Finally!

Finally!

I had no trouble getting back into my routine after returning from Las Vegas, but one piece of news threw me for a loop.

Freebies from the IDEA/BlogFest Expo! An RX Bar in Chocolate Chip flavor! Too much nuts IMO, but not too shabby of a flavor.
Freebies from the IDEA/BlogFest Expo! An RX Bar in Chocolate Chip flavor! Too much nuts IMO, but not too shabby of a flavor.

One of my undergraduate assistants informed me that the week would be his last, even though he originally had plans to stay and help me out for a longer period of time.

A new-to-me Trader Joe's find I picked up that week---
A new-to-me Trader Joe’s find I picked up that week—Greek Whole Milk Yogurt (Avocado Citrus) mixed with peanut powder. It fueled me through a 12hr day x-x

Even though his change of plans was a disappointment, he still came in over the weekend, and so at least I had one solid weekend free from the constraints of lab. I definitely took advantage of this.

Another cool freebie! La Colombe Coconut and Vanilla coffee...the coconut flavor was pleasantly surprising in taste, like a splash of coconut water was added to some iced cream coffee!!
Another cool freebie! La Colombe Coconut and Vanilla coffee…the coconut flavor was pleasantly surprising in taste, like a splash of coconut water was added to some iced cream coffee!!
 
I was able to take the car out to Encino, and from Santa Monica it was an (almost) easy drive up the 405. I was also able to avoid paying for street parking by finding a neighborhood to park at and from there walk over. 
 
Veggie Grill, Encino
Veggie Grill, Encino
 
Veggie Grill was my destination since they sent me a $5 off birthday coupon that I couldn’t resist… 
 
Mondo Nachos, Veggie Grill (Encino)
Mondo Nachos, Veggie Grill (Encino)
 
…and the dish I couldn’t avoid ordering, despite having it before AND the fact that their summer menu had a mouth-watering array of options. A plate of Mondo Nachos sounded just perfect at the time. 
 
Compared to the plate I had at the WeHo location more than a year ago, I felt like it lacked a lot of guac and soy crumbles (they replaced it with grilled chik’n this time around). This was more of an observation than a complaint, however. I also brought my laptop and did some work at the restaurant for a few hours after eating. I guess it’s more “normal” to set up shop like that at a Starbucks or a cafe,but Veggie Grill had a jammin’ playlist so I wasn’t too pressured to get up and leave! 
 
I headed out a little after 1 and my next stop was in Grocery Outlet in Burbank. I inevitably had to face traffic, and it took me almost thirty minutes to get from Encino to Burbank. 
 
Burbank Grocery Outlet
Burbank Grocery Outlet
 
When I did arrive however, I was ecstatic to finally be stepping into one of GO’s newer So Cal locations. Ah, it had been too long! 
 
I made out with a week’s worth of food with plenty of change to spare, so it only made sense to drive by Glendale and finally get me some Yoga-Urt! They had been on my radar for quite some time now, and I’ve actually been following them on Instagram since their opening two years ago in 2015! Getting there by public transit always posed a challenge, but with a car handy it’s really not that impossible to get to. 
 
__yoga-urt__
 
The shop is very small, with a few patio chairs and tables in the front. There’s also a huge blackboard wall near the entrance, the contents of which are frequently changing. 
 
 ♥

They offered a lot on their menu, but their flavors of soft serve were limited for the day.

 ♥

A turmeric/gold rose flavor sounded unique, and was listed as one of their offered flavors, but unfortunately not on the day I visited.

♥

A small cup of froyo with one topping proved to be pricey (~$6!), but since it was vegan-friendly and a hand-crafted kind of place, I thought it was a worthy treat to splurge on. I ended up going for the Peanut Butter Prana topped with dried mulberries.

PBP & Dried Mulberries
PBP & Dried Mulberries

I enjoyed my cup outside, and marveled at how thick the soft serve was. It was like those So Delicious ice creams I rave about, except smoother and creamier. The mulberries added some varied crunch, but to be honest they weren’t a vital component.

