We recently has a post-doc leave our lab to pursue a new job, and as a result, we’ve been shifting the seating arrangements of our lab personnel…in other words, my lab bestie (E) moved into the office I am in, as well as another person I like talking to in lab! From the two offices our lab occupies, my office became the “loud and fun one” pretty much overnight 😛
To celebrate the new arrangements, me, E, and our other colleague went out for lunch Tuesday afternoon. Azla Vegan Ethiopian was a food court-style restaurant in a mini shopping complex called Mercado de Paloma, but this specific food spot was a place I had on my foodie radar for a while now (like so many places I am realizing, haha)!
E and I ended up eating here while our colleague got a quesadilla lunch from one of the other food court stalls. We picked 3-4 side items, and got two rolls of injera with our plates.
We were able to pick from dressed lentil salads, curried lentils, greens, cooked vegetables, and spicy tofu to pair up with our injera.
There was also a small assortment of vegan baked goods, but we (well at least I did!) knew our plates would be filling enough.
E’s plate was full, packed and looked delicious! I didn’t get the lentil salad, but looking at E’s plate made me second-guess that decision.
My plate had the curried lentils, boiled potatoes/cabbage/carrot, gomen (cooked spinach), and two rolls of injera. The three of us walked over with our plates of food and found a table to sit at, amongst racks of clothes and in front of other food stalls.
We spent the next hour enjoying our lunch and each other’s company. I made this comment on Instagram, but being able to go out for lunch on a Tuesday with lab mates, and not having food be the focus felt so refreshing. It was just another reminder that I am progressing through recovery, and that I’m also improving when it comes to taking advantage of social opportunities. I’m forming relationships, and allowing those to grow while, gradually with each day, I am squashing that eating disorder voice. This is recovery in action, and I’m loving that days like these are starting to occur more in frequency.
We went back to work after lunch, but I felt much more energized from both the food and endorphin burst from all the laughing we did. I’m sure these lunches will become a regular occurrence, and seeing that it took me two years to feel “at home” at work, I couldn’t be happier about this prospect.
Do you hang out with work colleagues outside of work?
My last race for this year was one I actually ran two years ago—this time fortunately fared much better in pacing! I also did not have to wake up early in order to have enough time to take a bus or train to get to the race start. I just had to wake up, go out for a “warm-up jog”, and within a half hour I was there!
There was no bag check (of course), so there was no place to keep my race shirt, even though I wanted to keep it because it was a long-sleeve and actually pretty cute! The 10k and 5k race starts were staggered so that the 10k race started at 8am. The 5kers had a head start at 7:30am, and so the majority of the runners from that race were done by the time we started.
Santa cheered us on as we dashed across the starting line. I was able to keep a steady pace between 7:40-8:20 throughout the entire run. At first it felt my lungs were burning from the cold air, and my feet also began to feel numb through my socks, but after ~2 miles in, it began to feel easier to stick to a faster pace the rest of the run.
I finished at an average pace of 8:12/mi, and it felt so refreshing! I managed to guzzle down a half a bottle of water, and proceeded to walk by the small number of booths that were present. I also couldn’t help but notice the DJ who was there—he was very much into the music!
I couldn’t find much in terms of samples and post-race freebies…I even had to pass on some intriguing-looking marshmallows because they contained gelatin 🙁
Since there was nothing much left for me at this point, I ended up walking from the finish point in Venice back to Santa Monica…really it was only a 25 minute walk, and from the beach, it was another 30 minute walk to lunch.
I actually ended up at a Medditeranean/Lebanese restaurant on Pico—Z Garden.
When I stepped inside, it was as if I stepped inside my best friend’s family’s house. There was a TV playing Arabic music videos and a whole glass counter full of baklava and other Middle Eastern sweet treats.
There was a handful of vegetarian items on the menu, and I decided to get the veggie kebab plate.
The dining area was in a expansive space, but I was their lone diner at the time. A few people came in for take-out orders while I was there though.
