This month’s Degustabox had a mix of familiar favorites and interesting new ones! Laying everything out, I couldn’t decide what to try first!
I decided to try the Lovely Candy Co. Caramels first, since I remembered how much I loved the fruit chews from this brand when I first had them back in October.
They were easy to chew, had a gentle sweet flavor, and were so irresistible that it was impossible to refrain from eating the whole bag in one go.
The PR Bar was also a product I was familiar with.
I was a fan of the Chocolate Peanut flavor, and found this Yogurt Berry flavor just as enticing. It had a subtle vanilla coating with a melt-in-your-mouth texture filled with berry pieces, almost like having berry cream-filled cookies!
I’ve also had the Better Oats oatmeal brand in the past, but it was the first time I’ve seen their new packaging. At first I didn’t realize it was the same Better Oats company I was used to seeing being sold in green-and-white colored packaging.
The flavor of the oats was Maple & Brown Sugar, but I added some pumpkin spice-flavored greens protein (which mixed well with the oats, and allowed for a thicker texture which I love!) and some Lingonberry jam for a more hearty, sweeter bowl of warmth.
The Lingonberry jam was definitely a new try for me, but after reading more about it I learned it was a Swedish delicacy. The flavor of the jam itself was not too sweet, and even though it had a fair mix of plump red berries, the consistency was smooth, pourable, and not too thick at all!
These Wilton Candy Salted Caramel Drops were also a new find for me, and certainly a winner.
One could display patience, melt them to a more liquid consistency and pour it over delicate and already-beautiful looking desserts, but a hungry girl like me prefers to eat them drop by drop. Each drop packs a huge punch—I found them to be REALLY salty, and they even had a slight crunch to them also.
Dinners this month had some flavor help thanks to Nando’s. I loved seeing a bottle of Nando’s in a Degustabox again, and was eager to try this garlic flavor.
It was labeled as being “medium spicy”, and doused over a hot sweet potato, it definitely had a kick to it. The bowl also featured cooked cabbage, sliced carrots and yellow squash discs. Yum!
Another condiment product featured in this month’s box was a fancy squeezeable tomato paste.
I had not heard of the Mutti brand previously, but according to the old school toothpaste/paint packaging, this double concentrated tomato paste was made purely from tomatoes of Italian origin. The tomato paste could have even passed as a dark crimson colored paint!
This month’s box also featured a number of drink items. Depending on what subscribers prefer, this month’s box either included Skinnygirl Peach Bellini Green Tea K-Cups, or instant coffee from Cafe Bustello and a can of Zenify natural energy drink.
I took the K-Cups with me to lab since I could make use of them there with our Keurig. I’m mostly a coffee drinker nowadays, so I didn’t think I’d be in love with a green tea K-Cup, but I have to say this flavor won me over. When prepared hot and with a packet of stevia, it’s certainly a sweet treat! There’s nothing green about it—certainly all peach!
I’ve had Cafe Bustelo coffee before, but it was my first time trying out their instant packs.
It’s almost too simple to prepare, as I literally have been heating up a mug of water for about 2 minutes, then add a packet of the intant coffee with stevia, and voila! A smooth, flavorful cup of coffee that’s easy on the wallet.
The Zenify drink I sampled was the “Zero” version, which contains 0g of sugar. The ingredients are basically sparkling water, erythritol, citric/ascorbic acid, and added vitamins. In addition to being sugar-free, it also contains no caffeine (to balance out the instant coffee I suppose!).
I love how it had a refreshing taste to it due to the carbonation, but knowing that it also served to work like green tea due to it containing a similar combination of antioxidants made me appreciative of it a bit more. I also think it’s pretty cool that the company pledges to work against polarization and intolerance by donating 5% of its profits to the Coexist Foundation.
As for the products I was unable to try, the Chiridos cricket snacks and Wild Planet canned chicken since they obviously contain meat products. My labmates enjoyed them though!
I could have made some garbanzo hummus this month to share with my co-workers as well, but didn’t get a chance to in time for this post! Seems easy enough though—the hummus flavor packet simply says to add a can of Bush’s Garbanzos.
