Back in August…

Back in August…

Man, I have a TON of posts to catch up on! But if I procrastinate any longer, I proably won’t even remember enough about the pictures I have to write about them…better late than ever.

Also goes to show that being busy enough not to blog means that life things are picking up, and have me occupied in a good way. I have some big travel plans coming up in a few weeks (work-related, but still exciting!), and I’m looking forward to what that experience will bring.

In the meantime, I’ll reflect back on what I was doing in early August, right after my b-day celebrations and my sister’s arrival back in Cali. It was my last weekend with the car in my possession, but I didn’t have the desire to drive out too far…

Actually, there was a lot going on locally. The USC Village was something that was under construction for a long time now, near the downtown area. Since it’s grand opening was scheduled for mid-August to coincide with move-in day, some of the stores and restaurants had soft openings a week prior. One of the restaurants was CAVA…funny how I visited the Santa Monica location only days before!

CAVA, USC Village
CAVA, USC Village

For their soft opening, the CAVA at USC Village was giving away free food from 12-2pm! I stood in line with some of my labmates for almost 1.5 hours, but since I knew the kind of food we would be getting wasn’t some cheap meal, I had to begrudgingly admit that it was worth it.

CAVA Menu
CAVA Menu

Although…by the time we got inside and were able to place our orders, they had run out of flatbread. We all opted for grain bowls, and I had mine based with lentils, the spicy veggies and all of the other crisp veggie toppings. I think I opted for some lemon dressing this time around instead of the apricot sriracha, but it fit well with what ended up being a warm salad bowl.

Grain Bowl!
Grain Bowl!

I ate my late lunch with E before we continued on with our work day.

When Saturday rolled around, I first drove to Sprouts after a morning run to pick up a snack. I’ve been on a GoMacro bar kick lately (my latest bar obsession), and Sprouts carries their Everlasting Joy flavor, the proceeds of which go to help the homeless.

GoMacro Everlasting Joy
GoMacro Everlasting Joy

I love their chocolate chip/nut butter flavors, so this was an instant favorite of mine. I mean, coconut flakes added to either of those types of flavors can only make it better.

I worked in lab for some of the morning, and since E was also finishing up some stuff, we finished around noon and walked over to where I parked the car to drive off to lunch.

She suggested earlier in the week that we both share a Turkish Breakfast at Mama’s Secret, a cozy, Turkish establishment very close to Beverly Connection.

Anyone got $1,000 for breakfast??
Anyone got $1,000 for breakfast??

Maybe if we combined a good chunk of our monthly income, we could have split the $1,000 pancakes…but we weren’t feeling too rich that day, haha!

What we could afford vs. what we couldn't
What we could afford vs. what we couldn’t

Nah, the Turkish Breakfast and cheese-stuffed flatbread not only sounded affordable, but well-rounded and filling for two people.

The Turkish breakfast was served with an assortment of cheeses, veggies, turkey slices (that we left alone), and flatbread. The sauces/dips were filled in cups and included hummus, tahini, honey, jam, nutella, and a ricotta-looking cheese curd.

TURKISH BREAKFAST
TURKISH BREAKFAST

And of course we had some warm tea…

The cheese-stuffed flatbread was my favorite, even though it wasn’t part of the breakfast platter. It came out already cut out in small portions so it was easy to split.

One of the cheese-stuffed flatbreads they offered. I believe ours was spiced with parsley and basil.
One of the cheese-stuffed flatbreads they offered. I believe ours was spiced with parsley and basil.

I had no idea that these cheese-filled flatbreads were a staple of Turkish cuisine, but my friend confirmed this foodie fact. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of my new favorite dishes now!

E was meeting some other friends for a movie-in-the-park event (one that I actually went to myself for a friend’s birthday last year…) so I dropped her off before heading home. I felt tired enough to go to sleep early, but I did have a night dessert before turning in.

