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Archive for November, 2013

Fun fact: In some German regions, potatoes are called ‘Erdäpfel’, which means ‘apples from the earth/ground’. There are also quite a few recipes that do combine potatoes and apples, like soups, stews, casseroles, latkes with apple sauce, etc. But this post is not about those dishes, as I prefer to keep those two ingredients separate.

2013-11-23_Home_Fries

As a child, I ate potatoes all the time, in all different forms and variations. Steamed, boiled, fried, mashed – we had it all! My favorite way to enjoy those delicious tubers was my Grandma’s Bratkartoffeln (home fries for my English-speaking readers). I always pre-cook my potatoes, to reduce the frying time, and I also need less oil. Plus, this is a great way to use up leftovers! The key ingredients for my version of Bratkartoffeln are onions, caraway seeds, and a hefty dose of Hungarian paprika powder. I served the potatoes with green beans and tofu rosso. And ketchup, of course. Amazing!

2013-11-23_Sweet_Potato_Fries

A relatively new-to-me ingredient are sweet potatoes. My local grocery store just recently started to stock them regularly, but they are way more expensive than white potatoes, so I only buy them occasionally. My favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is roasted, either plain or coated with coconut oil and curry powder. I roasted some more vegetables on the same tray, and served it all with the amazing curry-flavored hummus I mentioned in Monday’s post. I think I need to repeat this meal very soon.

2013-11-24_Apple_cake

A few months ago, I discovered a fun new cooking show on TV, called ‘Sweet & Easy’. It’s all about baking, either sweet or savory dishes. In one of the early episodes, the host presented a very delicious looking apple cake. My husband was intrigued, too, and the recipe was rather simple, so I spontaneously decided to make it last Sunday. It was indeed stirred together in a flash, and it was as yummy as expected, but next time I’ll at least double the amount of apples. And I’ll probably add some cinnamon. I just have to.

2013-11-24_Chunky_Potato_Soup

Finally, I cooked a big batch of chunky potato soup. This is an awesome way to get rid of some random vegetables that need to be used up. I topped it with a chopped up vegan sausage. It wasn’t bad, but I’m generally not a fan of most meat replacement products. Whole foods are always better.

And now, I’ve finally used up all my potatoes! So I can go and buy a new 5 lbs bag, right?

No, just kidding. I’m still working on raiding my pantry, but sometimes I can’t resist the temptation to buy new stuff. Like that legendary hummus trio. Sigh!

I’m also trying to use up most of my frozen food items, as I need to deep-clean my freezer. Double sigh! I’ll report back.

What was your favorite dish when you were a child?

See you!

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I’ve had a truly marvelous weekend, so I’d like to join the Marvelous in my Monday party today.

Marvelous is that, after being sick all last week, I’m finally feeling better. I was hit by a nasty cold, and normally I would have stayed at home, but I had to be at an import workshop, so I powered through. I’m surprised I made it. That was rough. My nose is still a little stuffed, but my energy level is almost back to normal.

Marvelous was being lazy all weekend long. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t leave the house at all for two days, but it was exactly what I needed.

2013-11-24_Jeans

I wasn’t completely lazy, though. I dyed a pair of jeans! A few months ago I bought a beautiful pair of jeans, wore them twice, and got some ugly stains on them that I couldn’t get out. Last weekend I had the brilliant idea to dye them black. And it worked! The seams retained their original orange-ish color, which gives them a nice edge. Can’t wait to wear them again!

2013-11-24_Hummus_Trio

Marvelous was also a new food find at the grocery store: hummus trio! That’s three different flavors of hummus: curry, olive, and dried tomatoes. Oh my goodness, they were all so good! And gone within two days. That was truly the best hummus I’ve ever had. (Fellow Germans can find it at Rewe!)

What was marvelous about your weekend?

See you!

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Sorry guys, I’m sick, tired, and busy, so I’ll keep this post rather short.

