These New Feelings

These New Feelings

After coming back from the East Bay last weekend, I felt unusually happy/self-confident/optimistic about life. I say “unusually” only because honestly, it has been a rarity for me to have these feelings hit me on a consistent basis. After years of dealing with depression and an eating disorder, as well as starting my recovery journey and really giving myself time to heal, grow, and learn about myself, I am now starting to feel ready to reach out and challenge myself with new and exciting things. I don’t feel as though I’m 100% recovered, but I feel I have improved SO much even after a little over a year of “real recovery”.

I feel ready to form more friendships and social relationships, to put myself out there and show the world who I really am. This readiness feels so thrilling and exciting, but at the same time I’m not sure what to expect. I’m putting myself in a really vulnerable position, but to be honest I’m not too afraid about that. In fact, I kind of want to challenge myself and shake things up from their current routine.

It’s going to be a slow process, but I think taking things slow is a wise decision for me at this point. If I want these changes to be sustainable and rooted, then I have to go about it carefully. But since it is all so new, it will feel like I have something to look forward to everyday 🙂

I can see I’m being vague about these “new and exciting changes”, but I just wanted to express how I’ve been feeling lately without going into TOO much detail…if things look promising, I’ll be able to disclose more ;)!

Besides embracing these all too-new feelings, I’ve also been embracing some new flavors of some recently tried and reviewed products. Before Vitamin Shoppe ended their BOGO 50% off D’s Naturals products promotion, I got the Raspberry Lava Cake and Salted Caramel Sundae flavors to try over the week. I go through jars of nut butters like nobody’s business so getting two for the week was just standard protocol 😛

D's Naturals Raspberry Lava Cake
D’s Naturals Raspberry Lava Cake

The Raspberry Lava Cake D’s Naturals spread tasted like mild chocolate peanut butter with a hint of fruit . A lot of the oil settled at the top and it was hard to get some to mix well at the bottom, but nevertheless it was a good flavor

The Salted Caramel Sundae had a smooth texture and taste that was easy on the palate. It From the two, I thought I would like RLC more, but I ended up having a stronger preference for SCS due to the fact that it has a smoother texture and flavor, and a mild caramel scent.

Salted Caramel Sundae D's Naturals Spread
Salted Caramel Sundae D’s Naturals Spread

During the same trip to Vitamin Shoppe, I also found the birthday cake flavor of Optimum Nutrition’s cake bites. While I thought the other two flavors were alright, I thought these bites were perfection.

Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites - Birthday Cake
Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites – Birthday Cake

The white chocolate coating had a firm enough texture to allow for it to have some crunch. And the sprinkles…it was like these three little bites were designed to be served as kid-friendly petit fours.

On Saturday, I had to make a trek to the downtown area (haha, I remember when it was pretty much my backyard…). I was starving by the time 2pm hit, and pizza sounded like the best idea ever.

Blaze Pizza near DTLA
Blaze Pizza near DTLA

It was my first time checking out Blaze Pizza, and I knew from the likes of the menu that the Art Lover sounded the most appetizing.

Time to add some toppings.
Time to add some toppings.

After laying out my crust, the woman behind the counter added the essentials: … Yeah, I could have made a completely different pizza that was customized to my design, but I found comfort in the description of the Art Lover.

Cookies!
Cookies!

Ricotta & mozzarella. ’nuff said.

Art Lover - artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, red sauce dollops
Art Lover – artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, red sauce dollops

I saw people around me feeling too full, having to carry-out half eaten pizzas. I was able to stomach the whole thing and not feel like I was going to burst! I may have had Italian seasoning-breath for the rest of the day, but a good pizza pie is worth it.

Can I have 3 more of these??
Can I have 3 more of these??

What good things have happened to you recently?

Blaze Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Visit to Novel Cafe (Before Writing My Own Novel…)

A Visit to Novel Cafe (Before Writing My Own Novel…)

I have a huge 12 page proposal due soon, and with this on my mind the weekend before Thanksgiving, I was anxiously-driven to put in some concrete hours working on it.

picmonkey-collage
Tried a new RX Bar flavor from Trader Joe’s—Maple Sea Salt! I love how it has salt speckles that sparkle like diamonds!