My plate came with a generous portion of Lebanese rice, a side salad, smooth, finely-ground hummus, a sour cheese I’m assuming was labne, pickled radishes, and of course my roasted veggies.
ALso had to have pita bread on the side!
I was the ultimate fan of this hummus…and cheese side.
I was finished by noon, and continued my walk home. I immediately did some laundry and organizing before crashing into a two-hour long nap. I didn’t leave the house until later that evening to visit a friend, since she’s moving from LA this week with her lab to a different university. It was bittersweet having to send her off, but I have to say I’m proud of myself for going out on a Saturday night for once. I even stayed out late enough to call for an Uber back home, haha.
This past week started off a bit stressing, but then ended on a surprisingly pleasant note. Our boss in lab decided to drop by the lab unbeknownst to us (he’s on sabbatical right now), which caused some anxiety among everyone as far as putting together reports just in case he asked for them. Turns out he was busy with other things, and even though I did end up having a meeting with him, it turned out better than I thought!
This left me feeling more relaxed going into the weekend, and actually feeling more motivated with my current projects as well. I did get home late though, and had a late (though delicious) dinner. I also had some Halo Top, and went to bed with a stomach that still needed time to digest. It was a frustrating situation: I wanted to sleep, and catch up on all the hours I missed this week, but I couldn’t fall into a deep sleep because of all the food that needed to be digested.
I even almost thought about missing the 10k I signed up for only because I wanted to sleep in. Fortunately I didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing this post!
I missed getting up at the time I set originally on my alarm, but I still had enough time to assemble my things and get out the door. I caught a bus that’s final destination was my destination: Wilshire/Western. The location of Saturday’s 5/10k run was in Koreatown, and benefiting a Korean organization I believe. I wasn’t actually sure because I signed up for what I thought was “The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K”, but there was no word of childhood obesity or the Let’s Move campaign. The race was benefiting some charitable Korean organization…I just didn’t know what it was 😛 ?
I spent some time warming up, but not as much as some other runners. There was a father-son duo, and they were stretching/warming-up so much that they were sweating by the time it was time to start the race!
We were supposed to be off by 8am, but of course things got delayed, and we didn’t get the signal to go until at least a half an hour later. The race course was a straight out and back, but done twice to account for the 10k distance vs. the 5k distance.
Unlike running in Santa Monica, running in the more urban areas of Los Angeles can definitely feel much warmer. I was running at a comfortable 8:20-8:30/mi pace, but my pace dipped into the 8:40-8:50/mi pace from miles 4-5. My legs felt heavier at this point, but at least my pace didn’t dip too much!
When I reached the finish, I was handed the medal which looked pretty cool, and I think helped me figure out what this event was exactly…
There was lots of water, ginseng drink, and Yakult/probiotic drinks to go around.
And several tables serving up watermelon, popsicles…and compression socks?? I’m talking about those leg mannequins, haha.
After the race, I walked over to a small courtyard mall that was right across from the Wilshire/Western Station. It was there that I found Paris Baguette Cafe, the perfect place to replenish my glycogen stores!
When I stepped inside, I was immediately overwhelmed by the selection! There were fresh savory baked goods stuffed with cheese, cold sandwiches, beautiful cakes, and cute confections (the array of macaroons though)!
After much pondering and wandering up and down the aisles, I grabbed a wooden tray, a thin sheet of paper along with some metal tongs that they had near the entrance, and placed a cheese pretzel on top. One thing to note about this pretzel—one of the main ingredients is white chocolate! The bread has white chocolate added into it, so the bread part of the pretzel was actually sweeter than what you would expect of a cheese pretzel.
The cheese wasn’t off-putting at all, and overall was a unique savory confection. Even though I refueled, I felt very tried and physically drained, so much so that I took a two-hour long nap the minute I got home. Guess I needed some catching up from waking up early every day this week? Whatever the reason, it felt amazing putting in so much effort into my runs this week, and the completely crashing for the rest of the weekend!
