March DegustaBox

March DegustaBox

How is March ALREADY AT ITS END?! How is my visit to see my cousin an event that occurred a little over a month ago, and did I really just run a sub-4:00 hour marathon only this past Sunday

Well, I guess we truly are approaching the end of March, seeing as I’m writing up another DegustaBox review! My box for March came packed with a bunch of goodies!

DegustaBox for March '17
DegustaBox for March ’17

There was a a good balance of sweet snacks and savory staples. Of course, I went for the sweet-flavored stuff first! This time, I went straight for the Loacker biscuits—“Gran Pasticceria Tortina Dark”

tortinadark-noir
A “Hazelnut Tartlet?”

This wafer-based biscuit is described as a “hazelnut tartlet” and has a smooth, creamy dark chocolate shell over a melt-in-your-mouth wafer cookie.

The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!
The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!

The other cookie-based snack was this bag of Mrs. Thinster’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Thins. Apparently more exotic flavors like Key Lime Pie and Cake Batter are available, but these chocolate chip crispy cookies irresistible.

cookie-thins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins

The chocolate in these cookies had a mild, sweet flavor, and a buttery, crisp cookie base.

cookiethins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins Close-Up

I was pleasantly surprised to find a full-sized, peanut butter and jelly-filled croissant among this month’s mix of items! The bread itself was sweet and soft, and reminded me of a cake you’d find in an Asian bakery.

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7 Days Croissant Peanut Butter and Jelly

The filling on the inside didn’t look like a lot, but it was just enough.

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A PB&J Croissant?? Which master genius came up with this idea 💡?!

I remember having the Sweet Oat & Flax Good Thins crisps as part of my December DegustaBox, and so I was elated to see that the sweet potato flavored ones were included in this month’s box.

sweet__potato
Nabisco Good Thins The Potato One ~ Sweet Potato

The sweet potato chips were light, crispy, sweet, and extremely light in density.

Boboli Pizza Crust was also included, and at first I was like, what am I going to do with this? Since I share a kitchen with an elderly couple (my landlords), I don’t do much heavy cooking. Plus, I wanted to see if I could utilize this large, dense disc of bread for a meal besides pizza…

boboli_crust
It’s hard to tell but there’s about half of a 12″ Boboli pizza crust at the bottom of this (what seems like) a veggie-dense bowl!

As a result, I added it to my usual veggie-dense crockpot dinner bowl, as well as into some split pea soup that also had tofu cubes thrown in.

soupand veg
Boboli crust in soup and with veggies (topped with mustard)

The crust was soft, chewy, not super cheesy (even though cheese strands were clearly visible), and I even had portions of this 12″ crust on its own when not thrown into the dinners seen above.

One item I didn’t particularly favor was this Lemoncocco drink:

lemoncocco
Lemoncocco

It has Italian origins, but the drink itself has a “milky” appearance. It is essentially coconut water with a hint of lemon, but I thought the citrus flavor was overwhelming and made the drink taste slightly bitter.

Another product I had an adverse reaction to were these Energems. At least I did at a previous time. With this in mind, I decided not to give these a try. I brought and left them in lab, and my co-workers made use of them—I think some of them benefited from the caffeine boost!

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Energems, eh no thanks!

These quinoa bars were a favorite of mine!

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Such pretty packaging colors & font!

They were lightly sweetened, and had a mix of textures, but they were still easy to eat. Not only were they easy to consume, but they were also colorful and the box had the most gorgeous packaging!

quinoabar
This Paul’s Finest Quinoa bar dazzles like a gem. And the fact that it’s sweetened with honey 🍯🍯🍯 ??? Aw man, so good!

