Meet me in pumpkin-ville!

 Autumn is a good time for change. Or at least that’s what Jenn makes us believe with her motto of falling into good habits. And why not? Even if fall is no better for breaking old habits or developping new ones: it’s as good as any other.  And while I’m sharing [part of] Sunday’s meals for today’s What I ate Wednesday it was a day that gave me the opportunity to try some new foods or test out assumptions. So let’s not ramble on any longer but talk about actual food.

wiaw fall_Kabocha

Breakfast included finally cutting into the monster squash. What can I say? It’s as sweet and crumbly as you could hope for. But I didn’t take a picture so decided you wouldn’t mind a recycled one.  There might really be sonething about frugal bloggingafter all. New additions to my squash were a stab of coconut oil and some coconut flour crumbles. Inspired by Robyn I’m trying to see if the oil will make a difference in terms of staying power and satisfaction for me.

kabocha_pot

Whether it’s contradictive saying this after showing the above picture or not: I’m not ready for fall – or autumn as I prefer – yet. The chance to eat all the pumpkin again is a slight consolation. And lunch was a case of dealing with my produce overbuying tendency once more. Honestly,  though, I just couldn’t not buy the best,  freshest-looking bag of spinach I’ve ever seen. Especially since fresh spinach is a rarity over here in general. Oh and did I mention pumpkin? Actually, I’d had my mind set on a potato spinach casserole but then I just couldn’t ignore the cut-up half of a butternut squash sitting in my fridge. While potatoes are an obvious match in this combination and preparationLuck of ingredients the butternut worked really well here, too.

Butternut Squash Spinach Casserole 2

Apparently,  I also wanted cheese.  If I’m being completely honest,  I’d been craving cheese badly for weeks until I finally picked up a bag. This is actually a point I want to work on: figuring out my cravings and listening to them better. There has been an annoying lot of days where I ended up being unsatisfied and snacking non-stop even when I just finished a meal. I’m happy to report this was not the case on this day. How could it have been with a cheese-laden casserole that aided in building up the highly aquired pumpkin glow. Come Halloween I’ll shine brighter than any squashes …

Butternut Squash_Spinach Casserole

Snack time rolled around and I felt another burst of cooking inspiration – and use-up-spiration. And here I’m wondering again: when in the world did I purchase all of the food sitting in my cupboards [and in fact taking up space I could use for actual cups and plates]. Rather than grab a bar of chocolate right away* – there would be plenty in above-mentioned food stash – I decided to venture out a little further. Making good use of the fact it was the weekend and I had a choice to go for something different than my usual packed snacks. Homemade protein bars it was. Lately, I’ve noticed I wasn’t satisfied with my usual snacks [fruit, dried fruit + nut bars, chocolate] at work and am looking to improve the situation. Doing the math in my head I know the one nutrient my meals and snacks are probably lacking in is protein.

tea

*okay, there was some chocolate happening in between. I can’t [and don’t want to] help it.

These don’t look pretty but again: taste beats appearance. With vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, coconut flour and some other bits and bobs these hit the spot. If you’re anything like me texture matters and to ensure that and my intention for a slightly sweet-and-salty bar I added chopped up dry-roasted chickpeas. Clearly strange but good to some but again: Don’t knock it till you try it. Just like with chocolate I paired this with a cup of my favourite tea.

Protein bar

 

Happiness-inducing today: Finding the perfect parking spot in my street. Did I mention that can be a pain in the butt here??

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Have you made protein bars before? Let me know of any recipes worth trying.

 Are you on a mission to eat ALL the pumpkin, too? In that case: share your favourite recipes here as well. There are never enough for pumpkin, squash or whatever you like to all it. (:

Do you say

a) pumpkin or squash?

b) autumn or fall?

