Giving [pantry] shelf warmers a second chance

[Alternative title: What happens when I have too much fun editing my pictures …]

Unlike previous weeks’ WIAW posts that were about overcoming fear foods this one’s about another challenge of sorts. Let’s give second chances on today’s What I ate Wednesday. Thanks for hosting, Jenn!

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I did what had been on my list for weeks – or dare I say: months – already. Tackling not a list of fear foods but the bags upon bags of staple foods I had neglected in the back of my pantry. Thanks to Liz and Amanda for reminding me to make a more conscious effort to use them up than previously rather then keep buying new items.

Note: If it's not making a pretty picture just add a little editing magic.

Note: If it doesn’t make a pretty picture just add a little editing magic.

One of the above-mentioned shelf warmers was polenta. Is it just me or does polenta/cornmeal really happen to be one of the most unpopular grains in the blog world? At least for myself I can say that even now after giving it yet more chances I’m simply not impressed. Wanting to try new breakfast and having been quite fond of semolina pudding during my childhood I gave the classic a try with polenta. Unfortunately, though, no matter how much nut butter I added it failed to please me.

Not wanting to give up just yet I went the savoury route. Chili topped with polenta sounded like a good idea in theory but turned out lacking. There’s still some more polenta in the bag so I have some more ideas but I won’t pick up another package afterwards, I think.

Okay, this might not have left me heartbroken but disappointed nonetheless.

Okay, this might not have left me heartbroken but disappointed nonetheless.

Another grain that had been sleeping in the back of my pantry for ages was buckwheat. Having seen them on numerous blogs I’d purchased some groats and used them a single time so far. With my current zucchini pasta kick I thought they might add a nice texture to the plate. My verdict? Don’t judge me but I still haven’t warmed up to the little [pseudo] grain. Even as a yogurt add-in I wasn’t amazed by the texture.

Yes, avocado sauce on the side once again.

Yes, avocado sauce on the side once again.

One item that I hadn’t had in months but welcomed back very warmly was Lindt Chili chocolate. I may or may not have had several squares every day. I’ll call it making up for the other failed dishes ;).

Lindt Chili

Studying requires chocolate fuel, right?!

Happiness inducing today: Getting my sister’s absolutely adorable wedding invitation [which I might just have to share with you in one of my next posts] in the mail.

Which are some items that you bought and then forgot about in the back of your pantry?

What are your favourite recipes using polenta and buckwheat? Please tell me that I just didn’t prepare them the right way and will be amazed by their goodness after all :).

When life hands you [avocado]

Sometimes we make plans for life. And sometimes life decides not to work out as planned – in a very good way. This is what happened to me in terms of food during the past days. What did I plan? After last week’s post on incorporating more grains into my diet I’d planned on “investigating” a bit more in that field.

Granted, I hadn’t had an elaborate plan but more of an idea of wanting to keep experimenting with different grains and amounts of them. But as hinted above life seemed to have another idea. Enter: the add-more-fat edition of WIAW [meant in a very kind way]. Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting!

WIAW GOES GREEN

[Note: I felt like all the green foods to come in today’s post deserved that logo once more :)]

Actually, I hadn’t intented on giving avocado another try just yet. The brownies were nice but I hadn’t dared avocado on its own and that’s exactly what I feel I “have to” in order to truly repair my relationship with food. When I was at the health food store to pick up a jar of my favourite almond butter I spied some perfect avocados. Perfect because they weren’t only just the right state of ripeness but also not too huge. Because admittedly, I had more than one avocado go moldy due to me not eating it fast enough. Most of those I can get at the supermarket are just too intimidatingly huge for me. Certainly not for serious avocado admirers but not being there yet I didn’t want one of them. Long story short: I picked up one of those perfectly-sized avocados and let it all happen.

Zucchini pasta with lentil chili and avocado sauce

Zucchini pasta with lentil chili and avocado sauce

What happened were very good and satisfying meals. Day by day I upped the amount of avocado just a little and never cut down on my nut butter consumption. Yes, it was and still is scary but I’ll keep going and see what happens.

Lazy-girl Chana masala – as in: totally unauthentical Indian food. Accompanied by some broccoli and – yes – more mashed avocado.

Lazy-girl Chana masala – as in: totally unauthentical Indian food. Accompanied by some broccoli and more mashed avocado.

