Not too long ago, I have made a post about my ethical concerns with eating animals and my attempt to eat an entirely plant-based diet, which took an inglorious end after a few days already and made me realize that I need to eat some meat and fish to be healthy. I got a lot of wonderful feedback on that post, and it helped me a lot to deal with that difficult situation.

Still, my internal misery remained, and I wondered whether I could have done better. Maybe I had rushed too much. Maybe I had not been prepared well enough. Maybe there was something I should have considered, but had not because I had not researched enough.

While thinking about these things, I felt I was getting gradually depressed. I sat there with my bowl of tomato salad and roasted chicken, and suddenly had to cry over it. I could not fall asleep, and when I finally did, I woke of up after a few hours and immediately started crying again. It even happened that I started to cry while sitting in the tram or walking through the supermarket.

So, I researched. I could not sleep anyway, so I spent my nights researching on the internet about how to make a vegan diet work in a soy-free, gluten-free, and relatively carb-reduced way. The things I always have to keep under control are my food allergies and my instable blood sugar levels, therefore the emphasis on protein (I aimed for at least 60 grams a day) and healthy fats, along with fiber from vegetables and fruit. Now, healthy fats and fiber are not a problem on a vegan diet, but protein probably is, particularly when you want for a certain amount of protein without eating soy or wheat protein, and without too many carbohydrates.

This book describes an approach to veganism that is based on fibrous vegetables, legumes, and healthy fats from seeds and nuts, without any soy or wheat, and it also contains recipes and meal plans – I can highly recommend it, regardless of whether you eat a vegan diet or not. So, I realized I would have to rely on legumes and things like quinoa or oat bran for protein, and also to supplement with protein powder. I would also need a variety of seeds and some nut butter, for some more protein and also for healthy fats.

Legumes are tricky for me. Coming with a sensitive digestive system already, I needed to find a way how to make them work for me – and I did. The results of this research I have summed up in my post about tummy-friendly legume preparation. Also, I stocked up on seeds and some whole grains. I bought a vitamin B complex supplement (just to be on the safe side). I soaked adzuki beans. And I made a big batch of almond butter.

Then, I started my second vegan experiment. You must understand that veganism does not come easily to me, because meat and seafood are some of the foods my body can handle the best, while most vegan protein sources give me allergy or tummy troubles. But I was determined, and I really wanted to make it work. Before, I had calculated my nutritional needs on a piece of paper, to be sure I would not run short in anything when I replaced animal foods with plant foods. I soon learned that I needed to eat more fats than before to be satisfied, but that was okay with me. As usual, I ate two larger, solid meals every day (I am not a breakfast eater), but I had to snack more between meals to stay somewhat satisfied. So I did. And although I actually do not want to share my daily intakes on my blog, I will do it this time, just to let you know how it looked like and see that I did my best to eat a healthy, wholesome diet.



rice protein shake
tea with almond milk


vegetables cooked with coconut oil or vegetable salad made with olive, canola, or flaxseed oil
legumes (beans, lentils, peas) or whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa)
seeds, almonds, or almond butter

Afternoon Snacks

piece of fruit or smoothie
almonds or almond butter
rice protein shake
tea with almond milk


vegetables cooked with coconut oil or vegetable salad made with olive, canola, or flaxseed oil
legumes (beans, lentils, peas) or whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa)
seeds, almonds, or almond butter

Evening Snacks

tea with almond milk
almonds or almond butter
glass of wine

I think this is a quite balanced eating plan, and the first days went rather well. I felt a little lower in energy and my tummy was more noticeable than usual, but it was within the borders of what I considered acceptable, especially since I had superior goals with this project. Here are some of the things I ate. I will share some of the recipes soon, because they were really good.