Here are some of the things I made and ate last weekend.
2013-11-17_Pasta_Salad
On Saturday we made a big bowl of pasta salad. It contained one pound of pasta (!), sweet corn, mushrooms, peas, onions, and homemade mayo. Our family’s mayo recipe contains eggs and yoghurt, so it’s not vegan. #sorrynotsorry
I served my version with fresh tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and tofu fingers.
2013-11-17_Tomato_Bisque
I also made a big batch of tomato bisque. I used oat cream and left out the meat, of course. It’s incredibly delicious! This will be part of my dinners all week long. On Sunday night I paired it with quinoa, peas, sauteed mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and basil pesto. Amazing!
2013-11-17_Marzipan_Chocolate
I found a block of nearly expired marzipan in my pantry, and decided to roll it into little balls and dip them in chocolate. Black for me, white for my husband. Looks fancy, but it’s so simple!
Finally, I brought back the infamous bizookies! I have no idea why I stopped making them. My version isn’t really sugar-free, as I added a little maple syrup to make them a bit sweeter.
I hope I’ll have some more interesting meals and snacks to share next week.
Have you already been sick this fall?

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When I started this blog three years ago (yikes!) most of my posts were about running. Since then, my fitness focus has changed a lot.

Group fitness classes have become my favorite kind of exercise. Here are a few reasons why I love them so much.

– No need to count reps

I don’t know why, but I simply hate counting reps! This is probably why I could never stick to a strength training routine. The thought of doing 10 exercises for 15 reps and a total of 3 sets makes my brain hurt. At a group fitness class, I just do as many reps as the instructor tells me. That makes me very happy.

– Switch off your brain

Well, not completely, of course. I usually hit the gym after a long, draining work day, and I don’t have enough brain power left to think about what kind of exercise I want or should do. Classes offer a pre-designed training program, and if I like it, I’ll come again, if I don’t, I’ll simply try a different class or instructor.

– Social interactions

Don’t get me wrong, my co-workers are a funny and entertaining bunch, but they are all male. My friends are all busy and live in different cities, so I usually don’t see them during the week. My husband also travels a lot because of his job, and being home alone is just not fun. I really enjoy spending some time with the ladies at the gym, even if we don’t talk much (I’m shy!), at least we are sweating together. Is that gross?

– Additional motivation

I’ve also realized that I work a lot harder in group fitness classes. When I exercise by myself, I might be tempted to cut my workout short, skip reps, etc. That rarely happens in class. If the instructor tells me to do ‘just 8 more reps’, I’ll give all I have to finish that set.

– Automatic variety

I get bored easily and love trying new things. Our instructors make sure to provide variety, either by using different props (resistance bands, stability balls, drum sticks, etc.), or by introducing new moves. And if that’s not enough, I can also try a completely new class, as there are plenty to choose from.

– Time flies when you’re having fun

Especially our Zumba class is like a big party, and also the other classes are so much fun that those 60 minutes feel a lot shorter. Imagine running on a treadmill or lifting weights for 60 minutes! At least for me, that would feel like an eternity.

Do you like group fitness classes, too? Or do you prefer to workout by yourself?

See you!

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I think I have a problem. I’m hoarding food. Take a look at my pantry!

2013-11-10_Pantry

So much food! Those shelves are deep, and that’s not even all of it, there’s another shelf on the opposite wall with my condiments and spices, and my fruit basket on the counter. It’s ridiculous! I could feed an army!

So my mission for this week, and probably the next few ones, too, is to use as many pantry items as possible.

2013-11-10_Breakfast_Sandwiches

I have several jars of nut butter and veggie spreads in stock. Let’s eat! Btw, that almond butter and apple butter combo still rocks my socks. You have to try it!

2013-11-10_Mung_Bean_Starch

Living with an Asian guy means that I also have some strange (but good) stuff in my house, like several kinds of dried seaweed, fish powder, or mung bean starch. Mung bean starch? Yes, it is used to make mung bean jelly, a popular Korean side dish.

2013-11-10_Lunch

This was Sunday’s lunch: the aforementioned mung bean jelly and a bowl of rice with roasted vegetables, kimchi, and beans. Please ignore the dried fish at the top. I didn’t eat it, but my husband insisted that I include it in the photo.

