Chilling in Walnut Creek

Chilling in Walnut Creek

The next day, I woke up earlier than everyone else (6am of course) but forced myself to go back to sleep just for a little bit. My cousin got up to make coffee a little over an hour later. I wanted to get a run in, so I opted to have coffee when I came back.

I ran along the Iron Horse Trail for 10 miles, and when I came back my cousin and her wife had left for the gym, haha. My sister and I spent the rest of the morning just chilling around the house.

Quiet Saturday morning
Quiet Saturday morning

When my cousins came back, we wanted to go out for some fresh air while they caught up on house errands/work. My sis and I used that time to go into downtown to pick up snacks and walk around.

Walking around downtown Walnut Creek
Walking around downtown Walnut Creek

I noticed that they had an acai bowls shop by the name of Vitality Bowls, and I remember I had bookmarked it years ago as a place I wanted to visit if I ever stopped by in the East Bay. My sis also wanted to get a bowl, so we stepped inside.

Vitality Bowls
Vitality Bowls

There was ample seating inside, and despite the cold temperatures outside, there were many groups of people inside eating away at fruit-filled concoctions that were held in wavy-shaped stainless steel bowls.

whaisgraviola
My sister and I spent a good amount of time pondering over what is graviola…

My sister was craving a bowl that had ample amounts of banana and peanut butter. I wound up getting a classic Vitality Bowl.

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On the left ~ a Nutty Bowl with an almond milk base, apple juice, PB, banana, strawberries and flax seed topped with granola, (more) bananas, almonds and honey // On the right ~ a Vitality Bowl made with organic acai, bananas, strawberries and flax seed and topped with granola, honey, bananas, strawberries, and (not enough) goji berries

I loved my bowl, but wish there had been more goji berries. The base was also somewhat more watery than I expected, and my sister’s bowl base seemed to be as thick as ice cream. The stainless steel bowl kept things nice and cold however.

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Close-up shot of my Vitality Bowl 🙂

After finishing the bowls, my sister and I headed back to the apartment. We just worked on our computers and enjoyed the company of my cousin and her wife. One of

their friends came over for tax help, and my cousin got started on cooking dinner while the NBA All-Star game played in the background. My cousin ended up making a “less spicy” version of Pad Kee Mao. The original recipe called for 22 chili peppers, but she generously cut that down to 7.

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Pad Kee Mao that wasn’t supposed to be spicy, but still was!

Even so, everyone commented on how spicy it still was! I however like spicy food, and didn’t find it off-putting one bit.

After dinner, we played a card game called Judgment that my cousin’s wife was a pro at. She beat us all by a wide margin. Soon after that, we called it a night and retreated back to our rooms. We had plans to go into the city the next day, so we had no problem turning in early to save up our energy for that. 🙂

Vitality Bowls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Speedy for Smoothie (Bowls)

Last Sunday proved to me why running in a group or with a team makes all the difference. I ran a little under 6 miles at a solid 7:30/mi pace, and was able to maintain my pacing without completely blowing out of steam! Marathon training has picked up yet again, and I’m trying to make all of the runs with my team high quality workouts.

Also working to not get left behind of the pack is a good motivator too 😉

I was really proud of my efforts, and for lunch had to walk at least another three miles once in Santa Monica. It was way too hot to be October, and I had to get to a place that offered something cool and refreshing pronto.

Kreation Cafe on Montana Ave.
Kreation Cafe on Montana Ave.

My first visit to a Kreation Cafe/Juicery was a great one. I cooled off with an irresistible bowl full of nutrient-dense fruits and healthy fats, on what was an extremely hot day. Made sense that my second visit was on a day just as hot.

Crowded quarters.
Crowded quarters.

Unlike my first visit, there wasn’t any seating on the inside…only patio and back seating. The line for ordering and pick-up also got scrambled since there were too many people waiting inside! I wanted to try a different bowl this time around, so from the two options I had left I went with the Jungle Bowl.

Random crystal rock by the cash register!
Random crystal rock by the cash register!

The wait was ridiculosly long however. I think I was standing for at least 20 minutes until my bowl was ready. I saw that three people who ordered after me got their meals before I did, so I thought that was a bit frustrating. I let that go when I did get my bowl though!

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A green swampy soup of sorts!

I sat at a table outside on the patio to enjoy this fully.