 

 

WIAW: Going back to classics

Raise your hand if you feel writing a witty intro on Wednesdays is particularly hard. Okay, maybe it isn’t usually but I’ve been feeling under the weather today so I just decided you’d agree if we got the food talk started right away. It’s What I ate Wednesday and the theme emerging this time became clear as I sorted through the pictures: we’re talking classics today. Some typically German classics, some old favourites/ personal classics. That’s what happens when you move with a lot of food still on hand …

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It’s back! My cooking motivation returned this past weekend. Oh did I miss it. Its return was likely fuelled by my mum visiting me and helping me continue at least partly with the mumables. She brought along the most immense kabocha I’ve had this year so far [more than 8 lbs – and at that making my kitchen scale go into error state]. Not just that but some of her freshly harvested snap beans, too. Green ones are obviously a classic but how about some purple ones in the mix?

September seaside 099

Pretty, no? I’ll let you in on a secret, though: they loose their beautiful colour almost immediately when cooked so the effect vanishes quickly. While brainstorming the ‘best’ way to use the rare home-grown beans I snacked on an old favourite. That’s the marvelous part of moving with a lot of food: you’re forced to use up what you have and end up rediscovering some goodies you bought way back. Like these double-roasted salted chickpeas.

Roasted chickpeas

In an effort to savour the precious produce I set out to veganize a German classic that I’m sure those stopping by from Vegan Wednesday will know: Birnen,  Bohnen und Speck.  Only it was far from the original not just in the fact it was devoid of any animal products. I also turned what’s traditionally a sauté with a side of boiled potatoes into a casserole. Never mind that I don’t remember the last time I had the real version: this was absolutely delicious.  Hearty, salty and comforting. If you’re curious about the details: there you go.

Birnen, Bohnen und Speck

Work has me back in my old soup lady patterns. Plans of more involved workday meals will have to wait until I figure out a good meal planning schedule that works for me. Rather than panicking at the lack of produce and ideas on Sunday.  All that in mind I think I did well on Sunday with this Parsnip Pumpkin Stew I prepped ahead of time for Monday and Tuesday lunches. A stick-to-your ribs vegan dish filled with vitamins and fibre. I ate it with a slice of seedy bread that met my criteria.

Parsnip Pumpkin Soup

A sweet ending was brought into existence by my sister. Or more specifically the fact that she lives close to an IKEA store and took a trip there solely to pick up the cutest popsicle molds ever for me. Too late for popsicles? Never. Even if a whole bowl of ice cream can seem a little too much [in terms of freeze-inducing properties] a little popsicle never hurt anybody.

September seaside 095

These are the simplest ever in that all I did was freeze the contents of an Alpro Soya dark chocolate dessert pot. Trust me: you want to try this! The pudding freezes to a not-at-all hard but velvety texture. If you don’t have popsicle molds: just shake the pudding cup and pop it into the freezer for a few hours. And then come back to thank me for the genius idea 😉 . Until then: enjoy your Wednesday!

Happiness-inducing today: Starting a promising new b0ok

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What’s your favourite dish using green beans?

Do you prefer ice cream or popsicles?  What are your favourite flavours?

Everything’s sweet about [my] food…

If there’s lessons to be learned – I’d rather get my jamming eats in first so … [I’m still doing it]

It’s been a while since I gave you a whole half a day of food in my life*. Why not make today that day?! And that’s where the sweet part sets in. Granted, I actually started on a savoury pre-breakfast note with some mushrooms dipped in salsa but they didn’t make the picture. Long intros are only sidetracking from the actual posts, though, so I’ll get started with the food already. Thanks to Jenn as well as the Vegan Wednesday hosts!

*not to be confused with an actual full day because I still doubt I’d ever remember or want to snap pictures of every morsel that makes its way into my mouth. Sorry.

