Finally!

Finally!

I had no trouble getting back into my routine after returning from Las Vegas, but one piece of news threw me for a loop.

Freebies from the IDEA/BlogFest Expo! An RX Bar in Chocolate Chip flavor! Too much nuts IMO, but not too shabby of a flavor.
Freebies from the IDEA/BlogFest Expo! An RX Bar in Chocolate Chip flavor! Too much nuts IMO, but not too shabby of a flavor.

One of my undergraduate assistants informed me that the week would be his last, even though he originally had plans to stay and help me out for a longer period of time.

A new-to-me Trader Joe's find I picked up that week---
A new-to-me Trader Joe’s find I picked up that week—Greek Whole Milk Yogurt (Avocado Citrus) mixed with peanut powder. It fueled me through a 12hr day x-x

Even though his change of plans was a disappointment, he still came in over the weekend, and so at least I had one solid weekend free from the constraints of lab. I definitely took advantage of this.

Another cool freebie! La Colombe Coconut and Vanilla coffee...the coconut flavor was pleasantly surprising in taste, like a splash of coconut water was added to some iced cream coffee!!
Another cool freebie! La Colombe Coconut and Vanilla coffee…the coconut flavor was pleasantly surprising in taste, like a splash of coconut water was added to some iced cream coffee!!
 
I was able to take the car out to Encino, and from Santa Monica it was an (almost) easy drive up the 405. I was also able to avoid paying for street parking by finding a neighborhood to park at and from there walk over. 
 
Veggie Grill, Encino
Veggie Grill, Encino
 
Veggie Grill was my destination since they sent me a $5 off birthday coupon that I couldn’t resist… 
 
Mondo Nachos, Veggie Grill (Encino)
Mondo Nachos, Veggie Grill (Encino)
 
…and the dish I couldn’t avoid ordering, despite having it before AND the fact that their summer menu had a mouth-watering array of options. A plate of Mondo Nachos sounded just perfect at the time. 
 
Compared to the plate I had at the WeHo location more than a year ago, I felt like it lacked a lot of guac and soy crumbles (they replaced it with grilled chik’n this time around). This was more of an observation than a complaint, however. I also brought my laptop and did some work at the restaurant for a few hours after eating. I guess it’s more “normal” to set up shop like that at a Starbucks or a cafe,but Veggie Grill had a jammin’ playlist so I wasn’t too pressured to get up and leave! 
 
I headed out a little after 1 and my next stop was in Grocery Outlet in Burbank. I inevitably had to face traffic, and it took me almost thirty minutes to get from Encino to Burbank. 
 
Burbank Grocery Outlet
Burbank Grocery Outlet
 
When I did arrive however, I was ecstatic to finally be stepping into one of GO’s newer So Cal locations. Ah, it had been too long! 
 
I made out with a week’s worth of food with plenty of change to spare, so it only made sense to drive by Glendale and finally get me some Yoga-Urt! They had been on my radar for quite some time now, and I’ve actually been following them on Instagram since their opening two years ago in 2015! Getting there by public transit always posed a challenge, but with a car handy it’s really not that impossible to get to. 
 
__yoga-urt__
 
The shop is very small, with a few patio chairs and tables in the front. There’s also a huge blackboard wall near the entrance, the contents of which are frequently changing. 
 
 ♥

They offered a lot on their menu, but their flavors of soft serve were limited for the day.

 ♥

A turmeric/gold rose flavor sounded unique, and was listed as one of their offered flavors, but unfortunately not on the day I visited.

♥

A small cup of froyo with one topping proved to be pricey (~$6!), but since it was vegan-friendly and a hand-crafted kind of place, I thought it was a worthy treat to splurge on. I ended up going for the Peanut Butter Prana topped with dried mulberries.

PBP & Dried Mulberries
PBP & Dried Mulberries

I enjoyed my cup outside, and marveled at how thick the soft serve was. It was like those So Delicious ice creams I rave about, except smoother and creamier. The mulberries added some varied crunch, but to be honest they weren’t a vital component.