2013-11-10_Granola

In the afternoon, I made a big batch of granola. For the first time ever! I have no idea why I waited so long. I used this recipe, but had to modify it a little, because I didn’t have all the ingredients at come. And I mixed in some dried cranberries after baking, for an extra kick of fruity sweetness.

2013-11-10_Stew_and_Salad

For dinner, I made a big pot of red lentil chili, inspired by the wonderful Miss Polkadot, using carrots and zucchini instead of kabocha. It’s delicious!

As you can see, my weekend meal prepping went a lot better than last week. I have lots of lentil chili and granola, and I also roasted a tray of bell peppers and broccoli, cooked a batch of brown lentils, and mixed up a bottle of salad dressing, as I plan to bring my lunch salads back. It’s Wednesday already, and I still have enough food prepared that I only need to re-heat or toss together.

But now I’m faced with a new kind of challenge. How do I fit all my ready-to-eat food into my tiny fridge?

2013-11-10_Fridge

Oh boy!

What does your pantry look like? Any strange items in there?

See you!

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It’s quite simple: If I want to spend more time at the gym during the week, I need to reduce the time I spend in my kitchen. The solution for this is equally simple: batch cooking on weekends. But making this approach work is not quite as simple as it seems. At least not for me.

Last weekend I attempted to prepare some food for the work week, but things didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped.

2013-11-03_Breakfast_Sandwiches

Breakfast is not an issue, at least. I use store-bought bread and toppings and need only a few minutes to assemble my sandwiches the night before.

2013-11-03_Brown_Rice

On Sunday I cooked a big batch of brown rice. I froze one half and kept the other half in my fridge. So far, so good, but plain rice is not really a complete meal.

2013-11-03_Squash_Soup

I also made a pot of my favorite curried squash soup. The resulting batch was smaller than I thought, just two or three servings.

2013-11-03_Veggie_Pancakes

Later that night, I fried up a batch of vegetable pancakes. We had some for dinner on Sunday night, and I packed the leftovers for my husband to enjoy on Monday. Yes, there’s another mouth to feed in my house.

2013-11-03_Cookie

Oh, and I also baked some chocolate cookies! Which I also gave to my husband. I’m spoiling that guy.

In the end, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and ‘sacrificed’ a good portion of my Sunday night. But I not nearly have enough food ready to last the entire work week!

Conclusion: weekend meal prep is a great idea, but I need to work on the implementation.

Next weekend, I plan to prepare a big batch of a hearty, filling stew, and also roast a bunch of vegetables. I also should freeze more stuff. I have a rather large freezer in my basement, and I really need to use it more.

Do you prepare your food on weekends, too? Or do you prefer to cook every night?

See you!

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The New Gym

Quite a while ago, I wrote about quitting the gym. I still believe that this was the right thing to do for me, as I just didn’t like that particular place.

A few months later, I posted about my internal struggles about joining a new gym. I was hesitant. Would I like that place? Would I be able to afford the monthly fees?

And then in August, after weighing pros and cons, crunching numbers back and forth, I finally signed up! I got a standard two-year contract, which costs me about $80 (60 Euro) per month. That’s quite a lot of money, but I decided that I’m worth it. Home workouts are convenient, but there’s just too much distraction and too much to do.

After a few months as a member I can honestly say that I like my new gym. It’s rather small and cosy, but offers a decent variety of classes, the trainers and instructors are very nice, and some of them even remember my face and name already.

What I love the most about my new gym is the free hot shower (just kidding, but I do appreciate a back-up option in case the hot water in our house breaks again) and the group fitness classes. I really like the social aspect and tend to work a lot harder when there’s an instructor yelling ‘one more set!’.

I plan to write separate posts about the different classes I’ve tried so far and what I liked and disliked about them.

There are a few tiny drawbacks, though. While the gym is very close to my workplace, it’s still a 30 minute drive to our house, so I only go there during the week, from Monday to Thursday. Usually, I can squeeze in about two or three sessions per week. I’d love to go more often, but it’s hard to find the time, considering my already busy schedule. If I could, I’d workout everyday, but who has time for that?

How often do you exercise per week? Do you have a gym membership?

See you!

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