Vapiano II

Sampling-savvy without worry

Starting the week off with a [more or less] clean slate I have to admit my camera decided to tag along and – as opposed to me –  stay the same way until now. Clean. In terms of food pictures, that is. Hence why today’s What I ate Wednesday won’t feature any foods eaten this week but recent ones with some pictures courtesy of my phone [not exactly my camera of choice but it works]. Looking back there’s a trend of one food category making up a rather large part of the last weeks: free food.

WIAWbutton_1

Granted, this first one is a bit of a stretch in terms of free. But how could I go without mentioning the fantastic lunch at Vapiano that rounded out the marvelous Sunday I spent with my mum?

Vapiano II

Liking it a lot the last time I went with their Pasta Arrabiata again – this time with whole spelt fusili – while my mum’s fettucchine dish had feta, sundried tomatoes and parmesan.

Vapiano

As I mentioned in my last WIAW post I take my lunch breaks for short walks. What I didn’t mention, though, was the destination of the latter. Situated in a industrial area of the city the office doesn’t offer the nicest walking environment. Nevertheless I’m making the most of it in the foodie sense by taking the ten-minute walk to two large stores close by. Sounds boring? Not so much to me if one of them is a fairly large organic supermarket [Alnatura for any German readers]. Summing up the benefits of this in just one word: samples.

cookie monster

Cookie Monster cookies …

Unfortunately, the idea has yet to spread far around here so it’s mostly organic supermarkets dishing up samples. Admittedly, I can go a little crazy on these … but that’s actually the upside to my sample-savvyness. While I still can’t pride myself with being completely [calorie-]count-free I’ve noticed how much more comfortable I’ve gotten with bits and bites. Sampling trays have helped a lot here. Who could say no to free food? Not me at least. Cookies, chocolate, truffles, bars, … as long as it’s vegan or has only a little bit of dairy I’m in.

... and fresh fruit is an obvious one.

… and fresh fruit is an obvious one.

All of the above free or paid-for-by-others foods came [mostly] guilt-free, too. Considering free foods free of calories, too? Maybe not all the way [yet] but I’ve decided not to feel guilty for eating them anymore. Eating the equivalent of five cookies in one sitting? It might have happened before. Yet if I was offered them at any other time I’d likely still dismiss the opportunity. For now it’s still taking baby steps and  but this one feels quite freeing. It’s like sampling the freedom of mindless eating which I’m hoping to reach eventually. One sampling at a time …

butter biscuits

Which better way to end an almost-last-of summer WIAW post with ice cream [samples]? Naturally I didn’t whip out my camera in front of the store employees scooping out the samples. Yet I decided to buy some and when pondering aloud which flavor to get was even offered a spontaneous discount so I could buy two [never mind that I might have done in anyway]. Apparently that’s what a little flirting with the hottie employee gets you ;). Don’t mind if I do.

Strawberry Lime Sorbet

Strawberry Lime Sorbet

Now if only I could make Jenn‘s Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread appear on those sampling plates around here 😉 …

Happiness inducing today: Talking to one of cousins – it had been too long already again.

Are you a sneaky sampling snacker, too?

What are your favourite foods to sample?

Random question: Is it starting to feel like Fall where you are yet? I wish summer wasn’t slowly fading away already.

 

Sunday [sunny] Funday

A fresh start, a clean slate – that’s what the majority of people attributes to the beginning of a new year. Personally, I like to think the same way of Mondays, too. A whole new week with all its possibilities and changes.  What didn’t work out well or hasn’t happen last week can be made up for in the new one. With a few struggles last week and huge decision made there might actually be quite a bit of change for me this week.  As I can’t say anything for sure yet, though,  For now, though, I’ll have a look back- instead of fast forwards and share some marvelous happenings from the weekend. Thanks again to the wonderful Katie for reminding us to start the week in a happy spirit.

MiMM_new

Saturday was an all-out relaxed day I spent running errands, reading and pottering about my flat. Don’t you just like when you’re visiting a store you’re not frequenting on the regular only to happen upon a favourite item at a great price? That’s what happened for me:

Bengal Spice Tea

I’d been buying the small boxes at little less than the price I found this huge box for now. Score!

Even more marvelous than Saturday was my Sunday [Funday], though. Not only due to me wearing the eponymous Essie colour which I finally found around here a few weeks ago after assuming it wasn’t sold in Germany at all.

Essie

No, much more so because my mum took the trip down to the city I live in only so we could spend a few hours together. Few hours that passed by way too quickly yet I’m so thankful for every minute we got to spend with each other <3.

