November Degustabox

November Degustabox

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

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

November Degustabox Goods
November Degustabox Goods

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

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

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

Then there was this Goya Pico De Gallo Mild Salsa. 

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

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

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

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

caramels
Lovely Candy Co. – Sea Salt Caramels

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

oreo-milka
Milka Oreo!

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

sortbread
Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs

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

I brought the Cafรฉ Bustelo Cafรฉ Con Leche Instant Coffee packs and Bell’s All Natural Saltโ€‘Free Seasoning to Tulsa to share with my Dad.

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Coffee and seasoning

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

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Eh, too sweet for my liking.

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

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Just perfect for Thanksgiving!

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

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Dinner comfort

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

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Arteasan Yerba Mate

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

Turkey jerky & chicken broth
Turkey jerky & chicken broth

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

May’s Degustabox

May’s Degustabox

May’s Degustabox contained a lot of surprises, many of which got me excited about my trip to Europe that was at the end of the month. There were a balanced amount of snackables, condiments, and other meal prep items that would be fun to try out and incorporate into my weekly meals.

May's DegustaBox
May’s DegustaBox

I loved the Soy Yay Sauces that were included in past boxes, and this Asian Mesquite BBQ Sauce included. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and it definitely has a smoky flavor. The consistency is thick (just how I like my sauce/marinades!) and along with topping on my crockpot veggie bowls, I used it to flavor some otherwise plain tofu shiritake noodles one night.

Flavorful sauce!
Flavorful sauce!
Flavoring otherwise bland noodles!
Flavoring otherwise bland noodles!

The sauce also paired well with this Wild Harvest grain rice that was also shipped in this month’s box. I only had to microwave a serving with just enough water to hold and provide a medium for heating/cooking the rice. After everything was cooked and warmed up enough, I added a serving of Soy Yay and the flavor profile was enhanced. It was like I had sticky or curry rice or something.

Wild Harvest rice cooked with Soy Vey's BBQ Sauce
Wild Harvest rice cooked with Soy Vey’s BBQ Sauce

I also happened to think it made a nice combo with the La Tortilla Factory white corn tortillas. The tortillas were firm, chewy, and a true mix between a corn and white flour regular tortilla: the size and compact characteristics of a corn tortilla mixed with the soft chewiness of a white flour tortilla.

La Tortilla
La Tortilla White Corn and Wheat Tortillas

Barilla also had some featured products in this box. Yes, there was a box of Farfalle and a small bottle of a beautiful green colored pesto, but I didn’t get a chance to try them out yet. I made it a priority to try out two products from their Mulino Bianco line.

Pasta and pesto
Pasta and pesto

These Galletti cookies were actually shortbreads, and featured a rooster emblem with scattered sugar crystals on the surface. They melt in your mouth, but they are pretty dry, though lightly sweet. Would have paired well with a coffee or English tea.

Shortbreads with little roosters on them :)
Shortbreads with little roosters on them ๐Ÿ™‚

I absolutely loved the Sfilati breadsticks. They offered a great crunch, savory tomato flavor, and were such a warm, eye-catching color. I added them to a crockpot veggie bowl one night and things were taken to the next level for sure.

sfilati
Sfilati
IMG_0438
CRUNCH!

Last month’s box of oatmeal was a feature from Better Oats, but this month’s box was from Pure Grain. The flavor was just plain/original, and I’m not sure why Spongebob was on the front, haha.

Tagalong Oatmeal
Tagalong Oatmeal

The oats were easy to prepare much like any other instant oatmeal packet. One of the bowls I had was prepped in lab, when one of my colleagues had some leftover Girl Scout cookies sitting at a table. I took three Tagalongs and added them to a warm mug of oatmeal, right as it finished its cycle in the microwave. Melted to perfection, as flavored instantly.

Mint Mojitoooooo
Mint Mojitoooooo

Skinnygirl K-Cups were also a feature in this month’s box. I liked last month’s Peach Bellini flavor, but Mint Mojito has a great flavor profile as well. Just like with PB, a little packet of stevia goes a long way in truly bringing out the minty freshness of this flavor. It is a refreshing hit to the back of the mouth!

Dandie's Marshmallows in Dreaming Cow Grass-Fed
Dandie’s Marshmallows in Dreaming Cow Grass-Fed Blueberry Cardamom Yogurt

An item that I believe was featured as a sample in this month’s box was a vegan marshmallow packet by Dandies . They were the original flavor, and so soft to the touch/taste! Actually, they tasted much like the real thing! I topped them on a blueberry Dreaming Cow yogurt, which gave my “after dinner snack” an extra boost.

Mutti Polpa
Mutti Polpa

A can of purรฉed Mutti tomatoes was provided this month instead of a tube of tomato paste like last time. Looking at the ingredients again, I was amazed by how the only ingredient was fresh purรฉed Italian Roma tomatoes. I literally dunked the can on top of some cut vegetables for my crockpot dinner one night, and by the time I got home, the tomato purรฉe was well-cooked and coated over the vegetables. I didn’t need to add any sauce afterwards because everything was now so deeply flavored!