And I’ll confess I cheated. Cheated on almond butter, that is. Let me explain: I’d spotted hazelnut butter on offer in the health food store chain I frequent for my almond butter only. While I’d been intrigued to  try it earlier already the price and – not lying here – the higher calorie and fat content had kept me from it. Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and … I sparked a new food obsession. Tastewise it reminded me of the healthier organic “Nutella” my mum used to buy for our family when I was younger. That organic version has a decidedly higher hazelnut content and I’ve always preferred it to the real thing. If you’re ever in Germany do yourself a favour and pick up a jar of Samba spread at a health food store :).

Addicted.

Addicted.

What I noticed when upping the amount of fat in my diet was that I felt even more satisfied after my meals. That’s not say I’d eaten a low-fat diet before but at least my lunches were most definitely lacking. Where does that leave me at? Admittedly, I’m not sure. I know many people in the blog world state themselves to be either a fat, carb or protein person – meaning the macro balance they’ve found works best for them. Right now, I don’t find myself belonging to any of these groups [yet?] and that’s okay. One week I might need more grainy carbs, the other I’ll go for more fat or protein.  Who knows what’s to come in my next WIAW post J?!

One thing I’ll never go without is dessert, though. Peanut mug brownies after finally figuring out the right ratios and perfect “baking” time resulting in a fantastic brownie.

Needless to say this was topped with hazelnut butter post-picture.

Needless to say this was topped with hazelnut butter post-picture.

Happiness inducing today: Sharing the excitement of a very good friend moving into her first own apartment.

Did you ever have life interfere with your original plans in a very good way? [Not necessarily food-related only!]

Do you consider yourself a fat/carb/protein person?

What was happiness inducing for you today so far?

Polkadots & Ponderings #1

Happy Monday, everybody! I hope your week is starting in a truly marvelous fashion. Thanks to our lovely host Katie for making every Monday start out a bit brighter for the 5oth time already today!

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After enjoying these kind of random thought-posts on other blogs I thought I’d start my own version of them, too. Just a potpourri of little facts [hence the “polka-dots” and yes, I’m aware that’s the correct way to spell the word yet I prefer my version ;)] and thoughts [ponderings] floating around in my mind.

1. Starting right out with a polka-dotted confession: the little dots make an appearance in my life every.single.day. Not that I was wearing the same clothes all of the time but I have polka-dotted plates, cups, seat cushions, a scarf, a Kindle pocket sewn by my sister, … Some might call it an obsession, I call it living up to my [blog world] name ;).

Little bowl

2. Does anybody else remember collecting stickers as a child? For me, it was mainly Disney characters (Pocahontas!) or horses. Oh the excitement and eagerness to spend my pocket money on a single packet every week. German grocery stores caught hold of that clever marketing idea and bring out new series of sticker collections every now and then. The clue: to get a package – unless you want to shell out all of your pocket money earnings – your purchases at the store have to reach a certain sum. For somebody like me making lots of smaller purchases throughout the week rather than one large that means I hardly ever get a package. So thanks to the cashiers giving me the sticker packets of customers ahead of me in line who don’t want them.

Sticker collection

3. Fresh herbs make everything taste better. Why I hadn’t bought a basil plant in a while is beyond me but it was one of the best recent [food] purchases made.  Go and buy fresh basil if you don’t have any right now :)!

Basil

4. Flowers make me happy. Simple as that.

Orchids

5. I can’t remember the last time I wore pants prior to last weekend at my parents’ when we headed out for a bike tour on a rainy and cold day. Who says you can’t wear tights in winter? Actually, I find them to keep me warmer than trousers. Does anybody else notice that?

Warm tights

6. Library waiting lists suck – especially when you’re the last one in line. But some books are well worth the wait ..

7. And that brings me to the next point: the awesome book I mentioned recently. Well worth the six + months I had to wait for it: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Harold FryIn case you haven’t heard about it before: The protagonist Harold Fry, recently retired and stuck in a boring daily grind, receives a letter of an old college, Queenie, saying she had cancer and was about to die in a hospital a thousand kilometers away. Unsure what to respond Harold writes a short meaningless note leaving the house to simply post it into the mailbox closest to his house. But then – unconsciously at first – he just keeps walking. Something inside his has clicked and he becomes convinced that if he’s able to walk to the hospital Queenie will continue to live and he’ll be able to thank her for a huge favour she did him decades ago. Little by little the reader gets to know the background of Harold’s decision, the reasons for why he and his wife have drifted apart during the years of their marriage. Soon enough it becomes clear that Harold isn’t doing his pilgrimage with the sole intent of seeing Queenie one last time but for a much bigger purpose: to come to terms with his whole life.

