Hot Weather Shenanigans

Hot Weather Shenanigans

The day after my first double run, I granted myself a rest day and enjoyed the extra hour or so in bed resting my sore head (later on in the week, I had my first migraine, and I’m thinking the trigger might have been the extreme weather change). Surprisingly, my leg muscles felt fine (probably due to the rolling I did!), but my head felt heavy, which I’m assuming was due to spending so much time exerting myself in he heat.

Needless to say, the rest day was absolutely necessary. I went into lab later in the morning, but since E was also in, we decided to head downtown together for some lunch. It was unbearably hot outside though, and the walk from 7th st. all the way to Grand Central Market had us feeling like we were melting. I was even in a tank top and shorts and felt like I was burning!

It was my first time visiting GCM (and I call myself an Angeleno!), and seeing all the foodie shops clustered in one place like that reminded me of a more crowded, packed version of the Tustin Marketplace. We first thought about checking out Eggslut, but the line was so serpentine that we thought it’d be best to try it out some other day. Instead, we opted for meals at two different stalls.

berlin--currywurst
Berlin Currywurst at Grand Central Market

I found my meal of choice at Berlin Currywurst. The last time I had a vegetarian currywurst was ages ago, so I was happy to be able to have it again.

Berlin
Small space, crowded counter.

My options were limited, but I was able to get a medium spicy tofu kielbasa currywurst plate. It even came with half of a crusty bread roll to mop any of that excess thick tomato-based sauce!

berlincurrywurst
Spent a hot Sunday trying to keep cool at Grand Central Market. It was my first time visiting the place too! Eggslut had a serpentine line, so I hopped on over to Berlin Currywurst, and chowed down on this spicy Tofu Kielbasa Currywurst with a hearty chunk of bread ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

E found a stall selling avocado toast that came out with such beautiful presentation. My side beet salad was nothing in comparison. I’m not even sure why I got it…I had assumed it was part of the meal but then I realized I had to pay extra for it ๐Ÿ˜›

food
Why did I get this excuse for a salad?

After lunch, I hurried on home to catch up on sleep and just chill. I also tried another flavor of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter—Brownie Batter! Now I only have one more new-to-me flavor left to try…

fluffbutter
Brownie Batter? This flavor from @dsnaturals is more like Brownie BUTTER. The texture was smooth, yet each spoonful was dense. There was a strong cocoa taste that was the defining feature of this flavor. My only complaint—with all of the D’s Naturals Fluffbutters actually—is the oil separation. It’s always so difficult to make the oil mix through evenly, even though I attempt to do so with each jar. The last couple tablespoons at the bottom of each jar are always the driest as a result.

Overall, I thought it had a very sharp cocoa taste, and quite a thick texture. I still have issues with mixing up all the oil thoroughly in the jar—it just has a tendency to pool up on top!

I also managed to order four new The Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors to try during the week. My favorite of the four I purchased was this “Teddy Dough”.

"Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿช!! It's been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order---long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven't tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in...guess they just ground them down ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿ˜ง"
Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿช!! It’s been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order—long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven’t tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in…guess they just ground them down ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿ˜ง

I thought this cookie dough would have crushed teddy graham cookies, but I think they were all finely-ground because the texture of the cookie dough was so smooth. It was like a crumbly sunflower butter jar with a mild cinnamon flavor. I could even detect a taste of honey.

The one I was most surprised by was Red Velvet. I had much higher expectations for this one, but the jar I got had dough that was too sticky, and with a texture that was reminiscent more of cake than cookie dough.

redvelvet
I have to be honest—wasn’t a huge fan of @thelionschoice Red Velvet Cake cookie dough. My batch at least had the consistency of a gooey sponge cake, rather than a thick, paste-like cookie dough which I was expecting. The flavor was quite bland, and the chocolate bits did little to help enhance the flavor profile. Ah well, I have to admit I can’t complain about the quantity I got—my jar was literally full to the brim!

Butterscotch Maple Cookie didn’t come across as a flavor worth remembering. Sure, there were a decent amount of butterscotch chips thrown in, but the flavor base was quite bland.

butter
Butterscotch Maple Cookie: not sure what’s so “cookie” about it!

Finally, there was Cran-Orange. The mix-ins definitely overpowered the cookie dough base with this flavor, and it was definitely the frutiest of the bunch. It even had some white chocolate pieces thrown in so that was a plus!

cranorange
Honestly, this flavor (and its colors) reminded me of Fall…

Has the weather drastically changed where you live?

Do you get migraines?