 ♥

After spending the day driving and eating through North LA, I made the drive back home, and spent the remainder of the evening napping and catching up on some work. I was squeezing every minute out of this “free” weekend, because who know when my next one will be!

A new Nuts 'n More flavor for me to try. I picked it up from the Vitamin Shoppe near the Veggie Grill in Encino. Definitely found it more blanaced in the oil-to-butter ratio. The vanilla flavor was mixed throughout, and it didn't have those crystalized sugar pieces at the bottom like I observed with Cookie Butter.
A new Nuts ‘n More flavor for me to try. I picked it up from the Vitamin Shoppe near the Veggie Grill in Encino. Definitely found it more balanced in the oil-to-butter ratio. The white chocolate flavor was mixed throughout, and it didn’t have those crystallized sugar pieces at the bottom like I observed with Cookie Butter.
 
 Is there something you finally got done recently?

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milky Buns

Milky Buns

We left San Diego in the early afternoon on Sunday, but when I learned Grocery Outlet did indeed have several So Cal locations (they just happened to only be in the San Diego area…) we couldn’t leave without stopping by the Oceanside location.

 Only I would take a picture of Grocery Outlet in admiration ;)
Only I would take a picture of Grocery Outlet in admiration 😉

It was certainly a worthy pit stop since I made it out with produce, eight yogurts, and low carb bread (what??) for less than $14. 

After picking up groceries, we were off towards our next destination. About an hour later (after figuring out what weird directions the GPS was navigating us through), we made it to a strip mall parking lot in Fountain Valley, where Afters Ice Cream was located. 

 Yeah...who would be able to see a small sign saying "ice cream" from so far away? This cost us two loops on the freeway, and wasted minutes circling the parking lot.
Yeah…who would be able to see a small sign saying “ice cream” from so far away? This cost us two loops on the freeway, and wasted minutes circling the parking lot.

As we got close to the storefront, we noticed there was a line out the door…even though it was almost dinnertime on a Sunday evening.

 At least we knew what the top flavors were before entering inside.
At least we knew what the top flavors were before entering inside.

We also got to check our eye health…you know, just in case we couldn’t believe we were about to dive into ice cream sandwich decadence…

 Eat more ice cream...eat less homework??
Eat more ice cream…eat less homework??

All of these people ahead of us were hungry for some ice cream too!!

 Such a long line.
Such a long line.

Despite the length line and large crowds, we were served our ice cream sandwiches pretty quickly. This shop’s specialty is the milky bun ice cream sandwich, which is basically a scoop of ice cream (with toppings!) sandwiched in between a sliced donut-like bun.

 Buns ready to go!!
Buns ready to go!!

I knew I wanted to get the cookie monster ice cream (a blue ice cream with crushed cookie swirl), and topped with cookie crisp cereal. Funny thing is, despite all of the ice cream flavors available…

 Including Vietnamese Coffee and S'mores.
Including Vietnamese Coffee and S’mores.

And toppings…

 Fruit loops, Cap'n Crunch included.
Fruit loops, Cap’n Crunch included.

My sister got the exact same thing. Great girls think alike I suppose 😛

We found a table to sit at outside, and I had to be quick with my picture-taking since my ice cream was melting quickly.

 Top of milky bun.
Top of milky bun.

The ice cream wasn’t able to keep a thick, creamy texture because of its tendency to melt quickly, but at least most of it stayed within the confines of the bun 😛

 Looks so good, but melts so fast!!!
Looks so good, but melts so fast!!!

I also underestimated its size. The sandwich was quite small, and it only took a few standard-sized bites to get through. Still, it was an excellent dessert to conclude our weekend trip with.

 Cookie crisp peek-a-boo.
Cookie crisp peek-a-boo.