Following along Harold’s journey and seeing his development from a prim character to a warmhearted and open-minded person was amazing. The story also shows that sometimes in life it’s not so much about reaching your original goal but about the journey towards it. So if you’ve been looking for a great read, go and pick up a copy!

8. Reading the book I couldn’t help but note that this story once again shows how awesome walks are. I might not solve any life problems on mine. But simply getting plenty of fresh air paired with a nice steady movement has helped me clear my mind many times before.

9. Turning my iPod into shuffle mode is one of my favourite ways of using it. It’s amazing how many songs I’d forgotten about I happen to stumble upon. In case you don’t mind I’ll just go ahead sharing a glimpse into the secret life of my iPod in these kind of posts. A recent find was this song the album which it belonged to was given to me by a friend – and we’re not talking a girl but boy [!] here … Be prepared to fall off your chair laughing. Did you watch the movie this is from?

10. Inspirational quotes are on my happy list.

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Happiness inducing today: Turning on the radio to a good song being played.

Did you collect stickers as a child? Which ones?

Have you read any great books lately?

Pants or tights? Do any of you agree the latter keep you warmer or is it just me?

Another kind of [grain] field studies

Thank you so much for all the kind and understanding comments on my last post! I didn’t want to come over ranting or asking for sympathy but simply explain my blogging break. Reading every single of your comments put a huge smile on my face and made me appreciate the blog world even more. All of you are awesome!

 

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Every time I sit down to write my WIAW post I’m racking my brain. Racking them for any mention-worthy changes I’ve made to my diet, that is. Some weeks it’s more, some less. This week it’s a mix: it might not sound like a lot but I recently did my own little field studies [on myself] in terms of grains. That would be grain field studies, right :D?! But first off: Thanks to Jenn for hosting the first-ever food party you don’t need to leave the house for. Not that I’d be opposed  to that in general but on a day we’re supposed to get a thunderstorm I’d rather avoid the outdoors.

Chili bake with wheatberries.

Chili bake with wheatberries.

The main change? Adding more grains to my diet. Yes, I do like carbohydrates – or, for the cutesy: carbs 😉 – but had admittedly shyed away from them a little in the past years. Not actually because they were carbs but simply as they’re quite energy-dense. Imagine my lunches as huge plates piled with steamed veggies – at the worst times not even a real sauce or any kind of fat accompanying them. Sad times.

Quinoa casserole

Cheesy vegan quinoa casserole. Notice a topic emerging already?

As I had noticed my meals not to fill me up for long anymore I decided to increase the amount of grains incorporated. With my roommate being away for a week I was able to cook up batches of different grains and store them in the fridge. In case you’re wondering: Brown rice (short grain for its fantastic sticky consistency!), quinoa, wheat- and speltberries were my grains of choice.

Wheatberry & Brown Rice bake

… yes, another casserole.

The first day of my trial I noticed a huge difference already feeling  way more energized than usual. It was that very day I had one of my best runs in quite a while. Grains for the win? I’d certainly have guessed so after this incident. Having a tendency to fall into [food] ruts and/or overdo it, though, I incorporated grains into almost every meal and snack. Note: Yes, you do want to try adding cooked spelt- or wheatberries to your Greek yogurt bowls. Oh, and you can thank me later ;).

Greek with wheatberries

As much as I initially enjoyed my grains upping their amount to more than twice, at times probably triple the amount I was used to seemed too much. Not only did oat bran for breakfast stop sounding appealing by the third day – even though I tried different variations – but my stomach wasn’t too happy, either.  Maybe it needs some more time and a slower approach to get back to the grind with grains again? And here we are: right onto more [grain] field studies. Maybe a little mug brownie will help my brain ;)?!

Don't be jealous of my Hello Kitty bowl :).

Don’t be jealous of my Hello Kitty bowl :).

Happy Wednesday!

 

Happiness inducing [not just] today:Knowing that I can count on all of whenever I’m in a funk. Thank you once again!

