Changing [the overall attitude and food]

Three reasons to  be happy today: it’s sunny outside, tomorrow is a holiday [at least over here – sorry for everybody else] and … it’s What I ate Wednesday! Jenn picked a good day to give us a mid-week break from any annoyances with food. Because yes, my mind’s been engaged in not so joyful happenings but now isn’t the time and place for that.

Several weeks after announcing the changes to my diet I felt it was time for a little update. I will admit that I had no certain expectations when reintroducing cheese. However, this seemingly small change somehow had larger impact of how I saw food in general. And it surprisingly didn’t have that much too do with cheese after all, either.

WIAWbutton_1

While at my parents’ for Easter I ate more sugar and found myself more relaxed with it than before. I had more of foods I usually don’t buy for myself and despite all-around snackiness didn’t skip meals or avoided carbs like I had before. Because even though I didn’t mention it I still tried to avoid too many carbs [namely grains and potatoes] at lunch because they make in appearance in both breakfast and dinner for me every day. But who ever said that just because my snacks erred on the carbier [is that even a word?] side I had to skip them at meal times? Or that I shouldn’t eat x or y before a certain time of the day? Ridiculous workings of a frazzled brain.

Granola

Yet like I mentioned before carbs are my preferred source of energy. Without enough and the right of them I feel tired, become snappy and just not the person you want to be around. Until now I’d often excused my deterring from grains at lunch with their lengthy cooking time and my lack of planning ahead. However, my recent fondness of polenta and it’s conveniently short cooking time helped in that aspect. Seriously, somebody tell me to opt for something else when it comes to lunch. Because if not I’ll continue with variations on polenta [casseroles] until I get fed up with it again. Something I don’t see happen too soon looking at my recent lunches. At least I still switch up the vegetable part?! Maybe I need to rename my blog because I have yet another polenta bake recipe to share.

Cheesy Enchilada Polenta Bake

Cottage cheese, however, has become a current favourite. To my surprise my diet experimentation proved that a high-protein snack is best for me to avoid the after-work hangriness. More specifically PB & J Frozen Yogurt. Previously I’d grabbed chocolate or attacked my roommate’s granola box right after work. Which left me satisfied for approximately… Two minutes. Not that this kept me from stealing the big clusters from the box either way. I wonder if my roomie notices?? Maybe I should offer frozen yogurt in exchange…

frozen yogurt_homemade

It’s still a trial and error in finding what works best for me on any given day. Some days I’m hangry not matter what or the carb fears turn up again. But these recent steps and findings make me hope I’m back on track working my way forward again. Food should be a reason for happiness not fear. And with that I hope all of you are having a happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: A small success for our whole office at work.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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What are your favourite higher-protein homemade snacks?  While PB & J is a pretty amazing combo in my froyo as of now still I want to get experimenting with different flavours.

Do you have a favourite grain? Favourite way to use it?

Non-food wise: Tell me one reason why you are happy today!

 

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Frozen! [Healthy PB & J Frozen Yogurt]

Peanut butter & jelly time! A creamy and refreshing healthy frozen treat with an added protein boost.

Whoever first had the idea to combine peanut butter and jelly is a genius. And should better have claimed copyright on this perfect duo because you can hardly go wrong whenever pairing them. PB & J cookies? Crumble? Cake? Blondies? Dip? I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. So it was a no-brainer which flavours to go for when faced by a recent cottage cheese shortage. Let me explain…

faux_froyo

This recipe resulted from an actually rather unfortunate circumstance. Do you have those foods you eat regularly but never more than just a spoonful or two at a time? Meaning you assume they’re always around – and then suddenly find yourself running low on them all of a sudden. Case in point for me: above-mentioned cottage cheese. Despite eating just a spoonful or two a day I still found myself with one last small container sitting in my fridge the other day. A Saturday no less meaning I wouldn’t be able to stock up until Monday. And it was obviously just then I found myself craving cottage cheese big time. Insert pulling my hair to think of a way to make use of it the -best- way possible. Ice cream! Or better yet: frozen yogurt. Okay, technically frozen blended cottage cheese but who’d be that nit-picky when it comes to sweet treats?

