Back in the kitchen with lentils and cake

Overwhelmed by gratitude. Amazed by all the kind and reassuring words. That’s what I felt like reading your comments on my last post. Thank you so much!  Opening up and publishing that post wasn’t easy for me at all. The reason I did was that my blog has become such a special part of my life and with all that’s been happening I couldn’t just have kept writing as usual. I’m not sure which kind of reactions I expected but you definitely took me by surprise in the very best way. So thank you once more for not judging but encouraging me to listen to my heart.

Right now I feel like hanging in the air, not knowing what’s to happen. It’s still scary. Somewhere deep down I know quitting was the right decision but I can’t completely push aside those twinges of regret. Mostly because I truly want to work and don’t enjoy all the spare time I have at hand right now. Sorry for the rant but it’s on my mind all of the time and I can’t pretend it wasn’t affecting my mood. Nevertheless, you’ve come for the food and it’s not like I had given up happiness or eating when leaving the internship :). Here’s to another fabulous What I ate Wednesday party! Publishing this early I don’t know it yet but maybe even with Jenn’s little chickpea joining us?

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One of the upsides – yes, still trying to see the positive in every situation – of having time off is being able to prepare and eat meals in the comfort of my own home. [that’s not to say I wouldn’t more than happily trade this for a job any time, though.]  During the weeks at the office I’d slacked a little on the kitchen creativity so I’ve dedicated some more time to experimentation the past days. One of the results was a creamy lentil and rice stew. Perfectly fall-ish despite me not being ready for fall yet.

Lentil Stew

If you read my post on Sunday you might have noticed me saying I’d tried one of the recipes I’d mentioned in my previous link-up post. Well, by now I can proudly say I even tried two. First up Jenn’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread – turned into mini loaves as I lack a large loaf pan and minis are always cute, right? There are no inside shots as we broke – literally broke as there was no cutlery left  – into it at a friend’s apartment. I visited him the day before he moved to another city so all kitchen utensils were at his new flat already. Sorry. But it was so delicious that I already have plans on baking another batch of mini loaves as soon as possible and I’ll make sure to get some better pictures then.

Banana bread

I actually snapped the pictures shortly before rushing out the door so sorry for that!

Maybe not pretty but absolutely delicious was my second dish to cook from the list: Kabocha Squash Lentil Curry from Pinches of Yum. Follwing the recipe to a T  as well as a notorious kitchen rebel like me can and making substitutions as needed it turned out fantastic. Mine got its lovely [read: not] green hue from the fact that I never peel my kabocha. All that really matters is taste, though, and this dish was absolutely amazing on those terms. I just had to repeat it several days later again. I honestly can’t recommend Lindsay’s recipe enough. Go make it now :)!

Kabocha Lentil Curry

Ending on a sweet note: Not wanting to leave my job in grievance I happily followed the [unwritten] rule of bringing cake on the last day of my internship. Crumbly in the best way , ‘buttery’ and rich without being too heavy: vegan hazelnut cake that made my highly vegan-sceptical coworker go back for seconds. Sorry to all non-German readers for the recipe being in German. I wish I could share it with all of you.

Praktikumskuchen

Now i’m back to writing applications and taking some recipe inspiration from the bonanza of deliciousness that is WIAW. Oh, and happy Macadamia Nut day [can’t forget about those national food holidays even though they don’t apply for us over here]! I have none around so I’d appreciate you eating some more for me, too ;).

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Catching up with a friend over coffee tea.

What’s your favourite recipe using lentils?

Is it some kind of ‘rule’ to bring cake on the last day of internships for you, too?

Have you been on any ‘food kicks’ lately? Kabocha and lentils have definitely been some of my recent ones.

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 :)!

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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!

Making every lunch count

Let’s talk lunch today – and what better time to do so than What I ate Wednesday!

Not too long ago, still, lunch was hardly ever happening for me in proper fashion. I didn’t skip it per se but was constantly finding excuses to either make it consist of many small snacks or a huge pile of steamed vegetables. Lately, I’ve even been getting more daring with changing up my lunch pretty much every day and even creating my own recipes.

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This might not sound huge for some but the possibility of a meal failure and – the horror – “wasted” calories kept me from experimenting in the kitchen. That meant I was eating the same few staple meals over and over again. All for the sake of “feeling safe”. Granted, I do still need to work on some of my other meals and snacks but for now I’ll make every different lunch count as a step forward in recovery.

