Sweet Blog Friends & Salad Traditions

Sweet Blog Friends & Salad Traditions

Two weeks ago, I went back to my food product reviewing roots and contacted a couple companies to see if they showed interest in having their products reviewed here and on the ‘gram. I know I don’t have the largest following in the world, but I love getting the word out there to whoever pays attention to my humble little space in the webverse, especially if a product is THAT good.

I also appreciate the tried-and-true blogger connections I’ve made over the years. I’ll admit that the number of blogs I read has dwindled, but the ones I do keep an eye on are my absolute favorites. Allie’s is one of them, and when I was reading one of her posts a few months back, she posted a picture of some decadent-looking chocolate-covered pretzels. I wrote a comment saying I would love to try them if I ever get the chance, and she graciously offered to send me some. 

the
Sarri’s Candies Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

Her sweet gesture ended up being sweeter than I expected! I was expecting a small envelope, but I came home one night to this large heavy box filled with all sort of thoughtful gifts. Allie, you really shouldn’t have, but thank you so much! I’m working on something for you too πŸ˜‰ 

As far as bars are concerned, I got the opportunity to try a few flavors of Redd bars. I first spotted them at Sprouts (they have the most diverse bar aisle, btw!), but I never got around to trying them until now. Each bar has 9+ grams of protein, is made of 11 superfoods, and has way too many vitamins to pronounce and count!

Redd Bars! They were sweet enough to add a bright red beanie :D
Redd Bars! They were sweet enough to add a bright red beanie πŸ˜€

They sent over three flavors (Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, and Mint Chocolate) and it just so happened that the first one I tried was my absolute favorite—Salted Caramel πŸ™‚

Salted Caramel
Salted Caramel
The bar had a chewy texture with a subtle caramel scent, and there was a slight crunch from the chia seeds. The bar also features pumpkin seed protein, cashews (I’d say my favorite type of nut), and white (vegan) chocolate chips. Yup, this fabulous bar also happens to be vegan πŸ˜›
 
The other two flavors didn’t rank as high as SC, in my opinion. Peanut Butter was firmer than SC in its texture, had mini chocolate chips scattered throughout, and is “plant-based” but not vegan. I found the surface of the bar to be a lot more “rugged” vs. the smooth, glossiness of SC.
Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter
 
I did get a little dramatic with my description of Mint Chocolate on Instagram, but I did immediately think of an Andes mint.
 
"ou know those Andes mints they give you at the end of your meal at Olive Garden? Imagine the softest brownie ever made with those mints, and that's how you pretty much describe a Mint Chocolate @reddbar 🍫🍫🍫"
You know those Andes mints they give you at the end of your meal at Olive Garden? Imagine the softest brownie ever made with those mints, and that’s how you pretty much describe a Mint Chocolate @reddbar 🍫🍫🍫

This bar flavor was soft and had a sharp mint smell. Definitely would be what an Andes mint brownie would taste like if they sold them.

 After getting in touch with Petit Pot, they were sweet enough to send over some vouchers so I could sample their French-inspired custard creme pots.

"Had the chance to try two flavors of @petit_pot pot de crème jars the other day, and they certainly made for an interesting sweet Sunday afternoon snack. The salted caramel flavor had a "gel-like" consistency in comparison to Madagascar vanilla. It definitely had a caramel color but not the flavor. Madagascar vanilla on the other hand had a texture similar to that of regular yogurt (not like thick Greek yogurt), and a very subtle crunch from the flecks of vanilla bean!"
Had the chance to try two flavors of @petit_pot pot de crΓ¨me jars the other day, and they certainly made for an interesting sweet Sunday afternoon snack. The salted caramel flavor had a “gel-like” consistency in comparison to Madagascar vanilla. It definitely had a caramel color but not the flavor. Madagascar vanilla on the other hand had a texture similar to that of regular yogurt (not like thick Greek yogurt), and a very subtle crunch from the flecks of vanilla bean!

I managed to only find Madagascar Vanilla and Salted Caramel at Whole Foods so far, and the two varied so much! MV tasted much like regular yogurt—very runny, but the flavor was a rich vanilla with a mild crunch from tiny specks of vanilla bean. SC was more gel-like, and to me did not have any flavor. It looked like a caramel Jell-O, but it carried no flavor with it.

Even though it seems like I was subsisting on “free” things, I did eventually have to spend my own money to eat, haha. I kept it local that weekend, and also went back to a “New Year’s tradition” that I sort of made up about two years ago.

Sweetgreen, SaMo
Sweetgreen, SaMo

I first visited Sweetgreen back in 2016, after learning about it by accident. It was after a week of toiling in lab while everyone was still on vacation. I felt so lonely in my deserted city of LA, and I wanted to go out to get my mood up on the first weekend of the new year. Then when 2017 rolled around, I ended up eating at Sweetgreen again as my first meal out for the year—totally unplanned!

