Carbs, but No Loading

Carbs, but No Loading

I didn’t go out of my way to carbo-load the day before the marathon, but I did eat throughout the day, kept hydrated, and stuck to foods I knew wouldn’t throw me off.

I was sent two vouchers for a free bread item and a drink to use at one of 85C Bakery’s newest locations—in Glendale. Since E and I have been hanging outside of lab together more frequently now, I asked if she wanted to make a day out of it, and she happily agreed.

We met in downtown and then took a bus that stops close to the Galleria. From there, it was a short walk to the bakery.

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85c Bakery – Glendale

The inside of the bakery was clean, and the baked goods were organized in a similar way to that of a bakery I visited a while back in Koreatown.

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Ah, what to choose??

E and I both got trays and walked through the aisles, seeing what lovely little bread creations we’d come across.

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Baked goods

I decided to get a cranberry cream cheese yudane roll, while E got a wild mushroom cheese bread loaf.

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Cranberry Cream Cheese Yudane Roll

For my drink, I opted for a hot green milky tea. E ended up going for a cold lemonade. We found seats by the window, and as soon as we had our food and drinks, we settled in.

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Hot green milky tea (or rather, water)

My cranberry cream cheese yudane roll had a rough texture on the outside, but this was completely opposite of its interior texture. The roll had a sufficient amount of cream cheese and cranberries (though both of these ingredients tended to separate from one another) and was quite chewy. The milky green tea on the other hand was watered down in my opinion. There was a faint taste of tea, but overall, it just tasted (?) like warm water.

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E’s mushroom bread

After our bread/tea break, we walked over to the Galleria and made a round inside the mall. Both of us did end up buying something to add to our wardrobes, but we didn’t spend too much time shopping.

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Taking a break before heading back.

We soon walked over to the Americana at Brand right next door, and stopped to sit down and hydrate with some water. As it approached 4pm, I felt like it would be wise to head back and rest up for my race the next day, so we made our way to the bus stop for the ride home.

Do you prefer sweet bread items (danishes, sweet rolls) or just go for the 100% sweet stuff (cakes, pies) ?

85°C Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cupcake Caught My Eye

Cupcake Caught My Eye

After getting my fill of Mediterranean food for lunch on Saturday, I couldn’t help but make a pit stop…for cupcakes!

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Big Man Bakes

Big Man Bakes is a cupcake store I used to pass on some Sunday long runs when I lived near DTLA. I would sometimes run past it before turning right, back to Figueroa. This time however, I was walking straight towards it.

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Just FYI…

Once I got to the small storefront, I gazed into the display case of perfectly frosted cupcakes, and didn’t even know what to pay attention to first.

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Cupcakes and gear

The young lady behind the counter was eager to share a bit about Big Man Bakes, and some of their classic and seasonal flavors that were currently available. I was thinking I’d go for the Red Velvet or Oreo…

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Utensils and things

…but in the end, I went with a seasonal flavor—strawberry!

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Ready to eat!

It was called an “XL” cupcake, but it really wasn’t that big. To me, it seemed like a standard-sized cupcake.

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The Strawberry XL Cupcake

The cake itself was moist, but it didn’t stand out in regards to flavor. I was also hoping for a generous serving of cream filling on the inside, but sadly, that wasn’t the case.

At least it was pretty photogenic:

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Views of a cupcake…

Are you picky when it comes to cupcakes?

Big Man Bakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tiramisu Thoughts

Tiramisu Thoughts

I left my house Sunday morning around 7:30am, waking up to a light fog cast around my neighborhood. I only needed to put in 8 miles that day. The running miracle that is ‘tapering’…

I ran a route close to home solo, since many of my teammates are undergrads that went home for spring break. I took it as an opportunity to run AT home, and eat here after the run as well.

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Urth Caffe – Santa Monica

I finished my run on Main St., pretty much at the steps of Urth Caffe. It had been a few years now since I’ve been to one…the visits I paid the WeHo and DTLA locations were when I was a fresh Los Angeleno craving weekend foodie adventures and soaking in as much of the city as possible.

