Worry-free wedding buffet wondrousness

Time for What I ate Wednesday at Jenn’s again – and not just any for me but the one showing off all the amazingness [well, the food part only] found at my sister’s wedding. Let’s jump right in!

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If you’ve ever attended a wedding – or any family gathering if we’re talking – you’ll know there’s more food than any crowd could possibly eat. Starting with cake on board shortly after the vows. One of my cousins as a vegan herself provided a veganized version of the German classic ‘Donauwelle’. Which literally translates to “Danube waves” – we apparently took the theme serious [even unintentionally at times].

Donauwelle I

Knowing my ‘relationship’ with cake I’m sure you’re wondering whether I had some or not. Making a long story short: yes, I did. Being honest here, though, it was once more a success in the unsuccessful. Despite knowing I wouldn’t be able to exercise at all the day of the wedding – not even a walk happened due to lack of time – I’d given myself full permission to eat all the food I wanted in the amounts I felt like having – no matter which time, either . So when it came to the cake buffet I figured trying some despite not feeling hungry wouldn’t hurt. After a few bites already, though, I wasn’t keen on it anymore.

Donauwelle

After a short rest in between we headed to the location of the actual wedding party. With more than 100 guests celebrating at my parents’ would have hardly been possible. Family and friends had spared no efforts to lovingly decorate with a plethora of balloons, personalized garlands with the newlywed’s portrait on them and many other cute details. Just note the cupcakes on the table functioning as name plates for every guest. Pink for the girls, blue for the boys [pretending we weren’t all grown up already being called women and men ;)].

Table decorations

And then it was time for what many growling stomaches had been demanding : the wedding dinner. Or dare I say: the delightfully decorated and dangerously delicious wedding buffet [this one’s for you, Heather]. In case you’re wondering: the caterer my sister and her husband picked is specialized in adorning her dishes with edible flowers. It was almost too pretty to eat.

Buffet I

Another reason I’m not usually fond of buffets is the slim [if existent at all] choice of vegan dishes – let alone creative ones. Imagine my delight at my sister insisting the meatless main dish had to be not only vegetarian but vegan, too, as well as the buffet offering many other choices. Like leafy salad that was far from boring but filled with fruit, seeds, vegetables, …

Flowery salad

Sherry Bean Salad [not vegan] …

Bean salad

Hummus …

Hummus

Needless to say I took full advantage trying everything that looked good. Note the Seitan Stroganoff which was so.damn.good.

Wedding dinner plate

My first plate – numerous followed.

Slowly savouring every dish I went back for more regardless of calories which is something I wouldn’t have done in the past. A past that isn’t too long ago, really.

With stomaches filled to the brim we hit the dancefloor after dinner. Once again relying not on outsiders but friends of the newlyweds as DJs. When midnight hit it was time for yet another highlight of the day [though I can’t think of any part that wasn’t]; the wedding cake

Wedding cake

As pretty as it might be it was ironically the icing on the cake [no pun intended] that turned me off. Just one word: fondant, lovelies. However shiny and amazing it looks there’s  a hidden not-so-awesome ingredient making it even non-vegetarian: gelatin. Why would I bother with not being able to eat it, though, if there had been such a lot of love and creativity involved in the making of this amazing cake?

… no matter if it’s vegan or not.

Despite all my singing its praises the buffet wasn’t taking up as much room – both mentally and figuratively [in terms of stomach space] –as I’d expected. Buffets and me don’t share a happy past – every of ours encounters ended with me feeling regretful and guilty. For either going totally overboard [pre-ED] or filling up on raw vegetables as the only safe and vegan option which lead to a discomforting feeling of fullness. Needless to say some pep talk by two lovely blogging ladies – thanks, Heather and Shannon – was necessary to calm my nerves. When it came to the actual run on the  buffet my mind was at ease. Like all day I got what I felt like, had seconds and thirds of my favourites and stopped when I felt comfortably full.

That Carrot Coconut Salad!!!

That Carrot Coconut Salad!!!

My only regret would be not getting more of the seitan goulash the second time because there was none left when I went for my third refill. Never mind, though, as I went back for many more helpings of the awesome Coconut Carrot Salad [still hoping to get the recipe from the caterer] – another salad to add to the list of those I actually enjoy – during the remainder of the night. Eating when nobody else did? Yet another thing I would hold myself back from in the past – how could I be hungry already again? Instead of fearing anybody’s judgement I didn’t make it a big deal for myself this time and guess what? Nobody minded. If it works for me – why worry about what others might think? Despite all my gushing about the food it were once again the people turning this wedding into the amazing event it was.

Happiness inducing today: Getting assigned some more interesting tasks at work.

What would your ideal wedding buffet or menu look like?

Buffets in general: Yay or nay?

Do you get self-conscious taking food pictures at [family] gatherings?

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Lessons learned [while eating pasta]

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

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

*not counting the one shown in my last WIAW post

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

Lesson #1: Stick to your plan

Vapiano I

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

Lesson #2: Be spontaneous and see the positives

Guilty as charged of following this motto.