Have you ever had a savory food item that was changed to taste sweeter?
Last Saturday, I had two reasons to dance (even though I did not actually do so): 1) I tried a (veggie) poke bowl for the first time and 2) I had a “donut” from another well-established LA donut shop.
Before all that however, I decided to stop by the grocery store on Friday before heading home, and while passing by the dairy aisle, I saw that four flavors of Fage’s Crossovers line were on sale…like, $0.39 each on sale!!
I’ve tried the coconut curry flavor before combined with cashews, and I still think its my long-standing favorite.
The tomato basil flavor with almonds had a tangy taste, and the almonds had a spicy kick as well.
When I was eating the olive thyme flavor that had roasted almonds as well, it tasted more like sour cream! An awkward flavor profile indeed, but you have to give Fage credit for trying something bold!
And then there was the carrot ginger flavor with roasted pistachios. I was a fan of this flavor, and would rank it just behind the coconut curry flavor. I think it helps that both of these yogurts are paired with my favorite nuts (cashews and pistachios)!
I woke up on Saturday with intentions to run in the morning before heading into lab for a bit, but I was feeling more exhausted than I thought I felt when I hit the pillow on Friday night. A little extra rest never hurt anyone, so I ended up skipping the run and reasoned with myself that the additional rest would help me run faster in the 5k race I signed up for on Sunday.
Since my roommate has been busy studying for her CPA exams, she (and her car 😉 ) have been unavailable in joining me to go grocery shopping. This means making an afternoon out of errands, and making the process easier by getting everything done at the Grove…
Before stopping by the Trader Joe’s in the area, I needed to take care of my grumbling stomach with lunch. I came to the realization that Mainland Poke was just a fifteen minute walk away, and after taking a quick look at their menu to ensure they had a veggie option, I was set on going there for a refreshing, crisp meal.
The hot sun beating down made it a harder stroll than it should have been, but after I found the small building and entered, I felt about 20 degrees cooler when I saw all of the cold greens and veggies lined across the counter.
I was able to customize my poke bowl right from the beginning. I started off with a kale base, and then added cubed tofu, edamame, cucumber, guacamole, wasabi aioli, lemon oil, and pickled ginger.
There wasn’t much room inside, but I managed to find a seat,and was able to chow down on my bowl with chopsticks in peace. The aioli wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be (you’d think it would be with wasabi in its name), so I was grateful for my scoop of guacamole in providing some flavor.
Not surprisingly, I was craving more carbs and something sweet after this light lunch, and I knew this would be the perfect time to check out fonuts before really getting some grocery shopping done.
fonuts was in an unassuming location, with solid doors and tinted windows. Upon stepping inside, everything was wooden from the floors to the walls. It was also oddly quiet.
Fortunately, there were a few other people in there to keep it from feeling like a horror movie!
The unique thing about these “fake” donuts is that they are baked, and not fried. So actually, they’re more like cake. Which is cool, because there is nothing wrong with cake!
The flavor that stood out to me the most was the Hawaiian. It was coco-nutty on the inside and out. It was soft and chewy, with a coconut cream filling.
I took it over to the countertop they had set up by the wall, and ate it there. While it may have looked like a donut, it tasted like a creamy sponge cake. To be honest, I’m not sure why donuts get so much hype. I guess it’s because I’m a die-hard ice cream fanatic, so when it comes to baked goods, I’m going to be nothing more than appreciative.
Have you ever had a poke bowl?
After getting my fill of Korean food for lunch on Saturday, I continued my way down Magnolia until I reached The Original Yummy Cupcakes. Actually, I passed by it at first, and realized that I had gone to far after I realized I had passed by a room of screaming six-year-old girls celebrating a birthday. Obviously that meant cupcakes were in the vicinity!