Minced tomatoes in my crockpot bowl!
Minced tomatoes in my crockpot bowl!

I had to pass on the Goya lentil soup even though it sounded fantastic. The thing that prevented me from trying it out was the fact that it contains chicken stock. Ah well, my lab mates took advantage of that!

Lentil soup, with chicken stock.
Lentil soup, with chicken stock.

Which of these products would you try and what would you make?

April Degustabox

April Degustabox

This month’s Degustabox had a mix of familiar favorites and interesting new ones! Laying everything out, I couldn’t decide what to try first!

April's surprises!
April’s surprises!

I decided to try the Lovely Candy Co. Caramels first, since I remembered how much I loved the fruit chews from this brand when I first had them back in October.

caramels
When has a caramel NOT made a day a little bit sweeter? ๐Ÿฌ ๐Ÿญ โ˜บ๏ธ

They were easy to chew, had a gentle sweet flavor, and were so irresistible that it was impossible to refrain from eating the whole bag in one go.

The PR Bar was also a product I was familiar with.

prbaryogurtberry
PR Bar Yogurt Berry

I was a fan of the Chocolate Peanut flavor, and found this Yogurt Berry flavor just as enticing. It had a subtle vanilla coating with a melt-in-your-mouth texture filled with berry pieces, almost like having berry cream-filled cookies!

I’ve also had the Better Oats oatmeal brand in the past, but it was the first time I’ve seen their new packaging. At first I didn’t realize it was the same Better Oats company I was used to seeing being sold in green-and-white colored packaging.

better-oats
How to amplify your oats.

The flavor of the oats was Maple & Brown Sugar, but I added some pumpkin spice-flavored greens protein (which mixed well with the oats, and allowed for a thicker texture which I love!) and some Lingonberry jam for a more hearty, sweeter bowl of warmth.

felix-lingonberries
A Europe trip is in the cards later next month (!!) but I’m wondering if we should stop in Sweden ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช ๐Ÿค”…this Lingonberry jam (a Swedish delicacy) is very convincing #ImaginingBreakfastsInSweden

The Lingonberry jam was definitely a new try for me, but after reading more about it I learned it was a Swedish delicacy. The flavor of the jam itself was not too sweet, and even though it had a fair mix of plump red berries, the consistency was smooth, pourable, and not too thick at all!

These Wilton Candy Salted Caramel Drops were also a new find for me, and certainly a winner.

candy-melts
“Straight up ate these little Wilton Candy Melts, because what PhD student has the time (and the patience) to melt candy ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿ˜‚??”

One could display patience, melt them to a more liquid consistency and pour it over delicate and already-beautiful looking desserts, but a hungry girl like me prefers to eat them drop by drop. Each drop packs a huge punch—I found them to be REALLY salty, and they even had a slight crunch to them also.

Dinners this month had some flavor help thanks to Nando’s. I loved seeing a bottle of Nando’s in a Degustabox again, and was eager to try this garlic flavor.

peri-peri
“When you mix a baked sweet potato with garlic Nando’s Peri-Peru sauce, your tastebuds are in a treat for something both nourishing and magical ๐Ÿ ๐ŸŒถ๐Ÿ˜‹”

It was labeled as being “medium spicy”, and doused over a hot sweet potato, it definitely had a kick to it. The bowl also featured cooked cabbage, sliced carrots and yellow squash discs. Yum!

Another condiment product featured in this month’s box was a fancy squeezeable tomato paste.

tomato-mutti
Looks like paint—but this is edible!!

I had not heard of the Mutti brand previously, but according to the old school toothpaste/paint packaging, this double concentrated tomato paste was made purely from tomatoes of Italian origin. The tomato paste could have even passed as a dark crimson colored paint!

This month’s box also featured a number of drink items. Depending on what subscribers prefer, this month’s box either included Skinnygirl Peach Bellini Green Tea K-Cups, or instant coffee from Cafe Bustello and a can of Zenify natural energy drink.

peach-bellini
Tea anyone?

I took the K-Cups with me to lab since I could make use of them there with our Keurig. I’m mostly a coffee drinker nowadays, so I didn’t think I’d be in love with a green tea K-Cup, but I have to say this flavor won me over. When prepared hot and with a packet of stevia, it’s certainly a sweet treat! There’s nothing green about it—certainly all peach!

I’ve had Cafe Bustelo coffee before, but it was my first time trying out their instant packs.

cafe_bustelo
Easy as 1-2-3!

It’s almost too simple to prepare, as I literally have been heating up a mug of water for about 2 minutes, then add a packet of the intant coffee with stevia, and voila! A smooth, flavorful cup of coffee that’s easy on the wallet.

tru
How to make coffee, fast.

The Zenify drink I sampled was the “Zero” version, which contains 0g of sugar. The ingredients are basically sparkling water, erythritol, citric/ascorbic acid, and added vitamins. In addition to being sugar-free, it also contains no caffeine (to balance out the instant coffee I suppose!).

zenify
Zenify Zero

I love how it had a refreshing taste to it due to the carbonation, but knowing that it also served to work like green tea due to it containing a similar combination of antioxidants made me appreciative of it a bit more. I also think it’s pretty cool that the company pledges to work against polarization and intolerance by donating 5% of its profits to the Coexist Foundation.