This year was quite different, brunching it up in Las Vegas with my friends, but I did manage to make it to a Sweetgreen before January ended. This time, the location in my current city of habitation, in good ol’ SaMo. In the past I indulged in their warm bowls with some type of grain or noodles, but I got their Thai Cashew Salad this time around:

"I'm surprised there was a crowd at @sweetgreen pretty much all afternoon, since you'd think with the cold weather people wouldn't be craving salads πŸ₯—...but then again they do have some pretty delicious warm bowls 🍲. I had the Thai Cashew Tofu salad this time around, and was head over heels for the cashew dressing."
I’m surprised there was a crowd at @sweetgreen pretty much all afternoon, since you’d think with the cold weather people wouldn’t be craving salads πŸ₯—…but then again they do have some pretty delicious warm bowls 🍲. I had the Thai Cashew Tofu salad this time around, and was head over heels for the cashew dressing.

It was a particularly hot day when I had this, so it was fittingly refreshing! I had plenty of energy to keep walking afterwards, and I picked up some groceries and more new-to-me snacks to try out.

I’ve officially given up on Lenny & Larry’s because their cookies now will never be as great as their old formula Snickerdoodle or Birthday Cake. It’s a shame that they had to make changes that actually made their product taste worse, but oh well, their loss. 

No Cow’s Snickerdoodle is definitely not stepping up to the “Best Snickerdoodle Cookie Challenge”. Dare I even say that it tastes even worse, than Lenny and Larry’s new formula Snickerdoodle??

Seems like all the protein bar companies are getting into the cookie game as of late πŸͺ! Since I've given up on @lennyandlarrys (can't STAND their new formula and I'm not going to pretend to...the new Snickerdoodle is just horrendous πŸ˜– and makes me miss the old formula so bad 😭), I thought I'd try @nocow cookies because why not? Of course, I tried their version of snickerdoodle, and I'm sorry to report that it tasted like a dry hockey puck made out of corn πŸ˜‘πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ. Yeah, it's vegan and all that, but apparently that doesn't help the fact that it tastes gross. Just being honest πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ
Seems like all the protein bar companies are getting into the cookie game as of late πŸͺ! Since I’ve given up on @lennyandlarrys (can’t STAND their new formula and I’m not going to pretend to…the new Snickerdoodle is just horrendous πŸ˜– and makes me miss the old formula so bad 😭), I thought I’d try @nocow cookies because why not? Of course, I tried their version of snickerdoodle, and I’m sorry to report that it tasted like a dry hockey puck made out of corn πŸ˜‘πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ. Yeah, it’s vegan and all that, but apparently that doesn’t help the fact that it tastes gross. Just being honest πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Their Peanut Butter cookie wasn’t too bad, but let’s just say that Buff Bake’s Cookie Dough spread (with cookie dough bits mixed in the spread might I add!) certainly helped this cookie reach new flavorful heights.

"Okay, so the @nocow Peanut Butter cookie was better than Snickerdoodle, at least it had some chew to it and crushed peanut pieces, but I would suggest topping it with a good ol' slather of nut butter. @buffbake Cookie Dough should do the trick πŸ˜‰"
“Okay, so the @nocow Peanut Butter cookie was better than Snickerdoodle, at least it had some chew to it and crushed peanut pieces, but I would suggest topping it with a good ol’ slather of nut butter. @buffbake Cookie Dough should do the trick πŸ˜‰”

And because I have been obsessed with the Birthday Cake Oh Yeah! One bar as of late (the newer formula is MUCH better than what I had first tried two years ago), I thought why not try the latest flavor:

"The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake πŸ₯œ 🍫 πŸŽ‚ @one1brands bar definitely looked the part, but it tasted just like its Peanut Butter Pie flavor. Where was the chocolate? Or the cake? Still a pretty satisfying bar nonetheless."
“The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake πŸ₯œ 🍫 πŸŽ‚ @one1brands bar definitely looked the part, but it tasted just like its Peanut Butter Pie flavor. Where was the chocolate? Or the cake? Still a pretty satisfying bar nonetheless.”

It was a pretty dense bar for its nutritional content, but I was disappointed by the fact that it tasted more like a block of peanut butter than a block of peanut butter mixed with chocolate, haha! I think I’ll probably just stick to Birthday Cake when it comes to this particular brand.

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 🍩 πŸ’•πŸ’• ✌️

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! 🍩 πŸ’•πŸ’• ✌️

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 πŸ‘½ πŸͺ ? 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 πŸ˜‰

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

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