 ♥

After spending the day driving and eating through North LA, I made the drive back home, and spent the remainder of the evening napping and catching up on some work. I was squeezing every minute out of this “free” weekend, because who know when my next one will be!

A new Nuts 'n More flavor for me to try. I picked it up from the Vitamin Shoppe near the Veggie Grill in Encino. Definitely found it more blanaced in the oil-to-butter ratio. The vanilla flavor was mixed throughout, and it didn't have those crystalized sugar pieces at the bottom like I observed with Cookie Butter.
A new Nuts ‘n More flavor for me to try. I picked it up from the Vitamin Shoppe near the Veggie Grill in Encino. Definitely found it more balanced in the oil-to-butter ratio. The white chocolate flavor was mixed throughout, and it didn’t have those crystallized sugar pieces at the bottom like I observed with Cookie Butter.
 
 Is there something you finally got done recently?

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Lion’s Pack Cookie Dough Review & An Overdue Survey

The Lion’s Pack Cookie Dough Review & An Overdue Survey

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation or product samples from The Lion’s Pack. The products were purchased by me, and all opinions are my own.

After hearing so many positive reviews about The Lion’s Pack (previously The Lion’s Choice), I decided that now was a better time than any to make my first purchase and try one of their most raved about products—their high-protein, vegan-friendly edible cookie dough! I was already spending money online with online gift shopping for friends and family, so I thought why not just get a 4-pack of the cookie dough, ignore the fact I was paying $45 for said cookie dough, and “act pleasantly surprised” when it arrived at my doorstep.

I later learned that it takes at least two weeks for an order to arrive, since it takes a week to get onto the production line (they make all of their orders fresh), and then another week to package and ship out. The USPS tracking was a mess too. I ended up going to the post office because I received a tracking notification that said the postman tried to deliver the package but the receptacle was blocked? It made no sense since the mailbox I use is right by the front door. I ended up going to the post office the next day, but they didn’t have my package either. Fortunately, it was waiting for me that evening on the doorstep.

From my calculations, it took ~16 days for a 4-pack order to arrive from the day of order to the day of delivery. My anticipations and temporary frustrations vanished when I opened the parcel:

dough____
The Lion’s Pack Edible Cookie Dough

I ordered the Birthday Cake, Snickerdoodle, Samoa Cookie, and Oreo Cookie flavors. I twisted open the birthday cake flavor first, and after gazing into the confetti-mixed concoction, I grabbed a spoon and dug in. Honestly, I had high hopes but the flavor didn’t match my expectations. It tasted like vanilla dough with sprinkles…no magical frosting swirl or cake bits like one would imagine.

birthday_cookie
Birthday Cake

Snickerdoodle was similar in that sense, but it did have a cinnamon-like flavor and what tasted like crystallized sugar beads.

snickerdoodle
Snickerdoodle

Oreo cookie was amazing. It literally had oreo cookie pieces with the cream filling still intact.

lionspack_oreo
Oreo Cookie

I mean, wow.

oreo_
Hello 🙂

And finally, Samoa Cookie. There were coconut flakes immersed throughout and chocolate chips to accompany them. Out of the four, this tasted the most like the type of cookie dough you would roll into balls for baking, and chewy, textured cookies would result.

samoa_cookie_dough
Samoa cookie dough with coconut flakes peeking out 🙂

I love how all of the flavors are vegan-friendly, and one jar is ~1000 calories, which is about what a Ben and Jerry’s pint would come out to. They can easily fit into one’s meal plan for the day, and they have a good amount of probiotics too!

Because it does take two weeks for an order to arrive, I already placed my second order so that it will arrive a few days after I come back to LA 😉

Now, time for a survey because it’s been way too long. Found this one first on Irina’s blog :

1. Do you eat blue cheese?
I love blue cheese in salads (I’m a fan of feta), and as a special add-in ingredient in sandwiches or Mediterranean plates with falafel, but I wouldn’t say it’s my go-to cheese. Actually, I don’t find myself eating dairy-based cheese on its own as much as I used to.

beanitos
I will have it if it coats some white bean-based chip puffs that are >> than Cheetos Puffs.

