WHAT TO BUY FROM IHERB - PART II

So just because I live in LA now and I'm in much closer proximity to supermarkets like Whole Foods & Trader Joe's and heaps of farmers markets doesn't mean I deserted my good ole' iHerb. If anything, I'm shopping on it more frequently because it bloody takes ONE DAY to get to my front door. I mean, sometimes I can't be arsed to leave home for cereal and it shows up on my doorstep the next day? YES PLEASE.

FYI, part one is HERE.

Rishi Tea, Japanese Green Tea, Sweet Matcha link

I'm a sucker for matcha but because of budget constraints, I can't spend too much money on good shit and I'm not going to apologise [or apologize? Which spelling should I use?] for that but what I will tell you is that this is sweetened, so use unsweetened milk when you make it. I make it with cashew milk, if that's available to you. Shit is good, especially when you're PMSing.

Chlorella by NOW Foods link

Since moving to LA, I've added algae to my vitamins to help my immune system and it has definitely helped. While it works for me, there are recognised side effects that you should be wary of in case you want to try it.

Nutrex Hawaii Spirulina Pacific link

Another algae. Omega 3s, inflammatory properties, crazy high in calcium, and most importantly for me, research has suggested that it helps people with allergies, or often experience allergic reactions. Story of my life, which is why I started. One of the reasons, I like to believe, why my eczema has improved so much.

Navitas Naturals, Organic, Sun-Dried Goji Berries, link

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Add goji berries into your acai bowl. It's a vegetarian form of protein, and crazy packed with essential amino acids and rich in vitamin A.

Sea Tangle Noodle Company, Kelp Noodles with Organic Green Tea

I'm torn between Shirataki noodles and these kelp noodles. You can eat these as it is as a cold noodle, or stir fry. I throw in tempeh, tofu, cabbage and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge for an easy vegan meal. Use the recipe on the packaging. It is good.

ThinkThin Protein Bars link

I love ThinkThin bars, and since I travel so much for work these days, it's been so bloody userful to carry these around and devour them on flights when a protein box costs you $20 and your meal allowance is $10 per meal. Pictured is my favourite ThinkThin bar, which I get from Whole Foods but the one I linked is just as delicious. They have a tiny bit of chocolate which help SO much.  

Madre Labs On-the-go Hand Cleanser link

Because you need to keep your hands clean, and sometimes bathrooms are too gross and sinks are too nasty to touch.

Giovanni Mixed Sanitizing Towelettes: Peppermint Surge, Grapefruit Splash link

I'm one of those people who carry towelettes everywhere but I hate when the sticky thing that's supposed to stick back on becomes unsticky and my towelettes dry up. These are essential oil-scented and individually packed. I love the grapefruit ones!

Remember to use my offer code "ZQL070" for a $5-$10 discount off your first order.

FAZ'S GUIDE TO EATING IN LOS ANGELES — JUNE 2015

Six months into living in Los Angeles, lots of kickass food, and a hodgepodge of questionable choices later, I decided that I should whip up a food guide. Granted, I've been in LA for a very little amount of time, and never mind that I'm no food writer — I love good food, especially when it comes at a good price. 

Other than my never-fail In N Out protein style, animal style with raw onions and chopped peppers order, here's a comprehensive guide to my favourite places to eat in LA.

Seafood

If you told me I had to spend the rest of my life eating only seafood and nothing else, I would really have no complaints. My husband, too, loves seafood as much as I do, so skip Red Lobster and try these places instead .

Spinfish Poké House in Pasadena & Sweetfin Poké in Santa Monica

There are few things in life that will never fail you, and Spinfish's, and Sweetfin's poké bowl are two of the best raw-fish-in-a-bowl deliciousness that never fails me. I've tried five poké spots in LA so far, and I keep going back to Spinfish because it's closer to home, the portions are generous and the service is second to none. Spinfish has such good sauce combos. I'm a fan of Sweetfin's toppings, and green bamboo rice. I mean, who doesn't like green rice?

Boiling Crab, Multiple locations

You've probably heard of Boiling Crab from your friends who have visited Los Angeles and photographed themselves in adult bibs before tucking into cajun-style crabs. While this style of cooking and serving seafood has seen imitators all over the world, John and I keep going back to Boiling Crab because it's tried, tested and loved to death. We get the shrimp over crabs and always take it to go. 