Two and half years later, I walk into this Urth Caffe with a straighter posture and resting LA face (much like a another “resting face” people are more familiar with…). I get in line, knowing that crowds are expected even at 9am on a Sunday, barely giving the menu a glance since I already know what I’m going to get—a Spanish Latte with soymilk and an Earl Grey Tiramisu.

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Feeling like a latte…

I take my honey-glazed, sweet-filled pastry over to a counter seat by the window. I dig in with a fork, and people-watch as I think about a number of things. The fact that I walked into this place on a whim…it wasn’t planned. I felt like having something sweet paired with something warm, Urth was nearby, so I just went.

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Views.

Even two and a half years ago, I would have been riddled with panic if my food plans had to change. Any and all visits were planned, and excuses were made if anything tried to “destroy” those plans.

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Hello, gorgeous.

But now, I was digging into this tiramisu with enjoyment. The calorie counter was still ticking in my head, but the number didn’t phase me as much as it used to. I got this tiramisu not because of its number, but because I was craving it as my post-run treat.

When my latte arrived, I held the mug in both hands, took a sip, and was immediately transported to Barcelona.

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Something warm.

A young woman sitting next to me looking over sheet music asked how I was doing with a huge smile, which at first took me by surprise, but then I gave a her a huge smile back. There was no need to hold on to my “resting LA face”. Happiness starts with YOU, and welcoming every smile or greeting bestowed upon you by others only helps to grow and sustain that happiness.

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“I may not be in Barcelona, but I’m going to pretend I was there yesterday morning since this Spanish Latte certainly made me feel like I was”

I left Urth Caffe feeling refreshed and fulfilled with my self-care time and reflections. I have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to. I used to fear the unknown, rather than look at it with anticipation.

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Slice of decadence…

I could sit back, and worry about not hitting my goal to run under 4 hours at the marathon this weekend. I could ruminate over whether or not I can sustain the relationships I am cultivating now in the future. I could be anxious about reaching my academic and career goals…but I’m coming to the realization that letting those thoughts take up brain space leads to wasted time…

I’d rather be using that time laughing with E in lab over a coffee break, smiling to myself when I reread funny text conversations between my sister and I, and taking pride in my daily running achievements (whether that be a new fast pace or just getting out to run despite not having the motivation).

Honestly, life is just too short…get that piping hot Spanish latte, demolish that decadent tiramisu, and take pride in knowing that life is yours for the taking.

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“Run 8 miles, replenish with an Earl Grey Tiramisu”…and enjoy life.

Urth Caffé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spring is Here?

Spring is Here?

I don’t think I ever got the memo that Spring was coming fast this year. I literally woke up on Saturday morning wondering how on earth it was so bright at 6am all of a sudden??

I cam across this sticker on Friday, and while it was a truthful statement, I couldn't help but add that "we can get over them" when I snapchatted it to my sister and friends.
I cam across this sticker on Friday, and while it was a truthful statement, I couldn’t help but add that “we can get over them” when I snapchatted it to my sister and friends.

After getting my blood flowing with a morning run, I proceeded to make the most of my Saturday by showering, putting on a summer-worthy outfit (shorts + a breezy knit tee!), and heading out the door well before 9am. I had to make a stop in lab before heading out for the afternoon.

I had a desire to venture out into DTLA for once, since it’s been a while I had it as a set lunch destination. I ended up taking the train/subway to Pershing Square, a little east of 7th St/Metro, closer to old downtown.

Old DTLA
Old DTLA

A lot of the places I’ve bookmarked in my foodie bucket list were actually lined up along Main St….as if they all knew I’d arrive one day ready to embark on a culinary tour through downtown! My focus that day, however, was set on having lunch at Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.

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Spread Mediterranean Kitchen

There was barely anyone inside when I arrived, and I was shocked. Inside, it was cool, calming, and the decor just brought about a very chill vibe.

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Inside Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.

The menu is very simple, and build-your-own style entrees take center-stage. The base can be a flatbread wrap, rice salad greens, or hummus with flatbread. I picked hummus with flatbread.

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Pickled things

To top your base, there is everything from falafel to meatballs to chicken to braise to mushrooms. I picked the roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac.

