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.

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7 Days Croissant Peanut Butter and Jelly

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

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A PB&J Croissant?? Which master genius came up with this idea πŸ’‘?!

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!

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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 πŸ˜‹ helping me power through the rest of my work day πŸ’ͺ🏽

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 πŸ™‚ !

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 πŸ˜›

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€ ).

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 πŸ˜›

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 πŸ˜›

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 JalapeΓ±o 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 πŸ˜‰ !

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.

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Abbot (Kinney) that Fala Life πŸ˜›

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜› ) 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 πŸ˜›

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.

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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?

Lunch with the Roomie

Lunch with the Roomie

This past weekend, my roommate and I finally had some time to hang out together—at least for lunch!

She wanted to check out UCLA, and even though I wanted to get some grocery shopping done (I can’t miss an opportunity to shop at Westwood’s Sprouts!), she was able to meet up with an old friend.

Prior to Saturday’s plans, I made my usual crockpot dinner much more satisfying with the addition of a Trader Joe’s pretzel bagel. I’ve also been taking them to school/lab smothered in hummus and a slice of cheese. The combination is definitely a satisfying mid-day snack!

Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3
Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3

On Saturday, my roommate and I took the Metro train and a bus to head on over to Westwood. For lunch, we made our way to TLT Food: the brick-and-mortar location for The Lime Truck food truck.

TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck
TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck

I remember first passing by this restaurant one day early last year, when I spent a whole day strolling through Westwood. It was because of its bright green walls and eye-catching colors, inside and out…

It took me almost a year to actually venture inside, and at least my first visit was with company! There were a few, ready-made vegetarian menu options listed, but I wanted something classic, like nachos or fries.

Pork Belly Nachos was listed, but I was able to have the pork belly subbed with spicy tofu cubes. I love it when restaurants don’t hesitate to be accomodating. My roommate got the steak fries. We were both given buzzers (like the ones they give at Olive Garden when you have to wait 20 minutes for an open table on a Saturday night…), and in the meantime, found seats.

Seating area.
Seating area.

When our buzzers lit up, we had to go to the pick-up counter to get our food.

Pick-up counter
Pick-up counter

My nachos looked classy…slightly fancier than what you’d get at a ballpark πŸ™‚

Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!
Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!

Even though they didn’t put my tofu cubes IN the nachos, I happily ate all eight cubes individually, appreciating the spices and texture of each boxy bite.

Spicy tofu cubes!
Spicy tofu cubes!

Without the pork belly, my nachos were comprised of crisped, puffed triangular tortilla chips (that were also slightly spiced), creamy queso, and fresh pico de gallo. I ate them by hand and with the help of a fork πŸ˜›

After lunch, my roommate and I parted ways. I headed to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, and even stopped at Bristol Farms to pick up some edible cookie dough for snacking later.

I made it home before my roommate did (haha), and dove into the cookie dough when I was all settled into my pjs, robe, and a collection of recorded tv shows I needed to catch up on.

Edoughble -
Edoughble – Chocolate Chip Off the Ol’ Block

Compared to the birthday cake flavor, I wasn’t a real fan of this chocolate chip one. It reminded me of the chocolate chip one by Cookie Dough Cafe, which I didn’t like that much…oh well!

Have you tried Trader Joe’s pretzel bagels or any of the Edoughble flavors?

If you ever had a roommate, were you friends/enemies?

TLT Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dune Kitchen

Dune Kitchen

Since Sunday was the last day of summer— the last day before the semester began again—I made it a priority to go out for a late lunch, even if it meant a boring, hour-long mid-day bus ride to Atwater Village in Glendale. When classes start, work multiplies by a bajillion, so I was anxious to squeeze in as much relaxation/carefree time within 24 hours…

I don’t count my lab work as real work (since working on a project has more structure and meaning than reading countless papers for class…), even on the weekends πŸ˜‰

So after lab and the bus ride, I had to walk through a residential area to finally get onto Glendale Ave.

Interesting house architecture and colors in the distance...
Interesting house architecture and colors in the distance…

As I continued forth on the road, I passed by local boutiques, a dance studio, and finally found Dune Kitchen…the place I hoped would have something to appease the sudden Mediterranean food craving I developed in the days leading up to the weekend.

Glendale Ave.
Glendale Ave.

Dune Kitchen would have been so difficult to find if I had not seen a picture for its exterior prior to my visit. Inside, the gray, unassuming theme continued onwards. The only inside seating was bar-style, but there were tables outside right in front.

interior 2
Not much lighting even though it is bright outside!