The small box of Goya Quinoa Blend that contained black beans, bell peppers, and spices mixed with white quinoa and brown rice held enough grains to make four weekday lunches.

quinoablend
Goya Quinoa Blend

It was very simple to prepare with the microwave. I simply added a serving of the mix into a bowl, filled it to the level of the grains with water, and simply microwaved it from 7-12 minutes. I added a small, sliced Yukon gold potato that was also microwaved ~2 minutes. I cooled off the mix in the fridge in lab, took it out around lunch time, and any excess water that was there right after microwaving had been absorbed by the rice.

quinoa-and-potato
Taking some days off from running has helped me in regards to gaining some free time for meal prep! Vegetarian quinoa by Goya, mixed with a boiled potato has been working as a satisfying lunch 😋 helping me power through the rest of my work day 💪🏽

The potatoes did a good job of absorbing the flavors, and overall made for a nourishing lunch!

The last product in this month’s box I have yet to try is this chickpea pasta:

chickpea-pasta
Tolerant Foods Organic Chickpea Pasta

I plan to soak a serving in water overnight before I plan to use it for lunch, so that it can respond well to a spin in the microwave. I’ll have to add my own spices and toppings, but I think this pasta will be a new favorite of mine since I expect it to have a naturally nutty, rich flavor thanks to those baby chickpeas 🙂 !

Which would you rather try from the following: the quinoa snack bars or the quinoa-rice mix?

Cookie Dough & Fries

Cookie Dough & Fries

With the one and only sit-down final I had to complete out of the way after Monday, the weekend that followed was devoted to some much needed ME time. I spent the rest of the time that week organizing myself in lab, getting myself ready for some upcoming projects I was planning to do after Christmas and seeing my family.

The Saturday of that weekend was a busy one. I was able to make it out to Santa Monica for the first time in months (not counting running-related events), and seek out a new vegan establishment—eLOVate kitchen.

eLOVatemenu
eLOVate menu

The menu was pricier than what I expected, but looking at their decor, and seeing that their prime estate was located near Ocean Ave., I could understand the fact that they had a lot of costs to cover…

eLOVate
eLOVate inside

At least what I wanted to order was under the appetizer menu (and as a result, cheaper). I was more-than-excited about digging into a plate of vegan poutine topped with mushroom gravy and almond cheese curds. 

poutine__fries
Yes it it vegan poutine!!!!!

The fries were shoestring Kennebec fries, and took to holding the gravy with such poise, haha.

curry_fries
Vegan Poutine with mushroom gravy and almond cheese curds.

It was truly a simple enough dish that gave me just enough energy to get some gift shopping done for some family friends at Penzey’s Spices. Along the way, I redeemed a coupon I had for a free pair of running shoes that I had won a few months ago. Even though I was thinking about cashing it in for some Vibrams, the sales lady who was helping me insisted I redeem it for some Newtons…ah well, at least this pair was made and styled for women. I can share more about this pair in a future post 😉

I originally planned on stopping for some late afternoon dessert at one of Santa Monica’s finest cookie/cupcake/donut establishments, but when it started to pour rain and all I had was a small umbrella shielding me from the downpour, I opted to hop on the next bus and hunt for a different kind of treat known to be found at Bristol Farms.

When I saw an array of Edoughble Cookie Dough flavors lined up in the refrigerated aisle, my eyes immediately pounced on the birthday cake flavor. I also bought another cookie dough brand/flavor that I originally came for, as well as a flavor of B&J’s I have a hard time finding in stores closer to me. 

After my purchase, I sat down and dug into the birthday cake flavor, since it was still raining outside. While others around me were munching on warm sandwiches and sipping on soothing soup, my tastebuds were beyond happy with the taste of chewy sugar cookie dough mixed with vanilla frosting and confetti sprinkles. 

edoughble_birthdaycake
Edoughble – Birthday Cake

When I had enough courage, I ventured out into the damp, cold, and turning-dark environment. I was home as soon as it turned pitch black, and found myself hungrier an hour or so later. I used it as an opportunity to try the other edible cookie dough purchase of the day.

thecookiedoughcafe_chocolatechip
The Cookie Dough Cafe – EDIBLE chocolate chip cookie dough :9

Compared to Edoughble’s Birthday Cake, I found the dough to be just as rich, chewy, and sweet, but the chocolate chips were too chunky and overwhelming in my opinion. I found myself scooping them out and placing them to the side after awhile, since they got in the way of having a smooth-consistency dough.

