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Archive for January, 2010

Catch Up

Well, as you can tell by my 2 day absence, things have been a little wild around here. From Friday- Sunday, I’ll be in Hannover for the Association of German International Schools teacher development conference. Since that means I will have no time next weekend to do my planning, I wanted to get it all done this weekend. Planning for 3 weeks in one weekend = no “fun” computer time. I’m really looking forward to this conference for several different reasons: 1. Three days of awesome courses on everything from improving teaching practices to classroom management. 2. Travel/ hotel stay/ all food payed for by my school. 3. Hopefully reconnecting with a good friend who has recently been quite distant. I can not wait share my ideas and learn from the success of others. Yippie!

So, let’s catch up on my weekend.

Friday could easily be described as a Pete and Repeat day. Nearly every meal on Friday was identical to Thursday’s eats.

Yes, that would be coffee and apricot almond oats again! My morning break time provided a sweet surprise- lemon pound cake with a sweet and tart glaze.

Lunch was leftover butter-sage tortellini with vegetables.

One (of the many) things I love about the school I work for is the afternoon fruit snack rota. The parents take turns bringing in fresh fruit and vegetables for a whole class afternoon snack. Usually they are so generous we have enough for the kids to have a morning and afternoon fruit snack. I like to play games with the food like banana catch (it’s amazing how this has improved some of their catching skills) and fruit for a friend where the kids  say something nice about someone else in the class before getting their fruit. Friday was a fruit salad type snack.

I had tutoring after school and was starving by the time I came home… after school snack was another repeat, toast with almond butter, agave, and cinnamon- this time accompanied by a clementine!

Since I was not able to eat at the delicious Karawane restaurant last week, I wizened up, made reservations, and ate there for dinner with Sebastian and the Aussies on Friday night.

The photo may be awful, but the concept is awesome. You start off with this plate. There are 9 little golf-ball sized holes in the plate, each filled with one of the restaurant’s dishes for that week. You taste everything, make notes, then order which numbers you want. It’s an all-you-can-eat type thing, but the food is fresher than a buffet. I have never been able to eat more than 3 additional regular-sized servings. This week, the food included:

1. Yogurt creme dip with tuna fish and capers from Turkey.

2. Stuffed grape leaf with a yummy lemon-butter creme sauce.

3. Couscous with vegetables from Marocco

4. Spicy chopped vegetable salad from Anatolia

5. Baked onions with tamarind from Lebanon

6. Noodles with lentils, herbs and brown butter from Syria

7. Mixed salad with herbs and tahini dressing from Arabia

8. Goat cheese and spinach roll from Turkey

9. Rise and zucchini paty from Iraq

I also had a glass of red wine and a wonderful time!

Saturday was an adventurous day of traveling in a snow storm to shop at Ikea!!! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home. 😦

Breakfast was vanilla French toast with roasted pecans.

The shopping outing was great fun! We started out going to another store called Metro, it’s probably the closest thing to a Sam’s Club or Costco in Germany although the prices aren’t as good. I was so happy to find something for school that I’ve been looking for for ages- a headphone hub. Now the listening to reading station is ready for its new and improved grand opening! I also bought an exercise ball/ posture improving desk “chair.”

IKEA always provides a good time. We started in the food court. I had the kid’s menu spaghetti marinara and subbed the desert for a salad. Just the right amount! I love walking through Ikea and imagining the little model rooms are a part of my home. It just makes me want to buy it all and reorganize my entire apartment. I bought almost everything on my wish list- most of the stuff was for school.

Once we were back home, I did a ton of planning before breaking for dinner. Sebastian wasn’t excited about the idea of veggie quesadillas but once he smelled them cooking, he changed his mind. It’s a good thing I’m such a generous girlfriend.

Quesadilla Includes: Red onion, green and red peppers, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and tortilla shells.

After dinner, I continued to work on school stuff until about 11:30- then I hit the hay.

I slept in today until 9:30 and was starving when I woke up. Although it wasn’t quite brunch time, I decided I was going to have just that. A meal large enough to encompass the calories and fat for not one, but two meals.

I tossed together some potatoes, red peppers, red onions, mushrooms, scrambled egg, and cheddar cheese for a DIY Denver Skillet. Yum!

My morning project was to blow up my new exercise ball but upon opening the package, I realized there was no pumping device included… so being the innovative problem solver that I am, I used the tip of a pen attached to my bike pump. It worked like a dream!

Half-way there!

I also mentioned earlier that I bought a bunch of stuff for school- most importantly, some living, breathing, inspiring Gerber daisies. Ikea has an awesome selection of plants for such a good price. I’ve decided to re-organize my students into groups based on the flower color. I’ll put one of these beauties on each group of desks. They give me energy and a mood boost so I figure they’ll do the same for the kids!

