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

Chilling in Walnut Creek

Chilling in Walnut Creek

The next day, I woke up earlier than everyone else (6am of course) but forced myself to go back to sleep just for a little bit. My cousin got up to make coffee a little over an hour later. I wanted to get a run in, so I opted to have coffee when I came back.

I ran along the Iron Horse Trail for 10 miles, and when I came back my cousin and her wife had left for the gym, haha. My sister and I spent the rest of the morning just chilling around the house.

Quiet Saturday morning
Quiet Saturday morning

When my cousins came back, we wanted to go out for some fresh air while they caught up on house errands/work. My sis and I used that time to go into downtown to pick up snacks and walk around.

Walking around downtown Walnut Creek
Walking around downtown Walnut Creek

I noticed that they had an acai bowls shop by the name of Vitality Bowls, and I remember I had bookmarked it years ago as a place I wanted to visit if I ever stopped by in the East Bay. My sis also wanted to get a bowl, so we stepped inside.

Vitality Bowls
Vitality Bowls

There was ample seating inside, and despite the cold temperatures outside, there were many groups of people inside eating away at fruit-filled concoctions that were held in wavy-shaped stainless steel bowls.

whaisgraviola
My sister and I spent a good amount of time pondering over what is graviola…

My sister was craving a bowl that had ample amounts of banana and peanut butter. I wound up getting a classic Vitality Bowl.

bowlz
On the left ~ a Nutty Bowl with an almond milk base, apple juice, PB, banana, strawberries and flax seed topped with granola, (more) bananas, almonds and honey // On the right ~ a Vitality Bowl made with organic acai, bananas, strawberries and flax seed and topped with granola, honey, bananas, strawberries, and (not enough) goji berries

I loved my bowl, but wish there had been more goji berries. The base was also somewhat more watery than I expected, and my sister’s bowl base seemed to be as thick as ice cream. The stainless steel bowl kept things nice and cold however.

close up
Close-up shot of my Vitality Bowl 🙂

After finishing the bowls, my sister and I headed back to the apartment. We just worked on our computers and enjoyed the company of my cousin and her wife. One of

their friends came over for tax help, and my cousin got started on cooking dinner while the NBA All-Star game played in the background. My cousin ended up making a “less spicy” version of Pad Kee Mao. The original recipe called for 22 chili peppers, but she generously cut that down to 7.

pad_kee_mao
Pad Kee Mao that wasn’t supposed to be spicy, but still was!

Even so, everyone commented on how spicy it still was! I however like spicy food, and didn’t find it off-putting one bit.

After dinner, we played a card game called Judgment that my cousin’s wife was a pro at. She beat us all by a wide margin. Soon after that, we called it a night and retreated back to our rooms. We had plans to go into the city the next day, so we had no problem turning in early to save up our energy for that. 🙂

Vitality Bowls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough

Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough

This month has been stressful and extremely busy for me to say the least, and finding outlets of comfort has been quite a challenge! I do feel like I have been able to give myself self-care when absolutely necessary, such as when a 20 min power nap turned into a deep sleep session of 2 hours on Thursday, but working through two rigorous powerpoint presentations non-stop for a month can wipe ANYONE out…

Needless to say, my weekends have been uneventful for the most part, since I’ve been having to devote all the “free” time I have to staying close to lab or home. I’m hoping I can fill my weekends up with more restaurant outings and LA exploratory activities, but right now I am powering through the home stretch!

At least I’ve found a some source of comfort from some new foods as of late.

Hello nut butters!
Hello nut butters!

Reginald’s Homemade was kind enough to send me four flavors of their unique nut butters. Of the four jars, I tried the cashew butter first, atop some Siggi’s yogurt.

cashew butter opened
Siggi’s topped with cinnamon molasses cashew butter!

The cashew butter was flavored with cinnamon and molasses, and you could tell molasses was definitely mixed in due to the thick consistency of the butter.

cinnamonmolasses_cashewbutter
Cinnamon Molasses Cashew Butter

The nana honey peanut butter was just as smooth, but a bit more runny than the molasses flavor. It definitely had a banana scent, but it wasn’t overwhelming in the taste. Honestly I thought this flavor tasted mostly like regular smooth peanut butter, but it was fresh and creamy nonetheless!

cashew butter in yogurt
So smooth!