PB & J_protein_ice cream_pudding

A surprisingly warm day called for a refreshing treat and banana softserve didn’t sound quite as alluring as usual. For once I felt a little extra protein might be what had been missing from meals earlier that day leaving me unsatisfied and snacky. With just six ingredients this refined sugar-free snack is a quick to prepare and perfect treat to cool you down on a hot day. If you don’t feel like waiting it is delicious eaten right after blending as a pudding but even better after a few hours in the freezer. Why not prepare a double batch to try both ways?!

faux_froyo_2

Coincidentially running low on peanut butter, too [who ever runs low on peanut butter?!] peanut flour came to the rescue adding even more protein. Now that’s my kind of protein shake treat.

Healthy [Faux] PB & J Frozen Yogurt

1/2 cup cottage cheese [don’t use fatfree]
2-3 tbsps of [non-dairy] milk
1 – 1 1/2 tbsps peanut flour
6 drops liquid stevia [or sweetener of choice to taste]
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp [or more] of strawberry jam [for German readers: I used this brand]

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the jam in a blender. Pulse until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency.
  2. Pour into a freezer-safe dish.
  3. Swirl in strawberry jam using a spoon or fork.
  4. Either eat as is or place in the freezer for at least three hours. Stirring the mix to break up any big ice crystals after 1.5 hours is optional.

 

Is it ice cream? Is it frozen yogurt? Whatever you might call this frozen concoction one thing it is for a fact: marvelous. Like the fact that it’s Monday and I’m getting a chance to stock up on cottage cheese and make more frozen deliciousness. I’m sure Katie would agree of frozen yogurt priorities

Stop by Laura’s and Kierston’s for more – frozen and not – recipe inspiration!

Happy Monday!

Happiness inducing today: Spotting a random blossom on the floor on my way to the washing room. Spring has really arrived.

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What is your favourite recipe featuring the classic PB & J combination? Sandwiches, wraps or any other kind of bread don’t count!

Are you trying to make the most of last remainders of certain fabourite or hard-to-get items, too?

Dishing up breakfast [Spill it Sunday]

It’s unusual for me to post twice in a day but I’m [breakfast-]rolling with it for Spill it Sunday. If it’s not too much to ask I wouldn’t mind our host Arman to send some sun over to Germany – please and thank you. Rain is the reason I got inspired to join in this week again. Okay, that and enjoying some breakfast talk.

Spill-it-Sunday-option-2-1

1. What is your classic go to breakfast of choice?

Oats! Better yet: oat bran. Or to get even more specific: the oat bran/ wheat bran/ steel-cut oats/ chia seed mix I’ve been tweaking to my liking over months [can we say dedication?!] and now using for years. Wow, has it really been that long already?! I still remember my first time trying oat bran – and being hooked immediately. I like to change up the add-ins every once in a while but caramelized banana for sweetness is a must. As is topping with almond butter.

oat bran_breakfast

2. Favourite sweet style breakfast?
A classic bowl pot [because that’s how I roll] is cocoa banana oat bran topped with both coconut and almond butter. Comfort at its best.

3. Favourite savoury style breakfast?
This is tough because I hardly eat savoury breakfasts these days. But every once in a blue moon I plate up a mixed vegetable stir-fry for breakfast with some coconut butter for staying power. It’s more likely to happen on mornings when I don’t feel really hungry. Or my spin on the vegan classic scrambled tofu: vegan eggy casserole. Thinking about it I might actually need to have it for breakfast again soon.

Assembly - don't forget to make sure you get every drop of sauce ;).