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Roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac on top of hummus.

Finally, all of this is prepared in a certain style. There’s more of the hummus route, cooling tzatziki, cheesy za’atar, or spicy harissa yogurt. I went with the ‘cheesey & spicy’ style that contained feta lebneh & jalapeno spread, spicy slaw, pickled red onion, and harissa spiked yogurt.

This whole combination ended up with a plate like below:

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Everything mixed together.

And of course, my flatbread came seasoned and freshly-folded in a printed paper sheet.

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Flatbread, yay!

The mushrooms were roasted in a dark, orange-colored oil that carried so much flavor. This mixed well with the hummus, refreshing dollop of lebneh, and crunchy slaw. The flatbread was just an accessory—if I still had half a plate of hummus left after eating all of the flatbread, I would have had no issue at all!

I had wiped the bowl clean in no time at all, and I would have spent more time mourning over how quickly I feasted on this scrumptious meal, but the gorgeous spring weather outside was beckoning me. I found myself again on Main St., with an interest in keeping this “foodie tour” going. My next stop was going to fulfill a “sudden” cupcake craving I had developed…

Were you expecting spring to come so soon this year?

Spread Mediterranean Kitchen 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Eggs & Taters

Eggs & Taters

Last Sunday, I ran my second-longest long run for LA marathon training: a 20 miler from Dockweiler to Palos Verdes and back. I was pleasantly surprised with the personal improvements I noticed with this run when compared to how I performed in the past. I used to hit the physical/mental wall between miles 17 and the end, but this time around I actually found myself feeling more refreshed and kicking up speed! I averaged an 8:48/mi pace at the end of the ordeal, and raced the last 0.5 miles back with two of the faster guys on my team. It felt great, and it’s exciting to notice this improvement now…if it’s any indication of how the marathon will go in March, I can only imagine how happy I’ll feel with a solid PR.

After the run, I was able to get dropped off home around 12:30, quickly shower, and then head to downtown SaMo for some late brunch eats at a new spot that opened—Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (JFAT). I was given an invite to come out for a Sunday brunch, and certainly did not want to turn it down!

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Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern

I met with the manager Chris, and he was eager to let me know about their mimosa and drink options, appetizers, and featured menu items. A lot of their stuff is intended to please the extreme appetites of bacon/waffle/egg/potato carb lovers, and the vegetarian options are slim, but I was able to find the Veggie Bennie on the menu, and chose to try that for my meal.

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Time to brunch, hard.

In the meantime, I sipped on some cold water to get myself back on the hydration track, while enjoying the gorgeous sunny weather and view from my patio booth. The restaurant is at a prime location on Ocean Ave., minutes away from the Metro station, 3rd St. Promenade, and of course the Pier.

When my plate came, my eyes grew wide. Everything looks so colorful and the tater tots were a surprise too! When Chris asked if I’d like some hot sauce, I knew it would only enhance the flavors of everything on the plate. Once I added a drizzle of Tapatio’s, I was all set.

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The glorious Veggie Bennie

The tater tots were the stand-out of this dish. They have an extra crispy exterior and are seasoned with a bunch of salt and thyme. I used hot sauce for dipping, but they tasted out-of-this-world when dipped in poached egg yolk!

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Tater tots seasoned with sea salt & thyme

And the English muffin-poached egg creation—-man, this makes me wish I had some skills with cooking with eggs. The layering of egg, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and of course the chive hollandaise sauce was perfection. There was no doubt at all that my plate would be wiped clean by the end of it!

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Perfectly poached

It was, and I actually was pretty full from that one plate. I had no room for dessert/trying other entrees, so I left soon after letting myself digest. I was thankful for the opportunity to have this meal, especially after a 20 mile long run! I can safetly assume that all those fats, carbs, and nutrients from the eggs/veggies were happily taken up by my muscles for post-workout recovery!

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Tearing into perfection

Earlier in the week, I took advantage of Vitamin Shoppe’s BOGO 50% off D’s Naturals products by purchasing two of their fluffbutters: Vanilla Maple Frosting and White Choolate Mousse. Out of the two, I was infatuated with VMF.

