Very vegan at Vengo and with Vivani

Why is it always so incredibly hard to start a post??? How about this: it’s a happy day, the sun is [hopefully as I’m writing this the night before] shining and we’re about to talk about food! What a surprise on the day of the week that combines both the What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday shenanigans. Oh well, at least I didn’t even pretend I was feeling the creative intros today. (:

* a note on that title: I was no paid by either the restaurant or the company [see further down below] but I’m a sucker for alliterations. Sue me.

 

WIAW_new2015

Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact I ate out again? I wasn’t expecting to return to Vengo this soon again but Monday saw me and my mum spontaneously meeting up in Bremen again. I wish I lived there! Not just for the food but because we spent some time touring the city and it’s really beautiful. I might just need to take some time to sort through the 384756746 pictures I took and give you a little glimpse into our stroll. For now, however: food. Blogger food: hummus.

Bremen_Vengo_hummus_March 2015

Regarding the food, however, I was slightly disappointed. After my  last visit I had high expectations. Sadly, the Brussels Sprout and Beet Curry with turmeric rice was only sub-par. The taste was deliciously spicy but the vegetables were cooked to almost mushy consistency and that’s a huge minus in my books. Also, the amount of beets – not a favourite food of mine at all but I want to like them hence why I picked this dish – was lacking.

Bremen_Vengo_brussels sprout and beet curry_March 2015

My mum’s stuffed eggplant was infinitely more pleasant, though, so I can forgive that one low. I may ro may not have considered this my second plate and stolen more than one bite. My mum loves me for that ;). Clearly.

Bremen_Vengo_stuffed eggplant_March 2015

There was a reason today’s WIAW started with lunch because breakfast is about to get classy right here. Tupper-style. Going from breakfast phase to breakfast phase I can safely say the oatmeal kick is back. The past few months were decidedly savoury but these last weeks oatmeal has been the name of the game again. I can’t say I was complaining. Others would probably talk about how they craved carbs first thing in the morning but I prefer to see it this way: I crave sweet, filling and fluffy oats. With almond and peanut butter, please.

Oatmeal_tupper_blueberry sauce_almond butter

What has changed compared to my last long oatmeal-for-breakfast stint, though, is my preferred way of preparation or better yet way to enjoy it. Still cooked stovetop but  not eaten hot. Rather, I’m all about the mock overnight variety. Read: cook oatmeal with extra chia seeds, let cool down, put into the fridge overnight and have a delicious cold pudding-like concoction waiting for you in the morning. Try it! Along with nut butters I’ve been adding fruit sauces on top. Fresh berries might cost a small fortune but frozen are a decent enough sub.

Keeping up with my favourite endings I’d like to introduce you to a new discovery in my world*. Vivani is a German company making a genuine effort to broaden vegans choices on the chocolate market. Part of this are a number of snack-sized bars in enticing flavours. I’ll try to hunt down the other ones, too, but for now I can only speak about the White Nougat Crisp. Unlike you’d expect it’s not actually a white chocolate bar but has a delightful hazelnutty taste and creamy meltiness. It’s a huge difference from my usual choice of darker chocolate bars but quite good nonetheless. A bit too sweet for my taste so it might not become a regular purchase but the next time I’m craving a milk chocolate-like treat I know how to satisfy it. So if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant longing for dairy chocolate this one’s for you!

* Disclaimer: I bought this chocolate bar with my own money and without the company’s kowledge of me mentioning it in my post. – or even knowing I purchased it altogether.  All opinions are my own.

Happiness-inducing today: My grandma being happy about me calling her after she had a rather exhausting day. It made me feel a tad guilty for not doing so more often.

Stay in touch!

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How often do you eat out?

What is your favourite bar of chocolate? Details! Dark? Whole milk? White? Which add-ins or fillings?

What I ate Wednesday: a restaurant review and rediscovering sweet lentils

Look who’s joining Jenn’s weekly food party! It feels like forever since my last What I ate Wednesday. Today’s post will also be quite interesting for Vegan Wednesday visitors as you’ll see in a minute. Thanks to our hosts!

