Cheerily changing palates

Some things never change, some do. One thing that [hopefully] won’t change anytime soon? Wednesdays being synonymous with foodie fun. One thing that has changed for the very best? My palate. Let me explain …

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Do you have any foods that you didn’t like when you were younger and proclaimed you also would never ever in the world eat when growing up? Whatever mum and dad used to tell you about changing tastes was nonsense. Obviously … not. For me, some of those would have been tomatoes. In my memory  they used to be those watery, slimy, rather tasteless vegetables with unpleasant little bits.  These days I can hardly get enough of them. Especially not if they’re from my mum’s garden and taste super sweet and flavourful – almost too good to cook with so most of them get eaten pure.

Mum's tomatoes

Feel free to laugh or be shocked but:  I never liked salad growing up. Never. What was supposed to be appealing about chewing on crunchy, tasteless leaves drowned in acidy, mustard-y dressings? No, thanks. In my defense, though, I wasn’t potato salad’s hugest fan, either – no mayonnaise for  this girl. That being said I was known as the “weird non-salad-eating vegetarian” by just about everybody.

After all I was just meaning to leave more salad for Bugs Bunny. Obviously …

Fun tidbit: Did you know that Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was supposedly allergic to carrots? [He denied this.] Don’t you think he’d have had a pretty hard time connecting with his role if that was true?

Let’s say I had a life-changing food-preference-changing experience the past weekend. Just four words: Taco salad with guacamole.

Taco Salad_

With my tongue finally allowing me to eat more than yogurt, blended soups and ice cream again this recipe was the first one on my list. How could I not like a dish containing both chickpeas (addicted!) and guacamole?! I’ll admit I cheated on the last part because I have yet to appreciate the taste of cilantro aside from that and a few other minor changes I followed Leanne’s recipe closely.

Taco salad

The next one wasn’t exactly a food I didn’t enjoy. Yet I can’t remember eating a lot of blueberries throughout my childhood as strawberries – once more straight from my mum’s garden – were more abundant. Nowadays? Cant.get.enough. We can finally find local ones for a decent price again – blueberry season was delayed by the too-cold Spring and early Summer this year.

More Blueberries

Ending on a sweet note once more: Mangoes weren’t on my hit list of fruit back in the day, either. I’m glad it changed and am celebrating 😉 by eating my fair share of mango sorbet. We might not have nearly as large a variety of fancy non-dairy ice creams around here but some seriously good sorbets.

Mango sorbet

 Happiness inducing today: The kind librarian helping me to order a book from a library further away so I wouldn’t have to commute there myself.

What’s your favourite non-boring fresh and summery salad? Please feel free to share recipes!

Which foods that you didn’t like growing up are you fond of nowadays?

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Raw-king my [chocolate] socks

If you’ve read my blog for any time you’ll know I’m an all-out chocolate fiend. Not a single day passes by without me getting my hands and face covered in chocolate – or, to keep it clean here: chocolate is part of my daily diet. A marvelous part indeed.

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While I enjoy trying new brands and flavours something I had yet to be convinced by was raw chocolate. Even though I’d tried a few bites of raw chocolate in the past none could live up to my high demands J. The flavours were good for the most part but the texture didn’t please me too much. Granted, I’m seriously picky when it comes to chocolate: No filled bars, not too cloyingly sweet, dark but not too bitter or acidic in taste and – most importantly – they need to be smooth, melt-in-my-mouth goodness.

All together_Om

Back to the raw facts chocolate. During my visit a Veganz a while back I had the chance to sample some OmBar flavours which were totally different from any other raw chocolate bars I’d had to date. Not only were the flavours interesting but the texture wasn’t nearly as gritty as the one of those bars I’d tried before. Needless to say I was super happy when Ombar offered to send me a few of their chocolates to review.