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If you – like me – have a slight overbuying tendency combined with a mum coming for a visit and surprising you with a huge punnet of blueberries you might suddenly find yourself with a few pounds* of berries. A few more than I could possibly eat all by themselves soon enough. For whichever reason cooked fruit seems to go down easier than raw so I decided to bake some of it. Starting your day with fresh local strawberries? Not the worst idea. I didn’t mention it yet but polenta – yes, the ingredient I used to snark at – has been making frequent appearances. Either my tastebuds changed a lot since last year or getting more relaxed around food and preparing it the right way [think: cooked in soy milk not water and with coconut butter/ oil stirred in]. While this wasn’t bad and in fact reminiscent of the semolina pudding I was fond of during my childhood I still prefer polenta the savoury way and oat bran for my first [sweet] meal of the day.

*German [500 g] not American [454 g] pounds which does make a difference when we’re talking about  not one but a few 😉

Polenta_Strawberry

In an attempt to clean out my cupboards I took care of an old favourite: frozen Alpro dark chocolate dessert. Seriously, if you haven’t tried freezing these: do yourself a favour! And here’s where things got [in] explicably #strangebutgood. Why, yes, mid-way through eating I remembered a store-bought ice cream favourite from years ago – Dark Chocolate Chili – and decided to spice up my snack. Anybody who’s been reading for a while and knows my fondness of  a certain bar of chocolate actually shouldn’t be too surprised. Chocolate and chili were meant to meet.

Chili_Alpro Pudding

[and I’m apparently five years old still making a mess when eating pudding – some things don’t change]

Lunch was a case of lacking creativity but I decided to pick up some phyllo dough at the store to see if what it’d inspire me to. Because everything tastes good wrapped in crispy buttery pastry. The result was a mix of sauteed bok choy,  mushrooms, tomatoes and – big surprise! – chickpeas covered in the cheesy pumpkin sauce I used in my  tortilla bake before. It was a good and delicious decision.  Phyllo, you can do no wrong.

Phyllo_pastry

You know my preference to end on a sweet note and oh do I have a recipe recommendation for you! Ever since Amanda posted her Banana Bread Mug Cake last week I’ve had at least one per day. Addicted?  Quite possibly. I’ve only been introduced to banana bread through the blog world because it’s not a classic over here. The first recipe I tried was Jenn’s browned butter [veganized in my case] chocolate chip version quite a while ago. So maybe I’m not the most trustworthy judge for banana bread authenticity. What I know, though,  is that this is a pretty awesome mug cake and I have no plans on ending the obsession soon.

 Banana bread mug cake

There you have it: the first half of my day in meals and sweet snacks. More chocolate in the form of several squares of Lindt followed so my salty tooth wasn’t beckoning overly in the second half of the day, either, which is unusual so I’m curious about tomorrow’s cravings…

Happiness-inducing today: the baby on its mum’s shoulder flashing me the cutest smile when I was walking behind the two for a few metres. Adorable.

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Are there days where you’re predominantly going for either sweet or savoury food?

What are your favourite mug cake recipes?

Do you have a go-to no-fail recipe you turn to when not feeling creative? Wrapping whatever I need to use up in phyllo dough has yet to disappoint me.

Chocolate and chili: yay or nay?

 

 

Bend it like [no]ham!

Okay… Wow. I wasn’t going to mention it but… That match. Insanity. If I was a fan I’d have cancelled talking about food today and bugged you with some [read: an insane lot of] Fußball [soccer] talk. Lucky for you, I have no idea of soccer rules, team constellations [aside from some handsome players] or else. But you know I like a good theme for my posts so my post-soccer rush [and sugar-fuelled] mind came up with a game plan of soccer-fying this post. So What I ate Wednesday is going for the [taste] goal this week.

WIAW GOES for the goal

The preliminary:  breakfast. While I still tried some recipes from my Pinterest boards I’d been slacking on making any of those from my Sunday posts . Never mind. I made up for that by creating a nice plate. The lineup: Hannah’s Chickpea Polenta Scramble with some bok choy added to it, a tomato [mostly for colour] …

Polenta chickpea scramble_cleaneatingveggiegirl

… and a surprise wing back in the form of cauliflower nuggets to save the meal from a red card by my hungry stomach. Not to say Hannah’s recipe wasn’t good because it’s a delicious alternative scramble. But didn’t hold its shape quite as well as in her pictures and I found the serving size to be on the smaller size [for me]. Likely to blame would be the fact we can’t buy premade polenta in stores so I had to cook and mold my own guesstimating amounts. And apparently it didn’t firm up as well as it looked like after plopping it out of the bowl.