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Jungle Bowl – Coconut milk, kale, spinach, mango, apple, almond butter

The color of the bowl reminded me of a swamp, with fruit bobbing throughout it of course. While it was a pretty bowl, the diced apple caught me off guard since I was expecting pineapple as originally stated on their menu. I didn’t really taste any hint of almond butter either. In all honesty, the bowl was less of a smoothie bowl and more of a slushie bowl—in other words, a disappointment. Looks can only take you so far…

Kreation Kafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Netflix & Chill

Netflix & Chill

I consider myself an expert when it comes to staying in. It’s pretty much what I do every weekend night, and rare are the occasions when I actually have plans to go out on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. Last weekend was one of those rare moments since I was able to celebrate my sister’s 21st with her and our two best friends, but my plans for the coming weekend include nothing more than long runs, lots of rest (naps!), Netflix/Youtube/TV and snacks to accompany all of it!

I was inspired by AdoreMe to share what my perfect “Netflix & Chill Night” would look like, from snacks to sleepwear. And because food ranks supreme, might as well start with that:

When it comes to snacks, it goes without saying that bars are the first thing that come to mind for me. Bringing home new bars to try alone, or along with an ice cream pint, are one of my favorite things to put together in regards to a weekend snack I can cozy up with.

Recently, I tried three new-to-me flavors of bars that were mostly misses, but at least I knew which ones I would not be obsessing over in the future.

combatcrunch__chocolatecake
Combat Crunch – Chocolate Cake

One of these major disappointments was this Combat Crunch Chocolate Cake flavored bar. It was dry, too crunchy, and left an icky aftertaste. It was like a Crunch bar desiccated on the inside and left a stale chocolate shell…gross.

The two FitJoy bars I tried afterwards were like chocolate truffles encrusted with gold flakes in comparison, but when not compared to anything else they were pretty mediocre.

fitjoy_icedbrownie
FitJoy – Chocolate Iced Brownie

The Chocolate Iced Brownie would have been perfect has it not been for the random nuts.

fitjoy_cinnamonroll
FitJoy – Frosted Cinnamon Roll

Same thing with Frosted Cinnamon Roll. While the bar was soft and looked decadent, the nuts mixed in threw me off.

If I want to make sure I’m going to have a perfect Netflix & Chill kind of evening, I’ll probably stick with an RX Bar or a Combat Crunch flavor I do like, such as Cinnamon Twist.

I hinted at this earlier in the post, but it also goes without saying that ice cream is one of my weekend necessities. Over the summer however, my acai/smoothie bowl cravings overthrew my ice cream ones, and I had a few weekends where it was all about the smoothie bowls.

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Juice Crafters, Santa Monica

The picture above suggests it was a foggy, cool morning, but on this particular Sunday, I wasn’t feeling the whole ice cream thing. Turns out I wanted something colder, fruitier, and healthier??

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So much wood going on!

This led me to my first encounter with Juice Crafters. It promptly opens at 7am and closes at 6pm. If I had thought about my weekend plans in (in advance), I could have ordered a bowl to take back home.

I know this now for the future…this particular bowl however, was enjoyed at a local park before embarking on a weekend stroll.

acai_protein_bowl
Time to demolish this.

I’m not sure why I did not think of bringing home smoothie bowls earlier…my weekend nights in have become so saturated with ice cream (not like it’s a bad thing…), but a Protein Acai Bowl is not such a bad option either. When you have an acai blend base mixed with vanilla protein, a whole lotta walnuts and almonds, almond BUTTER, strawberries, and a raw banana (not exactly my most favorite part, but I somehow managed to eat and keep it down when I mixed it completely into the bowl), it’s a combination that can’t be beat.

acai_bowl
Absolute YUM.

So now that I’ve established I need bars and some sort of frozen treat for a night of chillin’, what would be a cozy & fun ensemble to wear? My sleepwear drawer looks almost identical to that of my workout clothing drawer to be honest. Given that confession, it makes sense that I would pick something along these lines from AdoreMe’s current collection:

A sleeveless blue top with crossing straps is in trend with the criss cross strap bras of late, but obviously has more coverage.

An on trend, but soft-looking sleep top!

Normally I’d pair this kind of sleep top with shorts because it gets so hot in LA (and stays that way even at night). Plus I tend to overheat when I sleep! But sometimes cute overrules convenience…

Looks super cozy, but probably very warm! Too warm for LA even.

