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Category Archives: Calories in must equal Calories out

The girl with half a tongue

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It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, I admit. In the last weeks I’ve faithfully photographed a number of delicious meals with every intent to post them, and yet….motivation was lacking. But here we are. Motivation found.

So let’s catch up. Miss sourpuss up there was obviously pissed as hell at me for leaving her in the care of a cat sitter for a week. Granted, she always looks a bit pissed off, but there was a note of evilness in that glare that was even a little scarier than usual. While we were off cavorting in the sun (amazing view from the terrace of the house we rented):

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(Dad and Michal probably talking about politics in Israel.)

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(a church in Porto San Paulo I ran by each time I ran on Sardinia),

and moping a bit in the rain:

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(Just before a downpour at a beach about 100 km south of where we were staying)

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(No point in leaving the house that day)

for a week in Sardinia with my parents, the cats sat quietly waiting for our return. And our cat sitter took a photo of them every day and sent it to me…

Ahhhh….Sardinia.

I think this must have been my favorite meal there:

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In just 4 hours I will be at the starting line for the half marathon I am running today. The six weeks of training were rather grueling, mostly the heavy protein diet to quickly drop 10-12 pounds. (Done!). The running felt almost easy compared to that. So the week of pasta in Sardinia was especially wonderful. I must have eaten it every day. Up there – a local pasta shape, I don’t even remember the name of it, with a lamb ragu. Every bite heavenly.

And I came back…and am running a full 45 second per kilometer faster. Hopefully I can hold the tempo for the 21 kilometers today.

I have a date with a pizza tonight. Already I can imagine it…even if I will only be able to taste it…halfway. I still have only “half a tongue,” due to a little accident that my dentist had in my mouth a month ago…when he punched through a nerve with his needle, partially severing it, while giving me anesthetic for some tooth fixing. He tells me…”it should come back (feeling in my tongue, which completely mutes the taste buds on that side and makes half the tongue feel like a giant slug in my mouth) in no more than six months.” By now, I’ve gotten used to it. But….I wish it hadn’t happened.

Getting nervous – a little bit – now…and am busy downloading music to my phone to listen to. And packing the bag I can pick up at the end of the race. And hydrating hydrating hydrating.

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(Can you spot Sardinia?)

Next magnet to come in December: Sri Lanka! 🙂

 

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I can’t get no satisfaction

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Just so you know, there is something behind this nonsense diet I have undertaken. With all the running I have been doing this summer, around 50k per week these days, I decided I might as well put some goals behind it, so it’s not all aimless running. Scratch that. None of it is aimless, it’s all for fitness, staying in shape, keeping stress away, feeling good, staying young (29 and counting!). But when you can put another specific, dated goal on top, a real challenge that will push you – at least a bit – it feels even better. So I have. As long as the weather is reasonable on that day, I will run the Munich half marathon on October 11. A mere six weeks away. But considering I have been running all summer with the aim to improve, I feel like I have been training for quite a long time already. In theory, it should be a breeze. Not that I have ever done it before.

But…it would be even nicer not to come in last. I’m slooooow. And while I have seen nice improvement over the summer – so far cutting about 35 seconds off my average km speed, I know I can do better if I get more serious. More serious about core strengthening for better posture and simply easier running, more serious about speed by doing interval training, more serious about diet, for which there has been very little seriousness. I don’t eat junk, at least not much, but when you perform sport activities for 2+ hours a day (running, biking to work and back, biking everywhere), you burn a lot of calories, and I’ve noticed that the hunger gets really out of control mid-day. I snack too much in between meals and it’s not snacking on carrot sticks. I am a carb junkie. Give me crackers and pretzels and I am a really happy camper. Throw in some ice cream when the thermometer hits 30+ degrees, and I am wallowing in bliss. But all this means that calories in are only perhaps a bit less than calories out. So I have managed to lose a few pounds over the summer, but really only a few.

And wouldn’t it be nice to be 10 pounds/15 pounds lighter to run a half marathon?