Ombar Coco Mylk

 

The first one I tried was Coco Mylk which – as the name gives away –is the one resembling milk chocolate the closest. It is very smooth, has a creamy and what I’d describe as a slighty fruity and very pleasant sweetness from the coconut sugar Ombar uses in all of their bars. Unlike real dairy milk chocolate which leaves me craving for more this one was satisfying and didn’t leave me wanting to eat the whole bar in one sitting. [Okay, maybe I wanted to but I was able to practice moderation more easily than with dairy milk chocolate ;).] Coco Mylk is the flavor I’d be likeliest to buy again [soon] but unfortunately the only of these not available in Germany.

Ombar Strawberry

Strawberries & Cream: Not usually a huge fan of fruit-infused chocolate I was positively surprised by this one. According to the ingredient list and information on the inside of the wrapping paper the strawberry flavor comes from 100% natural dried fruit powder. It therefore doesn’t have the artificial taste I’ve found in other (non-raw) fruit-flavoured chocolates and blends in very well.

Ombar dark

Dark 72%: As opposed to the other two flavours which both had a cocoa percentage of 60 % this one’s decidedly richer in cocoa taste. It’s the least smoothest of the flavours but still nowhere near as gritty as some of the other brands of raw chocolate I’d tried previously. If you enjoy dark chocolate in general I’d recommend trying this bar which also isn’t as sweet as the other bars and therefore yet more satisfying.

What really enjoyed about Ombar chocolates was their short ingredient list containing nothing artificial or overly processed. Raw cacao, coconut sugar and cacao butter as well as added probiotics are the main ingredients found in all of the above-mentioned bars. The “milkier” flavours contain some other – yet still natural – ingredients like coconut butter. Ombar provides extensive information about all ingredients used as well as the benefits of raw chocolate on their website if you’d like to find out more.

Ombar CocoMylk II

Another aspect I like about Ombar is that they’re a small company founded by three health-interested friends on their pursuit to find the perfect raw chocolate bar. Not being willing to give up on chocolate while living a healthy [and in their case raw] life is something I can fully sympathize with – who would want that? Supporting smaller businesses is something I really like doing even if their products are a bit pricier than those by larger ones. Good quality is worth paying a little extra in my opinion.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the Ombar chocolates and would definitely buy them again. Especially as there are several other interesting flavours – Coconut! Blueberry Acai! – I definitely want to try. Why not satisfy my chocolate cravings in a healthier way and more natural way every now and then?  As given away in the title Ombars definitely rocked raw-ked my chocolate socks :). That being said I’m off to om on another piece [or two] while having a look at everybody else’s marvelous happenings over at Katie’s.

 

Happiness inducing today: Waking up to a kind text by my sister.

 

Do you like raw chocolate?

Which are your favourite brands and flavours?

[Not] making the most of everything – and accepting it [for now]

Happy Sunday!

Less than a week left until I start working full-time – from nine till six. Why am I mentioning this detail? For one because it’ll change my current routines a lot. No more doing my grocery shopping at any time I like, no more going on walks whenever I please, no more leisurely eating my lunches in comfy home atmosphere. [Just to point this out: I’m not trying to make working life look like the most horrendous thing out there and there are aspects I’m looking forward to. It’ll just be a huge change for me and I’m generally taking time to adapt to changes.]

Mostly, though, the way how I’ve been spending these past days and weeks has been on my mind. In regards of feeling like I hadn’t made the most of the superfluous time I’ve been blessed with.

The feeling of not making the most starts small for me already. Always wanting to put special purchases – think: a fancy new dress or more expensive or hard-to-find foods – to the best use possible. Not wearing the dress today because there might be a better occasion [and then postponing its first appearance for ages]. Or spending too much time pondering on how to best use a certain ingredient. Sometimes so long that it eventually goes bad before I get around to using it. Clearly something I need to work on though it’s been getting better. But I digress …