2. Can you whistle?
No, not really. I can blow a bubble with chewing gum.

3. Do you get nervous before a doctor’s appointment?
It depends on the type of visit. Usually no, but it depends.

4. How many televisions do you have?
One, but I predominatly use my humble laptop to mostly watch YouTube and Netflix. I did have a TV in my old apartment that belonged to the apartment complex, and since moving, now have a TV in the room I rent.

5. What do you think of hot dogs?
How about veggie dogs? I love veggie dogs!

6. Do you do push-ups?
Yeaaaa-no. LOL!

7. Favorite girl’s and boy’s names?
I don’t really have favorites. Never given it much thought actually.

8. Do you have ADD?
No, probably the opposite! I’m always complaining of being tired/needing more sleep.

9. What is one thing you dislike about yourself?
I feel like this is an un-motivating question…

10. What’s in your pocket right now?
Nothing because I am wearing my pajama pants with cupcakes and macaroons on them 🙂

fitjoy
If I did have pockets, they would be holding bars for sure. Maybe not these ones because these Fitjoy Bars were sub-par…
barz
Chocolate Peanut Butter (top) & Mint Chocolate Crisp (bottom)

11. Do you own slippers?
Yes! Bunny ones in fact, but I haven’t worn them since moving since my room is carpeted. My old apartment had “wood” flooring so I wore slippers so my feet wouldn’t get dirty.

12. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
I’ve had some annoying running-related injuries (groin pull and a posterior shin splint, ugghhh), but I think the worst injury that I remember was when a girl threw a softball at me in my middle school P.E. class and it hit me right on the mouth. I had braces, so my lips were swollen and bruised for like a week. Needless to say, that girl became my enemy…

13. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
This is the hardest question ever. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Birthday Cake, Strawberry, Cookies & Cream, the Ben and Jerry’s core pints…I could go on…

chocolate_sea_salt
It would also be hard question to answer if it was changed to which flavor RX Bar is my favorite. Chocolate Sea Salt is a contender though!

14. How do you ring in the New Year?
Drinking sparkling cider and going to bed right after the ball drops.

15. Favorite month?
August because 1) birthday month and 2) summer weather at its finest.

Take a spin at this survey! 😉

Race Recap – South Pasadena Tiger Run 5k/10k

Race Recap – South Pasadena Tiger Run 5k/10k

I cannot believe I am actually saying this…but pretty much since after Thanksgiving weekend, it has been FREEZING here in LA. Now, freezing by definition here means anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t take more than a cooler-than-usual wind chill to cause misery.

Last Saturday, I made my way over to South Pasadena to participate in a 5k race I signed up for by “accident”. I intended to register for the 10k, but somehow during the registration process, I ended up enrolling in the 5k! I didn’t regret that choice however, since I’ve been wanting to PR in the distance at a race for a couple months now…at least since my last 5k race in Owasso back in August.

south-pasadena-high-school
My arms were numb at this point…

I was NOT prepared for the bone-chilling cold that kept me frozen on my way to So Pas. I had a long sleeve base and put a t-shirt on top to keep warm, but I still had to cross my arms in order to not feel cold (even if it was a placebo effect).

Fortunately, I made it to the high school where the race was taking place, and immediately found warmth in the school’s cafeteria, where packet pick-up was also being held.

packet-pickup
Packet pick-up inside a warm, insulated building (:

Ofcourse like every race I’ve attended as of late, there was NO BAG CHECK. UGH!

I loaded up my belt as much as I could, and put everything else that wouldn’t fit (i.e. the race long sleeve shirt) into a drawstring bag that I then tied so tightly around my chest that it looked like a bra (lol…).

shirt
I’ve been needing more long sleeves…

In the time remaining until the race start, I stretched, used the restroom, and even did a warm-up around the track to feel like a “professional runner” and all.

For it being a local race, it had a pretty big turn-out. There were a lot of runners—especially those who were confident enough to toe the very front of the line. I kept it modest and didn’t stand too far in front, but I did stand within the front of the pack in hopes of finding someone I could pace with and hit a PR as a result.