Mexican

I mean, in a country that birthed the greatest pick-your-own Mexican fast food restaurant in the world (i.e.: Chipotle), it's hard to go wrong with Mexican food. Unfortunately, you can come across shitty Mexican that'll make you want to throw your burrito against the wall. Like Makciks in hawker centres who serve up sugar-laden, bastardized versions of Nasi Padang to cut costs. 

Pinches Tacos, Multiple locations

It's not a cat that got this cow's tongue for sure. 🐮👅 #VSCOcam #sorryfastingfriends #tacos #tacodelengua #mexican #tacotuesdays

A photo posted by 🐰 Faz Abdul Gaffa-Marsh (@fazabdulgaffa) on

Pinches is one of the spots I fell in love with the first time in LA and I keep going back, and bringing guests to, because nothing in their menu is mediocre. It will always be an explosion in your mouth. The spot is affordable, and opens late too.

La Azteca Tortilleria in East LA

This an old school tortilleria in East Los Angeles has been open for 65 years. Their burritos, touted as the best in Los Angeles on LA Weekly, are assembled with freshly made tortillas, which strangely, tastes like crispy of prata! It's cheap - under ten bucks, and it's frills-free and a hole-in-the-wall spot. It's worth noting that La Azteca is closed Mondays and opened from Tues-Sat 6 AM - 3:30 pm and Sun 6 AM - 2:30 PM.

Cha Cha Chili in Alhambra

Located close to my favourite Asian supermarket in all of LA, Cha Cha Chili dishes up some Asian-fusion Mexican food. Don't bother with anything else — just go straight for their Adam Richman-approved chimichanga. The beef chimichanga we shared was a beef bulgogi, fried to crispy perfection and slathered with a tangy, slightly spicy creamy sauce. It's worth noting that they dish up really big portions.

ASIAN/ ASIAN FUSION

While I love fortune cookies, American Chinese food is whack. I am appalled by Panda Express and everything else people try to pass off as "Asian" in this country. And sure, I can probably never find an honest-to-goodness Singaporean food joint, there are a handful of Asian food places I love.

Take A Bao in Studio City

We went to Take A Bao a few months ago, and I love it. It's a chic Asian fusion restaurant and dishes up delicious bowls, baos and more. Ask to have their cocktails as mocktails like I did if you don't do alcohol. Super yummy.

Suriya Thai in Pasadena

You can find Thai food EVERYWHERE in LA, but you come across a lot of shitty ones. This one is dope. It's authentic, quick and it's actually spicy unlike a lot of Thai spots that have been dumbed down for American Chick Fil A palates. 

Jitlada in Thai Town

Jitlada is one of those places that everybody knows. They've been featured in just about all the magazines in the city and can be overhyped. It gets really expensive for Thai food, but it's good. They have a massive menu, so much that a blogger went through a quest of devouring all 300 items. They don't skimp on the spice when you ask to make it extra spicy, so it's a winner.

RANDOS, BUT DAMN GOOD ONES

Some people would categorise this as American, but I think American is burgers and fries, so these are a little deviated.

Scratch Bar in Beverly Hills

This tapas-style restaurant is located on restaurant row, and is downright phenomenal. Adventurous eating, quirky taste combinations and incredibly insightful staff go hand-in-hand here and you won't be disappointed. The staff explains what goes into your food, and how best to eat each dish, which makes the experience even more memorable. Don't leave unless you've ordered their Foie, uni and marshmellow masterpiece pictured above.

Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, Multiple locations

All sensibility should be left at the door when you go to Roscoe's. This Southern style eatery is an LA institution is nothing but healthy but it's good. Fried chicken, waffles with a slab of butter, mac and cheese. All American, all around. Admittedly, I got a headache when I ate there for the first (and only) time from the amount of salt used in the food, probably.

More will be added from time to time, just bookmark this! ;o)


LOVE AND CUPCAKES. WELL, NOT REALLY CUPCAKES.

I told John that I love him first.

The first time I told John I loved him was the first time I told anyone, other than my family and my best friends, that I loved them. It was the first time I said it out loud for a very, very long time. It was the first time I said it to a romantic partner.

You remember these things. I remember the first time I thought I might love him, and the first time I knew I did. And then the first time I wanted to tell him but couldn't say it, and when I did tell him, it was simple and easy, and it was like taking a breath of fresh air after holding it in for so long. I didn't even need him to say it back — I just needed to tell him. An emotion that big that I couldn't hold it in my heart of hearts for any longer.