With six weeks to go…time to make a drastic, impactful change and see what happens. I’m cutting carbs. Day 7 in, I’m fairly miserable, but seeing results, so sticking with it. I guess you could say I am trying out a Paleo diet – with the exception that I am also leaving out the fruit, All sugar is gone, all carbs, except what comes from nuts and vegetables, gone. Let’s see what happens. Feels like Atkins, which I tried out quite successfully a long long time ago, but much much worse because in those days I didn’t run a 10k five times a week.

Tonight’s dinner: a reflection of the diet, but doing my best to stay happy with food I love.

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Some poached salmon, long cooked kale, (always a favorite),

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And a weird but ok attempt at zucchini/pepper/cheese pancakes (I resisted adding an egg to bind everything together, hoping the cheese would do the job as the pancakes cooked, because there have been way too many eggs in the last 7 days. Wasn’t pefect).

Results:

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Good, filling, better than much of what I’ve eaten in the last few days while traveling, (on the road: piles of nuts, tomatoes, carrot sticks to fill the hunger moments) but…oh, I am really suffering without bread. Timing: gonna try to make it through another 3 weeks. For the last couple weeks before the race I’ll pull in fruit and legumes and some whole grain carbs.

So for now, dealing with this.

 

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Bananas for Bananas

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Well the last business trip wasn’t quite as inspiring as some of the ones before. 😉 An interview meeting here two weeks ago …ja, not in the middle of the dirt field, but around the corner in a very nearby building…where was that again? Ah yes, not too far from Cologne. An hour drive into the boonies from the Cologne airport, where we saw huge machines pulling coal out of the ground. I suppose that is something to at least gape and wonder at, if not be inspired by. The customer we spoke with, a grumpy guy who wanted to know what we were doing there, “What do you know about companies like this?!?!” but who sorted his manners out and got much nicer by the end of our 90-minute discussion. Relief. And a sunny, beautiful day to smooth out the rough edges.

But the recipe below is inspiring. Especially because I didn’t believe a word of it even though I read it in at least 10 different places or 100.

Another ice cream recipe. With one ingredient. Or maybe two. Three or four if you want to get creative.

Let’s start with one.

banana

Here’s how this one goes.

Wait until banana is nice a ripe. Not slightly rotten or brown, just aromatic and sweet. Peel the banana. Chop it into slices. Place in a bag, Put in your freezer.

Next day. Take frozen banana out.

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Break the slices up a bit – just separate – and stick them into a blender.

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If you like, add a little milk. Or a little cream. But that’s unnecessary.

For some spice, consider a bit of cinammon.

For some decadence, throw in a spoonful of nutella.

But you don’t need any of that.

Blend.

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Somewhere halfway through (a few pulses), your bananas might get stuck. Just take a tool and push them down again. Blend.

Keep going. Maybe a minute in total.

Open up the blender and look at your beautiful banana ice cream.

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That’s it. It’s perfect. Cold, sweet, creamy, refreshing, and just a banana that has the power of ice cream.

Ok, maybe not this much power

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But at least this much power

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Happy summer from Munich!

 

 

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Veggieliscious

Shelling peas

I am in sort of a marathon vegetable phase, for better or for worse. Don’t get me wrong, I love my vegetables. But I simply have never been a vegetarian, or really even tried to cook without meat or fish for any sort of extended period of time. I definitely don’t eat meat or fish with every meal and I do my best to make sure every meal is well balanced with not too heavy emphasis on the animal protein when it is in there.

But…for a few weeks or months – let’s see how long – I’m doing my best to simply go without meat. Fish may be reintroduced soon, as the purpose of this “fast” is health only. What’s particularly nice is that it forces me to be more creative, rather than relying on the easy fat and flavor that meat often brings to dishes. More creative with spices, more creative with variety.

So far so good, although I am collecting lots of recipes to keep the idea database well-stocked.

