A Weekend in LV, Part 1

A Weekend in LV, Part 1

My weekend trip to Vegas was planned on a whim, mostly due to the fact my bestie from Nor Cal moved there recently. BlogFest was also occurring the weekend I planned to visit, and there wasn’t any time-sensitive experiment holding me back in lab, so everything seemed to work out in my favor.

I worked some long days earlier in the week (including a 12hr stint the day before I left), but once Thursday arrived I was ready to for the desert country.

My MegaBus wasn’t leaving LA until 12:45, so I took it easy in the morning. I decided to take the weekend off from running since I knew the 90-110 temperatures in the Vegas heat would be unbearable to run in. After getting some coffee, I packed up the remainder of my stuff at home and then made my way to Union Station.

It was pretty hot in LA as well, so I was antsy until the bus came and we could finally sit down in an A/C regulated area. The bus ride was pretty uneventful, but I was able to fall in and out of sleep pretty easily. My body had been wanting to catch up I suppose!

Protein House, Las Vegas
Protein House, Las Vegas

I arrived in LA around 6, and my friend had just gotten off work so she was able to swing by and pick me up. I was expecting myself to experience a weather shock but the 105 degree temperature difference felt insane. She also looked pretty exhausted, so finding some place to eat for dinner was an immediate priority.

Menu
Menu

I had been wanting to check out The Protein House ever since it was featured on the Food Network in one of those undercover, we-fix-your-restaurant shows.

Pick-Up Counter and Protein Cookies
Pick-Up Counter and Protein Cookies

Many years later, I was standing in one of their locations with my friend, deciding which plant-based protein entree to get and a smoothie to complement it.

Counter and Shaker Bottle Rack
Counter and Shaker Bottle Rack

I ended up getting their Plant Power Bowl and the Chocolate PB Crush crush shake while my friend got a Spicy Thai Chicken Wrap and a Peanut Butter Dream smoothie. With her purchase, she was able to score a free shaker cup—something she said she probably will not use, haha.

My smoothie, her wrap
My smoothie, her wrap

Our food came out relatively quickly, and while our smoothies were flavorful and thick, both of our entrees were pretty dry. A little mix of some sauce and everything would have been dandy…

Plant Power Bowl ~ Organic Tofu, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Quinoa, Chopped Garlic, Sweet Potato, Squash, Red onion, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Black beans, Chickpeas, Siriacha, Pinch Pepper & SeaSalt, Red Pepper Flakes
Plant Power Bowl ~
Organic Tofu, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Quinoa, Chopped Garlic, Sweet Potato, Squash, Red onion, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Black beans, Chickpeas, Siriacha, Pinch Pepper & SeaSalt, Red Pepper Flakes

My friend was still pretty tired after we ate, so we just walked around the Town Square shopping mall a few miles off the strip since she works there. We spent an hour or so walking through Sephora and some of the other boutiques. Around 9pm, she dropped me off at my AirBnB which…was quite an experience.

The listing forgot to mention a few things…like the apartments were in a semi-sketch area (doubt that anyone would say that but…), the private room I was renting was opposite another private room housing two male guests and that there was a shared bathroom for both rooms, and that some rando would be sleeping on a pull-out couch in the living room my entire stay without a shirt on. Welcome to Las Vegas 👌🏽

But my room was clean and everything else seemed okay. It was a weird situation, but I could tolerate it for the weekend.

The next day was the second day of BlogFest and since my friend had to work all day, I spent most of the day at the convention center. I woke up at the crack of dawn, and was ready by 7:30. I decided to walk over, and despite the weirdness of the surrounding area, it was a safe walk over. Even though it was early in the morning, it was already hitting the 90s, and I couldn’t avoid sweating despite my attempts at walking slowly and under shade patches.

I was able to make it to the day’s earliest event which was the networking breakfast with a yogurt bar sponsored by Bell Institute.

Wecolme to Blogfest 2017!
Wecolme to Blogfest 2017!

I made sure to get a bowl of Good Culture cottage cheese topped with berries and a large mug of hot coffee with creamer.

Yogurt bar!
Yogurt bar!

I stayed for the keynote speech and the morning sessions, and around noon stopped by the expo to, ya know…pick up as many freebies as I can!

So many booths, gotta catch 'em all!
So many booths, gotta catch ’em all!

