Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

I’d say the first week of April got off to a good start. I felt like I was able to start fresh, and even began the first week of training with a running coach. Since I plan to run a marathon in San Diego at the beginning of June, we are piggybacking off my training from the LA Marathon, and using the next couple of weeks as an introduction of sorts to his coaching style. 

After San Diego, we plan to reevaluate training and prepare for a fall marathon with the goal of racing a Boston Qualifying time.  Right now I’m looking at running the Route 66 in Tulsa, but nothing has been finalized yet. Since it falls on the weekend right before Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to run the race, and then spend the following week with family for Thanksgiving. 
 
On Saturday, I ran a long run workout that was fartlek in style: I had to run 5 minutes easy, followed by 1 minute fast. With my current coach, he emphasizes incorporating speed into long runs, rather than the “long slow distance” approach, at least if the end goal is running a fast marathon. 
 
I was able to complete the workout for 11 miles, running it at a sub-8:00 pace. I noted feeling fatigue towards the end, and stopping to take water breaks at some points (especially right after the one minute fast), but I’m glad to see that the workout did its job. 
 
When I got home from the run, I got ready as soon as I could in order to meet my friend E for a hike at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.  It was the first time I actually went out for a hike in LA (lol, I still need to do the Runyon Canyon thing), and after climbing stairs that were as tall as E (she’s on the shorter side, haha), we made it to the top and were treated to some fabulous views of the city
 
As we made our descent, we chatted and walked back to the La Cienega/Jefferson train stop. From there, we thought we might as well walk over to Culver City on the bike path since the Culver City station was the next stop. We also contemplated lunch, and I figured we could get some nourishing Mexican food from a recently-established eatery in The Platform, the same place Sweetgreen is located. 
 
Inside Loqui
Inside Loqui
 
Loqui had a limited menu of soft tortilla tacos, bowls, and quesadillas, but E and I figured we’d order what looked to be a filling mushroom bowl. 
 
Ordering our bowls (mocajeltes)
Ordering our bowls (molcajetes)
 
It was served Chipotle-style, with grilled onions, beans, and guac were piled high on green colored rice. I had two corn tortillas on the side while E had two flour ones.
 
A beautifully-paced mushroom bowl with tons of rice and guac // two soft corn tortillas
A beautifully-paced mushroom bowl with tons of rice and guac // two soft corn tortillas
 
The restaurant/cafe was very small, and there was limited seating on the patio in the back. The “chairs” were small stools and the tables were pretty tiny as well. 
 
After getting our fill of lunch, E and I didn’t really know what else to do…so we walked some more. I’d say we ended up walking for another hour and a half total, eventually getting back to the Culver City Station stop, but not before a trip to Sprouts. I got some essentials for the week, and then we parted ways. 
 
And then we walked some more.
And then we walked some more.
 
When I got home, I needed a nap to recuperate from all the running, hiking, and walking from the day. Needless to say, I slept pretty well that night! 

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

Spiraling Out of Texas

Spiraling Out of Texas

We left Houston on Thursday morning, and since we left in the late morning, the four hours to Dallas seemed longer than it actually was. We got to Dallas around 3:30pm, and we were all ravenous. My sister and Dad had taken turns driving during these four hours, but I had a lingering headache which grew as the hours ticked on.

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Spiral Diner on Beckley Ave., Dallas

We stopped at a vegan diner on Beckley Ave, just outside of downtown Dallas—Spiral Diner! Once we were inside, I was immediately reminded of Saturn Cafe in both Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

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Have a seat!

We were seated right away and my sis and I ploughed through the menu trying to figure out which entree would satisfy our raging appetites. For me, I had to go with the nachos. I was craving some chips and faux queso like crazy! My sis got a faux Philly cheesesteak and my Dad a pesto pasta dish with toasted bread.

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Just guess what I got…

All dishes came out beautifully presented, and close-to-perfection in taste.

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Oh hello nachos…

I ate every single chip (plus some of my sister’s) drenched in vegan queso, sour cream, beans, olives, jalapeΓ±os, and guacamole. It hit the spot, and with several gulps of water, my headache magically went away πŸ˜‰

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Guac!

Whatever headache my sister may have had prior to this sandwich must have gone away too, no doubt about it!

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Sis’s gorg sandwich

I also had some of my Dad’s pasta dish. It wasn’t packed with flavor but it definitely tasted rich and filling with this particular sauce and pasta. The pasta was like a version of rigatoni that was smaller.

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The vegan parmesan & peas made it pretty.

For the next four hours on the road, my Dad agreed to drive since it was getting dark and I did express my tiredness from lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We made it back to Tulsa close to 10pm, and I went to sleep right away.

