Ravenous

Ravenous

Last Sunday, I didn’t run any marathons, but I felt hungry to the point as though I did run one. Of course a trip to lab was on the agenda, but as soon as I was done, I was ready to fill my belly with all things delicious.

I truly craved a hearty, Mediterranean meal because I knew it would have all the nutrients I was craving as well as taste amazing. But having to wait for 30 minutes or so on the train with a growling stomach was not going to cut it. I got off at Westwood, just to dive into the mall and get some snacks…

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@fitjoynutrition , I think you’re getting better at this protein bar thing 😉

One of which was a new FitJoy protein bar flavor. I had no idea FitJoy released some new flavors recently, but since one of them was a “Cookies & Cream” flavor, I could not let it get away! The bar had three distinct layers, with the top being a chocolate fudge-like flavor with small crispy chocolate pieces. The bottom layer was coated with a chocolate shell, and overall the bar was a good mix between crunchy and chewy (though not too chewy—what I liked about it overall was how firm it ended up being)!

I took a bus back to Santa Monica and stopped right in front of my lunch destination—Mediterranean food at Crimson sounded so mouthwatering at that point.

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Crimson, Santa Monica

When I stepped inside, it felt like the A/C was on full blast, but no energy was actually being “wasted” since it was just the cooling blacks and greys on the wall that allowed the restaurant to help keep patrons feeling refreshed.

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Eating inside on a hot day…

I saw that it was an order first, then sit down kind of set-up, so I walked over to the front and grabbed a menu. The Falafel Veggie Plate sounded appetizing of course, but there was plenty of room for customization and add-ons.

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Got the ‘Falafel Veggie Plate’

My plate ended up holding a gargantuan volume of eats. I was shocked, but happy, with the food that lay before me, and I was eager to tuck in.

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The complete plate :: the gorgeous array of grilled vegetables <3

Since it was mostly veggies and healthy fats, I got full pretty quickly.

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Tahini -> kale salad and hummus -> falafel in garlic sauce -> ricccceeee

But I’d say I did a decent job getting to all of the good stuff…only some rice and a bit of kale salad, along with half of a tahini cup was left.

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So much good stuff on one plate…couldn’t finish it all!

After my hearty meal, I immediately felt my eyes droop. Obviously it was time for a nap. Home was a short ways away, so I wasn’t too far from falling into a cozy Sunday afternoon nap. After my nap, I woke up ready to eat some more! I was feeling ravenous for some reason that day, and I just went along with it. Spoonfuls of this Gooey Bananas Foster D’s Naturals Fluffbutter did the trick.

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I was skeptical at first when I saw the Gooey Bananas Foster @dsnaturals Fluffbutter on sale at GNC for 50% off it’s retail price. It made me think “what’s wrong with the flavor?”, but no such answer exists. It definitely had the taste of bananas, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. In fact, it tasted as if the nut butter was made from finely mashed caramel-coated bananas. Bananas are my least favorite fruit, so take me seriously when I say this flavor was GOOD.

I was well-fed that Sunday indeed. Later on in the week, I indulged with other new-to-me treats that included the following…

Two more new FitJoy nutrition bar flavors: Homemade Pumpkin and Raspberry Chocolate Truffle:

Homemade Pumpkin
Homemade Pumpkin

Homemade Pumpkin bar reminded me of a giraffe based on the looks of the top! It had orange splotches and a light swirl on the top, with crispy wafer pieces scattered over the surface.

The Raspberry Chocolate Truffle bar had a slightly sour flavor (which isn’t that surprising), but it had a chewier and denser taste/texture in comparison to the pumpkin and cookie flavors I tried above.

Everything I love, all in one mug.
Everything I love, all in one mug.

There was a thin chocolate shell on the bottom, and its appearance actually reinded me of a Luna coconut bar. I broke the bar in half, and added it to a yogurt blend with pumpkin spice Amazing Grass mix. For good measure, I added a Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle cookie!

Goodie Girl Cookies - Mint Slims
Goodie Girl Cookies – Mint Slims

I also came across these cute, mini Thin Mint-like cookies by Goodie Girl Cookies. I found these at Starbucks one day, and they made the perfect accompaniment with a coconut milk cappucino, on my walk to the train station.

For Ralph’s Freebie Friday promo this past Friday, they were giving out free Larabars! I used the opportunity to snatch up a Key Lime Pie bar flavor, and didn’t regret it.

