Sit Back and Relax?

Sit Back and Relax?

Once Wednesday morning rolled around last week, I felt much less anxious, but I did have some lingering adrenaline because I could not sleep. Post-presentation jitters? I guess that’s a thing.

I did treat myself to a latte in the morning: the new Cascara latte from Starbucks.

As a treat for my major accomplishment yesterday, I treated myself to a tall cup of the new Cascara Latte from Sbux. Was it worth a $1.00 extra vs a cappucino? Interestingly, I thought the froth was softer and creamier, and maybe it was the stevia, but it tasted so sweet. I usually have to add two packets of stevia to my cappuccino in order to get half the sweetness I got with this cup.
As a treat for my major accomplishment yesterday, I treated myself to a tall cup of the new Cascara Latte from Sbux. Was it worth a $1.00 extra vs a cappucino? Interestingly, I thought the froth was softer and creamier, and maybe it was the stevia, but it tasted so sweet. I usually have to add two packets of stevia to my cappuccino in order to get half the sweetness I got with this cup.

I saved my celebrations for the weekend though. My friend from lab and I snuck out a little early Friday evening to head downtown and see Hidden Figures. It was my friend’s second time seeing it, but she loved it so much that she didn’t mind seeing it again with me.

She ended up buying both of our tickets even though I insisted she didn’t. Ah, now I owe her—if she’ll ever give me the chance 😉 !

I absolutely loved the movie, though I will admit I love movies and books about people and their stories. I loved reading biographies as a kid, and even now I prefer memoirs over anything else literature-wise.

On Saturday, I gave myself a rest day knowing that the next morning I would have to get up and run 15 miles. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with my day, knowing I had it all to myself with no impending items on my to-so list…

IMG_9104
Except maybe go frolicking around Westwood?

I ended up walking around Santa Monica in the morning because I woke up ravenous, and I wanted to get donuts from DK’s. Unfortunately, my debit card wasn’t working and I couldn’t withdraw any cash to buy any donuts from the cash-only shop. I don’t understand why they can’t take credit cards at this point with all their success/recognition, but one day I’ll be able to see what the hullabaloo is about…when I have cash in my pocket.

In the meantime, I had to find something pronto because my stomach was growling…

SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica
SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica

I totally forgot about SuperFood Cafe’s existence, even though I had been planning to check this place out a while back. They have an incredible amount of vegan and vegetarian items, hinted by the size of their large laminated menus.

At the counter, I ordered a warm bowl called Chef Tofu and a coffee because that morning I desperately needed one. I then found a seat and admired the high ceilings and warm, cozy color tones.

coffee and art
Nothing says comfort like a giant mug of coffee

I added two packets of brown sugar and one serving of creamer to the coffee, which made it taste much more magical. My bowl came in a very interesting-shaped bowl—it looked like something you’d find in an art gallery.

chef_tofu
That crazy looking bowl though.

The bowl itself contained organic tofu, hemp seed, organic broccoli, kale & spinach, and organic tomato-corn-chipotle salsa. The tofu had a nice spice to it, being coated with a light curry sauce and all.

chef_TOfuuu
Ah, a bowl of yum!

With my hunger satisfied, I decided I might as well do something fun, but cultural, with my free day. I took the bus (which stopped right in front of SuperFood, conveniently!) to Westwood, and decided to check out the Hammer Museum since I hadn’t been yet!

hammer_museum
Hammer Museum—an illusion of size

The museum was actually pretty small. From the outside it looks enormous, but then I realized that the bulk of it was a parking garage…so much for culture! While it was gorgeous on the inside, there were only TWO art displays open, and so my visit was drastically cut down to a fifteen minute walk-through…

interior_
Pretty, but small & quiet

So, I ended up doing what I pretty much do on my weekends when not in lab…grocery shop, and then head home to nap! At least at my grocery stops over the weekends, I treated myself to some delicious new finds:

I had this Falafel Wrap from Trader Joe’s on Sunday, after a 15-mile long run with my team. After having the Veggie Hummus and Grilled Eggplant wraps though, I found this one to be awfully dry even with the provided tahini sauce. It didn’t help that all the falafel were to one side (it made it harder to dip that side into the sauce cup)…maybe if they had been assembled in a staggered arrangement, it would have helped with the dunking?

falafel_wrap
Trader Joe’s Falafel Wrap

I also used some Vitamin Shoppe points I had to go towards my first jar of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter!

I tried D's Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It's a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S'mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that's balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!
I tried D’s Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It’s a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S’mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that’s balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!

As described by my caption so succinctly, I enjoyed this flavor immensely 🙂

backofjar
I will be on the hunt for the others!

I would say that my post-exam jitters finally went away Monday morning. I woke up feeling much more refreshed than I did last Wednesday, and so far, that feeling’s been holding up pretty well 🙂

Does it take you a while (psychologically) to get back to your normal routine after a long stressful event is over?

Superfood Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Repeat of 2016?

Repeat of 2016?

I returned to California early last week, and I was in a deep funk for a couple days. My two weeks off from lab, spent with family, was JUST what I needed and my only regret was that it wasn’t longer!

