January Sunshine

January Sunshine

This past weekend turned out to be better than I expected. I didn’t have a slew of things I was planning to do to begin with, but despite just checking off mundane errands and staying close to home due to lab responsibilities, it was a pretty pleasant Saturday and Sunday.

My shins have slowly been cooperating, as I have been trying to ease back into my normal mileage while giving them recovery time between days I do running workouts. That meant doing cross-training every other day last week, and while I hate feeling like a hamster at the gym, I gritted my teeth and got through it. I also managed to get some strength training in.

When my sister was here the weekend prior, I was able to snag a bunch of great clearance deals at Sprouts, including $3 jars of soybean spread, $6 protein bar boxes, and limited edition RX bars for $0.50 a pop!

It’s funny how last year around this time, seeking out new RX bar flavors was one of the things that kept me sane when I was preparing for quals. Now, these bars aren’t really my jam anymore…

RX Bar - Iced Gingerbread
RX Bar – Iced Gingerbread

And despite everyone one the ‘gram raving about this flavor, I couldn’t get on board with the dry texture. The cinnamon and ginger spice pretty much made this a a dense slab of fruit cake. Eh, not too appetizing. But it was $0.50, so not too much of a loss 😉

My Saturday morning consisted of a short, easy run to get my blood flowing for the next day’s team long run. I eventually made my way to lab, but was too tired/hungry to venture out too far for something to eat. Despite it being early January, the sun was out and bright as ever, meaning the smoothie/juice/acai bowl craving I had was absolutely justified.

Sunlife Organics, USC Village
Sunlife Organics, USC Village

It was my first time trying Sunlife Organics. I first came across the name two Labor Day weekends ago when I made a day trip to Malibu. The one I visited in the relatively new USC Village definitely had that pretentious LA juice shop vibe, but I let it slide.

Juice shop vibes
Juice shop vibes

When it comes to visiting “chain” restaurants or restaurants with more than one location, I like to try whatever is special to that location or seasonal specials so I feel like I have a reason for going to a location that is farther out than where I need to go.

So I got the "Trojan Bowl".
So I got the “Trojan Bowl”.

So I got the Trojan Bowl, which was a coconut butter/hemp milk/whey protein/banana/mango blend base topped with granola, strawberry, peanut butter, goji berries and bee pollen. Being the nut butter fan that I am, I was enamored by the PB and goji berries alone. 

<3
♥♥♥♥♥

I ate this while people-watching and soaking in some of the sun’s rays. There were plenty of student’s already studying in the vast courtyard (the semester started about a week ago), and looking at their stressed facial expressions made me so relieved that I was no longer in that boat, haha!

 

I was slightly nervous going into Sunday since it was my first team long run in a while (since I took time off for my shin splints). I stretched as much as I could and hoped for the best. We had originally planned to drive to Pasadena for our notorious 12 miler that everyone gets lost from, but due to lack of cars, we opted for a run close to downtown LA.

To my pleasant surprise, I was able to run pain-free with my teammates! I felt pretty good for about 75% of the run, and the last 2-3 miles felt tougher than usual, but I think it’s due to the lack of consistent running over the past few weeks. I’m hoping my endurance comes back at a roaring pace, but I’m also trying to be cautious and take things at a pace comfortable for my shin recovery.

After the run, I spent the morning catching up on some work, but I made sure to get some time in to get lunch in downtown. For some reason that day, I felt like walking down those DTLA streets I’m so fond of…

Panini Kabob Grill, DTLA
Panini Kabob Grill, DTLA

I used to pass by Panini Kabob Grill all the time when I lived near DTLA and was walking between the Pico and 7th Street Metro stations. The patio seating was always full, but I got myself a seat this time around.

A seat where I was able to appreciate some views.
A seat where I was able to appreciate some views.

Their menu selections includes plenty of veggie-friendly items, and as soon as I saw the charbroiled organic tofu kabob platter, my mind was made up.

tofu-kabob

I was expecting thick blocks of baked tofu to be skewered with grilled veggies, but my plate came to me skewer-less. But there were bright orange soft squares of tofu, plenty of grilled veggies, a side salad with avocado, a lil cup of hummus (def. not enough for the food that was there to dip it in), and fluffy bulgar pilaf.

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Charbroiled Tofu Kabob

Even though the tofu looked worthy based on its color, it was quite bland and lacked flavor. The salad was doused in a dressing with too much vinegar in my opinion, and the bulgar pilaf also lacked flavor. I will admit that the portions did make for quite a filling meal.

I felt like walking a couple blocks after my meal, and definitely felt the effects of the sunshine. I was feeling warm under the sun, but certainly very happy. It was one of those perfect, “winter” LA days.

How is the weather currently where you live?