Key Lime Pie Larabar
Key Lime Pie Larabar

I hadn’t had Lara Bars in quite some time, so having this flavor made me realize I was missing on out on something so naturally delicious. I think I’ll keep coming back to this flavor, especially as the summer months approach.

On days when you feel ravenous, do you eat whatever you crave or try to reign it in?

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

Fried Stuff and Guacamole

Fried Stuff and Guacamole

As the sun began to set on Friday night the weekend I was spending with my sister, we drove out to River Park for dinner.

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Yard House front

Instead of finding some local place that serves food unique to Fresno, we decided to have our Friday girls night dinner at Yard House. Even though they are a chain, bar-and-burgers kind of place, they have a special vegetarian menu with all sorts of tasty items made with Gardein soy protein.

We had to wait almost an hour for a table, so we took our buzzer back to my sister’s car, and even called up our friend and talked to her while we waited.

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Super dim lighting

When we came back to the restaurant, we were guided to a long booth, with a small candle placed at the opposite end. The extraneous space felt awkward, but not as awkward as trying to take pictures of the restaurant in the dark.

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Yard House interior

But I got a picture of this painting in full light?

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Yard House painting

Both of us got an appetizer plate as our entree, since the Gardein-based dippers sounded delicious. The pictures don’t do much justice, but the plates were FULL. I ordered the Jerk Gardein Dippers, which had a flavorful, crisp texture to them and came with a sweet and tangy sauce for dipping.

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Jerk Gardein Dippers

My sister got the BBQ Gardein Skewers, which reminded me of orange tofu (or what would be orange chicken for all you non-veggies).

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BBQ Gardein Skewers

To be honest, the Jerk Gardein dish, while it was delicious, got mediocre after awhile. I wasn’t too hungry when I first started eating, but I managed to finish the whole plate.

For lunch on Saturday, we drove back down to the Tower District to have tamales at the perfectly-named Casa de Tamales.

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Casa de Tamales

They had four different vegetarian options for tamales, but my sister wasn’t keen on ordering tamales. To her pleasant surprise, the girl behind the counter was able to customize some tacos so that they had all the veggie fix-ins, even though this wasn’t on the menu.

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Counter for ordering

I kept it simple and ordered a tamale plate—with portabello & asparagus tamales, rice, and beans all in one plate.

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Casa de Tamales interior

Since it was nice and sunny outside, we were able to sit on the patio.

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Custom vegetarian tacos

My sister adored her tacos, and I loved my tamales plate.

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Portabello and Asparagus Tamales with rice and beans.

It had the perfect balance of tamales, rice, and beans. I had the rice and beans together first, before digging into the tamales.

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Guacamole and inside of tamales.

What I loved about the tamales most was right on the outside: a fresh dollop of green guacamole. The inside was piping hot, and chock-full of mushroom pieces. For a lunch, it was the perfect portion, well-balanced, and kept me satiated for pretty much the rest of the day. I was still feeling somewhat full by dinnertime, but I did have enough room for that outing…

What was the most creative filling you’ve had inside a tamale?

Yard House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After 22 Miles

After 22 Miles

I honestly do not know what would have gotten me through the last two grueling miles of my 22 mile long run if it was not the thought of rewarding myself with a cupcake sundae from Sprinkles hours after the run. I fortunately was able to power through, and see the light cupcake at the end of the tunnel. 

Of course, by the time we finished the run, it was already nearing noon. After assembling back into cars and returning back to our team’s carpool meeting spot, I hobbled home and got ready to celebrate my longest run of the training season! I felt like chowing down on something chock-full of carbs, cheese, and lots of guac—NACHOS!

And even though it took forever and a day to reach Century City via bus, I made it, and was greeted by Chinese lanterns at the steps.

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I was surprised at my ability to not be out of breath/feel pain in my legs after climbing up the stairs, and once I was on level ground, I tried to navigate around the pink walls of Pink Taco and find the entrance.

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I ended up entering through the back entrance, but one of the servers pointed me towards the front of the restaurant so I could ask for a table.

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The restaurant was quite spacious, with a floor upstairs as well. I was given a booth seat right across from the bar.

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As soon as I sat down, a waiter came by with a basket of chips and salsa, while a female server came by to get my “drink” order (um, just water please 😛 ). She also kept ending her sentences/questions with “babe”, which got old right after she said it the first time, haha.

chips!