When people kept asking about my grand plans to effectively fill the period in between the end of my studies and work I – blanked. I’m well aware they weren’t asking with any hidden motives or trying to put pressure on me – yet I felt like that. Yes, it’s true. I didn’t book any vacation or tried to squeeze in one last big adventure before entering the “real world”. Granted, it’d have been nice to meet friends I hadn’t seen in a while again. But with most of them studying or working, too, and in other counties with different times off at that, we ended up not being able to find dates that fit with everybody’s’ schedule. A trip to Berlin was high up on the list of things I’d wanted to do, too, but my mum – traveling companion of choice – cancelled and nobody else was up for it.  Additionally, if you’ve ever had an ED or travelled with somebody who did you might now that ED doesn’t make a nice travel companion. At times, it can turn the fun down to lowest possible and up the anxiety to the max. Not what you’d want to expect somebody who hasn’t dealt with this before –read: my friends – to endure.

 

Disappointing others is something I try to avoid at all costs and I feel like I did by not making the most of all the time I had while many others didn’t. Yet, even if others expected me to pack up my bags and travel – where would be the sense in it if I wasn’t feeling [comfortable with] it? You travel for yourself, not for others. Add in that – while I genuinely enjoy Even though I know people who genuinely find joy in exploring places all on their own I’m not one of them. In case you’re wondering what I did end up doing: reading, cooking, wandering around, some work for my parents. In short: a whole lot of relaxing.

In terms of food I’d been meaning to get a lot more adventurous: try new recipes, cook and eat with my family, eat out. Seeing how long this post has already become I won’t go into details here. It’s another topic for a whole different post.

Once again, though, I’m taking it as a learning experience. Lots of time and my lack of time management as well as anxiousness keep me from making the most of now. Knowing this, I’ll have to challenge myself on future occasions. Because I truly want to live – not loose even more time.

Happiness inducing today: Talking to a good friend who helped me sort out my head in terms of the above chaos a little.

Have you ever felt like you weren’t making the most of something when you felt you had to?

Do you have any ideas on how to challenge myself to become more daring bit by bit? It seems ridiculous to ask but I’m serious about this. Sometimes it can be hard for me to see the obvious and I need others to point it out to me.

Never enough p-liciousness [with pasta, protein bowl and pudding]

Sorry for my last post being super rush and in consequence neither very well-written nor complete. I’d intended to share more information on the meringue-making but currently very limited internet access didn’t offer the best condition for that. Yet with my excitement about the outcome of the meringue I still wanted to share hence the rushed post. I’ll revise it once I’m back at my place by the end of the week.

Whenever I intend to actually post a [semi-]full day of meals – I don’t think I’d ever manage to take pictures of any and all bites and nibbles I have throughout the day – something gets in between. Not to gross you out too much I’ll just say this much: tongue inflammation [sorry!]. Which consequentially means avoiding any too hot, spicy, chunky, you-name-it foods? Needless to say there haven’t been any exciting dishes on my menu for the past days but plenty of frozen bananas, ice cream and cold beverages.

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But I obviously still didn’t want to miss out on What I ate Wednesday so I’ll play the same game like every week showing you some of my recent meals.

Still reigning supreme in my memory I hope you’ll excuse me showing off my pasta once again. Freshly made fusili with a not-too-spicy Arrabiata sauce – for a spice wimp like me it’s a good thing Vapiano lets you choose your own level of heat.

Vapiano

Confession: I was seriously tempted to steal the bowl – simple yet pretty.

Don’t let the picture fool you! Servings at Vapiano are quite generous so I got to take some leftovers home that I incorporated in a light lunch the next day. Chickpeas were a natural addition – when are they not?

Leftovers

My newfound appreciation of pizza has yet to ebb off so here’s another recent success. I finally remembered the olives (thanks for the inspiration, Chelsea!), added lentils and kept the Daiya cheese to a minimum because other vegans had told me cheese-free pizza was even better. I’m not yet sure I fully agree. But the flavor of the vegetables truly took the main role in this version and not always having Daiya on hand it’s nice to know pizza is still great without it.

Pizza with olives

With Protein Power Bowls appearing all over the blog world I decided to create my own. Lentils, spices, vegetables and a creamy dressing – what’s not to like? I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post on the weekend – when I’m back home with steady internet access again :).