4. Share a breakfast recipe you are a fan of – it can be your own or another bloggers!

The multitude of blogs dedicated to oatmeal makes it hard to pick. But remembering a similar baked rice pudding I want to try this one in the future. As well as Amanda’s baked apple cinnamon raisin oats. Because anything with oats and apples sounds good to me. I actually tried it a while back but forgot to take a picture.

5. Strangest breakfast you’ve ever eaten?
Maybe not strangest but most unusual: Have you ever visited the breakfast buffet at IKEA?? It’s infamous to say the least. So much so, in fact, that I’ve read an article about groups of people regularly attending it – and I found it again in case any German readers are curious. We’ve only ever been there aaages ago because my sister’s and my begging my mum long enough was successful. It was a serious feast. Meatballs, croissants, mini omelettes, pancakes, fruit salad, … Granted, I don’t remember if it actually tasted that awesome or if it was just the once-in-a-lifetime feeling that made it special.

 

6. Do you have a typical breakfast routine?

Soothing tea to settle a wonky stomach.
Absolutely. On a weekday morning it’s craziness but on the weekends I leisurely bring my oats to a boil, make a cup of my favourite tea and grab a newspaper or magazine. Lovingly arranging oat bran toppings, sitting down and reading the newspaper or a magazine while eating. Saving the sudoku or crossword for the last bites and ending your meal sith an extra spoonful of almond butter straight from the jar. Bliss.

Happiness inducing today: Creating a new recipe.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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What is your go-to breakfast?

If you like oatmeal: Tell me your favourite add-ins and toppings! I need some inspiration.

What is the most unusual breakfast you’ve ever eaten? Maybe it was a buffet at IKEA, too?

 

 

Good good links #36

Hi there and happy Sunday!

By now you know my attitude towards lengthy introductions to these posts: unneccessary because it’s all about others’ great posts from the week. There’s enough to read even without wordiness on my side today so I hope you’ll enjoy my favourite reads from the week, too.

Good good links

Good good [food for thought]

the one word that defines us all via Peanut Butter & Jenny

 Hint: it’s not conformance. A must-read for anyone.

Fear Can Be Your Worst Enemy via Jessie Loves 2 Run

Anxiety can rule our lives – but only if we allow it. “Don’t hold back and ask WHY or WHAT IF.”

Addicted to Approval: Reclaim Your Self-Esteem via tiny buddha

 Do you depend on others to define your self-worth?

Snacking At Work? Here’s How To Deal via Refinery29

Habits or actual hunger? Why intuitive/ mindful eating on work days can be hard to manage.

 

Good good [advice and inspiration]

Never Underestimate Diet Experimentation via The Big Man’s World

Don’t hesitate from adjusting your diet to find what works best for you – even if it doesn’t for others or contradicts common health beliefs.

10 Reasons I Should Cancel My Gym Membership via Lifting Revolution

Germ parties on the equipment, endless waiting times and comparison: why you might want to quit going to the gym.

Weight-Loss Rules You’re Allowed to Break via FitSugar

No, carbs aren’t evil and treats are allowed on a diet: Finally some more sensitive advice for those trying to shed some weight.

How Not to be a Food Snob via The Little Honey Bee

Healthy means being flexible with your diet in certain situations because healthy living is about more than just food.

21 Key Ingredients Of A Happy Life via Mind Body Green

The check-list to evaluate your current state of happiness.

Fit Tip Tuesday #4: Overexercising via Fit Gingersnap

Why rest days should be a given in your workout schedule.

 

Good good [things to make you smile]

 19 Fitness Terms That Sound NSFW But Are Actually Totally Innocent via Women’s Health Mag

Not need to get all nutmegged when you hear somebody talk about rim shots, ‘kay?!

 

Good good [food]

Chocolate Swirl PB2 Banana Muffins via The Sweet {Tooth} Life

 Another win for the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

Single Serve Sun Butter Rice Crispy via Fit Food Finds

No need to make a whole pan if all you want is one crispy and sweet [nut-free!] ball of deliciousness.