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go into lab that weekend, so it also gave me plenty of time to sleep in for a bit, and then set up shop at a local library.

apple-caramel-yogurt
Tried this interesting new seasonal greek yogurt flavor —> Apple Caramel Greek Yogurt? Tastes more like cream cheese with apple pieces…uh, I guess that could be appetizing but when you expect yogurt and taste cream cheese, it’s quite a surprise 🤔 .

I also had a hankering for pizza, so I made it my first priority to get myself a warm, hearty tomato-based pie before working. This meant waking up around 8 (because that’s my definition of sleeping in) and then heading over to Novel Cafe because I heard they had pretty good pizza, among other things.

vegan-pizza
Novel Cafe

The outside was covered in calligraphy and murals, while the inside had an interesting layout. There were one (or two?) shops within the restaurant selling what I assume was jewelry, but they also didn’t seem to be affiliated with the restaurant.

teninthemorning
Casual seating area

I sat at a table in the center, and in my view was an empty juice bar, and bakery cases full of pastries and bread. I was handed a long, laminated menu and my eyes immediately gravitated to the pizza section. I had to go for the organic vegan topped with zen buddha cheese…

vegan-pizza
VEGAN PIZZA,COME TO ME!

…it also came with other goodies like rich tomato sauce, zucchini, and mushrooms!

melt
That melty “cheese”

My pizza was a medium, but it was the perfectly-sized personal pizza. It took me a while to finish, but that’s because each bread-y bite took some work to chew. Each slice was thin enough to fold NY style.

I left with a full tummy and gathered enough energy to get to work on my paper for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. I spent a good three hours at the library, hard at work, before I decided to venture home and crash into a carb-induced coma of a nap.

The next day, I continued to put those carbs to use when I ventured out for a fourteen miler with my marathon team. My running buddy and I kept a consistent pace the entire time, making us enthusiastic about our marathon prospects. If all goes well, I may be significantly PR’ing come March 😉

veggie-wrap
Trader Joe’s Veggie Wrap w/ Hummus – The wrap itself is so soft…and each bite is chock full of hummus!

I did some grocery shopping after the run and before heading home, all on now-tight quads! I picked up a new-to-me wrap from Trader Joe’s for lunch while watching the latest SNL episode.

hummus-wrap
What I had to say about this wrap —-> Is it actually raining in So Cal today 😱?? I thought it was pretty good timing on my part getting back home after a 14mi run JUST before the downpour. I wanted to get a lot of my written proposal done, but a lot of napping, SNL watching, and veggie wrap with hummus eating happened instead 😛 But at least I did catch up in the sleep department 👍

I had my fair share of hard work and relaxation in the weekend immediately preceding Thanksgiving, but I am more excited to type out my Thanksgiving recaps! That is…if I ever finish this proposal 😛

Novel Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nothing But Self-Care

Nothing But Self-Care

There is nothing like waking up without an alarm clock, with your eyes feeling refreshed and your body at peace. This was exactly how I felt the night I went to sleep after working for 43 hours without rest. It’s something I never, ever want to do again, but believe me when I say I have never felt more restored than I did after (deeply) sleeping for eight hours straight after that.

I needed a cookie+coffee after this all-nighterrrr
I needed a cookie+coffee after this all-nighterrrr

I didn’t get up and go run, or immediately get ready for lab (even though I did have to go in for a bit in the afternoon). Instead, I practiced some self-love by showering, stretching, and making some breakfast for me to eat on the go while walking to the train station.

My sister sent me this Fat Cell microbe for my birthday <3
My sister sent me this Fat Cell microbe plushie for my birthday <3

The last place I wanted to be that day was lab, but I was able to work up an appetite and get back to Santa Monica around 3pm for a late lunch. I strolled along Main St., stopping only when I got to Areal across the street.

Areal Restaurant
Areal Restaurant

I was slightly confused at first when trying to find the entrance, thinking I needed to walk by a bar and a huge patio in order to get to the restaurant, but instead I ended up standing awkwardly in front of what I assumed to be the kitchen, with wait-staff running around me. No one acknowledged I was even there/willing to direct me to where I should be seated, which I found to be quite rude.

Got some water in a mason jar after finally getting a seat.
Got some water in a mason jar after finally getting a seat.

I made my way back outside, and found out that the person in charge of seating was outside the wall that guarded the patio. Even talking to her was a chore, as she had that “I’m-only-working-here-until-I-make-it-big-in-Hollywood” attitude, and all I wanted was a seat.