My sis and I only had four more days back in Tulsa, and ended up having to pack in more errands than “fun” things, but I didn’t mind too much since at least we had each other’s company. We did see Fences with a family friend, but it was too long and slow for me. We also didn’t do anything exciting for New Years…on the agenda was wearing fuzzy robes, watching whatever was on TV, and sleeping before midnight struck!

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Post-run requirements – fuzzy socks and a snack. Tried the Oh Yeah! One Cinnamon Roll Bar: “NYE snack from yesterday was the Cinnamon Roll Oh Yeah! One bar. The swirl and caramel ombrΓ© color of this bar were 😍 but the taste not so much πŸ™. Was it too much cinnamon? That’s my guess because something was overpowering the sweetness. Okay, next time at @vitaminshoppe it’s on to the next one!

I also went back to running on a trail I grew fond of over the past two weeks. I hit 40 miles total for both the weeks I was away, and was even running at faster-than-normal paces. I had to stop and take a picture on my last run on Monday. I literally can’t believe that two weeks went by so fast…

1-3
“I’m going to miss running on this trail! I was able to run 40 mi/week for two weeks (consecutively!), most of which was done on this trail by the Arkansas River. I also had to include some muggy Houston runs πŸ˜… haha but I’m so excited to see my mileage ramping up, and to be running faster paces that look to be consistent. Ready to head back to Cali and keep up the work!!”

This trip was special in so many ways, and I think that’s why I felt pretty blue in the days leading up to my departure and my departure day. Time is so, so precious, and it’s trips like these that make me wish we could pause frames in time to replay over and over again. While I do plan to see my sis before her graduation, I may not see my Dad until then…so not for at least another five months! But at least it will be an exciting time then as well…Europe is in our future!

How did you enjoy the last days of 2016?

Spiral Diner & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Last weekend, a friend from my first year cohort (who I had not seen in almost a year) sent me a text asking if I was doing anything Saturday evening…it was her birthday, and she wanted to celebrate with her friends at Street Food Cinema in Griffith Park. I thought it would be a fun thing to join in on, since I had been meaning to catch up with her for several months! Plus, it would be my first time going to an outdoor movie event, and this one would be showing Monster’s Inc.

Prior to the evening’s festivities, I had work in lab (of course) throughout Friday and the first part of Saturday. When I was in need of a pick-me-up snack on both days, bars from BPI Sports came to the rescue. I found these “BEST” bars recently stocked at the campus bookstore, and tried the S’mores flavor first.

It’s not been getting much love on social media, but I honestly really liked this flavor! I felt like the bar really lived up to it’s name, with chocolate chunks—and even what seemed like cookie or graham cracker pieces throughout—since the bar had a noteworthy crunch to it at some bites!

BPI_smores_
BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – S’mores

I had to try the Cookies and Cream & Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors as well, but these flavors were satisfactory in comparison to the S’mores flavor. Cookies and Cream had a decent amount of crunch to it like S’mores, but the CPB flavor was dull, and seemed to me like a flavorless piece of “chocolate jerky”. It even looks like jerky too (right-bottom corner).

cookie_PB
BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Peanut Butter

I headed out to Griffith Park from downtown, since I had to do some errands there in the afternoon after lab. From there, I took a bus (with waiting at the bus stop + total transit time = ~2 hours, grrr…) and arrived close to 6pm where the theater screen was set up on the lawn withing Griffith Park.

streetfoodcinema
The lawn was already packed with people by the time I got there!

After finding my friend, giving her a giant hug, and catching up with her for a few minutes. I then walked over to where the food trucks were line up (the reason this event was called “Street FOOD Cinema” πŸ˜‰

SAYfish
Say Fish Taco Truck

Out of all the food trucks available, funny thing was I found a vegetarian option at a fish taco truck, haha!

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(Veggie) Bowl

This bowl was packed with everything imaginable veggie-wise. And there was no escaping that generous scoop of guacamole! With my bowl in hand, I went back to where my friend set up camp, and sat with another one of my friend’s who had joined while I was off finding food. After catching up and eating with eachother, we expanded our circle as more people arrived. Since the movie didn’t start until 8pm and we had an hour or so until then, we decided to play a game of Phase 10, which is like Rummy and Uno apparently (I’m one of those people who learns how to play a card game when asked, and then promptly forgets how to play later πŸ˜› ).

veggie_bowl
Grilled veggies, dill cream, black beans, cauliflower rice, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, corn tortilla strips, and LOTSA LOTSA GUACCCC

When the movie started at 8pm, we all settled in with our own blankets and relaxed under the dark, cloudy sky as we watched the movie play on the giant screen in front of us. When the movie ended around 10pm, I was glad one of my friends offered to drop me off at home since otherwise I would have had to call for (and pay for…) an Uber!