At least I had a surprise package waiting for me…I tried Enlightened Roasted Broad Bean Crisps for the first time thanks to a little box with some fun-flavored goods:

crisps
Enlightened saved me from the doldrums!

They were the dessert flavors: Cocoa Dusted and Sweet Cinnamon.

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Cocoa Dusted description

I had both flavors straight out of the bag. Out of the two, I loved the cinnamon-flavored ones the most since they reminded me of those churro twists from Taco Bell I had long ago…

sweet-cinnamon
Sweet Cinnamon

Cocoa Dusted was good too, I just preferred cinnamon over chocolate coating 😛

cocoadust
Cocoa Dusted up close & personal

I decided to keep close to West LA since I knew DTLA would be abuzz with the LA Fit Expo going on. I also had to go into lab, which would have cut into any day plans if I had scheduled any. So after lab, I came back to Culver City and had lunch literally across the street from the train station…at Sweetgreen! I find it hilarious that my first outing to a restaurant for 2017 is Sweetgreen once again…I dined at a Sweetgreen in Mid-City last year as my first outing in 2016! I wonder if it will become tradition…

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Sweetgreen’s newest—Culver City

They recently opened up shop here in a complex called The Platform. It was already in full swing with customers eating outside even though it was cloudy out.

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Order at the counter

The seating arrangements inside were too small, and if everyone in line had decided to dine in, there would have been no way. I did get a seat however, by the window. It was just a table that wasn’t wiped clean since the last customer, and only had one chair so I had to sit with my bag on my lap, haha!

menu
Lot’s to choose from!

When it was my turn to order, I decided to get a warm bowl. The Shroomami sounded amazing, with glazed tofu, rice, kale, …, and it was vegan so even more of a plus!

lookatdatbowl
My Shroomami bowl [vegan] ~ organic wild rice, shredded kale, raw beets, bean sprouts, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello mix, miso sesame ginger dressing
I also got a slice of bread on the side, and enjoyed the bowl while people/train watching through the window.

sideofbread_tofu
Slice of bread, and look at that tofu!

After eating lunch, I got grocery shopping done at Sprouts. I love it when restaurants/grocery stores are all in one area since it makes running weekend errands so much easier.

While picking up staples for the week, I came across another RX Bar flavor I have yet to try—Peanut Butter! When I was checking out in line, there was a guy in front of me who noticed my purchase-to-be, and asked where he could find them. As soon as I told him, he dashed over to the bar aisle while the cashier began to check out his items!

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RX Peanut Butter bar…has exactly 14 peanuts?

I tried the bar as I was waiting for the train to go home. I like the smooth texture of the bar, and it kind of made me think of the Chocolate Coconut flavor without coconut, and with a mild peanut scent reminiscent of how the maple scent defined the Maple Sea Salt flavor. I guess I could understand why that guy at Sprouts was in such a mad dash to get those bars for himself?

Have you eaten out since the new year began?

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

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Last Sunday proved to me why running in a group or with a team makes all the difference. I ran a little under 6 miles at a solid 7:30/mi pace, and was able to maintain my pacing without completely blowing out of steam! Marathon training has picked up yet again, and I’m trying to make all of the runs with my team high quality workouts.

Also working to not get left behind of the pack is a good motivator too 😉

I was really proud of my efforts, and for lunch had to walk at least another three miles once in Santa Monica. It was way too hot to be October, and I had to get to a place that offered something cool and refreshing pronto.

Kreation Cafe on Montana Ave.
Kreation Cafe on Montana Ave.

My first visit to a Kreation Cafe/Juicery was a great one. I cooled off with an irresistible bowl full of nutrient-dense fruits and healthy fats, on what was an extremely hot day. Made sense that my second visit was on a day just as hot.

Crowded quarters.
Crowded quarters.

Unlike my first visit, there wasn’t any seating on the inside…only patio and back seating. The line for ordering and pick-up also got scrambled since there were too many people waiting inside! I wanted to try a different bowl this time around, so from the two options I had left I went with the Jungle Bowl.

Random crystal rock by the cash register!
Random crystal rock by the cash register!

The wait was ridiculosly long however. I think I was standing for at least 20 minutes until my bowl was ready. I saw that three people who ordered after me got their meals before I did, so I thought that was a bit frustrating. I let that go when I did get my bowl though!

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A green swampy soup of sorts!

I sat at a table outside on the patio to enjoy this fully.

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Jungle Bowl – Coconut milk, kale, spinach, mango, apple, almond butter

The color of the bowl reminded me of a swamp, with fruit bobbing throughout it of course. While it was a pretty bowl, the diced apple caught me off guard since I was expecting pineapple as originally stated on their menu. I didn’t really taste any hint of almond butter either. In all honesty, the bowl was less of a smoothie bowl and more of a slushie bowl—in other words, a disappointment. Looks can only take you so far…

Kreation Kafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fala Me to Fala Bar

Fala Me to Fala Bar

Last week was crazy busy, and on more nights than usual, I ended up coming back to my apartment close to 8pm, even with my early morning start to the day. But I’ve always preferred being busy over being too relaxed, so while at times it did feel exhausting, at least it kept my mind occupied.