Besides the room reserved for birthday parties and events, there are no seating areas in this bakery. Instead, you walk in, and come face-to-face with shiny, shimmering cupcakes waiting to be devoured.
I wasn’t too overwhelmed by the flavor choices, but I knew just one cupcake would do. But which? Should I go with a chocolate, vanilla, or fruity variety?
While I pondered over this, one customer was able to resist any temptations for a cupcake for himself, and focus solely on ordering cupcakes for a Superbowl party he was hosting the next day. When it was my turn, I chose to purchase a salted caramel chocolate cupcake.
I enjoyed my cupcake on a bench right outside the bakery, and took my time admiring the caramel drizzle and sprinkling of salt.
The cake was moist, and the frosting was the perfect complement. Overall, it was indeed a yummy cupcake. Apparently, I learned that they were in existence even before Sprinkles (2004 vs. 2005)!
As I watched the birthday girl and her party crew happily dance down Magnolia, I told myself I was witnessing the magic power of cupcakes unleashing happiness. While those youngins’ chose to let it all out in sugar-fueled glee, I chose to let that happiness simmer in my soul 🙂
My weekend in Vegas was much needed, and much fun, but I didn’t go for the usual reasons people go. There were food, drinks (if you exclude alcohol and include water), and much revelry, and I was 100% sober throughout it all. 😉
After about a year and a half of fundraising with a local organization in Nor Cal near where I used to live, I was able to raise enough funds to run the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half with Team Challenge, a group that fundraises for Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
In the days leading up to my weekend “off” (every single weekend since visiting my sister in September involved a trip to lab…), I enjoyed some new-to-me snacks that fueled my weekday morning runs.
I managed to stay alert in school and work-related things, just so that nothing would seem amiss 😉
It helped that we had two talks that week, meaning free lunch 😛
On Friday of that weekend though, I was OUT—but not without stopping by lab an hour before I had to catch my MegaBus. #lifeofagradstudent
The ride took about six hours, but with naps and a footlong Subway sandwich, the time passed by relatively quickly. I made it to the RTC (regional transit center) around 5pm, where I met my Dad, whom I haven’t seen since August…
We caught a bus that took us to the least exciting part of Vegas, where we would stay for Friday night since Team Challenge only covers hotel rooms for Saturday and Sunday. Our hotel was not luxurious, but it did have a kitchen?! So we ended up going to the Albertson’s next door and having a humble supper 😛
I was feeling extremely exhausted and went to bed about an hour later.
The next morning, we got ready as soon as possible, and caught a bus that was headed straight to the Strip. We even got off right near the LINQ, where Team Challenge was gathering its members.
We couldn’t check-in until noon, so we left our stuff at the bell hop and then headed over to the convention center for the race expo. It was ~2 mile walk, and more walking was to be done once we got inside…
After getting my bib, confirming my corral change, and receiving my (ugly yellow neon) race-themed shirt, we made our way past the pop-up shop in order to access the sponsor booths and to collect as many freebies as possible!
We spent about an hour and a half at the expo, and soon it was time for lunch!
I wasn’t in the mood to navigate the Strip just yet, and actually, I wanted to visit at least one vegan-themed restaurant during this visit. Fortunately, Vegenation was nearby and close to downtown/Fremont St.
Once again, we hopped on the bus, which dropped us off in front of the downtown casinos (including the Golden Nugget, haha). From there, we walked towards glorious food.
Vegenation reminded me of Native Foods, and I guess it was because of the font.
Their menu had an extensive selection, but I wanted something warm to counteract with the cool Las Vegas chill (at least it was cold…LA needs to take a hint 😉 ).
My Dad and I shared the vegetable potstickers, which were far from stellar, but at least the Out of Africa Stew made up for it.
It was an entire bowl of quinoa topped with spiced veggies from okra to sweet potato.
Dad got a “meatball” parm sandwich which he didn’t like in the end, but it was satisfactory for lunch.
