Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City, OK

We decided to take a day trip to Oklahoma City (OKC) since it was a drive, but local enough to call it a daytrip.

It was a cold morning, like all the other mornings that week, and after some morning coffee and a shakeout run (my muscle soreness seemed to calm down three days post-marathon), we left for OKC around 10am. From Tulsa, it was an one and a half hour drive.

Classen Curve
Classen Curve

I didn’t have much of an appetite when we left, but when we reached OKC, my head was aching and my hunger levels were increasing.

Apparently OKC is the the eighth-largest city in the U.S. by land area. And it was apparent..sure there were shops and infrastructure, but there was a whole lotta uninhabited land in between.

For lunch, we paid a visit to Green Goodies in Classen Curve.

Green Goodies Interior
Green Goodies Interior

It was primarily a cupcake shop, but they had some savory lunch options available.

Green Goodies
Green Goodies

I had their Southwest Quinoa Bowl since the avocado and spicy cream sauce sounded most appetizing to me at the time. My Dad had some more soup (lolol) and a veggie wrap.

I just loved the cream sauce and avocado of my bowl.
I just loved the cream sauce and avocado of my bowl.

The bowl was small, but definitely flavorful, warm, and filling for its size.

Veggie wrap & tomato soup.
Veggie wrap & tomato soup.

My dad’s soup and wrap looked like too meager to me, but he was alright with just that. He was starting to feel warm (later he ended up getting sick with a fever 🙁 ), so it was just enough for him.

After lunch, I noticed that my headache still seemed to linger around, and I feel like it was made worse thanks to the car drive. I tried to nap it off, but I didn’t want to leave the car and brace the wind chill once we got to the OKC Memorial.

But I eventually did get out…

OKC Memorial
OKC Memorial

The memorial was a bittersweet, but beautiful display. There were two large gates guarding two opposite sides of the memorial, marked with the relevant times the bombings took place. Chair statues on the lawn represented the lives that were lost, and there was a reflecting pool in the middle.

22 years ago.
22 years ago.

My dad and I went inside the museum after walking around the memorial grounds, where it was much warmer. Once inside, we walked through two floors of exhibits, organized from the day of the event all the way through the investigations, aftermath, and the influence this tragedy had on the events in years to come.

It was an extremely cold day outside, but the fall weather made the trees turn such a beautiful orange color.
It was an extremely cold day outside, but the fall weather made the trees turn such a beautiful orange color.

I definitely walked out with an understanding and empathy for those that suffered, even though I was just a toddler when the bombings happened. After spending about two hours at the memorial, my dad and I stopped for some coffee before going for a walk at one of the nature parks. Soon after, we made the long-ish drive back home, just before it got dark.

Thanksgiving was the next day, and I did my best to enjoy and relax in each and every minute. I started off the day with a shakeout run, taking in fall views of the Arkansas River.

Riverside Trail
Riverside Trail

We had a Thanksgiving potluck at a friend’s house, and I surprisingly wasn’t super hungry. I ate what I wanted, but I didn’t have the desire to stuff myself completely.

We left our friend’s house around 4pm, and my Dad wanted to check out Best Buy for the beginning of Black Friday sales. Even after having pumpkin pie, I had a hankering for some Halo Top, so I grabbed a pint from Reasor’s and snacked on it in the parking lot, haha!

"I didn't just have pumpkin pie last night 🎃 but happened to find the limited edition @halotopcreamery Pumpkin Pie flavor at @reasors as well! Had this in the parking lot while my Dad braced the Black Friday (or should I say Thursday??) Best Buy crowd 😅😅"
“I didn’t just have pumpkin pie last night 🎃 but happened to find the limited edition @halotopcreamery Pumpkin Pie flavor at @reasors as well! Had this in the parking lot while my Dad braced the Black Friday (or should I say Thursday??) Best Buy crowd 😅😅”

It had small chunks of what seemed to be similar in taste and texture to pie crust, all mixed in a soft pumpkin ice cream base.

I went to sleep soon after returning home, and the next day was mostly spent running around to some more stores with my dad (on actual Black Friday, lol), and stopping by GNC for some bars to snack on on my flight back home.