I think next time (there are still the Tustin and Chino Hills locations left to visit!), I’ll request more toppings 😉

Click to add a blog post for Afters Handcrafted Ice Cream on Zomato

Yulu Aussie Style Yogurt Review

Yulu Aussie Style Yogurt Review

In one of my most recent yogurt hauls from a discount grocery store near and dear to my heart, I brought back four new flavors of yogurt with me to SoCal. These yogurts were consumed last month (along with several other cups of discount Chobanis), but since I was able to get a hold of 4 out of 5 flavors all for a total of $2, I wanted to feature them on my blog!

These Yulu yogurts are Aussie-style—so basically smooth, creamy, and are distinguishable by their liquid-like consistency.

SAMSUNG

Each cup packs in 9-10 grams of protein, and there are five flavors available right now. As I said, I was only able to find four at my beloved Grocery Outlet, but the flavors I did try did not disappoint. I don’t think strawberry will disappoint when I do get to try it someday…

SAMSUNG
The vanilla flavor has 10 grams of protein.

I first peeled the foil cover off the honey-flavor cup.

Yulu__Honey

It had a light, airy texture, and would be seen as being “runnier” if matched with its greek yogurt counterpart. I had this cup on its own, but it totally could have mixed well with some protein powder. It may very well have made a fabulous bowl of proyo!

Vanilla bean was comparable to the honey flavor, except for the fact you could actually see the little specks of vanilla bean!

Yulu__Vanilla

If the cups were placed side-by-side, the raspberry and blueberry flavors would be indistinguishable just based on appearance. Of course, the smell of each and taste would give the identities of each flavor away. I ate the raspberry cup of yogurt by itself, and found it to be alright.

 This is raspberry, in case ya didn't know...
This is raspberry, in case ya didn’t know…

But blueberry on the other hand…I mixed it with some strawberry protein powder, added a dollop of almond butter, and I had an mmmmazing bowl of proyo one Saturday morning.

yulu_blueberry

If I want to try the fifth flavor of Yulu yogurts (which is strawberry), based on their store locator, I would have to find a way to get down to the closest Stater Bros….which happens to be about an 1 1/2 away by public transit for me. Hmm…I guess I can wait. Good things come to those who do, right?

Have you tried Yulu yogurt?

Cooling Off in June

Cooling Off in June

June started off with a heat wave, so it was hard to go without something to cool off with each day. Ice cold glasses of water was not enough, and I developed an unavoidable craving for ice cream. I managed to get my hands on some old favorites, as well as some new finds:

1) 2nd St. Creamery – Banana Run Reserve

I found this ice cream flavor on sale at Grocery Outlet earlier in the month, and even though banana was the only flavor available, I decided to give it a chance. I learned after contacting the 2nd St. Creamery (to make sure all of the ingredients were vegetarian-friendly) that they are owned by the Blue Bunny ice cream company!

2nd Street Creamery Banana Rum Reserve

At first glance, I thought the mascot on the pint was a sheep riding a motorcycle. I was off on both—it’s more like a cow on an old-school bicycle…

The ice cream itself had the appearance of a smooth, creamy vanilla with swirls of a caramel-like sauce. I could taste the banana flavor in full force after the first spoonful. As far as the rum part goes, I personally found the swirls to taste more like brown sugar/caramel, and even so, I was greatly overwhelmed by the taste of banana anyways.

This ice cream was not only good by itself in a bowl, but as the main ingredient of these dehydrator cookies.

2nd Street Creamery Banana Rum Reserve  (4)

2) Artic Zero – Coconut (NEW!), Chocolate, and Cookies and Cream

Is it a coincidence that all three flavors I had recently start with the letter “c”?

When I was in LA looking at apartments, I found this at a nearby Sprouts:

articzerococonut_newflavor!

