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.

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?

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?

Let’s get goal-ing [February]

Sorry!  I know I promised to post my goals for February later this week which ended up being very late now.  But after finally finishing and mailing my essays on Friday night – ugh, midnight deadlines – I went to my parents’. Trying to spend as much time as possible with them I almost forgot about the post. In the end I remembered so without further ado:

My goals for February!

–          Work on my (yet-to-be-posted) food bucket list

–          Eat out at least four times. – As I’ve mentioned before I enjoy it a lot but due to being scared, too, hardly do so. There will hopefully be several chances to challenge myself in this point in February.

Still thinking of my Birthday lunch - such a good one!

Still thinking of my Birthday lunch – such a good one!

–          Unplug at least one day a week.

–          Get crafty! – While I don’t have the patience for knitting or sewing [yet] Irina’s craft projects inspired me to start some myself. Look forward to some pictures of my – hopefully presentable – crafts.

–          Practice positivity. [More on this in another post soon]

Orchid

–          Go to bed earlier.  – Hello, night owl right here. I’ve been quite feeling lately which some more hours of sleep should be a good cure for.

Sheep

–          Cook more often.  – Not that I didn’t do every day but my meals are seriously lacking creativity and I’ve found myself stuck in a routine lately.

–          Meet a special blogger friend [blend?]!super excited for this one as we’ve been meaning to finally meet for a while and things kept getting in between. Fingers crossed!

 

I’ll keep you updated as I tackle the items on my list and am excited to see how well I’ll do.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday (night)! I’m off to watch a movie with my mum :).

 

Do you have any goals for February?

Which kind of craft projects do you like? Inspire me! I’m open for (pretty much) anything that doesn’t involve knitting ;).

What did you do this weekend?

Happy New Year and setting [realistic] goals

Happy New Year to all of you! Orchids

First off, I want to thank each and every one of you. 2012 was the year I finally brought up the courage to start a blog – I was afraid nobody would want to read – and I don’t regret it a single bit. The blog community is full of amazing people. I’m so thankful to have gotten to know all of you. Thanks for your sweet, supportive, encouraging and inspiring mails and comments! Each of them brought a smile to my face, made me feel understood and gave me strength when I needed it. Especially following through with my Christmas bucket list was a lot easier knowing I had your support so thanks once more.

Christmas starts

Yes, I know I might be a bit late but I’d still like to chime in on that one topic: New Year’s intentions. Making resolutions and setting goals to work towards isn’t per se a bad idea in my opinion. It’s the details I needed to rethink.

In the past I’d set goals like “getting rid of my ED” or “become an organized person”. I’m an all-or-nothing person: It’s either doing it all the way or not seeing it as an achievement. Unsurprisingly, I failed on them. Striving for smaller goals never seemed enough for me. But too ambitious or unrealistic plans set you – or at least me – up for frustration. You can’t plan on when to be fully recovered or when to reach a satisfying degree of organization.

Garden

 

Does failing to achieve your goals at the end of one year mean I’ll never reach them?  But really, what else but the beginning of a new month does January 1st mark? Yes, way back in time somebody decided that it also marked the start of a new year. But like Amanda said in yet another great post: I’m still the same person in this new year. The goals I set still exist and can be followed over the course of however long it takes me to reach them.

Granted, I won’t be able to make up for my failed attempt at winning an Olympic Gold medal in 2013 ;). [Hey, nobody told me procrastination wasn’t an Olympic discipline yet!] But at least I got to interview an Olympic Gold medal winner while interning at a fitness magazine so maybe that counts :D?

Leaving the safe harbour to get to know new sights and places.

Leaving the safe harbour to get to know new sights and places.

Also, I might not have gotten rid of my ED yet but I did move on in recovery. It’s the little steps that count. Every one of us has his own speed in life and that’s perfectly okay. Comparing how far I’ve come with somebody else who had a completely different initial situation won’t get you anywhere but closer to frustration. Take your time to achieve your goals. Falling back into old habits temporarily is normal and okay. Just keep pushing on.