The patio seating was gorgeous though!
The patio seating was gorgeous though!

After being told the brunch selections were no longer an option since it was past 3:30pm (gasp!), I was pretty much left with salads, sandwiches, or pizza. My 43-hour sleep deprivation experience still left me craving an immense number of carbs, so pizza sounded more appetizing to me than usual. When Mr. “I’m-only-working-here-until-someone-discovers-me-walking-shirtless-on-the-beach-and-makes-me-famous” came by, I gave my order for a marinara pizza with pineapple, onion, and artichoke hearts (basically a Hawaiian without the ham).

Look at that flying saucer beauty...
Look at that flying saucer beauty…

My pizza came out with steam still flying off of it, on a black pan and its own elevated stand. Across 10” of thin-stretched dough was a coating of marinara, mozzarella, onion, artichoke hearts in cubed, layered pieces, and pineapple cut in the most exquisite way.

That pineapple slice though!
That pineapple slice though!

I was accustomed to associating cubed pineapples as a pizza topping, but seeing pineapples sliced like this—in disc form—was much more aesthetic in my opinion. I finished every last bite, and with no crumb on my plate or tray, I felt sleepy in the best way. Walking home under the bright sun only exacerbated my sleepiness, and once I got back home all I wanted to do was take a long nap.

My plans to finish packing Saturday night for my week-long trip to Oklahoma were thrown out the window, but I believe my reasons were justified. I needed to honor myself for working so hard during the week, and if it meant scarfing down a pizza and napping away the rest of my Saturday, then that’s just something I had to accept 😉

Areal Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Keeping Warm in the Snow

Keeping Warm in the Snow

My final few days left in Tulsa were spent staying close to home, mostly due to the weather, but also due to the fact that I probably wouldn’t see my family for quite some time. On Sunday, the rain got so bad, that we ended up having dinner in. My dad made chapatis and all the side fixings.

sunday_dinner
Plate 1 of home-cooked family dinner

After dinner, we ended up watching a movie that ended up being super boring by the middle, but we were to invested to quit watching. We made it through the end, and promptly went to bed!

On Monday, we woke up to find some fluffy white stuff everywhere…

monday_snow
What is this white fluffy stuff? Snow you say?

The last time I saw snow was in Chicago, so it definitely has been a while for this Cali girl 😉

For my last meal with the fam before leaving for the airport, we chose to go to Ri-Le, a Vietnamese restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options.

Ri-Le___Restaurant
Ri-Le Restaurant

The menu was abundant with choices, but my Dad insisted we have their vegan soup special as an appetizer. My sis picked the sweet and sour dish, and I picked the soy ginger chicken, for all of us to share.

ri-le_2
Menu and interior.

The absolute star was our appetizer soup though. So warm and flavorful…basically the perfect bowl to combat the cold, frosty weather outside.

ri-le__3
A warm bowl of pho for all of us to share!!

When our entrees came, I helped myself to many plates.

ri-le__4
Servings from lunch.

The sweet and sour dish was served with sauced veggies and fried soy balls of some sort. I wasn’t a fan, so I let my sis finish off that one :P. I did enjoy my pick though 🙂

ri-le_1
Sweet n Sour + Ginger

The best part of the meal was getting fortune cookies afterwards (even though they aren’t Vietnamese, let alone Chinese!)

fortune
Hmm…pretty accurate after all?

My fortune ended up being accurate since my second flight from Phoenix to LA that night was delayed by almost an hour!!

At least it gave me plenty of time to enjoy this $13 airport pizza?

airportpizza__13dollars
Margherita pizza at the airport.