That Snickerdoodle Dough
That Snickerdoodle Dough

Nada Moo’s Snickerdoodle is cream was soft and creamy, but the lack of dough pieces was a huge disappointment and sub-par in comparison to So Delicious’ offering. Ah well, they tried…

What your current food obsession?

Have you ever had a Turkish breakfast?

Mama's Secret Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Weekend in LV, Part II

A Weekend in LV, Part II

My second full day in Vegas started off at a steamy 95 degrees. I kept waking up throughout the night due to the heat/constant shuffling in and out of the bathroom of the other guests, and so I decided to actually wake up at 6, since sleeping in just wasn’t going to work out.

View from the convention center
View from the convention center

I told my friend to pick me up from the convention center at 9, and so to kill time, I tried to find a session or two to join in. I didn’t find anything too remarkable, so I just participated in a yoga class that was going on. It made me quickly realize that as a runner—I need to stretch more.

When my friend arrived, she looked tired due to her long working day on Friday, but we still followed through with our plans and headed out to Red Rock Canyon.

Driving to Red Rock Canyon
Driving to Red Rock Canyon

But just soon as we stepped out of the car, we stepped back in. The heat was unbelievably unbearable, but we couldn’t leave without a selfie, haha.

Red Rock Canyon...so hot!
Red Rock Canyon…so hot!

She was hungry and had a craving for eggs, especially after hearing about a chain of brunch-type restaurants called Egg Works. We stopped by one of them on her way to work.

Eggworks in Summerlin
Eggworks in Summerlin

It definitely had a mom-and-pop vibe, and even though we were offered seats at the bar, we were able to snag a cozy booth and enjoy our meals without background kitchen noise.

Their menu was extensive, with not only egg dishes, but the sweet breakfast stuff too. But since it was practically noon, I was all about something savory and eager to get some protein in me.

<3

The Veggie Benny was mine, while my friend ordered a Benedict as well, with extra bacon on the side.

Veggie Benny ♥
Veggie Benny ♥

 

A working girl's plate...
A working girl’s plate…

I pretty much wiped my plate clean, except for the tomato slices I had on the side. Maybe I should have been like my friend and gotten some cubed potatoes for my side…

After finishing up brunch, we drove around for a bit on the way back to Town Square since my friend had a shift a work starting at 2pm. I found a spot in Whole Foods to work on some things via laptop to pass the time. I grew restless about two hours in, and decided to spend the rest of the time doing some window (and real) shopping.

Haha, of course this statue would catch my eye. There are a variety of these around Town Square, painted for different themes.
Haha, of course this statue would catch my eye. There are a variety of these around Town Square, painted for different themes.

I met up with my friend again after 6pm, and from there we drove our tired selves over to The Strip. It was still blazing hot outside, but we managed to find free parking at Planet Hollywood, and after going down five flights, walked inside the hotel casino before stepping out and walking in the southern direction of The Strip.

For dinner, we agreed on burgers and Bobby’s Burger Palace was on the way.

BBP
BBP

Of course it was packed, like any other restaurant on The Strip on Saturday night. Everything was also very meat heavy, except for two veggie options: a Veggie Burger and a Grilled Cheese.

♥

I went for the veggie burger, and even though my friend and I ordered back-to-back, her plate came out a good fifteen minutes before mine did. We blame it on the party of ten who ordered at the register next to us…we think their orders got mixed in with ours and caused the delay, haha.

My Veggie burger was alright thought! I mean, even Bobby is looking adoringly at it on that napkin holder. There was a good ratio of sauce to burger, so it didn’t taste too dry or soggy. It also came with a huge pickle on the side, all of the burgers did actually.

♥

After getting food in our systems, we were in a chattier mood. The sun also went down so it was a bit cooler than an hour before. Our next destination was Sambalatte, right outside Monte Carlo.

♥

It was a cozy little coffee shop, and while it didn’t make much sense to get coffee at night, I had my reasons…

♥

I would drink coffee at midnight if it meant having a mug of this Unicorn Latte. For the ‘gram, if nothing else.

