Archive for August, 2012

Last month I participated in the Foodie Penpals program for the first time. This food swap was started by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean, and there’s also a European version organized by Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt.

The Lean Green Bean

And this is how it works:

After signing up for the program – either for Europe, USA, or Canada – you are matched with a different penpal every month. You are supposed to send a small parcel to your penpal with delicious homemade or store-bought treats that match your penpal’s dietary needs. At the same time, another person was selected to send a package to you. At the end of the month, everyone blogs about what they received, or writes a guest post if they don’t have a blog. You don’t have to be a blogger to participate.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Foodie Penpals - Package

On Wednesday I received my very first Foodie Penpals package, sent by Dana from London. Unfortunately, one of the goodies, a jar of passion fruit jam, didn’t survive the trip. It was totally smashed. Nooooooo!! I’m sure I would have loved it, but I’m afraid of eating glass shards, so I had to toss it. Sniff!

Foodie Penpals - Goodies

Dana sent some of her favorites from a very cool London-based shop called Ottolenghi (check out their website!). I’m very excited about the Za’atar mix! I had heard about it before, but haven’t found it around here. Nada from One Arab Vegan has a few recipes using Za’atar. I can’t wait to start some crazy experiments with it!

Oh, and I loved the owl card! “Keep calm and tweet on” – oh yes!

My recipient in August was Hannah from Manchester, who doesn’t have a blog. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the box I sent her, and she couldn’t find the time to write a guest post, but she told me that everything arrived safely, and that she loved the things I selected for her. That’s great!

Have you ever received food via mail? Did it survive?

See you!

Read Full Post »

Looks like summer is almost over already. Dang, now that I’ve finally adjusted to the heat, it’s getting colder again. German summers are way too short, in my opinion. Three hot weeks in August, and that’s it.

Anyway, I guess everyone has heard about the Oktoberfest, right? I mean the original one in Munich. While it’s the world’s largest fair, it’s not the only one of its kind. There are many smaller fairs in other Bavarian cities. Most of them take place in August and September, to celebrate the beginning of Fall. My hometown, Landshut, hosts two festivals similar to the Oktoberfest, one in spring, and one in fall. Last Saturday I went to the Fall Fair, also known as Bartlmädult, with my husband and a few friends, to enjoy the atmosphere and the traditional delicacies.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Let’s start with breakfast, though. My stomach felt a little bit off over the weekend, so I kept my meals and snacks a little simpler. Just a few slices of whole wheat bread, topped with hummus, cucumber slices, Alsan, and jam.

Salad with sweet potato

I needed to use up some produce that was on its last legs, so I mixed up a big bowl of salad for lunch. With baked sweet potato rounds on the side. A bit bland, but still tasty and filling.

Cheese and Pretzel

And then we were off to the Fair! After strolling around for a while, we sat down at an outdoor table and shared a traditional snack: Emmental slices, fresh from the loaf, and a giant pretzel. I remember eating this when I was still a tiny, skinny, blond toddler. Oh, the memories.

Chocolate covered fruit skewer

Another must-have treat at every fair: chocolate covered fruit skewers! They are sold in countless variations, my favorite one is a mix of strawberries and bananas, covered in dark chocolate. Amazing!


Once again, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I was craving a crêpe, but was way too full already, so I shared it with my husband. This one was filled with applesauce and cinnamon, my favorite combination. Nutella and sliced banana is my crêpe filling choice #2.

French Fries

Later that night, my husband and I went to watch Prometheus. It was just ok. Meanwhile, our friends had moved on to a nearby bar. We joined them after the movie. And I needed a late night snack: French fries! Shared with the husband, of course.

And that concludes my totally random Saturday. But it was so much fun!

How was your weekend?

See you!

Read Full Post »

I just discovered this new Snapshot Sunday theme over at Peas And Thank You, and I instantly loved the idea.

A few weeks ago, my husband bought me a smart phone (a Samsung Galaxy S II, if anyone cares). I guess he was tired of my constant whining, or something like that. My new phone has a really great camera, and I’ve been having lots of fun with Instagram lately. (My username there is SueInTraining, follow me if you like!)

My snapshot of the day is one for the chocoholics:

Nutella jars

Last Saturday we went to my hometown’s Fall Fair (more on that in my next What I Ate Wednesday post), and at the crêpes booth I saw these 10 lbs jars of Nutella. Holy sugar coma, Batman!

I know that Nutella is full of refined sugar and totally unhealthy, that’s why I don’t buy it anymore, but I have to admit it’s sinfully delicious. Especially on a fresh, warm, soft crêpe. Oh my goodness!

I showed some restraint, though, and didn’t get one of those. This time.