Got to try two, new-to-me Fitjoy bars, and while I like the soft, chewy texture of Grandma’s Lemon Square, I couldn’t get behind the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle flavor much…I mean, if it’s dark chocolate? No thanks…

"Looking for a protein bar that packs a sour punch, while still maintaining a delicate balance of sweetness? @fitjoy Grandma's Lemon Square seems to fit the bill 👌🏽 👵🏽 🍋"
“Looking for a protein bar that packs a sour punch, while still maintaining a delicate balance of sweetness? @fitjoy Grandma’s Lemon Square seems to fit the bill 👌🏽 👵🏽 🍋”
"Eh, didn't like the Raspberry Truffle flavor that much. The raspberry flavor was somewhat overwhelming and the dark chocolate wasn't too appealing 😕"
“Eh, didn’t like the Raspberry Truffle flavor that much. The raspberry flavor was somewhat overwhelming and the dark chocolate wasn’t too appealing 😕”

I made it back to LA close to 6pm, and grabbed some Subway for dinner since I was extremely exhausted. It was a chore just to unpack, but once I hit my bed, I was able to fall asleep so easily and peacefully 🙂

Green Goodies OKC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

November Degustabox

November Degustabox

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Degustabox. All opinions are my own.

This month’s Degustabox came full of many items I was excited to try—everything from savory, sweet, crunchy, salty, melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

November Degustabox Goods
November Degustabox Goods

The sweet stuff always catches my eye, and the Bauducco Mini Panettone stood out to me a alot because it reminded me of my childhood. I didn’t like the cake as a child, but my mom was fond of the stuff. We’d always have a giant box in the kitchen around the holidays, when they were sold at Trader Joe’s or some other store.

mini-paanettone
Panettone for one? Don’t mind if I do…

But trying this mini version as an adult? I had an immediate liking for it! It was a sweet treat one weeknight after consuming a crockpot veg bowl and winding down with a show on Netflix :P. The bread seemed crumbly and flaky, but it actually held its own and had the appropriate amount of stiffness while still having a chewy texture. 

Then there was this Goya Pico De Gallo Mild Salsa. 

"Just another @degustaboxusa find making my humble weeknight crockpot veggie bowls a little more flavorful"
“Just another @degustaboxusa find making my humble weeknight crockpot veggie bowls a little more flavorful”

I’ve been using to coat my crockpot veg bowls of course! Although, as stated on the label, it’s supposed to be an all-purpose salsa that’s perfect for burritos, fajitas, tamales, pasta, salads and even eggs, haha. 

deg (1)
This salsa is delicious with potato, pepper, and eggplant!

Degustabox first sent some caramels from Lovely Candy Co. in April of this year, but these sea salt ones definitely had a saltier kick! I was still a fan of the brand after chewing on these—so flavorful!

caramels
Lovely Candy Co. – Sea Salt Caramels

Not gonna lie, I was ecstatic to find this Milka Oreo bar in this month’s box! I’ve actually been seeing a lot more of the Milka brand making a presence in US supermarkets. I think my local grocery store (Ralph’s) even offered a Milka bar as a free promo item a while back!

oreo-milka
Milka Oreo!

The Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs also brought up some fond memories from my childhood! We used to have Walkers shortbread around the house too, especially when we lived in the UK for two years when I was younger.

sortbread
Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs

I had these scottie dogs as a pre-run snack, before heading out for a long run one Sunday with my marathon team.

I brought the Café Bustelo Café Con Leche Instant Coffee packs and Bell’s All Natural Salt‑Free Seasoning to Tulsa to share with my Dad.

degustabox (1)
Coffee and seasoning

We had the coffee one morning during my visit, but we weren’t huge fans. We found it to be too sweet, and slightly burnt, after preparation.

deg (2)
Eh, too sweet for my liking.

As for the seasoning, it added so much flavor to some wild rice stuffing we brought over for a Thanksgiving dinner at a family friend’s house. It was simply a mix of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram, but it was all that was necessary to elevate the flavor profile of this dish.

deg (3)
Just perfect for Thanksgiving!

The Goya Soft Taco Flour Tortillas were a perfect side for my dinners—especially with a lentil bean chili I had one night.

degustabox (4)
Dinner comfort

I also received a bottle of Arteasan Yerba Mate tea. I let it sit in the fridge for a while to get it ice cold, and had it with one of my dinners. It wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be, but it was certainly refreshing. I think it would have lacked any flavor if it was at room temperature…it was as if the cold temperature helped to emphasize the mild peach and rosemary flavors. 

degustabox (5)
Arteasan Yerba Mate

I couldn’t have the Country Archer Turkey Jerky and Aneto Chicken Broth for obvious reasons, but one of my labmates (J.) was happy to have them! I left them on his desk in the morning and I forgot I had put them there when he found me later in the day and thanked me. I had no clue what he was talking about until he mentioned them, haha!

Turkey jerky & chicken broth
Turkey jerky & chicken broth

Which of these November Degustabox would you have been excited to try?

