Sweet Blog Friends & Salad Traditions

Sweet Blog Friends & Salad Traditions

Two weeks ago, I went back to my food product reviewing roots and contacted a couple companies to see if they showed interest in having their products reviewed here and on the ‘gram. I know I don’t have the largest following in the world, but I love getting the word out there to whoever pays attention to my humble little space in the webverse, especially if a product is THAT good.

I also appreciate the tried-and-true blogger connections I’ve made over the years. I’ll admit that the number of blogs I read has dwindled, but the ones I do keep an eye on are my absolute favorites. Allie’s is one of them, and when I was reading one of her posts a few months back, she posted a picture of some decadent-looking chocolate-covered pretzels. I wrote a comment saying I would love to try them if I ever get the chance, and she graciously offered to send me some. 

the
Sarri’s Candies Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

Her sweet gesture ended up being sweeter than I expected! I was expecting a small envelope, but I came home one night to this large heavy box filled with all sort of thoughtful gifts. Allie, you really shouldn’t have, but thank you so much! I’m working on something for you too πŸ˜‰ 

As far as bars are concerned, I got the opportunity to try a few flavors of Redd bars. I first spotted them at Sprouts (they have the most diverse bar aisle, btw!), but I never got around to trying them until now. Each bar has 9+ grams of protein, is made of 11 superfoods, and has way too many vitamins to pronounce and count!

Redd Bars! They were sweet enough to add a bright red beanie :D
Redd Bars! They were sweet enough to add a bright red beanie πŸ˜€

They sent over three flavors (Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, and Mint Chocolate) and it just so happened that the first one I tried was my absolute favorite—Salted Caramel πŸ™‚

Salted Caramel
Salted Caramel
The bar had a chewy texture with a subtle caramel scent, and there was a slight crunch from the chia seeds. The bar also features pumpkin seed protein, cashews (I’d say my favorite type of nut), and white (vegan) chocolate chips. Yup, this fabulous bar also happens to be vegan πŸ˜›
 
The other two flavors didn’t rank as high as SC, in my opinion. Peanut Butter was firmer than SC in its texture, had mini chocolate chips scattered throughout, and is “plant-based” but not vegan. I found the surface of the bar to be a lot more “rugged” vs. the smooth, glossiness of SC.
Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter
 
I did get a little dramatic with my description of Mint Chocolate on Instagram, but I did immediately think of an Andes mint.
 
"ou know those Andes mints they give you at the end of your meal at Olive Garden? Imagine the softest brownie ever made with those mints, and that's how you pretty much describe a Mint Chocolate @reddbar 🍫🍫🍫"
You know those Andes mints they give you at the end of your meal at Olive Garden? Imagine the softest brownie ever made with those mints, and that’s how you pretty much describe a Mint Chocolate @reddbar 🍫🍫🍫

This bar flavor was soft and had a sharp mint smell. Definitely would be what an Andes mint brownie would taste like if they sold them.

 After getting in touch with Petit Pot, they were sweet enough to send over some vouchers so I could sample their French-inspired custard creme pots.

"Had the chance to try two flavors of @petit_pot pot de crème jars the other day, and they certainly made for an interesting sweet Sunday afternoon snack. The salted caramel flavor had a "gel-like" consistency in comparison to Madagascar vanilla. It definitely had a caramel color but not the flavor. Madagascar vanilla on the other hand had a texture similar to that of regular yogurt (not like thick Greek yogurt), and a very subtle crunch from the flecks of vanilla bean!"
Had the chance to try two flavors of @petit_pot pot de crΓ¨me jars the other day, and they certainly made for an interesting sweet Sunday afternoon snack. The salted caramel flavor had a “gel-like” consistency in comparison to Madagascar vanilla. It definitely had a caramel color but not the flavor. Madagascar vanilla on the other hand had a texture similar to that of regular yogurt (not like thick Greek yogurt), and a very subtle crunch from the flecks of vanilla bean!

I managed to only find Madagascar Vanilla and Salted Caramel at Whole Foods so far, and the two varied so much! MV tasted much like regular yogurt—very runny, but the flavor was a rich vanilla with a mild crunch from tiny specks of vanilla bean. SC was more gel-like, and to me did not have any flavor. It looked like a caramel Jell-O, but it carried no flavor with it.

Even though it seems like I was subsisting on “free” things, I did eventually have to spend my own money to eat, haha. I kept it local that weekend, and also went back to a “New Year’s tradition” that I sort of made up about two years ago.

Sweetgreen, SaMo
Sweetgreen, SaMo

I first visited Sweetgreen back in 2016, after learning about it by accident. It was after a week of toiling in lab while everyone was still on vacation. I felt so lonely in my deserted city of LA, and I wanted to go out to get my mood up on the first weekend of the new year. Then when 2017 rolled around, I ended up eating at Sweetgreen again as my first meal out for the year—totally unplanned!