Breakfast is pretty easy – fruit and either my standard toast and avocado or cheese or else a bowl of quinoa or amaranth when I have the time to cook it (often).

Lunch has been a mix – going out for lunch when I’m out of town and ordering only vegetarian or alternatively bringing leftovers for lunch or making a quick pot of lentils and bringing them to the office (was met with snarky comments on Friday by some of my colleagues who didn’t like the look of my lentils).

And dinner last week saw a variety of things. A lovely whole grain pasta mixed with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs quickly sauteed and then tossed with yogurt and a bit of garlic (a favorite of mine).

Veggie pasta with yogurt

Veggie pasta with yogurt

When I have time, I might bake some bread – as in this photo with a yogurt and molasses and whole wheat bread – on the side, some sauteed greens and parsnips and a sunny-side up egg.

Bread, sauteed greens, egg

I can imagine doing all kinds of variations on the recipe below – with socca pancakes (an Italian chickpea pancake) and tamarind potatoes.

Chickpa pancakes with tamarind potatoes and tomato salad

Chickpea pancakes with tamarind potatoes and tomato salad

Last night I had a bunch of guests over and did a few courses of veggies. A lovely warm soup with tomatoes, chickpeas and coconut milk with smoked paprika – highly recommended!, a fresh pea and ricotta cheese torte, a seasonal asparagus salad with pistachios and mint, and finally a very delicious avocado mouse/brulee (brulee didn’t work out quite as desired…) – but more on the dessert in the next post…it’s deserves its own post….

Spring Pea and ricotta torte and shaved asparagus salad with mint and pistachios

Sophie was most impressed with me shelling the peas…

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Some recipes well worth sharing – but I did quite a few modifications on the pancakes, the roasted broccoli, and the tamarind potatoes. The last four links I followed more or less to the letter:

 

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Cravings

With Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) right around the corner, my genetic disposition for traditional fall sweets seems to be kicking in. Next Wednesday evening is the day that apples and honey are eaten to hopefully bring forth a sweet new year and people wish each other La Shanah Tova (a good year) around the world. Along with the healthy version of sweets, represented by the apples and honey, we have a traditional (very very unhealthy) cake which is often baked on Rosh Hashanah (as well as the rest of the year however) – Babka. And in particular…Chocolate Babka. The cake itself is Ukranian in origin, and not Jewish at all – it was made for Easter and filled with dried fruits. However, the large Jewish communities in the US happily adapted it to their needs and you can find this sugar bomb on many a Sunday brunch table. I’ve been pretty stressed out because of some work politics for the last week, so my body was screaming….”SUGAR! FAT! GO BAKE!” and I finally caved.

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

Actually quite simple although there are a few stages and some waiting involved because the cake is made with a yeast dough. I used this recipe. And now that I have tasted the results, I can swear by it. After the dough is mixed you let it rise for an hour and then punch it down and roll it out. You’ve made a chocolate filling (chopped chocolate, cinnamon and sugar, butter), and a streusal topping (more sugar, more butter, some flour) while the dough was proofing.

Filling the dough

Filling the dough

Roll out your dough to about a quarter inch and then take your egg wash (just an egg beaten with a bit of cream) and paint the dough with it. Sprinkle the chocolate filling over it, reserving about a half a cup, and then roll it up.

Ready to twist

Ready to twist

Next you loop the roll in half into a U shape, and then twist it and place it into your loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusal (i love those Yiddish words that I now understand because they are actually German) and reserved filling on top.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

It has to rest again (just to kill us with anticipation) for about 20 minutes. Then pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes (convection oven, else 55 minutes) and bake it.

Cooling

Cooling

The smell of it will drive you a little crazy, but that’s ok.
And then you have to let it cool – this cake tastes much better when it is room temp, so don’t bother with slicing into it directly out of the oven (I tested this yesterday and I can tell you…wait…)

Next morning is the best. Have a slice for breakfast.

Breakfast treat

Breakfast treat

And then put on your jogging clothes and go sweat your sinning away.