I grabbed enough protein bars, protein powders, kale chips, and other random items to fill one large reusable bag and my backpack. I was (mentally) tired to stay any longer, so I made the decision to walk back to my room in the 105 degree heat around 3:30pm. I wanted to rip off my skin and dunk my organs in an ice bath by the time I got back, but I survived. Opening the door and finding a half naked guy sleeping on a pull-out bed in the living room was awkward, but I retreated to my room and counted the hours until I could hang out with my bestie the next day…

Have you ever had an awkward hotel/lodging experience?

Protein House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Week One With the Sis

Week One With the Sis

I’ve finally caught up on my travel posts, but coming back meant starting a crazy work schedule in lab. Summer is no time to slack off, haha. 
 
A lot of my time-intensive experiments were beginning at the end of the month, so the the two weeks after my trip were spent planning for the arduous weeks ahead. At least I had my sister with my for moral support. 
 
With no landlords in the house for the first week we were back, we had free reign over the kitchen. Scrambled eggs, with a side of bread and cooked veggies from a pan was our staple dish, and of course we accompanied it with snacks. 
 
Throughout the week, I sampled many of the snacks I brought back from our trip, including these Grenade protein flapjacks.
 
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♥
 
The original Grenade bars contain gelatin so unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sample those, but these protein flapjacks were a decent option for vegetarians. One of the reasons I love the U.K.? The “suitable for vegetarians” logo…
 
grenade-coconutchaos
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I had the Coconut Chaos and Fused Fruit flavors, and while the coconut one was my favorite of the two, I thought the chewy but dense consistency of the bar made it seem more like a slab of dry cake rather than a flapjack (if we are using the word to refer to pancakes here, haha)! 
 
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♥
 
The Cadbury’s Oreo Mint bar was an immediate favorite of mine, as it had a soft mint cream filling with a slight crunchy texture from the Oreo cookie pieces. 
 
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♥
 
I also picked up a number of Nakd products, including a bar flavor that was new and some flavor-infused raisins…
 
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♥

I didn’t think the Apricot Crunch flavor had enough “crunch”, as its texture and flavor consistency was similar to other Nakd bars, but it had a mild fruity flavor that seemed to distinguish it from the other bar flavors. Although, I must admit it’s been a while since I had a Nakd bar, so I can’t be too sure, haha! The cherry-infused raisins however were unlike anything I’ve ever had before.

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♥

I’ve never been too keen on raisins, but these seemed to taste as if cherry juice was individually pumped into each raisin to give it a kick of flavor. I wouldn’t mind eating these to fulfill my daily fruit serving!

And then there were the chocolate spreads…

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♥

This Cadbury’s chocolate spread was thinner than Nutella, but it literally tasted like a melted Cadbury’s milk chocolate bar so all was good.

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♥

It made a packet of plain oatmeal much tastier, 😛

 This Malteasers Teasers spread won me over too.
 
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♥
 
It had small crunchy malt pieces, and my sister and I added it to some yogurt with a broken Wispa bar (a bar I wasn’t too fond of chocolate-flavoring-wise, but it did have an airy, bubble filling.
 
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♥

After a few days cooking and snacking from home, my sister and I had dinner out on a Friday evening since that’s when my landlords came back from their trip. It also happened to be a long, exhausting day for me at lab, so having my sister come pick me up from the train station and drive down to downtown SaMo was such a relief.

We had dinner at Wahoo’s Fish Taco, which surprisingly had plenty of veggie options. You could substitute tofu for pretty much any meat item, and so that made it easy when figuring out what burritos and tacos to get.

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♥
 
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♥

It felt so great to be out on a Friday night with company, chatting about our days and looking forward to the weekend. I was going to drag her into lab with me (just for the mornings 😉 ), but after that we had plans to go to Irvine to check on a potential apartment for her.

We split a burrito packed with tofu, rice, and black beans, and had tacos made to our liking. Mine was topped with a delicately-cut avocado.

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♥

With the taco and half a burrito, my sister and I managed well. The meal was satisfying and just enough for both of us.

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♥

Instead of walking over to the beach (it’s literally a few blocks away), we drove back home and transitioned into couch potato mode. We fell asleep immediately, but got up the next day feeling refreshed. The week had been a great start and welcome for June!