After getting our fill, we made our way to Fremont St. and stopped to watch people flying from the sky.
We also played some slots at one of the casinos, but I soon got fed up with the bright lights/cough-inducing cigarette smoke (and the occasional cigar, ick), so we didn’t stick around too long. Plus, we weren’t too lucky 😛
On our way back to the bus stop, I realized why this area was also known as the Arts District.
By the time we got back to the hotel, we were able to check-in. The first thing I did was use the bathroom (duh), lay out all my freebies, and then take a short nap until the Team Challenge Pasta Party that was being held at 7pm.
Even though I was on my feet all day the day before my race, it was all in good fun. And it didn’t stop, as evidenced by the next morning/early afternoon before the famous night race!
I originally didn’t plan to have much of an exciting Halloween weekend this year. While this year’s festivities didn’t include a Halloween-themed race or an excuse to buy a costume, I at least had the opportunity to meet two fabulous bloggers for a “Halloween Eve” dinner on Friday night.
My FriDAY included the usual things—lab from morning to evening, but leaving an hour before the dinner meet-up so that I would have enough time to get to Los Feliz by bus. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much traffic for a Friday night, and the bus wasn’t too crowded either!
It took me about 10 minutes to walk from the bus stop over to our restaurant destination, and once I arrived, I waited outside.
To be honest, I was a bit nervous about meeting these two ladies, but when I finally met them, I realized I had nothing to be worried about. Britt and Gigi were all smiles, and after a quick set of easy-going intros, we all proceeded inside—straight towards the restrooms, haha.
After freshening up, we gravitated towards the counter so we could order food. Gigi is an expert on all things Spitz, so she knew exactly what to get. Brittany ordered a vegan-friendly plate with one (adorable) falafel on the side, and I decided to chow down on the Street Cart Fries. I think the words “garlic aioli” are what caught my attention on that one 😉 !
We found a table at the back of the restaurant, and quickly got into conversation. Our conversation naturally focused on food, running, blogging, and anticipation about B’s and G’s trip to Disneyland the next day, so there was no room for awkward silences 😛
The only exception would be was when our food arrived. We were all so hungry, so it was understandable. Plus, food >>> spoken words, it’s a well-known fact.
I ended up getting the happy hour portion, which was supposedly smaller than the regular portion. The cashier recommended that it would be enough food, and even though I found that to be true, I felt like I could have cleaned out the regular-sized basket. The fries were that good…probably because of the aioli and feta. I was also blown away by the roasted chickpeas Gigi ordered and kindly shared with the table.
Our meet-up was only ~ 1hr long, and my only regret was not being able to spend more time with these lovely ladies! After being dropped off at the closest Metro, we exchanged hugs and wished each other well. Hopefully there will be more chances in the future to get to know these two more 🙂 !
My first-ever bloggers meet-up was a success, and hopefully it won’t be my last 😀 !
Who wouldn’t want a bowl containing all of the above 😉 ?
I knew that after “dining” on some sub-par salad, dessert had to be beyond exceptional.
Good thing icdc was only a half an hour walk away.
Apparently this colorful little hole-in-the-wall has been around for quite a while. I recently learned of its existence while surfing through Instagram one day, and bookmarked it for later travels.
But the time had come for me to feast on my first ever donut sundae. Trust me, icdc made it a good one.
I first picked my donut, then ice cream, which was all topped with whipped cream and my choice of caramel or fudge sauce. I picked caramel to “lighten” things up.
The employee behind the counter took her time making the masterpiece, carefully scooping a generously-sized portion of mint chip ice cream and balancing it at the center of a vanilla donut with rainbow sprinkles. She then moved towards the cash wrap area, where she topped everything off with whipped cream and a giant swirl of caramel.
Indeed, it was a beauty.
There was no seating inside, so I carefully carried my sundae outside and enjoyed it while people-watching/grateful for the fact I wasn’t one of the poor drivers stuck in traffic.