 As for the products I was unable to try, the Chiridos cricket snacks and Wild Planet canned chicken since they obviously contain meat products. My labmates enjoyed them though!

hummus
Garbanzo bean hummus I have yet to make.

I could have made some garbanzo hummus this month to share with my co-workers as well, but didn’t get a chance to in time for this post! Seems easy enough though—the hummus flavor packet simply says to add a can of Bush’s Garbanzos.

Coffee or tea?

Do you prefer jam or nut butter on oats?

March DegustaBox

March DegustaBox

How is March ALREADY AT ITS END?! How is my visit to see my cousin an event that occurred a little over a month ago, and did I really just run a sub-4:00 hour marathon only this past Sunday

Well, I guess we truly are approaching the end of March, seeing as I’m writing up another DegustaBox review! My box for March came packed with a bunch of goodies!

DegustaBox for March '17
DegustaBox for March ’17

There was a a good balance of sweet snacks and savory staples. Of course, I went for the sweet-flavored stuff first! This time, I went straight for the Loacker biscuits—“Gran Pasticceria Tortina Dark”

tortinadark-noir
A “Hazelnut Tartlet?”

This wafer-based biscuit is described as a “hazelnut tartlet” and has a smooth, creamy dark chocolate shell over a melt-in-your-mouth wafer cookie.

The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!
The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!

The other cookie-based snack was this bag of Mrs. Thinster’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Thins. Apparently more exotic flavors like Key Lime Pie and Cake Batter are available, but these chocolate chip crispy cookies irresistible.

cookie-thins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins

The chocolate in these cookies had a mild, sweet flavor, and a buttery, crisp cookie base.

cookiethins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins Close-Up

I was pleasantly surprised to find a full-sized, peanut butter and jelly-filled croissant among this month’s mix of items! The bread itself was sweet and soft, and reminded me of a cake you’d find in an Asian bakery.

7-days
7 Days Croissant Peanut Butter and Jelly

The filling on the inside didn’t look like a lot, but it was just enough.

croissant
A PB&J Croissant?? Which master genius came up with this idea ๐Ÿ’ก?!

I remember having the Sweet Oat & Flax Good Thins crisps as part of my December DegustaBox, and so I was elated to see that the sweet potato flavored ones were included in this month’s box.

sweet__potato
Nabisco Good Thins The Potato One ~ Sweet Potato

The sweet potato chips were light, crispy, sweet, and extremely light in density.

Boboli Pizza Crust was also included, and at first I was like, what am I going to do with this? Since I share a kitchen with an elderly couple (my landlords), I don’t do much heavy cooking. Plus, I wanted to see if I could utilize this large, dense disc of bread for a meal besides pizza…

boboli_crust
It’s hard to tell but there’s about half of a 12″ Boboli pizza crust at the bottom of this (what seems like) a veggie-dense bowl!

As a result, I added it to my usual veggie-dense crockpot dinner bowl, as well as into some split pea soup that also had tofu cubes thrown in.

soupand veg
Boboli crust in soup and with veggies (topped with mustard)

The crust was soft, chewy, not super cheesy (even though cheese strands were clearly visible), and I even had portions of this 12″ crust on its own when not thrown into the dinners seen above.

One item I didn’t particularly favor was this Lemoncocco drink:

lemoncocco
Lemoncocco

It has Italian origins, but the drink itself has a “milky” appearance. It is essentially coconut water with a hint of lemon, but I thought the citrus flavor was overwhelming and made the drink taste slightly bitter.

Another product I had an adverse reaction to were these Energems. At least I did at a previous time. With this in mind, I decided not to give these a try. I brought and left them in lab, and my co-workers made use of them—I think some of them benefited from the caffeine boost!

energems_
Energems, eh no thanks!

These quinoa bars were a favorite of mine!

barssss
Such pretty packaging colors & font!

They were lightly sweetened, and had a mix of textures, but they were still easy to eat. Not only were they easy to consume, but they were also colorful and the box had the most gorgeous packaging!

quinoabar
This Paul’s Finest Quinoa bar dazzles like a gem. And the fact that it’s sweetened with honey ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿฏ ??? Aw man, so good!

The small box of Goya Quinoa Blend that contained black beans, bell peppers, and spices mixed with white quinoa and brown rice held enough grains to make four weekday lunches.

quinoablend
Goya Quinoa Blend

It was very simple to prepare with the microwave. I simply added a serving of the mix into a bowl, filled it to the level of the grains with water, and simply microwaved it from 7-12 minutes. I added a small, sliced Yukon gold potato that was also microwaved ~2 minutes. I cooled off the mix in the fridge in lab, took it out around lunch time, and any excess water that was there right after microwaving had been absorbed by the rice.

quinoa-and-potato
Taking some days off from running has helped me in regards to gaining some free time for meal prep! Vegetarian quinoa by Goya, mixed with a boiled potato has been working as a satisfying lunch ๐Ÿ˜‹ helping me power through the rest of my work day ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ

The potatoes did a good job of absorbing the flavors, and overall made for a nourishing lunch!