Asparagus quinoa II

Breakfast, however , is something I usually settle with and change up only once every blue moon. Don’t fix what isn’t broke, right? Seeing Michelle’s recipe for Apricot Baked Oatmeal, though, I decided it was time to test a new breakfast. Being a little rebel in the kitchen I didn’t follow along her recipe exactly but used it as a guideline mixing it up with other ideas found online.  While my blueberry baked oats were a long-time favourite these didn’t win me over completely. Not that they were bad but I prefer my oats a bit creamier  – some might say almost soupy 😉 – and that’s obviously not what these are meant to be. Still, adding apricots to oatmeal is a great idea worth giving a try.

Once again topped with nut butter and drowned in soy milk post-picture.

Once again topped with nut butter and drowned in soy milk post-picture.

In case you wondered after my last post: yes, polenta did indeed make another appearance. If you’re following me on Twitter you might have already seen me declaring my polenta success on Friday. Success? Yes, absolutely. The secret? Cheese.  I’d been hesitant to add it before – calories, sigh – even though I remembered my former favourite polenta dish having been a cheesy one. On a mission to challenge myself I did add cheese and  … delicious. I might have even gone so far to declare it one of the best lunches in a while. Well, had it not been for the stellar ones to follow come the weekend.

Cheesy polenta

Third time’s a charm.

As mentioned above I’ve actually gotten more adventurous creating recipes myself. One of those that I’d dreamed up in my head and finally put into practice were Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce Speltberries. Just as good as I’d imagined them – yet more proof it’s worth daring a little kitchen experimentation.

Red Pepper Cream Speltberries

No, I haven’t forgotten about my tease regarding last weekend’s baking shenanigans. There you go: Oreo-stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies – and yes, they’re vegan.

Oreo brownies

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today:  Seeing pictures of a friend’s first ever own apartment – so excited for her.

Which new recipes have you tried lately?

Do you enjoy creating your own recipes?

Simple Sunday Serenity

It’s amazing how much things can change within a week. Just seven days ago I experienced a serious case of the Mondays Sundays  – I blame the weather! – and now? Perfectly blissful enjoyment that’s well worthy of the label marvelous.

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Sleeping in until … a time that I’d be ashamed to admit in the blog world where 8 AM is considered a late wake-up call :). And then I even spent a bit more time in bed reading. It’s Sunday after all and a good book is the perfect start to this day of the week in my opinion.

Reading in bed

Moving on in my day in a productive fashion I got out the cleaning agents, mop and remaining fun gadgets. Call me weird but I actually enjoy cleaning or rather the way it changes my mood. Nothing like a good cleaning session to make me feel a bit more accomplished for the day already. That’s not to say I’d mind my roommate taking over part of these duties. We usually do bathroom and kitchen interchangeably but since she’s been on holiday for the past week and a half it was all up to me.

Cleaning

Having a longer day of classes on Monday the weekend and Sunday in particular also happens to be the best day to bake. It’s no secret some sweet goodness can make the most boring of all seminars that wee bit more endurable. Enter a mixing bowl, a little bit lot of chocolate and some Oreos and the party is about to start. Any guesses on what it might have turned into? It’s also no secret that calories consumed while baking don’t count. If you’d asked me a while ago my answer might have been different but now? Not missing out on the best part of baking anymore.

Oreo Brownies in the make

Aside from my baking session – the finished product of which you’ll see in this week’s WIAW  – and delicious new lunch creations I also occupied myself with some non-food activities. Some research and writing for university happened. To get a little more creative, though, I did also pick up stationary and paper and got started on a letter to a friend. Got started because I hardly ever write a whole letter in a single piece. Instead, I like to compile it over the course of a few days randomly adding thoughts and happenings as I go along. It’s no surprise these end up being rather lengthy letter at times but who’d complain, right?

Letter and studying

Last but not least I finished my serene Sunday with a walk around the lake. Admittedly braving a pretty strong breeze but it was nice to get out nonetheless.

Happiness inducing today: Seeing a dog get all excited about running around at the lake. So cute!

What does your ideal Sunday look like?

Do you tend to write letters in one go or over the course of a few days?

Happy Easter with [un]successful cake experience

Happy (belated?) Easter!

Flowers

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and what better way to start the week than with another day off?! Now that’s a case of the Mondays I could get used to … And which better way to celebrate the happiness than with Katie’s Marvelous in my Monday? Thanks for hosting, Katie!

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While I wish I could pretend elsewise we did indeed get a white Easter as predicted. It wasn’t a reason to fret, though, as I got to spend the weekend at my parents’ enjoying a nice walk through the white. Plenty of sunshine amidst the white made up for the snow still being present.

 

Our try on bird-watching: The cranes were frightened so we had to stay in the car. Can you spot them in the distance?