I ate the whipped cream first, and then was met with a pleasant surprise by the flavor of the ice cream. It didn’t taste like that sweet, artificial mint stuff you usually find—it had the flavor of mint leaf infused in it or something, because it tasted refreshing and truly minty!
When I finally got to the donut, the outside of it had taken in all of the ice cream meltiness, but it was resistant to the cutting of my knife. After peeling away at it, I found the donut to be quite tasty, and definitely falling under the cake donut category versus the light/fluffy kind I usually come across.
After almost two weeks of hyperactivity and hyperstress, I’m glad to be typing this after my midterm day has passed 🙂
But to keep my sanity during the week prior to exam day, I had Muscle Pharm’s Combat Crunch Birthday Cake bars to keep me pushing through:
Dare I say it tasted better than a Quest bar? Haha…it also took me a while to eat these, since they have a super chewy consistency. I love how the rainbow crunchies looks like pieces mixed in funfetti icing :9
By the time the weekend rolled around, I had to remain in study mode, but that didn’t stop me from going out for lunch and dessert! If it meant walking down Larchmont with a folder full of notes and powerpoint slides in hand, so be it.
I had to wait around twenty minutes for a table, because the Saturday lunch crowd was already settled in. When I did get inside though, I was able to order at the counter right away, and then was free to find a table.
I ended up sitting outside on the patio anyways, since the cozy tables inside were all taken up :/
There was some shade, but it would have been nice if there was a fan in the vicinity as well. The air was quite still, warm, and ended up being the perfect condition for unwelcome flies. Eww…
I had ordered the Vegan Cobb Salad, which was described as containing smokey-maple “bacon” tempeh, vegan mock chicken, avocado, shopped tomatoes, vegan mozzarella, and creamy vegan caesar dressing. When it came to my table, I was more than disappointed with the mediocre portion size.
The vegan cheese was bland, and the mock meats/tempeh/bread roll were super dry.
The dressing was the “best” part, adding a little bit of flavor to an otherwise boring, I-could-have-made-this-at-home dish.
I guess no one comes to Larchmont Bungalow for their salads…when they offer red and blue velvet pancakes and full-size handholds, I can understand why.
Good thing I was able to make up for this sub-par lunch with a refreshing walk down Beverly Blvd…all the way down to my first donut sundae…
Last weekend was a CRAZY one in lab. Both Saturday and Sunday were packed, and by the time I got home, I could literally feel the bones of my heels. Needless to say, any and all carbs were necessary.
I made it a priority to head out as soon as I finished up in lab Saturday morning—straight to Beverly Hills. Actually, I traveled to the same area I visited a couple months back for the new Panera Bread opening. I was back yet again for another sandwich & salad kind of place, except Beverliz Cafe offered even more dishes for a late lunch.
Despite it being scorching hot outside, it was at least bright and beautiful. I chose a seat near the window to enjoy the beauty outdoors, while still keeping cool inside. Funny thing was, the A/C wasn’t working, and a small fan was supposed to “cool off” the entire cafe. Go figure.
There was a wide array of dishes to choose from the menu, but my eyes gravitated toward the Kabob Plate, which came with a thin, large piece of wheat lavash, brown rice, hummus, charbroiled vegetables, and greek salad.
Everything was served on a long, oval plate—packed with rice and salad on the sides, and an abundance of charboiled vegetables. There was hummus underneath all of this too, not to worry 😉
I found the rice to be extremely filling, but perhaps that was due to the volume of vegetables I engulfed prior to attacking the rice. The burnt-to-a-crisp onion was my favorite part, even though it was probably chock full of free radicals 😛
Because the air conditioner wasn’t working, I started to feel warm and uncomfortable as I made my way through this dish. By the time I finished, I felt like I had been soaking in a sauna, and knew that it was time to head out for some place cooler in temperature and sweeter in taste. Next stop—gelato!
Have you ever dined in a restaurant that served good food, but had maintenance issues?