…these pants look incredibly comfy and warm, but realistically I’d probably wake up the next morning sweaty as if I completed a long run in my sleep!

With snacks on hand, comfy PJs on, and something entertaining to watch on Netflix/YouTube/TV, it’s difficult for me to imagine that I could—or would even want—to do something else to relax. Isn’t this honestly what we all wish to do every weekend 😉 ?

Do you prefer weekend nights out or in?

Juice Crafters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases 2016

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases 2016

Two weekends ago, I ran a repeat race! Last year, I ran California’s inaugural Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases, and I followed it up this year without actually planning for it.

Seeing that my last race was in April, and one that I didn’t find to my liking, I was looking to find any race that would fit my schedule. And since the Expo Line extended about a month ago, it has made it MUCH easier to participate in races occuring in Santa Monica!

Since the Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases was taking place in Santa Monica again, I was easily able to wake up around 6am, versus the 5am wake-up call I set for myself last year. Yes, I was also doing the 10×10 challenge so part of my reason for waking up earlier than usual was to add some miles to the 5k, but this year, I wanted to see how fast I could be in the shorter distance.

Checking in for the race on a bright day in Santa Monica!
Checking in for the race on a bright day in Santa Monica!

The goodies weren’t in a surplus like last year, and consisted of the basic fruit items, coffee, and a slim selection of bars (Kashi and mini Clifs). I remember bringing home a HUGE haul last year so I definitely was disappointed. Oh well…

snackssss
Fruity refreshments and waiting for the race to begin.

There were still many vendors specializing in compression gear set up at tables, looking to inform and guide those living with lymphedema on products that could be helpful.

Kathy Bates is the celebrity ambassador for Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), and she honored a brave woman by the name of Marie with an Inspiration award. Marie’s speech was very touching, and it really put some perspective on the run/walk. The crowd that was present was definitely a mix of runners looking just to check off another race, and those suffering from lymphedema, their families, and friends. I think that while some of the runners’ initial intentions for signing up for the race were to just run, these thoughts softened after the speeches were heard. It definitely made me feel grateful for my ability to run.

shirt
Race Shirt!

The race started around 9am, and I was worried that the weather would be unfavorable, but the ocean breeze actually made things much cooler. It was still mildly humid and I felt sticky throughout the run, but I was able to achieve my goal of running faster than last year. I ended up being the first female back, clocking in with a 7:56/mi pace!! I had several confidence boosts during my run, with people shouting out my bib number and a group of women runners cheering me on.

After the race, I replenished with water and then headed back towards downtown Santa Monica for some breakfast since it was still a decent hour in the morning. Upon seeing this chalkboard sign, I was immediately tempted to go in.

bowl
Acai is calling out to me!

The Hive is a cafe that specializes in organic and superfood-enriched meals. The acai and similar bowls are just one of the spectacular-sounding goods offered here.

hive
Decorative wall art and fancy seating area.

Because it’s my latest obsession, I ordered a bowl with a dragonfruit base (that’s apparently mixed with some almond milk and banana according to the employee who took my order at the counter), mixed with the “power” mix of almond butter, cacao, and maca. I also had them add cacao nibs, granola, pineapple, goji berries, and bee pollen.

After picking a table in the corner by the window, I waited semi-patiently until my beautiful, cold bowl arrived.

acai_bowl
Dragonfruit bowl with power mix (almond butter, cacao, maca), cacao nibs and granola, pineapple and goji berries, and bee pollen.

The dragonfruit base had a slushie-like consistency, and the pineapple chunks had a tart flavor, but what I enjoyed most was the crunchy granola mixed with the chewy, gummy-like goji berries. The conglomerate textures caused my mouth to have a workout! So not only did I get my cardio in that day via a 5K, but also with my late breakfast, haha!

Even though my day started off wonderful, I soon had to head back in order to go into lab for a bit. It was disappointing having to cut my time in Santa Monica short, but it didn’t sting too much…knowing that I’ll be moving to this fun-in-the-sun place in less than a month is has allowed me to accept that fact that performing a balancing act with work + life now will pay off soon enough!