Berlin Currywurst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Good Things Come in Twos

Good Things Come in Twos

Over the past few weeks, I came across some new-to-me food products, but I was stuck trying to figure out a way to get them featured in a blog post.

Then I realized that all of them came “in twos”, and at least for each product I tried, I was able to compare and contrast two different flavors. I didn’t have a strong dislike for one flavor over another for each of the products, so then it hit me—“good things come in twos”!

A developing veggie chip brand, protein bar company, and well-known greek yogurt company with novel “flip” creations are all featured here for your reading enjoyment!

โ™ฆ

Crunchables are dehydrated veggie snacks that are flavored with an intriguing spice mix, and right now, the company is going through its first steps as a start-up! I was excited when Michelle and Cindy (founders of Crunchables) asked if I could sample two of their products:

The BBQ chips had a mild cheese-like flavor, and the dehydrated veggies used here were broccoli crown pieces. They actually were coated with a dark red powder, and had a sweet taste with a spicy kick of an aftertaste.

BBQ
BBQ

The Nacho cheese chips were thick, flat pieces of dried eggplant. Even though the flavor was titled as “nacho cheese”, these chips actually reminded me of buttered toast!

Nacho Cheese
Nacho Cheese

Beyond the fact that the snacks are just seasoned dehydrated veggies, gluten-free, raw, and vegan, the veggies that are used for the snacks can be traced back to “ugly veggie” origins. The company is focused on a food waste reduction angle, and by working with local farmers to use veggies that would otherwise go to waste, they’re able to lower costs and reduce food waste. I think that’s a pretty cool!

When I heard there was a protein bar that was branded as Too Busy To Eat, and when I confirmed its existence because the name sounded hilarious, I was fascinated and knew that I had to see what these bars were all about.

toobusy
These bars were bigger than I had expected, given their nutrition facts!

I was sent the Double Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough flavors to review. I immediately fell in love with the DCC flavor, as I found it dense, but very chewy. It had a slight crunch, and if I had to compare it to another common protein bar, I’d say it’s like the Double Chocolate Chunk Quest bar except TBTE’s flavor is much more palatable in my opinion ๐Ÿ˜‰

Even if I wasn't "too busy to eat", I'd eat this Too Busy To Eat Double Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a fudgy texture with chocolate crispies mixed in, and it is outstanding at maintaining a mild chocolate flavor despite it literally being all chocolate! I couldn't detect any of that "protein flavor" that is usually common in these kinds of bars (I often found it an issue with the Chocolate Chunk Quest bars...), and I highly recommend this bar by itself, or cut up and added as a dense topping to yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
Even if I wasn’t “too busy to eat”, I’d eat this Too Busy To Eat Double Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a fudgy texture with chocolate crispies mixed in, and it is outstanding at maintaining a mild chocolate flavor despite it literally being all chocolate! I couldn’t detect any of that “protein flavor” that is usually common in these kinds of bars (I often found it an issue with the Chocolate Chunk Quest bars…), and I highly recommend this bar by itself, or cut up and added as a dense topping to yogurt, oatmeal, etc.

The cookie dough flavor wasn’t too bad, but it didn’t remind me of anything related to cookie dough. It had a milky flavor, light crisp texture, and overall had more of a vanilla flavor rather than cookie dough.

This Cookie Dough flavored Too Busy To Eat Bar did not remind of cookie dough to be honest. It tasted more like a vanilla fudge bar with crispier mixed in. I mean, it tasted alright as a protein bar, but I wouldn't compare it to cookie dough, even in its raw form.
This Cookie Dough flavored Too Busy To Eat Bar did not remind of cookie dough to be honest. It tasted more like a vanilla fudge bar with crispier mixed in. I mean, it tasted alright as a protein bar, but I wouldn’t compare it to cookie dough, even in its raw form.

They also have a Vanilla Coconut “superfood” bar flavor, and the bars have about 20 grams or protein, 20 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar. They are grass-fed whey protein-based (so while not vegan, they are vegetarian), gluten-free, contain organic cashew butter, and do not have any artificial preservatives or colors. Like I said, even if I wasn’t “too busy to eat”, I’d be pretty happy munching on these TBTE bars ๐Ÿ˜›

Kroger had a Friday Freebie deal a few weeks ago for any free Chobani Flip. I had been wanting to try the new Cinnabun Fun flavor ever since I learned about four of the newest flavors being released. Other than the random toss-in of pecans, this flavor met my expectations. I always wish that there is a greater topping-to-yogurt ratio for these yogurts though ๐Ÿ˜

Cinnabun Fun Chobani Flip
Cinnabun Fun Chobani Flip

I’d be the last person to confess my love for carrot cake, but I was flipping over this Carrot Cake Creation Chobani Flip!

carrot
Carrot Cake Creation

The yogurt was actually “sweet carrot”-flavored, and had a good amount of cake pieces glazed with cinnamon, walnuts, and white chocolate. Of course, I wouldn’t argue if Chobani decided to add more toppings to balance out the yogurt ๐Ÿ˜›

Which of these food items would you most like to try?