Wahoo's Fish Taco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

First Stop, Iceland!

First Stop, Iceland!

Our European adventure began on a Sunday morning, with a stop for bagels before heading to the airport. My Dad had a rental since we used it to move my sister’s stuff, so before heading over to our terminal, we dropped it off and took the shuttle from there.

Checking in and security was surprisingly not too bad! TSA Pre does have it’s advantages…since our first leg was a domestic flight to JFK Airport in NYC.

Our flight was about six hours long, but on Jet Blue, so we were set, haha. Once we landed, we realized we had to walk over to another terminal and go through security again (this time, a much more tedious process), before being able to find something to eat.

Options for food at JFK’s international terminal are all things mediocre and mundane. We ended up getting personal pizzas and a salad to “get our greens in”. It took about an hour between dinner and finally boarding on Icelandic Air.

When we did board, we were handed cute water bottles with the top part of the bottle shaped like a glacier. And the music playing was very Enya-like.

Glacier bottle?
Glacier bottle?

There were no free inflight meals or snacks, but we came prepared with our own. I mostly slept for the majority of the flight, so hunger wasn’t a huge issue. We reached Reykjavik (actually Keflavik) by morning.

Upon landing, we had to exit out of the side of the plane (in the cold…) and board a bus to take us to the airport. After going through immigration and collecting our luggage, we were able to grab a rental and head out on Icelandic roads.

Everything looked so dreary and foggy, but overall it actually felt quite peaceful. It was an hour drive from the KEF airport to Reykjavik proper, but we knew we were in “civilization” upon seeing large warehouses and more traffic.

The address to our Airbnb was so short, I was surprised Google Maps didn’t come back with an error message. We weren’t too trepiditious about the apartment we would be staying in once we got settled in.

Airbnb digs.
Airbnb digs.

Yeah the bathroom was tiny, but the rooms were simple, clean, and our host left us a good number of blankets on the sofa so we wouldn’t get cold. Plus, I think tiny bathrooms are part of the whole European living experience, haha.

After freshening up, we got in our rental and drove to the city center. It was freezing cold, and I wanted to make sure we knew exactly where our coffee/breakfast destination was before getting out of the car! Good thing we parked in front of Reykjavik Roasters.

Reykjavik Roasters
Reykjavik Roasters

It was like walking into someone’s kitchen/garage. Half of the space had a bakery counter and tables, while the other half was “storage” for large bags of coffee beans.

coffee
Eclectic decor, eclectic people
roasters
Bread and baked goods 🙂

We first realized Iceland was pricey when we saw that the coffee would be 800 Kroner…$8 USD for a single cup of coffee. It was sticker shock for sure, but we knew we’d only be here for two days so we put up with it. Along with coffee, we split some fresh nut bread with cheese and jam, a cinnamon scone, and a coffee “jogart” parfait topped with honey and almonds.

Icelandic breakfast
Icelandic breakfast

Everything tasted so fresh and warm, and even though I was the one that had the coffee jogart, I gobbled up my piece and leftover crumbs left from the scone.

After our authentic coffee break, we walked a couple blocks towards the water. There was a huge walking path that was carved alongside the water, hugged by rocks. Walkers, runners, and photographers could all be seen walking along the trail.

icelandddddddddddd
A glimpse of Icelandic coast

We stopped to take pictures along the way, including one of what we thing is an abstract sculpture of a viking’s ship.

Before heading back to the apartment for a few hours of rest, we stopped at a shopping mall called Kringlan to see if we could grab some snacks that weren’t, uh, so pricey in comparison to the morning’s meal…

kringlan
Kringlan

We stepped inside a store similar to the dollar store, and came out with nothing since everything for sale was extremely overpriced for what it’s actually worth. It left me wondering, are Icelandic people just richer than the rest of us? Or is it really that much of a struggle to live here?

1500kroner
An expensive fish pilow

We felt more justified buying food, and when we entered Bonus, an Icelandic-based grocery store, we were able to make it out alive with our wallets not undergoing a huge drop in weight, haha!

bonus!
Oh hello Nutella!

After our purchases, we were able to rest up, and then head out again for dinner—at Kaffi Vinyl! More on that in the next one 🙂

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?