This year was quite different, brunching it up in Las Vegas with my friends, but I did manage to make it to a Sweetgreen before January ended. This time, the location in my current city of habitation, in good ol’ SaMo. In the past I indulged in their warm bowls with some type of grain or noodles, but I got their Thai Cashew Salad this time around:

"I'm surprised there was a crowd at @sweetgreen pretty much all afternoon, since you'd think with the cold weather people wouldn't be craving salads πŸ₯—...but then again they do have some pretty delicious warm bowls 🍲. I had the Thai Cashew Tofu salad this time around, and was head over heels for the cashew dressing."
I’m surprised there was a crowd at @sweetgreen pretty much all afternoon, since you’d think with the cold weather people wouldn’t be craving salads πŸ₯—…but then again they do have some pretty delicious warm bowls 🍲. I had the Thai Cashew Tofu salad this time around, and was head over heels for the cashew dressing.

It was a particularly hot day when I had this, so it was fittingly refreshing! I had plenty of energy to keep walking afterwards, and I picked up some groceries and more new-to-me snacks to try out.

I’ve officially given up on Lenny & Larry’s because their cookies now will never be as great as their old formula Snickerdoodle or Birthday Cake. It’s a shame that they had to make changes that actually made their product taste worse, but oh well, their loss. 

No Cow’s Snickerdoodle is definitely not stepping up to the “Best Snickerdoodle Cookie Challenge”. Dare I even say that it tastes even worse, than Lenny and Larry’s new formula Snickerdoodle??

Seems like all the protein bar companies are getting into the cookie game as of late πŸͺ! Since I've given up on @lennyandlarrys (can't STAND their new formula and I'm not going to pretend to...the new Snickerdoodle is just horrendous πŸ˜– and makes me miss the old formula so bad 😭), I thought I'd try @nocow cookies because why not? Of course, I tried their version of snickerdoodle, and I'm sorry to report that it tasted like a dry hockey puck made out of corn πŸ˜‘πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ. Yeah, it's vegan and all that, but apparently that doesn't help the fact that it tastes gross. Just being honest πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ
Seems like all the protein bar companies are getting into the cookie game as of late πŸͺ! Since I’ve given up on @lennyandlarrys (can’t STAND their new formula and I’m not going to pretend to…the new Snickerdoodle is just horrendous πŸ˜– and makes me miss the old formula so bad 😭), I thought I’d try @nocow cookies because why not? Of course, I tried their version of snickerdoodle, and I’m sorry to report that it tasted like a dry hockey puck made out of corn πŸ˜‘πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ. Yeah, it’s vegan and all that, but apparently that doesn’t help the fact that it tastes gross. Just being honest πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Their Peanut Butter cookie wasn’t too bad, but let’s just say that Buff Bake’s Cookie Dough spread (with cookie dough bits mixed in the spread might I add!) certainly helped this cookie reach new flavorful heights.

"Okay, so the @nocow Peanut Butter cookie was better than Snickerdoodle, at least it had some chew to it and crushed peanut pieces, but I would suggest topping it with a good ol' slather of nut butter. @buffbake Cookie Dough should do the trick πŸ˜‰"
“Okay, so the @nocow Peanut Butter cookie was better than Snickerdoodle, at least it had some chew to it and crushed peanut pieces, but I would suggest topping it with a good ol’ slather of nut butter. @buffbake Cookie Dough should do the trick πŸ˜‰”

And because I have been obsessed with the Birthday Cake Oh Yeah! One bar as of late (the newer formula is MUCH better than what I had first tried two years ago), I thought why not try the latest flavor:

"The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake πŸ₯œ 🍫 πŸŽ‚ @one1brands bar definitely looked the part, but it tasted just like its Peanut Butter Pie flavor. Where was the chocolate? Or the cake? Still a pretty satisfying bar nonetheless."
“The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake πŸ₯œ 🍫 πŸŽ‚ @one1brands bar definitely looked the part, but it tasted just like its Peanut Butter Pie flavor. Where was the chocolate? Or the cake? Still a pretty satisfying bar nonetheless.”

It was a pretty dense bar for its nutritional content, but I was disappointed by the fact that it tasted more like a block of peanut butter than a block of peanut butter mixed with chocolate, haha! I think I’ll probably just stick to Birthday Cake when it comes to this particular brand.

Repeat of 2016?

Repeat of 2016?

I returned to California early last week, and I was in a deep funk for a couple days. My two weeks off from lab, spent with family, was JUST what I needed and my only regret was that it wasn’t longer!

At least I had a surprise package waiting for me…I tried Enlightened Roasted Broad Bean Crisps for the first time thanks to a little box with some fun-flavored goods:

crisps
Enlightened saved me from the doldrums!