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Going along with one of my goals and the accountability coming along with it I decided I’d [try to] document my times eating out through restaurant reviews. Especially because I like reading those myself before choosing a place to eat and I’ve never done those before. It’s a further incentive to seek out new eateries. Without further ado: my first one.

The location: Vengo in Bremen [Ostertorsteinweg 91] – an all-vegetarian, mostly vegan venue focusing on fresh vegetables and whole foods without artificial flavourings or additives. It’s a small restaurant located amidst many little clothing stores and right next to a larger health food store [a “Reformhaus” in this case].

20150207_Vengo_impression

Overall atmosphere: A hint of flower power hippie flair is surrounding the venue and I liked it a lot. You shouldn’t be afraid of making fairly close contact with strangers. Being a small and apparently popular place with only a few larger tables you’re likely to share one with others. I didn’t mind and the people-watching and getting a chance to glance at others’ plates before placing your order is always a bonus to me. We were lucky to share our table with nice strangers.

20150207_Vengo tea

The service: absolutely flawless. Fitting right in with above-mentioned hippie flair the waiters were very friendly, relaxed and happy despite the restaurant being crowded. They immediately made us feel home and like at a friend’s place.

The food: nothing short of amazing. From past restaurant mentions you might remember my disappointment in vegan dishes at ‘regular’  restaurants. However, Vengo as a vegetarian venue hit. the. spot for me. The menu consists of two soups plus three entrees and changes weekly. Additionally, there’s a selection of housemade cakes and cupcakes plus a huge salad/tapas bar.

20150207_Mum's entree

My mum ordered a large plate of mixed salad bar items – choice of either Asian or Mediterranean focus – as her main. My choice was the Morrocan stewed vegetables with couscous from the weekly menu. Aside from the vegetables being slightly too tender for my liking I enjoyed this dish a lot.

20150207_Vengo_Morrocan Vegetables_Couscous

The serving sizes were perfect, too. I often find restaurant servings either  too large or too small – and too greasy. Neither was the case here. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure I’d be satisfied when I first saw my plate. But I took my time eating and found it was just right. My mum was happy, too. She ended up feeling like dessert, too, so selected a peach upside – down cake from the dessert case. I’m noticing more and more I’m not a cake person [definitely a chocolate fiend, though] so I wasn’t too impressed but given my mum liked it I won’t let that deter my opinion of the Restaurant.

20150207_Vengo cake

Final verdict: I’d come back to Vengo any day and whole-heartedly recommend it to anybody visiting the Northern German area. Delicious fresh vegetable-centered cuisine void of vegetarian fake-meats at reasonable prices – five stars.

Because we’re on the topic of  my food-related goals already it seems like the right time to share my progress in another area: trying other bloggers’ recipes. To end on a sweet note once again first up on my list were Ambitious Kitchen’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lentil Blondies.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lentil Blondies

That’s a moutful to say – and eat. I was very skeptical of the lentil base here. Previous attempts at legume-based baked goods were a-okay for me but not what I’d have shared with colleagues. These, however? No need to worry. Monique knows what she’s doing and peanut butter

If you can’t visit Vengo – and yes, I realize a lot you of won’t unless you finally decide to pack your bags and come visit me 😉 I recommend drowning your sorrows in these peanut butter chocolate chip bars. They’re basically health food after all. You’re probably in the kitchen already or at least off to track down some food – it’s no secret reading WIAWs makes one hungry reader – so:

Talk to you soon!

Happiness-inducing today: Returning home after work to find a surprise package from my sister in the mail.

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What are your experiences with legume-based sweet baked goods? Feel free to share a link to your favorite recipe – if you have one – in the comments.

Restaurant reviews: yay or nay?

Tell me about your favorite meal out lately!

The little things that make life better.