Our try on bird-watching: The cranes were frightened so we had to stay in the car. Can you spot them in the distance?

Long promised and now finally happening: Cake!  I know Amanda might have given up hopes on me ever having it already. I’d been meaning to prepare one for weeks months – whenever visiting my parents in between my birthday and now – yet there was always fortune getting in between. Either my mum or my grandma would have already whipped up a [non-vegan] cake not leaving any desire for more. Maybe I was even happy for it not happening as I can’t deny I was still afraid: Too many extra calories, I wouldn’t be “allowed” to have any other sweets that day, what if it didn’t taste as good as I hoped? The list would go on endlessly.

No-bake vegan Mandarin-Yogurt-Cake.

No-bake vegan Yogurt Cake [or Torte as we call it]

Preparing this no-bake cake on Saturday night I couldn’t hide my excitement to try a piece on Sunday, though. Because there was also hope I’d be blown away by its tastiness and happy being able to finally say I’d eaten a whole piece of cake again.

Success in unsuccessful cake.

Success in unsuccessful cake.

Let’s say it right away: The cake looked better than it tasted. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful but the cream base could definitely have used more flavour while the crust was really good. Still, I ate the whole piece without regret. And that actually makes this cake experience a huge success: Not too long ago I’d have been incredibly disappointed eating something that didn’t satisfy me completely. I’d have considered it a waste of calories and grieved it. Now, though? Well, it wasn’t great but that’s okay. It didn’t make me skip the chocolate notoriously eaten on Easter or – who would I be to deny the fact ;)? – every day.

Despite my expectations my mum did indeed get me a (vegan dark chocolate) Easter bunny.

Despite my expectations my mum did indeed get me a (vegan dark chocolate) Easter bunny.

The little guy above survived Easter, though, thanks to my mum having thoughtfully bought me a bar of Lindt 85 %, too. Your luck, Easter bunny, but you still won’t get away :D.

Ending the weekend on a funny note my mum and I watched Tangled. Sunday evenings are usually reserved for my mum’s crime thrillers [the famous German “Tatort” movies in case you’ ve heard of them before] which I’m not keen on. Tangled was a fantastic alternative having both of us laugh out loud and enjoy the cutesy of the characters. Nothing like a bit of Disney to end the night, right?!

 

Whom did you spend Easter with and what did you do?

Which is your favourite Disney movie?

Going green for success

What does the colour green mean to you? Maybe it makes you think of Spring? Nature? Or how about it being the great new WIAW motto for March? [Will you believe I had the title planned and the post written before I even knew that? Jenn clearly has mind-reading skills!]? During the past days, though, green had a different but no less postitive meaning to me: Success! Before I’m getting into the details let’s thank the wonderful Jenn for hosting yet another What I ate Wednesday! It’s always such a fun party!

WIAW GOES GREEN

Not like you hadn’t assumed it already or anything ;):  Yes, green meant success in terms of food. Okay, okay, I’ll make it short and sweet: I conquered a fear food!

Avocado

I’m well aware avocados are a healthy living blogger favourite but to me they were – and admittedly still are – a major fear food. Nutrient-dense, packed with fat and all that in combination with a rather unsuspecting taste. While I am quite fond of other dense foods – think almond butter or dark chocolate – this lovely green-hued food scared me. But – if for colour reasons of else 😉 – I decide it was time to conquer it once I stumbled upon Michelle’s brownie recipe.

Avocado and chocolate are a dream team.

Naturally topped with almond butter post-photo :).

Being quite the chocolate fan it was only natural for me to whip up this treat and let me tell you: It’s rich, satisfying and simply amazing. I’ve been enjoying an avocado brownie as a midday snack for the past days and don’t regret a bite. How could I, really?

Green made more appearances in terms of changing up my meals, too. Staying true with my February goals I’ve continued making more of an effort when cooking. Happening upon a surprise [maybe last for the season] kabocha I made the most of it come lunchtime.

Simple yet incredibly satisfying.

Simple yet incredibly satisfying.

Maybe you remember the Daiya cheese I got while in Berlin? It’s been sitting in the fridge for too long but finally jumped out to add a little something-something to my meals.

Spicy, warming and flavourful chili.

Spicy, warming and flavourful chili.

Winging it I created a tasty broccoli-packed vegan Chili Casserole made spectacular by the melty goodness of Daiya Pepperjack.  With that I’m off to get some work done swoon over everybody else’s WIAW posts :D.

Happy Wednesday!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

Do you like avocado?

Are there any fear foods you’ve conquered lately?