Love is not hard. Loving someone, falling in love with someone is easy. It's letting your guard down, that's the tough part, the vulnerability and shedding skin, the layers you didn't want people to see. And the relationship — that's the hard part. Falling in love is easy.

Slightly more than four and a half years later after I met this gem of a man, a courthouse wedding, six months of living together later, and now as I watch the rise and fall of his chest as he lays next to me in bed, it still feels like a breath of fresh air every time I tell him I love him.

 

FIRST TIME AT THE BAR (METHOD)

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Faz, before 16 Dec 2014 had grand plans of trying new workouts, all over Los Angeles. Faz of June 2015 is a little bit more modest in her aspirations, especially since she is dependant on her husband and UberX

So my working out has been shot to hell the past couple of months. You know how a couple gains weight when they're happy in a relationship? That's exactly what's been happening to us. We didn't have that get-fat-honeymoon period when we first got together because John was full-on into grad school. 

I joined a gym In January and I quit a few months into because after an experience like Ritual, everything else is just noise. I hated the assholes in the gym, I hated people talking to me at the gym, and I hated being clueless and intimidated. So I quit and I started running. Unlike my brother who says that his "thing" is nothing below 42km — he's doing a 100km marathon this weekend — I have no patience for running. I like fast, painful, things that leave me breathless and crying for God on the floor.

So then I got introduced to Classpass and I decided the first class I should book is something I've never done before, and in this case, The Bar Method in Pasadena. I've seen the spot several times because my favourite poké joint is right smack in front of the studio.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In all honesty I've never thought much of barre. I first heard about was at a studio in Singapore where I went for aerial yoga classes, but I was more interested in flipping myself upside down than I am to be using 2lbs weights.

That said, sure, I can lift more than my bodyweight and I was instructed to pick up one and two-pound weights, I totally underestimated this class. Despite the fact that I am as flexible as a metal rod, and I was the only brand new beginner in the class, the instructor, Christopher, was patient with me, and he gave me multiple adjustments, particularly for those that involved flexibility. I had trouble when it came to flexibility poses, but who knew small, tiny movements could give you that much DOMS.

I totally understand why and how The Bar Method appeals, and I can see how it sculpts a long, lean dancer body. It's less coordination, unlike dance cardio type classes which is a good thing because my arms and legs never go where I tell them to, and it burns even though I'm carrying the tiniest amount of weights. It's almost like a mix of ballet and Pilates. 

While I spent most of the class like Dopey, looking for cues from the people next to me, and with multiple adjustments from the instructor, my favourite part, was when he had the class do pushups. While most if not all the women spent their pushup time supported against the wall, or on their knees, I busted them pushups like a BAMF. I would've added a clap if not for the fact that I'd actually like to attend their classes again.

I'm definitely no Black Swan, I'd actually do it on the regular if I lived closer to a studio. The poké joint opposite them is a really good draw though. 

ONE POT. TWO HOURS. HEALTHY PULLED CHICKEN!

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One of the things I've always wanted to own is a slow cooker. My mum didn't like the idea of slow cooking - she has a pressure cooker to make it all go by faster. While I understand the appeal of pressure cookers, I wanted pull-apart moist perfection that is not always achievable in a pressure cooker. That, and I'm bloody terrified of getting scalded by the steam from pressure cookers.

After a painful bout of food poisoning over the weekend from a Mexican spot, I got inspired by Natasha's food and decided that I wanted gluten-free chicken wraps for the week. Instead of throwing them chicken breasts in the oven or grilling them over the stove like I usually do, I decided to slow cook them over the stove.

Here's what I used:

  • 5 tablespoons of Chilli paste - I have chilli paste from grounded dry chilli ready for cooking all the time. You can choose not to use chilli paste and just use pepper instead.
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 habanero
  • 200g of baby carrots
  • Half a large onion
  • 500g of chicken breast
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon of dill

Chop up all the vegetables roughly. I chopped up the chicken too. Put all the ingredients into a pot, and pour water into the pot. Make sure the water covers all the ingredients and set it over a very low flame. 

Check it from time to time to make sure the water doesn't spill over. I honestly thought it would take about three hours, but by two, the chicken was pulling itself apart in the pot, and it was ready. Fish the chicken out from the broth, and pull it apart with a fork, it should come apart really easily.

Don't throw away the broth. It'll make a great noodle soup (which is what my husband is having for dinner tonight!)