Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

I’d say the first week of April got off to a good start. I felt like I was able to start fresh, and even began the first week of training with a running coach. Since I plan to run a marathon in San Diego at the beginning of June, we are piggybacking off my training from the LA Marathon, and using the next couple of weeks as an introduction of sorts to his coaching style. 

After San Diego, we plan to reevaluate training and prepare for a fall marathon with the goal of racing a Boston Qualifying time.  Right now I’m looking at running the Route 66 in Tulsa, but nothing has been finalized yet. Since it falls on the weekend right before Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to run the race, and then spend the following week with family for Thanksgiving. 
 
On Saturday, I ran a long run workout that was fartlek in style: I had to run 5 minutes easy, followed by 1 minute fast. With my current coach, he emphasizes incorporating speed into long runs, rather than the “long slow distance” approach, at least if the end goal is running a fast marathon. 
 
I was able to complete the workout for 11 miles, running it at a sub-8:00 pace. I noted feeling fatigue towards the end, and stopping to take water breaks at some points (especially right after the one minute fast), but I’m glad to see that the workout did its job. 
 
When I got home from the run, I got ready as soon as I could in order to meet my friend E for a hike at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.  It was the first time I actually went out for a hike in LA (lol, I still need to do the Runyon Canyon thing), and after climbing stairs that were as tall as E (she’s on the shorter side, haha), we made it to the top and were treated to some fabulous views of the city
 
As we made our descent, we chatted and walked back to the La Cienega/Jefferson train stop. From there, we thought we might as well walk over to Culver City on the bike path since the Culver City station was the next stop. We also contemplated lunch, and I figured we could get some nourishing Mexican food from a recently-established eatery in The Platform, the same place Sweetgreen is located. 
 
Inside Loqui
Inside Loqui
 
Loqui had a limited menu of soft tortilla tacos, bowls, and quesadillas, but E and I figured we’d order what looked to be a filling mushroom bowl. 
 
Ordering our bowls (mocajeltes)
Ordering our bowls (molcajetes)
 
It was served Chipotle-style, with grilled onions, beans, and guac were piled high on green colored rice. I had two corn tortillas on the side while E had two flour ones.
 
A beautifully-paced mushroom bowl with tons of rice and guac // two soft corn tortillas
A beautifully-paced mushroom bowl with tons of rice and guac // two soft corn tortillas
 
The restaurant/cafe was very small, and there was limited seating on the patio in the back. The “chairs” were small stools and the tables were pretty tiny as well. 
 
After getting our fill of lunch, E and I didn’t really know what else to do…so we walked some more. I’d say we ended up walking for another hour and a half total, eventually getting back to the Culver City Station stop, but not before a trip to Sprouts. I got some essentials for the week, and then we parted ways. 
 
And then we walked some more.
And then we walked some more.
 
When I got home, I needed a nap to recuperate from all the running, hiking, and walking from the day. Needless to say, I slept pretty well that night! 

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

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…

fitjoy_cooksncream
@fitjoynutrition , I think you’re getting better at this protein bar thing ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

crimson
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.

crimson_inside
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.

menu
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.

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

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

dawholeshebang
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.

alldone
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.

gooeybananasfoster
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

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

I absolutely loved the movie, though I will admit I love movies and books about people and their stories. I loved reading biographies as a kid, and even now I prefer memoirs over anything else literature-wise.

On Saturday, I gave myself a rest day knowing that the next morning I would have to get up and run 15 miles. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with my day, knowing I had it all to myself with no impending items on my to-so list…

IMG_9104
Except maybe go frolicking around Westwood?

I ended up walking around Santa Monica in the morning because I woke up ravenous, and I wanted to get donuts from DK’s. Unfortunately, my debit card wasn’t working and I couldn’t withdraw any cash to buy any donuts from the cash-only shop. I don’t understand why they can’t take credit cards at this point with all their success/recognition, but one day I’ll be able to see what the hullabaloo is about…when I have cash in my pocket.

In the meantime, I had to find something pronto because my stomach was growling…

SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica
SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica

I totally forgot about SuperFood Cafe’s existence, even though I had been planning to check this place out a while back. They have an incredible amount of vegan and vegetarian items, hinted by the size of their large laminated menus.