Unicorn Latte ♥
Unicorn Latte ♥

TBH, it’s taste didn’t match it looks. While it looked like it was a coffee made out of rainbow rays, it needed the help of some sweetener. My friend and I took turns sipping at the mug, and then walked into the casino next door. We quickly turned around when her BF texted her to come home since the were meeting family for a late night get together. The abrupt change in plans was a slight disappointment, since I didn’t know the next time I’d be able to see my friend again, but she offered to drop me off at my BNB before heading out.

The next day was nothing momentous. I was glad to finally leave that weird BNB and head back to LA. Of course I wish I could have spent another day or two with my friend, but she also looked like she needed some rest. I guess as long as she’s there, I’ll have a reason to come back to LV.

Bobby's Burger Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

May’s Degustabox

May’s Degustabox

May’s Degustabox contained a lot of surprises, many of which got me excited about my trip to Europe that was at the end of the month. There were a balanced amount of snackables, condiments, and other meal prep items that would be fun to try out and incorporate into my weekly meals.

May's DegustaBox
May’s DegustaBox

I loved the Soy Yay Sauces that were included in past boxes, and this Asian Mesquite BBQ Sauce included. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and it definitely has a smoky flavor. The consistency is thick (just how I like my sauce/marinades!) and along with topping on my crockpot veggie bowls, I used it to flavor some otherwise plain tofu shiritake noodles one night.

Flavorful sauce!
Flavorful sauce!
Flavoring otherwise bland noodles!
Flavoring otherwise bland noodles!

The sauce also paired well with this Wild Harvest grain rice that was also shipped in this month’s box. I only had to microwave a serving with just enough water to hold and provide a medium for heating/cooking the rice. After everything was cooked and warmed up enough, I added a serving of Soy Yay and the flavor profile was enhanced. It was like I had sticky or curry rice or something.

Wild Harvest rice cooked with Soy Vey's BBQ Sauce
Wild Harvest rice cooked with Soy Vey’s BBQ Sauce

I also happened to think it made a nice combo with the La Tortilla Factory white corn tortillas. The tortillas were firm, chewy, and a true mix between a corn and white flour regular tortilla: the size and compact characteristics of a corn tortilla mixed with the soft chewiness of a white flour tortilla.

La Tortilla
La Tortilla White Corn and Wheat Tortillas

Barilla also had some featured products in this box. Yes, there was a box of Farfalle and a small bottle of a beautiful green colored pesto, but I didn’t get a chance to try them out yet. I made it a priority to try out two products from their Mulino Bianco line.

Pasta and pesto
Pasta and pesto

These Galletti cookies were actually shortbreads, and featured a rooster emblem with scattered sugar crystals on the surface. They melt in your mouth, but they are pretty dry, though lightly sweet. Would have paired well with a coffee or English tea.

Shortbreads with little roosters on them :)
Shortbreads with little roosters on them 🙂

I absolutely loved the Sfilati breadsticks. They offered a great crunch, savory tomato flavor, and were such a warm, eye-catching color. I added them to a crockpot veggie bowl one night and things were taken to the next level for sure.

sfilati
Sfilati
IMG_0438
CRUNCH!

Last month’s box of oatmeal was a feature from Better Oats, but this month’s box was from Pure Grain. The flavor was just plain/original, and I’m not sure why Spongebob was on the front, haha.

Tagalong Oatmeal
Tagalong Oatmeal

The oats were easy to prepare much like any other instant oatmeal packet. One of the bowls I had was prepped in lab, when one of my colleagues had some leftover Girl Scout cookies sitting at a table. I took three Tagalongs and added them to a warm mug of oatmeal, right as it finished its cycle in the microwave. Melted to perfection, as flavored instantly.