Trying to make the most of our time we started by visiting a cozy café offering vegan fare that recently opened around the corner of my place.  Unfortunately, they close pretty early on Sundays so we weren’t able to have lunch there but had tea. By recommendation of another guest, my mum also got a piece of vegan Coconut Cream Cake [akin to Raffaelo pralinés if you’ve ever had those]. Needless to say, I snagged several bites and while we agreed it was a bit too heavy for a hot summer day it still tasted amazing.

Rich, creamy, coconutty.

Rich, creamy, coconutty.

Followed up by a nice walk in the gorgeous August sun – really, though: how is it the end of August already? Can we please postpone the beginning of Fall by a few more months or at least weeks? I’m not ready yet.

 Sunday walk

More love locks.

Love locks

We even spotted a newlywed couple having their picture taken and were instantly reminded of my sister’s wedding. Hard to believe it’s been three weeks since then already. Luckily, I still had the pictures on my camera so we reminiscened  the event over lunch. So many awesome memories.

Making it a true Sunday funday we went on a little window-shopping tour after lunch. Some fun finds:

Undecided on these ones ...

Undecided on these ones …

… but how about these?

Hello Kitty Shoe

You know my obsession ;).

It’s not usual for stores to be opened on Sundays in Germany. Yet living in a city with a large central station I am “lucky” [poor employees!] to still have actual shopping possibilities on Sunday. If having another day to spend money on is a good or a bad thing … I’m undecided ;).

new bag

However, it did prove to be great yesterday. I’d been in need of a new large bag spacious enough to house my assortment of lunch boxes   and bags to the office yet also pretty enough to double as a shopping or travel bag. Three had made it onto my short list but being an indecisive person in general I was glad to have my mum’s help in making the choice. Give and receive – so I helped her decide on her first ever Essie polish after I’d been gushing about them for ages. Laquered up was beaten by Russian Roulette in the end :).

Flower

Saying goodybe at the end of the day was hard but here’s too another mum weekend [hopefully] soon!

 

Happiness inducing today: Spending the day with my mum, obviously. Having two siblings it’s nice to have her all to myself every now and then :).

 

I hope you’re all having a great start into the new week!

 

How do you like to spend mother-daughter-days [respectively mother-son-days]?

Do Mondays feel like starting with a clean slate to you, too?

What were some highlights of your weekend?

 

Good good links #1

Starting with a little confession here: Whenever I come across a great article, post or mouthwatering recipe online I keep it opened in a tab for future use. Do you want to take a guess on how many tabs I’ve currently opened? [Another confession: I wouldn’t even be able to tell myself.] For better organization, though, I’ve started copying and more or less well categorizing the links in word [numerous] documents on my laptop.

After seeing Amanda and other bloggers link up some reads they enjoyed lately I figured: why not kill two bird with one stone by sharing some of what inspired me, made me think or want get into the kitchen right away, too?!  Without further ado here are some of my favourite [recent] links:

The Way We Eat {is it all in our genes?} via Health Ninja

If you ever wondered why some people thrive on certain diets and others don’t this might explain. I’d never heard of this concept before and inspired by Ksenija I’ll be sure to read up some more about it.

Be open to new ideas but secure in your own beliefs via Running with spoons

Great post and something worth pondering. Being constantly exposed to new [dieting and exercise] concepts it’s really about how we decide to use the knowledge that can make it good or bad for us.

Intuitive Eating- Stop Battling with “Bad” Foods via Diary of a semi-health nut

Another great reminder to stop labeling foods.

Skin tips times six via Build your bliss

Because who doesn’t want glowing and healthy skin? I definitely want to implement some changes into my skin care routine after having read this.

25 Ways to a Healthier You in 60 Seconds  via Shape Magazine

Some great ways to be that bit happier and healthier in everyday life.

21 Bad Habits To Avoid If You Want To Be Happy  via MindBodyGreen

It’s no secret I’m a little happiness-obsessed and these are some great tips to become and stay happy.

Why Some Recipes Don’t Always ‘Work’ via The Healthy Apple

Are you loyal to certain brands, too? At least for myself I’d have to agree to having my preferences and tasting the differences when cooking with other brands.

Sea Salt vs. Table Salt – The Truth  via Fooducate

Just goes to show how the industry keeps marketing certain products by promoting them as healthier. Which salt do you buy?

New Uses for Things You Have in Your Dorm Room via Real Simple

Never mind that I don’t currently have any lying around but I’m especially intrigued by the cassette case as cord organizer. Bye, bye, cable spaghetti?!

