One chance you shouldn’t miss when blogging

Inspiration strikes at the oddest times. The other day, it came in the form of the Yogi’s wisdom while drinking one of my many cups of tea.

“Empty your mind and let the universe fill you.”

I hope the Yogi won’t mind me stretching his words a little and bringing them into the modern context of the blogiverse [yes, I cringed a little typing this]. Fact is, the words brought up a topic I’d been thinking about for a while already. Why not accept Amanda’s invitation to share my thoughts out loud with you today?

Thinking-Out-Loud

Whenever bloggers talk about their favourite reasons to blog you will hear one thing mentioned as the most important: the community. And honestly, I can go on and on and on […] about this, too. That was my intention with and what we all seemed to agree on in last week’s post. Meeting alike minds is giving you that warm and fuzzy feeling every time you open your browser, start delving into new posts and discover how similar people you’ve never met in real life are.

Where else in the world would people from all over the planet, different age groups, social and cultural backgrounds, diets, lifestyles, … get together than in the blog world? Which leads me to the one chance you shouldn’t miss out on when blogging/blog reading:

Broadening your mind.

 

Don’t stay within your peer group.

Like I mentioned above in the blog world it often doesn’t matter what age you are, if you’re single or [happily I hope] coupled, which diet you’re following, what’s your favourite kind of exercise, … I could go on for hours but you get my point. In real life, we usually seek company of alike minds. Or better yet: those we can identify as such on first glance by joining a local running group, meeting up with a book club or – thinking of the many mums out there – through play dates. In the end, though, we’re limiting our chance of new experiences – and surprises.

When I first started reading blogs – years before I started my own – I followed mostly people my age and with similar interests. Nowadays? My reader is filled with a much larger variety of bloggers – some my age, some noticeably older. Some are vegetarian or vegan, some are paleo. Which leads me to …

Forget first impressions. Give second chances.

Soothing tea to settle a wonky stomach.

This isn’t one I necessarily had to learn through blogging but it definitely rings true here more than ever, too. Don’t let the title of a blog or even its usual topics scare you away. Just like judging somebody by their appearance only is wrong we’re better off giving other bloggers a second chance, too.  It’s not unusual for me to continue keeping a blog in my reader though I don’t completely ‘click’ with the author or re-visit one only to be positively surprised by a thought-provoking post. It’s worth reconsidering your first impression and following people you might not have made friends with in real life. Use the blog world as an opportunity for self-growth of mind and heart.

Throw your assumptions out of the window.
I’ve lost count of how much I’ve learned through blogging in the past years. We’re not talking about any fun do-it-yourself projects here [mostly because I haven’t tried any but keep me accountable for starting!]. What I mean is the kind of unconscious learning. By reading blogs written by authors with various cultural or fitness backgrounds,… and just overall opinions on any topic there is.

Letter

Just giving a random example here: bodybuilding and figure competitions. Living in a small town with one tiny gym occupied by either old folks or beef-cakes gruntingly lifting huge weights and drowning protein shakes, I grew up considering it a very weird kind of sports. Competitors to me were viewing food only as fuel rather than a source of enjoyment  [obviously exaggerating a smidgen here so take it with a grain of salt].
And then came blogging and getting to ‘know’ some of those people and their personal stories that were so far from vain. There many examples out there but Brittany was one of the first figure competitors that gave me a different understanding of the topic. I learned that competing didn’t have to be about deprivation, obsessive workouts and rigid rules.

Seek discussion and be open to changing your opinion.

Okay, I’m not suggesting you disagree just to disagree. Like I said before interaction is key in the [blog] world. We can learn so much from each other if we don’t blind out every opposed opinion. Arguments – led in a polite and respectful way obviously – help us broaden our horizons.  Conversations are more enlightening when you can add to them and possibly discover aspects you hadn’t thought of. Like  when my opinion on selfies changed thanks to Georgia  shedding a different light on it .  Keep an open mind!

yellow_flowers_tree

No matter where we live with blogging the world is at our fingertips and we shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to look beyond our own horizon.

 

Happiness-inducing today: An insightful conversation with one of my aunts – even if it was just via phone.

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No questions today but your thoughts on the topic and maybe what you’ve learned through blogging or how it has changed your mind.

 

WIAW: Bring it back!