Mint Mojitoooooo
Mint Mojitoooooo

Skinnygirl K-Cups were also a feature in this month’s box. I liked last month’s Peach Bellini flavor, but Mint Mojito has a great flavor profile as well. Just like with PB, a little packet of stevia goes a long way in truly bringing out the minty freshness of this flavor. It is a refreshing hit to the back of the mouth!

Dandie's Marshmallows in Dreaming Cow Grass-Fed
Dandie’s Marshmallows in Dreaming Cow Grass-Fed Blueberry Cardamom Yogurt

An item that I believe was featured as a sample in this month’s box was a vegan marshmallow packet by Dandies . They were the original flavor, and so soft to the touch/taste! Actually, they tasted much like the real thing! I topped them on a blueberry Dreaming Cow yogurt, which gave my “after dinner snack” an extra boost.

Mutti Polpa
Mutti Polpa

A can of puréed Mutti tomatoes was provided this month instead of a tube of tomato paste like last time. Looking at the ingredients again, I was amazed by how the only ingredient was fresh puréed Italian Roma tomatoes. I literally dunked the can on top of some cut vegetables for my crockpot dinner one night, and by the time I got home, the tomato purée was well-cooked and coated over the vegetables. I didn’t need to add any sauce afterwards because everything was now so deeply flavored!

Minced tomatoes in my crockpot bowl!
Minced tomatoes in my crockpot bowl!

I had to pass on the Goya lentil soup even though it sounded fantastic. The thing that prevented me from trying it out was the fact that it contains chicken stock. Ah well, my lab mates took advantage of that!

Lentil soup, with chicken stock.
Lentil soup, with chicken stock.

Which of these products would you try and what would you make?

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?

Little Lab Outing

Little Lab Outing

We recently has a post-doc leave our lab to pursue a new job, and as a result, we’ve been shifting the seating arrangements of our lab personnel…in other words, my lab bestie (E) moved into the office I am in, as well as another person I like talking to in lab! From the two offices our lab occupies, my office became the “loud and fun one” pretty much overnight 😛

To celebrate the new arrangements, me, E, and our other colleague went out for lunch Tuesday afternoon. Azla Vegan Ethiopian was a food court-style restaurant in a mini shopping complex called Mercado de Paloma, but this specific food spot was a place I had on my foodie radar for a while now (like so many places I am realizing, haha)!

azla
Azla Ethiopian Vegan

E and I ended up eating here while our colleague got a quesadilla lunch from one of the other food court stalls. We picked 3-4 side items, and got two rolls of injera with our plates.

deliciousveganfood
Small, but one of the cuter storefronts in the shopping complex.

We were able to pick from dressed lentil salads, curried lentils, greens, cooked vegetables, and spicy tofu to pair up with our injera.

saladstoeat
Salads!

There was also a small assortment of vegan baked goods, but we (well at least I did!) knew our plates would be filling enough.

theressweetstuff
Savory, and a bunch of sweets.

E’s plate was full, packed and looked delicious! I didn’t get the lentil salad, but looking at E’s plate made me second-guess that decision.

friendsplate
E’s plate

My plate had the curried lentils, boiled potatoes/cabbage/carrot, gomen (cooked spinach), and two rolls of injera. The three of us walked over with our plates of food and found a table to sit at, amongst racks of clothes and in front of other food stalls.

lentilsvegspinachinjera
My plate 🙂

We spent the next hour enjoying our lunch and each other’s company. I made this comment on Instagram, but being able to go out for lunch on a Tuesday with lab mates, and not having food be the focus felt so refreshing. It was just another reminder that I am progressing through recovery, and that I’m also improving when it comes to taking advantage of social opportunities. I’m forming relationships, and allowing those to grow while, gradually with each day, I am squashing that eating disorder voice. This is recovery in action, and I’m loving that days like these are starting to occur more in frequency.

We went back to work after lunch, but I felt much more energized from both the food and endorphin burst from all the laughing we did. I’m sure these lunches will become a regular occurrence, and seeing that it took me two years to feel “at home” at work, I couldn’t be happier about this prospect.