Because we have a couple students graduating/people leaving from my lab this year, we decided to go out as a lab for lunch on Thursday. It was the first time we had everyone together (well, almost…since my boss was out of town and we were missing one person…haha, the day we actually have EVERYONE together in the same room will be some kind of miracle!!). Spicy Indian buffet food was on the menu, and surprisingly, I didn’t nod off in class later despite it!

One of the plates I had on Thursday...super spicy, and used unpictured naan to mop up all of that!
One of the plates I had on Thursday…super spicy, and used unpictured naan to mop up all of that!

When I got home that night, I decided to kick-off the weekend earlier than usual with a THURSDAY night pint, a So Delicious one in fact. I’ve gotta say…this pint rocks! Since it’s made with coconut milk, you can actually taste the slivers of coconut mixed in with the cookie dough chunks. How have I gone this long avoiding these So Delicious pints?! I’m glad that even though I took a break from Snickerdoodle, this flavor was right up there with it!

Coconut milk + cookie dough = perfection
Coconut milk + cookie dough = perfection

Friday ended up being less busy, and I got home at a decent time. To celebrate the end of this busy week, I made myself a protein-rich snack plate featuring some of my favorites (once warmed up in the microwaved for ~20 seconds).

Friday Night Snack Plate featuring: Lenny & Larrys, Quest, and Combat Crunch. Melted for 20 seconds <3
Friday Night Snack Plate featuring: Lenny & Larrys, Quest, and Combat Crunch. Melted for 20 seconds <3

On Saturday, I had to go into lab for just two hours, and from there made it over to Melrose to see what little food shop was causing excitement on the ‘gram. Fala Bar, a Mediterranean food place that has locations on Melrose and Abbot Kinney in Venice, offers five varieties (!!) of falafel, but is popular because of their falafel burger offerings. Not only are they creative in their menu items and falafel flavors (original, sweet potato  what??, spicy, crunchy, and kale), they also are all-vegan, giving all the more reason to go falafel-crazy!

Fala Bar: vegan-friendly, and in a happening part of town!
Fala Bar: vegan-friendly, and in a happening part of town!

Because I rarely ever stray from ordering similar types of foods at restaurants, I got the fala plate even though the falafel burgers sounded mouth-watering. Definitely getting that when I visit the Venice location (yes, when 😉 ). For my plate, I had to choose one flavor of falafel for the four falafel balls that came with the plate. I went with ‘crunchy’, even though looking back, it would have been more fun to try sweet potato or kale. Maybe my intuitive choice for ‘crunchy’ meant I had some pent up anger I needed to get out? Haha, or maybe I just wanted some crunchy falafel!

Fala Bar's menu
Fala Bar’s menu

Since the storefront is very small, there is no indoor seating…just a couple tables outside under some shade. At least it was all taking place on Melrose Ave., so people-watching was at its prime.

GIGI---they have your snack mix, haha.
GIGI—they have your snack mix, haha.

One of the employees was nice enough to bring out my plate, and it was not skimpy by any means! Underneath my artistically-placed falafel were two kinds of cabbage slaw, and tabouli. Tahini and hummus were in the corners, and a soft, warm pocket of pita bread was served on the side.

Fala Plate ft. crunchy falafel
Fala Plate ft. crunchy falafel

At first I was saving the spreads for the falafel and pita bread, but in the end I just mixed everything all up because it was all so good, and good together. For the price, the plate was very filling and substantial. I did notice that the burgers were cheaper however, and I wonder if they would be just as filling. That’s my mission for next time!

Close-up of this flavor-packed plate.
Close-up of this flavor-packed plate.

Just like last weekend, pints were raised up (for pictures) and dug into 🙂

Because the So Delicious pint from Thursday blew me away, I decided to keep venturing into the flavor offerings of this brand. The almond milk offering of cookies ‘n cream had me very excited about trying at first, but unfortunately it was a disappointment. The cookie chunks were small, sparse, and did not carry much flavor. I’m not even sure what flavor the ice cream was supposed to be because it was lacking that much! Oh well, not everything can be a winner!

Eh, not worth the price...
Eh, not worth the price…

The Caramel Coffee Fudge flavor Ben & Jerry’s from their non-dairy frozen dessert line was also something I was looking forward to, after PB & Cookies proved itself, but was another disappointment as well. One unsual thing about this flavor was the crunchiness of the fudge blocks. They were fudge chunks, but they made a potato chip-like crunching sound when I ate them. It was odd, but very intriguing, haha.

I'd pass on this one.
I’d pass on this one.

Have you ever tried a falafel made with the not-so-normal ingredients?

Fala Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Halloween Eats

Halloween Eats

I honestly think Halloween was truly the last day of summer this year. The temps reached close to mid-80s here in LA, and it wasn’t until Daylight Savings kicked in that things started to feel much cooler and hinting at winter days ahead…

Regardless, I continued to do what I needed to do (lab) and do what I wanted to do (EAT) because to me, it felt just like any other Saturday. For some reason, Pasadena was calling my name, and so I hopped on the Gold Line to make it to lunch.

