November Degustabox

November Degustabox

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

This month’s Degustabox came full of many items I was excited to try—everything from savory, sweet, crunchy, salty, melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

November Degustabox Goods
November Degustabox Goods

The sweet stuff always catches my eye, and the Bauducco Mini Panettone stood out to me a alot because it reminded me of my childhood. I didn’t like the cake as a child, but my mom was fond of the stuff. We’d always have a giant box in the kitchen around the holidays, when they were sold at Trader Joe’s or some other store.

Panettone for one? Don’t mind if I do…

But trying this mini version as an adult? I had an immediate liking for it! It was a sweet treat one weeknight after consuming a crockpot veg bowl and winding down with a show on Netflix :P. The bread seemed crumbly and flaky, but it actually held its own and had the appropriate amount of stiffness while still having a chewy texture. 

Then there was this Goya Pico De Gallo Mild Salsa. 

"Just another @degustaboxusa find making my humble weeknight crockpot veggie bowls a little more flavorful"
“Just another @degustaboxusa find making my humble weeknight crockpot veggie bowls a little more flavorful”

I’ve been using to coat my crockpot veg bowls of course! Although, as stated on the label, it’s supposed to be an all-purpose salsa that’s perfect for burritos, fajitas, tamales, pasta, salads and even eggs, haha. 

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This salsa is delicious with potato, pepper, and eggplant!

Degustabox first sent some caramels from Lovely Candy Co. in April of this year, but these sea salt ones definitely had a saltier kick! I was still a fan of the brand after chewing on these—so flavorful!

Lovely Candy Co. – Sea Salt Caramels

Not gonna lie, I was ecstatic to find this Milka Oreo bar in this month’s box! I’ve actually been seeing a lot more of the Milka brand making a presence in US supermarkets. I think my local grocery store (Ralph’s) even offered a Milka bar as a free promo item a while back!

Milka Oreo!

The Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs also brought up some fond memories from my childhood! We used to have Walkers shortbread around the house too, especially when we lived in the UK for two years when I was younger.

Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs

I had these scottie dogs as a pre-run snack, before heading out for a long run one Sunday with my marathon team.

I brought the Café Bustelo Café Con Leche Instant Coffee packs and Bell’s All Natural Salt‑Free Seasoning to Tulsa to share with my Dad.

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Coffee and seasoning

We had the coffee one morning during my visit, but we weren’t huge fans. We found it to be too sweet, and slightly burnt, after preparation.

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Eh, too sweet for my liking.

As for the seasoning, it added so much flavor to some wild rice stuffing we brought over for a Thanksgiving dinner at a family friend’s house. It was simply a mix of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram, but it was all that was necessary to elevate the flavor profile of this dish.

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Just perfect for Thanksgiving!

The Goya Soft Taco Flour Tortillas were a perfect side for my dinners—especially with a lentil bean chili I had one night.

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Dinner comfort

I also received a bottle of Arteasan Yerba Mate tea. I let it sit in the fridge for a while to get it ice cold, and had it with one of my dinners. It wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be, but it was certainly refreshing. I think it would have lacked any flavor if it was at room temperature…it was as if the cold temperature helped to emphasize the mild peach and rosemary flavors. 

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Arteasan Yerba Mate

I couldn’t have the Country Archer Turkey Jerky and Aneto Chicken Broth for obvious reasons, but one of my labmates (J.) was happy to have them! I left them on his desk in the morning and I forgot I had put them there when he found me later in the day and thanked me. I had no clue what he was talking about until he mentioned them, haha!

Turkey jerky & chicken broth
Turkey jerky & chicken broth

Which of these November Degustabox would you have been excited to try?

October Degustabox Review ’17

October Degustabox Review ’17

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

First off, Happy (belated) Halloween! I’ve made the decision to not dress up as anything—just drop by a department Halloween party, and then head home. I know, I am such a partier I have no control 😛

With November here, and Thanksgiving (and my first FALL marathon) coming up, it’s time again for another Degustabox review!

October Degustabox
October Degustabox

Unlike last month’s box, October’s offerings were much more appealing to me. It contained old favorites, and new brands I’ve been meaning to try!

I was ecstatic to see a bag of Hippeas chickpea puffs thrown in. I first spotted them at Starbucks, and then I happened to pass by their warehouse near downtown Santa Monica since it’s right along the Expo Line! I was beyond ecstatic to try the new and local vegan-friendly alternative to cheese puffs.