The wedding pretzel crunch peanut butter said it had “lite crunch” on the jar, but this flavor was ALL crunch. There were tons of salted pretzel sticks thrown in, but I couldn’t not any distinct white chocolate flavor. While I was hoping for a decent mix of chocolate chips mixed up with all those pretzels, I wasn’t too disappointed considering this jar was maxed out when it came to varying textures.

wedding_pretzelcrunchpb__
Lot’s of pretzels here!

My favorite flavor in regards to texture was the bourbon pecan flavor. This jar was literally glowing, and the pecans were ground up just right so that the pieces were just the right size.

bourbonpecan_pb
Bourbon pecan peanut butter

This was one jar I could easily eat by the spoonful, but I also added it to a mug cake with yogurt mixed with amazing grass greens.

greensmoothiepecanbutter_
Topping some mixed yogurt!

I also ordered some more cookie dough from The Lion’s Pack, and had ordered it while I was in Tulsa so it would be waiting for me when I got back to LA earlier this month. I had fun reviewing the flavors on Instagram:

Campfire Cookie – one of my favorites! It had chocolate chunks and graham cracker dusting. It looked sooo pretty, and the good looks matched in good taste!!

When it's not summer but you miss campfire nights 🔥 🍪
When it’s not summer but you miss campfire nights 🔥 🍪

Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough – So, Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough…I found the Cap’n Crunch pieces to be stale-tasting, and overall didn’t help the cookie dough taste any better. The colors were fun though.

Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough
Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – Good ol’ chocolate chip. A classic that often is taken for granted. But I have to say that The Lion’s Pack chocolate chip cookie dough is insanely good! The chocolate chips are small and melty, and not overwhelming at all! Sometimes sticking to the basics is good 👍🏽

I gotta say that this might actually be my top fave!!
I gotta say that this might actually be my top fave!!

Snickers Bar Cookie Dough – Too many peanuts, and not enough nougat/caramel with this “Snickers bar” flavor cookie dough.

This flavor was obviously not my favorite!
This flavor was obviously not my favorite!

Monster Cookie Dough – The Monster Cookie dough actually tasted awful. The cookie dough itself was fine, but the “monster” candy pieces tasted somewhat bitter, chalky, and just did not fit. I literally had to pick them out in order to enjoy the rest of the dough.

monster_cookie
Eh, not my fave!

Gingerbread Cookie Dough – It certainly had some spice, and some white frosting strings. It was a pretty good flavor, which I think could have tasted even better with some other holiday-themed add-ins…oooh, gum drops and candy cane pieces perhaps??

ginger
Gingerbread Cookie!

Unfortunately, the packaging wasn’t so well put together with this shipment—one of my jars came cracked at the lid!

crackedjar
Ugh cracked jar…

Ah, January is almost over, and I’m hoping that with it, I’ll have less stress on my plate and more comfort with not just from food, but in life overall!

Which of these peanut butter flavors would you try?

Which of these cookie dough flavors would you try?

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.

cocoa_dusted
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…

sweetgreen
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.

food_
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!

rx_pb
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

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Last Saturday, I ran the Hard Rock Cafe 10k once again. I paired it with a weekend voting adventure that ended up being more memorable than I thought it would. The turmoil I faced in the afternoon did not make me regret the race though!

halo-top-peanut-butter-cup
Over the weekend, I also tried the last Halo Top flavor I needed to try out of the ten new flavors! Caption from Insta —> The day has finally arrived! I tried out the last of the new Halo Top flavors—Peanut Butter Cup! Honestly I was expecting for there to be peanut butter CUP CHUNKS, but there was a hardened peanut butter swirl. In my pint, it was mostly at the bottom, and surprisingly didn’t have much flavor even though it looked like PB. While I did expect this pint to be more fantastic than it actually was, it was not too bad. If you were at the store and this and Oatmeal Cookie were your options, get THIS first!! Haha. 👉🏽 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough > Pistachio & Black Cherry & S’mores > Sea Salt Caramel >> Red Velvet & Peanut Butter Cup >> Chocolate Almond Crunch > Cookies and Cream & Oatmeal Cookie. 🍦 And there you have it, my opinion on all the new Halo Top! Now please excuse me while I stock up on all the Cookie Dough pints 😏 .