I ended up getting home at 11pm California time, and had just enough energy to put this jar of edible cookie dough away in the fridge (my Dad knew how much I was enjoying this during my trip, so he encouraged me to grab one to take home since they’re hard to find 🙂 ).

cookie_dough__pb
Peanut Butter edible cookie dough 🙂

I felt sad about the fact that my time with family was kept to one week only, but since I had plenty to do in lab the following week and a time-sensitive experiment to fulfill, I had to cut my “vacation” short. Funny thing was, I was literally the only person working since this week was “officially” break for everyone else. It wasn’t too big of a deal though… after all, I had me, myself, my experiments, and this PB cookie dough to keep me busy 😉

Pasta on Pizza

Pasta on Pizza

My sister and I spent the rest of our Saturday afternoon, after stuffing our faces with cookies and milk, being emotionally-moved by The Good Dinosaur. I was also touched by the short beforehand (Sanjay’s Super Team). My sis and I agreed that even though TGD was excellent, it wasn’t advertised as much as it should have been. I remember seeing promotional stuff about Inside Out months before it came out, but TGD came up by surprise. It really should have gotten more press…

After our movie, we didn’t want to travel too far for dinner. We thought we’d check out one of the more fancier places nearby (an Italian restaurant), but their vegetarian pizza selection was minimal.

So we opted for the other Italian place next door…

 Mobtown Pizza, Tustin
Mobtown Pizza, Tustin

It seemed less pretentious, had more pizza variety, and easy on the student wallet 😉

mbpizza_icecrm_l&lcookie (3)

It was also brightly-lit inside, unlike the dimly-lit, fancy place we almost dined in.

 Comfy & casual atmosphere
Comfy & casual atmosphere

It also seemed like it was a pretty popular place to go—there was a birthday party going on, and lots of mom/daughter pairs having pizza after a long day of shopping.

 Saturday night pizza.
Saturday night pizza.

My sis and I initially wanted to get a deep dish pizza slice each, but they didn’t have any available that were vegetarian. So we decided to do the next best thing and order a full pizza, with half veggies and half pasta. While we waited for our pizza to be rolled out and baked (which actually took a while…but maybe it was because we were hungry…), we noticed the mobster/Godfather-themed décor:

 Godfather-themed
Godfather-themed

The mobster phrases though!

 Common Mobsta Phrases
Common Mobsta Phrases

Before we got to the point of eating our arms off, our pizza arrived!

 Half-n-Half
Half-n-Half

I helped myself to two slices of the Don Veggie, which was topped with an assortment of veggies, including artichoke hearts.

 Don Veggie
Don Veggie

I tried the Fat Macaroni Pie slice, and it was incredible. It was literally like having pasta with marinara sauce on pizza crust.

 Fat Macaroni Pie!
Fat Macaroni Pie!

Pasta usually isn’t my entrée of choice, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be. Sometimes it’s okay to take a break from the comfortable falafel and quinoa 😉

 Fat Macaroni Pie Pasta Slice
Fat Macaroni Pie Pasta Slice

Our OC Thanksgiving weekend was over on Sunday, when my sis and I parted ways at Union Station and I had to park myself in front of a computer for the next seven hours just to finish a proposal.

At least it was completed by a decent hour, and I was able to treat myself to this exclusive Wal-Mart B&J’s flavor. I was able to stop by the one close to Union Station before dropping my sis off!

 Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

Graham cracker swirl. That’s really all there is to it. Sorry to say the pumpkin was not that noticeable!

I also picked up the other Wal-Mart exclusive to try the next day, but I was not a fan. Too much (icy) strawberry and not enough shortbread :/

 Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Not So Shortcake Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Not So Shortcake Ice Cream

But at least L&L’s Birthday Cake Cookie was not a disappointment! I bought a box on Black Friday (most of my purchases that day was solely on food!!), and I had most of them over the weekend…

They taste like a regular, soft sugar cookie, but smell like birthday cake. Put some icing on these and you’ve got a protein-packed Lofthouse-style cookie.

 Lenny & Larry's Birthday Cake Cookie
Lenny & Larry’s Birthday Cake Cookie

Do you prefer pizza from a casual or fine dining place?

Mobtown Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crossroads Kitchen & a Troubador Concert

Crossroads Kitchen & a Troubador Concert

I normally don’t do much on weekend nights, since I tend to do all of my adventuring during the day, but when my friend (who I met from my marathon training team last year) invited me to attend a concert with her at the Troubador, I agreed because why not?

Before getting to the venue at 8pm, we had dinner at a way-too-fancy vegan place—Crossroads Kitchen.

 Crossroads Kitchen
Crossroads Kitchen

Even though the lighting was not ideal for pictures, it was beautiful. We were able to get a high table near the front of the restaurant, and the view from high(er) up was awesome.

 Dim, but beautiful lighting!
Dim, but beautiful lighting!

