Being in Barcelona, Part 2

Being in Barcelona, Part 2

Even though it was “just a park”, I would say that walking through Parc de la Ciutadella and just taking in the sights and sounds of all that was going around me was hands down my favorite part of my Barcelona day visit.  

I felt genuinely happy and at peace. It was as if time stood still, and this perfect afternoon existed for me to enjoy.

I may have been soaking in all of this serenity on my own (female solo traveler, heyyy), but I felt like I had struck gold in terms of having “properly toured” Barcelona.

Walking through
Walking through

I mean, the lush, green courtyard was full of gems…ahh, just typing this up makes me want to go back…

Walking around
Walking around Parc de la Ciutadella

I definitely selfie-d here, haha:

Like a palace in the park!
Like a palace in the park!

As I continued walking, I didn’t want to leave the idyllic park, but the Gothic Quarter was just a few blocks away and was calling to me.

Oh, and the beauty just continued:

Gothic Quarter
Gothic Quarter

I didn’t get to the beachy side of Barceloneta, but I did get in some gorgeous views of a marine dock.

By the dock
By the dock

It was late afternoon by the time I got to the dock, and since I was running low on my phone battery, I thought it would be best to head home and charge up before getting dinner later on that evening.

When I did head out for dinner, Vegetalia in the Gothic Quarter was my destination, so pretty much the area was in just before. I took a bus again, and used Google Maps to navigate my way through some alleyways lined with shops and cafes. It was 6pm, and the hip neighborhood was starting to grow in crowds.

I waked past Vegetalia for a few blocks, but eventually found it tucked away surrounding a giant outdoor seating area.

Vegetalia
Vegetalia

I read before leaving for Spain that Barcelona has a bunch of cool vegan-friendly places to check out. Vegetalia stuck out to me the most since I saw it made quite a few appearances on Instagram. Especially for their paella…

Menu
Menu

It wasn’t too crowded, but their were other tourists around as well. A German couple sat in front of me, at least based on what I could tell from their conversation. In order to avoid mispronouncing anything and embarrasing myself, I simply pointed to “Paella vegetal de arroz integral” when the waited came by my table.

It only took like 15 minutes or so before a hot, steaming pan filled with bubbling rice and veggies (including artichoke hearts!) arrived at my table. Because it was so hot temperature-wise, I took the time to savor each bite and the flavors.

Vegan Paella 🥘 exists! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. "Paella vegetal de arroz integral" was served hot, included a generous amount of artichoke hearts, and was certainly filling 🍴😋
Vegan Paella 🥘 exists! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. “Paella vegetal de arroz integral” was served hot, included a generous amount of artichoke hearts, and was certainly filling 🍴😋

After my meal, I slowly walked back through the alleyways to the bus stop I got off at. The sun was setting and people were stirring about. It was a Saturday night the crowds outside were definitely warming up for some night adventure. I didn’t mind heading back to home base though, since I did want to get a run in the morning before leaving for Sitges in the afternoon.

I had heard about the La Merce 5k/10k run that was going on, but I wasn’t able to register in time. Part of me wanted to just show up at the race start and see if I could still participate, but I decided to just go with the flow and worry about it in the morning.

Have you ever visited Spain? Barcelona?

Birthday Weekend, Day 1

Birthday Weekend, Day 1

After my birthday, my work week continued on as usual—long days filled with experiments, coffee breaks, and moments of eye droopiness at the computer, haha!

When Friday night rolled around, I was so excited for my friend’s arrival! She’s the one my sister and I visited during Thanksgiving,  and she came around 10pm. We stayed up till midnight just catching up and talking. We planned to stay local on Saturday, and then venture out to the OC on Sunday.

She woke up leisurely, while I got up a little earlier to get a morning run in. I also had to go by lab, so we did that, and then drove back to Santa Monica for lunch…at Bondi Harvest.

Bondi Harvest
Bondi Harvest

It’s a relatively new establishment, with the inside and exterior decor carrying themes of the Australian coast. Many of the menu items were small, brunch-like items with unique ingredient combinations of fresh quality.

Friend's eggs, tomato, and toast.
Friend’s eggs, tomato, and toast.

My friend got a simple plate of toast with a poached egg and roasted tomato. She was an immediate fan of the tomato, because of how proportionately seasoned it was.

I chose to get something that had a prominent feature in their menu: Whirley’s Bowl.

Whirley's Bowl
Whirley’s Bowl

It was a bowl containing chimichurri, dressed cauliflower rice, slaw, avocado, yogurt tartar and salsa…I said no thank you to the fish!