They were the dessert flavors: Cocoa Dusted and Sweet Cinnamon.

cocoa_dusted
Cocoa Dusted description

I had both flavors straight out of the bag. Out of the two, I loved the cinnamon-flavored ones the most since they reminded me of those churro twists from Taco Bell I had long ago…

sweet-cinnamon
Sweet Cinnamon

Cocoa Dusted was good too, I just preferred cinnamon over chocolate coating πŸ˜›

cocoadust
Cocoa Dusted up close & personal

I decided to keep close to West LA since I knew DTLA would be abuzz with the LA Fit Expo going on. I also had to go into lab, which would have cut into any day plans if I had scheduled any. So after lab, I came back to Culver City and had lunch literally across the street from the train station…at Sweetgreen! I find it hilarious that my first outing to a restaurant for 2017 is Sweetgreen once again…I dined at a Sweetgreen in Mid-City last year as my first outing in 2016! I wonder if it will become tradition…

sweetgreen
Sweetgreen’s newest—Culver City

They recently opened up shop here in a complex called The Platform. It was already in full swing with customers eating outside even though it was cloudy out.

food_
Order at the counter

The seating arrangements inside were too small, and if everyone in line had decided to dine in, there would have been no way. I did get a seat however, by the window. It was just a table that wasn’t wiped clean since the last customer, and only had one chair so I had to sit with my bag on my lap, haha!

menu
Lot’s to choose from!

When it was my turn to order, I decided to get a warm bowl. The Shroomami sounded amazing, with glazed tofu, rice, kale, …, and it was vegan so even more of a plus!

lookatdatbowl
My Shroomami bowl [vegan] ~ organic wild rice, shredded kale, raw beets, bean sprouts, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello mix, miso sesame ginger dressing
I also got a slice of bread on the side, and enjoyed the bowl while people/train watching through the window.

sideofbread_tofu
Slice of bread, and look at that tofu!

After eating lunch, I got grocery shopping done at Sprouts. I love it when restaurants/grocery stores are all in one area since it makes running weekend errands so much easier.

While picking up staples for the week, I came across another RX Bar flavor I have yet to try—Peanut Butter! When I was checking out in line, there was a guy in front of me who noticed my purchase-to-be, and asked where he could find them. As soon as I told him, he dashed over to the bar aisle while the cashier began to check out his items!

rx_pb
RX Peanut Butter bar…has exactly 14 peanuts?

I tried the bar as I was waiting for the train to go home. I like the smooth texture of the bar, and it kind of made me think of the Chocolate Coconut flavor without coconut, and with a mild peanut scent reminiscent of how the maple scent defined the Maple Sea Salt flavor. I guess I could understand why that guy at Sprouts was in such a mad dash to get those bars for himself?

Have you eaten out since the new year began?

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

First Meal Out in 2016

First Meal Out in 2016

Even though I was back to work after my week in Tulsa, my lab mates were still taking advantage of their break, and I literally had the entire lab floor to myself πŸ˜›

I did have work to do though, and kept my energy levels up with some Vitamin Shoppe purchases I made prior to my trip…including two of the newest Lenny and Larry’s cookies!

Coconut Chocolate
Coconut Chocolate
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

From these two flavors, my favorite was Coconut Chocolate. It had pieces of dried coconut mixed in, along with the classic chocolate chip cookie base. The DCPBS flavor was delicious too, but in comparison, was softer and more mundane in its flavor profile.

Along with these insanely addicting cookies, I ended up getting a canister of Quest protein powder with the same Vitamin Shoppe order, since it was on sale. Of course, I’ve been mixing it with yogurt and topping it with interesting cookie butter flavors (like this one—a macaroon cookie butter!!), but I also tried it mixed in with a hot bowl of oatmeal which wasn’t too bad!

Quest Strawberries and Cream
Quest Strawberries and Cream

By the time the weekend rolled around, I was able to make it out to the Grove and walk not too far to reach Sweetgreen. I actually learned about its existence that day while looking for places to eat lunch as I was in-between experiments in lab.

Sweetgreen, by the Grove
Sweetgreen, by the Grove

The restaurant is in a two-story building, so while the width was small, the height of the space was the exact opposite. At the front of the restaurant, a chalkboard listed farms and local partners that Sweetgreen gets its produce and food goods from.

That color though...
That color though…

The ordering-style is set-up so that you build your salad bowl like you would a sandwich at Subway. There are combinations all set and listed on the menu, or you can create your own.

Everything fresh and from modern farms.
Everything fresh and from modern farms.

I decided to get the Hummus Tahina, and from there the process was very simple. The girl who was helping me knew exactly was to put in, how much, and I even ended up “skipping” the person in front of me because my bowl was just done that fast πŸ˜›

With bowl, water, fork, and napkins in tow, I climbed upstairs and found plenty of seats.

Upstairs seating!
Upstairs seating!

As soon as I was settled in, I was more than ready to dig in!

shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt
shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, pita chips, local feta, housemade hummus, baked falafel, cucumber tahini yogurt

Everything was perfectly dressed with cucumber tahini yogurt, and just like I save my dollop of nut butter/nutella/cookie spread in my proyo bowls for last, I did the same with my hummus dollop. What took me by surprise the most was how creamy the small pieces of feta tasted, and how doughy the falafel was. Even though this falafel wasn’t green, I actually liked its consitency—at least in this bowl.

Even though it felt like just another week and weekend, at least my first meal dining out for 2016 was a success!

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

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