The last product in this month’s box I have yet to try is this chickpea pasta:

chickpea-pasta
Tolerant Foods Organic Chickpea Pasta

I plan to soak a serving in water overnight before I plan to use it for lunch, so that it can respond well to a spin in the microwave. I’ll have to add my own spices and toppings, but I think this pasta will be a new favorite of mine since I expect it to have a naturally nutty, rich flavor thanks to those baby chickpeas ๐Ÿ™‚ !

Which would you rather try from the following: the quinoa snack bars or the quinoa-rice mix?

January Degustabox

January Degustabox

Having a hefty box of goods from DegustaBox to start the new year was something I was very excited about!

january_deg
January’s DegustaBox

It was a half miss/half win for me this month in regards to these products. I couldn’t have a couple due to the ingredients, but the ones I could consume were good (despite some of my critiques, haha) on many accounts!

โ™ฅ

I normally don’t think about buying microwaveable popcorn from the grocery store, but having the option to have it as a snack for three weeknights was a nice change in routine! This kind was lightly buttered, but had quite the kick of salt. It made procrastinating with Netflix a whole lot easier and fun, haha.

jollytime
Jolly Time – Healthy Pop Butter Popcorn

I also got a small pack of Entenmann’s Little Bites in Party Cake flavor.

p_party_cakes
Entenmann’s Little Bites ~ Party Cakes

The cakes were super moist and glistened at the top, and took their calorie density seriously. Only four are provided in a pack that’s 190 calories. They are called “little bites” for a reason, but I think only putting in four miniature cakes in a packet is disappointing. And no frosting either…ah well, at least each “bite” was delectable ๐Ÿ˜›

party_cakes
Soft little bites.

The Berry Good Smart Kids bar I had wasn’t one of my faves. The bar was a cereal-type bar, dusty with berry pieces mixed into the bar. I think the powdery coating is what made me not appreciate this bar. The texture was just too rough for something you’d think would be chewy, especially if berries are involved.

smartkidsberrygood
Smart Kids Bar ~ Berry Good

Unfortunately, I had to skip out on trying three products this month. These Organic fruit chews were one of them, as they contained gelatin.

go_organically
Go Organically Fruit Snacks ~ Fruit Medley

These Welch’s fruit chews might have tasted nice, and while they didn’t have gelatin, they did have confectioners glaze/lac-resin, which is derived from secretions from the lac insect. So I had to pass on these as well…

welchs
Welch’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Snacks ~ Strawberry

Then there were the Cello Parmesan Whisps. Their website was actually very informative about their cheese making process and what types of rennet they use as far as if it’s vegetarian friendly or not. They even had a descriptive FAQ page, but unfortunately for me, their parmesan cheese wasn’t listed under the list of their cheese products made with microbial rennet. So, I had to pass.

whisps
Cello Whisps ~ Parmesan Cheese Crisps

I’m pretty fortunate to have always-hungry co-workers though! I brought the packages to lab one day and everything was eaten by the time be day was over. I guess I should also add that one of my lab mates is a six-foot tall guy…”always hungry” is an understatement I suppose!

The ginger sugar was an interesting addition. I think it’s made by the same company as tiger balm because the ginger tea box came with this handy dandy promo flier.

tigerbalmaddlol
A flier for Tiger Balm?

The crystal packets were packed individually, and contained a generous amount of honey crystals to mix into hot water for a satisfying cup of tea.

honey_ginger
Ginger Honey Tea Crystals

The crystals themselves look like rice puffs close-up, but they had a sharp, sweet flavor.

crystals
They look like rice puffs!

When I first saw this box, I immediately thought my breakfasts for the month were set…well, if not breakfast, then at least after-dinner desserts!

hungryjack_
Hungry Jack Complete Pumpkin Spice Mix

This box is the complete package—you just need to add water to get the mix going. For convenience sake, I scooped a quarter cup out and mixed it into a mug with water until I got a thick batter. I then microwaved it for about 2 minutes. The result was a soft, doughy cake that I then proceeded to top with coconut milk-yogurt mixed with pumpkin spice-flavored greens. Ah, twas delicious!

I absolutely loved the Alo Light drink, and didn’t expect it to be so refreshing! It had aloe pulp, and it had a jelly-like consistency, so it reminded me of those jelly cups or jelly cubes that they add to drinks at boba places. I had the whole bottle within minutes, and shared my love for it on Instagram, even though I was on my way to lab all stressed out. 

alolight_refresh
ALO Refresh Light

The same day I felt stressed, I came back needing a nourishing dinner. I had the option of using either one of these two spice or sauce mixes.

spicesandsauces
Time to season and spice things up!

I chose to have the One & Done seasoning mixed in with my crockpot cabbage bowl with squash and red bell pepper. I also added in a grill pressed eggpant wrap from Trader Joe’s. It came with a cup of tahini sauce that I added into the bowl, and with the seasoning + sauce, it was an instant flavor party.

grillpressedeggplantwrap
Trader Joe’s Grilled Eggplant Wrap with seasoned cabbage, squash, and pepper

I’m sure when I try the McDonnells Indian Korma Curry Sauce (an Irish product suitable fr vegetarians, based on the package!), I’ll love it as well.

