Running Break

Running Break

Last weekend, I was feeling a little anxious and glum about having to hold off on running for a week or two due to shin splints. I was trying to figure out what I could do for cross-training, and also realized that some strength training would have to be squeezed in too, even though I haven’t done any focused weight training in months

I contemplated all of this over lunch this past Saturday at Grilliant. I had to stop in lab earlier that day, and by the time I was done, I didn’t feel like venturing out too far just for lunch. #DecemberFeels

Grilliant, Culver City
Grilliant, Culver City

I had been wanting to check out Grilliant for a while now though. I mean, it boasted Mediterranean cuisine as the theme of its menu, so how could I resist?

Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza
Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza

I wound up getting a portabello (veggie) flatbread wrap with some eggplant mirza on the side (it was the closest thing to babaganoush, so that’s why I went for it). An unexpected serving of tzatziki and a sweet & lemony tomato sauce side came along with it. 

Up close!
Up close!

I thought the portabello pieces were slightly overcooked, but everything together made for a well-balanced and nourishing meal. 

I also stopped at Sprouts before heading home, and picked up a seasonal almond butter flavor that was much cheaper than the chocolate peanut butter I usually get, haha!

Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter
Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter

It definitely had a spicy kick to it, but the oil-to-almond butter ratio was pretty proportionate. It was only when I got to the bottom 0.5 inch of the jar did it start to get grainy.

On Tuesday, I woke up early enough to set aside ~2 hours to go on a 6 mile walk for active recovery. Since I’m always complaining about how Abbot Kinney is so hard to get to via public transit, I designed my walking route to include a stop at Blue Bottle Coffee at my turn-around point.

Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle Coffee

Upon entering, I could definitely sense the pretentious coffee shop vibe. The baristas were nice and helped me to pick out what they thought was a good hot coffee blend, but I felt slightly out of place even though I was wearing my stretchy Nike running capris like most athletic wear, clothing-wearing Los Angelenos, haha.

Walking back.
Walking back.

I got the “Three Africas” coffee as per their recommendation, which was described as a blend of “the radiant fruit of two coffees from Ethiopia, one washed and one natural, with the balance and authority of a washed coffee from Uganda“. I wasn’t a fan though…even after adding some cream and brown sugar, the lemon zest was slightly off-putting.

At least I had a crispy, double chocolate cookie with a hint of ginger as a back-up treat?

Yum, breakfast cookie!
Yum, breakfast cookie!

The walk was earlier in the week, so I still felt some soreness in my shins. I do think they are getting better though, at least I hope so. Since then, I’ve been cross-training with the eliptical and doing some light weight training for muscle groups I often neglect when plain running. I never thought I’d find the monotony of a still gym a refreshing break from running, and despite feeling DOMS in every muscle group except my calves right now, I found that being in the gym may be what just I needed for my mental sanity too!

Do you find it difficult to cross-train for a sport/exercise activity you predominantly do?

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

Spring is Here?

Spring is Here?

I don’t think I ever got the memo that Spring was coming fast this year. I literally woke up on Saturday morning wondering how on earth it was so bright at 6am all of a sudden??

I cam across this sticker on Friday, and while it was a truthful statement, I couldn't help but add that "we can get over them" when I snapchatted it to my sister and friends.
I cam across this sticker on Friday, and while it was a truthful statement, I couldn’t help but add that “we can get over them” when I snapchatted it to my sister and friends.

After getting my blood flowing with a morning run, I proceeded to make the most of my Saturday by showering, putting on a summer-worthy outfit (shorts + a breezy knit tee!), and heading out the door well before 9am. I had to make a stop in lab before heading out for the afternoon.

I had a desire to venture out into DTLA for once, since it’s been a while I had it as a set lunch destination. I ended up taking the train/subway to Pershing Square, a little east of 7th St/Metro, closer to old downtown.


A lot of the places I’ve bookmarked in my foodie bucket list were actually lined up along Main St….as if they all knew I’d arrive one day ready to embark on a culinary tour through downtown! My focus that day, however, was set on having lunch at Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.

Spread Mediterranean Kitchen

There was barely anyone inside when I arrived, and I was shocked. Inside, it was cool, calming, and the decor just brought about a very chill vibe.

Inside Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.