At the counter, I ordered a warm bowl called Chef Tofu and a coffee because that morning I desperately needed one. I then found a seat and admired the high ceilings and warm, cozy color tones.

coffee and art
Nothing says comfort like a giant mug of coffee

I added two packets of brown sugar and one serving of creamer to the coffee, which made it taste much more magical. My bowl came in a very interesting-shaped bowl—it looked like something you’d find in an art gallery.

chef_tofu
That crazy looking bowl though.

The bowl itself contained organic tofu, hemp seed, organic broccoli, kale & spinach, and organic tomato-corn-chipotle salsa. The tofu had a nice spice to it, being coated with a light curry sauce and all.

chef_TOfuuu
Ah, a bowl of yum!

With my hunger satisfied, I decided I might as well do something fun, but cultural, with my free day. I took the bus (which stopped right in front of SuperFood, conveniently!) to Westwood, and decided to check out the Hammer Museum since I hadn’t been yet!

hammer_museum
Hammer Museum—an illusion of size

The museum was actually pretty small. From the outside it looks enormous, but then I realized that the bulk of it was a parking garage…so much for culture! While it was gorgeous on the inside, there were only TWO art displays open, and so my visit was drastically cut down to a fifteen minute walk-through…

interior_
Pretty, but small & quiet

So, I ended up doing what I pretty much do on my weekends when not in lab…grocery shop, and then head home to nap! At least at my grocery stops over the weekends, I treated myself to some delicious new finds:

I had this Falafel Wrap from Trader Joe’s on Sunday, after a 15-mile long run with my team. After having the Veggie Hummus and Grilled Eggplant wraps though, I found this one to be awfully dry even with the provided tahini sauce. It didn’t help that all the falafel were to one side (it made it harder to dip that side into the sauce cup)…maybe if they had been assembled in a staggered arrangement, it would have helped with the dunking?

falafel_wrap
Trader Joe’s Falafel Wrap

I also used some Vitamin Shoppe points I had to go towards my first jar of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter!

I tried D's Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It's a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S'mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that's balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!
I tried D’s Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It’s a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S’mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that’s balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!

As described by my caption so succinctly, I enjoyed this flavor immensely ๐Ÿ™‚

backofjar
I will be on the hunt for the others!

I would say that my post-exam jitters finally went away Monday morning. I woke up feeling much more refreshed than I did last Wednesday, and so far, that feeling’s been holding up pretty well ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Friendsgiving 2016

Friendsgiving 2016

I woke up Thanksgiving morning feeling refreshed, despite sleeping on a hard floor in a sleeping bag. My sister got up an hour later after I did, and we talked for a bit until our friend got up. Today was officially Day 1 of our lock down, and I spent the majority of the morning working on my proposal. My friend also had some homework that needed to get done, so we all agreed to start making our Friendsgiving meal around 3pm.

turkey
We saw turkey in my friend’s yard!

My friend also had to attend to some humorous RA calls. There were two incidents where parents couldn’t find their children because their college-age kids overslept and didn’t pick up their phones…it’s like, did they really forget their parents were coming to pick them up for Thanksgiving? There was also a girl that got locked out and called for my friend to unlock her dorm room door for her, but then she asked my friend is she could watch the sunset first. #SantaCruzKids I tell ya!

My sister did the majority of the work when it came to cooking. I was glued to my seat at the kitchen table for the entire day (except for an afternoon run break that killed my quads because Santa Cruz = death by hills), so I have to be honest and say I didn’t contribute cooking-wise, haha.

We didn’t have much to do anyways, just thaw and cook the Tofurky ball, mix and cook the mashed potatoes on the stovetop, warm up the gravy, nuke a single yam in the microwave (lol), and our friend already had buttermilk pie prepared.

friendsgiving
Wine I did not have, Plate #1 featuring toasted sourdough, tofurky, yam slice with vegetarian gravy, plate set-up.

Our friend also invited one of her campus friends to join us. He was a pretty chill guy who also happens to run, so at least I had a good ice breaker topic, haha.

After our dinner, we did some more work/procrastination online, until we decided to play online versions of Catchphrase and Cards Against Humanity. Some of us had some politically incorrect phrases, but they were so on POINT.

