Finally!

Finally!

I had no trouble getting back into my routine after returning from Las Vegas, but one piece of news threw me for a loop.

Freebies from the IDEA/BlogFest Expo! An RX Bar in Chocolate Chip flavor! Too much nuts IMO, but not too shabby of a flavor.
Freebies from the IDEA/BlogFest Expo! An RX Bar in Chocolate Chip flavor! Too much nuts IMO, but not too shabby of a flavor.

One of my undergraduate assistants informed me that the week would be his last, even though he originally had plans to stay and help me out for a longer period of time.

A new-to-me Trader Joe's find I picked up that week---
A new-to-me Trader Joe’s find I picked up that week—Greek Whole Milk Yogurt (Avocado Citrus) mixed with peanut powder. It fueled me through a 12hr day x-x

Even though his change of plans was a disappointment, he still came in over the weekend, and so at least I had one solid weekend free from the constraints of lab. I definitely took advantage of this.

Another cool freebie! La Colombe Coconut and Vanilla coffee...the coconut flavor was pleasantly surprising in taste, like a splash of coconut water was added to some iced cream coffee!!
Another cool freebie! La Colombe Coconut and Vanilla coffee…the coconut flavor was pleasantly surprising in taste, like a splash of coconut water was added to some iced cream coffee!!
 
I was able to take the car out to Encino, and from Santa Monica it was an (almost) easy drive up the 405. I was also able to avoid paying for street parking by finding a neighborhood to park at and from there walk over. 
 
Veggie Grill, Encino
Veggie Grill, Encino
 
Veggie Grill was my destination since they sent me a $5 off birthday coupon that I couldn’t resist… 
 
Mondo Nachos, Veggie Grill (Encino)
Mondo Nachos, Veggie Grill (Encino)
 
…and the dish I couldn’t avoid ordering, despite having it before AND the fact that their summer menu had a mouth-watering array of options. A plate of Mondo Nachos sounded just perfect at the time. 
 
Compared to the plate I had at the WeHo location more than a year ago, I felt like it lacked a lot of guac and soy crumbles (they replaced it with grilled chik’n this time around). This was more of an observation than a complaint, however. I also brought my laptop and did some work at the restaurant for a few hours after eating. I guess it’s more “normal” to set up shop like that at a Starbucks or a cafe,but Veggie Grill had a jammin’ playlist so I wasn’t too pressured to get up and leave! 
 
I headed out a little after 1 and my next stop was in Grocery Outlet in Burbank. I inevitably had to face traffic, and it took me almost thirty minutes to get from Encino to Burbank. 
 
Burbank Grocery Outlet
Burbank Grocery Outlet
 
When I did arrive however, I was ecstatic to finally be stepping into one of GO’s newer So Cal locations. Ah, it had been too long! 
 
I made out with a week’s worth of food with plenty of change to spare, so it only made sense to drive by Glendale and finally get me some Yoga-Urt! They had been on my radar for quite some time now, and I’ve actually been following them on Instagram since their opening two years ago in 2015! Getting there by public transit always posed a challenge, but with a car handy it’s really not that impossible to get to. 
 
__yoga-urt__
 
The shop is very small, with a few patio chairs and tables in the front. There’s also a huge blackboard wall near the entrance, the contents of which are frequently changing. 
 
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They offered a lot on their menu, but their flavors of soft serve were limited for the day.

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A turmeric/gold rose flavor sounded unique, and was listed as one of their offered flavors, but unfortunately not on the day I visited.

♥

A small cup of froyo with one topping proved to be pricey (~$6!), but since it was vegan-friendly and a hand-crafted kind of place, I thought it was a worthy treat to splurge on. I ended up going for the Peanut Butter Prana topped with dried mulberries.

PBP & Dried Mulberries
PBP & Dried Mulberries

I enjoyed my cup outside, and marveled at how thick the soft serve was. It was like those So Delicious ice creams I rave about, except smoother and creamier. The mulberries added some varied crunch, but to be honest they weren’t a vital component.

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After spending the day driving and eating through North LA, I made the drive back home, and spent the remainder of the evening napping and catching up on some work. I was squeezing every minute out of this “free” weekend, because who know when my next one will be!

