Mission Viejo Escape

Mission Viejo Escape

Two weekends ago, I was gifted with the chance to spend a weekend with my sister in her Mission Viejo digs, as well as spend some time with Dad since he was going to be in town soon after for business.

I managed to have two of my undergrad assistants come in to take care of something for me over the weekend, so I would be able to make my visit an overnight one. I left on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived just as my sister was getting off work.

She picked me up from the Metrolink station, and from there, we hunted down dinner at Burger Boss.

Burger Boss, Mission Viejo
Burger Boss, Mission Viejo

My sister had been wanting to check it out, and we got the chance to do so since the location was close by. They actually have a number of locations around the OC. It also happened to be right next to a Creamistry, so you could guess what we had for dessert…

Putting our orders in was harder than it looked...
Putting our orders in was harder than it looked…

When we entered BB, we saw some LCD screens on the wall, as well as an order/paying counter wayyyy up at the front.  We decided to give the LCD screens a shot despite making a fool out of our orders—because the buttons were so hard to press, my sis ended up with four different kinds of cheeses on her veg burger and I ended up with two sauces in my burger bowl, haha!

Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.
Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.

I made sure put ALL THE VEGGIES AND FRUIT (pineapple, lol) in my burger bowl, on a bed of spinach. My sis’ burger was definitely not lacking in cheese.

Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3
Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3

Like I alluded to earlier in the post, we walked right next door to Creamistry after getting our fill of veggies and protein.

Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo
Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo

I was leaning towards ordering a nutella or speculoos flavored liquid nitrogen-based ice cream (per usual), but then my sister pointed out their Halloween special: black ice cream with cookie pieces. I was sold.

Of course, I had to top it off with mochi
Of course, I had to top it off with mochi

My sis, of course, had her beloved chocolate. We had our frozen treats inside instead of taking them to go. It was not surprising that we felt cold afterwards, haha.

My sister was adamant about making the next day a “study day”, since she had some exams coming up. I didn’t mind, since I had data to analyze anyways. The next morning, I met her at a Starbucks after a morning run. I had her bring my laptop and things over in the car, so it worked out perfectly 😛

We spent the morning working on our respective items, and when my sister suggested we get lunch, she didn’t have to tell me twice. To make things simple and local, we drove over to the Veggie Grill in Laguna Niguel.

Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel
Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel

I love how VG has seasonal menus—its makes my multiple visits to their various locations all the more worth it 😛

Fall '17 Menu
Fall ’17 Menu

This season’s menu seemed to offer a number of delicious-sounding options. I finally chose to get the Rustic Farm Bowl. My sis stuck to her fave chik’n ranch burger.

Rustic Farm Bowl -
Rustic Farm Bowl – farro, grilled mushrooms, roasted yams, braised cannellini beans, broccoli pesto, roasted tomatoes, red pepper sauce

The angles of the picture make it look like the bowl was a large one, but the contents were petite to my dismay. Still, it was quite filling! Just fibrous veggies doing their job I suppose…

Nature's protein-rich, starch-filled goods.
Nature’s protein-rich, starch-filled goods.

After lunch, we took a long afternoon nap and went out later in the evening to pick up some snacks to have at home so my sis could continue studying. Despite staying within my sister’s home turf and spending most of our time together at our laptops, it was a great weekend getaway for me. Mission Viejo is literally eye candy with its rolling hills and sunshine (although I will say it’s a runner’s nightmare—at least this runner’s nightmare, with all those hills!!)

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



Last Sunday, I didn’t run any marathons, but I felt hungry to the point as though I did run one. Of course a trip to lab was on the agenda, but as soon as I was done, I was ready to fill my belly with all things delicious.

I truly craved a hearty, Mediterranean meal because I knew it would have all the nutrients I was craving as well as taste amazing. But having to wait for 30 minutes or so on the train with a growling stomach was not going to cut it. I got off at Westwood, just to dive into the mall and get some snacks…

@fitjoynutrition , I think you’re getting better at this protein bar thing 😉

One of which was a new FitJoy protein bar flavor. I had no idea FitJoy released some new flavors recently, but since one of them was a “Cookies & Cream” flavor, I could not let it get away! The bar had three distinct layers, with the top being a chocolate fudge-like flavor with small crispy chocolate pieces. The bottom layer was coated with a chocolate shell, and overall the bar was a good mix between crunchy and chewy (though not too chewy—what I liked about it overall was how firm it ended up being)!