This was sitting cooly along with the new sea salt caramel flavor in the freezer section. Upon seeing it, I was excited to learn I had more flavors of Artic Zero to try in the very near future! I’m happy to report that the coconut flavor in this frozen treat was spot on. I guess you could say it almost tasted like frozen coconut shreds. But because it is a pint, the flavor gets old very quickly if you are going to eat it all in one go.

Still on the topic of Artic Zero, I went back to a tried-and-true favorite, as well as a flavor that was difficult to find in my local grocery stores in the past–Cookies & Cream and Chocolate, respectively.

AZ CnC

I had the Cookies and Cream flavor after a long time of separation—due to my infatuation for the coffee Artic Zero. It was actually the first flavor I ever tried, and it almost caused me to pee my pants (TMI?) during a physics final (due to the water content, perhaps). Good times?

Artic Zero Chocolate

I like chocolate as much as the next person, but I’m not a “chocolate fiend” like my sister. Even so, I found the chocolate Artic Zero to be a satisfying treat one day when I was working an eight-hour shift at work, and had an hour-long break. I headed to Nugget Market, and dug at this pint within 20 minutes with a plastic soup spoon. Mad skillz yo 😉 .

3) Blue Bunny Personals – Cocoa Pistachio

I’ve always been a fan of single-serving ice cream cups, so when I saw this other ice cream find at Grocery Outlet, I had to scoop it up! I also love it when these personal serving cups come with mini spoons.

Blue Bunny Personals Cocoa Pistachio

Pistachios have to be my favorite nut, and part of me was hoping there would be visible chunks of pistachios mixed in with the predominantly chocolate landscape. That wasn’t exactly the case. While there were some hints of pistachio, this little cup could have pretended to be the holder of plain chocolate ice cream, and have gotten away with it…

How have you been cooling off in this summer heat?

What’s In My Fridge?

What’s In My Fridge?

It’s all over the news, and boy was it unexpected, tragic, and a lot of other unfortunate things, but after hearing about the events in Boston yesterday, I was speechless…and still am. I watched the elite women start the race on TV around 6:30am, admiring the form of the Kenyans and Ethiopians, while cheering on Goucher and Flanagan. Who knew things would take a drastic turn a few hours later? As a runner, I may not truly know how it feels to accomplish the Boston Marathon, but I understand that it is a momentous event for any runner who qualifies and is able to go and finish the race. It’s upsetting and frustrating to see that a careless and selfish act affected so many people, and also ruined what was supposed to be a treasured day for a lot of people. My goes out to everyone who was affected.

The real purpose of this post is light-hearted, so let me just jump into that…

I saw this survey on a few blogs (particularly Dixya’s and Khushboo’s), and couldn’t resist joining in on the fun.

1) What are the three fave things in your fridge/freezer right now?

1) Limited Edition Skinny Cow CUPCAKE BATTER SUNDAE CUPS (2 for a $1!!), 2) My tub of clearance Fage greek yogurt, 3) Driscoll’s strawberries:

Three amazing things...favorite of the bunch is the cupcake batter ice cream...it literally has cake pieces and confetti sprinkles in it!
Three amazing things…favorite of the bunch is the cupcake batter ice cream…it literally has cake pieces and confetti sprinkles in it!

2) What’s the one thing you always have on hand?

Greek yogurt. Well, that’s how it’s been for I dunno…the last six months?

The stash, yo.
The stash, yo.

3) What’s one thing you’d never have?

Meat. I have always been a vegetarian, so seitan, tempeh, and tofu are fine enough for me :)!

4) If you had an unlimited supply of anything, what would that be?

Hmm…if I had to be specific, perhaps Quest Bars! Those babies are expensive (yet so good!) so if I had an unlimited supply, it would give my paycheck I sigh of relief!

(source)

5) What’s your go-to market and what do you get there?

GROCERY OUTLET, BARGAIN MARKET :)! I’ll get clearance yogurts (Chobani if I’m lucky), energy bars, ice creams, and sometimes frozen dinners (like vegan evol burritos and wraps :P!)