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Vanilla Maple Frosting Fluffbutter

The oil-to-nut butter ratio was perfect. There was some separation at the top, but I was able to easily mix it up so that enough oil got to the bottom of the jar where it was drier. I topped it on yogurt bowls throughout the week.

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Perfect proyo topping

With the WCM flavor, the oil was mixed in more thoroughly. For both flavors, I was able to detect the respective scents, so despite there being no added toppings to make these distinct by appearance, these nut-based butters could be differentiated if placed side-by-side if only through scent/taste.

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White Chocolate Mousse Fluffbutter

I was most excited to try Zevia this week. I picked up a 6-pack of the Cream Soda flavor, and I was so enthusiastic about taking a picture of the can that I dropped my phone. I panicked/had a “can I go back in time?” moment, and basically now my phone looks like it has a permanent gray scale/rainbow stripes across the screen.

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The last picture I took BEFORE dropping my phone :'(

The phone is still functional in all other aspects, so I’m not sure I can justify a new phone purchase…at least not just yet…

Tater tots or French fries?

Have you ever dropped your phone and damaged it in some way? Did you repair it or replace it?

Jimmy's Famous American Tavern 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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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?

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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 🙂

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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

Spiraling Out of Texas

Spiraling Out of Texas

We left Houston on Thursday morning, and since we left in the late morning, the four hours to Dallas seemed longer than it actually was. We got to Dallas around 3:30pm, and we were all ravenous. My sister and Dad had taken turns driving during these four hours, but I had a lingering headache which grew as the hours ticked on.

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Spiral Diner on Beckley Ave., Dallas

We stopped at a vegan diner on Beckley Ave, just outside of downtown Dallas—Spiral Diner! Once we were inside, I was immediately reminded of Saturn Cafe in both Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

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Have a seat!

We were seated right away and my sis and I ploughed through the menu trying to figure out which entree would satisfy our raging appetites. For me, I had to go with the nachos. I was craving some chips and faux queso like crazy! My sis got a faux Philly cheesesteak and my Dad a pesto pasta dish with toasted bread.

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Just guess what I got…

All dishes came out beautifully presented, and close-to-perfection in taste.

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Oh hello nachos…

I ate every single chip (plus some of my sister’s) drenched in vegan queso, sour cream, beans, olives, jalapeños, and guacamole. It hit the spot, and with several gulps of water, my headache magically went away 😉

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Guac!

Whatever headache my sister may have had prior to this sandwich must have gone away too, no doubt about it!

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Sis’s gorg sandwich

I also had some of my Dad’s pasta dish. It wasn’t packed with flavor but it definitely tasted rich and filling with this particular sauce and pasta. The pasta was like a version of rigatoni that was smaller.

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The vegan parmesan & peas made it pretty.

For the next four hours on the road, my Dad agreed to drive since it was getting dark and I did express my tiredness from lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We made it back to Tulsa close to 10pm, and I went to sleep right away.

My sis and I only had four more days back in Tulsa, and ended up having to pack in more errands than “fun” things, but I didn’t mind too much since at least we had each other’s company. We did see Fences with a family friend, but it was too long and slow for me. We also didn’t do anything exciting for New Years…on the agenda was wearing fuzzy robes, watching whatever was on TV, and sleeping before midnight struck!

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Post-run requirements – fuzzy socks and a snack. Tried the Oh Yeah! One Cinnamon Roll Bar: “NYE snack from yesterday was the Cinnamon Roll Oh Yeah! One bar. The swirl and caramel ombré color of this bar were 😍 but the taste not so much 🙁. Was it too much cinnamon? That’s my guess because something was overpowering the sweetness. Okay, next time at @vitaminshoppe it’s on to the next one!

I also went back to running on a trail I grew fond of over the past two weeks. I hit 40 miles total for both the weeks I was away, and was even running at faster-than-normal paces. I had to stop and take a picture on my last run on Monday. I literally can’t believe that two weeks went by so fast…

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“I’m going to miss running on this trail! I was able to run 40 mi/week for two weeks (consecutively!), most of which was done on this trail by the Arkansas River. I also had to include some muggy Houston runs 😅 haha but I’m so excited to see my mileage ramping up, and to be running faster paces that look to be consistent. Ready to head back to Cali and keep up the work!!”