I Seriously Only Buy Food

I Seriously Only Buy Food

After walking over to Malibu Country Mart, I actually felt like shopping! What held me back was my wallet…even though there were some cute clothing shops, I couldn’t justify paying the prices that they were asking for.

malibucountrymarket_grom
Malibu Country Mart

There was even a Lululemon, and usually I humor myself when I go in there. Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to “treat” myself to a luxuriously-priced piece of clothing that will, at the end of the day, end up being drenched in sweat (especially if worn for a long run). For now though, I usually walk in, notice how unenthusiastic the employees are about doing their job (i.e. helping customers), and walk out proudly, knowing that I did not succumb to fitness peer pressure.

grom_menu
GROM Gelateria, Malibu

The gelato place I was more interested in was conveniently right next to Lulu. I actually knew about GROM from before because they have a location in Hollywood. Haven’t been to that one yet because it’s in a tourist hotspot that I do my best to avoid, but that won’t stop me from EVER going. This GROM was small and cleanly decorated. There were lots of children and their moms ahead of me in line, so I took that time to figure out what to get.

gelato
Small, cute shop

They have small, medium, large, and extra large cups, as well as waffle cones. I’ve always been a cup kind of gal, but I had to do a double take on the small cup. Not sure how they could have fit even kids size scoop from Baskin-Robbins into that thing! Well, since it is an Italian brand perhaps things run smaller?

grom_sizes
100% natural, yay!

Also since I wanted to try two flavors, I chose to get the medium cup, which in my opinion holds a normal small-sized scoop. I got half Nutella and half lemon ginger which I later found out was actually sorbet, not gelato.

grom
1/2 Hazelnut (Nutella) + 1/2 Lemon Ginger

I sat in a picnic chair just outside the entrance, and needless to say, the Nutella side of my scoop was my favorite. It was creamy, and literally tasted like iced Nutella. The lemon ginger sorbet was fine too, but I guess I was not as thrilled by it because I had not intended on getting a sorbet flavor.

top
From the top!

After savoring my sweet gelato, I walked around some more before calling it a day. I bought this cookie from a snack shop just before heading on the bus:

cookie_of_the_season
Alternative Baking Company’s Cookie of the Season – Snicker Doodle

It literally smelled and tasted like pizza dough with a dusting of a cinnamon. In other words, disgusting. It’s unfortunate this one tasted so bad, as I wanted this vegan product to be so much better than it actually was. Maybe it was this particular flavor…but if they want to do better they should probably take a hint from Lenny & Larry’s.

My Labor Day off was a success in terms of relaxation, exploration, and eating nutritious foods that were also good for the soul. I felt a little bit more refreshed going into work the next day, but I’m not saying I couldn’t use more breaks 😉

Grom Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All Aboard the 534!

All Aboard the 534!

Not having to go into lab for TWO CONSECUTIVE WHOLE DAYS called for a celebration. I could have spent these days in a deep sleep induced by an ice cream coma, but instead chose to make a day trip pit of it.

So on Labor Day, I did sleep in till about 8, got ready around 10, and took a very short train ride to downtown Santa Monica to board a Metro bus that would take me to Malibu.

welcome_tom_alibu
Welcome to Malibu!

The 534, or the Malibu line as I like to call it, drives alongside the beach up to Pacific Palisades and then Malibu. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic, which made its strong presence the morning I left and when I got back around 5.

I got to Malibu at the perfect time: when I was hungry and ready for a proper lunch. I got off close to the Malibu County Mart/Mall, and then walked over to another strip mall where Ollo Restaurant was located.

ollo_
Ollo Restaurant, Malibu

I had to wait 15 minutes for a table, but once I was seated I was able to appreciate the decadent decor.

barrr
Seating at the bar.

Morning talk shows were playing on a TV across the room, and every table was packed with couples, families, and brunch enthusiasts (identified by their penchant for plates of pancakes, eggs, and coffee mugs).

ollo_menu
Ollo Menu

There were plenty of veggie friendly options, which made it hard to choose, but ultimately I decided to get the Tumeric Tofu Bowl.

tumeric
Tumeric Tofu Bowl

If I had to describe the bowl, I would definitely say it was like a rice bowl with salad on the surface. It was as if I ordered a rice bowl and salad bowl, and decided to combine them on my own!

tumeric_tofu_closeup
Tofu bowl close-up BECAUSE!

Everything was dressed in a green goddess dressing, which seemed to be a creamy avocado dressing if I had to guess. The tofu was soft and lightly spiced, but my favorite aspect of this dish was combining the crisp romaine lettuce along with a spoonful of rice that was already doused in dressing. Texture at its finest!

The bowl was pretty pricey ($17 after tax and tip), but I thought of it as paying for the experience vs. paying for a solitary bowl.

lagoon
Off to the beach!

The lagoon/beach was just a 10 minute walk away, so my meal went to work for me right away. I was totally unprepared for the beach, but I didn’t mind not packing a swimsuit/towel/sunscreen/etc.

lagoooooooooooon
BEEEEAAAACCCCCHHHHHH

I came, I saw, I took selfies by the lagoon, and then headed back toward civilization…because gelato was calling my name!

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

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