Another one for the "tastes better than it looks"-category.

Another one for the “tastes better than it looks”-category.

One snack/dessert I actually did have yesterday was this little deliciousness. Proof that Alpro’s caramel dessert might not beat the dark chocolate one but still makes a nice tongue-cooler in a pinch. Any excuse to eat more ice cream/frozen desserts is a good one in my book :).

Almond butter in the background despite its not-quite-tongue-friendliness.

Almond butter in the background despite its not-quite-tongue-friendliness.

 

Fingers crossed my tongue will heal fast letting me partake in some more interesting cooking again soon.

Now hop on over to Jenn’s to join the full-on food party fun!

Happiness inducing today: Heading out for a bike ride with my mum at sunset.

Do you like to pack leftovers at restaurants and incorporate them in meals at home, too? I was actually new to the concept of being able to take leftovers home but will certainly do again in the future. No food should be wasted.

What was your favourite meal from the past week?

Keeping it sweet without the sugar

Thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post! After a truly amazing lunch experience I’m already planning future Vapiano dates. Let me know if you want to join me :)!

MiMM_new

Remember how I said my last post wasn’t meant to focus on the pasta but the meanings behind it? Well, I guess that means I’m fine focusing fully on the food [why, yes, I like my alliterations] today. While there were some nasty thoughts creeping up after my pasta lunch I’ll get back to those in another post and keep it sweet and happy today. I know I’m super late to join Katie’s Marvelous in my Monday link up. With some marvelous food shenanigans lately, though, I still wanted to partake in the fun – with family being the reason for my delay I hope you won’t mind :). Thanks as always for hosting, Katie!

As I’ve mentioned many times before I have a huge sweet tooth and am not denying it. Some kind of dessert happens for me every day and I’m not willing to change it. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to find alternative ways to satisfy my longing for the sweetness without relying too heavily on the refined white gold [read: sugar]. That being said I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the real deal and will never shun it completely from my diet.

My Mum’s homemade strawberry jam – made with real sugar and can’t be  beaten.

My Mum’s homemade strawberry jam – made with real sugar and can’t be beaten.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while already you’ll know I’m quite fond of chocolate. Venturing down the sugar-free lane here actually happened spontaneously when I stumbled upon this chocolate in a store I don’t frequent regularly. It was the last bar in stock so I took it as a sign and got one. Mint and chocolate has been a favourite combination of mine as of recently. The verdict? It was surprisingly tasty and refreshing. And that’s what counts much more for me than it being sugar-free. I often find the mint flavor to be not prominent enough in chocolate bars so this one gets bonus points for its mintyness.

Plamil barEven more surprising and successful, though, was another experiment that took part in my kitchen: Vegan sugar-free meringues. Why, yes, I’m well aware regular meringue consists of egg whites and sugar – but trust me on this one. Admittedly, I followed a recipe by another blogger to a T but remained highly skeptical of the outcome all the while, too. Is it truly possible to cut the sugar and eggs out of a recipe that pretty much consists of just these two?

Looks eerily similar already …

Looks eerily similar already …

Excuse the far from perfect look of the meringues pre-baking – I might have to invest in a piping bag sometime in the future. For now it was all about plopping little fluffy blobs onto the baking sheet.

Baiser

Did I ever mention my impatience ;)? It was put to yet another test after the slow-roasted tomatoes with the meringues taking yet another low-and-slow oven party.

in the oven

But now for the best moment: Taking the first bites. Just one word: Heaven. Not fluffy anymore but the crunchy, crisp little [non-]sugary clouds my great-grandma used to serve anytime we visited her. If a food makes me reminiscene childhood memories it’s a win in my books already.

Sugar coma-inducing without the sugar.

Sugar coma-inducing without the sugar.

Happiness inducing today: Sunshine, sunshine and even more sunshine.

Which foods make you reminiscene your childhood or visits at your [great-]grandparents’ houses?

What are your thoughts on sugar-free chocolate? Did you try it before?