Coffee or tea?
Do you prefer jam or nut butter on oats?
Ahhh, no post for about two weeks! I kind of needed the break, and life has been “much too distracting” to find the time and patience to put a post together. I haven’t even been perusing through the ‘gram much lately either. It makes me happy that I’m busy/engaged enough with life right now to not be glued to a screen.
I didn’t even go out for lunch or dinner over Easter weekend. That Saturday, I was extremely exhausted and ended up taking naps in the afternoon in addition to “sleeping in” until 7:30am. I did get some new flavors of bars to try and a jar of D’s Naturals spread…
I did force myself to get out of the house to go see a critically-acclaimed anime movie called Your Name. I went to a late afternoon showing at an indie film place in Santa Monica, and did not regret it! The movie was fantastic—the animation, storytelling, plot twists—critics say the director of this movie is the next Hayao Miyazaki and if they are coming to that conclusion based on this movie alone, I feel they are right on the money!
Because I felt so exhausted on Saturday, I moved my long run workout for the week to Sunday. My coach usually has me doing Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday workouts as my “key” workouts, while the rest of the days are easy aerobic recovery days. So on Sunday, I set out to do a mix up long run that was 30k in distance, with fast intervals thrown in. Since the workout was broken up in 5k chunks, it was mentally manageable.
Obviously, I was ravenous and smelly by the time that was over. I quickly showered and took the train over to E’s place since she invited me to her landlords’ Easter brunch. I didn’t have pics from the event since I wasn’t in a phone picture-taking mood, but we were fed well. I was also introduced to the delicious treat that is a Ferrero Egg. Where can I get more of them??
Afterwards, E and I spent the rest of the day in downtown SaMo, walking down the pier and laughing at a sign that said “Weed Week” that was flying through the sky attached to a plane. We then walked in circles around the promenade only to sit down for coffee and later Pinkberry. When I got home, I crashed and fell into a glorious night’s worth of sleep!
The following week kept me busy—I honestly can’t recall all of the things I did, but there was so much done, yet so much left to do! #LifeofAResearcher . I was so exhausted by Friday night, and a new pint flavor was exactly what I was craving:
It was also an interesting week for my training program too! My coach had me try a double run on Saturday…15.5 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the PM. It sounded daunting at first, but I was also looking forward to the challenge! I ran the morning run with one of my marathon team teammates, but the weather was not in our favor. It got hot really quickly, with temperatures reaching the 80s by 8AM. It was a tough workout for sure, but having someone to run the longer run of the day with certainly helped!
I noticed that my upper left calf started to feel sore, so I made sure to spend some time rolling it out/massaging it when I got home. Before getting in some hours of rest and recovery, I stopped in Culver City to address the other “R”: REFUEL.
Tender Greens seems to have locations all over So Cal, and in my two and half years living here I had yet to visit…somehow a Saturday that got into the 90s persuaded me to walk through the doors of their Culver City location…
The set-up was ordering at the front, and then walking towards the back to pay and get your meal. I found it odd that you had to pay in the back, and then even more awkward waiting around the front to pick up your meal, since they could have easily handed you a number placard to place on your table and have them find you. At least there was ample, spacious seating at this location, and some spots out on the patio as well.
The unusual set-up didn’t bother me too much in the end though, because the giant Falafel Plate I ordered hit the spot and vanquished my hanger.
After eating everything though, I wondered how it would affect my PM run. When I did go out for my 10 miler in the evening, I was relieved that the temperature was much cooler. It helped that it was a beach run and that the sun was setting. I felt great for the first half, but then tummy issues slowed me down for the last half. I did make it home in one piece though, and was proud of myself for conquering my first long run double.
After talking to my coach, he affirmed that practice makes perfect and that I’ll get used to these the more I do them. He also recommended that I try refueling with foods that are simple in carbs, some fats, and low protein no more than two hours before the PM run—recommendations that I’ll definitely put into practice for the next time!