Race Recap – Route 66 Tulsa Marathon

Race Recap – Route 66 Tulsa Marathon

“Going home” always brings about a bunch of emotions, but this past week was quite peaceful, blissful, and just all-around couldn’t have been better.

When I originally planned my visit, it was to come for the Route 66 Marathon and stay for Thanksgiving. It was cheaper to fly out on Black Friday than it was to wait a few days, so even though I was able to spend a full week away, leaving abruptly after Thanksgiving Day did bring up some melancholy.

But let’s start at the beginning and focus on the good stuff 🙂 . Before leaving for a week in Tulsa, I had my order of four of the latest Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors arrive:

I was expecting Frosted Sugar Cookie to be my favorite, but it’s off-lemon flavor took me by surprise. It had bright blue confetti sprinkles mixed in, but still…

Frosted Sugar Cookie
Frosted Sugar Cookie

What did end up being my prime favorite was the Golden Oreo and Cream flavor. It had a mild sugar cookie dough base, with chunks of broken golden cream sandwich cookies mixed in—so good!

Golden Oreo & Cream
Golden Oreo & Cream

Then there was White Chocolate Pistachio, which had a nice green hue. When I first saw a picture of this flavor, I thought it was a matcha green tea flavor but I later learned it was more on the salty side with whole pistachios mixed in, only to be balanced by mini white chocolate chips.

White Chocolate Pistachio
White Chocolate Pistachio

Pumpkin Chip Cookie had a smooth pumpkin flavor that was not overwhelming at all. It also had a colorful orange hue that harkened thoughts of pumpkins mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg. The chocolate chips were also small, smooth milk chocolate chips. I had the jar all in one go and it was way too delicious to put the spoon down.

Pumpkin Chip Cookie
Pumpkin Chip Cookie

I landed in Tulsa on a Friday night, and surprisingly, the weather was nice and cool—not freezing!

My Dad had made some dinner for me at home, and as soon as I finished gobbling it up I fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning, I tried to bond with our new cat. He’s an orange tabby who doesn’t like to be touched, so unfortunately it was hard to get any cat cuddles during my stay…BUT, he does have a liking for eggs? Especially the yolk, haha!

After breakfast, my Dad and I drove over to the Cox center in downtown for packet pick-up.

Expo Entrance
Expo Entrance

There were some crisp, strong winds outside, so we tried to get in the building as quickly as possible.

Route 66 Marathon Expo
Route 66 Marathon Expo

Pick-up was relatively simple: I got my bib and bag, and then after walking around the expo for a bit, I also got my race jacket as well. They were giving those out instead of race tees.

Not too much going on
Not too much going on

We didn’t stay too long since there weren’t a lot of freebies being given out. Instead, we ran some errands.

BOOCH YA'LL
BOOCH YA’LL

One of the stores we went to was Natural Grocers, which had an amazing selection of giant kombucha bottles…though they looked cool, they wouldn’t be too handy for the race. Instead, I got some Clif Shot Bloks, a more practical choice.

Once we got some errands done, we drove to Tulsa Hills for lunch. I tried Zoe’s Kitchen for the first time, a fast casual Medditeranean food place that had all the meat options but no falafel. How is that possible?

Zoe's Kitchen
Zoe’s Kitchen

They did make it a point to highlight which items were vegetarian on their menu though. I got the power grain bowl (without meat protein) and my dad got a bowl of lentil soup.

zoeskitchenmenu
Menu

The presentation of my bowl was lovely. The grain blend was flavorful, and it was perfectly balanced with cheese, tzatziki, and cucumber on the side. 

bowlandsoup
Power Grain Bowl & Lentil Soup—so warm and refreshing!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home, and before I went to bed, I put out all of my stuff for race day so I’d be ready to go at 6:45am.

Breakfast & gear
Breakfast & gear

I actually managed to get a solid night’s sleep and so I felt a little groggy when I woke up Sunday morning. I was trepeditious about what I should have for breakfast, since I didn’t want a repeat of what happened in San Diego.

I thought a simple cup of coffee, half a bagel with some cookie butter, and a veggie patty should be enough and wouldn’t cause too much upset.

My Dad and I made the same drive as the day before to downtown Tulsa.

Looks dreary, but it was a nice kind of quiet :)
Looks dreary, but it was a nice kind of quiet 🙂

We even managed to park in the same spot as we did when we came for the expo!

Heading to the race start
Heading to the race start

I had plenty of time for bag check and taking care of bathroom-related items. (lol). The race start for this marthon was 8am, so later than what I was used to as far as marathons are concerned.

Getting organized in corrals & leaving jackets on the fence
Getting organized in corrals & leaving jackets on the fence

I think all of the marathon runners that had a predicted finish time under 5 hours were grouped into Corral A. So there was no delay in starting time.