I took a bus back to Santa Monica and stopped right in front of my lunch destination—Mediterranean food at Crimson sounded so mouthwatering at that point.

Crimson, Santa Monica

When I stepped inside, it felt like the A/C was on full blast, but no energy was actually being “wasted” since it was just the cooling blacks and greys on the wall that allowed the restaurant to help keep patrons feeling refreshed.

Eating inside on a hot day…

I saw that it was an order first, then sit down kind of set-up, so I walked over to the front and grabbed a menu. The Falafel Veggie Plate sounded appetizing of course, but there was plenty of room for customization and add-ons.

Got the ‘Falafel Veggie Plate’

My plate ended up holding a gargantuan volume of eats. I was shocked, but happy, with the food that lay before me, and I was eager to tuck in.

The complete plate :: the gorgeous array of grilled vegetables <3

Since it was mostly veggies and healthy fats, I got full pretty quickly.

Tahini -> kale salad and hummus -> falafel in garlic sauce -> ricccceeee

But I’d say I did a decent job getting to all of the good stuff…only some rice and a bit of kale salad, along with half of a tahini cup was left.

So much good stuff on one plate…couldn’t finish it all!

After my hearty meal, I immediately felt my eyes droop. Obviously it was time for a nap. Home was a short ways away, so I wasn’t too far from falling into a cozy Sunday afternoon nap. After my nap, I woke up ready to eat some more! I was feeling ravenous for some reason that day, and I just went along with it. Spoonfuls of this Gooey Bananas Foster D’s Naturals Fluffbutter did the trick.

I was skeptical at first when I saw the Gooey Bananas Foster @dsnaturals Fluffbutter on sale at GNC for 50% off it’s retail price. It made me think “what’s wrong with the flavor?”, but no such answer exists. It definitely had the taste of bananas, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. In fact, it tasted as if the nut butter was made from finely mashed caramel-coated bananas. Bananas are my least favorite fruit, so take me seriously when I say this flavor was GOOD.

I was well-fed that Sunday indeed. Later on in the week, I indulged with other new-to-me treats that included the following…

Two more new FitJoy nutrition bar flavors: Homemade Pumpkin and Raspberry Chocolate Truffle:

Homemade Pumpkin
Homemade Pumpkin

Homemade Pumpkin bar reminded me of a giraffe based on the looks of the top! It had orange splotches and a light swirl on the top, with crispy wafer pieces scattered over the surface.

The Raspberry Chocolate Truffle bar had a slightly sour flavor (which isn’t that surprising), but it had a chewier and denser taste/texture in comparison to the pumpkin and cookie flavors I tried above.

Everything I love, all in one mug.
Everything I love, all in one mug.

There was a thin chocolate shell on the bottom, and its appearance actually reinded me of a Luna coconut bar. I broke the bar in half, and added it to a yogurt blend with pumpkin spice Amazing Grass mix. For good measure, I added a Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle cookie!

Goodie Girl Cookies - Mint Slims
Goodie Girl Cookies – Mint Slims

I also came across these cute, mini Thin Mint-like cookies by Goodie Girl Cookies. I found these at Starbucks one day, and they made the perfect accompaniment with a coconut milk cappucino, on my walk to the train station.

For Ralph’s Freebie Friday promo this past Friday, they were giving out free Larabars! I used the opportunity to snatch up a Key Lime Pie bar flavor, and didn’t regret it.

Key Lime Pie Larabar
Key Lime Pie Larabar

I hadn’t had Lara Bars in quite some time, so having this flavor made me realize I was missing on out on something so naturally delicious. I think I’ll keep coming back to this flavor, especially as the summer months approach.

On days when you feel ravenous, do you eat whatever you crave or try to reign it in?

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

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Last weekend, a friend from my first year cohort (who I had not seen in almost a year) sent me a text asking if I was doing anything Saturday evening…it was her birthday, and she wanted to celebrate with her friends at Street Food Cinema in Griffith Park. I thought it would be a fun thing to join in on, since I had been meaning to catch up with her for several months! Plus, it would be my first time going to an outdoor movie event, and this one would be showing Monster’s Inc.