I started off Sunday on a semi-rough note. I was able to go out for a long run in the morning, but didn’t feel too well afterwards. I had a throbbing headache as I worked in lab for a few hours, but fortunately, it faded away by the time I left mid-afternoon. It was a weird feeling and I was worried that it would be similar to what I went through a week earlier, so I’m glad it went away on its own!

Plus, I was looking forward to having a delicious meal that I could appreciate at Cowboys & Turbans (previously Sprouted Garden Cafe) in Silver Lake. 

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Cowboys & Turbans (previously Sprouted Garden Cafe)

Only outdoor seating is available at this restaurant, and even though it was slightly chilly, there was a fire going and the seating arrangements were beautiful. 

outdoorestaurant
Outdoor seating!

I sat a table in the middle of the area, so that I could get a great view from all angles.

cowboys&turbansmenu
Cowboys and Turbans menu

The menu supposedly has a mix of Mexican and Indian dishes, hence the restaurant name Cowboys and Turbans. I chose to go with an old favorite of mine (Aloo Gobi) with a side of masala fries.

c&t
Aloo gobi, masala fries, curry sauce

Everything came out fresh and piping hot—temperature and flavor-wise! Instead of ketchup, I was given a cup of creamy curry sauce for dipping the aloo gobi and fries into. The side of fries may look small in the pic, but that bowl was anything but! I was quite full at the end of this meal, and even though I had some bloat to deal with, I made it to the bus stop in one piece 😉

smores_b&j
Ben & Jerry’s S’mores Ice Cream ~ Chocolate ice cream with fudge chunks, toasted “marshmallow”, and graham cracker swirls.

Dessert that night was the B&J’s S’mores pint, which was not a winning flavor for me. Too much chocolate, underwhelming marshmallow (actually, it was pectin and not gelatin, so this flavor is okay for veggies 😉 ), and an indistinguishable graham cracker swirl made this flavor far from appetizing. 

How do you like your fries (seasoned with spices, just salt…) and what condiment(s) do you like pairing them with? 

Cowboys & Turbans Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegan on the Hill

Vegan on the Hill

There is a DTLA route that I like to run that includes a very steep hill, and I first came across it on a group run with my marathon training team last year. I felt like my heart was going to burst the first time I “ran” it, but since that run, I can’t help but include that hill whenever I run DTLA.

au_lac (1)

If you make it to the top of the hill, there is both a feast for your eyes (Walt Disney Concert Hall) and a feast for your hungry, runner belly. There is a tiny strip mall right across from WDCH, and it includes the elegant Âu Lac Restaurant, specializing in plant-based cuisine.

au_lac (2)

It has such a humble storefront, but inside, the vibe is so trendy.

au_lac (4)

The hostess allowed me to sit anywhere, and immediately brought over an classy water pitcher, which apparently held water purified by reverse osmosis.

au_lac (3)

I had to take my time with this menu since everything sounded so good. I chose to have the Sweet & Spicy Tempeh, which was described as a veggie dish with potato and tempeh, all covered with sweet chilli sauce and decorated with melinjo crackers. Melinjo what though?

I would soon learn that melinjo crackers are to die for. My plate took a while to arrive, but when it was all ready, my mouth was watering.

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The hostess even came by and suggested that I use the crackers to “scoop” the veggies into, kind of like those Tostitos scoops chips!

au_lac (9)

I used the chips to scoop up the veggies as she suggested, but I savored the tempeh pieces individually, since they deserved my full attention 😛

au_lac (7)

It took me a while to finish since I was using chopsticks, but knowing that my dish was one of the spicier ones on their menu, the hostess came by with a glass of blueberry kombucha (on the house!!) to aid with the digestion process. Could this place be anymore amazing?

au_lac (8)

After many long runs on that DTLA hill, I finally took the time to stop up at the top, and enjoy what was available there. Maybe next time I’ll step inside WDCH, or even The Broad which just opened up!

Are you a fan of running hills?

Have you tried kombucha?

Âu Lac Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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