When You Get That Sugar Craving…

When You Get That Sugar Craving…

Dried fruit. Fruit jerky. Fruit roll-ups. I’ve had all of those at some point in my life, but they were definitely only to fulfill a short-term craving, or because I was following the latest food fad.

When I was introduced to Matt’s Munchies, it was only then that I realized a natural, organic, vegan-friendly dried fruit snack existed.

mattsmunchies
All sorts of flavors to try!

And not only that, but in several flavors as well. Each packet has 2 servings of fruit at least, and the calorie ranges lie between 80-100.

I received the following flavors to try, and noticed a number of similarities and differences among:

Apple-licious
Banana Coconut
Banana
Grape
Island Mango
Mango
Mango Acai
Mango Ginger
&
Tropical Punch

Overall, the characteristics that were shared or varied amongst each flavor made for delightful snacking.

apple-licious (1)
Apple-Licious
apple-licious (2)
Apple-Licious Slices

Some of the smoother, mono-flavored snacks included grape and mango. Each packet had square pieces of dried fruit, were laid side-by-side, and placed uniformly on wax paper.

grape (1)
Grape
grape (2)
Grape Slices
mango (1)
Mango
mango (2)
Mango Slices

For the most part, they were easy to peel off, but they did leave a sticky residue so I’d recommend being near a sink or water source to rinse off your hands when eating these.

banana (2)
Banana
banana (1)
Banana Slices

They’re delicious on their own of course, but their peel-ability makes it easy to add as a topping to various other food items. I could even see these being rolled up into mini fruit roll ups and added to froyo or something similar.

mango__ginger (2)
Mango Ginger
mango__ginger (1)
Mango Ginger Slices

There were also some flavors with added toppings like coconut shreds and seeds. These were my overall favorites because I’m cuckoo for anything coconut.

_banana_coconut
Mango Apricot & Banana Coconut
banana_coconut
Banana Coconut Slices

I don’t remember the fruit roll-ups from my childhood looking quite as exotic as these…

mango_acai (2)
Mango Acai
mango_acai (1)
Mango Acai Slices

The company is also based in Santa Ana, and I’m glad I was able to try and support a local company.

island_mango (1)
Island Mango
island_mango (2)
Island Mango Slices
tropical_punch (2)
Tropical Punch
tropical_punch (1)
Tropical Punch Slices

Along with getting in my servings of fruit the past couple of days, I’ve been getting in some added protein from “dessert” sources as well. I mean, my reason for getting cookie dough and cookies is for the protein after all ๐Ÿ˜‰

I decided to try out the new Brownie Dough and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Dough from The Lion’s Pack. I think if someone were to look at my credit card statements from the past few months, they’d probably think I’m the legit Cookie Monster (or at least his cousin, twice-removed).

IMG_9236
Brownie Dough

Brownie Dough was my favorite from the two. It wasn’t overwhelming at all, and it literally tasted like brownie batter (it had small brownie bites!) that had been left alone for a couple hours after being beaten, just before flattening out into a baking pan.

IMG_9256
Brownie CHUNKS

WCMN was a flavor I grew bored with almost immediately.

IMG_9240
W.C.M.N.

The nuts were toasted and had a brown roasted hue, but that and the white chocolate chips mixed in with a mild vanilla flavored dough got redundant really quickly. I ended up picking out some of the macadamias and just having the dough after a while.

IMG_9280
Lots of macadamias…maybe even too much…

Quest Labs released a chocolate chip protein cookie a while back, and I had gently teased that it looked like an extraterrestrial cookie. They did release three new flavors, and despite being creeped out by their chocolate chip cookie, I couldn’t help but be curious about their versions of a oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia, and double chocolate chunk protein cookie.

IMG_9227
More Quest Labs cookies…

All three came in the established, discreet foil wrapping of Quest Labs products not yet for sale to the general public. I tried WCM first.

IMG_9259
WCM

The cookie was still flat, and did not have the depth of a Lenny and Larry’s cookie. It did however have the moist, compressed density of flavor in the center of the cookie, a feature that makes the cookie chewy and soft.

Oatmeal raisin had a rougher, drier flavor, but was flatter, nuttier, and naturally slightly fruitier.