We called it a night around 11pm and after our friend’s friend left, the three of us promptly went to bed. Thus, our Friendsgiving 2016 concluded ๐Ÿ˜‰

โ™ฅ

The next morning, I helped myself to some of my friend’s instant coconut coffee (so good!) and settled myself in at the kitchen table because my 12 page proposal still needed major work. My friend and sister could afford to take a break though, and for them there was nothing standing between them and the Gilmore Girls revival. Even if I could have afforded the time, I don’t think it would have interested me much since I never watched the original series in full.

They started around 10am, which was around the time I seriously got to work. My brain was fried by 2pm, and I desperately needed a break. I went out for a run again, but to try to mix up the route and prevent having to climb a steep cliff back to campus, I ran for a longer time than usual, and ended up tacking an hour-long walk to the end of an 8 mile run just to get back. The temperature was dropping significantly at this time, and part of me felt a little nervous getting back as the sun was setting, but I made it back safely! Needless to say, I was glued to my friend’s heater until we left for dinner ๐Ÿ˜›

We decided to have dinner at Cafe Gratitude in Downtown Santa Cruz. My sis and friend could not stop talking about the ending of the Gilmore Girls revival as we drove, and I just sat there totally clueless still trying to warm up my body.

downtown-sc
Downtown Santa Cruz

It was absolutely freezing when we got out and walked, but thankfully my friend let me borrow her heavy jacket. Even with that I tried to think warm thoughts. I was so happy Cafe Gratitude wasn’t too far from where we parked.

It’s kind of unusual because this Cafe Gratitude isn’t listed on their website with all of their So Cal locations, so I’m not sure what the deal is. I’m pretty sure they are owned by the same people because the menu looked similar, if not smaller…

cafe-g
Pretty small inside, and while it was bright inside, it wasn’t exactly warm!

I got the Grateful bowl, which was just as warm as any bowl of soup would have been.

grateful-bowl
This bowl had brown rice, fresh baby kale, black beans, steamed veggies, and green tahini sauce.

My sis got a sandwich and I believe my friend got a bowl that had sushi rice in it.

sis-sandich
Sister’s sandwich ๐Ÿ™‚

After eating, we braced out into the cold. My sis wanted to get drinks at a bar, so we checked out one bar, but promptly left. It wasn’t our scene so we got out of their quickly! Instead we made a pit stop for ice cream at Penny Ice Creamery.

penny-ice-creamery

It was just a small, local shop with rotating flavors. Very Santa Cruz-ian.

ice-cream

I got a scoop of the Apple Crisp with date, my sis got chocolate of course, and my friend a mint chip scoop on a cone. I could detect the bits of apple but overall I found it to be a bland flavor profile.

red-room

My sis still wanted to check out a bar before we left, and I didn’t really care as long as it was warm! We found a place called the Red Room and it was literally all red. I was surprised I didn’t doze off once I sat in the lounge. My friend and sis ordered at the bar, and then brought their drinks back to our table. We stayed until they were finished, and then I was given the car keys to take us all back home. Designated driver at your service ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

We were all pretty tired by the time we got back…just before 9pm! We are total party animals, I know ๐Ÿ˜› . My sis and I had to leave in the morning anyway, so we were okay with sleeping in early and getting as many hours of rest in as possible.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Are you a Gilmore Girls fan?

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

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

It felt so freeing to be able to take a break from being a โ€œcity girlโ€, and take a week off to go to my first home of Tulsa, OK. It was an easy-going week filled with naps, cuddling with my cat, runs at River Park (though they were shorter than what Iโ€™m used to doing, due to some shin pain Iโ€™ve been having), ice cream and custard runs, get-togethers, shopping, movie and Olympics-watching, and getting in as much home-cooked dinners as possible.

I had this Chobani Flip flavor (Chocolate Haze Craze) with hazelnut pieces and chocolate as a snack my second night there.
I had this Chobani Flip flavor (Chocolate Haze Craze) with hazelnut pieces and chocolate as a snack my second night there.

In the beginning of the week, I spent most of my time at home, and when my Dad got off work, we would go grocery shopping or to River Park for some breath of fresh air. After familiarizing myself with the area, I went to River Park in the following days for morning runs. My left posterior shin was acting up, so my runs ended up being short and semi-sweet.