Do you hang out with work colleagues outside of work?

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

December Degustabox!

December Degustabox!

With all the cooking ingredients in last month’s Degustabox, I was elated that this month’s box featured a lot more snack-ables—including some sweet treats (hellooooo cookies 😀 ).

december_box
December’s Degustabox Delectables

The Purely Simple baking mix and frosting pack were an interesting find in this month’s box. I haven’t seen this in stores yet, but I’m glad to see that global brands like Pillsbury are attempting to make products that stray away from using artificial ingredients.

purely_simple
Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake & Cupcake Mix and Pillsbury Purely Simple Buttercream Frosting Mix

I didn’t have time to bake with them personally, but I thought it was a good idea to drop it off at a holiday cookie decorating party my running team was having. I did try a bit of the frosting mix though…in some oatmeal.

frosting-oatmeal
Frosting oatmeal…? I try 😛

For some reason, I thought that the frosting mix would “magically” turn into frosting…because that’s what it’s supposed to do right? Haha…I honestly did not notice any difference to my oatmeal after adding a tablespoon or so of the mix. So now you know.

It was the first time I tried roasted fava beans, thanks to Kala Beautiful Beans. These were crisp, salted, and peppered, and added SO much texture to my crockpot bowl already full of shredded cabbage, eggplant, and bell pepper. The whole bag didn’t fit the bowl, so I had to add more as I ate through the contents of the bowl 😛

kala
KALA Beautiful Beans – Simply Peppered Beans

I’ve seen the Good Thins brand around lately, the last time being when someone from the next door lab had the sweet potato ones for lunch. This box was “the oat one”, specifically the sweet oat and flax.

good__thins
Good Thins – Sweet Oat & Flax

Each crisp was perfectly square, and had bits of flax seeds peeking out. They definitely had a malty, sweet flavor to them, and while they made for the perfect snack on their own, I’m sure they would have tasted spectacular with some dip.

A lot of people have been getting sick in my workplace, but these Ricola lozenges weren’t something I was too keen on sharing.

ricola_1
Ricola Herbal Immunity – Honey Herb Lozenges

They were Honey Herb flavored, and the packaging went on forever, haha! And while each lozenge has no artificial colors/flavors or GMOs, as well as being packed with Swiss herbs and ginseng, they could be treated and eaten like candy.

lozenge_
Really, it’s just like candy.

I actually can’t recall the last time I had jam or jelly…it’s been all nut butter for me lately. If you don’t eat PB&J sandwiches regularly, the thought of buying jelly or jam from the grocery store doesn’t seem to stick around (pun intended!).

strawberry_jalapeno
Smucker’s Fruit & Honey – Strawberry Jalapeño Fruit Spread

I received a small jar of Smucker’s Fruit and Honey fruit spread in strawberry jalapeno (yes, jalapeno), which has been sweetned naturally with honey. I think that because of the honey, the spread wasn’t as thick as a regular jam. It did taste sweeter though, which for this flavor was off-set by the jalapeno bits. While at first this mix of flavor profiles was fun, it got annoying pretty quickly. After a while it seems like a chore, having to avoid the jalapeno pieces once they start to get tiring.

The Loacker biscuits were insanely delicious!! Overall, I preferred the coconut flavor over Noir Orange, but both flavors rocked.

loacker_noirorange
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Noir Orange

I love how the coconut flavor had a generous amount of coconut flakes over each biscuit, and that the coating was milk chocolate. The noir orange coating was a dark chocolate, and even though it was a wafer cookie, it had a bumpy puffed rice texture. The nutrition was not as “bad” as one would expect either—120 calories for 3-4 biscuits, but nothing stopped me from eating more than that in one go.

loacker_coconut
Loacker Gran Pasticceria Patisserie – Coconut

I’ve always preferred cookies to be chewy, so I never was a huge fan of Chips Ahoy! growing up. When they came out with the chewy version, I was all about those, but it’s been a while since I first had them in elementary school!

thins
Chips Ahoy! Thins – Cinnamon Sugar

Many years later, the brand is still going strong with a “thins” version of their cookie, which are flatter and crispier, almost like thick, kettle-cooked potato chips. This particular flavor was cinnamon sugar, and it was impossible to complain about there being a LACK of cinnamon sugar! There were even white chocolate chips thrown in. Overall, I liked the flavor, I just wish they were chewier of course.