The Food

Among the huge number of recipes I’ve come across lately these spoke out to me in particular. Now I just need to find a way to add more hours to the day to actually try them …

A Cake To Remember via Life hands you limes

Does this really need any explanation? The search for my next birthday cake is officially over. Five months early? The planner in me is pretty contend.

Dreamy Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread  via Peas and Crayons

Either Jenn needs to stop sharing all of these tempting recipes for baked good [I kid!] or I simply shouldn’t visit her blog when craving something sweet.

Almond Joy Granola via Kiss my Broccoli

Cocoa? Coconut? Almonds? Honey? I’m sold. Oh, and it’s granola so what’s not to like in anyway?

Burrito bowl with nacho “cheese” via Peachy Palate

Burrito bowls are amazing already but while I’ve made my own before this takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Kabocha Squash Lentil Curry via Pinches of Yum

Okay, this one might be a little older already. But with kabocha season finally starting over here I’m hoping to try [a variation on] this soon. Because there’s really just one word for how this sounds: yum!

With that I’m off to bed and looking forward to a great Sunday tomorrow [see below]. I hope you’ve been enjoying a great weekend so far!

 Flowers at home

Happiness inducing today:The prospect of spending the day with my mum today as she’s coming for a visit. It’s been too long already again.

Which were some posts you enjoyed lately?

What are your plans for Sunday?

WIAW: Welcome to the Tupper Club

I’m glad you enjoyed the randomness in my last post. Maybe I should practice being random and sharing tidbits about myself a little more often?

Have you ever heard of the Supper Club? These fancy dining events? As much as I’d enjoy joining a party like that: the Tupper [ware] club is what it’s been at for me these days.  Ever since starting work my meals have followed the criteria of “everything I can fit into a [fake] Tupper or a [resealable] bag”.  Here’s to my first working girl edition of What I ate Wednesday – also known as:

WIAWbutton_Tupper club

Starting the day right I usually take a mug brownie with me as I don’t get the chance to have breakfast at home. At first I was a bit unsure about how to get it to the office because I don’t happen a perfectly mug brownie-sized lunchbox [say what?!].

Mug cake

I’m all about being inventive as one of my [kitchen] mottos is “Reduce – reuse”, though, so when life hands you empty packaging …

Smile!

I can’t deny the smiley stickers on their products are one of the reasons I buy this brand for. Could you resist the cuteness?

… you’d better smile back and pack your brownie. Not without adding some peanut butter before rushing out the door, though.

Trying to make the most of my 30-minute break I usually go for a walk so I have to eat lunch while working at the computer. Far from my ideal idea of a calm meal but it’s about doing what works. Lunches haven’t been as pretty as I like them but let’s face it: taste beats looks. And who didn’t like to mashed food as a child? Not to call it a mash, though, I’ll be a little more grown-up naming it stew.

In fact served in a real Tupper.

In fact served in a real Tupper.

And if you’re wondering about those grains in there: That’d be remainders of a store-bought tabbouleh salad I picked up when it was on offer recently. With a relatively healthy ingredient list I figured it was worth giving a try. The verdict: a tad too vinegar-y for my taste but still nice. While I’d usually prefer to prepare my own version I’ll admit it’s nice to have some fast options for the convenience of it. It might not make it on my grocery list regularly but it’s nice to know vegan choices are slowly expanding. A  heads-up for any German readers.

Tabbouleh

When the post-lunch sweet cravings hit I’m obviously prepared with one of the many snack bags of mine. These vegan mint chocolate and cinnamon macarons have been working quite well.

Macarons

Talking about healthy snacks I can’t forget to mention the one really nice bonus my work offers: an organic fruit box delivered every Tuesday. With the team consisting of only my boss, a trainee and me I’m lucky not having to share with many others. Fruit addict right here …

Fruit basket

This week’s bounty minus several handfuls of blueberries and half the grapes – the trainee’s a bit addicted …

 The only downside to this probably being that my boss is quite a blueberry fan, too. Not a reason to worry for me, though. Remember my favourite lunch box? Much cuter than a Tupper this one carried my personal share of blueberries in style – coincidentially, in fact.

Hello Kitty

Never enough blueberries.

With that I’m off to join the Tupper Club at the office once more. I already excuse for not being able to look at your WIAW deliciousness or comment as early or as much as usual. Weirdly enough my boss doesn’t approve of blog reading at work ;).

Happy Wednesday!

 Happiness inducing today: Getting some awesome news via mail [might have to share soon].

 

Are you a proud member of the Tupper club [fake or not], too?

What are your favourite quick and filling office lunches? I’d happily take any recommendations and recipes.

