Week in Review: Life lately

Hello there, friendly people!

Lately, I’ve in a sort of overthinking, not so comfortable phase in life, very much in my brain most of the time. If I was to try and describe the feeling it would be like swimming, not seeing exactly where I’m going. Which sounds scary for the fact I despise swimming alone ;). Anyway, it’s because of this that I’ve fallen out of the blogging loop lately. When the thoughts in mind are changing directions all the time, it’s hard to share anything without confusing all of you like crazy. Which I likely just did with this intro. Oh well.

That being said, I’m still working just as usual. It’s in my free time that my brain is going into overdrive. Thinking is good and necessary, thinking too much isn’t ideal.

Another issue that’s been keeping me from diving into blogging more again is my very moody old laptop. Here’s calling all of you for recommendations!  Which powerful but affordable laptops do you use and recommend? In the massive sea of offerings, I have a hard time deciding. Well, I really like my maritime metaphors today, it seems.

Not all of the points below are achievements; some are merely notes on life lately. Fortunately,  Meg is a very forgiving party host, letting all of us run wild with our interpretation of her fabulous original idea. Share some updates on your life lately in the comments with me. I don’t want this to be all about me

So here’s my by no means complete list of recent going-ons.

Week in review

In the past week(s) I …

Worked. Same same here. Which might be one of the reasons for my current not-so-happiness. Looking for job opportunities has been unsatisfying lately to say the least and I’m letting it get to me more than I’d like to.

Went shopping for the first time in … a long while. It was getting sort of necessary. You know you need to act when you live in tights – still no pants for me – and the majority of them have at least small holes. Note that we’re talking holes in places not visible from the outside but very much for me [mostly in the sole part]. So new tights made up the biggest part of my overall not immense haul. A new cardigan and a book thrown in for good measure. I’m not complaining about that.

Dean and David_vegan curry

Had lunch at Dean and David’s while in Hamburg and was pleasantly surprised  by the addition of edamame [not visible in the above picture] to my curry. Which unfortunately ended up hardly filling me up. On the upside, I took this as another lesson in intuitive eating: what’s enough for other people doesn’t have to be for you plus our needs change from day to day. It’s okay to need more after finishing a meal even if people around you don’t.

Called my insurance company asking them to pay for an extra that I wasn’t sure would be covered. Not my favourite thing to do so I’d been postponing it for a while but in the end it was surprisingly  .. good. The jury’s still out on whether they’ll end up paying but I’m glad I asked.

Faced a fear I’ve been dealing with for a while. It’s too ridiculous to specify but something I absolutely need and want to work on. This also inspired me to tackle more of those fears I have yet know are keeping me from fully enjoying life. Okay just in case this makes me sound nuts: I’m okay. Just always a bit too careful. I didn’t inherit that sprinkle of healthy carelessness that other people own. And we all know cake is better with sprinkles ;).

Visited my sister for a belated celebration of her birthday on Saturday. It was a laid-back family get-together of just her, her husband, P., my parents and me but so very nice. Looking forward to seeing them again in two weeks. On that note:

Successfully picked out a gift and bought it way ahead of time. This one’s definitely an accomplishment as I’m just about the least creative person in picking gifts and tend to postpone it to the last minute.

Started two of my new books. I’m not sure how I like them because they both have their lengthy passages but reading still makes me so happy. Plus, allowing myself to start two newly purchased books at the same time feels just that bit luxurious. Living on the wild side ;).

Blogged just once but there are some really good links waiting for you.

Drafted two blog posts. My mind constantly changing directions isn’t helpful to finishing any of them but I’ll definitely be back with another post later this week.

Once again, I’ve been getting wordy so I’ll end this here by wishing you a …

Happy Monday!

Don’t forget to tell me your happenings and accomplishments from the past week!

Happiness-inducing today: The sun peeking through in the late afternoon on a rather rainy day, allowing for a quick walk through the fields.

Stay in touch!
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What were some highlights from your past week?
Any laptop – please no Macs as it’d take me forever to get used to them and they’re also not exactly my price range 😉 – recommendations? I’d really appreciate any help here.