Good Things Come in Twos

Good Things Come in Twos

Over the past few weeks, I came across some new-to-me food products, but I was stuck trying to figure out a way to get them featured in a blog post.

Then I realized that all of them came “in twos”, and at least for each product I tried, I was able to compare and contrast two different flavors. I didn’t have a strong dislike for one flavor over another for each of the products, so then it hit me—“good things come in twos”!

A developing veggie chip brand, protein bar company, and well-known greek yogurt company with novel “flip” creations are all featured here for your reading enjoyment!

♦

Crunchables are dehydrated veggie snacks that are flavored with an intriguing spice mix, and right now, the company is going through its first steps as a start-up! I was excited when Michelle and Cindy (founders of Crunchables) asked if I could sample two of their products:

The BBQ chips had a mild cheese-like flavor, and the dehydrated veggies used here were broccoli crown pieces. They actually were coated with a dark red powder, and had a sweet taste with a spicy kick of an aftertaste.

BBQ
BBQ

The Nacho cheese chips were thick, flat pieces of dried eggplant. Even though the flavor was titled as “nacho cheese”, these chips actually reminded me of buttered toast!

Nacho Cheese
Nacho Cheese

Beyond the fact that the snacks are just seasoned dehydrated veggies, gluten-free, raw, and vegan, the veggies that are used for the snacks can be traced back to “ugly veggie” origins. The company is focused on a food waste reduction angle, and by working with local farmers to use veggies that would otherwise go to waste, they’re able to lower costs and reduce food waste. I think that’s a pretty cool!

When I heard there was a protein bar that was branded as Too Busy To Eat, and when I confirmed its existence because the name sounded hilarious, I was fascinated and knew that I had to see what these bars were all about.

toobusy
These bars were bigger than I had expected, given their nutrition facts!

I was sent the Double Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough flavors to review. I immediately fell in love with the DCC flavor, as I found it dense, but very chewy. It had a slight crunch, and if I had to compare it to another common protein bar, I’d say it’s like the Double Chocolate Chunk Quest bar except TBTE’s flavor is much more palatable in my opinion 😉

Even if I wasn't "too busy to eat", I'd eat this Too Busy To Eat Double Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a fudgy texture with chocolate crispies mixed in, and it is outstanding at maintaining a mild chocolate flavor despite it literally being all chocolate! I couldn't detect any of that "protein flavor" that is usually common in these kinds of bars (I often found it an issue with the Chocolate Chunk Quest bars...), and I highly recommend this bar by itself, or cut up and added as a dense topping to yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
Even if I wasn’t “too busy to eat”, I’d eat this Too Busy To Eat Double Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a fudgy texture with chocolate crispies mixed in, and it is outstanding at maintaining a mild chocolate flavor despite it literally being all chocolate! I couldn’t detect any of that “protein flavor” that is usually common in these kinds of bars (I often found it an issue with the Chocolate Chunk Quest bars…), and I highly recommend this bar by itself, or cut up and added as a dense topping to yogurt, oatmeal, etc.

The cookie dough flavor wasn’t too bad, but it didn’t remind me of anything related to cookie dough. It had a milky flavor, light crisp texture, and overall had more of a vanilla flavor rather than cookie dough.

This Cookie Dough flavored Too Busy To Eat Bar did not remind of cookie dough to be honest. It tasted more like a vanilla fudge bar with crispier mixed in. I mean, it tasted alright as a protein bar, but I wouldn't compare it to cookie dough, even in its raw form.
This Cookie Dough flavored Too Busy To Eat Bar did not remind of cookie dough to be honest. It tasted more like a vanilla fudge bar with crispier mixed in. I mean, it tasted alright as a protein bar, but I wouldn’t compare it to cookie dough, even in its raw form.