Since my plan was to attack a plate of nachos, I ordered the vegetarian version of their nachos plate, with black beans. And it seriously came out in ten minutes flat. Yeah, it was 3pm on a Sunday, and the restaurant was pretty barren, but still! Not complaining though 😀

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Even though I didn’t feel super hungry, I managed to wipe the plate clean. I asked for the check soon after, so I could have some time to walk back over to Beverly Hills and get me some ice cream!!

It started to rain by the time I started walking, but it was one of those days I happened to have an umbrella tucked away in my handbag, so I was in luck! Google Maps wasn’t loading in my favor though, so I ended up circling the area where Sprinkles Ice Cream, and at one point I was walking in the opposite direction. But I eventually found my way around after seeing some familiar visual cues, since I was in the area before when I paid Ice Cream Lab a visit. 

the menu's on the wall

The menu for different ice cream combinations was on the wall, along with cupcake flavors that could be mixed and matched to make the perfect cupcake sundae. There was also an ice cream sandwich and just plain ice cream on a cone option.

 The script is a recipe for ice cream written by Thomas Jefferson!
The script is a recipe for ice cream written by Thomas Jefferson!

I had to wait in line for longer than planned, but I eventually found my way to the center and put in my order for what I think was the perfect cupcake sundae combo (at least for the first time around…)

redvelvetcone!

Sprinkles’ signature red velvet cupcake stuffed with cap’n crunch ice cream—how can you go wrong?

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All I can say is frosting + ice cream = how come there isn’t a product or dessert made like this much more often?!

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I had to enjoy this beauty inside since it was beginning to pour harder outside, but I still had to trek on towards the nearest bus stop to get home.

Even though I feasted well, by the time I reached home, I started to feel serious stomach pains. I ended up vomiting, and I think it was due to reasons I explained in this MTR post. Thankfully it was a one-time thing, and most likely running-induced, but for a while there, I almost couldn’t think about nachos or cupcakes without feeling nauseated. I’m glad that’s over!

Pink Taco on Urbanspoon Sprinkles Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

President’s Day Weekend Fun

President’s Day Weekend Fun

The holiday weekend actually started off on Thursday night for me, when I met up with some of my girl classmates for a potluck/movie night. I brought these brownies, and helped my friend set-up before everyone else arrived.

 Chips on the table, but we had the rest of the food set up in the dining area.
Chips on the table, but we had the rest of the food set up in the dining area.

Our get-together went on until about 10:30pm, and after getting back to my apartment, I finished packing up for my trip back north to visit the fam! I had an early morning bus to catch, so I went to sleep immediately after getting everything ready.

My bus left a little after 6am on that Friday morning, and while I did plan to do some studying, I ended up sleeping (or trying to sleep), making use of the free Wi-Fi even though I had to do a lot of squinting (phone problems…), and eating whatever snacks I packed for the trip.

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View from the bus as we approached SF.

I made it to SF around 2pm, and after figuring my way through other modes of transit, I finally met my Dad and sister (who also came up for the weekend) waiting for me at a BART station. From there, we had to drive our way through Friday-late-afternoon-end-of-the-work-day traffic, and so I literally did not get home until 5pm. But once I did get home, I was excited to finally have a home-cooked meal and for some bonding time with the sis. We both “studied” while playing Toy Story 3 in the background. Definitely a good way to spend a Friday night! 😉

Saturday morning was my half marathon, but we spent the rest of the day with my cousin since we were in her neck of the woods. We met up in Jack London Square, and had lunch at a spot of my choosing—Souley Vegan!

The small, homey restaurant was not hard to find, since the bright turquoise paint made it visible from a block or two away. We had to park that far away because, you know, that’s just one of the perks of city life 😛

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All of the items were Southern-inspired, and most importantly, VEGAN!

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We found a table at the corner of an elevated floor, so we had a great view of our surroundings. We took some time looking over the menu before ordering at the cash register.

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While we waited for our food, my cousin realized that they had a cup of samples with pieces of one of their featured desserts. It was peanut-ty appetizer—a piece of their Peanut Butter Brick!

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While my family got combo plates with items like BBQ tofu (sooo good!), mac n cheesz, cornbread, and mashed potatoes, I had the Southern Fried Tofu Bowl as my main entree, and also had some of the spinach dip with fried tofu chips.

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My bowl was comprised of battered and fried tofu (mimicking fried chicken), which sat atop a sea of salty gumbo and a warm bed of grits. I wasn’t a major fan of this dish, but I thought the fried tofu was pretty delicious. I feel like the gumbo + grits tasted somewhat bland, even though I could detect the salt. Perhaps if there had been a spicier and thicker sauce in this dish (like the BBQ sauce used for their tofu cubes), it would have been more palatable for me.