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Food with a side of guilt

It’s Wednesday. Or What I ate Wednesday for a large part of the blog world but I won’t play along today. Rather, we’ll talking about something that’s been making me a little sad in some of these posts. Again, I might be interpreting something others don’t see into these observations – in that case I will blame 12th grade German classes in school.

Let's talk

Why do we try to explain eating that piece of chocolate by stating we worked out extra hard that day and ‘deserved it’. Or when did we start feeling like we had to state a certain day shown was “rather carb-heavy” or “more indulgent day than usual”? Or making a point that we balanced out that piece of cake with plenty of vegetables at dinner? Or state that yes, we ate a lot but we also exercised for this and that long? Don’t hashtag your meals #cheat, #YOLO or #sorrynotsorry or state that you “don’t eat that way every day”. Yes, it’s called the healthy living blog world. But healthy isn’t about eating ‘clean’ all day every day. It’s not about eating vegetables at every meal. Not even about eating vegetables every day if you don’t feel them.

When I stumble upon your WIAW I don’t analyze your choices and categorize you: “glutton!”, “how can she eat grains for every meal?”, “geee, that’s a boatload of almond butter”. No. Rather, I – and I’ll make the advanced guess this is true for the majority of readers – am curious about seeing different people’s days of food. Actually, I might find you a little more sympathetic if you have a huge sweet tooth and heavy hand on the nut butter, too. Choose the foods you genuinely enjoy eating and that make you feel good. Again, I might be more sensitive here but I wonder if these defending statements hide an insecurity or shame for the choices these people made.

Vapiano

What would be the worst outcome? Strangers assuming you had a deep love for pizza, pasta or pie if that’s what you happen to have enjoyed on a given day? That doesn’t sound too awful to me and again: I don’t think people judge like this. Or if they do: never mind because: Those who mind don’t matter. Those who matter don’t mind. Just ask yourself how you read food posts. Do you make quick assumptions about people solely based on the food shown? I’d guess not. The same should go for everyday ‘real’ life. Aside from the fact nobody chooses their friends based on their food choices: Would we be more attracted to the girl ordering the salad with the dressing on the side or nothing [yes, that was me for too long] while you want to get pizza? Or the one who’s up for a spontaneous meal, doesn’t stress about macros and how much she worked out on a given day?**

** Please note that once again, I’m not shaming anybody for choosing a certain diet or lifestyle. My point are choices or statements coming – consciously or unconsciously –  from a place of guilt or shame.

eating out_Dean and David_curry_vegan

Let’s make more room to talk just about the food, not the macros. Tell me all about the deliciousness on your plate [by the way: the above plate was a vegan curry at Dean & David’s]. What I ate Wednesday: not about comparison [with yourself or others], judgement, restriction or guilt. All about enjoyment in food. It’s hard not to compare or push aside food guilt when one and a half million articles offering ‘healthy’ advice tell you to feel bad about carbs/fat/sugar. But we can make a start in stopping to explain our choices. It tastes fantastic and makes you feel good? It’s good for you. Because a free and happy mind can enjoy life more.

 

Happiness-inducing today:Seeing one etting one of the cutest puppies on my walk home and then spontaneously petting it. I’m not usually one to do that because you never know if the owners like it but I couldn’t resist. It definitely made me smile.

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Your thoughts on defnding food choices: Is it something you’ve noticed before? Do you find yourself justifying meals or treats through exercise or else? Let me know whatever comes to your mind on the topic.

Food Talk Wednesday #3

You know you’re a blogger if you take pictures of your food with every intetion to share them on your social media outlets of choice.

You know you’re a blogger who needs to post about food if said pictures take up too much space on your phone/camera memory card.

All that being said it’s definitely time for another Food Talk Wednesday. In hopes that will reduce the backlog of pictures at least ever so slightly [who exactly am I kidding?!]. What can I say? Flowers [just wait for the bazillion of pictures I’ve been taking] and food – I can’t resist taking pictues of them.

Today’s theme – you didn’t think I’d pass a chance to give rhyme and reason to a post, did you? – are meals eaten out. I could pretend I was a lazy lady unwilling to cook.  Or fantasize about summertime heat [which Germany sadly isn’t blessed with at the moment] making me dread turning on the stove. But I’d rather go with telling the tale of living up to the goal I set myself. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add some of the recovery lessons learned here. While I don’t want this to turn into a recovery[-only] blog I’ve been inspired, reassured and encouraged by others doing so I’m hoping I might be able to do the same in  a way.