(source)

6) What ingredient are you currently loving?

Hmmm…I wouldn’t say I’m currently loving this, but garlic salt is one of my favorite ingredients. I love the flavor it adds to roasted corn and grilled vegetables!

(source)

7) What’s your favorite thing to whip up at home?

One thing fun I whipped up over the weekend was a baked sweet potato coated with a dollop of five spice hummus. It was beyond-words good, and I’ll probably make it again if I’m super hungry and want something quickly. Perhaps I’ll fancy it up a bit so it would be worth posting about ;).

8) Any songs you like cooking to?

I have plenty of songs I like running to! My music taste is all over the map, and it my favorite songs change as quickly as I shed skin cells :P! Right now I’m all about running to ZUMBA music.

9) What are the best items to have on hand for a quick and easy dinner?

Any mix of vegetables, since they can be easily steamed, flavored, microwaved, etc. Slap a slab or two of flatbread on the side, and you’ve got a humble meal.

Bread and vegetables are such a good combo :)
Bread and vegetables are such a good combo 🙂

10) What are your favorite kind of leftovers?

I love bread-based meal leftovers, since they can be stored in the fridge/freezer and are pretty hearty. I also love bottom of jar leftovers (like yogurt containers or nut butter jars) because I love adding toppings to them and eating on the go!

11) Fill in the blank: If I’m cooking to impress, I make….

I don’t think I’ve ever been a situation where I had to cook to impress. If I need to make something for a potluck or similar food-related event, I like to use ingredients I already have, and attempt to make something that tastes like it was planned from the beginning.

12) What’s your condiment of choice?

Ketchup is always a winner in my book, but Braggs Liquid Aminos is pretty awesome too.

That is one huge gallon though…
(source)

13) What’s the strangest thing in your fridge at the moment?

It’s not that strange, but this jar has been hiding out in the back of our fridge for quite some time…

Grape Leaves

14) When a midnight snack attack strikes, what’s the plan?

I’m not a midnight snacker since I usually go to bed around 10pm, but these have been tempting me after dinner lately…

Can you guess what they are ;)
Can you guess what they are?? 😉

What’s the strangest thing in YOUR fridge at the moment?

Lately

Lately

I’ve been falling in love with a new-to-me carb: Bolani! Bolani is a Farsi word that means filled bread, and the bread is Afghan in origin.

The carb I am in love with
The carb I am in love with ♥.

I purchased this Pumpkin Bolani by East & West Gourmet Afghan Food from a local health food store near school, since I had my eye on it forever, and since I needed some refueling after feeling famished and eyesore from looking at mitochondrial mutants for three hours through a microscope.

Anyways, potato, spinach, lentil, and pumpkin were available, but I jumped to try pumpkin since it sounded the most “exotic” and since the beta-carotene caught my eye ;).

So bright and (naturally) shiny!
So bright and (naturally) shiny!

They apparently taste great with sauces and side dishes, and they reminds me of a flatter, chewier version of Indian chappatis or rotis, but I had mine chilled (right from the refridgerated section, since I wasn’t near a microwave or oven) and right out of the bag. Only thing I wish was for more filling, but man was this bread delicious! You know I will be back for the other three flavors…and I’ll be figuring out a way to recreate this at home!

–♦–

I’ve been indulging in some cheap eats. Thanks to Grocery Outlet, I bought about nine cups of Chobani for $0.25 each. Yeah, you read right. They started off at around $0.79, then $0.48 last week, and now, only a quarter of a dollar!

I’ve been making good use of these cups, that’s for sure!

Here I have: $0.25 Blueberry Chobani, about 1/2 cup of granola with greek yogurt clusters, and a dollop of good ol' Nutella.
Here I have: $0.25 Blueberry Chobani, about 1/2 cup of granola with greek yogurt clusters, and a dollop of good ol’ Nutella.