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BBQ Tofu cube poking out from underneath my fried tofu (thanks Dad) // close-up of gumbo + grits // piece of fried tofu chip with dip

We did a nice job of tackling everything…

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As the afternoon rolled on, the weather continued to be clear, bright, sunny, and just overall perfect. It would have been wasteful to not take advantage of the beautiful weather conditions, so we decided to take an after-lunch stroll. We first stopped inside World Market, where I found this cute poster that reminded me of the periodic table, but the “elements” were major cities. We then walked over in the direction of a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, but ended up waiting across the street for a good ten minutes because a train was passing through!

It was quite a sight though 😉

At the scoop shop, I was able to try Phish Food for the first time. I opted for the kids’ scoop…and I was glad I did. I guess it was the little chocolate fish pieces that persuaded me to choose the flavor initially, but it was just waaay too much chocolate. I mean, I love chocolate, but this scoop and this flavor…it was just too much for me. I’m pretty sure my sister would have liked it though 🙂

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We ended up feasting on our ice cream selections while looking over the water. There were a couple ferries going in and out, shuffling people too and from SF. Ah, let the pictures speak for themselves…

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After we finished dessert, we walked through a local crafts fair and took in all the sights and sounds. There were so many dogs out and about, and plenty of intriguing items from plushies with vampire teeth to figurines made out of scrap metal.

From the fair, we drove over to my cousin’s for a siesta (I think being out in the sun made me more sleepy rather than my morning half marathon!), and snacked on some apples/coffee/tea after waking up an hour later. My Dad and I left as it approached evening, and I was more than ready to get some more zzzz’s!

On Sunday, I was able to spend more quality time with my sis. Since she wasn’t able to spend the day with us on Saturday (the poor girl had to study for an upcoming exam…), my Dad and I wanted to be able to go out for lunch with her. So after stopping by the gym and running some errands in the morning, we picked her up and visited Noodles & Company for the first time.

n&co

As of right now, there are no Noodles & Company locations in the LA area (only Orange County and San Diego I believe…) so when I learned that they were opening this one in the Nor Cal area, I wanted to check it out during one of my family visits!

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Giant cookie or rice treat to accompany your bowl?

The inside layout of the restaurant reminded me a lot of the Boudin SF set-up (which was also nearby): an entrance has you line up single file all the way to the register, a large menu that spans the wall as you approach the register, and central/outdoor (crowded) seating.

After placing our orders, we were lucky to find a table during the lunchtime rush hour. Our bowls came to us in minutes despite the bustling activity.

I dug into my small-sized (it was indeed pretty small…) bowl of Japanese Pan Noodles with chopsticks

 Japanese Pan Noodles - Caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame seeds and cilantro
Japanese Pan Noodles – Caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame seeds and cilantro

I was definitely a fan of the caramelized noodles/soy sauce combination. Each noodle had a fair coating of sauce, and they were still easy to pick up with chopsticks!

My sister had the Penne Rosa, and my Dad the Thai Curry Soup:

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Penne Rosa – Spicy tomato cream sauce, penne pasta, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, wine and parmesan
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Thai Curry Soup – Yellow coconut curry broth, spinach, cabbage, mushrooms, tomato, red onion and rice noodles

Both dishes looked just as delicious as mine, but I was satisfied with my selection. Sure, it could have been spicier, but I guess wanting to try their spicy Indonesian Peanut Sautee gives me a reason to come back to another one of their other locations in the future.

After lunch, we returned home and did nothing productive in particular 😉 . After a glorious nap, I had dinner and then watched Boyhood with Dad and sis after doing a little homework. Monday was spent prepping for my return on Tuesday, as well as sending my sister off, and Tuesday was my tired travel day. Kind of wish I could redo this weekend all over again, because I don’t see myself doing anything but work for the next week or so…

How did you spend your holiday weekend (if you had one)?

Souley Vegan on Urbanspoon Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon

Highlights From Last Week

Highlights From Last Week

A yogurt investment:  I haven’t been buying yogurt as much as I have wanted to since moving to LA, only because I cannot justify buying a single cup for more than $1.00. I’ve already been spoiled by Grocery Outlet and NorCal 99 Cent stores (still need to check out SoCal’s offering in these stores though…), and I know how low “they” can go when it comes to Chobani. So when I see places like Fresh and Easy sell these measly cups for $1.69, I can’t help but leave the store in frustration!