 

 

What are your favourite filling (!) breakfasts?

Do you feel better with more or less grains in your diet?

As always: Tell me one thing that made you happy today already – here or on Twitter.

Just a little funk

Hi there,

Sorry for disappearing without a single word. I had all intentions to join the WIAW party but have been feeling a little off lately. Nothing a few days at my parents’ – can you say yay for yet another German holiday?! – and some more sleep won’t be able to cure, I think. Fingers crossed mum talks, the fresh air in  the countryside and meeting relatives will lift the funk :).

Flowers

That being said I have a few fun posts – including a review of one of the best book I’ve read in a long time – planned so be sure to check back! Hope you’re all having a great Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Birds chirping in front of my windows.

I’ve been sharing my #happinessHITs on Twitter, too. Are we friends on there yet?

Just because I enjoyed hearing your happiness HITs last week so much: Tell me one thing that made you happy today so far!

Breaking up with traditions and bonding with green spears

Happy 1st of May! If you’re in Germany I hope you danced into the day [“Tanz in den Mai” is a German tradition] and are enjoying the day off. For all others: Don’t fret about having to work but let’s have fun with the already traditional What I ate Wednesday party hosted by Jenn!

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After last week’s not-quite-successful potato experience I was determined not to give up on a food I knew I’d liked a lot earlier. Every potato deserves a second chance, right? With asparagus being finally being available at affordable prices I knew what to pair it with. No 6.50 $ bundles for me, thank you very much. In case you’re wondering: these are the green spears appearing in today’s title. Asparagus being called “spears” made me laugh the first time I encoutered it: attacks on the plate, huh ;)?!

Still going the safe non-potato route the first time I whipped up a wheatberry skillet featuring the green spears. With kidney beans, fresh cherry tomatoes and spices this was a quick lunch.

Wheatberry skillet

Will you believe I’ve only had asparagus once last year? It wasn’t my choice, though, and I had a good excuse!  Now I’m even more determined to feature this awesome vegetable as often as possible this season. Potatoes are a classic accompaniment for it in Germany so I decided to go that route the next day. Only my version was way less traditional: no sauce Hollandaise but the remainder of above-mentioned beans as well as tender bok choy, carrots and random mushrooms. Plenty of fresh parsley kept the touch of tradition while I don’t think you’ll find any authentical German cookbooks suggesting a nice dusting of nutritional yeast. Oh well, I told you we were going for taste not authenticity here.

Potatoes and asparagus

My verdict? Yes, I do like Mr. Potato head after all. Fried and partly mashed up with some soy milk the potatoes formed a creamy “gravy” with nice chunks remaining. A pat of vegan butter – a fear food I refrained from measuring – rounded out our happy reunion. Sometimes you strike it at second try.

Breaking up with traditions once again: Cake has to be baked in the oven and is inappropriate as an everyday breakfast? The ever-so-popular – or at least in the blog world – mug brownie finally arrived in my kitchen, too.

Enjoyed on the sunny balcony no less.

Enjoyed on the sunny balcony no less.

Ending on a sweet note with an unusual-for-me new favourite snack: dried mulberries. I’d been searching them high and low finally spotting them at a stall on a Farmers’ Market on Friday. Ever since I’ve been randomly reaching into the bag all throughout the week. It’s funny because I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of dried fruit but these  sweet little berries are amazing.

Mulberries

Which leads me to another tradition I broke: Did I look up the nutritional value and sugar count for these? No. Measure out servings? Forget it. It’s not counting little things like these that makes eating them more enjoyable. The only worry I’ll allow myself about these: not being able to find them again. Sigh. Now that’s one worry I can [almost] live with ;).

Happiness inducer today: My downstairs neighbours playing a little family “concert” that I’m lucky enough hearing.

Thanks for sharing little things that made you happy in my post on Monday – just reading about them brought a smile to my face, too.  By the way: As I don’t post every day I’ll be sharing my daily happiness inducers on Twitter, too. Feel free to join me using the hashtag #happinessHIT.

Happy Wednesday!

What’s your favourite way to prepare asparagus? Just as a random note in case you ever plan on visiting Germany: when asparagus (Spargel) is on the menu we usually mean the white one. The green variety has only been making more of an appearance during the past few years.

Do you like dried fruit? Which one do you particularly enjoy?