Which of these products would you try to kick off the new year?

December Degustabox!

December Degustabox!

With all the cooking ingredients in last month’s Degustabox, I was elated that this month’s box featured a lot more snack-ables—including some sweet treats (hellooooo cookies ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

december_box
December’s Degustabox Delectables

The Purely Simple baking mix and frosting pack were an interesting find in this month’s box. I haven’t seen this in stores yet, but I’m glad to see that global brands like Pillsbury are attempting to make products that stray away from using artificial ingredients.

purely_simple
Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake & Cupcake Mix and Pillsbury Purely Simple Buttercream Frosting Mix

I didn’t have time to bake with them personally, but I thought it was a good idea to drop it off at a holiday cookie decorating party my running team was having. I did try a bit of the frosting mix though…in some oatmeal.

frosting-oatmeal
Frosting oatmeal…? I try ๐Ÿ˜›

For some reason, I thought that the frosting mix would “magically” turn into frosting…because that’s what it’s supposed to do right? Haha…I honestly did not notice any difference to my oatmeal after adding a tablespoon or so of the mix. So now you know.

It was the first time I tried roasted fava beans, thanks to Kala Beautiful Beans. These were crisp, salted, and peppered, and added SO much texture to my crockpot bowl already full of shredded cabbage, eggplant, and bell pepper. The whole bag didn’t fit the bowl, so I had to add more as I ate through the contents of the bowl ๐Ÿ˜›

kala
KALA Beautiful Beans – Simply Peppered Beans

I’ve seen the Good Thins brand around lately, the last time being when someone from the next door lab had the sweet potato ones for lunch. This box was “the oat one”, specifically the sweet oat and flax.

good__thins
Good Thins – Sweet Oat & Flax

Each crisp was perfectly square, and had bits of flax seeds peeking out. They definitely had a malty, sweet flavor to them, and while they made for the perfect snack on their own, I’m sure they would have tasted spectacular with some dip.

A lot of people have been getting sick in my workplace, but these Ricola lozenges weren’t something I was too keen on sharing.

ricola_1
Ricola Herbal Immunity – Honey Herb Lozenges

They were Honey Herb flavored, and the packaging went on forever, haha! And while each lozenge has no artificial colors/flavors or GMOs, as well as being packed with Swiss herbs and ginseng, they could be treated and eaten like candy.

lozenge_
Really, it’s just like candy.

I actually can’t recall the last time I had jam or jelly…it’s been all nut butter for me lately. If you don’t eat PB&J sandwiches regularly, the thought of buying jelly or jam from the grocery store doesn’t seem to stick around (pun intended!).

strawberry_jalapeno
Smucker’s Fruit & Honey – Strawberry Jalapeรฑo Fruit Spread

I received a small jar of Smucker’s Fruit and Honey fruit spread in strawberry jalapeno (yes, jalapeno), which has been sweetned naturally with honey. I think that because of the honey, the spread wasn’t as thick as a regular jam. It did taste sweeter though, which for this flavor was off-set by the jalapeno bits. While at first this mix of flavor profiles was fun, it got annoying pretty quickly. After a while it seems like a chore, having to avoid the jalapeno pieces once they start to get tiring.

The Loacker biscuits were insanely delicious!! Overall, I preferred the coconut flavor over Noir Orange, but both flavors rocked.

loacker_noirorange
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Noir Orange

I love how the coconut flavor had a generous amount of coconut flakes over each biscuit, and that the coating was milk chocolate. The noir orange coating was a dark chocolate, and even though it was a wafer cookie, it had a bumpy puffed rice texture. The nutrition was not as “bad” as one would expect either—120 calories for 3-4 biscuits, but nothing stopped me from eating more than that in one go.

loacker_coconut
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Coconut

I’ve always preferred cookies to be chewy, so I never was a huge fan of Chips Ahoy! growing up. When they came out with the chewy version, I was all about those, but it’s been a while since I first had them in elementary school!

thins
Chips Ahoy! Thins – Cinnamon Sugar

Many years later, the brand is still going strong with a “thins” version of their cookie, which are flatter and crispier, almost like thick, kettle-cooked potato chips. This particular flavor was cinnamon sugar, and it was impossible to complain about there being a LACK of cinnamon sugar! There were even white chocolate chips thrown in. Overall, I liked the flavor, I just wish they were chewier of course.

Another sweet treat was a small bundle of Honey Acres honey straws. There was an assortment of flavors that included clover, lemon, orange, raspberry, and mint chocolate. The mint chocolate was my favorite since it had the thickest consistency of all the flavors.

honey_straws
Honey Straws, yum!!

I ate them on their own, but they could easily be added to tea or on top of oatmeal for some extra flavor and sweetness.