I’m a firm believer that waiting for the big and bold happenings to make us happy is an almost surefire guarantee to keep us unhappy. Oh, the irony. If we only ever hang around wondering why we didn’t win the lottery or why that guy has yet to notice us we miss out on many occasions to smile. How this all relates to What I ate Wednesday? Well, the way I see it food shouldn’t be the only thing making us happy but if it’s one of them that’s pretty good in my book.

wiaw fall into good habits button

The little thing at breakfast: perfect setting and food. Kabocha that has that irresistible flaky-dry texture, the right balance of sweet- and starchiness. My favourite tea from one of my new favourite mugs. A side of brain food [to any Germans: Das Kreuz mit den Worten in Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin is my love-hate brain food of choice. So difficult. So addictive.]

Kabocha_breakfast

If you’re less quirky than me/haven’t jumped on the squash-for-breakfast train yet [why not???] this could be the perfect bowl of oatmeal. And maybe a side of sudoku or a cross-word puzzle. Yes, I’m a granny there but I can’t go without these.

I might be the very last one to figure out how to break the soup-for-lunch-at-work spell but I bought my first set of microwave dishes on a whim the other day. There’s no looking back. This is my personal lunch revolution. Even with my self-proclaimed soup lady status I can’t pretend I was too happy slurping them anymore after a few weeks. These wonderful dishes have allowed me to bring casseroles of all kinds to work and actually make me look forward to lunch time. Okay, I did before, too, but the perspective of hearty polenta-topped chili is much more alluring than a less chew-able stew. The dish below is an adapted version of my Polenta Chili Bake.

polenta chili_microwave bowl

This week’s snack number one: Crack. Pure, high-quality crack. The kind that you can only keep in your apartment at the most immense safety measures. We’re talking hidden in the back of your pantry, consumed only with closed blinds so the neighbours won’t see you. Okay, to lift the fog and back up a little: I won Meghan’s giveaway for some homemade granola straight from her kitchen recently a while ago forever ago. The reason I only received it right now is not the fault of everybody’s favourite Cleveland blogger [trying to remember if I know any other Cleveland bloggers who might get angry reading this …]. I asked Meghan to hold off shipping the granola until I had moved into my new apartment. Because first I had to try eat up some of the cereal, granola, what-not-all I’d been hoarding pre-move and then settle into the new place.

Granola_1

After a few bites I can safely tell you I will definitely not enter another granola giveaway at Meghan’s. Because I clearly hated this one. Kidding. The reason I [pretend] I won’t is because somebody else deserves to be treated to this deliciousness. It is SO ridiculously good – crack, remember? – that I refused to let my mum who was visiting the day I picked it up pack some as a snack for the road trip back home.

To be fair, though, I offered her some before which she enjoyed.  But a whole container as a snack? No way. Another fun bit I should add is my mum had a handful from the jar – by the way: how pretty did Meghan pack this up?? – and thought it was trail mix. That’s what Meghan meant when she called her nut: oat ratio high. And she was sweet enough to customize it for me nixing the walnuts and using a mix of cashews, almonds and peanuts. So so good. Oh, I mentioned that before?!

Granola_Meghan_2

For anybody who doesn’t live in Meghan’s immediate neighbourhood, is too impatient to wait for another giveaway or simply needs this granola in their lives – trust me you all do! – here’s the recipe. It’s vegan, too, for anybody stopping by from Vegan Wednesday. I hope sharing recipes for crack isn’t criminal.  If you don’t hear from me again I might have gottten arrested and in that case I hope you’ll send me granola care packages.

That’s it from me for today’s food inspiration but you might not even read this anymore as you’re already in your kitchen baking granola …

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Finding that some essentials I needed to pick up at the store were on offer. Nothing like a good deal, right?!

 

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What are some little things that make your life better?

Are you a crack granola addict, too? What’s your favourite recipe?

WIAW: Ditch the itch!