 California Chutney in Old Pasadena
California Chutney in Old Pasadena

California Chutney seemed like the perfect place to stop on by for lunch. When I had learned about their naan tacos, I knew I had to see what that food-fusion concept was all about.

 California Chutney inside.
California Chutney inside.

The restaurant is in a large space, and it’s relatively easy to order. There were puffy little naans warming up on a large hot surface, and at the counter, the menu was explained to me by one of the servers. There were naan tacos, rice plates, salad plates, and plenty of delicious-sounding sides. I chose to get two naan tacos, and I was given extra condiment cups to sample some other chutneys from the chutney bar 🙂 .

 Chutney bar...
Chutney bar…

My two naan tacos came out fantastic—stuffed with chickpeas, paneer cheese cubes, kale, mango chutney, green onions, and tomato, I was more than ready to dig in!

 Two naan tacos with chickpeas, paneer and kale, green onions, and tomato. Need I say more?
Two naan tacos with chickpeas, paneer and kale, green onions, and tomato. Need I say more?

I didn’t eat it like a taco though. I attacked the fillings first, and ate the naan last, allowing it to absorb all the saucy flavors!

 Naan taco insides.
Naan taco insides.

After that satisfying lunch, I felt like putting all that food to walk and taking a stroll even though it was still a bajillion degrees outside. I ended up walking towards the town hall building, and noticed some unusual statues in the distance…

 Town hall building...but those heads?!
Town hall building…but those heads?!

Those heads certainly took me by surprise! I’ll have to get to the bottom of their significance some other time, since I wasn’t too curious that day to inquire about their presence further. Instead, I decided to head down south to Alhambra for dessert.

 CremeBee in Alhambra!
CremeBee in Alhambra!

A lot of my classmates from last year call Alhambra home, but I’m not sure if they have experienced the wonders of CremeBee yet…

 Soooo cute inside :3
Soooo cute inside :3

It’s like walking into a clear blue sky inside, and the temperature is set to a degree just as cool.

 Look at all those honey bears!
Look at all those honey bears!

CremeBee specializes in honey-infused frozen yogurt that can be topped with crazy cute toppings like wafer sticks, marshmallow clouds, Ferrero Rocher, and of course, cotton candy. I decided to get the Cloud 9, which comes with a head of blue cotton candy and marshmallow clouds, but I asked to have chocolate wafer sticks in place of the marshmallows (because of the gelatin).

 The Cloud 9 with Chocolate Wafer Sticks.
The Cloud 9 with Chocolate Wafer Sticks.

When my masterpiece was complete and ready to be devoured, I was handed a hand sanitizing wipe, which I thought was odd at first. I used it before pulling at the cotton candy though, and then realized it was for after I was done…when my fingers would be a sticky mess. What a total facepalm moment!

 So. much. honey.
So. much. honey.

I still enjoyed the frozen treat though. There was so much honey throughout!

 Spun Sugar <3
Spun Sugar <3

The best part of course was the cotton candy. It mixed quite well with the frozen yogurt, adding a fruity flavor to it. I couldn’t have cared less for the chocolate wafer sticks though, which try as they might just didn’t fit in with the light & airy vibe the yogurt, honey, and cotton candy all contributed to.

I ended up leaving East LA soon after, and stopped by Target before heading home. I ended up buying this new flavor to try later on that weekend from B&J’s, which includes BEER as an ingredient. There is no alcohol in it though, I triple checked!!

 Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale Pint
Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale Pint

When I got around to consuming it, I was less than enthused. It seemed to be not too far off from the flavor profile of the salted caramel core which was ok, but the beer flavor was slightly off-putting for me. Just another indication that I will never be a fan of alcoholic drinks I suppose!

 The ice cream doesn't contain alcohol, but the fact that I wasn't a fan of this flavor proves that beer and me will never get along. :P
The ice cream doesn’t contain alcohol, but the fact that I wasn’t a fan of this flavor proves that beer and me will never get along. 😛

So despite the lack of candy, I think I got my fill of sugar this Halloween! At least I did preface it all with some carb-o-licious “tacos”, and I’m gonna go ahead and count those bits of kale and tomato as part of my daily vegetable serving 😉

Did you eat anything spectacularly sweet this Halloween?

California Chutney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday Ethiopian Buffet

Sunday Ethiopian Buffet

After running strong on Sunday morning, and diving head first into sweets the day before, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for my late lunch. I ended up deciding on Ethiopian, considering that it had been a long while since my last encounter with injera 🙂

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Sunday afternoon in Little Ethiopia.

Plus, it gave me an excuse to finally set foot in Little Ethiopia—where there are Ethiopian restaurants literally rubbing shoulders with one another. I’m not sure how they ALL survive, but I’m glad they do 😀

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Rahel VEGAN Ethiopian Cuisine!!

Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine was my stop for the day. It was refreshing to see that, even though Ethiopian cuisine is very vegetarian friendly, there was an entire restaurant devoted to serving just the vegan options of the cuisine.