IMG_9303
Oatmeal Raisin

Lastly, DCC was one of those flavors I was unenthusiastic about, but tried nevertheless only to “check it off my list”. I wasn’t blown away, but I didn’t look at it with a weird look wondering which planet it came from either.

IMG_9310
Double Chocolate Chip

What snack(s) do you reach for when you have a major sugar craving?

Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough

Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough

This month has been stressful and extremely busy for me to say the least, and finding outlets of comfort has been quite a challenge! I do feel like I have been able to give myself self-care when absolutely necessary, such as when a 20 min power nap turned into a deep sleep session of 2 hours on Thursday, but working through two rigorous powerpoint presentations non-stop for a month can wipe ANYONE out…

Needless to say, my weekends have been uneventful for the most part, since I’ve been having to devote all the “free” time I have to staying close to lab or home. I’m hoping I can fill my weekends up with more restaurant outings and LA exploratory activities, but right now I am powering through the home stretch!

At least I’ve found a some source of comfort from some new foods as of late.

Hello nut butters!
Hello nut butters!

Reginald’s Homemade was kind enough to send me four flavors of their unique nut butters. Of the four jars, I tried the cashew butter first, atop some Siggi’s yogurt.

cashew butter opened
Siggi’s topped with cinnamon molasses cashew butter!

The cashew butter was flavored with cinnamon and molasses, and you could tell molasses was definitely mixed in due to the thick consistency of the butter.

cinnamonmolasses_cashewbutter
Cinnamon Molasses Cashew Butter

The nana honey peanut butter was just as smooth, but a bit more runny than the molasses flavor. It definitely had a banana scent, but it wasn’t overwhelming in the taste. Honestly I thought this flavor tasted mostly like regular smooth peanut butter, but it was fresh and creamy nonetheless!

cashew butter in yogurt
So smooth!

The wedding pretzel crunch peanut butter said it had “lite crunch” on the jar, but this flavor was ALL crunch. There were tons of salted pretzel sticks thrown in, but I couldn’t not any distinct white chocolate flavor. While I was hoping for a decent mix of chocolate chips mixed up with all those pretzels, I wasn’t too disappointed considering this jar was maxed out when it came to varying textures.

wedding_pretzelcrunchpb__
Lot’s of pretzels here!

My favorite flavor in regards to texture was the bourbon pecan flavor. This jar was literally glowing, and the pecans were ground up just right so that the pieces were just the right size.

bourbonpecan_pb
Bourbon pecan peanut butter

This was one jar I could easily eat by the spoonful, but I also added it to a mug cake with yogurt mixed with amazing grass greens.

greensmoothiepecanbutter_
Topping some mixed yogurt!

I also ordered some more cookie dough from The Lion’s Pack, and had ordered it while I was in Tulsa so it would be waiting for me when I got back to LA earlier this month. I had fun reviewing the flavors on Instagram:

Campfire Cookie – one of my favorites! It had chocolate chunks and graham cracker dusting. It looked sooo pretty, and the good looks matched in good taste!!

When it's not summer but you miss campfire nights ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿช
When it’s not summer but you miss campfire nights ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿช

Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough – So, Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough…I found the Cap’n Crunch pieces to be stale-tasting, and overall didn’t help the cookie dough taste any better. The colors were fun though.

Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough
Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – Good ol’ chocolate chip. A classic that often is taken for granted. But I have to say that The Lion’s Pack chocolate chip cookie dough is insanely good! The chocolate chips are small and melty, and not overwhelming at all! Sometimes sticking to the basics is good ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

I gotta say that this might actually be my top fave!!
I gotta say that this might actually be my top fave!!

Snickers Bar Cookie Dough – Too many peanuts, and not enough nougat/caramel with this “Snickers bar” flavor cookie dough.

This flavor was obviously not my favorite!
This flavor was obviously not my favorite!

Monster Cookie Dough – The Monster Cookie dough actually tasted awful. The cookie dough itself was fine, but the “monster” candy pieces tasted somewhat bitter, chalky, and just did not fit. I literally had to pick them out in order to enjoy the rest of the dough.

monster_cookie
Eh, not my fave!

Gingerbread Cookie Dough – It certainly had some spice, and some white frosting strings. It was a pretty good flavor, which I think could have tasted even better with some other holiday-themed add-ins…oooh, gum drops and candy cane pieces perhaps??

ginger
Gingerbread Cookie!

Unfortunately, the packaging wasn’t so well put together with this shipment—one of my jars came cracked at the lid!

crackedjar
Ugh cracked jar…

Ah, January is almost over, and I’m hoping that with it, I’ll have less stress on my plate and more comfort with not just from food, but in life overall!