Can we please pretend it wasn’t today yet WIAW-wise? What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday came early for me this week. Not like I didn’t rejoice im the fact we’re halfway through the work week already. But thanks to an inflammated throat that’s been bugging me for more than a week my meals have felt very basic and uninspired. Luckily, nothing will ever stop me from eating completely so while I might not have been able to fully enjoy food with all sense I still had some good eats. All the while trying to ditch the itch with smooth and creamy food – not the worst choices.

wiaw fall into good habits button

Today that I’m writing this is the first day of being able to actually enjoy all kinds of food again. One I wasn’t able to eat well – its upside of containing lots of little fruit and nut bits and pieces was a downside for an itchy throat: Nakd bars.  I received samples way back and had meant to post a proper review by now but have yet to. Maybe because I keep saving them for emergency snacks?? Good emergency snacks.  Pictured below is the Cocoa Delight bar which I didn’t enjoy as much as you’d prbably expect from a chocolate fiend. But that exactly is the point: I’m super picky when it comes to chocolate-y foods. And while not bad the cocoa taste in here wasn’t intense enough for me with the dried fruit being overpowering.

Another one I’ve tried recently was the Cocoa Mint flavour and one of my chocolatey favourites.  I was skeptical of how well the mint would go with the taste of dried fruit – don’t ask me why exactly – but it works well and was just the right amount of refreshing minty-ness. Though yes, this one could use a deeper chocolate flavour [= higher cocoa content], too. But that’s just me being picky.

Nakd bar_cocoa delight

Am I even surprising you with my breakfast anymore? Kabocha is just so good I don’t see myself changing it anymore – until I run out, that is. What I didn’t reveal yet was my perfect way of preparing it that’s probably slightly OCD. My method of choice is to boil it until it’s tender, them mash some pieces to create a creamy sauce and add coconut oil for taste and saturation. Rather than just throw all chunks into the pot,  though, I’ve found I got the best results by organizing them neatly. Think of it as a little puzzle action in the morning.  Only with an acceptable amount of pieces – I wouldn’t be capable of the other kind  this early in the AM. And then I add just an inch or so of water, close the pot with a tightly-fitting lid and bring it to the boil.  Then I turn off the heat but do -not- open the lid. After about 10 minutes – insert morning routine – I come back to perfectly tender kabocha. Creamy-smooth enough to lower the amount of throat itching.

kabocha_pot

While you’re reading this I might be eating the dish below. It’s an old favourite that I decided to bring back: kidney bean pot-pie with mashed parsnip topping. One can only eat so much soups or stews until it gets boring and lunch time at work becomes a matter of ‘oh well, I’ll eat it because I’m hungry’. This was my effort to bring excitement back by preparing a dish that required a little more effort on Sunday. Really just a little more, though. The kidney bean filling comes together like 1-2-3 and the topping? Cleaning the blender is the most labor-intense part. Only I didn’t have enough parsnips on hand so I used the remainder of those, russet potatoes and cauliflower.

kidney bean filling

Parpoflower? Caulitatosnips? Either way,  it was delicious when prepping this already. This was one of the times where I was glad to have a blog.  Okay, I always am. But I’d completely forgotten what went into the dish and this way it took me a few clicks and I had a print-out of the recipe at hand.  Don’t you like when that happens? I wouldn’t have been patient enough to look through my previous ‘recipe organization’ – read: piles of loose papers with notes scribbled down.

pot pie_mashed

One of my recent sweet breaks included tea, chocolate and a magazine.  More specifically: tea from a newly purchased mug because I couldn’t resist the owls in different colours.  Chocolate was the far-travelled OmBar though my itchy throat took over my tastebuds, too, so I’ll save most of it for once they’re fully back at work again. And the magazine in the picture? The latest issue of Women’s Health.  It’s the only women’s magazine I buy and while I don’t agree with everything they write either, it’s better than most others in my opinion.