~ adzuki beans with fresh tomatoes, parsley, and pumpkin seeds ~

~ green peas and kabocha with pumpkin seeds ~

~ green lentils with carrots and bell pepper ~

~ oat bran porridge with kabocha and poppy seeds ~

~ adzuki beans with beetroot and pumpkin seeds ~

However, after a few days, I was more and more feeling hungry all the time, and also the food sat heavily on my stomach. Around that time, it happened that I was invited to a sushi-making and eating evening with friends, and I ate a few bites of salmon and realized that I did not have to cry.

~ the brown rice sushi was for me ~

From then on, I sometimes ate a little fish or seafood with my dinner, like three prawns or a tiny piece of fish. This was possible without feeling too bad. But still, I tried to eat as little of it as possible.

In the second week of my experiment, my well-being was declining rapidly. My tummy got worse, and my concentration suffered because I was so concerned and distracted from feeling hungry and in pain. This also meant that my work suffered, and on some days, I almost could not work at all. That was the sign for me to stop. I broke my meat-free diet plan with the one and only dish that does not work with legumes (it will probably work with tofu, but you know, tofu is not for me): chicken and fruit. And it was amazing to see how a small amount of chicken is more satisfying for me than a serving of legumes with seeds.

~ roasted chicken and red onion with a sliced green apple ~

However, going back to my regular eating as before did not work well this time, probably because my second experiment had lasted for almost two weeks. And it left its traces with me. It took three days until my hunger and satiety regulation was working normally again. Moreover, five days out of my experiment, my belly is still swollen and sensitive to pressure. Walking is painful, and eating something solid, even my otherwise compatible foods, gives me the dagger-in-the-tummy feeling. The pain is quite impressive. So, major calamity over here. And it seems that I have totally underestimate in which bad condition my gut actually is.

I know there are people out there who eat a vegan diet and are healthy and fine with it. But for me, an entirely plant-based diet does not work. To be honest, I envy these people a little, because they can eat what is good for them and is in accordance with their ideals. That is a very happy situation. I also love animals, and I also care for the planet, with all my heart, but I cannot eat in a way that allows me to express these feelings. And please understand that I will not try it again.

Overall, I believe that all of this was valuable and necessary for my stubborn little mind to learn that I cannot control everything, regardless of how much I try. There are things I just have to accept. I also have to learn to take care of myself, and to sometimes put my own interests in the first place, if I want to remain. And this is where the circle is closing: I am at the end of my eating journey, and will return to my personal diet which has evolved during the past two or so years: lots of vegetables, almond milk, chicken, fish and seafood, healthy fats, some fruit, some brown rice, some legumes such as adzuki beans and lentils. Mostly plant-based, but not entirely. I am starting to see this diet as a kind of medical treatment I have to stick to in order to remain healthy, probably for a lifetime. I do not mind anymore, because by now, I am far beyond the point where I would want to eat for pleasure. Also, seeing food as medicine makes it easier for me to eat animals, simply because I have to eat them if I want to be healthy and free of pain. I will eat for health, and whatever is necessary to maintain my health. And I will eat for energy, so that I can do all the things that are important to me: research, piano playing, and being there for my family and friends.

But first, it is high time that I take care of my tummy. I think I have an irritable and probably leaky gut which needs a little treatment now. And please do not worry about me, because ill weeds grow apace, and I already have a plan.

When I came into this world, it quickly turned out that I was a mimosa rather than a human. This does not only apply to my personality, but also to my tummy.

At age 12 or so, my gastro-intestinal weekness was officially diagnosed by an Ayurvedic physician. (He also was the one who told me not to eat dairy products anymore, what freed me from my constant joint pain but, to my unhappiness, also ended my love relationship with yoghurt.) You can imagine that in general, my tummy is not best friends with legumes.

Still, I have decided to make legumes a regular part of my diet, and ate them almost every day during the past two (or so) weeks. This implies I have found a way to make them work for me.

You may remember that my first attempt with veganism terribly failed, and I had to take a vacation from legumes for a couple of days. But then my appetite for them came back, and I made a big batch of adzuki beans at home, which I happily devored during the subsequent days. To my surprise, nothing bad happened.

