom, I joined other half marathoners at the start line at ten minutes to 8:30AM. For a challenging 13.1 miles on trail, I was part of quite a large group.

We were sent off with the sound of bag pipes floating behind us, keeping in theme with the race around Loch Chabot.

bag pipes
Bag pipes!

The first half of the race posed a challenge right off the bat. A little after Mile 2, before Mile 3, we approached our steepest, most difficult climb yet. It didn’t make sense to run up the tower of a hill, so I ended up interrupting my stride and slowing to a steady fast-walk.

The whole course was an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Some people let the downhills get the best of them, and I saw plenty of flailing arms and wobbling bodies’ race past me from time-to-time. I did not get any severe knee pains (knock on wood!) while hitting the downhills, and I focused on channeling the momentum from those downhills to power me through the immediate uphills.

There were times we had to run single file, and towards the second half of the race, it was pretty isolated and we were deep in the heart of the woods…like, the trees were so tall you couldn’t see the sun deep…

We also got to take in the most breathtaking views of the lake, and I was so mesmerized that I ended up falling, and scraping my elbow/palms of my hands.

PARK and lake
Park near the lake.

The injuries were minor, but I was fortunate to be near a half marathon hiker who had band-aids and wipes galore. She and another runner were sweet enough to stop and check to see if I was okay, and this small moment only emphasized the fact that we runners are part of such a gracious, giving, and kind community.

I finished my first trail half with a time that was plenty far from my true half PR, but at least I finished with what counts—sore legs, and battle scars. Yeah, the medals were fun to receive and wear after the race, but feeling the aftermath of an extreme workout is what I think is the true medal of honor.

medals
Got the race medal, as well as an age group winner medal!

My Dad’s 5k started at 9:10AM, so even though he took about an hour to complete it (it was a trail 5k after all), he was still at the finish line waiting for me! It was so great to see him and his medal at the end 🙂

After grabbing our goody bags, it was obviously snack time.

SNACKZZZZ
It’s snack time kidsssss!

I passed all the pretzels/cookies/cakes/brownies in favor for the token ice cream sandwiches that associate with Brazen Racing races. I ended up getting strawberry + pumpkin, and fully enjoyed them after finally washing off the dust that had caked my hands and legs since Mile 10…

ice cream sandwiches
Strawberry & Pumpkin — the way to go!

My Dad and I found a bench to rest at while we ate, and soon after, we got up to check the results.

checking restultz
Results checkin’ time!

After spending some more time walking around and giving our muscles time to bounce back from the run, we got back in the car and drove towards Berkeley before stopping by my cousin’s place. I was able to change into some “regular” clothes at a grocery store where we also bought some fruit to share with our host.

Upon arriving at my cousin’s place, I had an extreme feeling of exhaustion overwhelm me, and I couldn’t say no to a sweet nap. After napping for almost an hour, we all had coffee, cheese, and other “afternoon slump” snacks. We heard meowing from below, and I found a mother cat and her two kittens staring up at us on the balcony!

cats & snacks
Feline cuties and afternoon snackables.

My cousin’s friends came over soon after, and we all agreed to go play table tennis at the last minute, since it seemed like a fun thing to do on a Saturday evening. Even though I played regular tennis in high school, TT is a whole ‘nother ball game, literally. I didn’t sweat, but I was certainly warm enough to not need a sweatshirt when we walked back to my cousin’s apartment.

We had dinner + a movie at home, with my cousin having prepared lentil daal, a rice/quinoa mix, sauteed garlic and pea pods, strawberries, and yogurt.

dinnah!
Dinner part 1.

Our movie that night was Queen, a fairly recent Bollywood hit, and despite there being some cheesy parts, was actually quite good.

We all went to sleep soon after since it was approaching 11PM—and I had a bus to catch the next morning!

The ride home took most of my Sunday, but I was back in my apartment while there was still daylight. After unpacking and showering, I sat down with this delectable pint of fudge brownie ice cream before sleeping away a lingering headache I carried with me from the bus ride.

cho-fud-brow
I could handle the 100% B&J’s chocolate base if it meant copious amounts of Greyston Bakery fudgy brownie chunks! They are way too good to turn down!!