This trip was special in so many ways, and I think that’s why I felt pretty blue in the days leading up to my departure and my departure day. Time is so, so precious, and it’s trips like these that make me wish we could pause frames in time to replay over and over again. While I do plan to see my sis before her graduation, I may not see my Dad until then…so not for at least another five months! But at least it will be an exciting time then as well…Europe is in our future!

How did you enjoy the last days of 2016?

Spiral Diner & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 2016

Race Recap – Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 2016

My last race for this year was one I actually ran two years ago—this time fortunately fared much better in pacing! I also did not have to wake up early in order to have enough time to take a bus or train to get to the race start. I just had to wake up, go out for a “warm-up jog”, and within a half hour I was there!

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Santa all smiles at the race start.

There was no bag check (of course), so there was no place to keep my race shirt, even though I wanted to keep it because it was a long-sleeve and actually pretty cute! The 10k and 5k race starts were staggered so that the 10k race started at 8am. The 5kers had a head start at 7:30am, and so the majority of the runners from that race were done by the time we started.

Santa cheered us on as we dashed across the starting line. I was able to keep a steady pace between 7:40-8:20 throughout the entire run. At first it felt my lungs were burning from the cold air, and my feet also began to feel numb through my socks, but after ~2 miles in, it began to feel easier to stick to a faster pace the rest of the run.

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Bunch of people wondering what to do after the race has finished…and the DJ rockin’ out to his own jamz.

I finished at an average pace of 8:12/mi, and it felt so refreshing! I managed to guzzle down a half a bottle of water, and proceeded to walk by the small number of booths that were present. I also couldn’t help but notice the DJ who was there—he was very much into the music!

finish
Yay…okay, now I’m bored…

I couldn’t find much in terms of samples and post-race freebies…I even had to pass on some intriguing-looking marshmallows because they contained gelatin 🙁

couldnt-have-these-tho
Why is there gelatin in you?!

Since there was nothing much left for me at this point, I ended up walking from the finish point in Venice back to Santa Monica…really it was only a 25 minute walk, and from the beach, it was another 30 minute walk to lunch.

I actually ended up at a Medditeranean/Lebanese restaurant on Pico—Z Garden.

z-garden
I see you…

When I stepped inside, it was as if I stepped inside my best friend’s family’s house. There was a TV playing Arabic music videos and a whole glass counter full of baklava and other Middle Eastern sweet treats.

house
Such ample seating!

There was a handful of vegetarian items on the menu, and I decided to get the veggie kebab plate.

The dining area was in a expansive space, but I was their lone diner at the time. A few people came in for take-out orders while I was there though.

My plate came with a generous portion of Lebanese rice, a side salad, smooth, finely-ground hummus, a sour cheese I’m assuming was labne, pickled radishes, and of course my roasted veggies.

vegkebab-plate
Veggie Kebab Plate—-fit for a vegetarian ready to feast!

ALso had to have pita bread on the side!

pitaaaaaaaaa
Can’t forget the pita!

I was the ultimate fan of this hummus…and cheese side.

sidez
Hummus (and labne)?

I was finished by noon, and continued my walk home. I immediately did some laundry and organizing before crashing into a two-hour long nap. I didn’t leave the house until later that evening to visit a friend, since she’s moving from LA this week with her lab to a different university. It was bittersweet having to send her off, but I have to say I’m proud of myself for going out on a Saturday night for once. I even stayed out late enough to call for an Uber back home, haha.

pace
In good time 🙂

Are you a fan of holiday-themed events?