Oh, how I like me some good themes for What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday. This week? Well, you saw the title already so let’s bring it back! Old favourites or rediscovered food, that is. Because sometimes changing it up just means going back to former favourites or giving dishes a second chance. And for the jive Tupperware is making a return in today’s post, too.

WIAW_new2015

Starting with a recent new discovery, though. Or not completely new but finally successful. See, I’d  tried savoury oatmeal before  but it was … less palatable. I wasn’t going to give them another go but cravings are cravings. And cravings aren’t to be ignored, am I right?! So savoury oats have been on the breakfast menu almost every day for the past week. The key are enough add-ins and toppings to create a perfect bowl. My go-to combination is a base of carrot oats with nutritional yeast, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and mashed chickpeas. The bowl pictured below was my try at changing up the legume with kidney beans but it wasn’t as satisfying as my lovely garbanzos.

savoury oatmeal_breakfast

While my current job search has yet to come to fruition I’ve been giving private lessons to students at an institute in town every now and then. I won’t whine but yesterday was proof I’ll never become a teacher. Not like I had ever intended to, actually, but have you ever tried to get a bunch of seemingly hyperactive nine-year-olds to do simple math when they can’t even sit still for a minute? Let’s just say I have a newfound respect for elementary school teachers. You’re superheroes.

Tupper lunch_wheatberries_stir-fry

What that all had to do with my lunch? Well, since I was helping the kiddos from 12.45 to 4.45 PM I needed to bring some food with me or else I’d have risked eating somebody. I kid, I kid. Either way, I precooked some wheatberries on Monday night and topped a serving with a simple vegetable and chickpea stir-fry. Fun fact and one of those old favourites leading to today’s post title: Prior to eating this I hadn’t [consciously] eaten soy sauce in months. Why? Not for any other reason but the fact I’d bought a one litre bottle of the one and only brand [Kikkoman] but didn’t want to break into it knowing I’d move again rather soon. Why yes, I’m cautious enough – or anxious enough? – to worry about soy sauce spilling in the condiment box packed for the move. I make myself laugh. Anyway, now that we’ve been reunited I see myself eating simple stir-fries on end. Sometimes the simple dishes are really the best.

apple_peanut butter_snack

I’d actually packed an apple as a snack, too, but given it was a struggle to squeeze in eating my lunch I ended up eating it at home. Which was probably better in anyway since that’s where I was able to pair it with the best dip ever: Peanut butter. No, I haven’t abandoned my declared favourite but crunchy salted peanut butter has made its comeback in past weeks. Good for my wallet, too, because dang is my obsession expensive.

Because I came home ravenous after work – I told you it was strenuous 😉 – I snacked pretty much all afternoon while writing a letter. Before we talk about one of those snacks remember what Jenn stresses: WIAW is not about judgement. Okay? Good. Meet my favourites: chickpeas. Yes, you knew that already but did I ever mention I’ve been eating them straight from the can? What can I say: Roasting takes too long if I want food fast and they’re just so satisfying. Go judge – or try it yourself the next time you crave a savoury snack in an instant.

chickpeas_snack

Dinner … once more escaped the camera [as well as about 394948596 more snacks]. I’d tried to remind myself to take a picture for blogging’s sake but in my defense: I got a call shortly before, was distracted and then remembered when I was almost done eating. It was cocoa banana oat bran with almond butter if you were wondering, though. Actually, that’s my go-to  dinner and I’ll probably keep eating it until I’m getting really bored.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Smelling the flowers while being cyling into town. There’s one field that

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Have you recently eaten any foods you had unconsciously neglected for a longer while?

Are you a Tupper fan? If not: how do you transport your food to work?

Savoury oats: yes or no? Share your favourite add-ins!

Good good links #87

What a day! As I sit here finishing this post Saturday night I got back home from a wonderful day spent with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. That’s only 90 % of the story, though. Because – German readers will understand my frustration – the train ride back had it’s bad surprise at 9 PM. Long story short: I got home more than one hour later than planned and feel ready to hit the pillow soon. However, not before sharing some of the great posts I found this week.

Happy Sunday!

 

Good good links

Good good [food for thought]

Dear Nutritionist via Snack Therapy

A sad experience showing not even experts always detect the signs of an eating disorder and give advice to stop it in its tracks. In the end it’s in our hands to choose the right way to go.