It took us a while to get our orders in, but we didn’t order that much anyway. Just a small salad and a pizza to share. We were even warned by our hostess that the portions would be small, but we decided to go through with our initial choices and consider ordering more later if need be.

 Tapas-style menu.
Tapas-style menu.

One of the iconic dishes served here is the “seafood” tower, which is really all plant-based, vegan-friendly, seafood-shaped finger food to share among 4-6 people. It’s also pretty pricey…$45 I think!

 Front and back of Crossroads Kitchen.
Front and back of Crossroads Kitchen.

Our baby beet salad came out first, and featured a variety of mellon-balled beets mixed with feta, walnuts, apple slices, and balsamic sauce.

Baby Beet Salad - candied walnuts, kit hill almond cheese, granny smith apples, balsamic gastrique
Baby Beet Salad – candied walnuts, kit hill almond cheese, granny smith apples, balsamic gastrique

The pizza—which was certainly perfect for one—was our favorite. The crust was warm and toasty, while the cheese and “meatball” pieces had just enough crumble for added texture without falling all over the plate.

Spicy Meatball Pizza - housemade "meatballs", calabrese peppers, almond ricotta, micro basil
Spicy Meatball Pizza – housemade “meatballs”, calabrese peppers, almond ricotta, micro basil

These two dishes were actually enough to tide us over for the concert. We were also running short on time, so we thought it would be wise to not invest in more food.

We got to the Troubador a little before 8pm, and waited near the stage until the concert started at 8:30pm. The act was William Fitzsimmons, an indie folk singer with a mellow, acoustic sound.

 At the Troubador before the show start.
At the Troubador before the show start.

There was opening act before WF playing until 9:30pm, and WF took the stage until 11:15pm, but my friend and I left around 10:30pm since I was feeling tired and she had a 40 minute drive back home. Overall, it was a very soothing concert…even though I had to stand up the entire time since my friend insited we be close to the stage 😉

At least I was exhausted enough to fall into a deep sleep once I got home!

Are you a fan of indie folk music?

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

william fitzsimmons.

Pizza and a Movie

Pizza and a Movie

After spending ten straight days running, it felt glorious to sleep in, and not have to worry about getting a mandatory workout in. It was the absolute perfect way to start the three-day Independence Day weekend!

Since my sister was staying with me for a few days, we had tons of fun things planned 😉

The fun began later in the morning, after stopping by lab to check on an experiment. We were out by noon, and proceeded to take the train + bus to WeHo for a scrumptious lunch before hitting the movie theater.

 Enter, EVO Kitchen
Enter, EVO Kitchen

While it wasn’t a completely vegetarian/vegan establishment, EVO Kitchen offered plenty of organic, vegan, and gluten-free options. Many of the menu items could be made meatless upon request however. This was a fact that pleased my sister and I, after taking an extensive amount of time looking at the large offering of pizzas.

 All the pizzas sound amazing. Right before getting our pizzas, the waiter gave us some garlic salt and pepper flakes!
All the pizzas sound amazing. Right before getting our pizzas, the waiter gave us some garlic salt and pepper flakes!

The restaurant itself was small and cozy, with a smattering of booths and small tables + chairs. There was a bar to the right, and from where we were sitting, we could see part of the kitchen and the cooks hard at work!

iterior
The cozy interior.

It took a while for our pizzas to arrive (or maybe we were just that hungry?) but when they did, my sister and I split our pizzas in half to share with one another. 😉

On top: the BLEU CHEESE STEAK without steak - mushrooms, onions, marinara, mozzarella and gorgonzola // on bottom: the BBQ CHICKEN without chicken - BBQ sauce, tofu cubes, scallions, onions, soy cheese.
On top: the BLEU CHEESE STEAK without steak – mushrooms, onions, marinara, mozzarella and gorgonzola // on bottom: the BBQ CHICKEN without chicken – BBQ sauce, tofu cubes, scallions, onions, soy cheese.

Out of the two pizzas, the one I ordered [the BLEU CHEESE “STEAK”] was my favorite. I ordered it with multigrain crust, and it came out super crunchy as a result. There was also a mild tang to the marinara, and overall, was perfectly-sized for a lunch portion.

 The chili flakes added a pop of color...and just look at those scallions!
The chili flakes added a pop of color…and just look at those scallions!