The Hive - Organic Cafe & Superfood Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The 100 Degrees Solution

The 100 Degrees Solution

Over the weekend, temperatures reached record highs, and it was extremely hot! It made no sense to walk outside, but did I consider that? Obviously not…

I wouldn't have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!
I wouldn’t have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!

But I don’t regret that decision too much because I finally tried an acai bowl! At Kreation Organic, in the “fancy” Beverly Hills to be exact 😉

I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!
I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!

I stepped in and wasn’t sure where to look because the walls were covered and everything was calling my attention! I did spot the “cacao” Amazebowl on their wall menu though, and decided that sounded delicious enough to order. In the meantime, I sampled their kale chips…

Or should I say, chip??
Or should I say, chip??

My bowl came out in a compostable bowl, and I was ready to rip the plastic bowl off! Looking at this meal in front of me, I realized that this is probably the only way I will be able to get my fruit intake up (and eat bananas) !!

The Cacao Amazebowl - cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.
The Cacao Amazebowl – cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.

The bee pollen sprinkling was so eye-catching.

kreation_organic 3JPG
Oooh bee pollen….

The following day, my acai/smoothie bowl craving was still going strong! Sunday was immensely hot, and so that craving was very much justified. Since I was on my way to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, I stopped inside Bon Bon Berry and tried the Aloha Bowl (as much as I did want to try the chocolate flavor, I decided to go a different route to change the flavors I try)!

Strip mall smoothie bowls...anything to cool off on a hot day!
Strip mall smoothie bowls…anything to cool off on a hot day!

Since absolutely no one was walking outside, I wasn’t surprised that no one was indoors either. But at least it was at least 30 degrees cooler inside (or at least it felt like it)! I ordered the bowl at the counter, found a seat near the far wall, and waited for my bowl to come.

Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!
Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!

Unlike the bowl from the day before, the Aloha bowl I had before me was covered in coconut shreds and more fruity in flavor, perhaps due to the mango and banana combo. It still had granola and honey swirled in.

Aloha Bowl!
Aloha Bowl!

Obviously not as fancy as the Kreation Organic bowl, but it was just as satisfying. The customer service was great too, and it seemed like they really took care in fulfilling the order and making sure the bowl was cold, refreshing, and full of flavor!

You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!
You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!

Are you a fan of acai/smoothie bowls?

Kreation Organic Juicery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

When it comes to protein powder, I prefer using it as a thickener for yogurts and for making smoothie bowls since I am unfortunately not the owner of a fancy blender or Nutribullet. Of course there are so many other ways to incorporate and utilize protein powder, but I stick with what I know best most of the time 😉

bobs red mill (3)
FREE protein powder, and a shaker bottle 🙂

However, I was nudged to try to find other ways to use protein powder when I was sent a sample kit of Bob’s Red Mill protein powders. Since they came in flavors like chai, vanilla, chocolate, and unsweetened protein fiber, the variety was a reason in itself to experiment.

bobs red mill (2)
Protein Fiber Oat Cake with Hershey’e Kisses

The furthest I went with experimentation was using the unsweetened protein fiber to make a warm, dough-y cake topped with Hershey’s Kisses. All that went into this bowl was one packet (a typical serving size scoop), a packet of maple and brown sugar oatmeal, and some water and almond milk. It didn’t have any flavor on its own (not even the oatmeal helped surprisingly), but with the Hershey’s kisses I was able to get some spreadable chocolate distribution going. Looking back however, I think this fiber could easily have been used to make a microwaveable pizza crust, and even sturdier oven-baked pizza crust.

bobs red mill (1)
Chocolate Protein Powder

For the rest of the powders though…they were destined to be a part of pro-yo creations. I also tried them mixed with just water to see how the flavors held up on their own.

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Chai Protein Powder Packet

Out of chocolate and chai, chai had the best flavor profile, and even smelled like a warm tea blend upon opening the packet.

bobs red mill (5)
Chai Protein Powder

The vanilla flavor was the only flavor I received in a standard size bag, and I literally went through it in about a week!

bobs
Vanilla Protein “Smoothie” Bowl with PB!!!

I was adding it to oatmeal, in addition to yogurts, and even used it to make a smoothie bowl with almond milk, and topped with a very liquid serving of peanut butter (more like peanut juice?). You can even see the chia and flax seeds swimming around!

Do you find protein powder to be a necessary staple or just another product pushed by the fitness industry?

 

 

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