Almost ready to go!
Almost ready to go!

Once we were given the signal, there was a huge confetti blast and we were off!

Confetti cheers!
Confetti cheers!

My plan was to stick with the 3:40 pacer for as long as I could, and then if I did slow down, at least finish it within the 3:50 and 4:00 pacer. I was hoping to whittle down my marathon time from earlier this year in LA.

The first 6 miles felt so light and free. My legs felt great, and even though the air was colder than what I was used to, I was slightly ahead of the pacer even though I tried to hold back. I wasn’t paying too much attention to my surroundings, but the time and miles seemed to pass by quickly since there were plenty of runners on the streets and crowds cheering us on.

When we reached Mile 10, things started to not feel so hot…I started to feel some mild cramping in my stomach but tried to push on. I felt like my tummy troubles from SD were acting up this time again, but I kept moving in hopes that they would pass.

The 3:40 pacer began to ratchet things up (or so it seemed) by the time we reached Mile 12. We had passed Riverside Parks by this time (the trail I ran on almost daily during my 2016 winter visit to Tulsa), and the half marathon runners were gleefully turning out to the finish. I still had another 13 to go, and things didn’t look or feel peachy at this point…

At Mile 13, I had to stop and use a porta-potty. I could see the time passing on my Garmin, but I hoped that this stop would help me make it through the rest of the race in peace. I was now behind the 3:40 group, but I did not see the 3:50 group pass by just yet…maybe they did, but I kept pushing on as if they had not.

Because this was my first marathon running forefoot, my calves were seriously taking a beating by the time I reached Mile 15. I began to walk through water stops at this point, taking a couple seconds to massage out my claves, stretch, and gulp down two cups of water.

The streets were barren at this point, and seeing rolling hills in the horizon literally made me want to cry. Actually, it was a strange sensation I had never felt during a race before…it was as if my throat was closing up and I was trying to catch my breath, usually the muscular contractions you before you cry. I didn’t actually cry, but it was certainly an odd sensation I could not shake off through the duration of the race.

Things just seemed to get worse after that. Miles 18-22 were an absolute pain. I tried to distract myself by the sights of the University of Tulsa, a very pretty campus, but my tight calves got the best of me. At this point, it was just getting through the race one mile at a time.

And of course the last 1.5 miles was a mindgame. There was an optional Center of the Universe detour, and when I saw the sign, my mind screamed “NO!”. When the finish was in view, I couldn’t have felt more relieved.

Just gotta finish...
Just gotta finish…

I didn’t have nausea, but my calves felt beaten. My appetite was at an extreme low, and even though Mazzio’s Pizza was at the finisher’s walk-through handing out free slices of pizza, I did not have the desire to get one, even for later.

I saw my Dad at the exit and gave him a hug. He could see I had a pained expression on my face so we slowly walked until I found a place to sit down on the sidewalk. I know that the number one rule after a marathon is to keep walking and all that, but my calves were screaming at me at this point. I had to sit down, and just let my whole body catch up.

The race didn’t go as planned…it didn’t meet my expectations, but I was glad I made it one piece and that I was able to run a marathon with my Dad spectating. All of the marathons I had run previously were without his attendance, so having him physically present was nice.

This race was also Marathon #5 for me. I didn’t exactly go into this year thinking I’d do three marathons, and I honestly thought this would be a nice PR race, but when my coach suggested I switch to forefoot running 4 months ago, that really affected how things turned out. I’m looking at this as another learning experience though, and I’m only more motivated to put in the work and tweak my training as I need to for 2018.

Even though my appetite was shot and it took us forever to walk back to the car thanks to my slow-as-molasses legs, we still decided to go out for a decent lunch. We also figured that in the time it would take us to pick a place to eat, order, and have te food ready, my appetite should return.

We decided to eat at Cosmo Cafe, which my Dad remembered as being one of my sister’s faves when she stayed over the summer.

Cosmo Cafe
Cosmo Cafe

And, we were right in our assumption that it would take forever to eat. First, it took about fifteen minutes before someone got to us. Then, we had to figure out what to get…and since I had no appetite, my decision was much harder.

Menu
Menu

I decided on their Vegetarian Pizza which came served on french bread and a side salad. My Dad once again, had soup (lol).

Vegetarian French Bread Pizza!
Vegetarian French Bread Pizza!

I think it almost took half an hour before our food came out. I even managed to waddle over to the restroom, and when I waddled back, our food was sitting at the table. My Dad had to send his soup back because it came out cold and brothy, but the waiter appologized and even offered to comp the soup.

Soup!
Soup!