My scientifically working mind told me that I must have done something differently with those adzuki beans, compared to the legumes I had eaten before (also including adzuki beans), and this determined whether my tummy would be peaceful or go up the walls after eating them.

It deemed on me that the problem had to do with the fact that, during my first vegan experiment, I had eaten beans from the can almost every day. My first thought had been that it was the pure amount of legumes I had eaten then, because I was not used to eating them every day. Considering my happy recent indulgence, however, I have come to understand that the preparation methods actually are the crucial factor. And one thing I always do when I prepare legumes at home is to soak them overnight and then cook them for a rather long time. However, I also researched for some more boundary conditions.

A note on canned beans and lentils (read: my personal thoughts) … Those are industry products, and the industry usually does not regard for elaborate food preparation methods (more than is minimally required to make the things somewhat edible) – such procedures would slow down the production process (a little), and do not fit into a highly rationalized economy. However, these methods may be what makes the difference between pain and well-being with the person who eats the stuff, and it is definitely worth it to invest a little time (it is not even much actual operating time) and prepare your legumes yourself.

So, I am happy to share with you the results of my recent research and kitchen experimenting.


First of all, it is important to understand why legumes tend to make trouble at all. The most noticeable troubles have to do with the oligosaccharides contained in legumes. However, legumes also contain some other not-so-nice substances which you may want to get rid of.


All legumes contain so-called oligosaccharides, complex carbohydrates built from several single sugar molecules. Oligosaccharides commonly found in legumes are raffinose, stachyose, ciceritol, and verbascose. These have to be broken down during digestion, but since humans lack a certain enzyme (α-galactosidase) required for this, the oligosaccharides pass the small intestine undigested. Only in the large intestine, they are finally broken down by bacteria. This releases gas which again causes bloating and pain.


Next to the problematic oligosaccharides, legumes also contain toxid substances (antinutrients). One of those is phytic acid which inhibits mineral absorption and can foster mineral deficiencies when consumed regularly in larger amounts. Others are lectins, sugar-binding proteins which may contribute to malabsorption and lead to allergic reactions. They are especially malicious when consumed raw, leading to toxication. Therefore, legumes and particularly beans should be cooked at a boil for at least 10 minutes before cooking them as usual until soft. Please notice that preparing beans in a slow cooker may not eliminate those toxins sufficiently, if temperatures are too low!!

In general, traditional food-processing and preparation techniques like soaking, sprouting, and fermenting help to significantly reduce harmful substances contained in legumes and other plant foods, and improve the bioavailability of micronutrients.


In reducing digestive problems with legumes, it is crucial to tackle the oligosaccharides contained in them. This can be done by the following techniques.

Selecting Legumes Wisely

Legumes differ in oligosaccharid content. In general, lentils and split peas are easier to digest, while beans and chickpeas are harder to digest. However, when using some tricks, all of them can be prepared in a tummy-friendly way.


All dried beans and chickpeas have to be soaked in water before cooking them, but you can also soak lentils and split peas. The legumes should be covered well with water, particularly since they will grow in volume during the soaking process. Foul ones will swim at the surface so you can easily fish them out.

To also reduce antinutrient content, you can add some kind of sour substance, such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, whey, buttermilk, or yoghurt containing living cultures. The soaking water should not be too hot because otherwise, helpful enzymes and bacteria would be destroyed. I usually use warm water.

The longer you soak your legumes, the better, but when you soak them for a longer time, the soaking water should be changed every couple of hours. I usually soak my legumes for about 12 hours. What then happens is that some of the oligosaccharides resolve into the soaking water. After soaking, the legumes should be rinsed and drained well in a colander.

Adding Enzymes

While the human body lacks the enzyme needed for breaking down legume oligosaccharides, this enzyme is happily contained in kombu, an edible kelp used in Eastern Asian cuisine. Kombu comes in dried sheets and can be found at an Asian food store. It also provides some valuable micronutrients like iodine, potassum, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Particularly iodine is important for a happy thyroid, and people who eat no or little fish may run short in it. Edible seaweed is a nice option to get some.