The menu is very simple, and build-your-own style entrees take center-stage. The base can be a flatbread wrap, rice salad greens, or hummus with flatbread. I picked hummus with flatbread.

Pickled things

To top your base, there is everything from falafel to meatballs to chicken to braise to mushrooms. I picked the roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac.

Roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac on top of hummus.

Finally, all of this is prepared in a certain style. There’s more of the hummus route, cooling tzatziki, cheesy za’atar, or spicy harissa yogurt. I went with the ‘cheesey & spicy’ style that contained feta lebneh & jalapeno spread, spicy slaw, pickled red onion, and harissa spiked yogurt.

This whole combination ended up with a plate like below:

Everything mixed together.

And of course, my flatbread came seasoned and freshly-folded in a printed paper sheet.

Flatbread, yay!

The mushrooms were roasted in a dark, orange-colored oil that carried so much flavor. This mixed well with the hummus, refreshing dollop of lebneh, and crunchy slaw. The flatbread was just an accessory—if I still had half a plate of hummus left after eating all of the flatbread, I would have had no issue at all!

I had wiped the bowl clean in no time at all, and I would have spent more time mourning over how quickly I feasted on this scrumptious meal, but the gorgeous spring weather outside was beckoning me. I found myself again on Main St., with an interest in keeping this “foodie tour” going. My next stop was going to fulfill a “sudden” cupcake craving I had developed…

Were you expecting spring to come so soon this year?

Spread Mediterranean Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



After running a 10k race in Hollywood on Saturday morning, I figured I would head a little up north to NoHo to get voting out of the way. 

Waiting for what I eventually realize will be SIX HOURS.
Waiting for what I eventually realize will be SIX HOURS.
You’d think that for a place like LA, the second most-populated city/county in the US just after New York, there would be multiple opportunities to vote before Election Day to accommodate the schedules of so many. Well…not exactly. There’s one location (in Norwalk) that was pretty much open everyday, but that didn’t do much for people who live/work in the city.  The weekend of the 29th-30th and November 5th-6th were proclaimed early voting weekends, but only four locations were open on both weekend dates: polling places in NoHo, West LA, West Covina, and Lancaster. 
I arrived at the Amelia Earhart Library around 9am, but after I saw the line that wrapped multiple times around the library AND giant park next door, I was not to enthusiastic about my prospects to be in and out in an hour… You’d think that there would have been plenty of rooms set up with booths, knowing that crowds of people would show up, but nope. Planning ahead is too much work so it seems :/
I was literally in line for SIX HOURS, from 9am to 3pm. There were no free refreshments, and there were only a few rows of foldable chairs near the entrance of the library. At one point I honestly thought about giving up and just making out to my local polling place on Election Day, but then I figured I already spent enough time waiting and might as well get it all done! 
After filling out a form and waiting inside a community room in the library, in seats arranged as if we were at the DMV, all of us that finally made it into the room now just had to wait for our number to be called to get our ballots. My number was called about a half an hour after arriving into that room, and I couldn’t have been more relieved! I had read about the propositions beforehand, so I was done with voting within 10 minutes. As soon as I left, I was on the hunt for food! 
Rodini Park, North Hollywood
Fortunately, Rodini Park was a few blocks away from the library so I could count on getting a good meal in me to refuel from all that stress. The set-up was like a Chipotle for Greek food, and you could make a bowl, sandwich, or wrap with added proteins and veggies. 
Chipotle for Greek food!
Chipotle for Greek food!
I chose to get a bowl (of course) and had fries (yes fries!) as my base instead of rice. On top of that I had all the veggies, alongside half a slice of white pita bread cut into four triangles. I skipped out on the falafel since the fries would be filling enough , and had babaganoush topped on everything. 
Is it bad that I wanted to climb over the plexi glass and stuff that pita bread in my mouth in 5 seconds flat?! #PostVotingFeelz
Is it bad that I wanted to climb over the plexi glass and stuff that pita bread in my mouth in 5 seconds flat?! #PostVotingFeelz
I literally scarfed down everything so fast that one of the fries poked my gums! Haha. The fries had a special seasoning on them, and I even had some extra crispy gems thrown in. The babaganoush was ok, nothing spectacular, but having it serve as a substitute for ketchup was hardly a poor choice. 
Literally wanted to plant my face in this bowl!
It took me about an hour and a half to get home, and despite feeling frustrated that my day was wasted waiting in a serpentine line, voting for a candidate who faced a depressing loss, it felt good to exercise my civic rights. 
Fries and feta and all sorts of goodness
The next day, I was running 10 miles with my marathon team as our weekly long run, so I was understandably exhausted when I got home Sunday afternoon. A nap was absolutely necessary, and I spent the rest of the day napping/unwinding from my overactive Saturday (and week for that matter) along with diving into a jar of YouFresh Naturals Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Muscle Frosting. I wasn’t too fond of it after the first couple spoonfuls. The ghee had solidified at the top (hence the dark, pale chocolate-looking layer at the surface), and the rest of the “frosting” tasted like grainy cashew butter. It wasn’t reminicent of frosting at all, so I doubt I will buy this again in the future. 
YouFresh Naturals Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Muscle Frosting
Going back to the voting/politics portion of this post, I honestly am not sure how the world is going to be after Tuesday night’s debacle. I do sincerely hope that it makes us all more active, aware, and attentive individuals when it comes to protecting our natural born rights from anyone threatening to take them away from us. We may have to face a larger obstacle now to eventually get to a world worth living in, but I think these recent events will make us stronger to do that…if they have not done so already…
Are you involved in politics beyond Election Day?