And once again: Tell me what made you smile today!

Lessons learned [while eating pasta]

Some days are bad, some days are good and some are filled with such a lot of happiness you can’t help smiling all throughout. Any guesses on which category mine fell into today?

And regardless of the title this isn’t a whole post just about pasta. Better yet: it’s about the [life] lessons learned through a bowl of pasta. To understand how anybody can attach such significance to a simple pasta lunch would really require me to tell my whole ED history. Which I’m sorry to admit not feeling comfortable with – yet.  Just to give you a little insight nonetheless let me say that some steps in recovery are more, some less significant. Pasta as something I hadn’t eaten in years* – or, if so, just a few bites stolen from somebody else’s plate – was one of those more significant ones.

*not counting the one shown in my last WIAW post

Do you remember me mentioning my plan to eat out with friends? I didn’t forget about it – how could I? – and while in quite a  different way than originally intended it finally happened today. Pasta lunch at Vapiano, that is. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Vapiano: it’s a German restaurant chain operating world-wide and serving Italian food self-serve style. What makes it special is that you pick your dish – salad, pasta or pizza – and have the chefs prepare it to your preferences right in front of you. For example, both me and the friend of mine went with pasta and were able to choose a kind of pasta,  a sauce and extras like garlic or the degree of spicyness. Pasta at Vapiano is freshly made and most kinds are vegan.

Lesson #1: Stick to your plan

Vapiano I

Even until shortly before leaving for lunch I was playing through options of cancelling out last minute. Fittingly, the friend I’d meant on going with had a bit of an issue that could have interfered but we worked it out. And once again key factors to me keeping with my plan were blogging and the friends I made through it. Not only did announcing my plan to eat out make for accountability towards all of you. Additionally, a pep talk with Shannon the previous night gave me further reassurance and calmed me down. Despite sticking to your general plan, though …

Lesson #2: Be spontaneous and see the positives

Guilty as charged of following this motto.

Like I told you above Vapiano lets you choose the different components of your meal. Having studied the menu online before I knew my order off pat before even entering the restaurant: whole wheat pasta al’Arrabiata. Only: they were all sold out of both types of whole wheat pasta. Insert 10-second [internal only] panic attack. Unlike before, though, it honestly was just a tiny twinge of panic sweeping up. A year ago I might have given up at this point. Now, though, I rolled with it and simply picked another kind of pasta. Can’t have everything – but still a pretty good meal. It’s this kind of having a plan yet being able to adapt and not throw in the towel at the first sight of changes to be made.

Lesson #3: Choose the right focus.

Vapiano III

Let’s trust Sophia Loren.

Calories? Amounts of fat used? Not the most pleasant topics to think about while eating. Knowing that I did focus on those on previous occasions of eating out I knew it’d make the overall experience much less enjoyable. Instead, I didn’t give it a second thought and just kept chatting with my friend. Hardly a thought was wasted a thought on the above mentioned topics. The only thing I did notice about my dish was how amazing it tasted – and isn’t that all that matters in anyway?

Lesson #4: Appreciate new [old] friendships

My friend's pick of Tagliatelle with pesto.

My friend’s pick of Tagliatelle with pesto.

See, I told you this wasn’t just about pasta. In fact, it was about much more. It did also show me another great friend in my life whose true values I had yet to fully find out about. Despite being in the same degree programme and getting along well we hadn’t met outside university often until recently. For no specific reason, really. Now, though, he was not only the one helping me with my thesis but also the one going out for pasta with me. Unknowingly supporting me, actually. While he might assume it I have yet to open up towards him about my ED. It’s just something I don’t feel comfortable sharing with everybody.

Lesson #5 : Let go and enjoy.

Vapiano Arrabiata

Dig into that bowl of pasta. Whatever happens afterwards will happen. Maybe you’ll feel guilty, maybe there will be regret. But in that very moment just eat. Laugh. Enjoy your company.  Live.

Happiness inducing today: Spending an overall awesome day with good company, good food and lots of laughter.