Cauliflower nuggets_hand

While I don’t like tofu scrambles Hannah’s non-soy version made me  decide to allow them to step up into the second round. Tastes change after all so with an open package of silken tofu in the fridge I mashed some of it up with turmeric, smoked paprika and pepper to add to another breakfast. This was on a very snacky non-hungry morning and followed by almond butter.

Breakfast scramble_silken tofu

The leftover silken tofu mentioned was a remainder from one of the most random but delicious lunches in a while. Like ## mentioned before I’m not usually a fan of tofu or fake meats but recently picked up a few products merely out of curiosity. One were those slices of vegan deli meat. It’s no ham but bending the rules [like Beckham] tofu deli slices were a delicious substitute player – [soy] bean ham??

Tofu-Aufschnitt_vegan deli meat

Let’s move onto the semi-finals: Lunch. For whichever reason the idea of carbonara sauce plopped up in my head. On a Sunday with no option to get any special ingredients.  Wheatberries sounded good, a creamy non-tomato-based sauce and peas did so this dish was born: silken tofu cheesy sauce,  wheatberries, peas, the deli meat slices and some cherry tomatoes for a little fresh kick. It was oddly delicious for going about it with no real plan.

Wheatberry, Pea and vegan deli meat bake

Did I mention I really like wheatberries?  Plus, I have a box to use up and that’s why they’ve been my grain of choice lately. Hence also when I spontaneously decided to try this pasta bake for lunch yesterday.  Only it obviously wasn’t a pasta bake anymore.  Either way, the creamy vegan cheese sauce using corn and cauliflower – I have quite a lot of it on hand once more, remember? – was absolutely delicious. I added random vegetables and had to leave out the sprouts that I’m sure take this dish over the top but I had none at hand. Rain tripped a foul in the photography game so my pictures didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped.

Wheatberry casserole

Not a new sweet treat but a sweet[er] first worth mentioning: my matcha latte premiere. Matcha has been on my list of foods to try for months and it’s currently on offer at a whole foods supermarket chain so I jumped at the chance. My verdict after the first leg of this on-going matcha match: still open. I didn’t expect it to be -that- bitter – you can tell I’m generally a green tea newbie – so for now the soy milk foam was my favourite part. Sweetening the matcha right away was key for me. Life was meant to be sweet after all, right?!

Matcha Latte_soy

The finals were made up of chocolate and almond butter but it was a fast-paced game so went unpictured. If you’re wondering about the outcome of this exciting game: it was a tie. Which, yes, if you’re bending the rules like Beckham the ball, is a possible outcome for a final game. Just roll with it. But make sure to take a look at everybody else’s contenders and matches via Jenn’s and Vegan Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Oh, just a certain soccer game, you know. <- I make myself laugh.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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What are the most unique scrambles you tried so far? I’ve yet to try the sweet [banana] breakfast scrambles but I’m sure there are versions I haven’t even heard of yet out there.

Are you a fan of matcha? If so: what do you use it for? My initial idea was to try it in oatmeal or desserts so I’ll likely experiment soon.

And obviously: did you watch yesterday’s match??

 

 

Like it? Then you should have put a spin on it.

Maybe it’s time to overthink my strategy for Wednesdays. Or more specifically my blogging strategy for What I ate Wednesdays. Some weeks I hardly have any meals worth showing or simply haven’t felt like taking pictures. Right now it’s the opposite: I have a huge backload of pictures. Sounds good? Not so much if – like me – the organized part* of you wants to present meals aligning with an overall topic. Yes, I figure that apply for anybody doing full days of food but that’s not my style. Luckily, I can be inventive and stretch my imagination so today’s topic is all about putting my own spin on other bloggers’ recipes. Happy feasting your eyes here as well as at Jenn’s and the Vegan Wednesday board!