7 Single-Serving Desserts via Women’s Health Mag

Did I ever mention I liked dessert? And single-servings?!

Brownie Batter Soft Serve (Banana-free) via Healthful Pursuit

Non-vegan but an interesting alternative to banana softserve for those who eat eggs.

Delicious veggie lasagna (noodle-free/gf) via Marfigs

A multitude of flavours and textured all baked into one tasty dish.

Mum’s Caramelised Onion and Eggplant Dip via The Big Man’s World

Roasted eggplant and caramelized onion? Yes, please. Time to invest in a wooden spoon – or steal my mum’s.

 

 

Happiness inducing today: A belated Easter surprise package by my mum.

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What were some of your favourite posts from the week?

 

Playing with recipes [Polenta Mushroom Chili Bake]

Hearty vegan cocoa chili with a meaty texture from added mushrooms layered with slices of creamy polenta. Healthy comfort food at its best.

When I first started out cooking I’d follow recipes to a T even if that required buying an ingredient I wouldn’t regularly get and probably not use again afterwards [cue pantry shelf warmers]. These days, however, I agree with the food wisdom that recipes are really just guidelines that can either be followed or played around with. For me, it tends to be the letter. Don’t have a white onion? Use a red one. Out of wheat flour? Sub spelt. Or when a dish is seriously good but – just because that’s the way your mind works like – you need to add that one ingredient for a little something-something extra.

Polenta bake_V

I’ve mentioned before that I’m all about textures and a huge fan of mushrooms. Needless to say when I feel like adding some more body or dare I call it stick-to-your ribs ‘meatiness’ to a chili they’re my go-to. Same applied here. About the zucchini? Consider it the strange but good part of this recipe. The actual reason, though, is my need for some greenery in every lunch. Yes, the mushrooms are technically the vegetable part of this recipe but since they were my ‘meat’ here 😉 I needed that extra green to complement the decidedly hearty chili.

Polenta bake

Okay, now please forget what I just said about recipes as guidelines. This does not apply when it comes to polenta. I’m not easy to please when it comes to this little grain/ corn. Polenta prepared with just water and a pinch of salt? Bo-ring. It’s all about adding more flavour and (!) creaminess. Not necessarily with the need to get out the cream or cheese though if that tickles your fancy: go for it. I chose to keep the dish vegan here by cooking my cornmeal with some non-dairy milk and adding just a bit of coconut butter for an extra rich flavour. If you decide not to listen to me and just cook your polenta in water: fine. Just don’t come complaining to me about how tasteless it is ;).

My tweak to this recipe is that you don’t need to bake the polenta. Which is an added bonus because you can prep the polenta in advance and keep it in the fridge. Then just slice it when you’re ready to assemble the dish – making it a weeknight-compatible casserole.

Polenta bake

Don’t let the seemingly long ingredient list intimidate you. A lot of them are spices and at least salt and pepper don’t actually count as ingredients. I know at least Davida will agree. This dish comes together much faster than you might think and still looks just that smidgen fancier than your average bowl of chili.

Polenta Mushroom Chili Bake [adapted from Coffee & Quinoa]

For the polenta:

  • scant 1/4 cup of polenta/ cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup each water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk [I used soy because that’s what I had on hand but any unsweetened should work or just cow’s]
  • dash of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp coconut butter

 

For the chili:

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  •  6 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup each kidney beans and chickpeas
  • 2 tbsps of corn
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp of smoked paprika
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dark cocoa powder
  • 1 piece of 99 % chocolate [or a chocolate with at least 85% cocoa], chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp of chia seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated zucchini [optional]
  • optional: grated parmesan

 

Start by preparing your polenta [at least 2.5 hours in advance]:

  1. Bring water/ milk to a boil. Add salt and stir in polenta. Reduce heat and stir until the polenta has thickened.
  2. Stir in the nutritional yeast, coconut and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour into a small bowl, smooth out the top and set aside to cool.