Which of these peanut butter flavors would you try?

Which of these cookie dough flavors would you try?

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 doctorโ€™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 girlโ€™s and boyโ€™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. Whatโ€™s in your pocket right now?
Nothing because I am wearing my pajama pants with cupcakes and macaroons on them ๐Ÿ™‚

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 youโ€™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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Vent Sesh (Pull Up a Chair)

Vent Sesh (Pull Up a Chair)

When I came back after an eight mile run and didn’t see anyone in sight, I couldn’t help but feel a little down. I had run a solid 8:40/mi pace on legs still recouping from a 12 mile run the day before, but compared to the group I was running with that day, it felt like I had gone for a Sunday morning stroll in comparison.

For the past three months, I have been trying to find a running coach to take my training to the next level. It’s been really tough only because I don’t have any previous connections nor do I run at the elite level…I’m just trying to find someone to get me there…

I did end up contacting someone as a potential coach a couple months ago, but finding a time to meet kept getting pushed back further and further until this past weekend when I was invited to join this person’s group for a run.

I knew going in that this may not have been the best way to meet because I wasn’t about to run at a 6:30 pace overnight. Honestly I just wanted to meet over coffee, and have a real discussion about what I could do to get help with my training…without “squeezing a run in” be the main priority. I also did not want to risk being the girl who “didn’t know what she was in for”.

cookies
Wanted to share another new Halo Top find, even though unrelated to this vent session (haha) ~ Cookies & Cream! The packaging is gorgeous but the flavor did not blow me away…I was expecting CHUNKS of cookies ๐Ÿช mixed in, but the “cookies” were more like crumbs that lacked much flavor โ˜น๏ธ.

It feels like there are tons of resources for recreational runners or runners who have been running their whole life at a competitive level, and basically nothing for transitioning runners: anyone who wants to take what started as a hobby and grow it into something more serious—especially if they’re still running at a pace slower than 7:00/mi.

So yeah, I’ve got to admit that it hurt to come back to everyone gone. I got a text later from the potential coach apologizing for running ahead so quickly, explaining that they had been in a rush to get somewhere else. Would it have really been too much trouble to let me know beforehand??

I’ve been the victim of this kind of “ding dong ditch” behavior of other people my entire life, and while I have learned that this kind of behavior is not a reflection of myself but rather the lack of sensitivity, etiquette, and professionalism of others, it still sucks to have to say “no problem” or “it’s alright” or “I understand”.

At least this potential coach got back to me later that evening about how this person thought I needed extra training….um, yes, that’s exactly what I asked you three months ago in email. And at least I was given a contact for someone else I could try, and my quest to become a competitive runner continues.

sea
Caption straight from Instagram ๐Ÿ˜‰ ~ Sea Salt Caramel ๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ ! There was a decent amount of caramel swirl throughout the pint, and I’ve always been a fan of the Vanilla Bean flavor, so having that as the base was a good decision made ๐Ÿ‘. By the time I dug into it (after walking for 30 minutes from the grocery store in the heat at high noon), it was nice and melty on the top while still solidified at the center. It was my snack while watching The latest SNL episode ๐Ÿ˜‚.

I hope that my next opportunity to find someone will be more fruitful. In high school, I spent an entire summer serving 100 tennis balls a day in order to make my way into singles varsity from junior varsity. I also ran for president of my Robotics team and held that position for two years when my teacher thought I wasn’t interested in being there in the first place. I wasn’t a track star—in fact I hated running with all my heart—but somehow, it managed to crawl back into my life and now it is one of the things I want to immerse myself in fully.

I will do whatever I can to get to the level I want to be because that’s just my character. I’ve always been a lone wolf, partly due to my life circumstances and as a defense mechanism to protect myself from the drama brought on by others. This has led me to find my own solutions and figure out ways to help myself when no one else could.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this applies here too. I’m not going to stop my journey even if others around me aren’t fit to join me, or don’t understand my purpose. I do not have to have been a collegiate cross country star in order to relish in running today.

I hope that reaching out to my next contact as a possible running coach proves more successful, but no matter what I’m going to keep pushing. Being the underdog has been my specialty for so many years, and that’s one thing I don’ need help on improving…

Well, that was how my Sunday went in case you were wondering! But even though this situation didn’t exactly help to boost my self-esteem, I tried not to let it affect my body image and eating plans for the day.

As I was walking back and pondered over what had happened that morning, I also kept my eyes peeled for cute coffee shops and brunch places. I found myself again on Montana Ave., and with no particular place in mind, I just decided to walk until I found something.

fruitco
Waiting for FF Co to open!!