An interesting combo of flavors and textures...
An interesting combo of flavors and textures…

The slaw was a fruity, citrus slaw, and definitely elevated the flavor profile of the bowl. The large half of avocado also seemed like an overwhelming addition. I’m not sure I’d order this again if I ever came back to BH, but I didn’t regret my decision too much. Though I did doubt my decision NOT to get eggs and toast (and tomato).

After lunch, we tried to figure out what else to do in SaMo besides shop and go to the beach. I did want to see what the Santa Monica Stairs was all about (thinking it featured a colorful, painted outdoor staircase), but when we made the drive up to north of Brentwood, it was literally just a steep, wooden staircase with a bunch of buff guys and gals running reps up and down in Lululemon and Nike.

Santa Monica Stairs
Santa Monica Stairs

We climbed on flight just to say “we did it”, and then drove off to Brentwood.

We didn’t do much in Brentwood either, just walk up and down San Vicente. Because of the heat, heading back home to rest up and figure out dinner plans seemed like such a reasonable idea.

Once at home, we turned on the fan (because my room was like a sauna, ughhh), and made the executive decision to get coffee (after 4pm, haha) and read/do work at a coffee shop before having dinner.

This wasn’t a bad idea at all, since it was the perfect opportunity to try Phillz Coffee, and get caught up on some data analysis.

Phillz Coffee, 3rd St. Promenade
Phillz Coffee, 3rd St. Promenade

I was surprised that there was such a demand for Phillz Coffee after 4pm, on a Saturday, but this was the case as we soon figured from the long line trailing towards the front entrance.

Honestly, it was just for the iced coffee topped with mint leaves…another capture for the ‘gram…because based on my experience, the coffee was too bitter and nothing special.

Agh, couldn't finish this...
Agh, couldn’t finish this…

I couldn’t stomach the whole cup. Perhaps if I had had the barista pour some milk or cream, it could have made a difference, but Phillz was so not worth the hype.

But I did get some data analysis done, so there’s that!

And to conclude our eating adventures for the day, we stumbled upon CAVA, a fast-growing, Chipotle-for-Mediteranean-food kind of place. I first came across it in Culver City, but was ecstatic to try it for the first time with the company of my friend.

CAVA, Santa Monica
CAVA, Santa Monica

She got a bowl for her base, but I wanted some bready carbs, so I chose to get a pita stuffed with falafel, veggies, and apricot sriracha…yesssss.

That. Sauce. Though.
That. Sauce. Though.

We were able to enjoy our meal outside since it was finally starting to cool down, and after gobbling down everything to the last morsel, we headed back home and relaxed for the rest of the night with a movie on Netflix.

Another shot from CAVA
Another shot from CAVA

I probably would have died of boredom if I had stayed local the entire day (since I practically run the same roads everyday, the scenery had become too familiar, haha!), but having my friend by my side certainly made it a fantastic day 🙂

Philz Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Days Like These

Days Like These

After a day to myself, I was eager to spend the Saturday catching up with E. I stopped by lab first to bid adieu to my undergrad, from there E and I left for Manhattan Beach.

I took the car out, and the drive out was a slightly crazy one since we were bracing ourselves on I-110 Southbound. We did make it one piece, and stopped for lunch at Cafe Rio since we were starving.

Standing in line
Standing in line

I’ve heard good things about Cafe Rio, which is a Chipotle-style restaurant, but in my opinion, everything looked more fresh.

Cafe Rio, Manhattan Beach
Cafe Rio, Manhattan Beach

I got a tostada bowl, while E got a quesadilla. My tostada was topped with cilantro rice, lettuce, guac, sour cream, tomatoes, black beans, tortilla strips, and refreshing spring of parsley.

Tostada Bowl
Tostada Bowl

I guess it wasn’t super outstanding, but since my appetite was raging, I devoured everything. E had to wait a while for me to finish since my bowl seemed to never end, and I was insistent on eating everything (including the tostada shell) with a fork, haha!

Clossssssse-up
Clossssssse-up

After getting our fill of fresh mex food, we stopped inside Barnes & Noble that was nearby before heading to the beach. We found parking in a hilly neighborhood, and only had to walk a block or two down to the shopping area right by the beach.

Once we made it past the shops, we found a spot to sit in the sand, and watch everything around us. It was more crowded than when we visited Aliso Beach, but we had fun taking in the surroundings and gossiping about our own stuff (like we don’t do that enough, haha).

Beach bummin'
Beach bummin’

We decided to head back a little before 5, and stopped for some smoothies at Jamba Juice since the weather was still warm. The drive back to LA was just as bracing as the drive we took in the morning, but I was able to drop off E and get home safely.

It was another pleasant Sunday, but I’m certainly not taking it for granted! I was looking at some past posts from around this time last year, and I was in a totally different mindset at the time, and going through some struggles that I’m glad I was able to get over! Having friends in the workplace like E has helped, and just feeling in more control of my surroundings. So yes, I’ll continue to greet and be grateful for days that pass like these ♥.