Another sweet treat was a small bundle of Honey Acres honey straws. There was an assortment of flavors that included clover, lemon, orange, raspberry, and mint chocolate. The mint chocolate was my favorite since it had the thickest consistency of all the flavors.

honey_straws
Honey Straws, yum!!

I ate them on their own, but they could easily be added to tea or on top of oatmeal for some extra flavor and sweetness.

I first tried Wise popcorn when I received my first ever Degustabox back in June. This month’s box included a giant bag of their white cheddar popcorn, but I couldn’t confirm if the enzymes used to make the cheese they use to flavor the popcorn were microbial or rennet based. So unfortunately, I couldn’t sample the popcorn myself, but at least my lab-mates got some free food out of it.

wise_popcorn_white_cheddar
Wise Popcorn – White Cheddar

One odd product in this box was a microwaveable 3-minute meal with a mix of flavored grains. The flavor was noted as “beef burgundy”, but I looked at the ingredients list multiple times and did not see the words “beef” or “meat”. I was certainly surprised, but I didn’t want to take a chance on it in case the natural flavors were of animal origin.  Yet another product left for my co-workers…

urbane_
A meat-less meat product?

There were honestly many great finds in this month’s box, which made up for the few products I couldn’t fully enjoy. Well, I must say that if there are at least three different dessert items that are equally great-tasting, then my needs are met 😉 !

Are you a cookies or crisps/chips kind of person?

All Aboard the 534!

All Aboard the 534!

Not having to go into lab for TWO CONSECUTIVE WHOLE DAYS called for a celebration. I could have spent these days in a deep sleep induced by an ice cream coma, but instead chose to make a day trip pit of it.

So on Labor Day, I did sleep in till about 8, got ready around 10, and took a very short train ride to downtown Santa Monica to board a Metro bus that would take me to Malibu.

welcome_tom_alibu
Welcome to Malibu!

The 534, or the Malibu line as I like to call it, drives alongside the beach up to Pacific Palisades and then Malibu. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic, which made its strong presence the morning I left and when I got back around 5.

I got to Malibu at the perfect time: when I was hungry and ready for a proper lunch. I got off close to the Malibu County Mart/Mall, and then walked over to another strip mall where Ollo Restaurant was located.

ollo_
Ollo Restaurant, Malibu

I had to wait 15 minutes for a table, but once I was seated I was able to appreciate the decadent decor.

barrr
Seating at the bar.

Morning talk shows were playing on a TV across the room, and every table was packed with couples, families, and brunch enthusiasts (identified by their penchant for plates of pancakes, eggs, and coffee mugs).

ollo_menu
Ollo Menu

There were plenty of veggie friendly options, which made it hard to choose, but ultimately I decided to get the Tumeric Tofu Bowl.

tumeric
Tumeric Tofu Bowl

If I had to describe the bowl, I would definitely say it was like a rice bowl with salad on the surface. It was as if I ordered a rice bowl and salad bowl, and decided to combine them on my own!

tumeric_tofu_closeup
Tofu bowl close-up BECAUSE!

Everything was dressed in a green goddess dressing, which seemed to be a creamy avocado dressing if I had to guess. The tofu was soft and lightly spiced, but my favorite aspect of this dish was combining the crisp romaine lettuce along with a spoonful of rice that was already doused in dressing. Texture at its finest!

The bowl was pretty pricey ($17 after tax and tip), but I thought of it as paying for the experience vs. paying for a solitary bowl.

lagoon
Off to the beach!

