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? 🍬 🍭 ☺️

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 πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ͺ πŸ€”…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 πŸ¬πŸ˜‚??”

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 πŸ πŸŒΆπŸ˜‹”

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?

Chilly Pepperminty

Chilly Pepperminty

It’s almost November, and it’s still hot here in Los Angeles. How is this possible? Was it really this hot last year around this time? I guess I’ve been too busy to notice lately!

I did have some time (surprisingly) last Friday to stop by the grocery store before heading home and spending a good night in. The week wasn’t as exhausting compared to the two weeks prior, but I always welcome a good break, no matter how small!

My Friday night in obviously also meant time to try a new ice cream—and Talenti Peppermint Bark fit the bill.

 Talenti Peppermint Bark
Talenti Peppermint Bark

Unfortunately, it seems like Talenti tends to melt pretty quickly compared to B&J’s. It took me about 40 minutes to walk home from the grocery store, and even after putting the gelato away in the freezer for less than a half hour, still turned out to be more like a peppermint-y milkshake pint. Which isn’t bad if you think about it, but when you plan an ice cream night, you expect ice cream πŸ˜›

I woke up on Saturday feeling refreshed at 7AM. I was in and out of lab before 1pm, and decided to head out to Westwood to get myself some shave ice to cool off from such a hot October day.

 Front of Chilly Ribbons.
Front of Chilly Ribbons.

Chilly Ribbons was my destination, and to my surprise, it was pretty empty for a late summer-esque afternoon.

 Pick your size, pick your toppings.
Pick your size, pick your toppings.

The guy behind the counter was very helpful, and explained that you pick your shave ice flavors and size, go to the topping bar for toppings, and then come back for the weigh-in and to pay for the frozen treat.

 What is shaved snow? Possibly the best thing to have on a too-hot day!
What is shaved snow? Possibly the best thing to have on a too-hot day!

I ended up going with a 7oz. medium cup with green tea and cake batter flavors. For my toppings, I added in strawberries, rainbow sprinkles for fun, cookie dough pieces, a random piece of grass jelly (that black thing), strawberry poppers, and mochi.

 Everything all mixed in and so good!!!
Everything all mixed in and so good!!!

I ate this inside, and tried to compare it to my shave ice experiences from long ago. Haha, neither were too long ago, but it was nice to once again get a hold of some shave ice!

 So much goodness packed in seven ounces!
So much goodness packed in seven ounces!

After cooling off, I attempted to go shopping but did not find anything worthy of bringing home to closet, haha. I left soon after since I had dinner and concert plans with a friend later that evening, and I wanted to have plenty of time to freshen up for that!

Chilly Ribbons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stax of Sweetness

Stax of Sweetness

I knew that a fun-filled week of free food, beaches, and vegan favorites would eventually come to an end, but at least it ended on a sweet note.

Our trip to Tustin eventually became a trip to Irvine. The day was still gorgeous, bright, and sunny when we pulled up to the parking lot at University Town Center, right across from the UC Irvine campus.

 University Town Center!
University Town Center!

The little shopping and dining area very much gave off a college town vibe, and it reminded me of my undergrad days…

 Beautiful arches...one of which decorates my dessert destination!
Beautiful arches…one of which decorates my dessert destination!

My purpose for the visit that afternoon was to get my cookie-and-ice-cream fix at Stax Cookie Bar, a custom ice cream sandwich shop that also serves up other sweet specialties. I was fortunate to try some of those as well πŸ˜‰

 Welcome to Stax Cookie Bar!
Welcome to Stax Cookie Bar!

I first met Marina, who had reached out to me about coming in for a tasting. She greeted me with a smile and an overview of all their goods—cookies, ice cream, shave ice galore!

cookies!!!!
Stuffed cookies (smookies!) and a wide variety of other cookies!

I was then greeted by another staff member who encouraged me to try whatever I wanted and to make sure I left feeling “full”. How could I argue against that πŸ˜€ ?

 Fun wallpaper to stare at while munching on cookies & ice cream.
Fun wallpaper to stare at while munching on cookies & ice cream.

I first learned about the Smookie, which is really a warm, shapened piece of cookie dough that can be topped with any flavor ice cream and fudge, caramel, or whipped cream.

 So many ice cream flavors...which to choose??
So many ice cream flavors…which to choose??

I chose to have the Nutella-stuffed Smookie as my base, topped with a scoop of green tea ice cream and whipped cream. Best decision ever.

 The perfect Smookie.
The perfect Smookie.

The Nutella filling was obviously the best part πŸ˜‰ ! It was also at the right temperature, coming out of the oven after just 3 minutes of warming up.

 The undeniably good filling with melted green tea ice cream (:
The undeniably good filling with melted green tea ice cream (:

For my other ice cream-related dessert, I was able to customize a ice cream cookie sandwich so that I had birthday cake ice cream (how convenient πŸ˜‰ ) in between a mocha and snickerdoodle cookie. I had all flavor and color profiles represented here!