Although I did pay the retail price of $1.49 for one of the new Chob flavors (not available at GO)—Banana.

I thought I would like the banana and yogurt combination, but I guess the banana flavor is still a bit too raw for my liking...
I thought I would like the banana and yogurt combination, but I guess the banana flavor is still a bit too raw for my liking…

Verdict? Ehh…

This is coming from a person who dislikes eating raw banana, so you may not want to take my strict word for it 😉

–♦–

Multivariable calculus has not been tying my stomach in knots. Which has been a pleasant surprise for me since I thought I would have to ram my head against a wall to even understand the concepts and do well on the exams. My first two quarters of college math were so.not.fun., and even Stats, which was supposed to be “easy” according to many of my peers was a pain in the glutes cause of idiotic TAs. So I made the decision to wait about a year and 2/3 to finally finish up the calculus series so I can fulfill that requirement to graduate :P. I’ve actually done really well so far (A’s on the first two midterms!!) and only have one more midterm and a final to go.

Math Cat, will I finally get my first math college A this quarter?

Only time will tell, P.
(source)

I wish my cat would do my math homework for me. She prefers sitting on my textbooks and absorbing the material all to herself ;)!

–♦–

I’ve been trying to find the motivation to run, since I’m on track to meet my goal of running at least one race for each month of the year. In this post, I mentioned that I had a goal to race at least once for each of the month (so, 12 races total, minimum). As of right now, I’ve completed one race and have five coming up, with a half-marathon to look forward to at the middle point! I’m not concerned with registering for races for the second half of the year just yet, since I’m not sure what’s happening as far as summer plans are concerned.

My next race should be a fun one though. It’ll be St. Patty’s themed, on a Saturday (Saturday races always seemed more appealing to me for some reason…), and a unique 7-mile course (for lucky #7!!). Recap will be posted for sure when the time comes 😉

Hopefully I’ll be smiling like this guy at the end of the 7 mile run :P!
(source)

–♦–

I’ve been trying to make progress with my relationship with food. I’ve been making a bit more effort on the food front trying to feel more “comfortable” with upping my caloric intake, especially on days when I run for longer distances. It’s easier for my mind to wrap around the fact that long runs = more fuel, so my long run days/days where the mileage adds up have been days when I felt “okay” with eating more than usual.

One of the things that bothers me though, even though it shouldn’t, is consiously knowing I am eating more than usual. When I declare “calorie-counting free” days, I am okay with not knowing how many calories I ate as long as I don’t know at all for the entire day. The problem arises when I count for the first half of the day, go out for a long run, and know I have to refuel but when I do, I don’t want to know how much ate because I don’t want to see that number in my journal go up. That’s when the doubt/guilt(?) sets in.

On Monday, I felt fine at first having this Nutella in a jar concoction since I ran 16 miles between Sunday and Monday.

The jar I should have enjoyed...{Nutella in a jar and $0.48 Peach Chobani}
The jar I should have enjoyed…{Nutella in a jar and $0.48 Peach Chobani}

And while it wouldn’t have felt right to not refuel despite my energy expenditure, I was upset that I still felt doubt after having this treat in a jar. I should have been celebrating my efforts and enjoying each bite, and even though I tried to, my mind kept pondering over how many calories of Nutella was still in that jar.

I’m just trying to show that overcoming past food relationship issues can be a rocky journey, but that I am truly making an effort. It’s all about continuing to challenge yourself, even if the thoughts creep back in. Actually, when we visited my cousin a few weeks back, we ate out at a Thai restaurant and I ordered a dish that was drenched in peanut sauce. The “old me” would have freaked out over such a “calorie bomb”, but I pretty much had the whole dish to myself even though we ordered family-style. I savoured each bite, and surprisingly didn’t have any concerning doubts or negative thoughts. Just comes to show that these thoughts come and go and should be nothing to fear over. I just need to keep telling myself that, and keep on chuggin’!

What have you been doing lately?

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