OmBar cocomylk_chocolate_raw

How was that for a random tangent?  Touching the issue of health and fitness magazines when I was talking about food only just a second ago. I won’t go into the issue in any more detail today but I do have a decided opinion on the influence on the media’s influence on our individual live. Clearly a topic for a future episode of Thinking out loud. Not tomorrow’s, though, but there’s another subject on my mind that I hope you’ll chime in on tomorrow. Until then:

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness-inducing today: One of my colleagues asking me to proof-read her page when just shortly ago she doubted I was even able to do that yet.

Stay in touch!

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Bloggers: do you ever forget any of your own recipes and have to go back to look them up?

 Which magazines do you read [not just food and health, any you read on the regular]? Aside from Women’s Health I’m a huge fan of brand eins. And to all German readers: yes, I do realize these couldn’t be more different from each other.

WIAW: On the road again

… or actually: on the -train- again. The previously mentioned weekend meet-up with my mum didn’t happen but we got a chance on Saturday. Given I left at 8 AM and didn’t return until 9.45 PM packing food and eating out was inevitable.  So for today’s What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday what a day of traveling with food looks like for me

A lack of kabocha has my deviate from  my usual favourite and back on the oatmeal train [pun not intended] for breakfast again. Rolled oats cooked with water, soy milk,  peanut flour, zucchini and – necessary – salt. Topped with popped amaranth and coconut flour ‘crumbles’. I missed the almond butter. I’m not above using empty soy yogurt containers as oatmeal carriages. In fact, I consider it perfectly reasonable recycling. Only they are big enough for my servings. Oats in a jar are no option because nut butters come in glass jars over here and I don’t feel like lugging one of those around. Hello, weight lifting.

Oats_for the train

Snacks included two cinnamon chickpea protein bars. Slightly smushed after waiting in my handbag so you’ll get the pretty picture. While my favourite way to eat these is cold straight from the fridge they are delicious even Unpictured snacks were apples, a cookie, … I always crave fruit even more than on regular days when traveling. Maybe it’s drinking less – in an effort to avoid using the toilet on the train. If you’ve ever been on a train you’ll know why …

Protein Bars 1

After some – successful (!) – shoe shopping my stomach and mind were calling for a proper sit-down meal. When in Hamburg we usually like to seek out one of our favourite smaller restaurants in the Schanzenviertel. But with a limited time window and shopping downtown we went for another go-to closer by. Cha cha is one of my favourite chain restaurants – only topped by Dolores. I ordered Thai fried rice with vegetables,  sesame soy sauce and cashews. The serving was very generous [the picture doesn’t do it justice] so I didn’t manage to finish it. Especially because my mum needed some help with her dish … Only not really but that’s what she gets for eating out with me.

Eating out_cha cha_September 2014

My Mum got their Yellow Curry Noodles with Pineapple and Seitan. The pasta wasn’t vegan but I ate around it picking out the best part: obviously the coconut milk-drenched seitan. Luckily for both of us, our dishes weren’t overly spicy like some food at Cha Cha can be. Remind me to finally prepare seitan at home because this was good.

Eating out_cha cha_September 2014_2

Dinner was an eat-all-the-food affair – I returned home ready to chew my arm off. Kabocha – found in Hamburg and yes; I buy and travel with heavy squash if I spot the elusive variety. Living in no-mans-country no-[kabocha] squash-country isn’t easy.
Steamed as usual and with the added coconut oil this was all I could have asked for after a long day of traveling. I’ve yet to come to a final result on its added satiating powers but it’s delicious either way.

Breakfast_kabocha

Happiness-inducing today: The chatterbug but very kind and helpful owner of the small health food store in the town I work.

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What do typical days on the road/ train look like for you food-wise?

How do you transport oats [to work or when traveling]?

Dessert first?!