I stumbled upon Frozen Fruit Co. and when I saw they offered “fruyo” bowls, I just had to have one.

I was their first customer that day because they opened at 11am and I was literally waiting outside the door trying not to look like a hungry and delirious runner.

fruit-co
Love the color scheme!

As soon as I saw that a bowl was an option, I immediately went for that! For $8, you actually get quite a lot of variety and textures! I had granola as my base (honey and almond), then had a banana, coconut milk, dates, and pumpkin spice “fruyo”. On top of all that, I got to pick four toppings—pretty much what you’d find in a froyo shop ๐Ÿ˜‰

fruyo_bowl
Decadence!!!

I picked mango, strawberries, confetti sprinkles, and mochi because mochi is my jam.

granola-peep
Granola peep!

I walked a little bit further down the street and found a solitary park bench to sit down and enjoy this healthier-than-it-looks bowl. I truly needed all of this food…even though I didn’t run at an elite runner’s pace, I was still starving!

Later on in the day, I stopped by Whole Foods because I still felt hungry. I had satisfied my weekly craving for Halo Top, so I was pleased to find this in the refrigerated aisle.

edoughble
Edoughble, we meet again!

It’s been a while since I had this cookie dough, and since I had not tried Cookies N’ Dream, I couldn’t think of a better time to have it! This, and the fruyo bowl, while not completely uplifting my mood, did do their part to help.

How do you vent (writing, talking it out, etc.)?

Frozen Fruit Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Never Enough Froyo

Never Enough Froyo

Sunday was a peaceful day for me. After a pleasant long run in downtown (because of the overcast skies and lack of people due to it being early in the morning on a non-working day), I was able to fit in a shopping trip to Sprouts. They were having a BOGO deal on Arctic Zero (!!), so that honestly was my main reason for the trip ๐Ÿ˜›

I had to get all of this done in the morning since I had to go into lab for an hour in the afternoon (ugh), but it was also a refreshing change to do “my weekend things” in the morning vs. afternoon.

Since I traveled to the Sprouts in Westwood, and I FINALLY had cash on hand, I decided to stop by The Bigg Chill for some morning froyo.

tbc (1)
The Bigg Chill

Having cash on hand was a major moment for me, since I always use cards. Inside the small establishment within a strip mall, the ambiance was very much like a classic ice cream parlor (at least at the counter, the tables and chairs seemed to be more modern. 

tbc (2)
Classy counterspace.

After ordering at the counter, I sat across from the glowing neon sign on the far left wall, next to all the Quest bars on a rack, haha. It’s actually a trend I’ve been seeing at many froyo places that offer low-carb options.

tbc (3)
So shiny!

The counter was packed with so many edible (and non-edible) items, but behind the counter I was able to see the variety of toppings I could choose from, and at first wasn’t sure what size I wanted either. I ended up going with the 8oz macaron flavor that was dairy-free, topped with vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, mochi (all-time fav), and strawberries.

thebiggchill
So much stuff & lotsa toppings.

The macaron flavor was very smooth and had a milky taste to it, and mixed with the mochi, it was perfection. The strawberries were just for show, and while I had high hopes for the VCCCD, it wasn’t that great, and rather than having a fudgy consistency was somewhat oilier than it should have been.

But if we’re talking about appearances, it was certainly one beauty of a cup.

thebiggchilll
That swirl, and the cookie dough!

What are your go-to froyo toppings?

The Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fala Me to Fala Bar

Fala Me to Fala Bar

Last week was crazy busy, and on more nights than usual, I ended up coming back to my apartment close to 8pm, even with my early morning start to the day. But Iโ€™ve always preferred being busy over being too relaxed, so while at times it did feel exhausting, at least it kept my mind occupied.

Because we have a couple students graduating/people leaving from my lab this year, we decided to go out as a lab for lunch on Thursday. It was the first time we had everyone together (well, almostโ€ฆsince my boss was out of town and we were missing one personโ€ฆhaha, the day we actually have EVERYONE together in the same room will be some kind of miracle!!). Spicy Indian buffet food was on the menu, and surprisingly, I didnโ€™t nod off in class later despite it!

One of the plates I had on Thursday...super spicy, and used unpictured naan to mop up all of that!
One of the plates I had on Thursday…super spicy, and used unpictured naan to mop up all of that!

When I got home that night, I decided to kick-off the weekend earlier than usual with a THURSDAY night pint, a So Delicious one in fact. Iโ€™ve gotta sayโ€ฆthis pint rocks! Since itโ€™s made with coconut milk, you can actually taste the slivers of coconut mixed in with the cookie dough chunks. How have I gone this long avoiding these So Delicious pints?! Iโ€™m glad that even though I took a break from Snickerdoodle, this flavor was right up there with it!