They did a poor job with the send-off, since none of us even heard an alarm or someone signal us to go. I dashed as soon as the person in front of me jerked forward, and even though I had warmed up, I feared that I had pulled a muscle because I had started so abruptly.

Despite starting so fast, I held myself together and kept a consistent pace that did slow down as time went on, but still averaged at a 7:37/mi by the end of it.

The air was so cold that my lungs burned with each breath. In the past, I would have dreaded this immensely and would have found the situation to be unbearable. In this race however, I actually felt invigorated by it. I didn’t even mind a hill that came up around half way…before I knew it, I could see the finish line on the track in the distance.

I slowed my stride as I passed the finish and gulped down the first water bottle in sight. I stuck around to see if I had placed in my age group, despite there not being any good booths or post-race freebies. Most of the booths were fundraising-based booths for South Pasadena High School. Don’t expect me to bring money if you don’t offer bag check! 

booths
So many booths, no cash. The seaweed was free though.

An hour after my finish, they announced race awards. I learned that I did place, and I received a medal that was far from a shabby dollar store trinket.

medal
Yay! A race PR (:

To celebrate the speedy 5k finish, I took the train back one stop to Highland Park, and walked a few blocks down to a very much in-trend bakery shop—Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

all-butter-everything
All Butter Everything…

It was 10am, and there was already a line. The Highland Park hipsters were already seated, munching and chatting while eating pretty little desserts by the box.

mrholmesbakehouse
“I got baked in Los Angeles”

I was seriously overwhelemed. I had no need to keep my phone photo-taking a secret—I whipped out my phone for all to see and captured every angle…especially of these baby beauties.

donut_cruffin
Gourmet donuts and cruffins!

My eyes immediately landed on the creme-filled donuts. Something about their soft, sugary bread and fruity cream top spoke to me I guess.

cranberry-donut
So classy, yet down-to-earth at the same time 🍩 💕💕 ✌️

I got a cranberry-filled creme donut and felt like a princess, even though I was still in my running clothes. I thought the creme filling would taste like frosting, but it actually had the texture of greek yogurt? It caught me slightly off guard, but it was still a delicious treat! Because of the random creme filling not really being the creme I expected, I didn’t feel the need to take home a giant box of their treats like I saw others doing. Perhaps one day I’ll come back just to try the cruffin though!

igotbakedinlosangeles_mrholmesbakehouse
Love how the theme is carried over even into the take-out bags! 🍩 💕💕 ✌️

When I came home, I just had to try another “dessert” even though I was on a slight endorphin/sugar high. Quest Labs released a chocolate chip protein cookie, but the appearance of the chocolate chunks spooked me out, haha!

questproteincookie
Not gonna lie, the new protein “cookie” from Quest Labs kinda spooked me out with all those chocolate chunks. Alien cookie much 👽 🍪 ? Overall, I found it to be thin, slightly doughy, and tasted more like a flattened out Quest CCCD bar. In that regard I guess it tastes alright, but this ain’t Lenny and Larry’s 😏

Overall, I wasn’t amazed by the concept or the outcome of their protein “cookie”. To me, it just looked like a flattened out version of their CCCD protein bar.

I’m waiting for the day a protein donut will come into existence. I’ll be even more shocked if they sell it at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. And you bet I’d be the first one in line if they were giving it away for free at a booth of a race expo 😉

Mr Holmes Bakehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Alwheys Good Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Alwheys Good, and all opinions are my own.

When it comes to cookies, I feel like everyone has their own opinion on what is the best cookie. For me, I prefer soft and chewy cookies, ones with not a lot of nuts (or none at all), and if there is frosting on top I won’t complain!

My favorites growing up used to be those frosted sugar cookies that are in almost every supermarket. I knew to always expect them (with excitement of course!) when someone in my elementary school classes had a birthday. I also remember my Dad baking store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough from time to time, and I preferred eating them right away when they were out of the oven. Warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies that practically crumbled in my hands were >>> day-old, hard, crisp chocolate chip cookies that I tried to pass on to friends.