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Interior decor

The restaurant was split up into two seating areas, but most people were seated in the larger room where a tall window brought in lots of sunlight.

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Menu cover.

As a single diner, I thought it was best to help myself to the lunch buffet offered between 11am-3pm each day, rather than figure out something from the menu.

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Buffet at the far end of the room.

The buffet was split up into a cold and hot section, and the injera rolls were kept inside a large basket. The cold food bar had mixed salad, beets (my love!), cut-up injera with spices, and dressing.

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Cold food section

I wanted to load up on all the side dishes, so I helped myself to one injera roll for every plate I ended up getting.

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INJERA 🙂

Plate #1 was a masterpiece. Since I was sitting in the center of the room, it was hard not to draw attention to myself due to my phone picture-taking, but it’s all part of the food blogger duty 😉

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Plate #1 : Injera, cut-up injera with spices, cabbage + carots, spiced cabbage, spicy lentils, kale

The spongy texture of the injera—perfect for absorbing all of the spices from the lentil stew and nutrient-dense veggies!

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Sponginess of injera.

Seconds and thirds (and an unpictured fourth) were necessary for the full buffet experience. I left Rahel feeling stuffed, but since I was only a 20 minute walk away from the Grove, I put my full belly to work.

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Seconds and thirds, cause it’s mandatory.

Carbs on a Sunday = a fun day 🙂 .

Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charmed by Veggies

Charmed by Veggies

So even though I almost fell into a sugar coma on Sunday, I survived and managed to eat a little bit more “wholesome” in the days following (but I do think treating yourself to oreo pancakes once in a while is indeed part of a balanced and wholesome lifestyle 😉 ).

After spending a few days with my Dad early last month, I didn’t think I’d see him again until my upcoming weekend trip to Nor Cal, but his job changed things up so that he was able to be in town again sooner—even if only for two days!

I met him after I was finished with my data analysis for the day in lab, and we were both feeling pretty beat from the day’s events. It was a mostly silent car ride due to us being so tired, but since we were on our way to dinner, we knew we’d both be in better, more energetic moods once out of traffic and when food was in our bellies.

Not having truly explored South Pasadena to its extent, I suggested we check out Charm Vegan there since our hotel was close by.

SAMSUNG

We came in around 6PM, and were greeted by a friendly hostess who immediately handed us menus.

charm vegan

I was used to seeing the similar asian/vegan-fusion options, and worked harder to find the “unique” dish from the many choices listed.

charm vegan interior

To start off with, we had two avocado rolls wrapped with rice paper and stuffed with guac, green leaves, lettuce, and carrots.

My Dad ended up sticking with something tried and true (even though he was the one who suggested I find “something different” off the menu). ‘Pumpkin, Eggplant and Tofu’ is a trusty choice for a reason—-when you’ve got sauteed eggplant, pumpkin, and tofu smothered in garlic chili sauce, paired with some rice on the side, how can you go wrong 😉 ?

fooooood

I did end up picking something different as my entree choice, looking at the Chef’s Specials for some guidance. I got the Sizzling Spare Ribs, made with soy protein and sauteed in a black bean sauce with onion, bell peppers, and carrots.

Since we ate family-style, my portions were quite the mix:

portioning it out

We were able to have a better conversation during dinner (when we weren’t stuffing our faces) and our energy levels were soon back up again. When we were about to leave after receiving our check, the hostess asked how we found out about their restaurant. My Dad just pointed to me, and I ended up saying “oh, online…”. The awkward moments of a foodie blogger 😛

At the hotel, we found more time to relax and recharge, and with my Dad’s help, I finally got my new phone to work! I “celebrated” with a pint of cookie dough Arctic Zero, and after showering, called it a day and went to sleep knowing that the next day would be another productive and exhausting one. 

The next day was a bit rushed all-around—I ended up starting in lab an hour later than usual, and didn’t finish my duties until late afternoon. I met my Dad again near campus, and we made our way to Sprouts so that I could pick up some produce for the rest of my week. We then parked at a Pavillions parking lot, where my Dad took a nap and I found a new-to-me pint to try and hold me over until dinner.

halo top vanilla bean

I couldn’t wait to dig in, and so since I was eating it in the parking lot, an older guy who was parked next to us and unloading groceries noticed my frozen treat and commented with a “that looks good!”. At least I wasn’t in the middle of taking a picture, but still…so awkward 😛 !

But to be fair, the guy was right because this Vanilla Bean flavor of Halo Top Creamery’s ice cream pints was insanely delicious. And with 24 grams of protein in the entire pint, I’d say it was an appropriate dessert snack to consume before dinner. 

For dinner, we headed over to Veggie Grill since it was the last day to try their spring specials (at least according to an email I received). The one in Westwood was close by, but not in terms of traffic…

Even though it was only six miles away at the time, that doesn’t mean anything in LA during rush hour. We still went through with our dinner plans though, even though my Dad was now in a time crunch to make his flight!

SAMSUNG

The inside looked relatively smaller compared to other Veggie Grills I’ve visited, but it made sense since it was nestled in a college-busy villa.

veggie grill westwood

I knew what to order right away, and asked for the banh mi salad at the counter. My Dad was pre-occupied with trying to figure out how to get to the airport on time, but his quick decision to get the bombay bowl was still a good one.