 The masterpiece.
The masterpiece.

My Dad liked the birthday ice cream the best, and I could certainly see why. The ice cream was perfectly creamy, and the added swirls of color tasted just like icing. It wasn’t just for show.

 Who needs birthday cake when you can have it in ice cream form...and sandwiched in between two cookies?!
Who needs birthday cake when you can have it in ice cream form…and sandwiched in between two cookies?!

To add to all the sweet excitment, we were given another dessert to try—a generous portion of green tea shave ice! Topped with syrup and freshly cut fruit.

 The presentation itself was beautiful!
The presentation itself was beautiful!

It tended to melt pretty quickly, so being the resourceful person that I am (haha), I used to top off the leftover cookie pieces from my ice cream sandwich. We weren’t able to completely finish it, but if our stomachs had been large enough, there’s no question we would have annihilated the cup and then some πŸ˜› .

I asked Marina about their vegan options, and she pointed to two of their specially-vegan flavors. I was urged to take one for the road, so I chose to try their vegan (and gluten-free!) coconut chocolate chip cookie. I was also gifted with a beautiful stack of cookies!

 My stack of Stax cookies // one of the two vegan cookies offered
My stack of Stax cookies // one of the two vegan cookies offered

The vegan coconut chocolate chip cookie was more fragile compared to the regular cookies, but its flavors were just as great, if not better than a standard cookie. It tasted just like a sweet oatmeal bar with gooey chocolate mixed in and rich coconut oil gleaming on the surface.

Stax has plans to open more locations in the future, and I surely hope they do, since I can’t have this be my only visit πŸ˜‰ . Ice cream sandwich and cookie bars may have started out as a trendy thing, but based on my experience, Stax has taken it to the next level!

Click to add a blog post for Stax Cookie Bar on Zomato

February Foodie Finds

February Foodie Finds

This past month was quite a busy one for me—growing long runs each weekend, work starting to pick up in school/lab, taking a trip home to see family, and trying some new, random food products! Because of the random nature of the photos I collected, it only made sense to feature these products in a single post as my β€œfoodie finds” for the month. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Saturday Night Dinners

Saturday night dinners this month have been on the simple-side, only because my Saturday evenings in general have been all about resting up for Sunday morning lonnnnnng runs. Simple means popping in a microwave steam-able bag of veggies, pairing it with a new-to-me carb-o-licious side, and rounding off the meal with dessert before heading to bed at a time no later than 10pm.

I did have a pretty busy Saturday the first week of the month though, and because of the duration of the event I was volunteering at, I came home right at dinner time. Fortunately, I was able to do my grocery shopping the Friday before since class was cancelled, and “planned” what I wanted to have ready for my simple dinner.

I found this at Sprouts during that Friday afternoon grocery trip, and resolved to try something new as part of my Saturday night dinner—Garden Lites Kale and Quinoa Souffle!

SAMSUNG
A delicious souffle of hearty Kale blended with Quinoa, whipped egg whites, and select spices.

I looked forward to the prospect of trying a product from the Garden Lites brand for the very first time. The souffle was fit snug in a recyclable plastic tray, and I popped it in the microwave with the plastic seal still on (as per box instructions) for about 3 1/2 minutes. After that, I heated it for another minute, and then flipped over the tray so that the souffle sat perfectly atop some steamed veggies.

gardenlite_kalequinoa_souffle_egg

The souffle texture was quite soft, and fell apart easily. I also feel like it may have needed to be heated for a longer time since it wasn’t cold, but not exactly hot ‘n’ fresh either. The surface that was facing the microwave (but now face down on the pile of veggies!) had a crispier taste to it since it had more exposure to the heat, I suppose. To be honest, this souffle actually reminded me of some Dr. Praeger burgers I had a while ago—they even look like them close-up!

The following Saturdays kept with the same food theme, but during these weekends, I used the opportunity to try some new-to-me burritos.

I’ve had plenty of Amy’s Kitchen items in the past, but this was the first time I tried one of the ‘Light in Sodium’ products…specifically the Cheddar Cheese Burrito!

Amy's Kitchen Cheddar Cheese Burrito (Light in Sodium)

I microwaved each side for ~45 seconds, and the tortilla ended up being pretty flimsy after the microwaving (which is not surprising). I planned on unwrapping it anyway so I could mix the bean + cheese filling with bites of my steamed veggies.