Prior to the evening’s festivities, I had work in lab (of course) throughout Friday and the first part of Saturday. When I was in need of a pick-me-up snack on both days, bars from BPI Sports came to the rescue. I found these “BEST” bars recently stocked at the campus bookstore, and tried the S’mores flavor first.

It’s not been getting much love on social media, but I honestly really liked this flavor! I felt like the bar really lived up to it’s name, with chocolate chunks—and even what seemed like cookie or graham cracker pieces throughout—since the bar had a noteworthy crunch to it at some bites!

BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – S’mores

I had to try the Cookies and Cream & Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors as well, but these flavors were satisfactory in comparison to the S’mores flavor. Cookies and Cream had a decent amount of crunch to it like S’mores, but the CPB flavor was dull, and seemed to me like a flavorless piece of “chocolate jerky”. It even looks like jerky too (right-bottom corner).

BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Peanut Butter

I headed out to Griffith Park from downtown, since I had to do some errands there in the afternoon after lab. From there, I took a bus (with waiting at the bus stop + total transit time = ~2 hours, grrr…) and arrived close to 6pm where the theater screen was set up on the lawn withing Griffith Park.

The lawn was already packed with people by the time I got there!

After finding my friend, giving her a giant hug, and catching up with her for a few minutes. I then walked over to where the food trucks were line up (the reason this event was called “Street FOOD Cinema” 😉

Say Fish Taco Truck

Out of all the food trucks available, funny thing was I found a vegetarian option at a fish taco truck, haha!

(Veggie) Bowl

This bowl was packed with everything imaginable veggie-wise. And there was no escaping that generous scoop of guacamole! With my bowl in hand, I went back to where my friend set up camp, and sat with another one of my friend’s who had joined while I was off finding food. After catching up and eating with eachother, we expanded our circle as more people arrived. Since the movie didn’t start until 8pm and we had an hour or so until then, we decided to play a game of Phase 10, which is like Rummy and Uno apparently (I’m one of those people who learns how to play a card game when asked, and then promptly forgets how to play later 😛 ).

Grilled veggies, dill cream, black beans, cauliflower rice, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, corn tortilla strips, and LOTSA LOTSA GUACCCC

When the movie started at 8pm, we all settled in with our own blankets and relaxed under the dark, cloudy sky as we watched the movie play on the giant screen in front of us. When the movie ended around 10pm, I was glad one of my friends offered to drop me off at home since otherwise I would have had to call for (and pay for…) an Uber!

The next day, I decided to give myself a break from doing a long run since I had some lingering soreness in my legs from Friday. It felt so good to sleep in, and later in the afternoon, my roommate offered to drive us to the new 365 by Whole Foods store that recently opened in Silver Lake!

The new 365 store and by CHLOE.

Before shopping, we ate of course! At by CHLOE 🙂 .

small space
So crowded inside though!

The space was adorable, it was just extremely packed, and my roommate and I were lucky to find a space to sit down! My meal choice was 100% influenced by the first dish I saw someone eating while I was standing in line. I didn’t have to worry if it was vegetarian, because everything on the menu here was vegan!

Cute graphics!

^ Even the ketchup was beet ketchup.

raw juice
With my bowl…I got a free juice?!

I got the Quinoa Taco Salad which was the dish I saw someone eating while standing in line. With my order, I ended up getting a free juice to my surprise. It was ginger-based flavor that I had later at home, which I thoroughly enjoyed while looking over some data for work 😉

quinoa taco salad
Quinoa Taco Salad…so fresh, cold, and delicious!

Back to this salad though…it took forever to come out, but at least everything was presented and placed nicely. Crispy tortilla chips to one side, quinoa in the middle, and some soy chorizo crumbles in the far top corner.

Grocery shopping!

My roommate got a portabello sandwich that came in a hot dog bun, which she found to be a choice well-made. After eating up, we walked right into the store, collected the items we had in our mental grocery lists, and were out within 40 minutes (most of that time was spent in line!).

Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of the store, but I wouldn’t mind paying another visit to by CHLOE again! And if I’m ever in New York City again, I have to make sure I check out the original location 😉

Are you good at card games?

Korean in Burbank

Korean in Burbank

I was in the mood to venture out on Saturday, knowing that the Saturday to follow would be best spent close to home…to prepare for the arduous 26.2 mile journey on Valentine’s Day!