The lagoon/beach was just a 10 minute walk away, so my meal went to work for me right away. I was totally unprepared for the beach, but I didn’t mind not packing a swimsuit/towel/sunscreen/etc.

lagoooooooooooon
BEEEEAAAACCCCCHHHHHH

I came, I saw, I took selfies by the lagoon, and then headed back toward civilization…because gelato was calling my name!

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

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

I’m wondering if I should rename this blog “Will Study for (Mediterranean) Food” because that pretty much seems to describe what I eat when I go out on the weekends…but I mean, what’s there to be defensive about? The cuisine speaks for itself—it’s balanced, wholesome, flavorful, and pretty much can be found anywhere you look in LA.

Fala Bar, Venice
Fala Bar, Venice

Moving to Santa Monica has made it much easier for me to check out all the places (by foot) that were inaccessible to me before, due to the long travel time of public transit or, in some cases, because public transit did not pass through those areas. The row of shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney was one of those areas. When I had a sudden craving for Medi-food on Saturday, but I didn’t want to venture too far east of West LA, I decided to stop by this hidden gem of a neighborhood for a late lunch.

I first tried Fala Bar >back in April at their Melrose location. Since I was in the Fairfax/Grove area most weekends when I lived in DTLA (DTLA to Mid-City is easy to travel back-and-forth by bus), visiting this location was not a problem. Now that it’s a little out of the way and the Venice one isn’t anymore, I was eager to dig into some familiar food in a new locale.

food
Need help deciding what to get?

I have plans to explore Abbot Kinney more in the future, as there are so many cute shops and eateries lined up side-by-side. The area reminded me of a small district in Disneyland—the sidewalks were small, and the buildings were close together as if it was a movie set for a small town.

signz
Abbot (Kinney) that Fala Life 😛

I found Fala Bar nestled between Blue Star Donuts and a cafe serving up acai bowls. Last time I visited Fala Bar, I proposed to have one of their burgers if I ever visited again, but I truly wanted a hearty plate. I ended up getting the Baba Plate, which didn’t come with falafel but instead a fluffy, round piece of soft pita bread.

plate
Unpictured Tahini and Babaganoush -> Cucumber&Tomato Salad + Cabbage + Tabouli -> Pita Bread

I carefully carried my compostable tray outside, and sat at the counter positioned just in front. It was an awkward seating arrangement because it was literally on the sidewalk, and my back was facing those that were walking by. Funny thing was, people would slow down their stride to take a look at what I was eating. Some even went inside Fala Bar after seeing my plate of colorful cabbage and creamy tahini.

platee
Plate of beauty in full view!!

Everything was eaten until only drops of lemon juice colored purple were left on the tray. I could have spent the rest of my afternoon checking out the shops, but the heat/crowds got to me, so I chose to save that as an adventure for another day. I also wanted to get home and just completely relax since I didn’t have to make plans to go to lab (for once!) for the remainder of Labor Day Weekend! I needed to make time to plan my adventure on Monday…;)

What cuisine do you tend to mostly gravitate towards when eating out?

Fala Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Local Among Tourists

A Local Among Tourists

In the week I came back from Tulsa, work continued as usual…as if I never even left! I was glad I had enough things to keep me occupied so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time longing to be back hanging with my Dad.

On my way to lab my first day back, I snacked on two new-to-me Picky Bar flavors: Smooth Caffinator and Ah, Fudge Nuts! Surprisingly, I wasn’t blown away by either one, but both had a smooth, chewy texture and a rich, nutty flavor. I just don’t think I’ll be gravitating towards these bars again and again.

smooth_caffinator
Smooth Caffinator
ah_fudge_nuts
Ah, Fudge Nuts!