They also have a Vanilla Coconut “superfood” bar flavor, and the bars have about 20 grams or protein, 20 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar. They are grass-fed whey protein-based (so while not vegan, they are vegetarian), gluten-free, contain organic cashew butter, and do not have any artificial preservatives or colors. Like I said, even if I wasn’t “too busy to eat”, I’d be pretty happy munching on these TBTE bars 😛

Kroger had a Friday Freebie deal a few weeks ago for any free Chobani Flip. I had been wanting to try the new Cinnabun Fun flavor ever since I learned about four of the newest flavors being released. Other than the random toss-in of pecans, this flavor met my expectations. I always wish that there is a greater topping-to-yogurt ratio for these yogurts though 😝

Cinnabun Fun Chobani Flip
Cinnabun Fun Chobani Flip

I’d be the last person to confess my love for carrot cake, but I was flipping over this Carrot Cake Creation Chobani Flip!

carrot
Carrot Cake Creation

The yogurt was actually “sweet carrot”-flavored, and had a good amount of cake pieces glazed with cinnamon, walnuts, and white chocolate. Of course, I wouldn’t argue if Chobani decided to add more toppings to balance out the yogurt 😛

Which of these food items would you most like to try?

Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough

Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough

This month has been stressful and extremely busy for me to say the least, and finding outlets of comfort has been quite a challenge! I do feel like I have been able to give myself self-care when absolutely necessary, such as when a 20 min power nap turned into a deep sleep session of 2 hours on Thursday, but working through two rigorous powerpoint presentations non-stop for a month can wipe ANYONE out…

Needless to say, my weekends have been uneventful for the most part, since I’ve been having to devote all the “free” time I have to staying close to lab or home. I’m hoping I can fill my weekends up with more restaurant outings and LA exploratory activities, but right now I am powering through the home stretch!

At least I’ve found a some source of comfort from some new foods as of late.

Hello nut butters!
Hello nut butters!

Reginald’s Homemade was kind enough to send me four flavors of their unique nut butters. Of the four jars, I tried the cashew butter first, atop some Siggi’s yogurt.

cashew butter opened
Siggi’s topped with cinnamon molasses cashew butter!

The cashew butter was flavored with cinnamon and molasses, and you could tell molasses was definitely mixed in due to the thick consistency of the butter.

cinnamonmolasses_cashewbutter
Cinnamon Molasses Cashew Butter

The nana honey peanut butter was just as smooth, but a bit more runny than the molasses flavor. It definitely had a banana scent, but it wasn’t overwhelming in the taste. Honestly I thought this flavor tasted mostly like regular smooth peanut butter, but it was fresh and creamy nonetheless!

cashew butter in yogurt
So smooth!

The wedding pretzel crunch peanut butter said it had “lite crunch” on the jar, but this flavor was ALL crunch. There were tons of salted pretzel sticks thrown in, but I couldn’t not any distinct white chocolate flavor. While I was hoping for a decent mix of chocolate chips mixed up with all those pretzels, I wasn’t too disappointed considering this jar was maxed out when it came to varying textures.

wedding_pretzelcrunchpb__
Lot’s of pretzels here!

My favorite flavor in regards to texture was the bourbon pecan flavor. This jar was literally glowing, and the pecans were ground up just right so that the pieces were just the right size.

bourbonpecan_pb
Bourbon pecan peanut butter

This was one jar I could easily eat by the spoonful, but I also added it to a mug cake with yogurt mixed with amazing grass greens.

greensmoothiepecanbutter_
Topping some mixed yogurt!

I also ordered some more cookie dough from The Lion’s Pack, and had ordered it while I was in Tulsa so it would be waiting for me when I got back to LA earlier this month. I had fun reviewing the flavors on Instagram:

Campfire Cookie – one of my favorites! It had chocolate chunks and graham cracker dusting. It looked sooo pretty, and the good looks matched in good taste!!

When it's not summer but you miss campfire nights 🔥 🍪
When it’s not summer but you miss campfire nights 🔥 🍪

Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough – So, Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough…I found the Cap’n Crunch pieces to be stale-tasting, and overall didn’t help the cookie dough taste any better. The colors were fun though.

Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough
Cereal Bowl Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – Good ol’ chocolate chip. A classic that often is taken for granted. But I have to say that The Lion’s Pack chocolate chip cookie dough is insanely good! The chocolate chips are small and melty, and not overwhelming at all! Sometimes sticking to the basics is good 👍🏽

I gotta say that this might actually be my top fave!!
I gotta say that this might actually be my top fave!!

Snickers Bar Cookie Dough – Too many peanuts, and not enough nougat/caramel with this “Snickers bar” flavor cookie dough.

This flavor was obviously not my favorite!
This flavor was obviously not my favorite!

