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.

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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.

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].

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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.

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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]?

So many thoughts, so little time.

What a week! I can’t believe we already made it to Thursday but I’m happy about it. Only two more days until I’ll [hopefully] hop on a train to Hamburg for a mum-and-daughter day. It’s a well-known fact traveling – and working – is easier without too much freight so I’m following Amanda’s invitation to unload my brain by Thinking out loud.

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. There are certain topics that keep reappearing in my Thinking out loud posts. One being tea. I’m not a coffee drinker and a very picky tea connoisseur. The only kind of tea I truly enjoy is chai made from spices. No roibush, no fruity flavours, no green tea, … Essentially,  I’m pretty much settled on one tea: Sweet Chili. After my previous favourite was discontinued  I switched to Yogi’s version. April 021

Until now I regularly bought it at a number at different stores. But about two weeks ago I noticed stores didn’t restock. Not cool. In my desperation I looked for other ways to get my hands on it and ordered it online.  Amazon to the rescue.

2. When my mum was around on the weekend we needed to look something up online and I happened to have several tabs open on my laptop [as usual]. One of them was this post that made my mum asking what exactly that was in the first picture.  It hadn’t actually deemed to me on first looks but on a second … I trust in your dirty minds  you to tell what she thought ;).

3. On the note of my mum’s visit: she got the dishwasher set up and running! Even if this makes me look spoiled or lazy I feel relief knowing I won’t have to clean every dish by hand. Kudos to all of you who said they did even owning a dishwasher and preferred it that way. In my defense: I still make an effort to use as few dishes as possible and clean a pot or plate by hand or re-use a cup a second time the next time. Frugal habits I know I’m not alone with.

4. Every time I’ve been uploading another image for the blog lately I’ve become painfully aware just how many there already are and how little space is left. Meaning: I’ll need to clean up a little, no? So does that mean I have to delete old images from way back and then I’m good to go again? And would that mean there will suddenly be blank frames where once pictures were showing up after that? Questions upon questions from non-tech-savvy me.

5. Still, I couldn’t not share a picture of the monster kabocha I mentioned yesterday.  Because in true blog world fashion: pictures or it didn’t happen, right?!

Giant kabocha_Hokkaido

6. If I end up filling all remaining storage space before I find answers to those questions you’ll notice by me recycling pictures in every post. What I ate Wednesday portraiting meals I ate a year ago? It might happen and then I’ll be the one establishing frugal blogging. Or I’ll make good use of others’ images …

7. Like here: Do you remember the powdered greens from a while back?  Brands keep making me speechless time and time anew. Apparently smoothie drinkers are a new particularly interesting target group for German companies.

Smoothie cubes? Dried and pressed smoothie ingredients you apparently dissolve in water? I’m really not sure what to think so I’ll leave the judgement of whether these are genius or garbage up to actual smoothie drinkers. Personally, I’ll stick with tea for now and am off to get a cup of my Sweet Chili amazingness now. Better enjoy it while it still lasts. Plus, blog reading is just that much better when accompanied by tea and chocolate.

8. You know I had to add it: Happy Thursday!

Happiness-inducing today: The kindness of a stranger. Also her not laughing at me in a somewhat embarrassing situation.

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No questions for you. Just chime in with whatever random musings you feel like sharing.

 

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 …

WIAWbutton_1

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?

With a little help from mum [Mum-ables]

If you’re like me you grew up never or hardly ever  – in my case: that one exception when we traveled to England in 2000 – eating the once popular Lunchables. Is anybody else surprised those still exist?? Just me? They apparently got an upgrade because my box looked somewhat like this – and was yet more proof some things seem [way] more exciting than they are. More often than not it was mum-ables for me growing up: school lunches packed by my mum. Sandwiches on local whole-wheat bread with cheese or deli meats, some fruit, the occasional chocolate croissant and water or juice in my Emil bottle. Oh, the memories … but I digress.