I woke up incredibly early in order to catch a 5AM train. Ugh it was far from what I wanted to do in regards to getting to the race start, but I did make it to Hollywood and Highland, fortunately all in one piece!

walk
Early morning start!

I picked up my race shirt and bib, and seeing as there was no packet pick-up YET AGAIN, I had to wear the shirt over my current shirt. I also got a cappuccino from Starbucks in the meantime, before assembling with the other runners at the race start.

shirt
Race shirt and walking around the start/finish

The race began at 7AM, and the path was pretty much a 3 mile out and back in regards to the 10k. It was a run down Hollywood Boulevard, and we turned around at the border of Los Feliz. I honestly felt so light and free for the first three miles. My pace was sub 8:00 for a while and then slowly crept up after mile 3.

My breath and legs were catching up to me, but I didn’t feel so exhausted to the point that I had to slow down. I had a major dip at mile 5, but then had enough energy to kick it to the finish.

I ended up with a pace of 8:12/mi ! My current 10K Race PR!

Like last year, there wasn’t much in terms of goodies.

shorts
Bai and Nesquik were here this time…but something new were the Turkey Trot LA 2015 shorts!!

They had the Nesquik truck again, but they also at least had Bai and this guy giving out LA Turkey Trot 2015 shorts! Obviously I thought the shorts were the best of all the race goodies being given out, even if they were more like bloomers, haha!

medal
Ohh shiny medal!

I left for North Hollywood soon after since I wanted to get voting out of the way (lol) but overall I was glad with how the race ended up. My last race experience in Hollywood was terrible so Saturday’s race definitely made up for that ordeal!

What would be a cool post-race freebie for a company to hand out?

Race Recap – Santa Monica Classic 5k/10k

Race Recap – Santa Monica Classic 5k/10k

On Sunday, I ran the Santa Monica Classic, which happened to be a sold out event catering to 4K people! In the days leading up to the race though, I snacked on some new-to-me bars that refueled me after my weekday runs.

Sprouts was having a sale on Perfect Bars, so I tried two different flavors even though my first experience with the brand was horrible. Looks like their revamp of the brand and flavors had made a huge difference!

perfectbar_pb
Perfect Bar – Peanut Butter

The Peanut Butter flavor tasted like a cold, peanut version of cashew burphi.

perfectbar_ac
Perfect Bar – Almond Coconut

The Almond Coconut flavor had a mixed texture, and even crumbled a bit, but the flavor was still subtle and sweet.

The FitJoy bars have been a recent hit on social media, and even when I stepped into GNC a few weeks ago they were trying to promote the bars with free samples. I caved in and bought a box of chocolate chip chip cookie dough from Vitamin Shoppe the week after.

fitjoy_cccd
Fit Joy – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

This flavor was particularly chewy, and gave my jaw a workout for sure! It had some crunch to it as well from the small chocolate chip chunks. I didn’t notice any weird after taste, and another added bonus is that these bars don’t have sucralose!

Back to the race though—itt was a celebration indeed! How could you ask for better running weather with cloudy skies overhead and a fair ocean breeze drifting in the from the west?

dogs
The health festival the day before the race where I had to pick up my bib. They also had therapy dogs and oh were they adorable!

I ran to the race start since it made for a nice ~2.5 mile warm-up run from where I live.

smc_schedule
Running to the race start…

The starting area was already buzzing with activity, and since I had at least another hour before the 10k start, I found a patch of grass to sit on for people watching.

waiting-on-the-grass
Now to find a piece of grass to sit on.

I watched the 5kers take off, and soon after, the 10k runners made their way to the start line.

For the first mile, I was averaging a 7:45/mi pace even though my legs felt heavy. I wondered to myself if I would be able to pull this off the entire way, but that’s when the mental struggle butted in. If I was running the 5k, I think I would have been able to maintain that pace the whole way through, but knowing that I had double the distance of a 5k, one of my most immediate thoughts was “pacing, pacing, pacing“.