Say what?! For the first time in a while I found myself lacking food pictures to show off as part of the What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday parties. What to do? Start with a dish I ate a while back [think: sometime at the beginning of the month]. Really, though, with this post you’ll know why I was tempted to go with dessert first. But I’ll go the way my parents’ taught me: first the ‘real’ food, then play foods. One of my favourite play foods at that …

wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

Time for a little bit of truth about my meals at my parents’ place before we get started on food: They’re a lot less exciting and creative than when at my place. Which is due to the fact that I reside in my parents’ guest apartment [they used to let it  to a woman but when she moved out and my siblings got older they moved out of the room we shared. And into ones of their own in said apartment]. The bad part is that the apartment isn’t stocked with any food – think no spices, flours, herbs, … – and borrowing them from my mum’s ktichen and running to and fro while cooking? Not so awesome.  Long story short: I’ve been using very basic ingredients. But nonetheless, I make sure to eat good food and plenty of produce. Hello, mum’s garden. Stuffed mushrooms on a bed of polenta were one of those easy creations.

Stuffed mushrooms

 

Breakfast? Same old, same old. I’m afraid to say goodbye to this after moving into my new apartment. No more grabbing my favourite from mum’s garden. Anyway, no need for a repeat picture here so we’ll skip right to yesterday’s lunch. Which has – thanks to above-mentioned lack of spices – been somewhat of a challenge these past days. Picture my excitement when I saw Davida’s recipe for Baked “Cheesy” Cauliflower requiring only a handful of ingredients. Plus featuring two of my all-time favourite foods: cauliflower and nutritional yeast.

On the mention of Davida: Happy birthday to everybody’s favourite maven! If you haven’t visited her blog and/ or tried any of her recipes yet I highly recommend you do. Stat. Why not start with this one?!

Davida's cheesy cauliflower

Davida will forgive me for adding garlic though it’s not listed in her recipe because, well, hardly a savoury dish is complete without garlic. And: heart-healthy. Which obviously isn’t the reason I’m obsessed with using it but I could always pretend in case of smelling 😉 ! Aside from this I subbed mashed chickpeas for the egg which obviously meant I didn’t get the same puffy texture Davida’s original had but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s similar to her cauliflower gratin I first tried way back but I think I like this dish even better.

If you – for non-understandable reasons – happen to dislike garlic [how can you??] I’m sure the sauce would be delicious even without it. You know I still think garlic makes it even better but yes. All of you will also forgive me for saying that while this was really good I was anticipating dessert all the while … Don’t worry. I’m not going to pull the old ‘I scream, you scream – we all scream for ice cream’ joke on you. I’m all for the bad puns at times but some are too old even for me 😀 .

Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream_spoon

What I’m going to say and do instead is give myself a pat on the back let you know I was all giddy while making this. See, I’ve had my ice cream maker for – [insert me trying to remember which Amazon account I used to buy it so I can track back the year] … a long time. Yet I only used it a few times back then – end of summer – and then moved out. The time in between is blurred [think ED and whatnot]. But now I’m reunited with this fine machine and will have it move with me. Homemade ice cream all year round? I’m not entirely opposed. For a start, I made up a Blueberry Swirl creation. No vanilla in there because my mum had run out. Major doozy. We ended up sprinkling it lightly [mum] respectively heavily [me] with cinnamon and that pulled it together. Given it was the first time I ever created ice cream not following a recipe I’m rather happy with how it turned out. Below hand-modelled by mum.

Blueberry swirl ice cream

Remember what I said about not eating dessert until after the ‘real’ meal? Blame my mum for me switching orders here. She came home from work asking for ice cream when I had just put Davida’s dish into the oven. But hey, who says you can’t have dessert first? This picture is solely for mum because ‘you should get one with the flowers!’. So there you go: mum’s flowers. Which yes, are pretty so we’ll ignore the fact the ice cream is more like blurred blueberry in the picture.

Eis_flowers

I hope you’re having a great Wednesday – maybe with a side of ice cream?!

 

Happiness-inducing today: Sitting outside in the sun with mum and dad chatting about everything.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Have you ever made ice cream at home? Let me know of any awesome recipes or flavour creations!

What are your favourite few-ingredient dishes to make when you’re running low on groceries/ cooking in a not-so-well stocked kitchen?