Food Talk Wednesay_logo[Sorry for the phone camera pictures in advance. Sometimes I’m just not feeling the workout that is lugging around a DSLR at all times 😉 .]

The oldest of these pictures – no surprise my phone’s memory card is filling up fast – is of this lovely asparagus risotto I ate way back. I’d dare to say I still remember its taste, though. Risotto – another dish I hadn’t had in quite a while. Mostly for the reason I usually cook for myself only and it’s not really worth the effort for a single serving. This Asparagus Risotto with Cherry Tomatoes was just perfect. The lovely staff at the café knows me and always finds a way to accomodate my vegan preferences even if their regular menu doesn’t offer anything suitable.

Asparagus risotto

One of my favourite dishes was enjoyed at a festival [it’s not actually a festival but the concept would take too long to explain here]. Its name can’t be properly translated but it’s basically a stir-fry of brown rice, speltberries and lots of vegetables with a delicious fresh peanut sauce. Maybe it was the fact I only get the chance to eat this dish once a year but for once I actually finished the whole plate – and was still hungry. That’s something I’m still adapting to but baby steps …

FTW_June_6

Pizza! Probably sad to admit but I didn’t remember the last time I’d had pizza prior to this one. At that, recovery is a blessing because you get to rediscover the joy in eating a food others have on the regular.  The additional challenges for me: most of my family had been cycling all day while I – then still being cautious because of my injury – had joined my uncle and wife in taking the car. Aside from missing the extra fresh air lack of movement still makes me anxious. Either way, I enjoyed a few slices of this made-to-order brick oven pizza with spinach, mushrooms and vegan cheese sauce. There couldn’t have been a better way of welcoming pizza back in my life.

FTW_June_5

Pictured below is what sadly fell into the category of ‘looks better than it tastes’: Tomato and olive ragout with pan-fried polenta slices. Eaten on a day trip to meet my sister this was another reminder that sometimes a meal isn’t about the food. Did I fully enjoy the dish? No. It wasn’t awful but didn’t hit the spot or satisfy me [a little TMI: my stomach let me know it didn’t approve of this in terms of digestion later, too …]. Did I enjoy the company? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Sure. One meal isn’t worth making a fuss about and much less if it comes with a side of quality time with somebody you don’t see often enough.

FTW_June_1

Something I’ve noticed overall and hadn’t expected, though, is that eating out is actually easier than challenging myself at home. It’s one of the many surprising experiences I’ve made. First traveling as the one thing I was afraid of turning into a great way to free my mind. Then meals eaten out in general as a way to broaden my palate and delve into unknown calorie territory. At home, I’m more often than not stuck in repetition of ‘safe’ meals but handing over control to somebody else in a place different from home somehow works a little magic. Also good for anybody struggling with serving sizes: what is given to you at restaurant’s is considered the ‘right’ amount for a normal eater. As in: what we’re striving to turn into. Unless you’re faced with a pizza larger than the plate it’s served on – yes, this has happened to me before.

In short: if you can’t seem to challenge yourself food-wise at home, either, try eating out. It takes pushing past your comfort zone a lot at first but is rewarding.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Helping one of my sister’s friends editing a paper she had to write for university. Did I mention I enjoy editing a LOT?!

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Are you guilty of taking way too many pictures of food [or flowers], too?

When was your last time eating out and what did you get?

 

 

 

 

 

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!

WIAW_new2015

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.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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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!

Family fun, food fails and favourites

Another weekend on the train – four hours on Friday, three on Sunday – and lots in between.  Don’t worry, though, I won’t center another What I ate Wednesday around train food. Instead, I’ll show you the good and not that good food I ate at my destination(s). Hence the favourite and fails in the title but you guessed that by now, right? Spending time with my family and eating fall-ish foods was definitely a way of falling into good habits for this week’s What I ate Wednesday.

wiaw fall into good habits button

Obviously,  I had to make the best use of my short, no, very short,  stay at my parents’. Think: eat all the food. The first home-grown kabocha in way too long. I arrived with an empty suitcase for a reason – a miracle happened because I can’t remember I’ve ever packed this light before – kabocha dedication.