At Mile 3, just like I had expected, the heaviness caught up to me and I settled in at a 8:30/mi pace. Mile 4, which was on San Vicente, created an incline which slowed my pace quite a bit, but by Mile 5 on the turnaround, that “feeling of fatigue” seemed to vanish! Maybe it was because I was no running down an incline, but at least it helped.

I pushed through all the way until the finish, and ran under the arch with a final average pacing of 8:27/mi. I grabbed a hold of the first water bottle I saw in the hands of a volunteer, and guzzled it down within 10 seconds.

walking-o-pier
Walking to the pier to get those freebies!

The race organizers where sneaky in that the runners had to head down to the pier to get their race shirts. To tide us over during the walk down to the pier, we were able to have Clif Nut Butter filled bars, bananas, and water.

After getting my shirt, I managed to only get a handful more of race goodies. For the race registration fee, I didn’t get much as far as snackables.

fruit_and_fruit
Fruity freebies!!

Meb was there for a meet-and-greet, but I didn’t stop to stay hello. He was taking pics with the high school winners of the high school challenge between Santa Monica and Malibu high schools.

I needed to go into lab that afternoon, so I made my way home around 10:30. I got back 45 minutes later, and quickly got ready to go about my day.

Overall, I was very proud of my pacing and final time. There were a lot of competitive runners, and I believe the women’s top finisher in the 10k was an LA Marathoner top 10 runner/definitely elite status.

smc_medal
Medal 🙂

I only hope that as I continue my training, I’ll become more competitive, faster, and stronger especially endurance-wise. I know I have it in me, but my recent injuries and mental mindset play a big role as well.

One thing I’m looking forward to is receiving help from a coach. I’m in the process of finding someone as I write this, and we’ll see how that turns out soon enough!

My First Degusta Box

My First Degusta Box

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

Two weekends ago, I surprised my roommate by dropping a huge box on the floor of our apartment with a loud THUD! I had carried this box for ten minutes straight, as it made its was from apartment mail center to elevator to apartment door. But it was a box worth having an extra arm workout 😉

My hefty Degustabx filled with lots of goodies! The box was heavy and bulky, but I can't complain too much because it had full-size bottles and cartons of tasty products!
My hefty Degustabx filled with lots of goodies! The box was heavy and bulky, but I can’t complain too much because it had full-size bottles and cartons of tasty products!

Degustabox is a monthly box subscription that is currently active in five European countries and is now starting up in the United States! Each box is packed with food products featuring all sorts of brands, and if the regular monthly boxes are like anything the box I received, then you will be getting a workout carrying it back to your apartment/house from the mailbox.

Degustabox also offers a points system through friend referrals and completing surveys about products that come in the box. There are many ways to collect points in order to get to 100 points to redeem for a free box 😀 . I had to lay out all of my products in one picture because I couldn’t believe the amount and variety I had before me…

Degustabox Products for June
Degustabox Products for June

The featured product of the month was Topo Chico, sparkling mineral water straight from Mexico!!

Topo Chico Mineral Water
Topo Chico Mineral Water

I tried both Topo Chico bottles on my long run day, one right after and one later in the evening. I had the lemon-flavored one right after my run and it felt SO refreshing! If you are someone that needs an incentive to drink water because it’s “too boring”, carbonated water is the way to go. Sure, you may be burping for a while afterwards, but a sip from each of these bottles was a party in the mouth!

Jif Cinnamon Peanut Butter Spread
Jif Cinnamon Peanut Butter Spread

The item in the box that I was most excited to try was the Jif Cinnamon peanut butter spread. Nut butters and spreads (especially new brands and flavors) always make me go weak at the knees, and this jar of cinnamon-y wonder was no exception. I had little more than a dollop of it with a Fage Crossover yogurt I’ve been meaning to try, which featured a coconut curry yogurt and cashew topping. Everything together, mixed in, was just…ahhh. I probably would have been able to enjoy it more if it was a post-run treat versus a way to get in some pre-run fuel. It was just that good!