A new Nuts 'n More flavor for me to try. I picked it up from the Vitamin Shoppe near the Veggie Grill in Encino. Definitely found it more blanaced in the oil-to-butter ratio. The vanilla flavor was mixed throughout, and it didn't have those crystalized sugar pieces at the bottom like I observed with Cookie Butter.
A new Nuts ‘n More flavor for me to try. I picked it up from the Vitamin Shoppe near the Veggie Grill in Encino. Definitely found it more balanced in the oil-to-butter ratio. The white chocolate flavor was mixed throughout, and it didn’t have those crystallized sugar pieces at the bottom like I observed with Cookie Butter.
 
 Is there something you finally got done recently?

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Time Needs to Like, Freeze for a Second

Time Needs to Like, Freeze for a Second

The past two and a half weeks or so have been a whirlwind! Each day has been non-stop busy for me, and while I’ve always preferred being busy over being bored, it can get pretty overwhelming when your list of things to-do never seems to end…

BUT, the food side of things have been pleasant (especially the pints!), and over the past two weekends, I got my fair share of vegan eats.

squireel
There was one day last week however when I was snacking after a long day, and a squirrel came very close to me, very hungry as well 😉

Might be easier to go into detail if I break it down…

New Snack Attack:

I first tried Buff Bake spreads a couple months ago (their cookie flavor), and thought I’d give the white chocolate flavor a go. I spread it generously on a birthday cake cookie (♥♥♥♥) and it served as the perfect pre-run fuel. It definitely had a milder, sweeter taste than the cookie flavor I tried before, which had a thicker, drier protein aftertaste. This flavor still had a dryness to it if the oils weren’t mixed fully, but I would say it is the protein spread version of PB&Co’s WCW.

buffbake_whitechocolate
Buff Bake – White Chocolate on top of Birthday Cake Cookie

I’ve seen so many rave reviews for the Oh Yeah! One Almond Bliss bar, and when I saw it fully-stocked at my campus bookstore, I had to try it during one of my breaks from lab 😛 . Upon the first bite, I could have mistaken it for an Almond Joy. I do find it funny how it has exactly three almonds at the surface though 😛

I loved it so much that I paired it with a macadamia cookie for a Thursday night snack plate. I melted both for about 20 seconds, and the bar came out warm and melty, while the cookie stayed put in its consistency. It was still a knock-out snack plate though 😉

almond bliss
Oh Yeah! One Almond Bliss Bar
night snack plate
Winning on a Thursday 😉

Pint Party till Infinity:

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trip to Sprouts, but I have had stellar ones. Trips that included deep discounts on soy yogurts, salad boxes, crockpot staples, and even Arctic Zero! Speaking of which, I was enlightened by my Dad that they are having a BOGO deal on them this week…

…and speaking of Enlightened…

I just had to grab and try both the Mint Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Caramel when I saw them on the freezer shelf during my last grocery trip. I did enjoy the earthy mint flavor of this pint:

enlightenedmint
Enlightened Mint Chocolate Chip

But Sea Salt Caramel absolutely took my breath away. Some would argue that the caramel swirls might be too sweet, but it was all too perfect for me…ahh, if they weren’t almost $6 a pint, I would have stocked up for sure.

seasalt
Enlightened Sea Salt Caramel

For now, they are just weekend treats…maybe Sprouts should have a sale on these in the near future!

That same weekend, I cam across another Mint Chip, but this time it was Halo Top’s version.

halotopint
Halo Top Mint Chocolate Chip

It wasn’t as bright blue/green as Enlightened’s, nor was it as minty, but Halo Top’s texture has always seemed to be just as creamy as the real ice cream guys’, and this flavor was no exception.

Now I just need to hunt down the Birthday Cake flavor…where are you?!

If you aren’t getting tired of my ice cream samplings just yet, my final share from these past two weeks was THIS amazing thing:

soymilk_cookiedough (1)
So Delicious Soymilk Cookie Dough Pint

When I stopped by the grocery store last Friday to pick up my pint for the night and to kick off the weekend, my favorite Snickerdoodle was not in stock. What was the next best thing with dough chunks mixed in? Obviously this guy.