The BBQ pizza, from the slices I tried, was good…just not mind-blowing. The BBQ sauce tasted more like ketchup than a spicy BBQ sauce, but at least the tofu cubes were quite chewy and added variety to the toppings.

 BBQ with tofu!!
BBQ with tofu!!

After lunch, we made a semi-made dash for the bus stop to head to The Grove. We wanted to make the 4PM showing of Inside Out, but ended up having to get tickets for the following show at 5:30PM…not because we missed the bus or anything, but rather all of the seats for the 4PM show were reserved. I have never heard of reserved seating for “regular” movies before (plays, yes), nor have I ever had to pay $15 for a movie that was not in 3D.

 A nice looking theater---inside & out (haha...)---but the $15 ticket price? Not so nice...
A nice looking theater—inside & out (haha…)—but the $15 ticket price? Not so nice…

Good thing Inside Out was beyond worth it. The story, concept, characters, and ending were all on point, and I was glad that I was patient enough to wait to see the movie with my sister. After leaving the theater, we couldn’t stop talking about our favorite scenes 🙂

Since it was still sunny and gorgeous outside, my sister and I stayed out longer to get some snacks from Trader Joe’s.

 Festive times at The Grove.
Festive times at The Grove.

It took us an hour or so to get home, but once we got back to my apartment, I made some scrambled eggs on toast for my hungry sister.

 Had to prove to my Dad that I was not starving my sister.  ;)
Had to prove to my Dad that I was not starving my sister. 😉

We stayed up until 11PM (which is unusual for me 😛 ) watching Friends and munching on snacks. It was nice to not have to worry about getting up early again the next day—especially since we had another fun-filled day planned for the 4th!!

Have you seen Inside Out?

How do you like your pizza?

Click to add a blog post for EVO Kitchen 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…

SAMSUNG

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.

SAMSUNG
Kimchi!
SAMSUNG
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

Birthday = Crossing Places Off the Foodie Bucket List

Birthday = Crossing Places Off the Foodie Bucket List

What’s the best way to celebrate a {summer} birthday? A lot of bloggers definitely know how, since there have been many birthday recaps as of late 😉 , but for me, certainly three things are necessary: close friends, things to do, and tasty food. My birthdays in recent years had all of these “ingredients” and were successful as a result. Last year’s was memorable for sure, but I truly appreciated being able to celebrate my birthday this year with those closest to me and at places I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while.

The day started with a run to the gym, and then after getting ready, my friends and I drove to SF. We first dropped off my friend’s brother at his friend’s house, and then made our way over to SoMa (after fighting traffic and keeping our eyes peeled for a parking spot…). I let the frustrations get to me, and let my Dad take over to look for a spot while my sis, friend, and I walked over to the restaurant. We found him waiting at the entrance…apparently, there was parking right in front of the restaurant.

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After laughing at the irony, we perused the menu hanging on the window in front, then made our way to the cashwrap.

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I insisted that lunch be on me, and took care of the bill. I also suggested we get four dishes to share family-style so we could all try different things. I was surprised by how empty the place was, even though it was lunchtime.

source inside

I took advantage of the opportunity however, and tried to discreetly take pictures of the space. Source was featured on an episode of Mystery Diners, and has been on my bucket list of places to eat after finding out it was a vegan restaurant in the Bay Area. They also have a smaller location, Source Mini, in Berkeley.

SOURCE

In their menu, they use fake meat, but refer to it as “cluck”, “oink”, or “moo” depending on what meat it is “supposed” to be. Our four dishes came out after ~15 minutes even though it seemed like longer. The first to come out was the Vegan Mousaka. I originally wanted to get the Jamaican Jerk Cluck (cluck <– fake chicken & veggies cooked in jerk sauce, with organic brown basmati rice, black beans & chutney), but they had unfortunately sold out 🙁 . Although it wasn’t meant to be an appetizer, it served its role as one, and worked as a great thick tomato dip for the pita bread pieces it was served with.

grilled layered eggplant with cinnamon, all spice, garbanzo, mushroom, tomato, topped with cashew “béchamel” sauce

A little while later, the waitress arrived with the “real” appetizer: Baked Vegan Spinach Artichoke Fondue. My sis and friend were enthusiatic about this particular dish, and so I let them have at it since I wanted to save room for the other two dishes that had yet to come to our table.

roasted peppers, spinach cashew cream, truffle oil & pita bread

We had to ask for some more pita bread to get all of the dip out of the bowl!