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

Week One With the Sis

Week One With the Sis

I’ve finally caught up on my travel posts, but coming back meant starting a crazy work schedule in lab. Summer is no time to slack off, haha. 
 
A lot of my time-intensive experiments were beginning at the end of the month, so the the two weeks after my trip were spent planning for the arduous weeks ahead. At least I had my sister with my for moral support. 
 
With no landlords in the house for the first week we were back, we had free reign over the kitchen. Scrambled eggs, with a side of bread and cooked veggies from a pan was our staple dish, and of course we accompanied it with snacks. 
 
Throughout the week, I sampled many of the snacks I brought back from our trip, including these Grenade protein flapjacks.
 
♥
 
The original Grenade bars contain gelatin so unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sample those, but these protein flapjacks were a decent option for vegetarians. One of the reasons I love the U.K.? The “suitable for vegetarians” logo…
 
grenade-coconutchaos
I had the Coconut Chaos and Fused Fruit flavors, and while the coconut one was my favorite of the two, I thought the chewy but dense consistency of the bar made it seem more like a slab of dry cake rather than a flapjack (if we are using the word to refer to pancakes here, haha)! 
 
♥
 
The Cadbury’s Oreo Mint bar was an immediate favorite of mine, as it had a soft mint cream filling with a slight crunchy texture from the Oreo cookie pieces. 
 
♥
 
I also picked up a number of Nakd products, including a bar flavor that was new and some flavor-infused raisins…
 
♥

I didn’t think the Apricot Crunch flavor had enough “crunch”, as its texture and flavor consistency was similar to other Nakd bars, but it had a mild fruity flavor that seemed to distinguish it from the other bar flavors. Although, I must admit it’s been a while since I had a Nakd bar, so I can’t be too sure, haha! The cherry-infused raisins however were unlike anything I’ve ever had before.

♥

I’ve never been too keen on raisins, but these seemed to taste as if cherry juice was individually pumped into each raisin to give it a kick of flavor. I wouldn’t mind eating these to fulfill my daily fruit serving!

And then there were the chocolate spreads…

♥

This Cadbury’s chocolate spread was thinner than Nutella, but it literally tasted like a melted Cadbury’s milk chocolate bar so all was good.

♥

It made a packet of plain oatmeal much tastier, 😛

 This Malteasers Teasers spread won me over too.
 
♥
 
It had small crunchy malt pieces, and my sister and I added it to some yogurt with a broken Wispa bar (a bar I wasn’t too fond of chocolate-flavoring-wise, but it did have an airy, bubble filling.
 
♥

After a few days cooking and snacking from home, my sister and I had dinner out on a Friday evening since that’s when my landlords came back from their trip. It also happened to be a long, exhausting day for me at lab, so having my sister come pick me up from the train station and drive down to downtown SaMo was such a relief.

We had dinner at Wahoo’s Fish Taco, which surprisingly had plenty of veggie options. You could substitute tofu for pretty much any meat item, and so that made it easy when figuring out what burritos and tacos to get.

♥
 
♥

It felt so great to be out on a Friday night with company, chatting about our days and looking forward to the weekend. I was going to drag her into lab with me (just for the mornings 😉 ), but after that we had plans to go to Irvine to check on a potential apartment for her.

We split a burrito packed with tofu, rice, and black beans, and had tacos made to our liking. Mine was topped with a delicately-cut avocado.

♥

With the taco and half a burrito, my sister and I managed well. The meal was satisfying and just enough for both of us.

♥

Instead of walking over to the beach (it’s literally a few blocks away), we drove back home and transitioned into couch potato mode. We fell asleep immediately, but got up the next day feeling refreshed. The week had been a great start and welcome for June!

Wahoo's Fish Taco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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 😉

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 😉 !

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 😉

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 😛

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 🙂

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 😉 !

We were all pretty tired by the time we got back…just before 9pm! We are total party animals, I know 😛 . 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 “city girl”, 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 I’m used to doing, due to some shin pain I’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 Braum’s—a ubiquitous dairy shop in Oklahoma—for some late night ice cream. It’s almost like the dessert version of McDonald’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 didn’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 friends’ houses. For lunch on my last full day in Tulsa, we went to a housewarming of one of my dad’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 ‘meh’), and afterwards, had a treat to cool-off that’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!

Andy’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 😉

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 you’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 won’t be until December, I’ll probably have the chance to choose from seasonal flavors…like candy cane!

Overall, my six-day trip to Oklahoma was a good one. I was sad to leave so soon, and honestly wouldn’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 😛

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… 😀 😀 😀

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 😉

Have you heard of BedJet?

Would you eat a sushirito?

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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