As I make my way through So Delicious’ other dairy free pints, this Soymilk Cookie Dough flavor is occupying the #2 spot for now, and rightfully so!

Vegan ‘Ventures:

My weekend adventures were nothing out of the ordinary, but I was proud of myself for being able to allocate enough time for myself, even while still having to follow through with my other responsibilities.

one_veg_world
One Veg World Inside Restaurant

On the same weekend I went to Sprouts, I stopped for lunch at One Veg World in Pasadena for a nutritious & delicious JACKFRUIT carnitas burrito.

burrito
Jackfruit “Carnitas” Burrito

It was apparently one of their newest menu additions, and while the size was small, the filling was juicy and flavorful. Brown rice + jackfruit + that mysteriously tasty vegan-friendly cream sauce was just a combination that can’t be beat! Oh, and the avocado made it even more refreshing 😉

filll
Brown rice mixed in!

Last weekend, I felt like I was in a tighter time crunch so I didn’t get too adventurous…I went to a tried-and-true favorite, just at a new-to-me location.

veggie grill YASSSS (1)
VEGGIE GRILL 🙂

Nestled in a shopping complex in WeHo, I found another Veggie Grill I have yet to visit.

veggie grill YASSSS (3)
Typical Veggie Grill interior 🙂

I used this visit as an opportunity to get the Mondo Nachos…something I’ve always had my eyes on, but was slightly fearful about getting because of the calorie content.. Something that I struggled with when I had an active eating disorder/was in limbo about recovery because I always wanted to “make it fit” but it never did when my “calorie rules” were strict.

veggie grill YASSSS (8)
This one garnered alotta likes on the ‘gram.

But I made up for that suffering this time around, and I actually, to my pleasant surprise, did not have second doubts when I placed my order. The nachos were soon at my table, and after taking the first bite and hearing that crunch, I couldn’t believe I held back from ordering this for so long…

veggie grill YASSSS (6)
Okay, just look at the guac…

The cheese, the soy bits, the guac,the crema…it was all so, so perfect. Maybe it was meant to be that I waited this long to have them? To stand as another moment of progress and accomplishment in my recovery journey?

Haha, I’m getting emotional over nachos —> typical food blogger right here 😛

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you don’t blog for a while and feel like you have to “catch up”?

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Surviving the Last Week of the First Semester

Surviving the Last Week of the First Semester

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving was only a mere two weeks ago—newsflash for those of you who are also climbing out of that finals/end-of-the-first-semester study cave that I have been occupying the past week and a half or so: it’s mid-December. Wowza…

This past week has been crazy stressful, and despite the stress, I was able to pound out some quality runs. My sleep did suffer though, since I woke up often as early as 3AM, which was the case the day of my exams. At least when I got home that night, I was able to crash into my bed and sleep soundly (for the most part—the storm did wake me up a few times!).

Despite the fluctuations in my sleeping patterns and the non-stop studying I’ve been doing, I did my best to fuel myself with some new-to-me products (to have at least something to look forward to on those dreaded I-can-only-study days!!).

So I was able to find and feast on some new…

Bars

simplesquaresgingerandcoconut

I found these Simple Squares bars at Whole Foods last weekend after running my Christmas 5k in Santa Monica. I had a coupon for $0.50 off two bars, and so I took that as an opportunity to try the Ginger and Coconut flavors. These bars are paleo-friendly, and are noted as “unfired fare”, meaning that they have not been baked or cooked to achieve the final product. I couldn’t really discern much between the Ginger and Coconut in regards to texture, but I did notice that in the Coconut flavor, the coconut shreds made the main contribution to its flavor. These bars were the perfect morning post-run treat, and were paired with an Americano (with almond milk creamer). The sad thing was having to leave for the library after consuming this 🙁

Bread

juliansbakerypaleobread

A while back, I found and fell in love with Julian’s Bakery Coconut Paleo Bread, and this Plain flavor was no exception. It wasn’t as sweet or quite as moist as the coconut flavor, but paired with some peanut butter, it didn’t make much of a difference. This loaf was literally gone in four days. 

Candy

I am currently mid-way through a jar of Justin’s peanut butter (that I got at a deep discount on because paying $9+ for peanut butter is insane…unless it’s really really worth it 😉 ), so when I got an e-mail for a BOGO coupon for their PB cups, I knew I had to use it ASAP! 