The other ‘burrito of the month’ was this one that I picked up on a trip to Sprouts:

Sweet Earth - The Curry Tiger Burrito

It was my first time trying a Sweet Earth product, and was intrigued by the eco-friendly, brown sandwich paper wrap packaging. It easily warmed up after 1 minute in the microwave on each side, and the spicy filling mixed well with my side veggies. If this flavor is a true representative of their other products, I think I’ll be eating my way through some of their other flavors in the future πŸ˜‰

Fun Finds

I picked up this South Beach Diet box-o-bars only because I had a freebie coupon for it from Ralph’s for their Friday Freebies promotion (I also redeemed a free Chobani yogurt on the same shopping trip πŸ™‚ !). Out of their South Beach Diet bar selection in the particular Ralph’s I visited for my grocery shopping that week, I was intrigued by this flavor:

southbeachdiet_proteinfit_darkchocolatecoconut_barzzz

I had it as fuel before my 18 miler (the toughest long run of my marathon training plan…), and they proved to sustain me through that ordeal, even though I didn’t “properly” fuel during the run. Texture/flavor-wise, I love how I could taste the chocolate coating AND pieces of coconut mixed into the “crunchies” part of the bar. I would say that these bars were definitely one of Ralph’s best Friday Freebies πŸ˜‰

Keeping with the theme of chocolate and protein, I was able to reach my protein requirements for each day this month with a little help from this canister:

naturade_peaprotein_chocolate

My Dad found this Naturade brand of protein powder at Grocery Outlet for about $8, and was thoughtful enough to bring it down for me when he was in the city back in January. I saved it for after I annihilated my jar of PlantFusion powder, and I actually found myself to prefer this protein powder over the prior.

I found it easy to mix into yogurts and milk…which is pretty much what I used it for πŸ˜› . Each serving is about 140 calories, 3 rams of fat, and 20 grams of protein. A serving a day, plus 2 Quest bars, certainly helped with getting in my protein this month πŸ˜‰

Another (cheap) protein find from Grocery Outlet was this Nature Valley Protein Oatmeal. Since they were 2/$1, my Dad surprised me with two cups of the mixed berry crunch flavor for those days when my protein goals were just out of reach.

naturevalley_proteinoatmeal_mixedberrycrunch

It was actually quite easy to prep. Each cup comes with a pack of granola that is separated from the oatmeal within the cup. You fill the oatmeal with milk or water, microwave for about 45 seconds (or you can steep it), top with granola, and then enjoy! For some added fats, I included a dollop of almond butter when I tried it for the first time.

I love the fact that there were actual, plump dried cranberries in the oatmeal, and since I don’t like my oatmeal with too much liquid, I was able to enjoy the mix of oats and granola without having the risk of getting a β€œsoggy spoonful”. Annnnd, the almond butter…how can you go wrong with oats and almond butter πŸ˜‰ ?

My final ‘fun find’ of the month was hard to resist opening as soon as I bought it! I like to have one open jar of a nut butter/spread at a time, so when I bought this Trader Joe’s brand Cookies & Creme cookie butter, I made sure to have at least a spoonful of peanut butter every day from the jar that I was currently making my way through at the time, just so I could open this gem:

TJC&C-traderjoes_cookies&creamecookiebutter

When the time had come, I rejoiced! Haha…by rejoice, I mean slathering it on Quest bars, using it as a spread and making sweet paleo bread sandwiches, adding it to yogurts, brownies…and of course, eating straight out of the jar.

ways_to__Eat

Trader Joe, you did good here πŸ˜‰

Cause I’m a Yogurt Collector…

…I definitely did not miss the opportunity to try some new yogurts this month!

A while back, I bought some Voskos yogurts since there was a promotion going on at Ralph’s. When I opened one of the cups I had bought however, I noticed a mold spore…and the cup still had two more weeks till it’s ‘best by’ date!

After sending an email to the Voskos folks, they kindly apologized, and sent me some VIP coupons to make up for it. So as a result, I ended up being able to try some new-to-me flavors for free! And the one flavor I absolutely fell in love with was this one:

voskos_coconutcream

This Fruit on the Bottom Coconut Cream yogurt rocked my world! I used it to fuel up before my 16 miler, but I had tried it once beforehand with one of the coupons I received. It literally has dessicated coconut medium on the bottom (the jelly-looking substance, haha) and the 6 oz. cup is packed with 15 grams of protein! I guess I owe a thank you to that mold spore πŸ˜› ?

When I went back to visit my family during President’s Day Weekend, I didn’t leave without stopping by Grocery Outlet. I was able to pick up three new Chobani products—Chobani Oats Apricot Ancient Grains, and two new limited batch flavors (Grape and Green Tea)!

chobani__grape

Out of the three, I would say the Grape flavor matched up most with its name. It had a somewhat sour/tangy taste, but at least it reflected it’s title. I can’t say that about the Green Tea flavor. To me, to tasted mostly like pain vanilla yogurt. After looking at the ingredients, I can see why since the only green tea in this cup was captured through its “essence”, haha.

chobanigreenteablended_with_proteinp

Because there was no noteworthy flavor to try and taste, I decided to mix the Green Tea flavor with some of my Naturade Chocolate Pea Protein powder.

The Apricot Chobani Oats didn’t blow me away either. Apparently the ingredients list chia seeds as being in a cup, but I couldn’t detect them when mix with the grains. At least I could see some apricot chunks?

chobanioats__apricooot

What were some of your February Foodie Finds?

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