I first tried Wise popcorn when I received my first ever Degustabox back in June. This month’s box included a giant bag of their white cheddar popcorn, but I couldn’t confirm if the enzymes used to make the cheese they use to flavor the popcorn were microbial or rennet based. So unfortunately, I couldn’t sample the popcorn myself, but at least my lab-mates got some free food out of it.

wise_popcorn_white_cheddar
Wise Popcorn – White Cheddar

One odd product in this box was a microwaveable 3-minute meal with a mix of flavored grains. The flavor was noted as “beef burgundy”, but I looked at the ingredients list multiple times and did not see the words “beef” or “meat”. I was certainly surprised, but I didn’t want to take a chance on it in case the natural flavors were of animal origin.  Yet another product left for my co-workers…

urbane_
A meat-less meat product?

There were honestly many great finds in this month’s box, which made up for the few products I couldn’t fully enjoy. Well, I must say that if there are at least three different dessert items that are equally great-tasting, then my needs are met ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

Are you a cookies or crisps/chips kind of person?

September DegustaBox

September DegustaBox

With the start of a new month, I was anticipating a hefty box to be at the door at any moment…

haul
September DegustaBox collection of items!

And when this month’s DegustaBox came, I couldn’t contain my excitement!

There was only one item I couldn’t have because it was non-vegetarian (the
BustaNUT! Maple Bacon Flavored Peanuts), but everything else was up for grabs.

The first thing I tried was the Toosum oatmeal-based bar, and it instantly became one of my new favorites. The flavor I got was acai and cranberry, but the soft cookie-like texture is what sold me. I haven’t seen these in stores though, so I’m going to have to be on my toes and really look out for any more flavors of these!

toosum_cranberryacai
Toosum Bar – “Bites with Benefits”!

The BustaNUT! Bourbon Flavored Peanuts were peanuts packed with flavor, obviously waiting to be “busted out” of the package.

bustanut-barrel-lickin-good-bourbon
BUSTANUT! Flavored-peanuts

I only had the Bourbon flavor (it doesn’t actually have alcohol) and left the Maple Bacon flavor one in lab. I found the package half opened the day after I left it…someone must have been real picky, haha.

One of the most useful items from the box was Hak’s Pak One Pot Cooking Sauce. It was essentially made for crockpot cooking, and I was the most eager to try out this item out of everything because it was so crockpot-friendly! My crockpot meal was cooked for about 5 hours, and when I came home I piled everything up high on a flat plate. I was ravenous, and seeing the sauce soaked into the pores of my sweet potato discs, shredded cabbage, and cooked bell pepper was making my mouth water.

crockpot-sauce
Hak Pak’s One Pot Cooking Sauce

In my last box, I had a beverage that I also hydrated with after a long run. Even though that was an aloe-based drink, both that beverage and this month’s featured tonic water truly hit the spot.

grapefruit-mint
Sparkling Bitters – Grapefruit Mint

I try to take my long runs easy, going at a pace about a minute slower than I want to race, so I don’t worry too much about dehydration. But sometimes, even a slow long run can induce a strong thirst. I’ve always been able to calm this thirst down with a tall glass of ice cold water, but lately I’ve noticed sparkling water does the trick too. This month’s bottle of Sparkling Bitters came in the grapefruit mint flavor, and that spicy citrus, yet refreshing aftertaste was the perfect post-13 mile stabilizer.

I also received another Honey Bunches box, this time the honey cluster flavor. I used to be in love with Honey Bunches for a short while in middle school, doing so much as to try every flavor in the cereal’s family, and after exhausting the boxes of each flavor I came to realize that I honestly was a bunches fan. When my hype for the cereal died down, that’s when the Just Bunches! cereal line came out, but I was too jaded to try it.

honey-bunches
Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted

This time around, I may have gotten the unlucky box that was filled primarily with flakes over the bunches, which reminded me how much I do miss the bunches!

the-english-provender-co-luxury-lemon-curd
The English Provender Co. – Luxury Lemon Curd

The English Provender Co. provided three of their curds/chutneys to try, and while I could have spread these on bread, muffins, or bagels, I chose to top them on Greek yogurt cups. Lemon curd and vanilla Greek yogurt is one combo that can’t be messed with. As I was eating it, I realized that this could easily be mixed as a filling for pie crust!

the-english-provender-co-sweet-tomato-chili-chutney
The English Provender Co. – Sweet Tomato & Chili Chutney

The remaining two jars were chutneys, and while I thought the tomato flavor was too savory for my liking, I enjoyed the caramelized onion flavor.

the-english-provender-co-caramelized-red-onion-chutney
The English Provender Co. – Caramelized Red Onion Chutney

I could actually see each thinly-sliced onion ring, marinated in a sweet, dark purple colored preserve. Now this is a chutney I could see being dollop we’d into small pieces of crostini and served atop a silver platter as an appetizer at a fancy dinner.

I first saw this cookie brand at Starbucks, but it was this month’s box that introduced me to their small shortbread cookies!

shortbread-pure-butter
Michel et Augustin Shortbread Cookies

Both flavors of the Michel et Augustin shortbread cookies I received were packed with smooth, buttery flavor and a crisp chocolate texture for their chocolate chip shortbread. I was more sad than I should have been after I consumed both!

shortbreadk-cookies
Michel et Augustin Shortbread Cookies (w/ chocolate chips)

The featured item in the box this month were Zolli Drops hard candies. They are are sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher. They remind me of flattened-down versions of Brach’s hard candies, and are just as fun to snack on as a bag of popcorn. Actually, these mixed in a bag of popcorn doesn’t sound like such a bad idea…

zolli-drops
Zolli Drops!