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My absolute favorite was the Chile Cluck Pizza. It had a sweet and spicy flavor that was out of this world, and it was made on such a thin crust so it didn’t make me feel too stuffed to tackle the…

cluck, mozzarella, plum tomato sauce, sriracha sauce, parmesan, truffle oil & balsamic glaze

Country Shepherds Pie! My sis picked out this one and I thought she made a good choice. I wasn’t a fan of the mashed potato topping, but the filling was warm, satiating, and perfectly paired with the mini, sliced sourdough on the side.

moo (fake meat), mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion, topped with roasted mashed potatoes

After our nice, quiet, and fulfilling lunch, I drove us over to the Golden Gate Bridge. My friend and I were talking about how she never could walk across the whole bridge because her family would always complain it’s too cold/long, so I wanted us to be able to finally do it together. It quickly turned from sunshine to fog, and I sort of regretted not bringing a jacket (you think I would remember after all these years…), but fortunately I was at least wearing longsleeves.

While we were able to stop for photos and take in the view, the walk was anything but pleasant. There was a strong wind, noise from passing cars, bikers who didn’t know how to bike politely, and it was very, very cold. I honestly felt like having a warm cup of coffee on the way back!

Golden Gate Bridge

After the walk, it was time for birthday cake vegan cinnamon rolls! Cinnaholic was another foodie-destination of mine, and I thought why not celebrate the b-day with a different kind of sweet? Leaving the city during rush hour was madness, but we still made it through to the other side—even if it was an hour and a half later than we would have liked.

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I learned about Cinnaholic after the owners appeared on an episode of Shark Tank. At first, I thought they just shipped out orders of vegan cinnamon rolls, but when I learned they had an actual establishment (actually very near to Saturn Cafe!), I knew I had to make a visit.

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The idea behind the custom roll is you pick your flavor of frosting followed by toppings. They also have recipes for their own combos (like S’mores), have other baked goods for sale (cookies, brownies), and have mini buns too!

inside cinnaholic!

We all decided to get two rolls and share. Our first roll was a rootbeer frosting + graham cracker topping combo, and our second was a pina colada frosting + raspberries combo.

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To be frank, the rolls were not as amazing as I wanted them to be. While we attacked the rolls with excitment at the beginning, our initial excitment plummeted mid-rolls. The roll base itself tasted dry, wasn’t that sweet, and both frosting flavors didn’t have much flavor other than the taste of pure icing/sugar. At least I can now cross it off my list…

Despite nourishing myself with food I had my heart set on for months, I still felt hungry. Actually, I felt oddly ravenous all day. While the girls felt full (and spent some time in a book shop), my Dad and I thought it would be best to end the day with the frozen yogurt, this time his treat. The Yogurtland on the corner was the solution.

Mix of different flavors. Toppings include mochi, cookie dough pieces, mango poppers, white yogurt chips, mini caramel cups.

Despite the nuissance of city traffic and parking, it was a splendid day overall. I also had that “letdown” feeling that usually passes over me after a great and eventful day, so I knew that I had spent my time the best way possible. It’s hard to believe another year in my life has gone by though! Should I be scared or excited 😉 ?

Do you like the season that your birthday falls under? Summer birthdays are the best, period. Sorry to you spring/fall/winter babies 😉 !!

Source on Urbanspoon Cinnaholic on Urbanspoon

A Fiery Weekend

A Fiery Weekend

My 4th of July weekend was wonderful. The only thing that I could really complain about was the heat—and even with the weather blazing like fire, I still had cravings for spicy food!

The weekend began Friday evening when we set out to one of our neighborhood parks to watch the annual fireworks show our town holds. We brought the spread for a picnic, which included veggie dogs, hot dog buns, pico de gallo salsa (homemade), corn on the cob, and freshly sliced watermelon. When the sun set and the sky turned dark enough, the 15-minute fireworks show began.