The week leading up to Saturday was taper week, and honestly, running ANY distance lower than 20 miles sounded appealing after that monsoon run! After a Tuesday 8 miler, I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal with a melted Combat Crunch bar (cookies & cream flavor)!

 So warm and melty
So warm and melty

With the melted CC bar in there, it didn’t matter that I did not include some sort of nut butter or spread…the chocolate coating was perfect enough!

Before heading to Burbank for a late lunch on Saturday, I stopped by the library to pick up some holds…for the very first time since moving to LA! So far, I’ve only used my library card membership to download free music. After almost a year and a half, I managed to get around to actually checking out some books 😛

My pre-lunch snack was this Mission1 bar, in chocolate brownie. It was extremely chewy, with a consistency equivalent to chocolate taffy. I know they are the latest craze on social media right now, but to me it just tasted okay. Perhaps things would be different if I let it melt atop of some piping hot oatmeal…

At least the bar looks presentable?
At least the bar looks presentable?

From the library, the bus ride to Burbank took about an hour. At least my stop was right in front of Tony’s Darts Away on Magnolia.

Small pub vibes.
Small pub vibes.

I always feel so awkward when I walk into pubs, but my reason for ever venturing into one has always been for the vegan food. From what I can recall, all of my pub visits have involved vegan food—even one hidden in downtown Fresno that served pretty tasty vegan Mexican food!

After standing around awkwardly for five minutes, I made way to the counter and learned that I could order what I wanted at the front and then sit down wherever I wanted. I was able to find a table by a stack of board games, despite a loud birthday party that took up several tables.

I ordered the vegan Korean bowl, since it sounded appetizing with its kimchi, sticky rice, and glazed vegan pork slices. I didn’t have to wait too long to dig into this earthy, insanely-delicious bowl either!

Vegan Korean bowl featuring glazed vegan"pork" and sticky rice!!
Vegan Korean bowl featuring glazed vegan”pork” and sticky rice!!

The vegan “pork” ended up being my favorite of course, and I saved it for last to mix with my sticky rice. The kimchi was what I had first, and it was flavorful and tasted fine on its own. The entire bowl took me a while to finish, but I made my way to the very bottom. Even though I did feel full, I knew that a walk down a couple blocks on Magnolia would get my appetite revved up for some dessert…I did remember passing by a Yummy Cupcakes after all!

Do you drink?

Do you visit pubs for the drinks or food?

Tony's Darts Away Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hot Tea & Cold Ice Cream

Hot Tea & Cold Ice Cream

After my race on Saturday morning, I drove back to my sister’s dorm and picked her up after she was finished with her own lab meeting. It was now early afternoon, and we decided to check out a tea shop so that we could get some more studying done before our ice cream plans later in the day 😀

She had taken me to one of the Teazer’s locations during my last visit, but this time we decided to see what Little Leaf Tea was all about.

Inside Little Leaf Tea.

It actually reminded me of Teazer’s—with cozy lounge chairs, a wall featuring jars of tea, and some snackables were on display at the counter. They even had the same chai flavors!

Back part of cafe.

We were immediately handed menus when we arrived through the door, and after looking through their Roobios selection, I found myself intrigued by Bourbon Street Vanilla. It was described as having an “exotic sweet vanilla scent” and inspired NOLA’s Bourbon Street. I don’t believe I had anything other than a fruit-flavored rooibos tea in the past, so I thought the vanilla-flavored one would be interesting to try.

My tea selection.

Along with my tea, I had a mochi black sesame rice cake with red bean filling. Now I was definitely in Asian tea mode. My sister got the grilled pizzanini, which came with a side of ranch sauce for dipping.

Red bean/black sesame mochi with my tea; sister’s pizzanini.

We spent a few hours in the tea shop, and tried to focus on our work even though the thought of ice cream kept interrupting us 😉 . As soon as we began to get headaches from reading too many PDF files, we left to appease our ice cream cravings.

Ampersand Ice Cream, across from Fresno High School.

One of my sister’s friends recommended we visit Ampersand, a relatively new ice cream shop in the Fresno area. Despite being new, they seemed to be all about the community with their slogan “where great ice cream and community meet”. Since they are also across the street from Fresno High School, I wouldn’t be surprised if this small local ice cream shop is a hang-out spot frequented by hungry high school students on weekday afternoons.

A community-drive ice cream parlor.