Monster Cookie Dough – The Monster Cookie dough actually tasted awful. The cookie dough itself was fine, but the “monster” candy pieces tasted somewhat bitter, chalky, and just did not fit. I literally had to pick them out in order to enjoy the rest of the dough.

monster_cookie
Eh, not my fave!

Gingerbread Cookie Dough – It certainly had some spice, and some white frosting strings. It was a pretty good flavor, which I think could have tasted even better with some other holiday-themed add-ins…oooh, gum drops and candy cane pieces perhaps??

ginger
Gingerbread Cookie!

Unfortunately, the packaging wasn’t so well put together with this shipment—one of my jars came cracked at the lid!

crackedjar
Ugh cracked jar…

Ah, January is almost over, and I’m hoping that with it, I’ll have less stress on my plate and more comfort with not just from food, but in life overall!

Which of these peanut butter flavors would you try?

Which of these cookie dough flavors would you try?

Red, White, and Chew

Red, White, and Chew

My sis and I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning, with the goal of getting things wrapped up in lab and then heading off to Santa Monica for brunch.

I am honestly so grateful for the Expo line expansion…what would have originally been almost an hour and a half trip to the ever-popular Santa Monica now only takes 30-40 minutes!

chomp_eatery
Chomp Eatery

One of the stops is a convenient seven minute walk to Chomp Eatery and DK’s Donuts. One day when I have cash on hand, I will be back for some of their mouth-watering donuts, but my sis and I headed right next door to Chomp Eatery: a place we knew that takes credit cards and serves up an irresistible novelty.

The Unicorn Melt was something I came across on Instagram. It’s basically a grilled cheese with a rainbow theme, in that the cheese is colored with organic food coloring and melted so that a rainbow oozes out when the slices are pulled apart. Sound appetizing yet?

Since my sis and I decided to split the Unicorn Melt, we each got our own meals as well. I of course got one of the wellness bowls.

gojiberriesbowl
Of course I go straight to the bowls part of the menu…

The bowl I chose to go with was none other than the Goji Berries Banana Bowl, which had a plain greek yogurt base, and heavily topped with granola, cacao nibs, goji berries, banana , and agave syrup.

gojiberries_banana_bowl
Looks like a small bowl but there was tons of yogurt and a mountain of granola!!

My sister got one of the burger with a veggie patty, and it was an overflowing tower of rich, nutrient-packed veggies and creamy add-in like avocado and a fried egg.

burger_and_melt
Burgers + melts

My sister, a self-proclaimed carb-lover thought her burger + melt may have been too much at one time, but she enjoyed her burger. We both agreed that the melt wasn’t outstanding in taste, but as far as presentation and creativity goes…how could it be anything less than 110%? Not to mention, it was a pretty festive and fitting rainbow on the inside.

unicornmelt___
A red, white, and blue cheese melt!!

After devouring our sandwiches and chewing every last goji berry, we walked towards downtown Santa Monica, stopped inside Cotton On, and then boarded the train from the new downtown station in order to get to Union Station on time.

After dropping off my sister later that afternoon, I felt extremely exhausted and could not wait to go to bed—early! Haha. Needless to say, 4th of July was very low key. No fireworks, no veggie dogs…just plenty of lab work in the morning as usual, and then relaxing at home. At least I did sort of celebrate with a patriotic grilled cheese!

Chomp Eatery & Juice Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hokey Poke & Donut Dance

Hokey Poke & Donut Dance

Last Saturday, I had two reasons to dance (even though I did not actually do so): 1) I tried a (veggie) poke bowl for the first time and 2) I had a “donut” from another well-established LA donut shop.

Before all that however, I decided to stop by the grocery store on Friday before heading home, and while passing by the dairy aisle, I saw that four flavors of Fage’s Crossovers line were on sale…like, $0.39 each on sale!!

MAJOR CLEARANCE YOGURTSSS!
MAJOR CLEARANCE YOGURTSSS!

I’ve tried the coconut curry flavor before combined with cashews, and I still think its my long-standing favorite.

Coconut Curry + Cashews
Coconut Curry + Cashews

The tomato basil flavor with almonds had a tangy taste, and the almonds had a spicy kick as well.

Tomato Basil + Roasted Almonds
Tomato Basil + Roasted Almonds

When I was eating the olive thyme flavor that had roasted almonds as well, it tasted more like sour cream! An awkward flavor profile indeed, but you have to give Fage credit for trying something bold!