The wait seemed longer than usual due to the anxiety my Dad was feeling, but our dishes came within a time frame that allowed us to still dine in.

My banh mi salad was a beautiful mix of vegetables that included chargrilled eggplants, carrots, cabbage, jalapenos, and kale—topped with crispy cubes of organic tofu.

banh mih salad

I am a veggie lover for life, but the tofu pieces truly won me over this time around.

The Bombay Bowl my Dad took anxious bites out of was chock full of colorful herb-roasted veggies—something they left out when I first tried it a year ago. It was a shame that he couldn’t finish it due to time 🙁

SAMSUNG

In the end, he made his flight, and I didn’t have to take public transit home in order for him to do so. We also didn’t have to part with a goodbye since we would be seeing each other again soon enough—within days as a matter of fact 😉

Do you find it hard to eat when you’re anxious/stressed, or does it make you hungrier?

Click to add a blog post for Veggie Grill on Zomato

Busy Busy!

Busy Busy!

Last week was one of my busiest, but I’ve always been a person who prefers productivity…even if it means having to work harder for my free time. However, one of the things I don’t like about being busy over several consecutive days is having to force myself to sleep early enough so that I am able to do all the things I need and want to do in a functional manner 😛

Since the lab work I’ve been doing as of late has been quite time-consuming, I have been coming home anywhere from 5-7pm during the week, and usually making sure I get to bed sometime between 9-10pm. I’ve tried to utilize the time in between getting home and going to bed for “productive” things as well, but honestly, all I want to do is have dinner, lounge on the couch, and watch mindless TV. There is nothing wrong with that though…a hard day”s work should be rewarded with a few hours rest at the end of the day in my opinion! 🙂

To keep things short & sweet, here are some highlights from my busy last week

MoNdAy

[X] Woke up ~6am to prep dinner, head to the gym for an upper-body workout, and then back at the apartment to make it into lab by 9am. Dad spent the weekend before visiting me and staying at my apartment, so he was able to make us some coffee before I was out the door 🙂

[X] I was in lab until ~5:30PM. When I felt like I could no longer comprehend the data I was analyzing, I decided it was time to go home and rest my weary brain.

[X] After a crockpot dinner, I had two new-to-me cold treats!

artic_Zero_butter_peacn

Another one of Artic Zero’s chunky pints to check off the list (Butter Pecan!) It pretty much was their Vanilla Maple “ice cream” as the base with candied pieces of pecans thrown in for good measure. The pint was a delicious treat to eat while watching The Good Wife though!

chobani_clover_honey

This Chobani Flip reminded me of Fage’s honey flip cup, which has been my favorite since day 1. The Chobani version isn’t too bad, but the yogurt is thinner when compared to Fage’s, that’s for sure!

TuEsDaY

[X] Another long morning in lab…but I was still able to squeeze in a 6 mile run and a lower-body workout with squats thrown in!

[X] And meet up with my Dad again one last time before his business trip was over. We had dinner at Vegi Wokery—a vegan-Asian fusion place we visited some time ago…

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And it looked exactly the same from the inside as it did three-four years ago!

vw_interior

To start off, we (more like just me 😛 ) had kimchi, and my Dad went ahead and ordered his favorite lettuce wraps.

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Kimchi!
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Filling for lettuce wraps!!

 For our main courses, we got the Vege Chicken Curry, which was the special of the day according to the sweet lady owner, and the Kung Pao Vegi Chicken.

kungpaovegichicken

vegechickencurry

Both dishes were nothing but flavorful, warm, and perfectly-portioned for a weeknight meal shared between two people.

 Close-up of what both dishes looked like.
Close-up of what both dishes looked like.

[X] Spent the rest of the evening in Artesia hopping to and from different Indian grocery stores, where I found this:

cadbury_dairymilk_oreo

It immediately became a go-to add-in for my my yogurt bowl dessert creations for the remainder of the week, and I also managed to save enough to eat before morning long runs as well. As a whole, it reminded me of a Hershey’s Cookies & Cream bar, except more emphasis on the milk versus white chocolate, obviously 😛

wEdNeSdAy

[X] More of the same, except I had to get to lab an hour earlier due to the status of the experiment!

[X] Felt exhausted earlier in the day!

[X] Winding down with an evening routine that included  a Wink Dessert Pint topped with yogurt mixed with coconut flour and chocolate…

 Talk about YUM...
Talk about YUM…

ThUrSdAy

[X] I think I’m working my tail off, but after I’m done with my morning experiment, I come back to lab and see that everyone is scrambling to get some serious work done. Grant deadlines will do that to people…and even though no input is required from me as of right now, I’m thinking that will change very, very soon 😛 

[X] Meeting with my boss in the midst of all this “chaos”. The meeting did go well though, and despite always having that “overwhelmed” feeling after these kinds of meetings, this one was more narrow in topic, and focused on the immediate steps I need to take to get going on project #2. Exciting stuff…

[X] Leaving lab later than usual –> eating and just going to bed cause I just can’t stay up past 10pm. 