Hippeas -
Hippeas – Vegan White Cheddar

These were beyond crazy delicious. They had a firm texture, a nice crisp crunch, and each puff was coated with just the right amount of vegan cheese flavoring.

Since it was a box arriving in time for candy’s famous holiday, it made sense that a bag of Cow Tales made a comeback. It’s always been a childhood favorite of mine, but Degustabox has partnered with them before in the past. I also noticed the new colorful, cartoon-y packaging.

Cow Tales Minis
Cow Tales Minis

Then there were two cups of original SunButter…I was certainly awestruck. Fortunately, I can have peanuts and foods with peanut-based ingredients, but I think I still prefer sunflower butter over peanut butter. It has a much smoother consistency in my opinion, while still keeping peanut butter-like thickness.

I had one cup serve an unconventional purpose: as a dip for plain Boboli pizza crust, which was also a featured product in this month’s box. Honestly, it was a pretty good combo!

Sunflower butter and pizza crust
SunButter cup and Boboli Original Mini Pizza Crust

I had the other cup scooped into a cottage cheese chocolate proyo bowl, which is something along the lines of what I’m normally used to as an after-dinner snack.

Just like old times
Just like old times

The Bush’s White Chili Beans contained “chicken base” as one of their ingredients, so I had to pass on trying it. I don’t see why it did though…I’m sure the recipe would have been just as good—if not better—without the addition of a meat product.

Does it have to have chicken in it?
Does it have to have chicken in it?

I was however able to try the Bush’s Kidney Beans in a Mild Chili Sauce, after thorough examination of the ingredients for any meat source. I initially thought about adding it to one of my crockpot dinners, but then I thought why not try it on its own? I warmed it up for lunch in lab one day, and it was definitely nourishing through its well-mixed flavors of ripe tomatoes, chili peppers and cumin. It had enough fiber to keep me satiated as I worked the rest of the afternoon.

Suitable for a lunch break.
Suitable for a lunch break.

The Quadratini Raspberry-Yoghurt wafer cubes were an interesting snackable. I normally don’t prefer wafers over other types of cookies and biscuits, but these wafers were certainly an exception. Each cube has four layers of raspberry-yoghurt flavored cream, sandwiched between mini crunchy wafer squares.

Quadratini Raspberry-Yoghurt Wafer Cubes

They definitely had a yogurt-like aftertaste, but that did not detract from their delicious taste.

Unlike other wafers I've had!
Unlike other wafers I’ve had!

When I saw a small cup of overnight oats, I was reminded of my early blogging days when overnight oats and OIAJ (oats in a jar) were super trendy. Now that brand name companies got a hold of this one-time, food-bloggers-only secret, I wasn’t surprised to find this container from Dave’s Naturals in this month’s box.

Dave's Naturals Overnight Oats - Apple Nut
Dave’s Naturals Overnight Oats – Apple Nut

This flavor had dried apple cubes, chia seeds, and dried oats. All I added was enough almond milk to soak the oats in, and after letting it sit in the fridge overnight, I pulled it out and it made for THE best stuck-in-lab-analyzing-data-all-morning snack.

The Welch’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt snacks were light, poppable, and had a creamy yogurt coating that worked well with the chewy cherry flavor. These were able to keep a gummy-like texture due to pectin. No gelatin was seen in sight, which was a mark of approval in my book!

Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks
Welch’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Snacks

I didn’t get a chance to try the two Kernal Season’s Popcorn Seasoning bottles (White Cheddar and Kettle Corn), since I gifted them to my sister, who is a greater consumer of popcorn than I’ll ever be, haha!

Which of these October Degustabox products would you try?

Localita & the Badasserie

Localita & the Badasserie

Last weekend was another hot one here in LA, and because I was feeling overwhelmed from the hectic first week of classes, I ended up not venturing out too far over the weekend.

My weekend started on Friday evening, with a quick stop to 7-11 before heading home from campus. I needed a pick-me-up from the accumulating week-o-stress, so I made the rare-for-me stop at the gas station convenience store just so I could get my hands on the 7-11 exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavor—Nutty Caramel Swirl.

 Chocolate and peanut chunks galore!!
Chocolate and peanut chunks galore!!

Upon opening this pint, I could not believe the amount of chocolate chunks and peanuts there were! If the very top layer was indicative of what was yet to come, this was going to be a fun flavor to dig through!

 Look at that swirl!
Look at that swirl!