I made my order for a hummus + falafel plate at the cash register, and as soon as I found a seat, my plate came out in all of its glory. Not a minute was wasted, and that’s just how I like it πŸ˜‰

interior
The interior of kitchen!

There were some condiments and hot sauce at the counter, but unadulterated hummus is the way to go if you ask me.

4
Condiments at the counter.

It was hard not to take countless pictures from different angles of this beauty of a plate.

plate
Hummus and falafel plate = love

There were three spinach-flavored falafels, with sauce drizzled over them…

flf
Falafel love

…spicy cabbage and onions (<—the onions were my favorite!!)

cabbageonions
Cabbage with a BUNCH of spices.

The star of the plate at the center: hummus with chickpeas in sauce:

chickpeas
Hummus with chickpeas

And a fun assortment of diced pickles πŸ™‚

insidefala
Pickles, falafel close-up, and sauce!!!

I even found a miniature flower in the middle of my greens!

flower
Flower in my food :3

The pita bread was soft, pliable, and just so perfect with the hummus, which honestly was hard to split among my three falafel and veggies in the plate! I made it all work in the end though…maybe too perfectly since by the time I demolished my plate, I realized how insane my hummus craving was. πŸ˜›

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February Foodie Finds

February Foodie Finds

This past month was quite a busy one for me—growing long runs each weekend, work starting to pick up in school/lab, taking a trip home to see family, and trying some new, random food products! Because of the random nature of the photos I collected, it only made sense to feature these products in a single post as my β€œfoodie finds” for the month. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Saturday Night Dinners

Saturday night dinners this month have been on the simple-side, only because my Saturday evenings in general have been all about resting up for Sunday morning lonnnnnng runs. Simple means popping in a microwave steam-able bag of veggies, pairing it with a new-to-me carb-o-licious side, and rounding off the meal with dessert before heading to bed at a time no later than 10pm.

I did have a pretty busy Saturday the first week of the month though, and because of the duration of the event I was volunteering at, I came home right at dinner time. Fortunately, I was able to do my grocery shopping the Friday before since class was cancelled, and “planned” what I wanted to have ready for my simple dinner.

I found this at Sprouts during that Friday afternoon grocery trip, and resolved to try something new as part of my Saturday night dinner—Garden Lites Kale and Quinoa Souffle!

SAMSUNG
A delicious souffle of hearty Kale blended with Quinoa, whipped egg whites, and select spices.

I looked forward to the prospect of trying a product from the Garden Lites brand for the very first time. The souffle was fit snug in a recyclable plastic tray, and I popped it in the microwave with the plastic seal still on (as per box instructions) for about 3 1/2 minutes. After that, I heated it for another minute, and then flipped over the tray so that the souffle sat perfectly atop some steamed veggies.

gardenlite_kalequinoa_souffle_egg

The souffle texture was quite soft, and fell apart easily. I also feel like it may have needed to be heated for a longer time since it wasn’t cold, but not exactly hot ‘n’ fresh either. The surface that was facing the microwave (but now face down on the pile of veggies!) had a crispier taste to it since it had more exposure to the heat, I suppose. To be honest, this souffle actually reminded me of some Dr. Praeger burgers I had a while ago—they even look like them close-up!

The following Saturdays kept with the same food theme, but during these weekends, I used the opportunity to try some new-to-me burritos.

I’ve had plenty of Amy’s Kitchen items in the past, but this was the first time I tried one of the ‘Light in Sodium’ products…specifically the Cheddar Cheese Burrito!

Amy's Kitchen Cheddar Cheese Burrito (Light in Sodium)

I microwaved each side for ~45 seconds, and the tortilla ended up being pretty flimsy after the microwaving (which is not surprising). I planned on unwrapping it anyway so I could mix the bean + cheese filling with bites of my steamed veggies.

The other ‘burrito of the month’ was this one that I picked up on a trip to Sprouts:

Sweet Earth - The Curry Tiger Burrito

It was my first time trying a Sweet Earth product, and was intrigued by the eco-friendly, brown sandwich paper wrap packaging. It easily warmed up after 1 minute in the microwave on each side, and the spicy filling mixed well with my side veggies. If this flavor is a true representative of their other products, I think I’ll be eating my way through some of their other flavors in the future πŸ˜‰

Fun Finds

I picked up this South Beach Diet box-o-bars only because I had a freebie coupon for it from Ralph’s for their Friday Freebies promotion (I also redeemed a free Chobani yogurt on the same shopping trip πŸ™‚ !). Out of their South Beach Diet bar selection in the particular Ralph’s I visited for my grocery shopping that week, I was intrigued by this flavor:

southbeachdiet_proteinfit_darkchocolatecoconut_barzzz

I had it as fuel before my 18 miler (the toughest long run of my marathon training plan…), and they proved to sustain me through that ordeal, even though I didn’t “properly” fuel during the run. Texture/flavor-wise, I love how I could taste the chocolate coating AND pieces of coconut mixed into the “crunchies” part of the bar. I would say that these bars were definitely one of Ralph’s best Friday Freebies πŸ˜‰