 

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Naked Souffle

Sam, in his natural state

Sam, in his natural state

We cannot, alas, always have as much energy as we’d like. Although Sam might disagree with that statement. He seems perfectly satisfied to sleep away 90% of the day, to wake up around 5 pm, as meal time approaches and whine continuously at me until I feed him, supported by his sister, who whines in harmony (or cacophony, depending on how much you like cat yowling), using up the other 10% of the day and 80% of his energy.

So this is for those of you who can’t lift yourself from the sofa, but still want to eat something sweet, but which won’t send you into the death spiral of guilt. Discovered this one a few days ago, ironically on a blog named “Jules Food;” I was attracted by the fact that it boasted “Greek Yogurt.” We have a lot of Greek yogurt in our household these days, not only because it’s yummy, but because it seems to have become a snack food of choice, together with drizzled honey and almonds.

Souffle about to be baked

Souffle about to be baked

I’ve dubbed this one the “naked souffle” because of its reasonable calorie (80!) count as well as the fact that it tastes just as good completely devoid of a topping, although we were more than happy to eat it with a quickly assembled fresh raspberry and rosehip jam sauce.

Naked Souffle

Naked Souffle

From start to plate-licking finish, I think I spent about 31 minutes: 15 minutes assembling, 15 minutes baking, 1 minute scarfing it down. Ok, perhaps two – it was hot. In other words: fast and easy. Jules’ recipe is over here. Only around 6 ingredients, because I skipped the cream of tartar (didn’t have any), without any negative consequences. Two small bowls for mixing. And I cut the recipe down to 1/3, as I didn’t need six souffles, which was also easy and fine.

For the raspberry topping, I just heated a tablespoon or so of the jam in a saucepan with a bit of water, a drizzle of honey and a handful of raspberries for about 5 minutes, stirring and waiting until the raspberries disintegrated a bit. You can do this while the souffle bakes – no extra time needed. At the end, I spooned the sauce on the souffles and threw on a few more raw berries. Perfect. Garnish with mint leaf and you’re no longer naked…

Finished souffle with raspberries

Finished souffle with raspberries

10 seconds later…almost gone.

Few bites later

Few bites later

 

 

 

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Looks like Munich, Feels like Singapore

Heat wave abates for the day

Heat wave abates for the day

I might have named this post “having your cake and eating it too,” but that is really only tangentially the topic at hand.

Here in Munich it is finally summer. I don’t dare complain. Riding my bike home from work, I just wasn’t sure it was *really* Munich, because it is soooo hot and fairly humid at the moment. More like Singapore. Although I hear/read that in Singapore the smog/haze is back, so I’m quite glad I am not in Singapore. Munich will do just fine, thank you very much, although I wouldn’t object to a nice bowl of Laksa just about now…. Hmm. Might be an idea…anyway… We are told to expect about a week of the heat before things begin to cool off a bit. Fine. There is likely no travel this week, maybe just a day-trip on Thursday, so I can deal with a little sweat.

It would have been nice to have been at our Cologne offices, where I am occasionally these days – I’m envious of the guys who sit up at the top of the new space we have there, overlooking the quaint little courtyard with very beautiful potted olive trees.

Office courtyard

Office courtyard

They have quite the view – both into the courtyard, but also the buildings just across the way. Nice summer feeling on the balconies there.

Speaking of which…don’t you want to jump in?

Isar waves

Isar waves

Looking forward to a run in the morning. Will go early while it is still cool(er).

When I get back…there will still be a few bites of this cake, which I made for a picnic yesterday.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Not my photo but mine looked the same except for the fact that my pan was round. There was a wedge left over after the picnic…delicious when eaten very cold straight out of the fridge with a spoon.

But thus…a run is in order.

The recipe is here. Have a look. It’s reasonably fast and easy – you just need some time to let it cool off and let the milk soak in for about an hour. Keeps well…if you don’t eat it all right away…for a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

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