Coconut milk + cookie dough = perfection
Coconut milk + cookie dough = perfection

Friday ended up being less busy, and I got home at a decent time. To celebrate the end of this busy week, I made myself a protein-rich snack plate featuring some of my favorites (once warmed up in the microwaved for ~20 seconds).

Friday Night Snack Plate featuring: Lenny & Larrys, Quest, and Combat Crunch. Melted for 20 seconds <3
Friday Night Snack Plate featuring: Lenny & Larrys, Quest, and Combat Crunch. Melted for 20 seconds <3

On Saturday, I had to go into lab for just two hours, and from there made it over to Melrose to see what little food shop was causing excitement on the โ€˜gram. Fala Bar, a Mediterranean food place that has locations on Melrose and Abbot Kinney in Venice, offers five varieties (!!) of falafel, but is popular because of their falafel burger offerings. Not only are they creative in their menu items and falafel flavors (original, sweet potato ๏ƒŸ what??, spicy, crunchy, and kale), they also are all-vegan, giving all the more reason to go falafel-crazy!

Fala Bar: vegan-friendly, and in a happening part of town!
Fala Bar: vegan-friendly, and in a happening part of town!

Because I rarely ever stray from ordering similar types of foods at restaurants, I got the fala plate even though the falafel burgers sounded mouth-watering. Definitely getting that when I visit the Venice location (yes, when ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). For my plate, I had to choose one flavor of falafel for the four falafel balls that came with the plate. I went with โ€˜crunchyโ€™, even though looking back, it would have been more fun to try sweet potato or kale. Maybe my intuitive choice for โ€˜crunchyโ€™ meant I had some pent up anger I needed to get out? Haha, or maybe I just wanted some crunchy falafel!

Fala Bar's menu
Fala Bar’s menu

Since the storefront is very small, there is no indoor seatingโ€ฆjust a couple tables outside under some shade. At least it was all taking place on Melrose Ave., so people-watching was at its prime.

GIGI---they have your snack mix, haha.
GIGI—they have your snack mix, haha.

One of the employees was nice enough to bring out my plate, and it was not skimpy by any means! Underneath my artistically-placed falafel were two kinds of cabbage slaw, and tabouli. Tahini and hummus were in the corners, and a soft, warm pocket of pita bread was served on the side.

Fala Plate ft. crunchy falafel
Fala Plate ft. crunchy falafel

At first I was saving the spreads for the falafel and pita bread, but in the end I just mixed everything all up because it was all so good, and good together. For the price, the plate was very filling and substantial. I did notice that the burgers were cheaper however, and I wonder if they would be just as filling. Thatโ€™s my mission for next time!

Close-up of this flavor-packed plate.
Close-up of this flavor-packed plate.

Just like last weekend, pints were raised up (for pictures) and dug into ๐Ÿ™‚

Because the So Delicious pint from Thursday blew me away, I decided to keep venturing into the flavor offerings of this brand. The almond milk offering of cookies โ€˜n cream had me very excited about trying at first, but unfortunately it was a disappointment. The cookie chunks were small, sparse, and did not carry much flavor. Iโ€™m not even sure what flavor the ice cream was supposed to be because it was lacking that much! Oh well, not everything can be a winner!

Eh, not worth the price...
Eh, not worth the price…

The Caramel Coffee Fudge flavor Ben & Jerryโ€™s from their non-dairy frozen dessert line was also something I was looking forward to, after PB & Cookies proved itself, but was another disappointment as well. One unsual thing about this flavor was the crunchiness of the fudge blocks. They were fudge chunks, but they made a potato chip-like crunching sound when I ate them. It was odd, but very intriguing, haha.

I'd pass on this one.
I’d pass on this one.

Have you ever tried a falafel made with the not-so-normal ingredients?

Fala Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Keeping Warm in the Snow

Keeping Warm in the Snow

My final few days left in Tulsa were spent staying close to home, mostly due to the weather, but also due to the fact that I probably wouldn’t see my family for quite some time. On Sunday, the rain got so bad, that we ended up having dinner in. My dad made chapatis and all the side fixings.

sunday_dinner
Plate 1 of home-cooked family dinner

After dinner, we ended up watching a movie that ended up being super boring by the middle, but we were to invested to quit watching. We made it through the end, and promptly went to bed!

On Monday, we woke up to find some fluffy white stuff everywhere…

monday_snow
What is this white fluffy stuff? Snow you say?