Nowadays, I like to keep things simple as sugar (or snickerdoodle) when it comes to cookies. I don’t really care that much for chocolate chips or other chunky additions anymore, but that also depends on how I’m feeling. Obviously I didn’t mind when it came to sampling these Alwheys Good Cookies:

Alwheys Good Protein Cookies
Alwheys Good Protein Cookies

I was sent samples of their three flavor to try out, and couldn’t wait to bite into these soft and dense-looking cookies. The are made for cold-processed whey protein, which are ideal conditions for preserving amino acids. The company also donates part of its profits to spinal cord injury research and related charities. Hmm…reminds me of this race I ran a while back. Maybe both groups should connect and work together? I’m sure anyone running Wings for Life in the future would love to see Alwheys Good cookies in their post-race goodie bag 😉

VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP
VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP ♥

Each pack comes with two cookies approximately the size of the palm of your hand. All of my cookies stuck together on their flat sides, so it actually looked like a huge Madeline cookie except larger in size!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP ♥
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP ♥

All of the cookies were extremely soft, and tasted more like a sponge cake than an actual cookie. I actually liked this chewiness, but the people out their who like crispy cookies or thick shortbread may not favor this texture.

BLACK & WHITE ♥
CHOCOLATE BLACK & WHITE ♥

This flavor was surprisingly my favorite seeing that the base was chocolate versus vanilla. I’m guessing because I found it to have the most “character” from all three flavors—white chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie, how’s that for a spin on things? 😉

Which of these three flavors would you like to try?

Lunch with the Roomie

Lunch with the Roomie

This past weekend, my roommate and I finally had some time to hang out together—at least for lunch!

She wanted to check out UCLA, and even though I wanted to get some grocery shopping done (I can’t miss an opportunity to shop at Westwood’s Sprouts!), she was able to meet up with an old friend.

Prior to Saturday’s plans, I made my usual crockpot dinner much more satisfying with the addition of a Trader Joe’s pretzel bagel. I’ve also been taking them to school/lab smothered in hummus and a slice of cheese. The combination is definitely a satisfying mid-day snack!

Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3
Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3

On Saturday, my roommate and I took the Metro train and a bus to head on over to Westwood. For lunch, we made our way to TLT Food: the brick-and-mortar location for The Lime Truck food truck.

TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck
TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck

I remember first passing by this restaurant one day early last year, when I spent a whole day strolling through Westwood. It was because of its bright green walls and eye-catching colors, inside and out…

It took me almost a year to actually venture inside, and at least my first visit was with company! There were a few, ready-made vegetarian menu options listed, but I wanted something classic, like nachos or fries.

Pork Belly Nachos was listed, but I was able to have the pork belly subbed with spicy tofu cubes. I love it when restaurants don’t hesitate to be accomodating. My roommate got the steak fries. We were both given buzzers (like the ones they give at Olive Garden when you have to wait 20 minutes for an open table on a Saturday night…), and in the meantime, found seats.

Seating area.
Seating area.

When our buzzers lit up, we had to go to the pick-up counter to get our food.

Pick-up counter
Pick-up counter

My nachos looked classy…slightly fancier than what you’d get at a ballpark 🙂

Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!
Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!

Even though they didn’t put my tofu cubes IN the nachos, I happily ate all eight cubes individually, appreciating the spices and texture of each boxy bite.

Spicy tofu cubes!
Spicy tofu cubes!

Without the pork belly, my nachos were comprised of crisped, puffed triangular tortilla chips (that were also slightly spiced), creamy queso, and fresh pico de gallo. I ate them by hand and with the help of a fork 😛

After lunch, my roommate and I parted ways. I headed to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, and even stopped at Bristol Farms to pick up some edible cookie dough for snacking later.

I made it home before my roommate did (haha), and dove into the cookie dough when I was all settled into my pjs, robe, and a collection of recorded tv shows I needed to catch up on.

Edoughble -
Edoughble – Chocolate Chip Off the Ol’ Block

Compared to the birthday cake flavor, I wasn’t a real fan of this chocolate chip one. It reminded me of the chocolate chip one by Cookie Dough Cafe, which I didn’t like that much…oh well!