Z Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pre-Friendsgiving 2016

Pre-Friendsgiving 2016

Thanksgiving this year ended up being a Friendsgiving celebration. I am so grateful for the fact that I didn’t have to schedule my travel plans around time sensitive experiments, and that I could just enjoy being in the company of my sister and our close friend in Santa Cruz.

bollywood-popcorn
I had this the night before my trip, so spicy! —> Next time you have a movie night, get like 5 bags of THIS. Bollywood Popcorn from Trader Joe’s is bound to bring the party…IN YOUR MOUTH

My weekend began Tuesday afternoon (lol, earliest weekend ever), and I left from lab in order to catch the Amtrak to Fresno. It was a painstakingly long ride, due to the fact that the train had a late start by one hour. Pairing that with a rowdy family that would not shut up for the next two hours, it was no surprise my head was throbbing beyond its limits.

I finally arrived around 9:30pm and insisted that my sister drive me to Sprouts before it closed at 10pm. I was hungry at this point and needed some food to make up for dinner time I lost.

The both of us went to sleep immediately after eating some ice cream and watching SNL (it was not boring at all watching Kristen Wiig’s skits over again with my sis, we were cracking up)!

The next morning, I went for a run around my sister’s campus before heading into the car for our 3 hour drive to Santa Cruz. The last time I visited Santa Cruz was ages ago…I’m thinking like fourth or third grade? I barely remember it though since we passed by it briefly, only making it down to the boardwalk. Since I have yet to visit my friend during a time when she is on campus, Thanksgiving presented itself as the perfect opportunity to pay her a visit.

The drive was scenic once we made it past Madera and headed west. As we got further and further into the woods, and closer to the coast, we knew we had arrived. There was also a chill in the air so we knew we were in Santa Cruz country.

My friend, who is a Resident Advisor, had to stay on campus from Wednesday evening through Friday evening, so we used the afternoon hours as soon as we arrived to get some lunch off campus.

saturn-cafe
Saturn Cafe, Santa Cruz

We knew we had to hit up Saturn Cafe, a vegan staple that I visited two and a half years ago (!!!) in Berkeley. My friend made a comment about how she took her parents to this place so much that they got tired of it, but who on Earth gets tired of vegan food?!

interior
So cosmic!

There are those that don’t like it to begin with, but vegan food is just one of those things where there is a magical little substitute for everything in the meat and dairy world…how can you tire of that?

peanut-royale
Got my eye on the Peanut Royale

But I digress. The three of us were pretty hungry by the time we entered. Unfortunately, we had a wait time that was longer than it should have been. The cafe wasn’t packed at all, yet it took the wait staff 15 minutes or so to just get us seated! The waitress looked like she’d rather be anywhere but in a pink vegan diner, and this poor attitude showcased itself when she came around to ask for our orders.

I remember the portion sizes being huge from my Berkeley visit, but I just felt like having something manageable for lunch and warm…definitely warm!

peanut__royale
It shimmers with orange and sparkles with tofu!

I ended up going with the Peanut Royale, while my sister got a delectable-looking sandwich and our friend, her favorite Mexican-inspired bowl. We also split some onion strings with a ranch-like dressing for dipping!

onion_strings
Onion strings and sister’s sandwich with chips 🙂

My sister also got an overflowing chocolate shake that thy actually brought over BEFORE her entree. After eating we waited another eon before getting our checks. They at least were able to split our checks, but didn’t take Discover credit cards (who doesn’t take Discover anymore??).

We were finally able to leave and made a stop into Safeway before heading back to campus. My friend had an allowance for food since she had to be on “lockdown” so we got our Friendsgiving meal staples and snacks. We had to make a special stop to get a lil Tofurky ball at a co-op, but at least we were in Santa Cruz and could count on some place having it ready the day before the holiday!

When we got back, we unpacked a bit more and rested up from our morning drive and afternoon errands. I tried to get some work done but our friend’s wi-fi was only picked up by our phones and not our computers.

window____
Friend’s cute window wall.

After some downtime, our friend whipped up her latest specialty—Gordon Ramsey eggs!

gordon-ramsey-eggs
Gordon Ramsey eggs!

They were scrambled eggs whipped with butter and olive oil, all piled high on crisp sourdough toast. I think this is something we are going to be asking our friend to make every time we see her now 😉

We tried to all watch something on Netflix later that night, but I was so tired that I dozed off right when we picked out something! Haha, I certainly had great sleep that night 🙂

Have you tried Bollywood Popcorn or Gordon Ramsey eggs?

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

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