Orange Group                             Yellow Group                          Pink Group

Unfortunately, the pink pot took a beating in transport and lost one of its blossoms.

Fortunately, it encouraged me to honor the lost hope of that blossom with an independent photo shoot. I must say, these are probably some of my new favorite photos!

Stunning beauty.

This afternoon, I had a snack of fruit Müsli with milk then set off to making another batch of homemade almond butter.

Since the oven was already warm from roasting the almonds, I decided to bake some bread. About a month ago, I bought a 6 grain bread mix but have been too intimidated by the German instructions to try it. Today was the day!

I think the oven was still too hot when I put the bread in to rise in a warm place because it didn’t do much rising. Oh well, now I’ve got a dense, crusty bread.

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Missing the sun

Hello people!

Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve really been missing the sun lately.

There was a morning last week when the sun appeared noticeable earlier than usual. As I left for work with the morning sun on my face, I couldn’t help but smile with the thought that winter was ending!

Unfortunately, warmer, sunnier weather is not yet to be here in Germany.

The snow continues to bluster down and the temperatures are just enough above freezing to allow the snow to turn to slush. Yuck.

To make matters worse, my photos are suffering from a lack of vitamin D as well. My breakfast and dinner photos are looking jaundice while the only good photos are those that I can sneak while at school. Luckily, my students think I’m strange enough when it comes to art/ photography/ and eating that they no longer question me snapping pictures of “random” things all day.

Please put up with the sepia toned photos for now, I promise they will look better in the future sunshine!

Lunch was some leftover pasta with sun dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and pine nuts. Served alongside a beautiful salad with green pepper.

Much prettier in the light of day!

I had a banana around 2:30, taught a year 5/6 art class after school, marked some homework, and then headed to the grocery store to stock up my fridge with some fresh veggies.

Since the store had sage, I decided to attempt a delicious restaurant recreation.  Spinach a ricotta tortellini with butter sage sauce. I also cooked up a few veggies- mushrooms, zucchini, and carrot.

Feeling a bit guilty about the amount of butter in the butter sage sauce, I opted to use a margarine/ olive oil spread.

Butter Sage Sauce

4 Tbsp. butter

8-10 sage leaves

Juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the butter in a large pan until it melts and begins to brown.

2. Toss in the sage leaves and lemon juice then reduce heat to med. low.

3. Once your pasta is cooked, drain (saving some of the water)  then coat in butter mixture.

4. Allow the pasta to mix with the butter sauce. If it appears to become too dry, sprinkle in a bit of the reserved pasta water.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste then enjoy!

The food was fantastic, but I was a little disgusted by the pool of butter left on my plate at the end!

After such savory goodness, I needed a little something sweet. Chocolate chip cookie dipped in plain yogurt!

So, here’s to wishing the sunshine back! I hope everyone has a wonderful Friday!

Don’t forget to visit The Daily Balance to sign up for a yoga journal subscription giveaway!

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Productivity

Productivity: getting things ticked off your list.

Today was a very productive day.

This morning I turned some boring leftover frozen pancakes into a beautiful, delicious, and power-packed breakfast.

This fantastic food was accompanied by a glass of OJ and a cup of white tea. Let the day begin.

Work was productive in the sense that some pretty great kids learned some pretty important stuff like measuring capacity, converting milliliters to liters, pausing at commas while reading, writing couplets, counting money (we’re losing the school penny war for Haiti 😦 ) playing handball, and writing scientific experiments.

All this productivity warranted a few breaks throughout the day.

Lunch was spent eating two small baked potatoes covered in spicy marinara sauce and broccoli while being productive and making a card for a friend who’s had a pretty rough month.

After school, I tidied up my class a bit then rewarded myself with 5 of these little guys. My bucket is getting low!

Once I was back home, productivity hit full swing!

First off, I baked some good old fashion comfort-style Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies for my friend’s care package.

Seeing that I ate probably 4 cookie’s worth of dough alone, I decided that baking cookies to have around the house right now was probably not a good idea. So… I baked enough for my friend and students, then froze the rest of the dough for a rainy day. Since I have a crazy small European refrigerator and freezer, there was no room for a cookie tray in the freezer. I improvised and put little balls into my ice cube tray! Way to think outside the box! Now that they’re frozen, they’ve been popped out of their little niches and placed into a cookie dough ball commune.

The dough is so much more photogenic than the final product so I’ll just leave you with that!

I’ve been wanting to use a few things up for a while now and decided that tonight’s dinner would do just that- all in the name of productivity!

I tossed together some sun dried tomatoes, frozen spinach, garlic, Italian spices, whole wheat pasta, pine nuts, and parmesan to make this scrumptious meal!