Olive Thyme + Roasted Almonds
Olive Thyme + Roasted Almonds

And then there was the carrot ginger flavor with roasted pistachios. I was a fan of this flavor, and would rank it just behind the coconut curry flavor. I think it helps that both of these yogurts are paired with my favorite nuts (cashews and pistachios)!

Carrot Ginger + Pistachios
Carrot Ginger + Pistachios

I woke up on Saturday with intentions to run in the morning before heading into lab for a bit, but I was feeling more exhausted than I thought I felt when I hit the pillow on Friday night. A little extra rest never hurt anyone, so I ended up skipping the run and reasoned with myself that the additional rest would help me run faster in the 5k race I signed up for on Sunday. 

Since my roommate has been busy studying for her CPA exams, she (and her car 😉 ) have been unavailable in joining me to go grocery shopping. This means making an afternoon out of errands, and making the process easier by getting everything done at the Grove…

Before stopping by the Trader Joe’s in the area, I needed to take care of my grumbling stomach with lunch. I came to the realization that Mainland Poke was just a fifteen minute walk away, and after taking a quick look at their menu to ensure they had a veggie option, I was set on going there for a refreshing, crisp meal.

The hot sun beating down made it a harder stroll than it should have been, but after I found the small building and entered, I felt about 20 degrees cooler when I saw all of the cold greens and veggies lined across the counter.

Mainland Poke
Mainland Poke

I was able to customize my poke bowl right from the beginning. I started off with a kale base, and then added cubed tofu, edamame, cucumber, guacamole, wasabi aioli, lemon oil, and pickled ginger.

My Poke Bowl
My Poke Bowl

There wasn’t much room inside, but I managed to find a seat,and was able to chow down on my bowl with chopsticks in peace. The aioli wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be (you’d think it would be with wasabi in its name), so I was grateful for my scoop of guacamole in providing some flavor.

Not surprisingly, I was craving more carbs and something sweet after this light lunch, and I knew this would be the perfect time to check out fonuts before really getting some grocery shopping done.

This way for fonuts?
This way for fonuts?

fonuts was in an unassuming location, with solid doors and tinted windows. Upon stepping inside, everything was wooden from the floors to the walls. It was also oddly quiet.

Fortunately, there were a few other people in there to keep it from feeling like a horror movie!

It may be a little too silent for my liking...but there are "donuts" here!
It may be a little too silent for my liking…but there are “donuts” here!

The unique thing about these “fake” donuts is that they are baked, and not fried. So actually, they’re more like cake. Which is cool, because there is nothing wrong with cake!

The flavor that stood out to me the most was the Hawaiian. It was coco-nutty on the inside and out. It was soft and chewy, with a coconut cream filling.

The Hawaiian
The Hawaiian

I took it over to the countertop they had set up by the wall, and ate it there. While it may have looked like a donut, it tasted like a creamy sponge cake. To be honest, I’m not sure why donuts get so much hype. I guess it’s because I’m a die-hard ice cream fanatic, so when it comes to baked goods, I’m going to be nothing more than appreciative.

Have you ever had a poke bowl?

Baked goods or ice cream?

(Fōnuts) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

When it comes to protein powder, I prefer using it as a thickener for yogurts and for making smoothie bowls since I am unfortunately not the owner of a fancy blender or Nutribullet. Of course there are so many other ways to incorporate and utilize protein powder, but I stick with what I know best most of the time 😉

bobs red mill (3)
FREE protein powder, and a shaker bottle 🙂

However, I was nudged to try to find other ways to use protein powder when I was sent a sample kit of Bob’s Red Mill protein powders. Since they came in flavors like chai, vanilla, chocolate, and unsweetened protein fiber, the variety was a reason in itself to experiment.

bobs red mill (2)
Protein Fiber Oat Cake with Hershey’e Kisses

The furthest I went with experimentation was using the unsweetened protein fiber to make a warm, dough-y cake topped with Hershey’s Kisses. All that went into this bowl was one packet (a typical serving size scoop), a packet of maple and brown sugar oatmeal, and some water and almond milk. It didn’t have any flavor on its own (not even the oatmeal helped surprisingly), but with the Hershey’s kisses I was able to get some spreadable chocolate distribution going. Looking back however, I think this fiber could easily have been used to make a microwaveable pizza crust, and even sturdier oven-baked pizza crust.