Braum's Dairy
Braum’s Dairy

On one night, we went stopped by Braumโ€™s—a ubiquitous dairy shop in Oklahoma—for some late night ice cream. Itโ€™s almost like the dessert version of McDonaldโ€™s in Oklahoma. I got a cup of birthday cake ice cream, which ended up being a bright blue scoop with soft chunks of vanilla pound cake mixed in.

Braum's Birthday Cake
Braum’s Birthday Cake

Since my Dad had a free pastry to redeem at Panera, we went there for breakfast. We split a coffee, an egg sandwich with cheese and avocado, and a sugary-sweet bearclaw.

Panera Breakfast with Dad!
Panera Breakfast with Dad!

We didnโ€™t eat out much on this trip because I wanted to take advantage of having home-cooked meals prepared (with love J ) and we also ate at get-togethers at friendsโ€™ houses. For lunch on my last full day in Tulsa, we went to a housewarming of one of my dadโ€™s co-workers. They had Desi food catered, and we piled on the trays as we made our way down the marble countertop in the kitchen of their new home.

Desi food!!
Desi food!!

Later that day, my Dad and I went to the movies to watch Ghostbusters (while I love the SNL ladies, the movie was โ€˜mehโ€™), and afterwards, had a treat to cool-off thatโ€™s favored in the Midwest and South over froyo! I think there is only about two froyo places in all of Tulsa, and if you have a craving for something sweet, frozen, but not ice cream, your next best thing is frozen custard.

Welcome to Andy's!
Welcome to Andy’s!

Andyโ€™s Frozen Custard was very close to the theater we went to, and I told my Dad I would pay for the both of us. My way of saying thanks for not having to buy groceries that week ๐Ÿ˜‰

How is custard made?
How is custard made?

They had so many variations on frozen custard available. While vanilla and chocolate are the main base flavors, they can be included in the creation of a sundae or concrete, the latter of which involves a crazy amount of mix-ins and sauces depending on what combination caught your eye.

Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard
Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard

My Dad and I decided to keep it simple and just get a cone/cup of the base flavors chocolate and vanilla. We enjoyed our desserts outside, and I took note of the smooth, creamy taste of my custard. It was light, but not froyo-light. It actually had the creaminess of a soft-serve youโ€™d get at a fast food restaurant.

I knew that after giving one of the base flavors a try, I would have to come back to try a concrete. Seeing as my next trip wonโ€™t be until December, Iโ€™ll probably have the chance to choose from seasonal flavorsโ€ฆlike candy cane!

Overall, my six-day trip to Oklahoma was a good one. I was sad to leave so soon, and honestly wouldnโ€™t have mind staying another week. Time will fly by before I know it though, and I am planning to make my winter stay a longer one.

Until Next Time...
Until Next Time…

Andy's Frozen Custard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Springtime Sushi

Springtime Sushi

Is it really already APRIL?! By the way the weather has been acting, it’s pretty real indeed!

Thanks to my tax return, I finally invested in a BedJet, so it looks like a creature from Star Wars is “hiding” under my bed covers…at least I no longer have to worry about participating in A/C Wars with my roommate! I absolutely love this little machine, and the its ability to keep my skin cool throughout the night. Why didn’t I get this sooner when I was going through ED recovery night sweats?!

I also had the urge to let off some steam on Instagram, after being whistled at a couple times last week while running. Some may say it is to be expected when running outdoors in the city, but that is by no means a valid, acceptable reason. I should be able to wear what I want to workout, and not feel ashamed, fearful, or intimidated by others for doing so.

Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!
Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!

Now onto the foodie-things of last weekend. Since I did not have to set one foot into lab over the weekend, I was able to hang out with my roommate on Saturday afternoon. We went to an outdoor music festival, and it was blazing HOT outside. I made the mistake of wearing strappy sandals, taking advantage of the fact I did not have to go into lab, but forgetting that heat + walking + sandals = blisters. UGH.

Jogasaki---my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year...)
Jogasaki—my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year…)

There were food trucks at the venue, and I took it as an opportunity to try my first one (besides the waffle one at a race I went to last year). Jogasaki was the most popular one there, and the only vegetarian dish they had was the veggie burrito.

The truck menu.
The truck menu.