Vita Coco Coconut Oil
Vita Coco Coconut Oil

I received the coconut oil by Vita Coco in three small sachets. My mom used to rub it on my scalp and in my hair when I was younger, and while I hated the smell and going to school with slicked hair, I truly think that’s what’s helped my hair remain so thick. I don’t condition it like that anymore, but having these sachets in hand reminded me of those times, so I actually rubbed up my hair with one of them before showering. It also helped that I got a haircut, so one sachet was plenty 🙂 . I’m not sure how big of a difference it made, but at least it made the shampoo I used easier to lather, allowing me to used less of the shampoo! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown fond of the coconut oil smell, so that didn’t bother me as it lingered in my hair into the next day.

Wise Popcorn
Wise Popcorn

The Wise popcorn bags I received came in lightly salted and Cinnabon flavors. I made my usual weeknight after-dinner snack of protein powder mixed with yogurt (proyo), and topped the bowl with popcorn. In this bowl, I topped it with the Cinnabon flavor and snacked on the lightly salted flavor on the side. The Cinnabon flavor was not very strong to my disappointment, and the popcorn of both flavors tasted somewhat stale (as in they didn’t have a robust crunch to them).

Another fun topping item included in the box were packages of Cranberry Almond Cashew Trail Mix and Cashew Halves and Pieces from Orchard Valley. I was a fan of the trail mix since the cranberries tasted especially sweet and the almonds were salty and crunchy. The cashews were flavorful too, but the single note grew boring after the first two spoonfuls.

Orchard Valley Nut Packs
Orchard Valley Nut Packs

One versatile product I received was a carton of Elmhurst Harvest’s walnut milk! I have yet to try walnut milk…yes to almond and cashew, but walnut was a new one to me! Even though it was unsweetened, it helped make a rockin’ snack:

elmhurst
Elmhurst Harvest milk-alternative

Into this cup went:
– 4 oz. of Elmhurst Harvest’s walnut milk
– two scoops (~56g) of chocolate protein powder
– a little over two tablespoons of cashew butter

I also added a little extra water to completely dissolve the powder, but the walnut milk certainly help bind things together and also maintain a nutty flavor in this protein smoothie of sorts 😛

I didn’t get two taste these two dressings/sauces in time for this post, but I could at least comment on the packaging!

Brianna's Home Style Italian Vinaigrette & Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade
Brianna’s Home Style Italian Vinaigrette & Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade

I was actually pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of Brianna’s dressing in my box, seeing that it costs ~$5 a bottle at Whole Foods! I’ve been having salad packs mixed with tofu and some kind of sauce/marinade/dressing for my weekday lunches lately, so I know I will make great use out of this once I open it. I’ll just have to remember to keep this in the refrigerator once I do!!

Bottles from the side.
Bottles from the side.

The Soy Yay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce also looks appetizing. This bottle is packed with sesame seeds (at least from what I can tell looking at the neck of the bottle), and it probably fetches its spiciness from the ginger puree and dried ginger mixed in. I know I will go through this bottle quickly when it makes its initial appearance one of these days in my weekday lunch salads.

Even though I wasn’t sick (thankfully) this week or the week before, I had to give the Honees honey menthol cough drops a try. Each lozenge has liquid honey on the inside, and while the outer layer reminded my of the Halls lozenges I used to have long ago, the flavor was more refreshing due to the liquid honey on the inside infused with menthol. 

HONEES cough drops
HONEES cough drops

One product I will unfortunately be unable to try are the Haribo SOUR Gold-Bear gummies. If only they didn’t have gelatin! But I do plan on bringing them into lab since we will be having a potluck this week, and I’m sure my (mostly) European lab-mates will enjoy them.

You can learn more about Degustabox on their website, Facebook or follow @Degustabox on Twitter/Instagram!

Which of these products would you be eager to try?