Any Nutella lovers out there? Don’t be shy!

See you!

Read Full Post »

This week my husband took my camera with him on a business trip, so I had to use my phone instead. But my phone actually takes pretty decent photos, in my opinion.

Anyway, it’s been really hot in Central Europe lately. Have you heard about the forest fires in Spain? They’re totally out of control! I know it’s lame to complain about the heat, but I’ll do it anyway. I just can’t handle it. The sun has totally fried my brain, along with the last few crumbs of my culinary creativity. So my meals have been rather simple and repetitive. I need to get out of this food rut!

Here’s what I ate on Monday, mostly at my office. I’m already known as the Tupperware Lady at work.

Breakfast sandwiches

Sandwiches and cucumber sticks for breakfast. Now that is a food rut that I don’t mind. Those crunchy, juicy cucumbers are amazing.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m working hard on the title ‘Wife of the year’, so I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies on Sunday. Yes, our kitchen got crazy hot. I gave most of them to my husband, who really loved them, but saved a few for myself. The recipe is from Peas and Thank You, vegan, and incredibly delicious.


And another lunch salad. I can’t stomach hot food when it’s 85°F, outside and inside. My bowl contained mixed greens, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, kidney beans, and sunflower seeds, with a simple balsamic dressing.

Smoothie Popsicle

Lunch dessert was a smoothie popsicle. The concept is way too simple. Just mix up your favorite smoothie (mine contained berries, banana, and rice milk), poor it into popsicle molds, put it all in the freezer. Easy!

Fruit and yogurt

A few hours later I was a little hungry again. I don’t know what’s going on in my stomach sometimes. So I chopped up a nectarine and mixed it with soy yogurt and half a crumbled rice cake. Please excuse the brightness.

Tofu Goulash

And finally, dinner. Last week I found a pre-made dish labeled as ‘veggie goulash’ at my local grocery store. It’s a tofu based stew with a thick tomato sauce. I added some tomato paste, ajvar, bbq sauce, and a ton of spices. Then it tasted pretty decent. Maybe I’ll try to recreate that goulash from scratch when the craving hits.

Does the weather affect your appetite and cravings?

See you!

Read Full Post »

Gone Swimming

If you’ve checked out my Dailymile page recently, you may have noticed that I added a new kind of activity to the rotation: swimming.


It’s been crazy hot here lately (well, hot for Central Europe, of course), way too hot to run, bike, or hit the gym on some days. So I stepped out of my comfort zone, put on my swimsuit, and went to the pool. As usual, things are a little different in Germany. Most gyms around here don’t have pools. Instead, there are many public pools, that are run by the local authorities. One tiny little problem is that almost all indoor pools are only open in winter, and most outdoor pools are only open during the summer months. German summers can be quite rainy and chilly, but at the moment we are ‘blessed’ with a real heat wave. After a long day in my oven-like office, I’m really looking forward to jumping (ok, slowly walking) into the cool water.


I have to admit, though, that I’m a terrible swimmer. I can only do a poor, slow breast stroke. But I do hope that I will learn how to perform a proper free style stroke one day. Until then, I’ll just paddle around, enjoying a seemingly sweat-free workout.

Who else loves swimming? Are you good at it?

See you!

Read Full Post »

I’ve been feeling quite stressed and burned out lately. Lots of work at the office, lots of housework kept piling up – it all got too much and I was a moody beast. Sorry, husband! And the rest of the world, too!

Thankfully, I got the chance to take a few days off and take a trip to Cologne to visit the husband’s family. (Note: I posted some food photos from the weekend on Instagram. My username is SueInTraining. Follow me there to see some random pictures from my life.)

Tomorrow I’ll be back at the office, but it’s ok. I feel refreshed and recharged. Let’s hope it will last for a while.

And now let’s talk about the good stuff – food! Here’s what I ate yesterday.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwiches, as usual. No, they never get old. I love them. And I love topping them with cucumber slices. They are so fresh, juicy, and crunchy.

Chocolate oats in peanut butter jar

I was still hungry a little later, so I had breakfast #2, oats in a peanut butter jar. My cravings are a bit weird. While I need to start the day with something savory, I do enjoy a slightly sweet mid-morning snack. My jar contained rolled oats, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, cocoa, soy milk, and half a banana. I let the mix sit in the fridge over night, and added some cherry preserves in the morning. It was a perfectly satisfying and filling snack.

Carrot and sweet potato fries with salad

During the hot summer months, I tend to eat salads on a daily basis. I’m just not in the mood for hot dishes. So I had a small salad with carrot and sweet potato fries for lunch. I might turn orange any time. But it was so freaking good!