What kind of cuisine would you like a restaurant to “Chipotle-fy”?

Rodini Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Night Out with the Fam

Night Out with the Fam

Over the summer, my family made the move back to Oklahoma, leaving our Nor Cal abode behind. Even though Nor Cal was where I did most of my growing up—elementary through undergrad—my baby/early childhood all took place in the middle of the country…the humble heartland.

It was so nice being able to spend a week full of laughter, company, and of course great food, with my family and our close friends. Yeah, I felt like I had to leave too soon (#responsiblegradstudent), and even though I wasn’t able to spend NYE with them, I’m grateful I was able to spend the most important part of the holiday season with them.

I arrived on Monday evening, and after getting picked up at the airport by my Dad, I was introduced to our new home and had a home-cooked curry stir-fry for dinner. I caught up with my sister since last seeing her during our Thanksgiving break.

On Tuesday, I went for a 6 mile run, and ran some errands with my Dad. For dinner, we ate out as a family at something we all were able to agree upon—Mediterranean food!

Leena’s Mediterranean Grill 🙂

The layout was similar to a place my sister and I ate at back in September.


At the counter, there is a large menu on the wall, and everything starts out with a variety of hummus. 

Starts out with the hummus bar.

When you order the veggie plate, you can pile on the plate with anything offered down the line. Start with hummus/babaganoush, add some of the salads, and then rice/grains or pita bread. By the time I reached the cash register, my plate was packed with babaganoush, spicy harissa hummus, fattoush salad, cabbage slaw, tabouli, italian squash, and roasted veggies…with falafel + tahini and pita on the side. 

One note about the pita though…they forgot to give it to us, and by the time we reminded them the second time, we were practically finished with our plates…meaning, what was there to dip the pita in? And the falafel was less than stellar. Even though it has a nice crisp texture, the inside was chewy, dry, and NOT green. When a falafel isn’t green on the inside, I doubt it’s gonna be a good one 😛 !

Veggie plate with falafel and pita bread.

But I suppose the plate itself was good enough!

Veggie plate goodness!

After dinner, we drove by the Rhema Christmas Lights: a grand display of holiday lights that people from all over Oklahoma make the trip to see. We were too lazy to get out of the car, but we enjoyed what we were able to see from the car. 

Rhema Christmas Lights

When we finally got home, I introduced my sister to the beauty that is edible cookie dough, and we tore into the cookies and cream flavor that I found at a local grocery store while running errands earlier in the day.

Coming home to cookie dough!

The cookies were perfectly swirled into the cookie dough, and meshed with the dough quite well. This made up for the overwhelming, chunky chocolate chip flavor I had a few days earlier, and hopefully the other flavors left to try will be just as good 😉 . But when I think about it, this flavor may have tasted 10x as good only because I was sharing it with family, haha.

Leena's Mediterranean Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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