bobs red mill (1)
Chocolate Protein Powder

For the rest of the powders though…they were destined to be a part of pro-yo creations. I also tried them mixed with just water to see how the flavors held up on their own.

bobs red mill (4)
Chai Protein Powder Packet

Out of chocolate and chai, chai had the best flavor profile, and even smelled like a warm tea blend upon opening the packet.

bobs red mill (5)
Chai Protein Powder

The vanilla flavor was the only flavor I received in a standard size bag, and I literally went through it in about a week!

bobs
Vanilla Protein “Smoothie” Bowl with PB!!!

I was adding it to oatmeal, in addition to yogurts, and even used it to make a smoothie bowl with almond milk, and topped with a very liquid serving of peanut butter (more like peanut juice?). You can even see the chia and flax seeds swimming around!

Do you find protein powder to be a necessary staple or just another product pushed by the fitness industry?

 

 

Freekeh Foods Review

Freekeh Foods Review

Disclaimer: This post is a review about products received from Freekeh Foods and sponsored by FitApproach. All opinions are my own.

I learned about the existence of freekeh very recently…actually while perusing some food blogs a couple months ago. This supposedly trendy new grain has actually been around for centuries, and is a Middle Eastern cooking staple.

Freekeh is basically roasted young green wheat, and can be used as an ingredient in dishes ranging from savory to sweet, which I tried to do when I had the opportunity to try freekeh for myself!

I received two packages (one original and one tamari-flavored) to try out, and had a fun time experimenting with this interesting grain.

packets
Packages of freekeh to try!

When I opened the tamari packet, my nose was hit by the fresh scent of spices. Compared to the original, the appearance of the grain is the same, except the tamari has a light powder coating (which obviously makes sense…)

tamari
Hit by the aroma of tamari!

For the tamari packet, I immediately knew how I was going to use it—as an add-in to my usual crockpot dinners! One night, I had it mixed in with green cabbage and onion, and later in the week, I had the same combination but with the addition of beets. Adding this flavor of freekeh definitely added a POP to my otherwise humble dinners. When I had it in the crockpot bowl with beets, the freekeh tended to clump around the beet pieces for some reason, and it gave me the idea of potentially using it as a breading substitute if need be.

tamari_cp
Crockpot close-up
beets_tamari
In full view.

I also used it as an ingredient in an egg scramble. Mixed in with two eggs and garlic cheddar cheese, this tamari-flavored freekeh egg scramble gave me an extra energy boost to power me through an afternoon experiment in lab.

tamari_scramble (1)
Scramble wet ingredients

Freekeh Egg Scramble
Serves 1
A simple scramble with a dense body and nutritious flavor profile!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  2. 1/2 cup of freekeh
  3. 28g serving of cheese
  4. non-stick spray
Instructions
  1. Mix the eggs (yolk+whites) with cheese (cut up or crumbles) in a separate bowl.
  2. Mix in freekeh, and mix well.
  3. Heat a pan on the stove, and spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Add wet mixture to pan and cook for ~2 minutes (time may vary based on stove settings, pan, etc.)
  5. Turn off stove, let scramble cool, and eat!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
Seeing that the original flavor was all grain and had no added flavor, I knew that it could be a very versatile kitchen staple to have around. Because I had gone the savory route with my tamari freekeh packet, I decided to see how the original flavor would fare in a sweeter dish.

Lately I have been concluding my weeknight dinners with some sort of yogurt-based protein bowl (in other words, proyo bowls) that I often top with a nut butter I have on hand and possible other fun toppings as well. With the original freekeh packet I had, I cooked a serving (~1/4 cup dry) in the microwave with some water for about two minutes. It developed a fluffier texture, and from there, I added some yogurt I had already mixed with protein powder. It was like a ready-made bowl of overnight oats, and I even added a dollop of salted caramel peanut butter on top.

original_after (1)
Making things sweet.

Freekeh is quite versatile, and I see uses for it beyond my crockpot dinners and sweet grain bowls. Why not try winning a package to try for yourself*? ;))

*US Residents only please.
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