My favorite snack item was hands-down the PopCorners Carnival Kettle chips. These tortilla-chip look akin have a texture and flavor akin to mini, flavored rice cakes…except they are flatter, crunchier, and bolder in flavor. I could not stop eating these, and had these after a particularly exhausting, energy-draining day. No regrets, because this bag was oh so worth it.

popcorners_carnival-kettle
PopCorners Carnival Kettle chips

As far as sweets go, I’d say this month’s DegustaBox did an excellent job with its offering. I didn’t immediately come to this conclusion, since at first glance of these Entenmann’s Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins, I was doubting how “luxurious” all these food items really were.

little_bites
Entenmann’s Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins

But these small baby muffins proved me wrong. They were extra soft and chewy—like cupcake balls without the pretty icing and sturdy dowel.

baby-baby-muffins
So soft-looking!

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I honestly felt like I was spoiled this month with the different products I got. In fact, I have yet to try two items by the time this post publishes: Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce and corn & quinoa pasta.

I’m looking forward to having the pasta in future crockpot dishes, as a base for marinated veggies.

items-not-tried-yet
Still need to try these!

The Nando’s sauce is something I’m looking forward to try as well. I think it will definitely come in handy when I use up my apple cider vinegar and will need a new flavorful liquid to flavor my veggies with. And for some reason, I’m curious to see how it would taste poured over pizza…

Which of these items sounds the most appealing to you?

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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

Freekeh Foods Review

Freekeh Foods Review

Disclaimer: This post is a review about products received from Freekeh Foods and sponsored by FitApproach. All opinions are my own.

I learned about the existence of freekeh very recently…actually while perusing some food blogs a couple months ago. This supposedly trendy new grain has actually been around for centuries, and is a Middle Eastern cooking staple.

Freekeh is basically roasted young green wheat, and can be used as an ingredient in dishes ranging from savory to sweet, which I tried to do when I had the opportunity to try freekeh for myself!

I received two packages (one original and one tamari-flavored) to try out, and had a fun time experimenting with this interesting grain.

packets
Packages of freekeh to try!

When I opened the tamari packet, my nose was hit by the fresh scent of spices. Compared to the original, the appearance of the grain is the same, except the tamari has a light powder coating (which obviously makes sense…)

tamari
Hit by the aroma of tamari!

For the tamari packet, I immediately knew how I was going to use it—as an add-in to my usual crockpot dinners! One night, I had it mixed in with green cabbage and onion, and later in the week, I had the same combination but with the addition of beets. Adding this flavor of freekeh definitely added a POP to my otherwise humble dinners. When I had it in the crockpot bowl with beets, the freekeh tended to clump around the beet pieces for some reason, and it gave me the idea of potentially using it as a breading substitute if need be.

tamari_cp
Crockpot close-up
beets_tamari
In full view.

I also used it as an ingredient in an egg scramble. Mixed in with two eggs and garlic cheddar cheese, this tamari-flavored freekeh egg scramble gave me an extra energy boost to power me through an afternoon experiment in lab.

tamari_scramble (1)
Scramble wet ingredients

Freekeh Egg Scramble
Serves 1
A simple scramble with a dense body and nutritious flavor profile!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  2. 1/2 cup of freekeh
  3. 28g serving of cheese
  4. non-stick spray
Instructions
  1. Mix the eggs (yolk+whites) with cheese (cut up or crumbles) in a separate bowl.
  2. Mix in freekeh, and mix well.
  3. Heat a pan on the stove, and spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Add wet mixture to pan and cook for ~2 minutes (time may vary based on stove settings, pan, etc.)
  5. Turn off stove, let scramble cool, and eat!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Seeing that the original flavor was all grain and had no added flavor, I knew that it could be a very versatile kitchen staple to have around. Because I had gone the savory route with my tamari freekeh packet, I decided to see how the original flavor would fare in a sweeter dish.

Lately I have been concluding my weeknight dinners with some sort of yogurt-based protein bowl (in other words, proyo bowls) that I often top with a nut butter I have on hand and possible other fun toppings as well. With the original freekeh packet I had, I cooked a serving (~1/4 cup dry) in the microwave with some water for about two minutes. It developed a fluffier texture, and from there, I added some yogurt I had already mixed with protein powder. It was like a ready-made bowl of overnight oats, and I even added a dollop of salted caramel peanut butter on top.

original_after (1)
Making things sweet.

Freekeh is quite versatile, and I see uses for it beyond my crockpot dinners and sweet grain bowls. Why not try winning a package to try for yourself*? ;))

*US Residents only please.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Four Survey

Four Survey

When it’s raining outside, it’s definitely a sign to complete a survey! I have to thank Irina for making me aware of this one!

 The morning after a wicked storm.
The morning after a wicked storm.