November’s DegustaBox arrived on my doorstep the afternoon I returned from So Cal VegFest, and this month’s goods was a good mix of cooking ingredients, snacks, and drinks. I had to forgo the jerky and Haribo gummies, but everything else I dove right into.
There were two flavors of Beanitos white bean chips included in this month’s box.
Of the two flavors, I liked nacho cheese the best. The chips reminded me of the Doritos of my childhood class parties and picnics, but had a much smoother texture (in other words, no risk of mouth abrasions except for if the corners hit the gums!)
Another fun savory snack a part of this collection was a small packet of oLOVEs
I thought the packaging was adorable (the olive in the bottom corner is saying “kids & adults love ’em”), and the olives themselves come without pits and coated with flavor. These were lathered in basil and garlic.
The Honees Drops were one of the first things I tried when I began my DegustaBox partnership.
I liked them then, and I certainly like this honey flavor now. If you feel a cold-weather induced itch in your throat, pop one of these in your mouth and let the menthol take over!
I was also excited to incorporate another cooking sauce into my meals. Sharwood’s creamy tomato tikki masala sauce honestly could have been eaten on its own, but it made my vegetable dinner bowl taste that much better. I do recommend that it’s used to flavor drier vegetables, since I had some watery vegetables in this bowl and the sauce became slightly watery as well.
To compliment the savory, I also received two sweet snacks. Nib Mor’s superfruit chocolates in cherry and blueberry flavors had a good mix of dried fruit on the inside.
I noticed this especially with the blueberry flavor. I wasn’t too keen on the dark chocolate, but I can’t argue that this chocolate is highly heart-friendly.
As for drinks, I received two cans of his beverage…
This Bruce Cost Ginger Beer tasted so refreshing after spending a few hours in our lab office refridgerator. It had a spicy ginger kick, and I actually enjoyed it despite not being a fan of ginger ale in the past.
The Ponti Balsamic Vinegar sauce was a pleasantly surprising addition.
I knew right away that I would be using it to coat crockpot veggies, but I had no idea how THICK the consistency was! I was practically in awe, and two servings coated my veggies generously. Obviously one of my prettier crockpot bowls to date 😉
I was the happiest to find K-Cups for coffee in this month’s box! I’ve been spending more than I’d like from outside coffee shops lately, and seeing that my lab office has a Keurig, I knew that these Toriani Salted Caramel Coffee K-Cups would save my wallet as well as make use of our little coffee machine 🙂
*As a side note, DegustaBox subscribers will receive either coffee or vinegar in their box, based on their preferences!
They taste a whole lot better with creamer and some stevia, but in it’s black form, it has a strong caramel scent that tends to waft through the entire office and has everyone wondering where the smell is coming from, haha.
I did not get to a chance to try Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing just yet, but part of me feels like I can only do it justice if I get some peaches to pour this on…apparently it tastes good on peaches? I think I’ll pack it with me to take on my Friendsgiving trip this week!
Would you incorporate any of these products into a Thanksgiving recipe? I’m thinking I’m going to use the poppyseed dressing to top some mashed potatoes or sweet potato rings!
*EDIT: WHOOPS! Meant to schedule this post for earlier this week, but better late than never! As you can see, I survived my first all-nighter, and the long days after it, haha!
This will most likely be my only post this week, as I have to get to packing…for lab. Yup, I’m going to be living up to my title as a grad student and will be pulling an “all-nighter” this coming week.
Actually, I hope it won’t take me ALL night, but I do know that there won’t be a point in going home after finishing up, since I’ll have to be back the next day bright and early for another experiment!
I just hope hope HOPE that it will pay off though… work hard now, play hard later I suppose?
Since I’m most likely slaving away at my lab bench as this post is live, I thought I might as well finish up this review of sorts (more like a collection of food product photos that didn’t fit in posts from weeks ago), featuring products from Quest, D’s Naturals, and P28.
These were all finds from Vitamin Shoppe, purchased in order to help me get my protein up, as well as rack up enough points before July so I could get my member award certificate.
In an effort to get my protein intake up and consistent, I thought I’d finally try the Quest protein powders that are now available in a variety of flavors.