The next day, I decided to give myself a break from doing a long run since I had some lingering soreness in my legs from Friday. It felt so good to sleep in, and later in the afternoon, my roommate offered to drive us to the new 365 by Whole Foods store that recently opened in Silver Lake!

365_byCHLOE
The new 365 store and by CHLOE.

Before shopping, we ate of course! At by CHLOE πŸ™‚ .

small space
So crowded inside though!

The space was adorable, it was just extremely packed, and my roommate and I were lucky to find a space to sit down! My meal choice was 100% influenced by the first dish I saw someone eating while I was standing in line. I didn’t have to worry if it was vegetarian, because everything on the menu here was vegan!

cute
Cute graphics!

^ Even the ketchup was beet ketchup.

raw juice
With my bowl…I got a free juice?!

I got the Quinoa Taco Salad which was the dish I saw someone eating while standing in line. With my order, I ended up getting a free juice to my surprise. It was ginger-based flavor that I had later at home, which I thoroughly enjoyed while looking over some data for work πŸ˜‰

quinoa taco salad
Quinoa Taco Salad…so fresh, cold, and delicious!

Back to this salad though…it took forever to come out, but at least everything was presented and placed nicely. Crispy tortilla chips to one side, quinoa in the middle, and some soy chorizo crumbles in the far top corner.

365
Grocery shopping!

My roommate got a portabello sandwich that came in a hot dog bun, which she found to be a choice well-made. After eating up, we walked right into the store, collected the items we had in our mental grocery lists, and were out within 40 minutes (most of that time was spent in line!).

Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of the store, but I wouldn’t mind paying another visit to by CHLOE again! And if I’m ever in New York City again, I have to make sure I check out the original location πŸ˜‰

Are you good at card games?

Fried Stuff and Guacamole

Fried Stuff and Guacamole

As the sun began to set on Friday night the weekend I was spending with my sister, we drove out to River Park for dinner.

yh_front
Yard House front

Instead of finding some local place that serves food unique to Fresno, we decided to have our Friday girls night dinner at Yard House. Even though they are a chain, bar-and-burgers kind of place, they have a special vegetarian menu with all sorts of tasty items made with Gardein soy protein.

We had to wait almost an hour for a table, so we took our buzzer back to my sister’s car, and even called up our friend and talked to her while we waited.

light
Super dim lighting

When we came back to the restaurant, we were guided to a long booth, with a small candle placed at the opposite end. The extraneous space felt awkward, but not as awkward as trying to take pictures of the restaurant in the dark.

inside
Yard House interior

But I got a picture of this painting in full light?

painting
Yard House painting

Both of us got an appetizer plate as our entree, since the Gardein-based dippers sounded delicious. The pictures don’t do much justice, but the plates were FULL. I ordered the Jerk Gardein Dippers, which had a flavorful, crisp texture to them and came with a sweet and tangy sauce for dipping.

jerk
Jerk Gardein Dippers

My sister got the BBQ Gardein Skewers, which reminded me of orange tofu (or what would be orange chicken for all you non-veggies).

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BBQ Gardein Skewers

To be honest, the Jerk Gardein dish, while it was delicious, got mediocre after awhile. I wasn’t too hungry when I first started eating, but I managed to finish the whole plate.

For lunch on Saturday, we drove back down to the Tower District to have tamales at the perfectly-named Casa de Tamales.

cdt_front
Casa de Tamales

They had four different vegetarian options for tamales, but my sister wasn’t keen on ordering tamales. To her pleasant surprise, the girl behind the counter was able to customize some tacos so that they had all the veggie fix-ins, even though this wasn’t on the menu.

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Counter for ordering

I kept it simple and ordered a tamale plate—with portabello & asparagus tamales, rice, and beans all in one plate.

inside_cdt
Casa de Tamales interior

Since it was nice and sunny outside, we were able to sit on the patio.

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Custom vegetarian tacos

My sister adored her tacos, and I loved my tamales plate.

IMG_3579
Portabello and Asparagus Tamales with rice and beans.

It had the perfect balance of tamales, rice, and beans. I had the rice and beans together first, before digging into the tamales.

gua
Guacamole and inside of tamales.

What I loved about the tamales most was right on the outside: a fresh dollop of green guacamole. The inside was piping hot, and chock-full of mushroom pieces. For a lunch, it was the perfect portion, well-balanced, and kept me satiated for pretty much the rest of the day. I was still feeling somewhat full by dinnertime, but I did have enough room for that outing…

What was the most creative filling you’ve had inside a tamale?