Yellow plums

In the afternoon I decided to go to one of the nearby public pools. (Yes, I’ve recently started swimming! That deserves a post on its own.) I know that swimming makes me hungry, so I packed a little snack. On my last trip to the grocery store I found yellow plums. They were soft and juicy but not too sweet. Just how I like it! I also had a handful of almonds, for extra staying power.

Pasta with marinara sauce

Dinner was, once again, whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, topped with nutritional yeast. I swear I do eat other dishes, too! But once a week I need my pasta fix. It’s just so delicious.

Apple slices with chocolate peanut butter

A little later I was in the mood for a dessert/late night snack. But it was already kind of late, so I wanted something light. I whipped up a small serving of my vegan cheaters nutella and cut up one apple. Hit the spot!

I love summer for its abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Throughout the year I try to eat as seasonal and local as possible, which leaves me with very little options in winter. So I enjoy summer produce as much as I can.

Seasonal fruit and vegetables

So what’s in season at the moment in Germany/Central Europe? Not that much, actually. But we do have cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, apples, nectarines, and plums. Luckily, those are among my favorites anyway. I just can’t get enough!

What are your favorite seasonal fruit and vegetables at the moment?

See you!

Read Full Post »

Inspired by the #SurviveOn35 challenge and my last WIAW post, I wanted to try to get my food cost for one day even lower. I’ve always been a somewhat budget-conscious person, but I wanted to experience what it’s like to be on a really tight food budget.

Please note that I’m not doing this just for fun! While my financial situation is quite fine at the moment, things might look different in just a few months. In that case, the lessons I’m learning through this may be crucial.

So, here’s what I ate on Monday, a typical day at the office.

(Note: All prices are in Euro! 1 Euro = 1.23 USD [Source: Google – July 30th, 2012])

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast was the usual, 1 1/2 slices of whole grain bread with veggie pate. This one was based on nutritional yeast, apple onion flavour, and on sale. A bit boring but cheap and filling.

Total cost for breakfast: 0.60 €

[Somehow I can’t find the photo of my lunch. Imagine a big round plastic box with salad in it right here.]

Last week I bought a bag of dried chickpeas and cooked a large batch. That’s not as quick and easy as using canned chickpeas, but I think they do taste better, and I get to save some money. For Monday’s lunch I threw together a simple salad with those chickpeas, brown rice, tomatoes, cucumber, and a tangy balsamic dressing.

Total cost for lunch: 0.80 €

Whole wheat pasta and lentil marinara sauce

Sunday night I was craving pasta with marinara, so I cooked a big pot of sauce to eat during the week. All I had to do on Monday night was cooking some pasta and re-heating one serving of marinara. For an extra protein boost, I added a handful of red lentils to the sauce. When they were cooked through, I blended it all until I got a smooth, creamy sauce. One zucchini and one carrot were chopped up and added to the pot as well. Dinner was served in a flash!

Total cost for dinner: 0.70 €

I think I slightly miscalculated the cost for my drinks last week. One serving of each coffee and green tea is probably a little less than 0.10 €. Sure, I could have gone without any coffee or tea, but I would have been a very unpleasant person and not very productive. So it’s a necessary investment.

Total cost for drinks: 0.30 €

Oat bites, nectarines, and soy milk

Last Sunday I took the time to make a batch of chocolate oat bites. They were supposed to be cookies, but they didn’t taste like cookies at all. The recipe is from a book, just slightly adapted, and makes about 20 small bites. (Or probably 10-15 big ones. I prefer smaller ones, though.) I expected them to be quite budget friendly, using mostly low-cost ingredients like flour, rolled oats, sugar, soy milk, and cocoa powder. After doing some math I was shocked to see that those cookies cost only 0.05 € per piece. Wow!

I snacked on a few of them during the day, paired with some nectarines that were on sale, and my daily banana. Late night snack was a shot glass of soy milk and more oat bites.

Total cost for snacks: 1.30 €

Total cost for the day: 3.70 € = $4.55

Conclusion: I did it! I guess it is possible to eat well on a very low food budget, but it takes some planning, preparation, dedication, and practice. And the discipline to say no to a few things, like tropical or non-seasonal fruits, my beloved peanut butter, and eating out. It’s kind of crazy to think that my entire food for the day cost less than what most of my co-workers spend on lunch every day!

This is the proof, in my opinion, that a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be expensive. Just stick to the basics, like whole grains, legumes, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and you’re fine.

Another lesson that I’ve learned is that homemade is really better. You can control the taste and the ingredients, and you’re even saving money.

Do you like to make your snacks from scratch? Or do you prefer store-bought goodies?

See you!

Read Full Post »