Once I was done with dinner, I was out the door to hit up the gym!

First up, 45 min. on the treadmill walking hills at a fast pace. Then, because of my cookie dough feast, I decided to stay for a pilates class. I’m glad I did! I usually eat after going to the gym but today switched things around. Not a good idea. I was so gassy during the lesson that it was uncomfortable! I just feel bad for those around me who caught wind of a few silent stinkers. I was so embarrassed! I’d like to publicly say sorry to anyone who was harmed in the making of my pilates poses. Thank you.

Once I was back at the fort, I had a bit of hunger. This was quickly ended by an apple, almond butter, cinnamon, and agave.

Now I’m sipping a cup of “Schlaf Finden” tea, although I don’t think I’ll need any help finding sleep after such a productive day! Night all!

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Couplets

This week in literacy, my students are reading Roald Dahl‘s Revolting Rhymes. Today we read his take on the Cinderella story- written in couplets. I thought it was only appropriate to transfer this knowledge to my blog. So here goes!

After hitting snooze for 10 minutes,  I awoke still tired and hazy

I crawled out of bed, got dressed and fed but my breakfast was really quite lazy

Müsli, dried berries, and banana covered with milk.

I was off to work in a hurried rush

Stomping my boots in the icy slush

My students had pockets loaded with pennies so weighty

to send to Doctor’s Without Borders in Haiti

They’re giving their allowance, their savings and time

making the level of our class collections climb

By 11 I couldn’t wait, I was hungry again

I washed my hands and tore open a ripe manderine

Lunch was later had in such a rush

that taking pictures of my food would make me blush

So the day continued- social studies, computers, and without further adieu

fruit snack and reading and these grapes, times two.

Once the home bell rang, my work was not done

I had a staff meeting that was really not fun

Exhausted and weary I opened my apartment door

Took off my boots, dropped my bags to the floor

I ran to my kitchen to mix up a snack

Toast, almond butter, agave, and cinnamon attack!

After about an hour it was time for dinner

so I went to a classic- sounds gross but it’s a winner

Baked potatoes with “tuna” salad baked beans and some greens

left me feeling quit full, one of my stand bye cuisines

Now well fed and updated, it’s time to read

some blogs by some girls from whom I’ve followed their lead.

Sleep well dear friend wherever you are

I hope your Wednesday is the best day of the week so far!

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Hello everyone!

Thanks go out to all my special ladies who have welcomed me to the blogging community, especially Bekah for her shout out. Let’s see if my first trackback works! So onward and upward for this Monday post!

Today started like all others, with a bowl of everythingtarian style oats and coffee.

It had snowed all night- everything was covered with a powdered-sugar-like dusting.

Warm oats and coffee on a cold Monday morning= a good start to the week.

Morning snack was a camera shy clementine and trail mix with:

  • peanut butter chips
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • raisins

Lunch was a kitchen sink salad with:

  • cabbage
  • shredded carrots
  • mushrooms
  • red and yellow peppers
  • pea pods
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • celery
  • balsamic glaze.


On Mondays I host Digital Photography Club at my school. It was such a beautiful day with the fresh snow that I didn’t want to waste time! 6 of my faithfuls joined me to capture the day!

Great, isn’t it?

Once the photo-taking fun was over, it was back to school for assembly, fruit snack, and PE. I tutored after school and then headed home to work on my new pride and joy- this blog!

First, I had to re-fuel. Homemade Greek yogurt with half a banana, chocolate amaranth granola, and almond butter, naturally.

Thanks to some very helpful bloggers, I’ve been directed to this website for blogging 101 and this website for advice on taking great food photos. I also updated my about me with some more information and photos explaining how I came to this point in my life. I must be the cold weather that puts me in a lovey-dovey mood as I get pretty romantically personal. All that mushy stuff is what makes me me, so I guess it’s best to tell.

Took a break from all the emotional memories to cook me up one delicious dinner (which will be making a re-appearance as tomorrow’s lunch too!)

Orange Ginger Tofu

I found this recipe about 6 months ago on sparkrecipes.com and have been eating it at least once a month since then. It is so darn simple and delicious!

I was earlier inspired by my students to play with my food tonight!

Step 1

Chop up your veggies- I usually use whatever I’ve got in the fridge, today was:

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 smallish carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • a handful of pea pods
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 block of tofu

Step 2

Heat up a bit of olive oil in a wok then let the veggies cook. You don’t want mushy veggies so keep an eye on them.

Step 3

Whisk up the sauce

  • juice of 1 orange (or ¼ c. orange juice)
  • 2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes (or less if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch

Step 4

Mix it all together and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Oh, and last minute I decided to toss in a few raw cashew nuts- a great addition! Steamy!