I don’t know why they didn’t just call it a Sushirito though, since the other menu items were variations on the sushirito…

Veggie Burrito---er, Sushirito
Veggie Burrito—er, Sushirito

My sushirito was cylindrical roll of rice, filled with cucumber, avocado, and marinated seaweed, all of which was rolled up in rice paper. My roommate got a grilled cheese and tater tots (and I cannot imagine how she ate that hot food in the blazing hot weather…). We ate our meals on the grass, and then got up afterwards to check out the freebies.

Spring time music, food, and freebies.
Spring time music, food, and freebies.

The live music was pretty lame because there really was no defined set of acts and performers. A couple people got on stage to say “check, check”, and then they reverted to just playing pre-recorded music.

At least the freebies were worth it. I ended up with several shirts, KIND bars, sunglasses, and between my roommate and I, a bouquet of flowers for our apartment.

Free flowers!!
Free flowers!!
Some of dem freebies
Some of dem freebies

On Sunday, I felt the need to go shopping! I ended up going alone to Culver City after my morning long run, and ventured inside the Culver City Mall for the first time. When I lived in NorCal, my local mall got on my nerves after a while because it was pretty much the only place my friends and I would go, but stepping inside the CCM made me remember those good ol’ times and how much I miss those days ๐Ÿ˜›

I stopped by the Sprouts next to the mall before heading home, and pick up two Enlightened pints that have been all the rage on Instagram.

Those swirls... :D :D :D
Those swirls… ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Frozen Hot Cocoa blew me away…probably because the ingredients listed GHEE as an ingredient (which I have never seen as an ice cream ingredient before!!) and the swirls were insanely delicious. Of course I soon got tired of the chocolate, but those swirls!! I topped the pint with a FitElite Birthday Cake bar, which I bought only because a GNC was in the mall and I had not tried this bar flavor yet. I honestly was not a fan, since it tasted like bland vanilla fudge taffy with a smattering of spherical sprinkles :/ .

Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch

Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch on the other hand, made my Monday evening pleasant. After a long day in lab, coming home to this pint mixed with cookie pieces and oatmeal flakes in a caramel base was super comforting. If the other Enlightened ice cream flavors are just as good as these two, I think I’m going to have many worthwhile Sprouts grocery shopping trips in the near future ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have you heard of BedJet?

Would you eat a sushirito?

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito 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.

yh_front
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.

light
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.

inside
Yard House interior

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

painting
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

Super Good Sushi

Super Good Sushi

Visiting my sister is always such fun, and this past weekend was no exception.

Before leaving on Friday morning, I treated myself to one of the new Arctic Zero flavors that I picked up along with Snickerdoodle Dandy—Cake Batter. It was one of the creamy flavors, and so even though it didn’t have any fun mix-ins, it had a very smooth, creamy consistencey and I was able to get a whiff reminiscent of cake batter when I popped off the lid.

Arctic Zero - Cake Batter
Arctic Zero – Cake Batter

I had it on its own, but I have no doubt it would have made for a stellar treat if topped with nut butter, whipped cream, or sprinkles ๐Ÿ˜‰

Arctic Zero - Cake Batter
Arctic Zero – Cake Batter

The day before I left, I also received a care package from my parents. It included trail mix, bars, socks (running and novelty, including pizza and brontosauri ๐Ÿ˜› ), olives, store-brand nutella, and a gift card. It definitely made my day ๐Ÿ™‚

Care package goodies!
Care package goodies!

My trip to Fresno on Friday felt like it took longer than previous trips, but this time around, my sis was texting me about where to eat when I arrived. She was hungrier than I was, haha!

Mr. Sushi chopsticks
Mr. Sushi chopsticks

For lunch, we ended up heading into the Tower District once my sis picked me up from the train station. After a quick Yelp search, we learned about Mr. Sushi, and how they had some vegetarian options.

Rice bowwwwls
Rice bowwwwls

For our main entrees, my sis got the tofu bowl while I got the Vegetable Don Bui, which is just a regular rice bowl.

Lol @ the rolls
Lol @ the rolls

While they had some “creative” named rolls, we got the spicy vegetable tempura roll since it was the only special vegetarian roll. I find it funny how the Snow White roll is right below several suggestive rolls, haha.

The art was somewhat suggestive too (naked, but tattooed bodies).

At least the walls were red?
At least the walls were red?

Even though it was almost 2pm on a Friday, there were still plenty of patrons getting some grub.