Instagram vs. Reality via Picky Runner

A good reminder of pictures always telling only part of th story. Aren’t we all using the same criteria for the content we choose to post?

Good good [advice and inspiration]

Miscellaneous

Sorting out old clothes? Totally not something I struggle with. Lies.These tips are amazing to kiss goodbye to those items you really don’t need anymore.

How I Learned to Do Without 5 Common Kitchen Appliances via The Kitchn

No food processor or microwave? No problem.

35 Body-Positive Mantras to Say in Your Mirror Every Morning via Greatist

Who doesn’t like some positive affirmations?  Great reminders and inspiration when you’re feeling a little low.

 
Blogging
Let’s Talk Instagram via The Athletarian
Great advice on how to create great content on Instagram and connect and interact with others.

Advice for advanced businesses but some of it can be applied to everyday bloggers, too.

 

Health and Fitness

While nothing will ever replace actual therapy these are some great anytime options for further help.

 

Recovery
Exercise addiction and how to overcome it via Fitness Foodie Creations
A serious issue for many people recovering and not an easy habit to break.

4 Ways To Cope With Weight Gain via Lord Still Loves Me

Admittedly still not something I deal with too well [who does] so advice is much appreciated.

 

Good good [posts to make you smile]

20 Signs You Are Not A Morning Person, Never Have, And Never Will Be via Forever Twentysomethings

The struggle is real.

What Happens When Juice Cleanses Get WAY Out Of Hand via Huffington Post

 Didn’t we always know that there was something wrong with that concept …?
Good good [food]
Sago Peach Easter Pudding via Marfigs’ Munchies
Sago reminds me of childhood and who says you could only eat this delicious-looking dish during the  Easter holidays?
An oldie but even from just looking at it goodie recipe: gluten-free rich brownies that don’t call for many or weird ingredients. Win!
Only five ingredients for a creamy vegan ice cream to welcome spring.

Raspberry Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies via Apple of My Eye

Nutritious and pretty at the same time: the cookie dreams are made of. Or breakfasts.

Strawberry Banana Oat Bars via Running with Spoons

Looking at these you wouldn’t believe they’re refined sugar- and oil-free as well as vegan. I’ll take five, please.

Healthy Tiramisu Rice Pudding via The Big Man’s World

Hello, genius. Turning a childhood favourite into an adult dessert-type breakfast? Yes, please.

Artichoke, Cheese and White Bean Dip via Clean Eats, Fast Feets

I’ve never had any kind of artichoke dip but this looks heavenly. Two kinds of cheese, legumes and Greek yogurt all baked to melty perfection?!

Swedish Bean Balls with Lingonberry Gravy via Amuse Your Bouche

Goodbye, IKEA! Hello, homemade vegetarian [easily veganized] köttbullar!

Black Bean Skillet Scramble with Cheesy Polenta via Choosing Raw

Polenta? Legumes? Vegetables? This is checking off all my favourites in one great dish.

Vegan Gnocchi Bake with Spinach, Tomatoes and Moxarella via Coconut and Berries

I’m a huge fan of gnocchi and even more as part of casseroles. The homemade vegan mozzarella is intriguing.

 

Happiness-inducing today:  Hours of talking with the friend mentioned above.
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The Art of Commenting [to connect and communicate]

What a title, right? If you’re asking any blogger what they like most in the blog world the answer is likely going to be: the community. Connecting with alike minds. And one of the best ways to do just that is by commenting. No big deal, right? You’d think so but I’ve come across some – dare I say? – commenting faux-pas in the past that inspired me to think out loud about the art of polite commenting. Take this with a tiny spoon grain of salt and let me know your take in the comments.

[And because complients and kind comments are like flowers those make appearances in today’s post, too. Also because I may or may not be obsessed with taking pictures of them.]

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Avoid one-word comments.
Let’s face it: a quick “Delish!”, “awesome” or “gorgeous!” isn’t saying much at all. What would you expect the blogger to reply?  It feels awkward to say “thanks ” for every such comment you get – and depending on the post  [like What I ate Wednesdays] there might be many of these.
The one exception to this rule for me is when many commenters already said all you’d do, too, or if the post was expressing all your feelings towards a topic so well all that’s on your mind can summed up in an ‘Amen!’ I’ve seen others use this occasionally and for the most part was right with them there. Personally,  I still prefer to write at least one sentence because that’s the way I roll but go you if you’re the master of the  [occasional] one-word comment.