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

Lesson #3: Choose the right focus.

Vapiano III

Let’s trust Sophia Loren.

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

Lesson #4: Appreciate new [old] friendships

My friend's pick of Tagliatelle with pesto.

My friend’s pick of Tagliatelle with pesto.

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

Lesson #5 : Let go and enjoy.

Vapiano Arrabiata

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

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

WIAW: Slow-roasted and sweet spontaneity

With it being Wednesday again that means two things: the blog world’s favourite [food] party is about to start and I’m looking for a theme in my recent meals again – actually finding one this time. But let’s begin at the beginning: Thanks for hosting and inspiring me to get creative in the kitchen, Jenn!

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As I mentioned in my last post already the past weekend included my first experience with slow-roasted tomatoes. Even though I’d deemed it a waste of (oven) energy when first reading about them I was still too curious not to give the idea a try.

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I’ll admittedly say I was tempted to turn off the oven earlier because a several-hour wait just doesn’t work well with me and my impatience. In the end, though, it was well worth the extra time because these flavourful little gems made their way into more than one meal. First up was Michelle’s slow-roasted tomato pesto.

Pesto pasta I

While I wish I could say I wasn’t it’s a simple fact: I’m a volume eater so I bulked up the dish with garlic-roasted vegetables and – not surprisingly – chickpeas. It might not look like much but this dish was a success for me in a two-fold way: first up due to the flavourful tomatoes but secondly, it was my first time having pasta in a long while. Not counting the nibbles of pasta I had somewhere in between.

With a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast …

With a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast …

Not usually a spontaneous person I came home ravenous after an appointment and running some errands yesterday. That would have usually made me throw together a highly voluminous yet not actually satisfying lunch in a hurry. The “fill me up as quickly as possible” logic I still can’t quite shake off despite regretting it afterwards. Yet somehow I was determined not to go down that route but change things – maybe peer pressure helped?!

slow-roasted tomato pizza

Just a short time ago pizza would have been the very last meal I’d have prepared when hungry and looking for a fast meal. It makes me laugh to think about it and happy to see this as yet another step forward. If [edible] motivation for recovery comes topped with slow-roasted tomatoes,  fresh vegetables, chickpeas (yes, I know) and Daiya cheddar I’ll gladly take it more often.

tomato pizza

Spontaneity was the name of the game once more when – after finishing our very last class in university! – friends of mine suggested getting ice cream. With how carefully they asked it was apparent they weren’t sure I’d agree. And – as sad as it is – in the past I might have cancelled out with it being way too short notice. A decision that would have taken me planning ahead in terms of food in the past – now all it took me was a simple yes.

Ice cream_July

Flavours of choice: Raspberry-Peach and Lemon.

As much as I wish I had been all comfortable in this situation already it did let feelings of regret and guilt arise later. But were they worth it? Absolutely. Once again it was about the people  more than the food and my company was well worth ever twinge of regret – and there was less of it overall than previously. A sweet success in my book :).

Happy Wednesday!

 

Happiness inducing today: Taking a walk with a friend of mine who’s about to move soon. It’s all about making the most of these moments I have left with my friends right now.

 

What was your most memorable meal from the past week?

How spontaneous are you?

What are your favourite ice cream flavours?

Positive peer pressure with pizza and [kale] krunch

Peer pressure.  I’m sure you’ve felt it before, too – and likely wish you could ignore it. Especially as bloggers or blog readers we’re constantly exposed to other people’s lives and their diets offering even more opportunity for comparison and pressure in daily life. While there’s a negative side of this peer pressure or influence, too, I’ll keep this post light and look at the bright side. Which better day would there be to take a look at this than What I ate Wednesday as a day dedicated to sharing delicious eats?

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It usually takes me a long time to implement changes – especially in the food department. Being a creature of habit and still having a number of food fears I often find myself stick with the same meals and snacks over and over again. With the peer pressure or – using a less harsh term – inspiration by other bloggers I’ve been making progress in this part of life, though. Simply having a proper lunch every day is a habit I had dropped sometime during my ED and only picked up after being inspired by the blog world. No more lusting over other people’s dishes only but creating delicious midday meals myself.

Packed lunch for classes - isn't tupperware really classy ;)?

Packed lunch for classes – isn’t tupperware really classy ;)?

Some dishes are still fear foods for me, though. Pizza hadn’t been on the menu for me for a long time and I wasn’t likely to change it. Living on my own it was easy enough to come up with one excuse after the other: preparation is too elaborate for a single serving only, it won’t be saturating enough, not voluminous enough …  With many bloggers having pizza regularly, though – be it homemade or store-bought –  the [positive] peer pressure rose steadily. It still took me a while but in a burst of spontaneity I finally made it happen on Sunday. An almost empty vegetable drawer didn’t make for a voluminous or colourful choice of toppings. Nothing a little creativity couldn’t solve and must say I was pretty pleased with the final result. Unusual? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

Pizza

Mushrooms, chickpeas, corn and melty vegan Daiya cheese – simple pizza pleasure.