I was able to try the dark and white chocolate flavors, which I picked up during my Saturday WF shopping trip as well. 

justinsdarkchocolatepeanutbutter justinswhitechocolatepeanutbuttercups

From the two flavors, I thoroughly enjoyed the dark chocolate one the best. I felt like the white chocolate layer was too thin in comparison, and for some reason, not as satisfying. The dark chocolate layer, however, had a crisp enough shell to keep it separated from the PB filling, and while not as thick as a Reese’s cup, it was a good enough alternative! 

Dairy

Over the summer, I gushed about finding Chobani Oats at highly discounted prices, and promised myself that even though I had one more flavor left to try in the Oats line, I would wait until I would find it at a discount as well. That time came when I was home for Thanksgiving, and the local Fresh & Easy was going on a price-slashing spree on all of their Greek yogurts—including the Chobani Oats blueberry flavor!  

chobani_blueberry_oats

Only $0.81? Yes please, and thankyouverymuch 🙂  

I lugged this cup (along with 13 other discounted cups) back with me to LA in a little cooler in my rollerboard, and had this cup mixed with peanut butter. I would still say cranberry is my favorite from all four flavors, but now I can say I finally tried all four flavors…even if it took me almost five months 😛

Do final exams interrupt you from following your usual routine? 

Pampering

Pampering

All of my aunts are caring, thoughtful, and always made sure I was comfortable during my visit, but one of my aunts in particular went above and beyond. She made sure to cook food that I especially liked (even though I told her numerous times I wouldn’t mind eating anything she wanted to prepare), and absolutely made sure that I was okay at all times…almost to the point of irritation, haha.

One of her instances of “pampering” was when she made this special bunch plate for me on one of the days I stayed with her:

Idlis with boiled veggies, tomato chutney, daal, roasted veggies, and curds.

Even though she made it seem like it was no effort at all, I knew that every single morsel on my plate was homemade. It reminded me that she, like many other Indian women who run households, spend hours preparing various dishes every single day for their husbands and children. It probably becomes second nature after awhile, but knowing that women like my aunt spend so much energy in crafting two meaningful meals a day (usually ends up being a brunch and a late dinner) made me feel so much more appreciative and grateful of the food I was served. Of course, when it comes to snacks and coffee, outside help courtesy of the local sweets and snacks shop or grocery store is certainly not frowned upon 😉

After I had brunch, my aunt and I went out to some stores, including Sundari Silks where she bought me a cute blouse (even though I kept saying she didn’t have to several times), and some simple jewelry for my sister. We also browsed the sari selection since she saw something that caught her eye as a possible gift for her daughter.

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Sneaking in a shot at Sundari Silks.

My aunt, without a doubt, pampered me heavily with her hospitality and thoughtfulness. Even with all of this “pampering” by family, I had the chance to do some self-pampering. Call it an excuse to post images of some of my favorite Indian food products, but they were indeed indulgences since it had been years since I ate any of these foods!

Milkybar was a childhood favorite of mine:

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^ A creamy, white milk chocolate bar that melts immediately on the tounge…that is, if it doesn’t melt from the heat first!

I also remember fondly chewing choos—they come in chocolate, original, and strawberry, and are coated with a Milkybar white chocolate shell. I now regret not buying more…

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Cadbury’s brand chocolates are also treats for me whenever I come back, as they have always been the #1 milk chocolate brand in my book. While they are available in the States in certain forms, I like indulging in the kinds I can only get in India.

Like the chewy, nougaty chocolate goodness that is 5star

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…or the crispy, layered chocolate wafers known as Perk

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…and the Crackle bar that Nestle’s Crunch can only dream about being.

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I also was craving ice cream, and wanted to get my hands on something from the Kwality Wall’s brand before leaving. Enter the Cassatta

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The Kwality Wall’s version is a humble slice with a rainbow of ice cream layers, dried fruit in the center, and a sprinkling of nuts on the outside. I had this outside of a coffee shop with a mini gelato spoon, and enjoyed every. single. bite. Missing it so much now!

Does your family go above and beyond when it comes to hospitality?

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