Flowers

2. Show some appreciation for the blogger. 

No, that’s not the hurt soul in me speaking – promise. We all like to get some praise or just a little virtual pat on the back  for our work and the time we put into a post. Wouldn’t you like somebody raving about how delicious your bowl of chocolate cookie crumble oatmeal topped with homemade honey vanilla almond butter looks in a What I ate Wednesday post? Or how adorable your new dress is? Or chime in on a more serious issue you addressed and tell you you’re not alone in feeling a certain way? All those are little virtual pats on the back … or flowers.

Flowers

3. Don’t scroll to the end of the post right away to solely replying any questions posed there.

Hurt soul or not: yes, I speak from experience here. At least for myself I can say that while I’m genuinely curious to hear your answers to those I’d much rather have you chime in with any thoughts that came up while reading my post.  Also, in my experience  replying to the questions only every time you visit a certain blog doesn’t help build a relationship with that blogger. It’s like exchanging pre-set questionaires: you’re only getting a very limited glimpse at the other’s personality.  Like no blog could run successfully for years if its author posted survey after survey.  It’s the in-between the lines, the quirks that are revealed in free-form conversations and daily happenings that friendships are built on.

4. Give feedback

Liked something?  Don’t just click the ‘like’ button in your Bloglovin’ feed. Or at least not every time. As I mentioned before I completely understand lacking time to comment on every single post you read. As much as I wish I could and want to it’s not realistic when there’s way too much going on in every day life already. Still, how would we as bloggers know which [parts] of our posts you enjoyed if we didn’t let each other know? It’s a win-win because if you let the author know what you like they will [likely] publish more of your favourite content. You get what you ask for.

Flower

5. Write the kind of comment you want to receive

The easiest advice is really to ask yourself what you’d like others to say about your posts. Despite making commenting look like a science of its own here I think many of these points  are very natural.  Just that it’s so easy to forget our intuitiveness when we want to be friends with everybody and spread the news about our blogs.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Simply take a moment every now and then to walk a few steps in others’ shoes. Comment the way you’d like others to comment on your own blog or [if you’re not a blogger yourself] the way you’d like to converse in real life. Simple, isn’t it?

Happiness-inducing today:  Lunch out with my mum for the first time in forever. We went to our favourite small local café and had a delicious risotto with green asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Plus a good conversation – part of every good meal experience.
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No questions today. Just your thoughts on the topic with the one rule: no one-word-comments, please 😉 .

Vegetarian Tortilla Bake

Savoury, vegetarian, packed with filling protein: this Italian-inspired single-serving casserole covers all the bases of a balanced meal and leaves you feeling satisfied.

Tortilla casserole_parsley

Do you ever create recipes that you feel everybody should try right this very second? No intro needed and never-mind-how-unspectacular-this-looks? Yes? Well, this is one of them for me. So go and make this right this very second. Okay, okay, I get it. You’re playing hard to convince today and want me to sing the praises of the dish before you even ave a glance at the actual recipe. I get it.  Luckily, offering just that for this casserole isn’t hard. Because – remember – it’s amazing.

Tortilla casserole_2

  • Easy to prepare.
  • Vegetarian.
  • Filling.
  • Packed with  protein.

If you’ve been around for a while already you might remember my excitement when I finally found tortillas without any sketchy ingredients last year. It’s funny how that’s been almost exactly a year ago to the day and I’m just now back on the tortilla kick. Which reminds me I should remake that vegan enchilada bake before I run out of tortillas again ..

Moving onto today’s dish, though. For one, this isn’t your average tortilla bake because it is not Mexican [not like any of my recipes were completely authentical but you know that]. Rather, I went the Italian route – or at least I deem any thing spiced this way Italian. Parts of this recipe were inspired by a recipe for a pasta bake I saw on another blog [but what I turned it into is completely different so I’m not making sense here …] and what my mum calls her ‘vegetable bolognese’. That is in fact nothing like meat bolognese at all but delicious in its own right so I won’t lecture her about that one.

Tortilla casserole_1.

The deliciously doughy tortilla, the creamy filling and plenty of full-bodied vegetable ragout-like sauce make this one satisfying dish. If I haven’t convinced you yet … well, you’re missing out.

