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There are tons of articles telling you to exercise first thing in the morning, teaching you how to become a morning person, etc. None of those tips or arguments have ever worked for me personally. Ever since I started being more physically active, I’ve always prefered to exercise in the afternoon or at night.

Here are a few reasons why I’d rather workout at night.

Job schedule

I need to be at the office before 8 am, the earlier the better. Some of my co-workers even arrive at 6 am! That means I usually leave the house between 7:00 to 7:15 am. So in order to squeeze in a workout before that, I’d have to get up very, very early. On the other hand, thanks to my work schedule, I normally get to leave the office before 5 pm, which gives me plenty of time to hit the gym or go for a run in the summer months.

More energy at night

Some people happily jump out of bed full of energy at 5 am, way before the sun is up. I’m not one of them. I’ve always been a night owl. I have way more energy at night than in the morning. My co-workers know by now that they’d better not talk to me before 8 am, as my brain is just not functioning properly before that. Same is true for my body. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving in slow-motion.

After work stress release

While my job is usually not that stressful, I do have bad days once in a while. A quick jog or bike ride, a calm pilates or yoga class, or a cheerful Zumba class are the best way I can think of to instantly boost my mood and balance out my stress levels.

First work than play

I probably have to thank my grandma for that attitude. For me personally, exercise is play! It’s fun, it’s ‘me time’, and I just enjoy doing something healthy for my body and soul. Working out even feels like a reward sometimes, not a chore.

Go all out

Exercising after work also means that I can use up all my energy. I can totally exhaust myself, because all I need to do after my workout is taking a shower, grabbing dinner or a late night snack, and relax on the couch. To me, that sounds so much better than a full day of work at the office.

In the end, it totally doesn’t matter when or how you exercise, as long as you regularly move your body, preferably in a way that you enjoy.

Do you rather exercise in the morning or at night?

See you!

While Eat In Month was actually in January, I decided to give it a try in February, because my January was just too crazy. In the end, February turned out to be almost equally crazy. We were out and about a lot, preparing for our big move, looking for a new kitchen and some bathroom furniture, etc.

I ate out a total of four times last month.

The first one was due to a movie date with a friend. The movie theater is in the opposite direction of my apartment, so going home after work would have been a long detour. I had a creamy root vegetable soup at one of my favorite cafés and it was delicious.

The second and the third meal out were each consumed on long kitchen and furniture scouting days. Both were fast food and quite bad. I really shoudn’t eat that stuff. It was disgusting.

The fourth and last meal out was a work lunch. My team mates spontaneously decided to go to our local pizza place, and I just couldn’t say no. The pizza was very good. And huge! I only ate half of it for lunch and ate the other half for dinner.

While I did it out more often than I had planned during this year’s challenge, I also managed to use up a lot of the food in my kitchen. There are only a few odds and ends left, and I also saved a little money thanks to buying less new food. So I’ll call this challenge a semi-success!

This month, eating in will be even more challenging, as I’ll have to live without a full kitchen for a few weeks. I’ll tell you more about my improvised, minimalist kitchen situation after the move.

Did you join the Eat In Month challenge this year? How was it?

See you!

Our big moving day is approaching fast. Only ten days to go! Yikes!

In the past few weeks I’ve tried to use up the food in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. While I have made great progress, there is still so much left! I do realize it’s kind of silly to have seven different kinds of noodles in my kitchen. Yes, seven! And that’s just one example. You may roll your eyes at me now.

In our new apartment, I want to adopt a more minimalist approach, only buying what I really need, instead of hoarding tons of ingredients like a hamster.

I’ve also noticed that my grocery bills were a lot lower this month. Shopping from your pantry is a great way to save some money!

Here are some random meals and snacks I made over the past few days, using up some of my pantry foods.

2014-02-25_Potato_Dumplings

I finally got rid of those frozen potato dumplings. I paired them with brussel sprouts, red cabbage, and an awesome mushroom sauce.

2014-02-25_Rice_Soup

Next I made a quick broth with seaweed and dried shiitake mushrooms. And I added some frozen mandu (Korean dumplings), broccoli, and leftover rice.