Have you tried Trader Joe’s pretzel bagels or any of the Edoughble flavors?

If you ever had a roommate, were you friends/enemies?

TLT Food 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

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Please excuse the awkward title…at least it’s not a boring “4th of July Weekend Part blah blah” 😉

So after my sister and I completed our journey for vegan donuts, our next stop was to the beach! We realized that there was a hurdle in our plans however…since we were all the way up in Northeast LA, it was going to take at least another two hours before we arrived in West LA. Oh boy…

But, we couldn’t let traveling time get in the way of our plans. On the brightside, it would be “another adventure” for us.

We caught the train around 3pm, and transferred to a bus at Union Station. From there, things got hazy since I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus while my sister listened to music. The bus was packed by the time we got off, and we witnessed some crazy passengers saying some crazy things when we were on board. Perhaps it was the 4th of July-induced adrenaline?

We got off in Venice, and decided to walk down to Marina Del Rey where the fireworks were taking place that night. Even though we were complaining about the walking we had to do earlier in the day, this stroll was more pleasant since there was an ocean breeze along with it being overcast.

We walked alongside the path that I remember running on one of my team long runs during marathon training season. It was such a gorgeous sight to see the yachts and boats docked in the water…on a cloudy summer evening.

 Boats docked at Fisherman's Village.
Boats docked at Fisherman’s Village.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village for some photo-taking, and pondered over whether we should stay and wait for the fireworks then and there, or continue onwards to find something to eat.

 Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?
Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?

We chose to do the latter of course, and though the walk continued to be long, we could not help but enjoy the fantastic views of the water…

 Perfect weather & views.
Perfect weather & views.

We eventually made it to Dockweiler Beach, and walked inland from there to check out the small offering of eateries and cafes. We weren’t craving anything in particular, but we were able to find a cute, veggie-friendly storefront in the middle of a strip mall.

 The Mad Carrot!
The Mad Carrot!

The Mad Carrot looked like any ol’ cafe from the front, but the colors inside were extremely warm and inviting.

 Inside...
Inside…

They had menu cards at the front, and my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Not-chos.

 Colorful menu!
Colorful menu!

Unfortunately, they were made with turkey chili, and even though I asked if they could be made without the chili, it ended up being more complicated than it should have been. So I settled for the Vegan Sausage.

The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.
The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.

My sister got the Veggie Melt, which also came with a side of chips…

 This one actually looked pretty good!  :P
This one actually looked pretty good! 😛

Since the cafe was closing early due to the 4th of July festivities, we were given foam to-go boxes. My sis and I found a bench in the strip mall, and ate our meals before walking back to the beach. Both of us agreed that neither of our orders were knock-outs, and that we easily could have whipped something up of that caliber at home. But for the time being, it would do.

By the time we finished eating, we immediately felt weary. We had another two hours or so until the sky would be dark enough for the fireworks show. It felt like it would take an eternity though…

After some back and forth, my sister and I let our inner grannies make the decision to call it a day and head home. I arranged for our ride back with Uber, using a first-time user coupon code for a free ride up to $30! We were glad to be able to be dropped off directly at home. Needless to say, we were exhausted from our jettin’-across-LA-via-public-transit tour!

It was certainly something hot chocolate could fix!

 Yum-ay
Yum-ay

The next morning, we stayed in my apartment until an hour before my sister’s bus was scheduled to leave. After dropping her off at the station, I went by Target to pick up some eggs and a B&J’s pint for later (of course ;)) .

  Hmm...maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this...
Hmm…maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this…

I was thinking of getting another exclusive flavor, but when I saw Milk & Cookies for the first time ever, I knew I had to try it right away!

 Milk and Cookies pint!!!!
Milk and Cookies pint!!!!

It looked like an ice cream core when I opened it, but it just turned out to be a huge chunk of chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I am not complaining when I say this though!

Once I started making my way through the pint, it was slowly transforming from ice cream to milkshake—a “cookie shake” to be more precise.

The rest of the day, and weekend for that matter, was spent relaxing at home, and going to sleep very early. Sometimes the most fun events in life can make you (happily) exhausted.