And indeed it was. When I was younger, I hated mixing nuts with chocolate, but obviously my palate has changed over the years, because this flavor is now in my top 5 B&J flavors!

On Saturday, I woke up at a leisurely pace, made my way over to lab, and as soon as I got out, felt the strong heat wave that made me change my original plans to head out north. At the time, it just wasn’t worth the commute for me, given the unbearable weather and all :/

Instead, I decided to head to downtown for some quick grocery shopping, a bite to eat, and then head home to catch up on some {class-related} reading. I used it as an opportunity to check out a small local vegan cafe I had heard about that had limited day hours—Localita & the Badasserie.

 Entrance sign.
Entrance sign.

They are only open until 3 or 4pm during the week, and so I was able to swing on by an hour before they closed up shop for the day. I almost missed them though, since they were nestled in a hub of downtown among a collection of factory garment shops. In fact, the storefront is more like a food counter, with no “real” restaurant seating.

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There were some bar stools and a small table in the back though…

There was also no A/C, which made me frustrated since I couldn’t escape from the heat wave. I could feel myself sweating as I ordered, and even so, I still made the silly decision to order a HOT quinoa bowl.

 Quinoa bowl selection.
Quinoa bowl selection.

With a name like Chili Chili Bang Bang though, I expected the heat to come through from the chili…not the temperature as what happened.

 My small, but filling AND HOT bowl of quinoa chili.
My small, but filling AND HOT bowl of quinoa chili.

It was something I could have easily made at home, and unfortunately not worth the perspiration 😛

I did find this quote on one of he napkin holders though provoking however.

 Napkin holder quote.
Napkin holder quote.

After leaving Localita sweatier than ever, I managed to get to the grocery store, and along with my weekly purchases, decided to cool off with a pint of Vanilla Caramel Fudge.

 Vanilla Caramel Fudge
Vanilla Caramel Fudge

While it was no Nutty Caramel Swirl, how can you go wrong with a vanilla base with caramel and fudge swirled in? A delicious way to end a super hot Saturday!

Sunday started off slightly hectic, and while things didn’t go as planned, I still managed to get what I needed to get done done. I ended up breaking a 10 mile run into chunks, first running 5 miles in the early morning and planned to run the final 5 with a group I’ve been running with lately.

Unfortunately, my ride slept in because her alarm didn’t go off, so I ended up joining my marathon group’s first practice of the season. They were only running three miles, so I tacked on the extra two before heading into lab. I was somewhat frustrated by having to do this since it was getting hotter, and I wasn’t expecting to have to make up the miles like this.

Still, I got it done, even though I was a sweaty mess while doing my experiment in lab 😛

By the time afternoon rolled around, I indulged in yet another pint. Peanut Butter Cup was on my list for quite a while, and I was finally able to check it off.

 Looks naked
Looks naked

Wowza…all peanut butter ice cream, and no skimping on the peanut butter cups! There were legitimately full-sized peanut butter cups, cut in half, mixed thoroughly in the ice cream.

 But it's not
But it’s not

It may have been peanut butter overload, but hey, how can you say no to a pint of sweet & satisfying healthy fats 😉 ?

So even though my restaurant outing for the weekend was a miss, I think my ice cream tastings made up for the irritating heat.

It is starting to cool down here in LA though…hopefully the temperature will stay this way throughout Labor Day weekend!

Click to add a blog post for Localita & the Badasserie on Zomato

Diner Fare

Diner Fare

Before my Dad had to leave for the airport, we were able to have dinner out together one more time. It involved some crazy driving in DTLA for the most part—taking 10 minutes just to turn at a corner 0.3 miles ahead—but we were able to push the driving-associated frustrations aside when we sat down at the Nickel Diner.


Looking at the outside of the restaurant, it looked like the entrance to a quaint little bakery. Inside however, it seemed like a grand lounge from the 50’s or something, with high ceilings and seats all around.

Not a big fan of the dim lighting though.

I didn’t have to open the main menu at all when the placard with the day’s specials were handed to me.


I was fixed on the Sloppy Veggie Jo, and asked for my side to be cooked spinach. Dad had the vegan chili.


The Sloppy Jo was an interesting version: it was an open-faced sandwich, and the “meat” was actually cremini mushrooms (even though the menu said portabello?) chopped up into miniscule pieces that would have fooled anyone into thinking it was actually meat. I had to ask my server again just to make sure it really was meat-free!

So much cheese though—and so good!