2014-02-25_Cookies

A few weeks ago, I bought a new jar of tahini. It’s from a different brand, and I really didn’t like it. Way too bitter! But surprisingly, tahini is a great peanut butter replacement in cookies! Even the husband loved them.

2014-02-25_Toast

There are still a few slices of toast in my freezer. Sigh!

2014-02-25_Rice_bowl

My favorite way of eating broccoli is roasted. I just put a few frozen florets on my silicon baking mat and roast them in the oven for 25 minutes. So simple, so good.

I have plans for most of my frozen ingredients, but I’m struggling with that bag of spinach. I’ve used it in a few recipes already, but there’s still so much left.

What are your favorite easy spinach recipes? Please share!

See you!

When my husband and I decided to get married, I knew that I would take his name and join his Korean family. It might sound strange to some of you, but I was very excited about this fact. Over the years I’ve come to love his family, and couldn’t wait to officially be a part of it. I’m not-so-secretly dreaming of getting a Hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, for myself. They are so bright and beautiful!

Thanks to my husband and my MIL, I’ve also learned to love Korean cuisine. While most Korean dishes contain some form of meat or fish, you can easily leave them out and make them vegetarian or even vegan. Traditional Korean meals already include lots of different vegetable-based side dishes (banchan), like kimchi, pickled radish or cucumbers, sautéed spinach or zucchini, and many more. And tofu is not just a weird meat replacement but a totally normal ingredient!

While my husband is very open-minded when it comes to food, he definitely prefers traditional Korean dishes, and as I enjoy them, too, we prepare them quite often in our kitchen.

Here’s what I ate last Sunday.

2014-02-16_Breakfast

A typical Korean breakfast would be a rather basic rice soup. I pass on that one. This German girl needs some kind of bread in the morning. I’m still working on using up that insane amount of toast in my freezer.

2014-02-16_Soup

On Friday I had made a big batch of beef broth for the husband, and a smaller batch of mushroom broth for myself. I used dried shiitake mushrooms, carrots, onion, and seaweed (or kelp?) and boiled it all for a few hours. Then I strained the broth and added fresh kelp, carrots, and frozen dumplings, and added a little soy sauce and sesame oil. It was delicious!

2014-02-16_Japchae

My husband offered to make japchae for dinner, and of course I said ‘yes’. This is a very popular picnic dish, made with sweet potato starch noodles and a variety of vegetables. We simply used what we had on hand: sweet red peppers, button mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and eggs. This dish is so filling! And as those noodles are usually made of 100% sweet potato starch, this dish is even gluten-free. If you omit the eggs, it’s vegan, too! This looks like a small serving, but believe me, japchae is incredibly filling.

Have you ever had mushroom broth or japchae?

See you!

Life Lately – February 2014

I think it’s time to update you on what’s been going on in my life lately.

TomHiddlestonCoriolanusPoster

I’ve had some amazing movie dates with my girlfriends. First we watched Coriolanus, a live broadcast of a British stage play straight from London. Yes, that’s a Shakespeare play! Featuring Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss, also known as ‘Loki’ and ‘Mycroft Holmes’. It was an amazing show! Our movie theater was packed, and we were all blown away. The entire cast was simply brilliant.

More information about those theater broadcasts can be found on ntlive.com. I’m kind of excited about King Lear on May 1st.

Only-Lovers-Left-Alive-Australian-Poster-copy

Next we went out to watch Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s listed as a romance drama vampire film on Wikipedia, but I’m not sure I agree. It’s a rather calm, elegant story with a subtle humor. I highly recommend that movie, but don’t expect it to be like Twilight! Again, our theater was completely sold out, and we were lucky to get seats. Goodness!

We recently got us a pull-up bar! The husband installed it right away and we gave it a try. Surprising to no one, I can’t do a single pull-up. I’m not even close. How humbling. The husband, though, who never ever works out and sits in front of a computer all day long, easily cranked out four perfect pull-ups! Four! Life just isn’t fair.

Of course, I’ve saved the best for last: we are moving! I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I was looking for a new apartment in my hometown, and after searching high and low we found a beautiful place! I’m so happy and excited, but also a little scared. Moving an entire household is a ton of work, and costs a lot of money. In just a few weeks I will be exhausted and broke, but infinitely happy to be back home, where my family and friends live. My hometown is rather small, I admit, but it’s so much better than this tiny village in the middle of nowhere. I guess I’m just not made for country life.