If you live in the US, did you celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks show?

Click to add a blog post for Mad Carrot on Zomato

Kravin’ for Krave

Kravin’ for Krave

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. I paid for these bars myself, and all opinions in this post are 100% my own.

Like pretty much any food blogger I’ve come across, I am in love with Quest Bars. Banana Nut Muffin (even though I can’t stand raw bananas), Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Double Chocolate Chunk, and White Chocolate Raspberry were all awesome flavors, and of course there are the original flavors!

But this post isn’t about the Quest we all know in love, but the product featured is quite similar.

Krave Natural Protein Bars
Krave Natural Protein Bars

I learned about these Krave Natural Protein Bars recently, and after seeing their similarities in ingredients and consistency to Quest Bars, I knew I had to try them—even if it meant dropping $31.99 for the variety pack on Amazon. We all have our exceptions for splurging, right ;)?

The variety pack comes with two of six different flavors: Baked Apple Pie, Banana Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, French Toast, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Raw Cookie Dough.

I had ordered these bars on a Thursday, and was expecting the package to arrive at least a week later, but I found a box at my doorstep (to my pleasant surprise of course!) on the following Monday night. I have to give Pure Fitness Nutrition props for quick shipping!

The bars are also have slimmer look to them, as if they are flattened-out versions of Quest Bars. They also do weigh less than what the Nutrition Facts say (the “serving size” is 70 grams, but the bars range from 55-65 grams according to my kitchen scale).

I gave French Toast a try first:

French Toast in bar form!
French Toast in bar form!

The bars all share the common ingredients of a milk protein blend, blue agave inulin, peanut butter, and erythritol, and differ in regards to the addition of other flavors and ingredients, obviously.

French Toast stands out due to its inclusion of pecans and cinnamon, ingredients that hark back to the Sunday morning breakfast classic.

French toast is great, but sometimes bars just taste better!!
French toast is great, but sometimes bars just taste better!!

Apple pie is a breakfast food too, right?

Baked Apple Pie
Baked Apple Pie

No worries, if it’s in bar form, it is.

Baked Apple Pie on a plate.
Baked Apple Pie on a plate.

Funny thing is, this is EXACTLY the French toast bar with the addition of dried natural apples! Laugh out loud worthy :P!

Raw Cookie Dough was ultimately my favorite, even though it is a flavor that’s tossed around and around among food bar companies.

Raw Cookie Dough
Raw Cookie Dough

But how can you not love anything that has cookie dough in its name? And look at the marble-y chocolate swirls :D!

Cookie dough is the best :D.
Cookie dough is the best :D.

After consuming these three flavors, my initial excitement was beginning to wan. Chocolate Fudge Brownie was not too bad though:

Chocolate Fudge Brownie
Chocolate Fudge Brownie

It was softer than fudge, and easy to eat with a spoon even. Along with chocolate chips, there were pieces of walnuts included. I almost forgot to take a picture though, hence the picture mid-bite!

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Unwrapped
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Unwrapped

It does look more photogenic with the walnuts to the side though…

The last two flavors both have chocolate chip in their title: banana and peanut butter.

Banana Chocolate Chip
Banana Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Both bars look very similar to each other, and only differ in their aromas. The banana one obviously has the aroma of a ripe banana (not too appetizing for me, but fortunately the chocolate combination makes up for that), and the peanut butter one has more of a peanut flour aroma.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bar
Banana Chocolate Chip Bar
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

I know any of these bars would have tasted 10x better when nuked in the microwave.

Will I be substituting these over Quest Bars in the future? Probably not, since I can get a variety pack of Quest Bars for a cheaper price, but perhaps if I have a hankering for French Toast or Raw Cookie Dough, I’ll probably make an exception and splurge on a 12-pack of those individual flavors.

Have you tried Krave Natural Protein Bars?

What do you not mind splurging on?

Cooling Off With Refreshing Treats

Cooling Off With Refreshing Treats

The past week has been killer for us Californians. We have been having consecutive days of triple digit temps, something I can’t say I’m used to.

Triple digits...not fun.
Triple digits…not fun. So I have to run at 3 am now if I don’t want to swim in my own sweat?