The mum-ables for today’s What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday are different from that: meals my mum [and her well-stocked freezer] enabled me to create. Ergo: mum-ables. Unfortunately most of the meals prepared by my mum for a belated birthday feast on Saturday escaped my camera. But every one the dishes and snacks in today’s post came – in one way or the other  – about thanks to my mum. And her garden and fridge but you’ll see what I mean.

wiawloveyourveggies_andyourmum

Breakfast with a little help by my mum means … kabocha again. But not any. We’re talking homegrown kabocha from my mum’s huge vegetable garden. No matter how good – and aside from the very bad ones I’ve found – some of the squash at stores it nothing beats homegrown. It’s about ten dozen times creamier with that coveted ‘dry’ texture. Not clearly visible in the picture but I’m not patient when it comes to eating so you’ll have to trust my word on that one here.

Kabocha_breakfast

As a fun fact the very first kabocha I ate actually was an accident. Or in the growing state at least. About five years ago my mum attempted to grow pumpkin for the first time. Just for me because the remainder of the family doesn’t care much for it. Since I’d only know Red Kuri squash until then that was our choice from the seed catalogue. But when the first little pumpkins started to grow they were … green. I’d only heard of kabocha on Katie’s blog before but actually didn’t make the connection in the first place. Fast forward to today I couldn’t be happier the people at the gardening shop mailed us the ‘wrong’ seeds.

Dad's birthday

From left to right: Peperonata – Whole Grain Couscous Salad – dried apricots soaked in apple juice

This up there would be the only pictures I got of everything my mum prepared on Saturday.  She made sure to keep the spread centered around vegetarian or even vegan dishes with only some meat on the side. The dried apricots actually were meant to go in a cream cheese dip my mum had planned to make but didn’t end up. So I’ve been snacking on them for the past few days whenever a craving for something sweet hit. And when I wasn’t raiding the snack cabinets or the garden for a sweet and savoury snack. Tomatoes from my mum’s garden are proof that sometimes it’s hard to tell if they are a fruit or vegetable. Sweet like candy. Almost.

tomatoes_Mamas Garten

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

Another lunch was inspired by digging deep in the freezer. You will not ask me for the age of this gem right here: Gardein Chick’n Scallopini. I know it but ignorance is bliss and given I ate it earlier today [Tuesday] and went stomach ache-free afterwards I’ll proclaim having an iron stomach once again. Plus, it was delicious though I’ll admit the very meat-like texture is a tad weird still.

August 116

… and went into a dish that is falling into the ‘looks disgusting and tastes amazing’ category. The base was made up of easy creamed spinach [an onion sautéd in coconut oil, frozen chopped spinach, almond milk, nutmeg, salt + pepper plus garden-fresh tomato and some chickpeas], topped with one of the Gardein chick’n breast sautéd in coconut oil, some mushrooms and topped with kabocha puree. Yes, I realize it looks nasty but if you’ve ever blended kabocha you know the nice green makes-Hulk-jealous shade it turns out to be. Looks aside: File this in the ‘I could eat this over and over again’ category.

Kabocha_creamed spinach_Gardein

Dessert also courtesy of my mum’s immense freezer [not even a close comparison with the shoe-box-sized freezer compartment of my fridge]: lemon sorbet. Not homemade but she keeps it there for spontaneous visits by guests or for me to eat when the remainder of the family dines on tiramisu made from scratch. And I’m not lying: while this sorbet was nice it’s dishes like my mum’s homemade tiramisu that make it hard for me to stick with not eating eggs. As a vegan dessert option, though, this sorbet is good enough in a pinch.

Lemon sorbet_ice

Plans for the next days or at latest the weekend include homemade ice cream because I’m finally reunited with my ice cream maker. We’ll see how that goes but if you know any good vegan recipes let me know! Our preferences are of the rich and creamy non-fruit kind.

Until then: Happy eating and happy Wednesday!

 

Happiness-inducing today: The summer sunshine reappearing after heavy rain.

 

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When at your parents’ place are there any foods you’re always making good use of? Assuming most of us are living on their own and only visit their parents on occasion.

Do you grow any fruit or vegetables in your garden? I wish I had one. Then again, I didn’t inherit my mum’s green thumb so I figure I’m better off without one.

Do you know any great vegan tiramisu recipes? I’ve only ever once followed one that was a far cry from the original so I’ve been discouraged since.