There was certainly a lot of fun that went down over just 72 hours…it’s amazing how much stuff can be packed into what seems like so little time!

Have you ever run a trail race?

Do you get headaches while traveling?

Four Hours for Burger and Snow

Four Hours for Burger and Snow

Last Sunday, I ran my first solo long run (in LA) since running the marathon, and since I was able to finish before 10am—and because I had the rest of the day free—I decided to get on the Metro 460 bus for the very first time, and make my way to Orange County “the long way”.

As my title hints, I traveled to Anaheim via public transit for 4 hours total. I fell asleep at various points during the drive down and drive back up, but did wake up at key locations (when we hit Norwalk, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the final stop at Disneyland). 

But instead of walking into the “happiest place on Earth”, I walked in the opposite direction of the many tourists scrambling to get inside Mickey’s house. Instead, I got on an OCTA bus, and got off at the peaceful and grand Downtown Anaheim.

downtownanaheim

It was seriously so quiet—it had the deserted feel of a ghost town, but it did not match a ghost town in appearance. It was all palm trees and sunny skies here.

My lunch destination was tucked away in an upscale food court, and I would have missed it if I had not seen the A-frame outside.

front

Healthy Junk was one of the many eateries housed in the building, and apparently the only one open on a Sunday. The inside seating area was just as empty as the streets outside.

healthyjunk

After placing my order at the counter, I sat across from the “Junk Bar”, which wasn’t open at the time, but there were signs plastered everywhere reminding locals about weekly happy hour specials!

junkbar__

Even though there were hardly any people around, it took a while for my Anaheim Chili-Pepper Burger to arrive. But when it it did…I was ready to dive right into the marinated (veg) patty, cheddar chez, mayo, BREADED CHILI PEPPER, and other usual burger veggies…all of which was wrapped and tucked into a cute focaccia bun.

chili__burger

I ate this burger in a deconstructed manner, and would rank the top qualities of this burger as follows: breaded chili pepper > bun w/ mayo >patty with chez. I found the patty to not be as flavorful as I wanted, but perhaps it was due to the way I was eating the burger! Overall though, it was one mean veggie-friendly burger!

thehealthyjunk_anaheimchiliburger(14)

After lunch, I still had lots of time to kill before heading back home or even getting dessert! I walked back in the direction I originally walked to get to the heart of downtown, and paid Rare a visit.

SAMSUNG

Rare is a thrift store (by Goodwill) designed to look like a Wet Seal or small-ish Forever 21. Not only did they have clothes, but they had furnishings and other funky finds in the back. I unfortunately did not find anything to my liking, try as I may.

 I always end up on the denim side of things...
I always end up on the denim side of things…

After shopping (more like failing at shopping…), I walked back to grab some dessert. What a coincidence that Snow Station happened to be in the same area as my lunch destination. Certainly not planned, at all 😉

SAMSUNG

Once again, not a single person was in sight. Slightly awkward, but I wasn’t going to keep that from me and snow!

snow__Storm

I got the pumkin spice snow in a waffle bowl, which I topped with yogurt poppers and white chocolate chips. Since it was a waffle sundae, it also came with whipped cream and a cherry on top!

SAMSUNG

Even though the waffle bowl was starting to get soggy from the moist snow, there were just enough crispy parts to scoop up some snow, a good amount of toppings, and whipped cream for a few flavorful bites! The pumpkin spice flavor was quite strong, but in a good way, and the toppings added some great texture as well. I mean, how can you go wrong with chocolate chips??

closeup

After my cool dessert, I made my way back to the bus stop and prepped myself for the “long”, winding journey home. I was so tired once I got on the bus, that I almost fell asleep on the shoulder of a lady who was sitting next to me. I think I half-mumbled “sorry” when I felt my head drift in her direction, haha!

Even though it was quite an exhausting day, I was glad to have the opportunity (and time!) to go someplace new and get there via a new route. I even made it back home at the decent hour of 5pm! How’s that for a productive Sunday 😉 ?

Healthy Junk on UrbanspoonSnow Station on Urbanspoon

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