I offered some of my pizza and devoured the rest. My appetite quickly came back once I consumed the first slice of pizza. I just love it when that happens :/

After our late lunch, we returned home where I took a long, glorious nap on the couch. The rest of the evening was spent just veggin’ out, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The medal was gorgeous BTW
The medal was gorgeous BTW

Cosmo Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

March DegustaBox

March DegustaBox

How is March ALREADY AT ITS END?! How is my visit to see my cousin an event that occurred a little over a month ago, and did I really just run a sub-4:00 hour marathon only this past Sunday

Well, I guess we truly are approaching the end of March, seeing as I’m writing up another DegustaBox review! My box for March came packed with a bunch of goodies!

DegustaBox for March '17
DegustaBox for March ’17

There was a a good balance of sweet snacks and savory staples. Of course, I went for the sweet-flavored stuff first! This time, I went straight for the Loacker biscuits—“Gran Pasticceria Tortina Dark”

tortinadark-noir
A “Hazelnut Tartlet?”

This wafer-based biscuit is described as a “hazelnut tartlet” and has a smooth, creamy dark chocolate shell over a melt-in-your-mouth wafer cookie.

The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!
The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!

The other cookie-based snack was this bag of Mrs. Thinster’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Thins. Apparently more exotic flavors like Key Lime Pie and Cake Batter are available, but these chocolate chip crispy cookies irresistible.

cookie-thins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins

The chocolate in these cookies had a mild, sweet flavor, and a buttery, crisp cookie base.

cookiethins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins Close-Up

I was pleasantly surprised to find a full-sized, peanut butter and jelly-filled croissant among this month’s mix of items! The bread itself was sweet and soft, and reminded me of a cake you’d find in an Asian bakery.

7-days
7 Days Croissant Peanut Butter and Jelly

The filling on the inside didn’t look like a lot, but it was just enough.

croissant
A PB&J Croissant?? Which master genius came up with this idea 💡?!

I remember having the Sweet Oat & Flax Good Thins crisps as part of my December DegustaBox, and so I was elated to see that the sweet potato flavored ones were included in this month’s box.

sweet__potato
Nabisco Good Thins The Potato One ~ Sweet Potato

The sweet potato chips were light, crispy, sweet, and extremely light in density.

Boboli Pizza Crust was also included, and at first I was like, what am I going to do with this? Since I share a kitchen with an elderly couple (my landlords), I don’t do much heavy cooking. Plus, I wanted to see if I could utilize this large, dense disc of bread for a meal besides pizza…

boboli_crust
It’s hard to tell but there’s about half of a 12″ Boboli pizza crust at the bottom of this (what seems like) a veggie-dense bowl!

As a result, I added it to my usual veggie-dense crockpot dinner bowl, as well as into some split pea soup that also had tofu cubes thrown in.

soupand veg
Boboli crust in soup and with veggies (topped with mustard)

The crust was soft, chewy, not super cheesy (even though cheese strands were clearly visible), and I even had portions of this 12″ crust on its own when not thrown into the dinners seen above.

One item I didn’t particularly favor was this Lemoncocco drink:

lemoncocco
Lemoncocco

It has Italian origins, but the drink itself has a “milky” appearance. It is essentially coconut water with a hint of lemon, but I thought the citrus flavor was overwhelming and made the drink taste slightly bitter.

Another product I had an adverse reaction to were these Energems. At least I did at a previous time. With this in mind, I decided not to give these a try. I brought and left them in lab, and my co-workers made use of them—I think some of them benefited from the caffeine boost!

energems_
Energems, eh no thanks!

These quinoa bars were a favorite of mine!

barssss
Such pretty packaging colors & font!

They were lightly sweetened, and had a mix of textures, but they were still easy to eat. Not only were they easy to consume, but they were also colorful and the box had the most gorgeous packaging!

quinoabar
This Paul’s Finest Quinoa bar dazzles like a gem. And the fact that it’s sweetened with honey 🍯🍯🍯 ??? Aw man, so good!

The small box of Goya Quinoa Blend that contained black beans, bell peppers, and spices mixed with white quinoa and brown rice held enough grains to make four weekday lunches.

quinoablend
Goya Quinoa Blend

It was very simple to prepare with the microwave. I simply added a serving of the mix into a bowl, filled it to the level of the grains with water, and simply microwaved it from 7-12 minutes. I added a small, sliced Yukon gold potato that was also microwaved ~2 minutes. I cooled off the mix in the fridge in lab, took it out around lunch time, and any excess water that was there right after microwaving had been absorbed by the rice.

quinoa-and-potato
Taking some days off from running has helped me in regards to gaining some free time for meal prep! Vegetarian quinoa by Goya, mixed with a boiled potato has been working as a satisfying lunch 😋 helping me power through the rest of my work day 💪🏽

The potatoes did a good job of absorbing the flavors, and overall made for a nourishing lunch!