Step 5

Serve on top of brown rice and enjoy!

As you can probably tell, I have a killer camera but can’t afford the flash. Bear with me and my yellow-toned dinner photos for a while!

Well that does it for another busy day! Thanks again to everyone who has visited me so far! Have a great night!

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I woke up this morning to find this- a dreary Sunday.

Snow has found us once again.

I shouldn’t have been too surprised as the weather forecast did predict another round of snow… but after a few warmish days in a row, I was really looking forward to a bit of sunshine.  Not letting the weather pull down my spirits, I decided to make the best of the home-bound day with a bit of magic in the kitchen.

First up- pancakes. I tried a different recipe than usual and found the pancakes to be flat, tough, and rubbery. Luckily, the toasted pecans and maple syrup saved the day. My little bottle of maple syrup is a prized commodity. Germans don’t do the whole warm and filling breakfast thing.  Accompanied by a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee, this made a great breakfast.

A classic

Next up, refilling the jar of joy, aka homemade almond butter. When a 1/3 cup jar of prepared almond butter costs €7, you’re forced to find other means to supply your addiction. What’s not to love about making something so delicious for so little money?

Homemade Almond Butter How To

Or to be more specific- flaxy cinnamon coconut infused almond butter.

Step 1- collect your ingredients

Translation: coconut oil, cinnamon, almonds, and agave. Sea salt and flax seed were feeling camera shy.

1 cup almonds

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon coconut oil (you can also use canola or sesame but I like the added coconut  flavour)

1 teaspoon agave

1 teaspoon ground flax seed

Shake of cinnamon

Step 2- roast the almonds

Nice and toasty

Sprinkle the almonds with salt and roast in a 200° F oven for 10-15 min. stirring every now and then.

Step 3- making friends

Place the coconut oil and agave in the food processor then pour the hot almonds over top. I think it’s only fair  to let the three get to know each other a little before they’re forced to be friends. Once the oil is melted, sprinkle with flax and cinnamon then move on to step 4.

Step 4- Chop and churn

Give your food processor a work out- flip the switch to chop and churn. Stop and scrape the sides once the nut butter starts to creep up and away from the blades. It might take a while, but the almonds will eventually turn into a creamy paste. As every fibre of my green self starts to feel guilty for using so much energy, I remind myself how much money I’m saving and how wonderful it is to know exactly what goes into my food. The smell is so good you’ll have to stand back.

Step 5- pour and seal

Once your almond butter has reached the desired consistency, pour it into a clean glass jar, seal tightly, and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Enter: Left-over Make-over

On Friday, the Aussies, Sebastian and I had planned on eating at this fun middle-eastern restaurant called Karawane. We showed up only to find out that no reservation meant no possibility. So, we traipsed a bit further down the Rhine to another goodie called Kartoffels. Kartoffel in German means potato- and that’s what this restaurant does- potatoes. Every dish on their menu is based around potatoes. Even their artwork and decorations follow the root-veggie theme.

I ordered a spinach and (obviously) potato gratin loaded with cream and cheese. So unhealthy yet so delicious. The portions at this place are huge so I ended up taking half of mine home in a doggy bag.

For lunch, I decided to take this tin-foil wrapped creation from drab to fab.

Take the not-so appealing left-overs.

Toss in some fresh veggies and beans.

Heat it all up.

Add a little skim milk cream.

And then you have a more veggie-filled yet still unhealthy appealing lunch.

By 3:00 I needed some fresh air so Sebastian and I took a nice long walk down the hill and into town. It was the perfect  temperature for a cold-weather walk. Along the way, I took a few photographs.

Amongst the beauty, I even bumped into a little humor.

After walking into town, I hit up the gym for 30 min of bicycling and total-body weight lifting. Once I was done, I was hungry! Snacked on 3 dried apricots then made my way home to put together a crazy delicious lunch box dinner.

Toasted whole-wheat bread with cream cheese, mustard, alfalfa sprouts, shredded carrot and lettuce along with a clementine, celery and almond butter.

This. Hit. The. Spot.

Now I’m off to read blogs, do some laundry, skype my parents and get a good night’s sleep. Thanks for reading my first “real” blog! Good night!

For all you experienced bloggers out there- what is your best technical advice for blogging? Any tips of tricks I should know about?

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Hello world!

Well this is it! I’m so excited to begin this new journey of modern-day journaling and reflection. After months of religiously following healthy-living food blogs, I’ve decided to jump in with my own thoughts, feasts and experiences. I have always had a passion for healthy, natural, delicious food- now I have a place to share this passion. Travel with me as I navigate living a healthy, happy and harmonic life as an American in Europe.

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