Now I know I can’t complain, since we have pretty good year-round weather, but it’s hard not to grumble about it when your runs are sluggish even at 6:30am in the morning! I was soaked in sweat after my run yesterday morning, since it was already 77 degrees! Seeing that the 4th is not going to waver with this triple digit trend is not very comforting.

I have found some treats to cool me off, however!

These cookies don’t need to be cold to be delicious, but I bet they would make great “bookends” for homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Perfect Fit Protein Cookies

I had them in their original forms, and I found peanut butter > chocolate chip.

It was just a lot more chewy, and the peanut butter chunks just gave this cookie much more flavor.

Perfect Fit Peanut Butter Protein Cookie

I found chocolate chips in the chocolate chip flavor to be chalky, and even though it lived up to its protein name, that didn’t necessarily mean I wanted to taste the protein.

Perfect Fit Chocolate Chip

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as chewy as the peanut butter flavor either, since it crumbled very easily, as you can see.

As for a more cooling treat, I was lucky to find this at a special promo price at my local Grocery Outlet…2/$1.00 Müller Greek Corner yogurts!

Müller Greek Corner
Müller Greek Corner

I had literally saw a commercial for this a day ago, and so I had to stiffle my excitment when I saw this for $0.50 a container! There weren’t too many on the shelf though (understandably), so I picked up four.

Müller Greek Corner with Strawberry

I had so much fun pouring the strawberry preserves over the yogurt :)! I also liked the texture of the yogurt, since I found it had a softer, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Hopefully the shelves can be restocked with these yogurts the next time I visit!

But the most refreshing treat(s) I had so far this week were two Hail Merry Miracle Tarts.

I had two coupons to try two Hail Merry products for free, and knew right away I would use it on some Miracle Tarts, after seeing it pop up on blogs here and there.

I love trying citrus flavors of new products, and chocolate + mint is never a fail in my book, so my eyes were immediately drawn to Chocolate Mint and Meyer Lemon when I saw various tarts neatly placed on the top shelf of the refrigerated dessert section of Whole Foods.

I tried Chocolate Mint before heading to lab, and took note of its raw, vegan, and gluten-free characteristics—a dessert designed for the pickiest of eaters ;)!

Hail Merry Miracle Tart - Chocolate Mint
Hail Merry Miracle Tart – Chocolate Mint

It would have been nice to chow down on this with a miniature gelato spoon, or a baby fork, but I attacked this baby with a thick plastic salad fork that was disproportionate to the tart. I might as well have picked it up by the wrapper lining and eaten it like a cupcake, which doesn’t seem like such a bad idea in retrospect…

Chocolate and mint goodness...
Chocolate and mint goodness…

The whole tart was about the size of my palm, the perfect size for a sweet and snackable dessert. I loved how the outside was a firm chocolate shell, but the inside was like biting into melting mint chocolate. And the crust was nice and firm, even though it was made with just raw almond flour and coconut oil for binding. Organic maple syrup, dark cocoa, sea salt, and peppermint oil finished off the simple ingredients list.

I came back to Whole Foods to try Meyer Lemon later.

Hail Merry Miracle Tart - Meyer Lemon
Hail Merry Miracle Tart – Meyer Lemon

I had this outside on the patio, since all of the seats inside the air-conditioned Whole Foods were filled with workers on their lunch break…

Melts in your mouth!
Lemon party in your mouth!

The filling did not melt quickly, despite it being 85 degrees outside. It even stood up to the force of my big plastic salad fork. As you can see, it took a few stabs to just get a little piece attached!

From the two tarts I tried, I found the Chocolate Mint much more to my liking, but Persian Lime and (especially) Coconut Vanilla Creme sound intriguing…I mean, the coconut flavor has actual coconut flakes sprinkled over it (YUM)!

There was a nice and cooling breeze late yesterday evening, so hopefully that is what helps us in the next few days with the scorching temperatures.

Stay cool, and enjoy the long weekend if you celebrate 4th of July :)!

Is it blazing hot where you live?

What are some new cooling treats you’ve tried lately?

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