The rest of the week kept me extremely busy, since I had experiments to take care of, reports to write, and people to train. One good thing is that I was able to snag an undergrad to assist me in my daily duties…perhaps I’ll be able to snag a few more free weekends as a result 😉

When Friday night rolled around, I was an exhausted noodle. Funny I say that, as I had an interesting meal for dinner that night before scarfing down a pint of Halo Top. This bowl of cauliflower rice and soybean noodles in a succulent, sweet sauce (that I wish I remember the name of now, since I threw the package away 😛 ) was out of this world! It was a package my Dad brought over when he came out to help me move, and happened to be one of those unique foodie finds at Big Lots. Hmmm…I’ll just have to keep an eye out for it if I’m ever in a Big Lots in suburbia…

The next day, I wanted to stay local since I still felt tired and not in the mood for traveling. I decided to finally check out True Food Kitchen in Downtown Santa Monica, since I’ve heard rave reviews about it, and because I’ve always walked past it whenever I was at the Promenade.

true_food_kitchen
True Food Kitchen

Big mistake to venture out on a Saturday afternoon though—even at 2pm! The place was packed with tourists (British, German, Italian accents all-around)! And when I made my way to the front of the restaurant (I made the mistake of entering through the back, again), stating I was looking for a seat for one, I was told I could sit at the bar or at the communal tables, since all of the “regular” seating areas were taken…

ladyhair
LOL that lady with her hair 😛

I was hungry (on the verge of hangry), so to the communal table I went. On my left was a pair from Russia, and on my other side, a few individuals from across the pond. Was I the only local dining at this place?!

I wasn’t too excited by the menu, so I decided to go for the menu item that looked the most filling. Under the bowls section, the Teriyaki Quinoa sounded the tastiest, but when it arrived, it looked like something I could make at home…not something worth $15.

teriyaki_quinoa
Teriyaki Quinoa Bowl, True Food Kitchen

The bowl had a quinoa and brown rice base, coated in dark teriyaki sauce. Sauteed vegetables were mixed in, and to balance out the carbs, some creamy slices of avocado were added on top along with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

avo
When creamy + carbs clash…

I mean, the bowl was good, but why were these poor tourists spending their hard-earned lunch money here? My meal with tax and tip came to just under $20…for a bowl that could be made for less than $3 with ingredients bought from Wal-Mart. Just goes to show that hype sells I guess!

Do you like seeing tourists spending $$$ in your hometown, or not so much?

True Food Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Natural Sins Review

Natural Sins Review

When I first heard the term ‘natural sin’, I didn’t think of associating it with something that was actually natural…like fruit or vegetables! But in their flattened out, crisped form, I guess they are playfully given than name to hint at the fact they are the ‘naturally sinful’ snacking option compared to regular fried potato chips.

Packs of Natural Sins Chips
Packs of Natural Sins Chips

I was given the opportunity to try some unique fruit and veggie chips sourced from Costa Rica. Natural Sins chips are available in pineapple, mango, coconut, and beet, and I received samples of all flavors except mango.

I tried the beet chips first and was amazed by how large the crisps were. They were certainly packed with flavor, and even had some juiciness to them!

Beets chips
Beets chips

The coconut chips seemed to be the most dense in packaging, and there were plenty of pieces to go around as yogurt bowl or oatmeal toppings.

Crisp, desiccated coconut chips
Crisp, desiccated coconut chips

They tasted incredibly sweet and crunchy on their own of course! It made me realize how long it had been since I last snacked on some desiccated coconut…

The pineapple chips were truly authentic-looking…almost to the point of being frighteningly real!!

Pineapple chip! Kind of looks like a dried sunflower!!
Pineapple chip! Kind of looks like a dried sunflower!!

I didn’t let the appearance scare me though, because these chips were so succulent and extra crispy. Even so, they had a light, melt-in-your-mouth type of texture as well.

Overall, I throroughly enjoyed my samples of Natural Sins chips! I will definitely keep my eyes peeled (haha, pun intended?) for the mango chips, and maybe not be too hungry/will be patient enough to use them as a topping on a yogurt bowl or other dessert item for an even more appetizing snack?

Are you a fan of fruit and veggie chips? What’s your favorite?

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