But being about four weeks in, and having not made a “real” purchase of yogurt stock for the week, I decided to just do it while browsing through a City Target during the week. I think the fact that this watermelon flavor was limited edition was what broke the straw for me…

Watermelon Chobani...Mmmm

Do I regret paying $1.19 for this? Not really…since I did have a 10% off my entire purchase coupon, I was able to justify the couple of extra cents. Flavor-wise, I found it to have that spicy/bubblegum flavor upon the first taste. My conundrum of the week—can sweet yogurt be spicy??

Fastest mile in a while:  So on the fitness-front, there is something in the works that I am excited/nervous/unsure about, but plan to share if all systems are go. For now, I will say that I find running groups to be awesome when it comes to my pace. I was able to run with a local group on Wednesday evening, and even though it was a quick two-miler, I happened to run my fastest mile to-date at 8:19/mi! It was a fantastic perk for getting myself to go outside after a long day of classes—and to just run.

fastestmile2date!

I hope that as the weather cools down, the struggles I have had to endure while running in the heat will be all worth it. Especially with the two long races I have next month (a 10 miler and a half)!!

Pet therapy : The most random, but cutest thing, to happen on one of the days I was on campus for classes. After our lunch break, my study group and I learned that an organization that trains therapy dogs was on campus with three labs and allowed people to pet them. I wasn’t able to get a picture of the happiest of the three—a golden lab who was all smiles, but this black lab named Harley was just as precious. He even had his own “trading card” (what the lady is holding in the picture), haha. 

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Foodie-mood Friday: Most of my Fridays so far have been chill and low-key, but today felt just as busy as my class days. Probably because I had to go to campus later in the day for a department open house. In the morning, I had a meeting with another potential lab rotation mentor, and fueled up the only proper way there is—with two Quest bars and a warm cup of milk chai tea. Had a simple plate of veggies for dinner, but a delicious dessert/snack was the food-related highlight of the day…

breakfast&dinnerfuuuuuhriday

…these JJ’s Sweets Cocomels in Sea Salt were absolutely, melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I’m a fan of chewy things like caramels, toffees, and gummies, so when I find vegetarian/vegan-friendly versions, I am quick to buy them, or at least let the idea of an impulse purchase simmer in my mind for a bit…if I don’t give in the first time I see such an item, I will the next time! 

Which is exactly what happened with these coconut milk caramels 🙂 

JJ's Sweets Cocomels

Coupon distractions: My restaurant plans for Saturday took a complete turn when I received a coupon for a free dish of crispy cauliflower from Veggie Grill…that expired on Sunday. I used it as an excuse to check out one out of the two VG establishments on Sunset. And since I managed to run 9 miles that morning despite almost backing out completely from running for the day, I decided free, fried, and orange-glazed cauliflower would be a fun way to treat myself 😉

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This location was spacious and cozy, and I guess the (finally) cloudy skies that appeared in LA deterred away the expected crowds? I’m not sure, but I liked the extra room for myself and for picture-taking!

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To accompany my crispy cauliflower I ordered the Thai Tempeh entree salad (instead of the chik’n). The cashier at first didn’t know what I was talking about, but then he realized I was asking for their “gluten-free option”. Um, I just wanted tempeh instead, but it’s gluten-free? Okay, that’s cool…

I found a seat at an elevated table in the middle of the restaurant, and my dishes came out pretty quickly. My crispy cauliflower had about seven florets with panko bread crumbs, fried, and coated with a sweet-and-spicy orange glaze. The spring onion and sesame seeds added some eye-popping pizzazz 🙂

Crispy Cauliflower - sweet and spicy orange glaze florets with panko breading
Crispy Cauliflower – sweet and spicy orange-glazed florets with panko breading.

A lot of the glaze sunk to the bottom of the cup, but I thought each floret had a fair amount of breading/glaze. Some of the florets could have been cooked a bit longer though, in my opinion. We want crispy— not crunchy, right?

My salad was alright as well. The tempeh seemed a little bland, but when eaten with a huge chunk of veggies and an orange slice, there was plenty of flavor to go around. Like most big-bowl salads I’ve eaten in the past, this one took me a while to finish but this—along with the cauliflower—definitely hit the spot. 

Thai Tempeh
Thai Tempeh salad – romaine, cabbage, corn salsa, green onion, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, cilantro, quinoa, spicy Thai dressing

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Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

What were some of your highlights from last week?

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