*why yes, I have an organized and a chaotic part – blogging usually brings out the former more which I’m not complaining about.

WIAWbutton_1

Starting out with a dish I had weeks ago for the first time only to prepare it over and over. Amy’s Cordoba Cauliflower ‘Rice’ caught my eyes right away especially thanks to the story she dished up with it. Just reading the ingredients brought back memories of a family holiday in Malaga years ago. Actually only about a year after I’d gone vegetarian. Yet still my parents seeked out what must have been pretty much one of the only fully vegetarian restaurants around there at that time for a dinner out. That’s [one more reason] why I love my parents. It was my dad ordering a couscous that – assuming memory serves me right here – was similar to Amy’s.

Cauliflower couscous_chili

Either way, I tried the recipe putting my own spin on it by mixing in wheatberries like in this dish, subbing mulberries for the raisins because they’re my favourites  and adding chickpeas. For the simple reason that I’m obsessed with them. Not like you had noticed that already. Both plain with extra cinnamon and alongside vegan chili with double legume action this dish was really delicious. I’m partial to my add-ins but if grains or chickpeas aren’t your thing you can still try Amy’s original version and expect a great dish.

Amy's cauliflower couscous_mulberries

I keep mentioning my savoury breakfast challenge yet didn’t give an actual update yet. Did I say blogging brought out the organized part of me?! Remind me if I happen to forget it and you’re curious. Breakfast potatoes were a true novelty to me. Probably surprising given I’m German and we like our potatoes – we really do and I’m not talking sweet potatoes. Only this dish is from that time I actually didn’t have any potatoes on hand and went with sunchokes. It was delicious but not as satisfying as it’d likely be using actual potatoes. So in case you want to try the dish yourself: go with the original. Making recipes mine with crazy subs isn’t always recipe for success. The add-in of chickpeas, however? No need for any commentary on how good that was. Obsessed, yes.

Sunchoke_breakfast 'potatoes'

One recipe I’ve been making mine forever and have yet to mess up with my random substitutions are Amanda’s Rice Krispie Energy Bites. That have actually not even once contained actual [crispy] rice for me. Instead, I’ve been subbing whichever crispy grain or cereal I had on hand. This time’s main contenders were Cini Minis/ Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the US folks and Cookie Crisp cereal.

Cereal bars_cinnamon toast crunch_2

Did you know both of them are vegan? Aaah, good good memories of eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch during my childhood. I’m pretty happy with the fact there’s still half a box leftover for snacking. Back to Amanda’s bars: they were a major hit with my boss and coworker. Where can I pick up my award for intern of the month year?

Cereal bars_cinnamon toast crunch

One thing I need to confess, though, is that my substitutions here made them lethal. Or at least not Amanda-friendly who’s now convinced I’m trying to kill her ;). If my almond butter consumption didn’t cost me an arm and a leg already I’d have followed the original recipe but for now I keep making it mine with good old peanut butter. Lethal legumes…

The takeaway: Never shy away from recipes if you don’t have all ingredients but put your own spin on them. Chances you’ll end up with an awesome result are at least 50/ 50 after all. Just don’t sub out potatoes. (:

Happy Wednesday!

 

Happiness inducing today: Spontaneously going to the theatre with a friend.

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Which dishes bring back holiday memories for you?

Do you stick with recipes or make them yours by subbing and adding ingredients? My stance on this is pretty obvious.

Did you try any new blogger recipes lately?

Please tell me you got my creative 😉 title reference.

 

 

Roast, bake, blend and eat.

It seems like the blog world was home to quite a number of cheese connoisseurs who’d happily welcome another member to their exclusive club 😀 . In other words: Thank you for your support on my decision and yes, I’ll walk the talk again soon with delicious creations.