The last product in this month’s box I have yet to try is this chickpea pasta:

chickpea-pasta
Tolerant Foods Organic Chickpea Pasta

I plan to soak a serving in water overnight before I plan to use it for lunch, so that it can respond well to a spin in the microwave. I’ll have to add my own spices and toppings, but I think this pasta will be a new favorite of mine since I expect it to have a naturally nutty, rich flavor thanks to those baby chickpeas 🙂 !

Which would you rather try from the following: the quinoa snack bars or the quinoa-rice mix?

Gringo Bandito!

Gringo Bandito!

Disclaimer: I was not provided compensation except for product samples for review by Gringo Bandito, and all opinions are my own.

For the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve been able to spice up the holidays with some wholesome hot sauce!

Gringo Bandito is a hot sauce brand based in So Cal, which has humble origins. The brand was born in 2004, started by Dexter Holland who is a singer for the band The Offspring. It was created as a gift for a friend, but since then, has blossomed into a flavor threesome featuring red, green, and super hot sauces! It’s even ranked in the top 10 hot sauces on Amazon!

sauces
Gringo Bandito Super Hot / Red / Green

The green sauce wasn’t too hot, but it did leave a kick! I added a lot to one of my crockpot bowls one night and had to stop and take a picture because so many colors were popping out at me. Talk about nutrient-dense!

nutrientdense
This bowl SINGS with flavor

I also added some to a supposedly spicy pepper soup with shiritake noodles. Let me just say the soup would not have been spicy if not for the hot sauce that was added in!

i-1
Spicing things up!

I also love the humor in the ingredients list. Of course there is going to be “more peppers”, haha!

green-sauce
“More peppers!”

Of the three sauces, I first tried the Super Hot flavor that had scorpion chili pepper as an ingredient! Make sure you take this sauce seriously and be gentle with the portions!

super-hot
Take me seriously.
scorpion-chili-pepper
Scorpion chili pepper…

When I visited my family over the holidays, I brought all three bottles over to enjoy on home-cooked meals!

About that super hot sauce…I made the mistake of adding a lot to a pot pie crust I had for dinner one night, and my mouth (and stomach!) would not forgive me for it!

i-7
Doesn’t look like a lot but it is!!

It definitely adds a lot of flavor, and a little does certainly go a long way.

i-6
Temperature-hot stew, chemical-hot crust

My sister is one of those people who loves Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but who dislikes spicy food. She tried the “regular” hot sauce though, and thoroughly enjoyed it! She had it on a sandwich my Dad made her.

i-5
Not super aesthetic, but the hot sauce was good according to my sis 🙂

My Dad also treated me to some eye-popping, healthy-licious meals. I gave my stomach a break and tried the regular hot sauce on these:

i-2
Vegetable medley w/ spiced up tofu
i-3
Spicy stuffed pepper!

It harkened the tofu to get up and dance, and my stuffed bell pepper to boogie—in my mouth that is!

Are you a fan of hot sauce?
Two More Days

Two More Days

Even though I had to bid adieu to my sister once the end of her visit rolled around, I was glad I was able to spend some time with my Dad for two more days after the weekend of their visit. Since we were both busy during the day, our only time to meet up was for dinner—so that’s exactly what we did! We decided to head over to Lemonade in Pasadena since neither of us had ever been, and the fresh-take on cafeteria food the local chain specializes in sounded appetizing at the time. 

Lake Ave. in Pasadena is another one of my favorite locales---I love it just as much as the exciting Colorado Ave!
Lake Ave. in Pasadena is another one of my favorite locales—I love it just as much as the exciting Colorado Ave!

We were kind of stumped as to how and what to order when we arrived, but since we didn’t have to worry about crowds on a weeknight, the staff behind the counter were at ease and were patient in guiding us through the process.

We could choose from one to six portions from the Marketplace, where there were many salad-like items and hot pots. There was also a meat section, breads, and luscious-looking cakes. 

salad bar and pots

hotfoodsbreadscakes

We made our way down the counter with a 6-Portion plate, a veg pot, and some bread for the side. The 6-portion plate was quite hefty, and seriously landed with a thud on the tray!

food
Lime soba noodles, beets salad, tomato & farfalle salad, crunchy lentils of some sort, curried cauliflower, spicy corn salad // pumpernickel roll and cranberry nut bread <— YUM! // braised kale, tomato and white bean veg pot

My favorites from the food we ordered included the cranberry nut bread and the beets salad. I loved the soft texture of the bread, as well as the mix of bite-size cranberry pieces and slivers of almond, I believe. The beets salad though…it had a hint of sweetness and crunchiness not from the beets, but from something small, orange, and sticky in consistency. Orange-glazed walnuts? Not too sure, but it made the salad worthwhile for sure! 