At the bar
At the bar

I was seriously jelly over my sister’s tofu bowl! She let me have two of them though, and even though they look like crisp, golden bricks, they are super soft (and hot!!) on the inside.

That tofu!!
That tofu!!

Our tempura roll was plated with such flair. It was drizzled with a variety of colorful sauces, and served with horseradish and wasabi on the side.

So fancy
So fancy

Five for me, five for the sis…everything about this was perfect.

Close-up!
Close-up!

My rice bowl was ginormous, and I would say the rice outnumbered my veggies 3:1. Since my sis’s bowl was exactly the same as mine, just with the added four blocks of tofu, we both swooned over our veggies. They were cooked in this mildly sweet, almost BBQ like cornstarch sauce that was just irresistible. The rice, however, was overkill. I was not able to finish the entire bowl…that’s how large it was!

So much rice!! But the veggies were good!
So much rice!! But the veggies were good!

After lunch, we waddled back to the car with happy tummies. We retreated back to my sis’s dorm and rested up before heading out again in the evening!

Mr Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So That’s What It’s Called!

So That’s What It’s Called!

The one thing I like about being independent in lab is being able to coordinate my lab schedule with my life schedule—at least for the most part. For the current experiments I’m doing, I had to plan weeks in advance to make sure everything I needed to accomplish was covered, but with a little maneuvering and careful planning, I was able to make myself free sometime within the time frame of my sister’s birthday. It also happened to be a weekend after some of the more time-intensive experiments, and so this “mini break” was much, much needed.

I left LA around 7:30AM by bus, and then transferred on to the train to head up to Fresno. Like my first trip a couple months ago, this train ride was far from anything you’d expect from an amusement park, but at least it got me to my sister ๐Ÿ™‚

After picking me up from the station, my sister dropped me off at the dorms while she dashed to class. I took my time settling in and soothing my sore head from a lingering headache.

When she came back, we were both ready for an afternoon tea-esque snack, so we headed out thinking a place called La Boulangerie would be able to satsify us.

After some driving around with a confused GPS, we realized that even though La Boulangerie existed and served French pastries and snacks, it wasn’t the Parisien dessert shop my sister had previously visited and had told me about. She then realized that it was Le Parisien she wanted to go to ๐Ÿ˜›

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Le Parisen front.

We found the right cafe among other establishments in a strip mall, and my eyes immediately latched onto the sugary collection in the display case.

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So many sweets to choose from!!

My sister and I had been talking macaroons on the way over, but some of these other beauties were making me change my mind…they even had discount, day old pastries that still looked appealing.

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These day-old sweet hearts still look good!

I wasn’t in a jelly-filled, powder-sugared donut mood though…I saw an incredibly looking chocolate tart, and I was sold. My sister got three small pastries, and a vegetarian crepe.

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All for ourselves!

We were the only ones in the cafe at the time, so we found a table right in the middle that wasn’t too close to the window or the sun rays coming through them.

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A chocolate tart with chocolate ganache to DEVOUR.

My chocolate tart had a swirl of mousse, and a thin layer of chocolate ganache. The crust was hard to cut through, but if I had eaten it as a handhold rather than from top-to-bottom with my fork, I may have appreciated the crust layer more.

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Orange, mint chocolate macaroons, and lemon meringue

My sister lover her orange macaroon, but wasn’t much of a fan of her lemon meringue or mint chocolate macaroon. She decided that fruit macaroons > non-fruit macaroons, but I can’t take her word for it until I try a non-fruit macaroon, since I’ve only tried lemon and blueberry flavors so far…

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Vegetarian crepe

She did love her vegetarian crepe though, filled with an assortment of colorful vegetables and cheese, all wrapped up in a rectangular thin crepe. I even helped myself to a few bites.

We got back to her dorm a little before five, and though it would be smart to get some homework/reading done before dinner. When we did get in the car again, we blasted the radio and drove off into the sunset…sort of ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Friday sunset

We were both craving Mediterranean, and we found out that a new Mediterranean grill had opened up in Clovis just a few weeks ago that was worth checking out.

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Ark Mediterranean Grill

The shopping area Ark Mediterannean Grill was housed in was busy for a Friday night, but the restaurant only had a few other patrons besides ourselves. There was a long table with at least a dozen people near the back of the restaurant, I’m assuming all family, and enjoying an evening out together.