โ™ฅ

Four jobs Iโ€™ve had:

  1. Cashier (my first summer job inbetween high school and undergrad)
  2. Peer Adviser (in my last year as an undergrad)
  3. Sales Associate (in two different stores during my “gap” year)
  4. Lab Intern/Research Assistant (in labs throughout undergrad—and now!)

Four movies Iโ€™ve watched more than once:

  1. Up (one of Pixar’s best!!)
  2. My Neighbor Totoro (Studio Ghibli โ™ฅ)
  3. Kal Ho Naa Ho (a Hindi movie that I would say one of my best friends loves 10x more than I do!!)
  4. The Princess Diaries (it’s one of those movies that always happens to be on TV when there is nothing else to watch ๐Ÿ˜› )

Four books Iโ€™d recommend:

  1. One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (I remember I really liked this book because it had interwoven stories)
  2. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer  by Siddhartha Mukherjee (I read this over the summer, and as a student heading into the research field, found it to be a balanced example of storytelling and academic information)
  3. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande (I had to read this as an undergrad and found it such a fascinating read)
  4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (This was actually a book my sister had to read in high school, but I ended up liking the book more than she did!)

Four places Iโ€™ve lived:

 Life in LA as a student includes boba breaks with your classmates :P
Life in LA as a student includes boba breaks with your classmates ๐Ÿ˜›
  1. Oklahoma
  2. UK
  3. NorCal
  4. Los Angeles!!!

Four places Iโ€™ve been:

  1. NYC (but one weekend doesn’t count in my opinion ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  2. India (visitng family)
  3. New Mexico (one of my most favorite family trips growing up!)
  4. Texas (more family visits)

Four places Iโ€™d rather be right now (or would like to eventually visit!):

 My friend recently got to go to Voodoo Donuts and teased me with this picture of one of their vegan donuts!!! Gahhh!!!
My friend recently got to go to Voodoo Donuts when she was in Portland, and teased me with this picture of one of their vegan donuts!!! Gahhh!!!
  1. Portland, Oregon (specifically for the Voodoo Donuts and great running/outdoor exploration weather!)
  2. Singapore or Malaysia (for the fish spas! I have an annoying callus on the ball of my left foot, and I wouldn’t mind having some tiny fish nibble it away for me)
  3. Japan (it’s the one place I always wanted to visit—I was such a big anime/manga fan back in middle/high school ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  4. Australia (it sounds like a cool enough country/continent—and isn’t it summer there right now ๐Ÿ˜‰ ? )

Four things I donโ€™t eat/drink:

 My dinner from Friday put the veg in vegetarian!
My dinner from Friday put the veg in vegetarian!
  1. Meat (I’m vegetarian)
  2. Raw banana (if used as an ingredient, I’m okay. But the texture is just, ew. I can’t…)
  3. Raw zucchini (again, if used as an ingredient, I’m okay. But the texture is just, ew. I can’t…)
  4. Soda or alcohol (I stopped drinking soda years ago after hearing about how detrimental it can be to bone health. I don’t drink alcohol for personal reasons, as well as the fact I can’t stand the smell >< )

Four of my favorite foods (but not my only favorites!!):

 Quest Bar Love
Quest Bar Love
  1. Quest bars (Top 3 flavors = cookies & cream, white chocolate raspberry, and cookie dough—in no particular order of course ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  2. Vegan Nachos (my favorite thing to order at vegan restaurants)
  3. (Vegetarian-friendly) Gummies (who can’t resist fun, chewy candies???)
  4. Chocolate Peanut Butter/Nut Butter (or flavored nut butters in general!)

Four TV shows that I watch:

  1. The Newsroom (the one from HBO, the final episode was on Sunday!!)
  2. Shark Tank (I especially love learning about the food-related products on the show!)
  3. The Good Wife (I’ve been watching it since I was a freshman in undergrad. It’s a pretty good show.)
  4. Saturday Night Live (I end up watching it on Sunday during the day, haha)

Four things Iโ€™m looking forward to this week/month/next year:

  1. Week [.1] – hosting my favorite girls + sister for a couple days in the city! (We have been daydreaming about this for years, and now, we really will get to have those ‘girls nights’ out on the town! )
  2. Week [.2] – checking out a chic gym for one week (I scored a free one-week pass at the last race I ran.)
  3. Month – going back up north for a week to visit the family for Christmas/New Years (can’t fight the opportunity for family time!)
  4. Next Year – kicking it up a notch for marathon training/my second lab rotation + new class schedule ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Bring on the new PDRs, and even though I have a love/hate relationship with change, I would say the ‘love part’ = having a new class schedule)

Four things Iโ€™m always saying/quoting:

(via Google Images)
  1. Lines from Spongebob (“What’s better than 24? 25…”)
  2. “He-eeeeey” (my greeting for whenever I talk to my friends)
  3. “Argh” (I don’t curse—I talk like a pirate ๐Ÿ˜› )
  4. “That’s good to know” (my default response when someone gives me advice)

Four people Iโ€™m tagging in this survey:

Do this if you haven’t yet! ๐Ÿ˜€

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