FriDAy

[X] Running against the backdrop of gray, cloudy skies and looming rains…one of the best morning runs of the week, for sure.

[X] Seeing so many people on campus due to graduation. Still can’t believe another academic year has gone by…

[X]  Everyone in lab is still scrambling by the time I come back after finishing up my experiment for the day. When other people are so hard at work around you, you can’t help but want to keep working yourself. So despite feeling hungry/sleepy, I stay a little longer to get some data analysis done. This definitely makes time go by fast, but I don’t 

saTUrDay

[X] Waking up naturally (without an alarm clock 😛 ) around 6AM, and then getting ready to head out to lab.

[X] Finishing in the early afternoon, and then hanging out on campus until it was party time!

[X] Party? What party? Yes—my first-year PhD program director hosted a get-together at her house, and it was one of those sit back-and-chat get-togethers so there was no pressure. It was real nice.

She prepared dinner for us—pretty much from scratch—and the feast consisted of snacks like hummus, baby carrots, and blue corn tortilla chips, two kinds of salads, an assortment of pizzas, sauteed kale, and blueberry pie…

dinner

I was at the get-together with a couple of students from my cohort, and it was just one of those social moments I’m glad I didn’t make an excuse to get out of. Lots of memories from the past year was shared, and we were all so excited to finally be DONE with lab rotations. We had “homes” now, and this night was a celebration of that 🙂

SundAY

[X] A 12 mile run before heading into lab.

[X] Able to finish by 2, and used the afternoon to go by a potential rental in Culver City.

[X] Unfortunately someone put in a deposit over the weekend (and the lady never told me in time, let alone told me at all…), so my initial reason for going was a waste. Instead, I ended up walking into a late lunch at Green Peas.

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I was so hungry at this point, and so I was glad that I made it in time before they closed at 4pm!!

fancy on the inside

There were quesadillas, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, coffees, smoothies, and cakes to choose from, but I ended up going with a Chicken Curry Sandwich that they made vegan. As my bread choice, I chose the sweet pretzel roll because pretzels are just plain awesome 🙂

chicken curry sandwich vegan

On the side, I got a salad that was dressed in balsamic. The cashier almost made mine a to-go order since I ordered 15 minutes before their official closing time, but she allowed me to dine in since she knew my sandwich would be ready before closing. I appreciated that of her since I did not want to go out walking in search of a park bench with a stomach that was ready to gnaw itself from the inside out :/

inside sandwich

The sandwich itself certainly hit the spot. It was slightly heavy on the sauce, but the bread did its job in soaking that in. The creamy sauce was flavored with mustard, cinnamon, raisins, and nuts, so it was an earthy + spicy mix of all sorts of fun ingredients…and it literally took me eight minutes to finish, haha.

[X] Before heading home, I made a quick stop at Culver City Center to stop by the Ralph’s and pick up some produce essentials, as well as my B&J weekend pint:

pbcorefudge

My heart was originally set on finding the Peanut Buttah Cookie Core, but this Ralph’s didn’t have it unfortunately. Oh well, we will eventually unite…

But the Peanut Butter Fudge Core did not disappoint.I found a place to sit at a nearby coffee shop, and dug in with a plastic spoon that I got from the hot bar section of Ralph’s.

I was a fan of the PB ice cream, and noticed that most of the PB mini cups were found at the bottom. I wasn’t too excited about the chocolate ice cream, but the peanut butter fudge core made up for what the chocolate couldn’t meet up to.

yeah!

Funny how I consider this a recap…it took me at least two hours to put together this post! But as you can see, this week was a productive one, and one that was not devoid of the “fun stuff” either. And even though the pressure is starting to amp up with certain things in my life (lab, finding a place to live for the next year…), I’m all about taking things day-by-day, week-by-week, and making the best of all 24 hours 😉

Vegi Wokery on Urbanspoon Green Peas on Urbanspoon

Milo & Olive: Pizza for One Please

Milo & Olive: Pizza for One Please

Since I had plans on being in Santa Monica for my long run over the weekend, I thought it would be ideal to grab lunch nearby after my 12 mile taper run. I was in the mood for a personal pizza, and so I took a bus from Ocean Ave. that was headed in the east direction of Wilshire. I was set to dine at Milo & Olive for my post-workout lunch.

The small, gray establishment was not hard for me to miss, since I have paid a couple visits to the the Vitamin Shoppe nearby. There were already groups of folks waiting outside and inside the tiny cube of a restaurant.

busysundayyy
Waiting near the counter // Patrons at the bar.

I had my name added to the waitlist, but I don’t think I had to wait as long as some others. Since I was dining alone, I was able to get a table relatively quickly (within 15 minutes). I was taken behind the baked goods counter, and given a table by a large window. I also had a great view of the hustle & bustle of the restaurant in front of me.

interior

I love the way the paintings were arranged on the walls, but I was fixated on this one in particular:

 Old people---so cute!
Old people—so cute!

I also couldn’t help but admire the high ceiling paneled with wood.