That also means that I need to use up all the food in my pantry and freezer, this time for real. I’m focusing on frozen goods first, as those would definitely melt and go bad during the move.

Any ideas how I could use up frozen spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower?

See you!

In one of my recent What I Ate Wednesday posts I showed you a picture of semolina pudding, known as Grießbrei here in Germany. This is a traditional dessert or snack that is very easy to prepare. You could even enjoy it as breakfast!

2014-01-28_Sweet_grits

Sweet semolina pudding

To prepare this wholesome treat you only need a handful of ingredients and a few minutes, so it’s a great option to satisfy a spontaneous dessert craving. Or you could enjoy it as an alternative breakfast item.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2-3 servings

*Vegetarian*Vegan*

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk, e.g almond milk, rice milk, full-fat cow’s milk
  • 1/4 cup semolina (Weichweizengrieß)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • a dash of salt

Directions:

Pour milk of choice into a pot and carefully bring it to a gentle boil. Add all remaining ingredients and thoroughly stir with a whisk. Reduce heat to low and keep whisking. The mixture will look very thin but it will firm up within a few minutes. Don’t stop whisking or the pudding will burn!

After about five minutes the pudding should be firm and creamy. If not, keep cooking on low temperature and whisk regularly until it has reached the desired consistency.

Serve either warm or chilled, topped with your favorite fruit. Cherry compote or apple sauce are great options to start.

Note that this pudding will firm up even more after cooling.

I’ve decided to link up this recipe in Laura’s Strange but good round-up, as I assume that semolina is a rather strange ingredient to my non-German readers.

Enjoy!

Last week I accidentally bought a huge bag of toast. I expected a weekend guest who didn’t show up in the end. So I’m doing my best to eat all that toast before it goes bad.

Why don’t I just freeze it? Well, our freezer is already filled to the brim with – wait for it – even more toast, that I bought the week before. Don’t ask. #firstworldproblems

Here’s what I ate last Saturday.

2014-02-11_Breakfast

Sandwiches are by far my favorite breakfast option, so I happily attacked my toast mountain.

2014-02-11_Avocado_Toast

Lunch was pushed back to get some errands done. To avoid any hunger-induced grumpy-ness I had a little snack. Mashed avocado and cherry tomatoes are an amazing toast topping.

2014-02-11_Lasagna

For our late lunch I brought back an old and forgotten favorite: lasagna! I made a quick tomato sauce with leftover vegetables, layered it into a large casserole dish together with lasagna noodles and crème fraîche, and topped it with grated cheese. Put it into the oven for 30 minutes and it was done.

I always thought that making lasagna takes a lot of time, but if you don’t bother making bechamel sauce from scratch, it’s actually not that bad.

2014-02-11_Potato_Dumplings

A few weeks ago my Mom gave me a big tray of potato dumplings. I put them into the freezer and have been trying to use them in some creative ways. I actually prefer bread dumplings (Semmelknödel), but I did enjoy the potato version, too, combined with a creamy mushroom sauce, brussel sprouts, and red cabbage (Blaukraut).

The next batch of potato dumplings will probably be sliced, fried, and drowned in ketchup.

So, how am I doing on my Eating In challenge? Well, I cheated once last week. I had an after work movie date with a friend, and it just wouldn’t have made any sense for me to go home and cook dinner. So we both enjoyed a nice bowl of soup at our favorite café. No picture, it was just too dark.

(What movie did we watch? Only lovers left alive! It was fantastic, go watch it now!)

2014-02-11_Meal_Prep

To avoid any more cheating on the challenge, I spent Sunday afternoon preparing some meals for the week. I made a Mexican stir-fry with quinoa, creamy chestnut soup, and an Asian vegetable stir-fry. I also have some frozen brown rice from a previous batch cooking session. I think I’ll be good this week.

And if I run out of meals and ideas, I still have plenty of toast to make more sandwiches.

Bread or potato dumplings – which would you choose?

See you!

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