Salted Caramel is my favorite so far, with a whopping 22g of protein for a 100 calorie serving. To get the most bang for my buck, I mixed it into some yogurt, and topped it with an ANSI Cheesecake bar and L&L birthday cookie. It was an amazing treat for sure!
I mixed Banana Cream and Vanilla Milkshake with cottage cheese and oats respectively. The former came out more liquidy than I cared for, but I’m surprised the banana smell didn’t knock me out! The oat cake was fine, but not surprisingly, was quite dry. It was more of an experiment rather than an intentional meal…obviously this needs a lathering of nut butter…
When I tried the Cookies & Cream flavor, I once again had cottage cheese on hand.
A serving of this, plus a rapsberry truffle D’s Naturals No Cow Bar and a dollop of Signature Blend P28 Spread for a fulfilling bowl after a weeknight dinner. The mixture of textures was picture-worthy in my eyes.
When I bought the Signature Blend, I got another P28 jar for free due to a BOGO free deal. The Peanut flavor was the one I ended up with, and while I enjoyed it for the first couple days, I grew tired of the flavor and texture later on. Compared to regular peanut butter, it is less creamy, but there are still enough oils to get a fluid mix going. It was still good enough to flavor an otherwise plain owl of steel-cut oats!
When the exhaustion gets real, it helps to get nutrition in check. Products like these feature here help with not having to worry about getting enough protein for those long, hard days. I’m all about whole foods and getting my fill of fruits and veggies, but sometimes it doesn’t work out when you have to pull all-nighters in lab! At least we have microwaves to cook our food if necessary…just have to make sure I use the right one 😉
Do you sacrifice a lot for your job?
Last week was a crazy one…after an interesting turn of events, I ended up having to see the doctor, and also ended up feeling a loss of appetite for a couple of days, including during the weekend. I feel much better now, but having a major loss of appetite was quite frustrating to deal with…I felt nauseated with the foods that were currently in my apartment, and I could only stomach things that were cheesy, crispy, or chewy. It made figuring out where to eat on Saturday much more difficult than it should have been.
I also had one final to study for that was on Monday. Even so, I truly felt like getting out of the heart of the city in order to get my vegan fix up north in Studio City.
I have been wanting to visit Vegetable for months now, and was disappointed in myself for not having such a raging appetite.
At least the interior was calming, homey, and not nauseating…
To be honest, the menu items were too small for what they were priced at. Still, the herbed focaccia and gravy sounded tasty…well, as tasty as anything would be when you DON’T feel hungry :/
My plate was indeed small and snack-sized: a triangular, scone-like piece of focaccia topped with mushroom & sweet onion cashew cream ragu as well as fresh herbs. The big plate it was served on only added to the irony.
But I guess it was just enough, since I wasn’t feeling too hungry in the first place!
I still felt like dessert was necessary though…I was already out, so why rush back home after an appetizer-sized meal?
I took my time catching the Metro Red Line to give my missing appetite a chance to make an appearance. It still did not show up when I reached Koreatown however…but that didn’t stop me from venturing into Cottonhi!
Much like it’s elder rival Cremebee in Alhambra, this novelty dessert shop served soft-serve topped with cotton candy! They also have classic creations that include mango, pop rocks, coffee, or red velvet cake.
I ended up choosing their tiramisu best-seller topped with salted caramel cotton candy.
It came equipped with a dropper filled with liquid coffee, a crunchy ladyfinger, chocolate shavings, and marscapone cheese swirl.
Again, this fine little dessert was small enough to appease my tastebuds and not interfere with my troubled stomach.
While this weekend wasn’t the most enjoyable in terms of eating and dining out, even though the establishments I trekked to offered unqiue and delicious dishes, at least they were small enough to digest…and keep down!
Have you ever experienced a sudden loss of appetite?
It was only about a fifteen minute walk to Amorino from Beverliz Cafe, and so even before all of that rice-veggie-hummus goodness had time to digest, I was ready to inhale allthegelato.