My plan for 2013 is to set smaller, realistic goals for each month which will include tackling a food bucket list. I know I’m up for a lot of change [which I’ll talk about another time] so setting huge goals for the whole year wouldn’t work out in anyway. Let’s see what 2013 has on offer for us!

 

Tell me: What did you do on New Year’s Eve? I spent mine very low-key at a good friends’ house catching up, eating delicious food and watching her family’s 30-minute firework shenanigans :D.

Did you make any resolutions or what’s your take on them?

Do you have any big plans for 2013 already?

Christmas counts more [than calories]

I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas filled with family time, relaxation, presents and – obviously – food.

Christmas card

Spending most of the time from Sunday afternoon to yesterday evening unplugged reminded me on how important it is to focus on yourself [and your family, obviously]. Not comparing to how much other people exercised or ate on Christmas. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate the blogging community for all of the great inspiration, motivation and support it has provided me with already. Still, I am somebody who tends to compare too much and get unhappy with myself. That’s why this break was helpful for me.

Christmas 2012 1

For some, exercising and watching what they eat is the right thing to do during on Christmas is the right thing to do. For me, though, it was important to learn and do the exact opposite. Letting go of old habits and daring to allow myself to eat what I wanted and rest. Take a deep breath and relax.

Relax

Resting in front of the chimney – if only my parents had one, too …

Regarding my Christmas bucket list I wish I could say I had done better but I’m trying to see the small accomplishments I did achieve.

No, I wasn’t able to truly let myself have everything I wanted. But I did enjoy a full-on Christmas Eve dinner with vegan roast, potatoes, a massive pile (times ten) of my Grandma’s red cabbage, vegan cream sauce and Brussels sprouts. It might not seem like a huge accomplishment to some but:

It was my first time having a dinner fully prepared by others including a homemade roast by my sister. Plus a sauce that – according to her, not me, as I didn’t watch the preparation (yay!) – had a huge amount of vegan butter even compared to her standards.  Not knowing about the ingredients before I let myself have plenty of it and was delighted in every bite.

Christmas dinner

Sorry for the blurry pictures and using flash but everybody was about to start eating so I had to be quick. Having dinner at around 7 PM doesn’t exactly provide the best natural lighting, either.

Christmas 2012_Dinner

Don’t worry: This was just my first plate. I had seconds (and thirds) of everything.

If you were wondering about the title: It indicates the – for me – biggest achievement. I didn’t measure any foods excluding my breakfast grain mix that I’d bagged at home for two days rather than the one I’d planned. Yes, there was a scale at my aunt’s but I had made the promise to myself so I stuck with it. Guess what? It was easier than I thought. After years and years of counting I obviously still had a rough estimate but was able to push the amount aside quickly each time it arose. While I definitely didn’t eat as normal as everybody else I moved forward after all. Not letting numbers dictate my choices was a freeing experience.

Admittedly, I went back to counting – but still rather roughly – when returing to my parents’ house yesterday. But at least now I know I can do without it and will try to regularly have a non-counting day and hopefully working up from there.

Sing, relax and enjoy.

Sing, relax and enjoy.

What I can say for now, though, is that Christmas really does count more. Being with my family counts more than going for a lonely run outside. Eating a dinner like everybody else counts more than filling up on piles of steamed vegetables. Christmas is meant as a time of thankfulness and spending time with the ones you love – and I am thankful for my family more than I could ever be for any present. Seeing all of my family surely was my favourite part of the holiday.

How was your Christmas?

What did you have for Christmas dinner?

Was there any part of the holiday you especially enjoyed (family tradition, food, a certain present, …)? For me, going to the Christmas church service with my aunt and uncle while everybody else prepared dinner was special. My family doesn’t usually go and it truly enhanced the Christmas spirit. Also, the pastor’s message made me reflect on the past year and get even more appreciative of all I’ve blessed with.