The last time I saw snow was in Chicago, so it definitely has been a while for this Cali girl ๐Ÿ˜‰

For my last meal with the fam before leaving for the airport, we chose to go to Ri-Le, a Vietnamese restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options.

Ri-Le___Restaurant
Ri-Le Restaurant

The menu was abundant with choices, but my Dad insisted we have their vegan soup special as an appetizer. My sis picked the sweet and sour dish, and I picked the soy ginger chicken, for all of us to share.

ri-le_2
Menu and interior.

The absolute star was our appetizer soup though. So warm and flavorful…basically the perfect bowl to combat the cold, frosty weather outside.

ri-le__3
A warm bowl of pho for all of us to share!!

When our entrees came, I helped myself to many plates.

ri-le__4
Servings from lunch.

The sweet and sour dish was served with sauced veggies and fried soy balls of some sort. I wasn’t a fan, so I let my sis finish off that one :P. I did enjoy my pick though ๐Ÿ™‚

ri-le_1
Sweet n Sour + Ginger

The best part of the meal was getting fortune cookies afterwards (even though they aren’t Vietnamese, let alone Chinese!)

fortune
Hmm…pretty accurate after all?

My fortune ended up being accurate since my second flight from Phoenix to LA that night was delayed by almost an hour!!

At least it gave me plenty of time to enjoy this $13 airport pizza?

airportpizza__13dollars
Margherita pizza at the airport.

I ended up getting home at 11pm California time, and had just enough energy to put this jar of edible cookie dough away in the fridge (my Dad knew how much I was enjoying this during my trip, so he encouraged me to grab one to take home since they’re hard to find ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

cookie_dough__pb
Peanut Butter edible cookie dough ๐Ÿ™‚

I felt sad about the fact that my time with family was kept to one week only, but since I had plenty to do in lab the following week and a time-sensitive experiment to fulfill, I had to cut my “vacation” short. Funny thing was, I was literally the only person working since this week was “officially” break for everyone else. It wasn’t too big of a deal though… after all, I had me, myself, my experiments, and this PB cookie dough to keep me busy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bars of the October

Bars of the October

Yes, we are already approaching the middle of November, but I happened to try many bars for the first time throughout the month of October that I couldn’t hold back on sharing! For some reason, many of these bars were able to distract me from the clutch of Quest, haha…at least for a little while ๐Ÿ˜‰

One of these brands was Oh Yeah! I was used to staying away from them in the past since I knew that many of their bars contain gelatin, but not their Quest-like Victory Bars!

Victory Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (1)
Victory Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

The Victory Bars are longer, more rectangular, and have clear-cut corners compared to Quest Bars, but their chewy texture makes them a contender in the protein bar world.

Victory Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (2)
Simply, cookie dough.

The cookie dough flavor tasted better to me than cookies n cream, perhaps because it was less chunky (and less overwhelming), but cookies n cream was still a decent flavor!

Victory Bar Cookies N Cream
Now let’s add some WHITE chocolate chips.

I got a hold of some Honey Stinger bars from Fresh & Easy one weekday morning, since they were deeply discounted. Since the store is closing its doors for good, a lot of well-known bar brands were fiercely marked down, but the PB and chocolate Honey Stinger bars were calling my name for some particular reason, so I just went for it.

peanutbutternhoney__rocketchocolate
Honey Stinger Bars!

The bars are thinner in width than I prefer, but I love how the bottom is a solid chocolate layer. And because of their bargain price, I didn’t feel like the purchase was a complete waste!

peanutbutternhoney__rocketchocolate_1
Peanut Butter n Honey and Rocket Chocolate

The brand I was most anxious to try was Robert Irvines’ FitElite bars. I know that his crunch bars contain gelatin so I have been staying away from those, but after double and triple-checking the ingredients of the FitElite bars, they looked pretty safe to me!

FitElite Cookie Dough (1)
FitElite Cookie Dough

Obviously these bars are punch towards Quest, but their smaller, dough-ier appearance makes them look like a peppy distant cousin of currently-popular low-carb protein bar.

FitElite Cookie Dough (2)
FitElite Cookie Dough Chunks!

The chunks looked irresistible!

Cookies ‘n’ Cream also had a similar appearnce, but toned it down with the chunk amount.

FitElite Cookies 'n' Cream (1)
FitElite Cookies ‘n’ Cream

I was on the way home from one of my weekend adventures, and ended up having this bar on the Metro! When have I ever exhibited patience when it comes to bars ๐Ÿ˜‰ ?

FitElite Cookies 'n' Cream (2)
I couldn’t wait till I got home to eat it, haha.

Have you tried any of the aforementioned bars?

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