Before leaving, my Dad and I decided to split a macaron cookie. We split a generous-sized lemon macaron that was super soft and filled with lots of cream! It almost fell apart in my hands as I was taking the picture and trying to split it into two halves.

macaron

The next day was another busy day for the both of us, especially me! I had a two-hour lecture in the morning, spent a couple busy hours in my rotation lab, and then followed that up with an afternoon lecture for a class that requires me to make the trek to our campus health center for free coffee. Anything to stay awake! My lecture that day that went 20 minutes over schedule, since we were being rushed through a 75-slide power point presentation on one of the most detailed aspects of genetics. My brain was fried, and in dire need of glucose 😛

Since my Dad wanted to stop by Little India in Cerritos for some Indian groceries to take back home, we decided to have dinner at a local spot in the area.

sahara

The Sahara Restaurant was pretty much like any other Indian restaurant you’d find in a city strip mall, but they apparently served a pretty tasty Gobi 65 and Cauliflower Manchurian—I would be the judge of that!

table

We were the only ones in the restaurant, other than a couple of police officers who came in to place a carry-out order. It was comical to watch them transfixed on the Bollywood music videos playing on the TV hanging in the corner of a wall. Our server was a sweetly awkward guy who had a hard time explaining the true difference between Gobi 65 and Cauliflower Manchurian. It was okay though, since he did make the effort and asked the chef for his input 😛

So along with the Gobi 65, we ordered the Baingan Bharta with a side of roti and long-grain rice. For an appetizer, we snacked on papadum and my Dad had a mango lassi.

pappadumlassi

I passed the time by looking up my exam scores for one of my classes (which took forever to do on my phone), and by the time it loaded in full, our food had arrived to the table.

Gobi 65 - Cauliflower deep fried in exotic Indian spices & Baingan Bharta - Smoked eggplants and potatoes cooked in tomatoes, onion sauce and exotic spices.
Gobi 65 – Cauliflower deep fried in exotic Indian spices //  Baingan Bharta – Smoked eggplants and potatoes cooked in tomatoes, onion sauce and exotic spices.
Roti & rice.
Roti & rice.

The Gobi 65 was spicy and full of flavor, but far from having the crispy texture I associate with a well-cooked version. In fact, it was quite chewy and almost seemed soggy from the sauce/spices. The Baingan Bharta was delicious on all fronts though, and I used it to coat my slices of warm, crisp roti.

After dinner and shopping, I was dropped off back at my apartment. My Dad had a long drive that night and so after getting him a cup of coffee from my apartment complex’s coffee machine, we said our good-byes. It was semi-difficult to get back into my regular routine the next day, but I reminded myself that a new weekend was not too far away 😉

Lemonade on Urbanspoon

Sahara Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Smart for Life Product Review

Smart for Life Product Review

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. This review is based on the products and information I received from Smart for Life.  All opinions are my own.

At the start of the new year, I got a pretty hefty box waiting for me at my doorstep. Upon opening, everything was wrapped up in thick tissue paper and a kind letter was on top:

Smart for Life (2)

Smart for Life is best known for their cookies and protein bars, but since they contain gelatin, they were thoughtful enough to send me their vegetarian items. These included two flavors of their shake bottles, zero calorie creamer, and two flavors of water enhancers. They also sent two soup packets, but unfortunately I couldn’t have those after a second look at the ingredients…

Shake Bottles

The shake bottles jumped out at me first, of course. They come in the flavors below, as well as strawberry.

Smart for Life Shakes in 'Chocolat' and Vanilla.
Smart for Life Shakes in ‘Chocolat’ and Vanilla.

There was a fill line on the inside which gave a guideline as to how much water to add. After filling up the bottles with the appropriate amount of water, it was time to shake things up—literally!

SFL SmoothiesFrom the two, I preferred the vanilla flavor. It had a nice, distinctive vanilla aroma, and even though it had a sharp aftertaste, it wasn’t so sharp as the chocolate flavor.  I wasn’t expecting the such boldness from a shake, but you get used to it after the first couple sips.

Tomato Soup

Smart for Life (4)

I was all set ready to try the soup packets, planning on mixing both packets and adding some cubed tofu, but noticed that unfortunately, one of the ingredients was Chicken Stock Base. I was disappointed, but I knew someone in my lab building could make use of it, so it didn’t really go to waste.