Another Wednesday is peeking around the corner already and I don’t have a lot of cheesyness to show yet. Peeking and not yet there because yes, I’m writing and scheduling my posts the night before. Writing them in the morning before work? Not an option. How do you organized people manage :D?? Same way it’s early afternoon already for me when Jenn opens the link-up. Whatever time it is for you as you’re reading, though, let’s talk food again.

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Inspired by Amanda who’d taken up my suggestion – do you sense mutual inspiration? I like it! – of adding chickpeas to yogurt again I decided to try new to me recipe: sweet roasted chickpeas. I’ve had savoury versions – usually adding cumin – before but never sweet. Not just any, though, but Amanda’s very own recipe for honey-almond ones. Yes, these are good.  Despite my usual laziness I went with the suggestion of peeling the chickpeas. I’d heard about that trick for creating the smoothest homemade hummus before but will admit that’s where I’d draw the line. Peeling chickpeas for a dip that’s going to be blended in anyway? Too much effort. For the roasted variety, however, it made perfect sense. Turn on a good tune and peeling those peas will happen in no time.

Honey-almond chickpeas
Even better? Eating almond butter and honey straight up? After cleaning the mxing bowl not to waste any of the ‘marinade’ I wondered why I’d never went with this combination before. Dare I say it rivals chocolate as the sweet little bite after a savoury meal?! Almost only but close enough. Because this still happened some time after.

mint chocolate

Like after a hearty lunch like this. It still needs some tweaking but this random concoction would be a ratatouille bake topped with two kinds of cheese. Mozzarella has always been a favourite for casseroles in pre-vegan days. Feta didn’t make an appearance too often but after seeing many bloggers use it I was curious to see how I’d like it. The verdict is still open but so far I’m not hooked. Maybe because I prefer creamy and melty cheeses? Something I noticed after my first trials is that I need to take it slow with reintroducing cheese.

Ratatouille_two cheeses

In this particular case, though, I feel vegetables were to blame. Another one of those life lessons learned when trying to figure out what causes our stomaches to feel wonky. If I was still feeling guilty about reintroducing cheese into my diet it’d have been the easiest way to finger-point here blaming it. But like I said I’m leaving the outcome open and at the same time trying to work on recovery in general. Eating a too voluminous meal packed with vegetables will hardly make my stomach feel too comfortable. I’ll have to admit it’s one of those mistakes I repeatedly make. Work in progress. Neverthless, the overall taste of the dish was pretty good and yes, the cheese did make it better.

Ratatouille bake

Thanks to the sunny days we had before the weather decided to play winter again I craved a refreshing snack. Enter Vitamix vanilla ‘ice cream’ with ‘cookie dough’ crumbles [can we agree that cute recipe names make everything even better?!]. While it won’t fool anyone for ice cream or cookie dough I feel this might be my way of joining the blogger smoothie trend. Just don’t ask me to blend kale into my ice cream because no. Simply no.

Vitamix ice cream

Something roasted, something baked and something blended – that sums up this surprisingly cheese-less account of some recent food happenings at my apartment. If you’re in dire need of seeing some real cheese action 😉 I’m sure there’ll be plenty over at Jenn’s so head over and get inspired by everybody else’s delicious creations!

 

Happy Tuesday Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: A spontaneous longer chat with one of my neighbours who suggested becoming running buddies. Fingers crossed for a speedy hip recovery!

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What’s your favourite kind of cheese? I’ve actually never liked more than a good handful of kinds. Brie was another favourite, though.

Tell me the best or most exciting flavour of ice cream you’ve ever eaten! For me, the best around here are usually fruit flavours [cherry and mango in particular]. But the creamiest and most special ones I’ve had yet were Peanut Butter Chocolate [called “Girl from Ipanema” at the store] and Coconut Carrot Cake [“Rübli Kokos”]. Actually both vegan ones, too.