Based on my previous LA dessert stops, I would say Ampersand was a mix between Atticus and Cream/Stax Cookie Bar. They rotate out their ice cream selection, and feature seasonal specials. During our visit, Earl Grey & Cardamom, Apple Pie, and Rum Raisin were the featured specials, as displayed on a small blackboard underneath the main menu. Along with their scoops of ice cream, they serve ice cream sandwiches made with freshly-baked cookies (hence the similarity with Cream/Stax), milkshakes, and ice cream pops.

Classic blackboard menu.

Their specialty is a four-flavor ice cream sample for $7, which is quite a deal for what you get. After some deliberation, my sister and I decided to try Coconut Cream, Cookies and Cream, Honeycomb, and one of the special flavors—Earl Grey & Cardamom.

Cookies, ice cream, (and water).

Each scoop was careflly placed atop a stainless steel tumbler, which fit snugly on a wooden board with the Ampersand logo. Ice cream dining at its finest 😀

We better get to it quickly…

The employee who was preparing our board suggested we get to the Honeycomb first since it was melting. It also seemed to be a popular flavor based on how much was left in the tray it was being scooped out of.

We were given silver spoons to eat our ice cream with, but I was looking forward to using their disposable spoons with the ampersand symbol on them. I guess I could have just asked, but the melting Honeycomb took priority!

Stainless steel stylin’

From the four flavors we tried, I preferred Cookies & Cream > Earl Grey & Cardamom > Honeycomb > Coconut Cream. My sister on the other hand preferred the mild-tasting Honeycomb over the “too gingery” Speculoos-based Cookies & Cream or spicy Earl Grey & Cardamom.

Four flavor close-up

Between the two of us, the sampler board was just the right size, featured enough flavors for us to try, and was only $3.50/person after splitting the total.

We didn’t have any other plans that evening because my sister truly wanted to get through her Genetics studying for an exam on Monday. Before heading back, we stopped by Target to pick up study snacks and browse through the $1 aisle. Honestly, part of the trip was fueled by procrastination 😉 !

It took us longer to get back then expected though, since a football game was starting and traffic near the campus was growing. We still got back at a decent hour, and settled in with our PJs and laptops. My study snack ended up being something sweet, but at least it was yogurt-covered fruit?

Saturday night study snack.

I wouldn’t call raisins my go-to snack, but when covered in yogurt, I’m all for them! These strawberry greek-flavored ones sounded unique, and while they appeared to be true to their name, the size of each raisin was too small for my liking, considering that they had a yogurt layer. Still, I finished the bag, and had a couple smokehouse almonds to follow.

I ended up going to sleep around 11PM, but I didn’t care since I was spending quality time with the sis AND I didn’t have plans to run or have to go into lab the next morning! It was the first time in almost a month that I could wake up to an easy Sunday morning 🙂

When it comes to ice cream, do your prefer mild or spicy flavors?

Little Leaf Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



It seems like it’s been forever since I last posted. I had quite the busy week last week, yet it all still feels like a blur. I had my first interview take place, and I plan to post a recap about the experience, but plan to do that after everything settles down since things are still pending unless otherwise said!

One thing I can share rightnow
One thing I can share rightnow is my love for the NEW Quest Bar flavor in Cookies & Cream!! I found it at Vitamin Shoppe today and immediately snatched it up! Needless to say, I will have to go back for more. It’s waaaay up there with the cookie dough and white chocolate raspberry flavors…it’s like their baby pretty much ;)!

When I got back from the airport, I was surprised that I had the (mental) energy to push myself to go for an untimed/no music run. I felt so much more refreshed, and was able to avoid taking a nap too late in the day. As a result, I slept for eight hours straight with no interruption that night—a good night’s sleep does wonders!

It also helped me to collect my thoughts, and to push away the anxieties I was feeling from everything that was going on around me.  I am thrilled to be able to have these opportunities to interview and continue the next step of my budding career, but knowing that changes will happen and that I will have to make adjustments is something that does bring about a spectrum of emotions—excitement, doubt, fear, hope, confidence…

But this is completely normal, and even though I have to constantly remind myself that, I know it’s no use worrying about what’s going to happen if it hasn’t happened yet!

Pause. It’s time to take a deep breath in…breathe out…and keep going.

Have you tried the new Quest Bar flavor yet?

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