I say that like I haven’t had gelato in ages, and truth is, I haven’t! Ice cream, yes, but real gelato? It’s been some time…
Amorino is a global gelateria chain, with only two locations in California—Beverly Hills and SF. Inside is just as extravagant as the gelato flavors offered!
And on a early Saturday evening that feels just as hot as mid-day in July, it was no surprise there was a long line.
There were so many flavors to choose from, and even though I could have gotten as many flavors as I wanted to fit a cone and molded into a shape of a flowering rose, I went for a cup as I always do. I only needed three flavors to make me happy, as long as it included speculoos, tiramisu, and salted caramel 😛
I found a table near the window, grabbed a napkin, and tried each flavor in its own first.
I ended up mixing everything together as time went on, but I was reminded of the identity of each flavor through the occasional uncovering of caramel sprinkles and chocolate-fudge-cake-like chunks.
The portion size (the classic cup) was just enough, and I left with another happy gelato memory. True, it may have been a more unique experience if I had sampled all three flavors (plus some) in the shape of a rose, but I was glad I didn’t feel “rushed” in having to eat the ice cream before it melted!
Speaking of rushed, the following day was a crazy one—a blazing hot long run with my marathon team in the morning, followed by five straight hours in lab on my feet, and a grocery haul before coming home. There was no time to go out for more weekend foodie adventures, so I used it as an opportunity to get back to trying ice cream pints.
I’m giving B&J’s a break though, and ventured out into the Talenti section of the dairy desserts aisle. I guess I was still on a gelato kick?
I’ve only tried three Talenti flavors to-date, and even that was almost three (!!) years ago!
At least caramel cookie crunch did not disappoint. It was like eating crushed Oreo ice cream with a soft caramel layer swirled in. I consumed this pint while watching SNL, and then hit the books before getting to bed early. Whatever exhaustion I couldn’t get rid of with my sweet treats, I hoped to get rid of through quality sleep!
Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. This review is based on the products and information I received from High Brew Coffee. All opinions are my own.
It’s hard to believe that I am midway through my first semester as a grad student, and while the time seems to have flown by, the days themselves don’t always feel that way—especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have two-hour classes in the morning and late afternoon.
I have been having at least two cups of coffee a day during the work week, and am usually able to manage without it on the weekends. Even though the caffeine doesn’t have a “real” effect on me, I think that the act of sipping on a warm beverage during a 3pm lecture is what keeps me semi-awake.
But even though I have long-associated a warm cup of coffee to be my afternoon-pick-me-up, I wasn’t afraid to give cold-brew coffee a try. I was sent over some samples from High Brew Coffee a few weeks ago, and was eager to give all four flavors a go!
At first, I thought cold-brew just meant cold coffee (like iced coffee?), but I was naively in the wrong. After a little bit of research, I discovered for myself that the cold-brew process involves coffee beans to be soaked in water for a lengthy amount of time. The water can be chilled or at room temperature, and after being filtered, the coffee is ready to be used as one wishes. You can get more details about High Brew’s version here.
The result is a less bitter, and naturally sweeter beverage.
I had Dark Chocolate Mocha before heading out to the musical last Friday, and after trying all flavors, I would say this one was my most favorite. It didn’t taste like coffee, but more like a rich, dark liquid chocolate drink.
Double Espresso on the other hand didn’t score so high for me. Despite having sugar AND stevia in the mix, it just tasted too bitter to me and I could not detect much flavor.
I had Salted Caramel before going out for a morning run, and I was able to taste the salty ‘n’ spicy caramel. Definitely what I needed to hold me over until I could get a Quest bar in me post-run 😉
Mexican Vanilla sounded pretty exotic, but it actually was quite tame—with just a hint of sweetness and smooth taste. This flavor seemed to be the most like iced coffee from the bunch, since it tasted perfect ice cold!
With my second set of exams coming up next week, I’ll probably have to restock on these! And I guess it wouldn’t hurt to perhaps experiment with the process myself…if I have the time 😉 !
Have you tried High Brew Coffee, or cold-brew coffee in general?