For the chili:

  1. Saute the onion until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  2. Pour in the tomato sauce, spices, cocoa and chocolate.
  3. Let the chili simmer on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Remove chili from heat and stir in the chia seeds. Let the sauce thicken slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, turn the bowl of polenta upside down to pop out the molded block. Slice into four even rounds.
  6. Layer about half of the chili in your baking dish. Add the shredded/ grated zucchini.
  7. Top with the polenta slices and the remaining chili as well as the cheese if using.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes at 180 °C/350 °F.
  9. Serve sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

Notes:

I kept this recipe vegan but also gave the dish a try adding cheese on top. It’s delicious both ways.

Chili_Polenta Bake

I’m linking up with Laura, Kierston and Healthy Vegan Fridays today.

Happiness inducing today: Chatting with my colleague while working on a rather boring task.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Do you follow recipes closely or just use them as guidelines?

What is your favourite dish featuring polenta?

 

 

Whisks, words and weird encounters [Thinking out loud]

Hey hey, it’s Thursday! It’s time to let our thoughts do happy dances again because we’re this close to the weekend. Or – in other words: to think out loud with our [hopefully] happy host Amanda!

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Do you ever get to the point where you’ve read or written a certain word so often that you doubt your own spelling abilities? As in: that you grab a dictionary look the word up online to make sure it’s spelled properly? Case in point: Tuesday’s post. Traditions. A simple word but after reading it what felt like several dozen times I started getting puzzled and double-checked. And you can take that literally because I’m the habitual double-checker in our family. Yes, I’m the kind of person who double or triple-checks to see if the front door is locked or the stove turned off. Better safe than sorry.

2. I think everybody has a most-used kitchen gadget. Aside from spoons – because we all know those are essential and work well for many many tasks. But my real #1 is this one:

wire whisk

3. Sadly, I apparently have a pretty vigorous way of whisking and had to kiss goodbye to a number of them that will keep unveiled.

4. A heart racing like I’d just tried to beat Haile Gebrselassie on a run and jello legs – that was me yesterday night. And no, not because I’d actually been running [I wish!]. The real reason? I’d meant to just quickly take out the trash when I noticed a rather heavily built guy standing on the corner of the street. That alone was enough for me to try and make it a very quick trip outside. Cue panic when he approached me asking if I spoke French – in French, obviously. I just quickly stammered “non, pas bien” and dashed for the house entrance as quickly as I could. Moral of the story: Don’t go outside after dark! Or at least avoid strange men. No matter which language they talk.

5. Can we talk about sales on Easter candy for a minute? You might remember my mum didn’t get me any and the chocolate hens found another purpose. My plan was to stay cool and resist any and all of it. The result?

Lindt_Easter_chocolate

I blame Sam for getting this box of chocolates. Because she asked for the amounts of leftover Easter candy in her last post and when I mentioned I hadn’t gotten any suggested I could still get some. Clearly it was her fault I  found myself in the candy aisle of a huge store that hadn’t sold out all Easter candy yet yesterday, right ;)?!

6. Not to make my mum look like a bad mother, though, she did get me an Easter gift. More or less unintentionally. The story: I had some time to kill in between my train ride and waiting for my bus home on Thursday. That means just one thing: browsing the aisles of the drug store next to the station. Which just so gappens to carry Essie polishes. Which I have a hard time resisting so I decided my mum wanted to gift me a new bottle.

Essie

7.  Thinking about it: Am I supposed to store my nail polishes in the fridge??? I remember seeing or reading it somewhere but I don’t know the reasoning behind it. It seems … weird.

8.Once more there’s just one thing left for me to say: Happy Thursday!

Happiness inducing today: I will never tire of saying this one: sunshine! That and good music playing.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

What is your most used kitchen gadget?

Tell me your favourite Easter candy from those you got this year!