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

When it comes to protein powder, I prefer using it as a thickener for yogurts and for making smoothie bowls since I am unfortunately not the owner of a fancy blender or Nutribullet. Of course there are so many other ways to incorporate and utilize protein powder, but I stick with what I know best most of the time 😉

bobs red mill (3)
FREE protein powder, and a shaker bottle 🙂

However, I was nudged to try to find other ways to use protein powder when I was sent a sample kit of Bob’s Red Mill protein powders. Since they came in flavors like chai, vanilla, chocolate, and unsweetened protein fiber, the variety was a reason in itself to experiment.

bobs red mill (2)
Protein Fiber Oat Cake with Hershey’e Kisses

The furthest I went with experimentation was using the unsweetened protein fiber to make a warm, dough-y cake topped with Hershey’s Kisses. All that went into this bowl was one packet (a typical serving size scoop), a packet of maple and brown sugar oatmeal, and some water and almond milk. It didn’t have any flavor on its own (not even the oatmeal helped surprisingly), but with the Hershey’s kisses I was able to get some spreadable chocolate distribution going. Looking back however, I think this fiber could easily have been used to make a microwaveable pizza crust, and even sturdier oven-baked pizza crust.

bobs red mill (1)
Chocolate Protein Powder

For the rest of the powders though…they were destined to be a part of pro-yo creations. I also tried them mixed with just water to see how the flavors held up on their own.

bobs red mill (4)
Chai Protein Powder Packet

Out of chocolate and chai, chai had the best flavor profile, and even smelled like a warm tea blend upon opening the packet.

bobs red mill (5)
Chai Protein Powder

The vanilla flavor was the only flavor I received in a standard size bag, and I literally went through it in about a week!

bobs
Vanilla Protein “Smoothie” Bowl with PB!!!

I was adding it to oatmeal, in addition to yogurts, and even used it to make a smoothie bowl with almond milk, and topped with a very liquid serving of peanut butter (more like peanut juice?). You can even see the chia and flax seeds swimming around!

Do you find protein powder to be a necessary staple or just another product pushed by the fitness industry?

 

 

Just the Usual

Just the Usual

Last weekend was a weekend like any other…ya know, new food and new pints 😉

I got a hold of the non-dairy Fudge Brownie B&J’s flavor, and was not blown away at all when I tried it on Tuesday. It tasted like a milder version of Arctic Zero’s Brownie Blast without any brownie chunks or mix-ins for that matter! Ugh, I bet the even the froyo version is better than this!

B&Js Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Treat!
B&Js Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Treat!

On Saturday, I decided to travel a ways north to check out Leonor’s in Studio City, because they had been on my radar for some time with their all-vegetarian Mexican food options!

Leonor's!
Leonor’s!

They offered pretty much any Mexican item you can think of, and if it usually had chicken or beef in a “regular” restaurant the soy version was the only one available here at Leonor’s. I chose to get the soy chicken tostada, since I wanted something crunchy but still wanted to get my greens in.

Soy Chicken Tostada
Soy Chicken Tostada

The tostada only took up a small portion of the plate, as most of it was greens, and a light sprinkling of cheese. Even though the tostada wasn’t as big as I thought it would have been, at least it had a generous layer of beans and slices of breaded soy chicken.

Leonor's interior
Leonor’s interior

Along with countless cups of water, I was nourished enough to get back on the road and grocery shop at Vons before heading home.

For dessert that night, I had a new-to-me Oikos Greek frozen yogurt pint in Cookies & Cream. It actually tasted something along the lines of oreo cookie soft serve, and was quite delicious.

Oikos Cookies & Cream
Oikos Cookies & Cream

I also had the mint chocolate chip flavor that weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much more like ice cream it tasted than yogurt 😉

Oikos Mint Chocolate Chip
Oikos Mint Chocolate Chip

Another Vons find from the weekend allowed me the opportunity to try PB Crave for the first time. Cookie Nookie was the flavor, and was a PB base with cookie dough flavor, chocolate chips, and honey. I scooped some in a small bowl to get a taste, and while I could detect the sweet swirl of honey (that complemented the PB well), the chocolate chips seemed to have dissolved/be non-existent because I couldn’t taste any chocolate…and the cookie dough flavor? Nothing. I had high expectations for this flavor, but sadly it did not rise to the occasion.

PB Crave - Cookie Nookie
PB Crave – Cookie Nookie

Hmm, at least if I ever have a craving for honey-infused PB, I’ll know where that stems from!

Tostadas, tamales, or tortas??

Leonor's Vegetarian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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