4thofjulypicnic

It truly was a bittersweet moment, knowing that this would be the last time I watched my hometown’s fireworks show—but then I thought about the future 4th of Julys’ to come in LA and any sentimental feelings I had went away 😉

The next day, I had a craving for homemade pizza—but wanted to have it with a barbecue twist. So after a late afternoon shift at work that ended as the sun set, this dinner was a delicious treat to munch on when I came home at dusk:

Barbecue Pizza
Serves 1
A pizza for one, with a barbecue twsit. (Vegetarian)
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Ingredients
  1. - 2.5 oz. of pizza dough
  2. - ½ cup of Boca meatless crumbles or Tofurky meatless pepperoni slices or sausage
  3. - 1 medium onion
  4. - Sliced green pepper
  5. - 2 cloves of garlic
  6. - Spoon of jalapeno peppers
  7. - 4 or 5 mushrooms (sliced)
  8. - Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or your preferred cheese)
  9. - Olive oil (to sauté)
  10. - Sugar
  11. - Barbecue sauce (or mix ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt)
  12. - Steamed broccoli (for the side)
For Pizza Base
  1. Roll the pizza dough out to desired size.
  2. Bake in toaster oven for 8 minutes (4 minutes per side) at 375 degrees F.
For Topping
  1. Heat olive oil.
  2. Roast chopped garlic and brown the onions. Add the “meat” and mix thorougly.
  3. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté and peppers. Start to cook.
  4. Add the barbecue sauce, and cook another minute until the whole topping is not runny.
Putting it together
  1. Top the pizza with the barbecue topping, and cover with mozzarella or other preferred cheese.
  2. Return pizza to oven and broil till cheese is cooked to your liking.
  3. Add some steamed broccoli as a side, or another mix of steamed veggies, and eat up!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
 Adding the topping to the pizza.
Adding the topping to the pizza.
 Add cheese.
Add cheese.
 Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.
Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.

For dessert, I had my most recent favorite—greek yogurt mixed with carob chips! I added even more carob chips to the cup as I ate through it, making sure that each spoonful was covered with a disproportionate amount of chips.

dessert craving of the week - carob chips with greek yogurt

On Sunday, I had the morning free so that was spent at the gym. I immediately took a shower after coming home, and got ready for another day’s shift at work. This time I would get out in the early evening, so I planned to go out to have dinner with my Dad and sis.

We chose to visit Freebirds, since none of us had ever frequented the place, but were always curious about the “world famous burritos”.

Freebirds World Burrito (3)

This location was divided in half longways, so that there was a brick divider between the ordering counter and the actual dining area.

Freebirds World Burrito (4)

Freebirds World Burrito (6)

Freebirds World Burrito (7)

I decided to go with the smallest size—the Hybrid. The next one up was Freebird, then Monster, and for the ultra daring there is the SUPER MONSTER (which is not even featured on the menu)!!!

Freebirds World Burrito (5)

Since I went with a burrito, my sis decided to try an order of the Veggie Nachos and let my Dad have some of that. We both made our way down the counter, designed in a way similar to ordering a sandwich at Subway.

Freebirds World Burrito (8)

I picked out a tortilla (cayenne flavor), skipped over the meats, asked for queso sauce, and loaded up on veggies. At the end, I had my server pour on some pico de gallo and hot tomatillo sauce. For a small burrito, the end product was still quite hefty.

 My sister's nachos sitting pretty.
My sister’s nachos sitting pretty.

There was a separate counter for payment, and a soda dispenser right across from it where we got our waters. There was also a sauce dispenser shaped as motorcycle bar handles!

Freebirds World Burrito (2)

We then sat at a table to feast on our orders—but not without looking up at the ceiling and chuckling at this sight:

Freebirds World Burrito (1)
Sort of fits in with the whole 4th of July theme though!

My burrito was bursting, but the filling was kept inside nice and tight thanks to the careful wrapping of aluminum foil—at least until I reached the very end of the burrito. I couldn’t finish my burrito without having some sauce coated over my fingers.

 Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)
Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)

At least it wasn’t death sauce.

Freebirds World Burrito (10)

My sister’s nachos looked extremely appetizing. She liked the taste, but found the chips to be too flimsy to hold all of the various nacho toppings.

Veggie Nachos

We finished up close to 6pm, but it was still blazing hot outside and felt like it was 3pm. Weather-wise, and food-wise, my long weekend was a fiery one for sure! 

What foods did you feast on to celebrate the fourth of July?

What do you like to eat when it’s hot outside? 

Freebirds World Burrito on Urbanspoon

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