Do you ever read blogs at work? I’ve been wondering how everybody else got to join the WIAW link-up before when I can’t or need to do it secretly at the office. Sh, don’t tell ;). [Or maybe it’s just the time difference?]

Would you please be so random? [Liebster award]

It’s time for a bit of randomness again with the sweet Maggie nominating me for the Liebster award. Thanks, Maggie! Though I’ve been tagged with this before I had fun answering her questions and doing my best to be seriously random here. Hope you enjoy it and are having a marvelous Monday!

liebsteraward

… and a random posts calls for random pictures [note that you agreed to this by just coming here].

Here’s how to play:

1. Thank the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. Nominate 11 bloggers to answer your questions.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominate to answer and let all of the bloggers know that you’ve nominated them.  You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

Shoes

More than one walk happened on the weekend.

11 random facts about me

  1. Tea is my favourite beverage all year round – no matter which season.
  2. There was a time when I wanted to become a kindergarten teacher and did a summer internship at my former kindergarten. It was so hard to leave again after those week yet I still chose another career path [for now – never say never …].
  3. My favourite TV series growing up was Ocean Girl. Any other fans or at least people who’ve heard of it? Any Australians, maybe?
  4. Going for a walk is my favourite way to start the day.
  5. I don’t like ketchup. Never even did as a child.
  6. I’m scared of swimming in the open sea.
  7. I’m slightly obsessed with taking pictures of flowers. Especially in my mom’s garden [proof is in the pictures].
  8. Viva la vida by Coldplay is one of the few thoughts that I know the lyrics of by heart. With most other songs I might know a few lines here and there but wouldn’t be able to sing along all the way.
  9. As much as I enjoy reading [others’] random posts I have the hardest time writing them myself. There are so many random things about every person but I find it’s hard to name them myself when being asked.
  10. I’m not only the youngest but also the shortest child in my family.
  11. Even numbers are my favourite for a reason I can’t [even] explain. Needless to say the numbers in this tag puzzle me a little. Eleven random facts? Eleven questions? Why not choose an even number?

Tea

  1. If you worked in a typical school cafeteria, how would you “healthify” the menu? Fun fact here: None of the schools I went to had an actual cafeteria as in: a place you could get a warm lunch at. All we had were older students selling candy bars, sandwiches and the likes.  From what I’ve heard about cafeterias, though, some changes I’d make to their menus would be: include whole-grain options, fruit in place of sugary desserts, a no-fried-food policy and no soft drinks. I’m all about balance so if students choose to eat unhealthily: okay. Only schools shouldn’t support this.
  2. What is your guilty pleasure? Sleeping in. As in: really sleeping in.
  3. If you could pack a suitcase to anywhere right now, what would you pack and where would you go? Perfect timing on this question as a get-away would be just the right thing at the moment. My suitcase would contain clothes for every weather and accompany me on a journey through the US finally visiting all of my blends. A girl can dream …
  4. Have you ever lived in another country? Where and for how long? I unfortunately haven’t. It’s about time, don’t you agree?
  5. What’s your least favorite household chore? Definitely bathroom duties. More specifically: cleaning the toilet and the mirror. The first because nobody likes it.  And the mirrors because I never manage to leave them behind streak-free which is frustrating. Advice is appreciated if you have any.
  6. What are your 5 must-have foods? That’s a tough one. Fruit [cheating a bit here with a food group], oat bran, nut butter, kabocha and chickpeas.
  7. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? Not trying to pick on any parts of my body here so I’d go with being less self-critical.
  8. If you could go back to any age and relive it, which age would you choose and why? The Renaissance – for its music, art, literature. And maybe the gorgeous dresses have played in here, too …
  9. Who’s your favorite Disney princess? Do I really have to pick a favourite? Okay, I’ll go with Rapunzel.
  10. If you were forced to survive on a desert island, who would you bring with you and why? Is there any limit to the number of people? If not: my whole family – that way I’d have people to lead good conversations with, people knowledgeable of ways to survive, technically skilled people who can help build a cabin, …
  11. What is one of your biggest regrets? As a notorious overthinker I’d easily be able to come up with a large number of regrets. But I feel like constant regretting and focusing on the negatives keeps us from being happy and letting loose. Therefore I try not to let the thoughts of regret linger on for too long instead trying to see the positives. Just to play the game right, though: My latest regret would be not taking an umbrella with me on my walk earlier today. That’d have spared a pair of shoes from getting wet – I was fine wearing a trench coat. [Yet I can’t help but add that this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Sorry I’m not sorry for the positivity :).]