Liquid Samples: Creamer and Water Enhancers

I am not a big fan of creamer, so my opinion on this specific creamer may be biased. I like good old fashioned milk in my coffee (even almond and soy milk I don’t mind), but I did give this Smart Coffee Creamer a try one morning.

Smart Coffee CreamerTaste-wise, the addition of the creamer caused it to have a bitter aftertaste (probably from the coffee since there wasn’t any milk to mask it), but appearance-wise, it looked almost identical to my regular morning cup.  It’s a good fake-out, but unless you are a creamer fan, you may not enjoy the taste (they do have a French Vanilla and Hazelnut flavor, however, and those may taste better).

Smart for Life (1)

To be honest, I was somewhat hesitant to try the water enhancers, the newest in their product line. I’m not a big fan of sugary or sugar-free drinks—including Gatorade. I don’t mind fruit-infused water (cantaloupe-infused water tastes phenomenal!), but overall, I prefer my water as is.

Smart for Life 'Water Enhancers'!

But everything deserves a chance, and even though the Acai Pomegranate flavor looked way too similar to cough syrup, I poured and mixed 3mL (the suggested serving size–approximately 0.6 of a teaspoon) into a glass of water.

Acai pomegranate water enhancerThe verdict? Even though it was powerfully sweet, I actually liked how it tasted. I wouldn’t recommend drinking this before going on a run though. That’s what I did, and my stomach didn’t feel too well as a result.

Peach Mango water enhancerPeach Mango tasted like a toned down/carbonation-free version of Fanta. I have a preference for the Acai Pomegranate from the two.

Even though these products are marketed as ‘diet’ products, they can be supplemented with other foods to make a more substantial meal. I could easily see the water enhancers as a substitute for Gatorade (at least in terms of flavor), and the shake bottles could be paired with an english muffin with PB or a nutritious omelette for a go-getter’s breakfast. It would have been nice if the soup was made with a vegetable base versus chicken, as it could have made for a nice broth for some soft tofu cubes or stock for a vegetable stew!

‘Enhanced’ water or plain water—what’s your preference?

Are you a fan of creamer?

Phở!

Phở!

On a cold Sunday afternoon, a warm bowl of phở is a necessity. Background noise from a busy restaurant, good company, and boba desserts are optional, but they add to the experience as well.

We stopped at Pho Lee Hoa Phat for some warm meals and a new cuisine experience. Even though we have eaten noodle bowls in the past, we never actually ventured into a Vietnamese restaurant to have the “full experience”. Fortunately, we were with our friend–a poor college student and phở expert ;).

Pho Lee Hoa Phat Menu
Pho Lee Hoa Phat Menu

After looking through the menu, my sister and I were limited to the vegetable phở bowl, but my friend picked something I forgot the name of (it had meat though!).

Perusing through the menu.
Perusing through the menu.

Going for the Veg. Option

The waiter had arrived to our table about 5 minutes after we arrived, but my sister was persistent on deciding on a boba milkshake before ordering our meals.

Boba Shake Menu

She offered that we share the shake, and after bouncing back flavor suggestions, we both compromised agreed to try papaya.

We found the waiter again, and told him our requests. We then prepped our sauces. My friend was very comfortable in the technique of mixing the right ratio of siracha/chili/worcestershire sauce. I had her mix mine sans worcestershire.

Siracha and chili, ready to go!
Siracha and chili, ready to go!

We were seated near the window, so it was hard to take a scenic picture of the restaurant showing how busy it was. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it!!

It was really busy on a Sunday!
It was really busy on a Sunday!

Before our noodle bowls came, we were given some sprouts to use as a refreshing topping for our soups. In the meantime, we were dipping the sprouts in our sauces.

Sprouts for topping

Our friend’s bowl came first, followed by an onslaught of vegetable phở bowls. My sister and I got “regular” sizes, and they were perfectly sized for a lunch.

The Veg Pho Bowl.
The Veg Pho Bowl.

Underneath all those veggies (and a singular pineapple slice :P), there was so much vermicelli noodles. With the addition of my siracha chili sauce, my sinuses were on fire, haha!

Good thing we had our papaya boba shake on the side to cool off our tastebuds!

Papaya Boba Shake.
Papaya Boba Shake.

^ I (almost) seriously loved this shake more than my noodle bowl. My sister and I were competing for the last few sips :P.

If you are looking for a hearty, warm lunch, definitely give phở a try—and make sure to order a boba milkshake (or two!) on the side ;).

Have you tried phở?

Pho Lee Hoa Phat on Urbanspoon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...