Another positive bit[e] of peer pressure? Kale chips. Not something I’d have been likely to try again after failed experiences with fat-free homemade ones. These, however? Incredibly similar to the cheesy “real” chips, flavourful and crunchy. I wish we were able to find them in Germany but right now a big thanks goes out to Sara for mailing me several bags and getting me addicted :).

Kale Krunch

However hard it is for me to imagine life without them now: nut butters didn’t make an appearance before I saw them all over the blog world. It wasn’t just fear here, though, but also unawareness about the existence of more than all-natural plain peanut butter which had been present all throughout my childhood.  Cashew butter was the first non-peanut variety I tried years ago and many followed since. Sunflower seed butter being the latest one after I picked it up at Veganz recently.

Sunflower seed butter

It might not seem like much but to me this kind of peer pressure has truly made an impact on my food choices and daringness. Blogging itself is a way to keep myself accountable of sticking to goals I set [for the most part] and keep me motivated in recovery. Peer pressure in the best way, really.

Happiness inducing today: Friends who make me laugh during a boring class.

In which positive ways has blogging influenced your life – food-wise or else?

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

How many different nut or seed butters do you currently have in rotation? Just from the top of my head I can think of six open jars in my pantry: almond, cashew, coconut (not much left, though), hazelnut, peanut and sunflower seed butter. All of them are plain as there aren’t any fancy flavoured ones available.

When life hands you [avocado]

Sometimes we make plans for life. And sometimes life decides not to work out as planned – in a very good way. This is what happened to me in terms of food during the past days. What did I plan? After last week’s post on incorporating more grains into my diet I’d planned on “investigating” a bit more in that field.

Granted, I hadn’t had an elaborate plan but more of an idea of wanting to keep experimenting with different grains and amounts of them. But as hinted above life seemed to have another idea. Enter: the add-more-fat edition of WIAW [meant in a very kind way]. Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting!

WIAW GOES GREEN

[Note: I felt like all the green foods to come in today’s post deserved that logo once more :)]

Actually, I hadn’t intented on giving avocado another try just yet. The brownies were nice but I hadn’t dared avocado on its own and that’s exactly what I feel I “have to” in order to truly repair my relationship with food. When I was at the health food store to pick up a jar of my favourite almond butter I spied some perfect avocados. Perfect because they weren’t only just the right state of ripeness but also not too huge. Because admittedly, I had more than one avocado go moldy due to me not eating it fast enough. Most of those I can get at the supermarket are just too intimidatingly huge for me. Certainly not for serious avocado admirers but not being there yet I didn’t want one of them. Long story short: I picked up one of those perfectly-sized avocados and let it all happen.

Zucchini pasta with lentil chili and avocado sauce

Zucchini pasta with lentil chili and avocado sauce

What happened were very good and satisfying meals. Day by day I upped the amount of avocado just a little and never cut down on my nut butter consumption. Yes, it was and still is scary but I’ll keep going and see what happens.

Lazy-girl Chana masala – as in: totally unauthentical Indian food. Accompanied by some broccoli and – yes – more mashed avocado.

Lazy-girl Chana masala – as in: totally unauthentical Indian food. Accompanied by some broccoli and more mashed avocado.

And I’ll confess I cheated. Cheated on almond butter, that is. Let me explain: I’d spotted hazelnut butter on offer in the health food store chain I frequent for my almond butter only. While I’d been intrigued to  try it earlier already the price and – not lying here – the higher calorie and fat content had kept me from it. Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and … I sparked a new food obsession. Tastewise it reminded me of the healthier organic “Nutella” my mum used to buy for our family when I was younger. That organic version has a decidedly higher hazelnut content and I’ve always preferred it to the real thing. If you’re ever in Germany do yourself a favour and pick up a jar of Samba spread at a health food store :).

Addicted.

Addicted.

What I noticed when upping the amount of fat in my diet was that I felt even more satisfied after my meals. That’s not say I’d eaten a low-fat diet before but at least my lunches were most definitely lacking. Where does that leave me at? Admittedly, I’m not sure. I know many people in the blog world state themselves to be either a fat, carb or protein person – meaning the macro balance they’ve found works best for them. Right now, I don’t find myself belonging to any of these groups [yet?] and that’s okay. One week I might need more grainy carbs, the other I’ll go for more fat or protein.  Who knows what’s to come in my next WIAW post J?!

One thing I’ll never go without is dessert, though. Peanut mug brownies after finally figuring out the right ratios and perfect “baking” time resulting in a fantastic brownie.

Needless to say this was topped with hazelnut butter post-picture.

Needless to say this was topped with hazelnut butter post-picture.

Happiness inducing today: Sharing the excitement of a very good friend moving into her first own apartment.

Did you ever have life interfere with your original plans in a very good way? [Not necessarily food-related only!]

Do you consider yourself a fat/carb/protein person?

What was happiness inducing for you today so far?

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!

MiMM_new

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?