Flowers_July

My questions

  1. What is one of your favourite childhood memories?
  2. Name the three most-worn items from your closet.
  3. Who’s your biggest inspiration in life?
  4. Is there any book you’ve read multiple times? If yes: which?
  5. Where is your happy place?
  6. Tea or coffee?
  7. What’s your ideal way to start the day?
  8.  What are some of the words or phrases you use most often?
  9. Are you a planner or a spontaneous person?
  10. Would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
  11. Which famous person would you like to spend a day with and why?

My nominees [in alphabetical order because I had to :)]

Alex  @ Veggin’ out in the kitchen

Arman @ The big man’s world

Christine @ Apple of my Eye

Emily @ Build your bliss

Madison @ Eating for Balance

Meghan @  Clean Eats, Fast Feets

Michelle @ Peachy Palate

Olivia @ Liv lives life

Sara @ Nourish and flourish

Shannon @ Healthiful balance

 

And because I prefer even numbers I’ll go against the rules and nominate just ten ;).

Happiness inducing today: Reminders of how awesome friendships made through blogging are.

 

It’s your turn: Answer as many of my questions as you like! I’m curious to find out more about you.

Never enough chickpeas [Hummus Bake recipe]

Raise your hand if you like hummus. Awesome! Don’t tell me if you don’t. [Admittedly, I’ve come across a number of non-bloggers who thought that ‘weird chickpea mush’ wasn’t delicious but they don’t count.].

The preparation of this dish is just a little more involved – not too much, I promise! – and the result is delightful. Creamy hummus, fresh and [thanks to the balsamic vinegar] rich tomato sauce and plenty of vegetables – my idea of perfect comfort food.

Inside_Hummus casserole

If you’ve been reading my blog for any time you’ll have noticed one ingredient sneaking into about 90 % of my lunches: chickpeas. To say I was slightly obsessed would be an understatement. It’s no surprise many of the [savoury] recipes I create include it and they may or may not make an appearance as snacks, too. Never enough chickpeas for a legume fiend. And hummus? It’s one of the best dips ever inventened so how could you be opposed to eating a huge amount of it in one dish rather than a measly two-tablespoon-serving?

Hummus Casserole I

Once more I included mushrooms in this dish. Not only for being a quick-cooking vegetable but for its amazing meaty texture. Don’t skip them!

What probably makes this recipe slightly strange but [very] good is my topping. Rather than using plain old breadcrumbs I always opt for one of my favourite puffed cereals when some crunch is neccessary:

Amaranth

 

Hummus Bake

For the tomato sauce:

200 ml (about ¾ cup + 1 tbsp) tomato sauce/passata

1 clove of garlic, peeled

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar [this is key!]

½ tsp each dried oregano and basil

 

Hummus:

150 g chickpeas (for me this would be 3/5 of a ‘normal’ can)

1 tbsp tahini

2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp granulated onion

¼- ½ tsp garlic powder*

¼ tsp smoked paprika powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

A few leaves of fresh basil [sub ½ tsp dried if you don’t have it]

Salt + pepper to taste

 

About 4-5 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced not too thin

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly

Unsweetened puffed amaranth

Preheat the oven to 350 °F/175 °C.

Start by preparing your tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a small pot and add the garlic, frying until fragrant. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and let simmer on medium heat until it has boiled down slightly.

Blend all hummus ingredients and add more seasonings if needed.

Assemble: Start by covering a small [single-serving] casserole dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Add zucchini slices, top with about 1/3 to 1/2 [depending on the size of your dish] of the hummus and add a layer of mushrooms. Continue like this with  the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the top with puffed amaranth [could alternatively use bread crumbs] and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Let sit for five minutes after baking allowing the casserole to set [or be like me when hungry and completely ignore this – it’s delicious either way].  I recommend topping it off with more nutrional yeast.

*use fresh garlic by all means if you can. I’m a little sensitive to its taste when raw so seeing as I like scooping up any remainders from the blending bowl I use dried here.

Sprinkling

Who needs breadcrumbs when you have amaranth? [Politely ignore my lunch lecture in the background.]

The hummus in this dish is pretty basic so use your go-to recipe in case you have one. If this still seems too involved I’m sure you could substitute your favourite store-bought hummus [we can find about two brands of hummus in stores around here coming in no more than four different flavours so I always prepare my own]. Don’t however sub out the mushrooms. Yes, this needs a double mention to make sure you won’t ;).

Strange but good

Happiness inducing today: The woman at the supermarket I’d helped finding an ingredient chatting me up about cooking advice. Foodies all around :).

 

What’s your favourite flavour of hummus?

Homemade or storebought? Share your favourite recipes!

Do you agree that a two-tablespoon serving size is just ridiculous?