While I was chowing down like a ravenous dog on my sandwich, my Dad was able to ask the server about the history of the diner. Apparently it was restored from an older restaurant from the 40’s, and the “this is the place” signage was originally part of that older restaurant. Gotta love tableside history lessons 😉 !

For the remainder of the week, I went back to out-of-my-apartment meals, but was still on a diner kick come Saturday. After a late start, I hopped on the Metro Rail and headed up to Hollywood to check out The Waffle. 


Another busy Saturday at another popular restaurant, meaning the only available seats were at the counter.

 Awkward picture-taking, but I was successful ;)
Awkward picture-taking, but I was successful in the end 😉

I wasn’t to overwhelmed by the menu either, since they had neatly arranged the vegetarian-friendly selections under their own category!


The Cobb Salad and Veg Reuben sounded tasty, but I decided to order the Vegetarian Philly, which ended up being vegan since I had it sans cheese. I also had a side salad that came with balsamic vinaigrette.

Soy beef strips, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in a sweet balsamic reduction, and served on a warm vegan French roll; side salad; pickle .
Vegetarian-turned-vegan Philly Cheesesteak – Soy beef strips, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in a sweet balsamic reduction, and served on a warm vegan French roll with a side salad and pickle .

I dug into the salad first, and then pulled and tugged at my sandwich with a fork since I didn’t want to get my hands messy.

Soy beef strips, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in a sweet balsamic reduction, and served on a warm vegan French roll; side salad; pickle

I found the bread to be too dry to my liking, but the soy strips had a nice, sweet taste to them. The sauteed onions and peppers were delicious too! In the end, despite my best efforts with the fork, I wound up picking up the bread and eating it like an open-faced sandwich.  

After my meal, my plans to pick up some groceries to hold me over until I leave for Thanksgiving slightly changed. Instead, my walk to the grocery store was cut short due to it getting dark out, and I needed to catch the bus before it got really dark. It’s all okay though…I have about six apples and some other close-to-expiration goods I need to get to before I leave 😛

Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon The Waffle on Urbanspoon



On a cold Sunday afternoon, a warm bowl of phở is a necessity. Background noise from a busy restaurant, good company, and boba desserts are optional, but they add to the experience as well.

We stopped at Pho Lee Hoa Phat for some warm meals and a new cuisine experience. Even though we have eaten noodle bowls in the past, we never actually ventured into a Vietnamese restaurant to have the “full experience”. Fortunately, we were with our friend–a poor college student and phở expert ;).

Pho Lee Hoa Phat Menu
Pho Lee Hoa Phat Menu

After looking through the menu, my sister and I were limited to the vegetable phở bowl, but my friend picked something I forgot the name of (it had meat though!).

Perusing through the menu.
Perusing through the menu.

Going for the Veg. Option

The waiter had arrived to our table about 5 minutes after we arrived, but my sister was persistent on deciding on a boba milkshake before ordering our meals.

Boba Shake Menu

She offered that we share the shake, and after bouncing back flavor suggestions, we both compromised agreed to try papaya.

We found the waiter again, and told him our requests. We then prepped our sauces. My friend was very comfortable in the technique of mixing the right ratio of siracha/chili/worcestershire sauce. I had her mix mine sans worcestershire.

Siracha and chili, ready to go!
Siracha and chili, ready to go!

We were seated near the window, so it was hard to take a scenic picture of the restaurant showing how busy it was. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it!!

It was really busy on a Sunday!
It was really busy on a Sunday!

Before our noodle bowls came, we were given some sprouts to use as a refreshing topping for our soups. In the meantime, we were dipping the sprouts in our sauces.

Sprouts for topping

Our friend’s bowl came first, followed by an onslaught of vegetable phở bowls. My sister and I got “regular” sizes, and they were perfectly sized for a lunch.

The Veg Pho Bowl.
The Veg Pho Bowl.

Underneath all those veggies (and a singular pineapple slice :P), there was so much vermicelli noodles. With the addition of my siracha chili sauce, my sinuses were on fire, haha!

Good thing we had our papaya boba shake on the side to cool off our tastebuds!

Papaya Boba Shake.
Papaya Boba Shake.

^ I (almost) seriously loved this shake more than my noodle bowl. My sister and I were competing for the last few sips :P.

If you are looking for a hearty, warm lunch, definitely give phở a try—and make sure to order a boba milkshake (or two!) on the side ;).

Have you tried phở?

Pho Lee Hoa Phat on Urbanspoon

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