There wasn’t much in options for vegetarians other than the falafel plate or a falafel sandwich, so my sister and I both got the plate. We avoided twinning when I chose to have bulgar instead of rice.

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The vegetarian-friendly falafel plate

Along with a well-balanced plate of falafel, bulgar, hummus, and cucumber salad, we also got four thin triangles of pita bread and a cup of tahini sauce.

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Pita bread and tahini

The inside of the falafel reminded me of a pretty amazing falafel plate I had a few weeks ago in Glendale, but these falafels were on level with the ones of So Cal. And of course, the hummus was exceptional. To be honest, I don’t think you can ever have “bad” hummus unless the chickpeas have spoiled or something ๐Ÿ˜›

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Just like the one I had in Dune…

While picking through the bulgar, I noticed what looked like short, thin noodles mixed in, and I was reminded of what my friend used to eat when were kids. Her mom used to prepare something similar, and I was always fascinated by what it was called. Apparently, after simply Googling the phrase ‘noodles mixed with rice Mediterranean’, I found out it’s called Riz Bil Sh’arieh (or more casually, Lebanese Rice). The key is broken vermicelli noodles ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Riz Bil Sh’arieh! So that’s what it’s called!

After this nourishing meal, I felt pumped for the race I was planning to run the next day. Once we got back, I managed to also have some energy to read a few papers before heading to bed, but my sister and I did make some time to laugh out loud during our countless study breaks ๐Ÿ˜€

Have you ever had Riz Bil Sh’arieh?

Le Parisien Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Spot, Sand, & Sun

The Spot, Sand, & Sun

Two weekends ago, I found my way back to Manhattan/Hermosa/Redondo Beach again. Funny how I ended up in the place I was exploring by foot a little over a year ago, basically doing the same thing ๐Ÿ˜› 

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I took the Metro Green line down to the South Bay area, and got off at Redondo Beach Station.

SAMSUNG

My Sunday morning walk was quite pleasant. Sure, there was not much to look at at first—except manicured lawns and secluded corporate buildings—but things got better about 30 minutes in as I made my way toward the coast.

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A 1 hour walk just to get to the beach.

But since I made the trek in the early afternoon, I had to stop for lunch. Good thing The Spot was in the right spot ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

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It’s apparently LA’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, and the outside reminded me of a little beach shack.

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The inside was dimly lit, but had a homey feel to it.

thespotHB

I guess the ambiance influenced my meal choice, since I decided to try the “Garden Corny”. What food symbolizes home cookin’ more than cornbread ๐Ÿ˜‰ ?

I didn’t have to wait to long for my plate to arrive, but to pass the time, I forced myself to review lecture slides on heterochromatin. I’m sure my server thought it was strange for someone to be looking at a slide of mutant Drosophila just before chowing down…

 Garden Corny - cornbread smothered in pinto beans, brown rice, salsa, red sauce, and garden veggies!
Garden Corny – cornbread smothered in pinto beans, brown rice, salsa, red sauce, and garden veggies!

I certainly had no issues though! My plate came out still steaming hot, and I had to push aside the mountain of pinto beans and rice to find two square pieces of cornbread tucked in the middle.

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The food did fill me up, and I was left feeling warm and re-nourished from my long walk from the station. Still, the seasoning needed improvement. Everything from the vegetables to the cornbread tasted quite bland. Things could have been a lot better with a flavorful sauce…or perhaps just some more salt!

After paying and tipping for my lunch, I made my way to The Strand—where I observed the houses, volleyballers, bikers, runners, and walkers I “met” a little over a year ago…

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 Weekends at the beach. Gotta love it.
Weekends at the beach. Gotta love it.

The clear blue skies, inviting pier, and gentle crowds put me in a pleasant mood on my walk back. Since Halloween is approaching, it was fun to see many of the fancy-schmancy beach houses get into theme. These gargantuan spiders were popular with the passerby. This one certainly caught my attention!

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Yeah, beach days are nice. Too bad it can’t be like that every day unless you’re one of the lucky Strand denizens living in a beachfront house.I finished a few shopping errands before making my way back to Douglas Station.

SAMSUNG

When I got home later that evening, I don’t think I got up for several hours. My feet reminded me that despite making my brain and body happy, the power to do all that walking and exploring was provided by them, and now they needed REST! ๐Ÿ˜›

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