Yard House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Weekend Therapy

Weekend Therapy

This past weekend marked the final weekend of summer, in academic year terms that is. The semester officially begins this week, but since I’ve been in working in the lab all summer, I feel like my routine will pretty much stay the same (other than having class/seminar thrown in).

I did face some highs/lows in the week leading up to the weekend (grad student admin & apartment issues…what else is new?), so my weekend kick-off pint was well-deserved for an assortment of reasons—Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, it couldn’t have been more fitting! Funny thing was I actually bought this in the morning while out for my run. I didn’t have to worry about it losing its “ice cream integrity” since it was able to sit in my freezer all day while I was out at work πŸ˜‰

 Ice cream to melt the stress of the week away!
Ice cream to melt the stress of the week away!

It says there was chocolate pudding ice cream mixed in here, but it honestly just tasted like chocolate ice cream + chocolate cookie bits + chocolate brownies. I mean, that’s not at all bad, but perhaps if there was a pudding swirl, this flavor would be right on up there with the other flavor elites πŸ˜› . Swirl or no swirl, I enjoyed this pint while watching the finale of The Astronaut Wives Club.

I had originally planned to run a 9 miler the next morning, but when I woke up on Saturday, I felt like making a cup of tea and just relaxing before heading out for morning lab work. Sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your body when it comes to these things πŸ˜‰

Unlike the blazing hot weekend before, this Saturday was cooler and cloudier, and so by the time I finished up my work mid-afternoon, I was’t dragging my feet to the train station. I did want to head out to Santa Monica though, so I was prepared to come home dog-tired after this half-day “adventure”.

I hopped off at Main St. about an hour later, and walked for another 10 minutes before I reached my late lunch destination for the day: {Euphoria Loves} Rawvolution.

 Painted blue walls and a juice bar.
Painted blue walls and a juice bar.

The interior was had a cozy feel with some lounge areas with pillows, similar to The Springs. There was a kitchen in the far back, and a juice bar right in front of it that mimicked an alcoholic bar set-up.

It was a pick-your-own-seat kind of place, and I of course found a spot that would allow me to take as many restaurant/food pictures as I felt like taking (duh). When the hostess came by, I asked for some water as she handed me the menu. She came back with this mason jar, filled with lemon-infused water. I guess this eco-friendly trend has been picked up by the restaurant world lately πŸ˜‰

 Trendy water drinkin'
Trendy water drinkin’

I was immediately intrigued by the Nachos Grande option on the menu, even though I thought about getting a full entree plate (like a scramble or enchillada), but when nachos are ever on the menu at a vegan establishment, there is a 95% chance I’m gonna get them πŸ˜›

Though the portion was small, the presentation was grand.

 Nachos!
Nachos!

After cutting through the colorful mash at the center of the plate, I found that the walnut taco meat formed the base layer, with a pile of salsa and a whole lotta guac on top. The swirly drizzle on top of the guac was cashew mayo, and all of this was decorated with blue corn chips.

 Walnut taco meat, salsa, and guacamole!!! And chips for dippin'
Walnut taco meat, salsa, and guacamole!!! And chips for dippin’

The chips themselves were not light and crispy, but tasted more like flatbread chips. Somewhat chewy and bland, they were not something I’d package and sell on their own, but they served their purpose as a vehicle for the better-tasting stuff on the plate.

Other than the plate being watery towards the end due to the salsa, the dish as a whole was filling and delicious. It was awkward asking for the check at the end, since I was given the check at my table, but had to go up to the cash register to pay. No one told me this though, so I ended up sitting at my table for an embarrasing length of time until I realized everyone was getting up to pay!

Before heading home, I picked up some groceries from Haggen, as well as the Banana Split Ben & Jerry’s pint.

 Banana Split -
Banana Split – Banana & Strawberry ice creams with walnuts, fudge chunks, and fudge swirl. 

It says on the pint carton that strawberry ice cream is in here, but I found that it was actually a banana ice cream base with frozen strawberries mixed in, with walnuts and fudge chunks of course. The fudge swirl was not as thick as it could have been, but it there was a plentiful amount of it. It was more like chocolate sauce/syrup, which is more associated with traditional banana splits anyway.

Ice cream therapy on Friday and Saturday, along with a nourishing plate of raw vegan nachos helped me sleep for a solid 8.5 hours that night (only if my weeknights could match up!!), and I had plenty of fuel for my long run the next morning πŸ™‚

What does your weekend therapy look like?

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