Keeping with the theme of chocolate and protein, I was able to reach my protein requirements for each day this month with a little help from this canister:

naturade_peaprotein_chocolate

My Dad found this Naturade brand of protein powder at Grocery Outlet for about $8, and was thoughtful enough to bring it down for me when he was in the city back in January. I saved it for after I annihilated my jar of PlantFusion powder, and I actually found myself to prefer this protein powder over the prior.

I found it easy to mix into yogurts and milk…which is pretty much what I used it for πŸ˜› . Each serving is about 140 calories, 3 rams of fat, and 20 grams of protein. A serving a day, plus 2 Quest bars, certainly helped with getting in my protein this month πŸ˜‰

Another (cheap) protein find from Grocery Outlet was this Nature Valley Protein Oatmeal. Since they were 2/$1, my Dad surprised me with two cups of the mixed berry crunch flavor for those days when my protein goals were just out of reach.

naturevalley_proteinoatmeal_mixedberrycrunch

It was actually quite easy to prep. Each cup comes with a pack of granola that is separated from the oatmeal within the cup. You fill the oatmeal with milk or water, microwave for about 45 seconds (or you can steep it), top with granola, and then enjoy! For some added fats, I included a dollop of almond butter when I tried it for the first time.

I love the fact that there were actual, plump dried cranberries in the oatmeal, and since I don’t like my oatmeal with too much liquid, I was able to enjoy the mix of oats and granola without having the risk of getting a β€œsoggy spoonful”. Annnnd, the almond butter…how can you go wrong with oats and almond butter πŸ˜‰ ?

My final ‘fun find’ of the month was hard to resist opening as soon as I bought it! I like to have one open jar of a nut butter/spread at a time, so when I bought this Trader Joe’s brand Cookies & Creme cookie butter, I made sure to have at least a spoonful of peanut butter every day from the jar that I was currently making my way through at the time, just so I could open this gem:

TJC&C-traderjoes_cookies&creamecookiebutter

When the time had come, I rejoiced! Haha…by rejoice, I mean slathering it on Quest bars, using it as a spread and making sweet paleo bread sandwiches, adding it to yogurts, brownies…and of course, eating straight out of the jar.

ways_to__Eat

Trader Joe, you did good here πŸ˜‰

Cause I’m a Yogurt Collector…

…I definitely did not miss the opportunity to try some new yogurts this month!

A while back, I bought some Voskos yogurts since there was a promotion going on at Ralph’s. When I opened one of the cups I had bought however, I noticed a mold spore…and the cup still had two more weeks till it’s ‘best by’ date!

After sending an email to the Voskos folks, they kindly apologized, and sent me some VIP coupons to make up for it. So as a result, I ended up being able to try some new-to-me flavors for free! And the one flavor I absolutely fell in love with was this one:

voskos_coconutcream

This Fruit on the Bottom Coconut Cream yogurt rocked my world! I used it to fuel up before my 16 miler, but I had tried it once beforehand with one of the coupons I received. It literally has dessicated coconut medium on the bottom (the jelly-looking substance, haha) and the 6 oz. cup is packed with 15 grams of protein! I guess I owe a thank you to that mold spore πŸ˜› ?

When I went back to visit my family during President’s Day Weekend, I didn’t leave without stopping by Grocery Outlet. I was able to pick up three new Chobani products—Chobani Oats Apricot Ancient Grains, and two new limited batch flavors (Grape and Green Tea)!

chobani__grape

Out of the three, I would say the Grape flavor matched up most with its name. It had a somewhat sour/tangy taste, but at least it reflected it’s title. I can’t say that about the Green Tea flavor. To me, to tasted mostly like pain vanilla yogurt. After looking at the ingredients, I can see why since the only green tea in this cup was captured through its “essence”, haha.

chobanigreenteablended_with_proteinp

Because there was no noteworthy flavor to try and taste, I decided to mix the Green Tea flavor with some of my Naturade Chocolate Pea Protein powder.

The Apricot Chobani Oats didn’t blow me away either. Apparently the ingredients list chia seeds as being in a cup, but I couldn’t detect them when mix with the grains. At least I could see some apricot chunks?

chobanioats__apricooot

What were some of your February Foodie Finds?

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