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There were lots of pizzas to choose from, but after confirming if the Quattro Formaggi was suitable for vegetarians, I ordered that…

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…and sipped on some water from this fancy-looking jar while I waited for my warm pizza pie to arrive. The waiter “warned” me it would be at least fifteen minutes, but I understood…perfection can’t be rushed 😉

When the pizza did arrive, it garnered stares from the tables around me. It demanded attention, as made obvious by its bubbling cheese, glistening green kale, and aroma of calabrian chili oil.

Quattro Formaggi with sautéed kale and calabrian chili oil

The pizza looked bigger than a “normal” personal pizza at first, but it was actually just the crust that looked puffy and large. The center of the pizza was quite thin, and it was almost as if it was just a circle of melted cheese. The underlying crust was barely visible.

QUATTRO FORMAGGI

This meant that my ways of eating pizza with a fork would not be appropriate here, and I had to treat it as a handheld meal like a normal person would 😛

The pizza itself was quite filling, even though I didn’t demolish it entirely (I left a bulk of the crusts on my plate, mostly eating the slice up until the border where the cheese ended). I was contemplating a cupcake for dessert, but decided that it would be in my best interest to head back home and rest up study for an exam the next day. There would be next weekend after all, and I did have some gelatin-free gummies waiting for me in the meantime to get me though an afternoon and evening of studying!

Do you like eating the pizza crust? Plain or with a dip/sauce? I used to dip leftover pizza crust in ketchup when I was younger! Otherwise, it was just too dry for me.

Milo & Olive on Urbanspoon

MTR: Week 2

MTR: Week 2

I woke up last Sunday morning to see clouds outside my window, but fortunately the temperature was not too cold. I was able to head out to Santa Monica with my team for a 9 miler in some Under Armour running tights and an old race tee—no layers necessary 😀 !

The 9 miler itself was a two-part run, with the first part being an out-and-back along the beach (7 miles), and then finishing up the last two miles down Ocean Ave. It would have been the perfect run—if it were not for the mild humidity (sticky skin = eww), the entitled bikers who think they own the entire strip of road along the beach, and the random staircase we had to climb back up to the pier, just so we could finish two more miles (slightly ruined my mojo).

 Walking back from the LSD on Sunday.
Walking back from the LSD on Sunday.

At least we had snacks and water when we finished, and I decided to stick around in the area after the run (hey, now I only had to pay one-way for the bus ride home!). I decided to make the ~40 minute walk over to Venice Beach so I could have lunch at Seed Kitchen.

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Welcome to Venice.

Walking near the beach was quite a site once I hit Venice. There were street artists lining the road, as well as crowds consisting of skateboarders, tourists, and the occasional verbal brawlers. But after I turned left, away from the beach, I ended up walking along a quiet street of local shops and cafes. Seed Kitchen was nearby.

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Vegan deliciousness or veggie delite? Hmmm…

After stepping inside, I was somewhat taken by surprise since I expected the restaurant to be a lot larger than it actually was. It did have that cozy feel to it however.

seedkitchen

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I took a look at the menu at the front counter, and decided to go for the BBQ Tempeh Bowl.

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I don’t know why I can’t resist ordering some kind of bowl dish from vegan restaurants. Perhaps it’s because I know I won’t be disappointed—or at least not entirely—since I can expect a variety of ingredients.

 BBQ Tempeh Bowl - a gluten-free bowl with steamed kale, bean sprouts, carrot shreds, and bbq tempeh served over organic brown rice :)
BBQ Tempeh Bowl – a gluten-free bowl with steamed kale, bean sprouts, carrot shreds, and bbq tempeh served over organic brown rice 🙂

Other than the small size (compared to the price) and the BBQ sauce actually tasting more like a tangy tomato sauce, this bowl did NOT disappoint.

 Just look at that tempeh!
Just look at that tempeh!

I ravaged through the tempeh too quickly—as I didn’t have any to mix with my rice that was pressed to the bottom of the bowl!

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Ah well, the rice was good on its own anyways 🙂

Even though I felt like I fueled up well after the 9 miler on Sunday, my energy the rest of the week didn’t measure up, at least in the beginning.

Sunday – LSD 9 miler at 9:30/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday3 miler early morning solo-run at 9:38/mi

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday 5 miler not-so-early morning solo-run at 9:13/mi 😀

Saturday – Rest (originally planned a 6 miler)


Total Mileage -> 17 miles

I had to nix my planned early weekday morning runs since I felt too tired, especially from Tues-Thurs, and I think that may have affected my pace on Tuesday. I originally planned for it to be a 4 miler, but I was surprised I was even able to make it to 3. It was definitely not my best run for the week, since instead of feeling pumped and energized, I wanted to get back into bed after the run!

At least Friday’s 5 miler proved to be much better. I got up at my own time since I didn’t have class (just lab), and did not try to rush myself to get out the door and back before a certain time. On Saturday, I felt lazy tired again, and used my morning to catch up on studying before heading out to lunch. I also “excused” myself out of the run since I was going to run 10 miles the next day with the team! 

Do you like taking unplanned rest days, or find that it throws you off?

Seed Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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