Kabocha_cut

Can we agree that home-grown raspberries > storebought. And yellow raspberries > any other kind. So when I walked to the vegetable patch to pick up more kabocha and came across bushes upon bushes of these I couldn’t help myself from helping myself [ha!]. Actually,  I was overstuffed at this point already but knowing I wouldn’t be able to get another chance this year anymore so it was worth the stomach ache. Don’t tell me you couldn’t relate. I know you’ve been there before ;).

Raspberries

We had a packed weekend ahead. After arriving Friday night Saturday included a gorgeous autumn-y bike ride through the countryside.  I miss it [and my family] so much. I was barely there when we already  because we had plans to meet my sister, her husband,  a cousins and friends on Saturday night. It had been way too long since my last visit to the theatre and my sister had suggested going a while ago already.

Friedrich Fett_interior

Right after the theatre we had  reservations for dinner. And by dinner I mean at 9.45 PM which means we didn’t get to eat until 10.30 PM. Hello, eating late at night.

Friedrich Fett is a newly opened restaurant in Hamburg-Altona my sister insisted on trying instead of going for one of our usual favourites. Unfortunately not as much of a vegan-friendly as my sister had promised. Or maybe going on Saturday – their proclaimed ‘meat day’ – was bad luck for me. Fortunately, the kitchen offered to cater spontaneously and even brought out an additional vegan platter for a first course: a piece of grilled corn; avocado atop marinated hokkaido squash (!!), spears of fried Parsnip and eggplant. The squash was incredible, the corn too bland for my taste.

Friedrich Fett_Vorspeise
We sadly missed out on the guacamole with plantain chips I’d been eyeing on the menu but you can’t have everything. (:

For my main I tried to customize a tofu bolognese that was originally meant to go with pasta asking them to sub plain quinoa. The waiter – very sweet and genuinely making an effort but probably still new to the job [given they’d opened just four weeks ago] – mixed things up. When our plates arrived I got a small dish of zucchini quinoa mixed with red pesto;  a tofu and vegetable stir-fry and peanut sauce on the side. Both sides went unpictured because my family protested when I took pictures of the food before already and family harmony > blogging duties. Right?! I still gave the stank eye to my sister because that way I can neither show you the quinoa [picture a dish of red-ish hued quinoa with fried zucchini here] and peanut sauce. And the latter was of the I want to drink it with a straw kind. Ridiculous. The best part of my dish.

Friedrich Fett_1

I won’t lie: it was somewhat disappointing. Not bad per se but not a sensation for my tastebuds, either. If you saw one of my recent WIAWs you’ll probably notice the resemblance here.  Petzi from the Vegan Wednesday team said it right in her note on the Pinterest board: the stand-by vegan dish at non-vegan restaurants. There’s still room for improvement. I’ll admit I thought differently the night of but in hindsight most other family members pleased with their choices are worth one sub-par meal on my part. And you know it: next time I’ll pick the restaurant. For any German readers: I can’t recommend Friedrich Fett as of now.

Eggplant Lasagna_soy yogurt

Ending this post on the note of favourites: in an effort to re-shoot the eggplant lasagna – obviously just out of blogger dedication and not because I’m obsessed with it – I snagged the eggplant my mum had sitting around. Apparently well-traveled vegetables makes the best dishes because it was even better than the times before. I’ll edit the post soon – not just for the pictures but to add an even simpler variation on the white sauce. Because why go with simple if you can go even simpler??

On the note of simple I’ll go the easy route of ending this post by wishing you a happy Wednesday! See you tomorrow for thinking out loud,

Happiness-inducing today: The sky turning pink when I walked home after running errands after work – and you better believe I took a picture with my phone. Even if I looked ridiculous while doing so [think: barely able to move my arm clinging a four-pack of water bottles and carrying a bag].

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Vegans/ vegetarians: what were your best and worst experiences when eating out at non-vegetarian restaurants?

Kabocha fiends: how long can you go without major cravings? I didn’t even realize how intense mine were until I sank my teeth into that first piece of buttery amazingness on Friday night. It’s the simple things.

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.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

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

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