Vegetarian Tortilla Bake

  • 1 flour tortilla [may use a gluten-free one]

Vegetable sauce:

  • 3/4 cup passata/tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small carrot, diced finely
  • 1/2 medium zucchini [~ 100 g], diced finely
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs**

coconut oil for frying and greasing the pan

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • optional: a handful of chopped broccoli [I’ve made this without but the time I took pictures had a package of frozen florets leftover so I added some thawed and chopped ones to the filling]

 

  1. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add about 2/3 of the chopped vegetables. Stir, cover and let cook for around five minutes or until vegetables are at your preferred level of tenderness. I like mine to still have some bite to them but it’s up to you.
  3. Pour in the tomato sauce. Season with pepper and herbs. Cover the pot again and let simmer while you prepare the filling. If the sauce looks too thick, add about a 1/4 cup of water.*
  4. For the filling mash the chickpeas with a few tablespoons of water. I chose to leave some whole chickpeas in there but you could also blend all of them for a hummus-like puree. Stir in cottage cheese, cumin and nutrional yeast. Add pepper to taste.
  5. Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to your prepared casserole dish. Cover with half of the tortilla. Spread with half of the filling and the reserved chopped vegetables. Cover with the remaining tortilla and pour the vegetable sauce on top.
  6. Drop dollops of remaining cottage cheese filling.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Notes:

* You want the sauce to be on the thinner side but not soupy as the tortilla soaks up a lot of liquid while baking.

** The blend I used consists of oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme so these could be substituted.

Tortilla casserole_inside_4

… and fresh herbs straight from the garden for decorative purposes make everything better.

In hopes of spreading the tortilla trend I’m sharing this for Recipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays, Real Food Recipes, Strange but good and Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

 

Happiness-inducing today:  Visiting a theatre play spontaneously. I enjoy going but with lack of options around it still doesn’t happen regularly.
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Where do you get the inspiration for your cooking?

Have you ever used tortillas in a non-Mexican dish?

Good good links #86

Crazy how time keeps flying by. Are we really about to start into the last full week of April tomorrow??! At least that means there will be more and more truly warm and sunny days  [that’s what one of my cousins and I decided on so it’d better happen]. Either way, it’s Sunday and I know you’re wating for some good reads not my time/weather ramblings so there we go!

Happy Sunday!

 

Good good links

Good good [food for thought]

 Being Uncommon is Normal via Sharing Healthiness

Just because it’s what millions of people do doesn’t  mean something is right and normal for you.

Why I Won’t Call You Skinny by Martha Kate via Blonde Freedom
Because a certain body type isn’t worth  the struggles and price  or what we should be striving for in life.
Good good [advice and inspiration]
Another great post by Kaila that in fact couldn’t have come at a better time for me [more on that soon].
How to Silence Your Inner Critic via Marcia’s Healthy Slice
Starting a little dialogue with your worries within might prove them wrong and help you move on.
I’m all for listening to your inner cues and eating when you’re hungry but these are great for when you know you’re not and need distraction.
Blogging

Easy to understand tutorial on how to set up your blog and follow-ups in how to take further steps.

 

Health and Fitness
The ‘Perfect’ Body via Blogilates

While I find the video somewhat exaggerated it’s a good reminder that shaming others’ bodies is not cool. At all.

 

Good good [posts to make you smile]

5 Superfoods That Do Gross Things to Your Body

I wouldn’t consider the carrot tan unwanted but some of the others are really not quite attractive side effects of getting your greens in.
 
Good good [food]
Cake Batter Cashew Butter via Fit Foodie Finds
All the sprinkles! Perfect for your birthday. Or your cat’s birthday [but with you eating]. Or any made-up celebration, really.
This makes me wish strawberry season would hurry up starting, like, tomorrow [and not in two months].

Rocky Road Coconut Milk Ice Cream via Treats with A Twist

Homemade ice cream in a crazy good flavour combination that doesn’t require an ice cream maker?! Yes, please.

Spinach and Red Lentil Bake (vegan) via The Porridge Pot

Minimal ingredients and simple preparation make this a nutritious dish for meal prep.

 

Happiness-inducing today:  Getting to help somebody just doing what I enjoy in anyway (writing). It’d take a little longer to explain so I’ll keep it short here. (:
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