Add a palm-sized piece of kombu when soaking the legumes, and another fresh one when cooking them. The enzymes in the kombu will break down the oligosaccharides during the soaking and cooking time. Also, the kombu will alkalyze the soaking and cooking water.

Kombu will get a little slimy when put into water, and cooking makes it metamorphose into a green jelly. This jelly is edible and actually healthy, but I find it a little unappealing, so I rather put the kombu into a little bag for loose leaf tea. However, you do not have to be afraid that your legumes will taste like fish when you cook them with kombu.

When the soaking is over, rinse and drain the legumes well, and use fresh water for further processing, since the soaking water contains all the stuff you want to get rid of.

Quick Boiling

Quick boiling means to cook the legumes at high heat or a few minutes. This will resolve some more oligosaccharides into the cooking water. Afterwards, rinse the legumes in a colander and set them up with fresh water. This can be done two or three times to be more effective, and will not remove significant amounts of nutrients. Then cook the legumes as usual, until soft.

When I recently told my mom about this, she said that her own mom and grandmom would always quick boil legumes three times before the regular cooking. She thought it was to get rid of the foam legumes tend to produce during cooking, but apparently, the actual meaning lies a little deeper.

Pressure Cooking

A pressure cooker is a pot with a tightly closing lid that allows for cooking under pressure and thus, at higher temperatures than usual.

I have found the suggestion to pressure cook legumes several times, but my personal experiences with it were not always fortunate. The problem is that legumes produce a lot of foam during cooking, and this foam tends to clog the exhaust valve of the pressure cooker, leading the cooker to spit slime across the stove. So, before putting your legumes into the pressure cooker, I highly recommend to give them a couple of quick boils, to reduce the foam. Pressure cooking legumes will help to improve digestability, but you also cook them in a regular saucepan. Also, pressure cooking will result in somewhat mushier legumes than regular cooking.

Long-Time Cooking

Since undercooked legumes are a bad source of tummy troubles, I like to cook them rather too long than too short. Especially with beans, I have found that it helps to cook them for a rather long time. Slow cooking is fine as well, as long as you ensure a sufficient time of high-temperature cooking in the begging, to eliminate the toxins.

Rinsing and Draining

I carefully rinse and drain my legumes again after cooking, to remove the slime and the last oligosaccharides which have resolved into the cooking water.

To finish this post in a nice way, I want to give you a short step-by-step instruction of how I make my own tummy-friendly legumes, using the example of my beloved adzuki beans.


4-5 servings


250 g (1/2 lb) dried adzuki beans (or other beans)
2 palm-sized pieces of dried kombu (seaweed)
1 splash of fresh lemon juice


Put the beans into a large bowl and add a generous amount of water, one piece of kombu, and a splash of lemon juice. Set aside and let soak for several hours, or overnight.

After soaking, rinse and drain the beans in a colander. Set them up with fresh water and boil them at high heat for about 5 minutes. Then, rinse and drain the beans again. Give them three quick boils in total, always using fresh water. Subsequently, cook the beans regularly in about the double amount of fresh water, together with the remaining piece of kombu, for an hour or two (or longer), covered and at medium heat. I cooked them in my big cast-iron pot and used a tea bag for the kombu.

When the cooking time is over, remove the kombu (or leave it in there, when you like that), and carefully rinse the beans again to get rid of the slime. The beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, where they will stay fresh for a couple of days and are always ready for preparing a quick meal. They are wonderful and versatible for making yummy creations, like this.

What do you do with your legumes to make them friendlier to your tummy? Have you tried some of the things I have collected here, or do you use them regularly already? Can you eat legumes from the can without problems?

I have realized that I have not made a post in this little series for a while, in which I post pictures of my favorite mugs along with a little wise saying printed on a Yogi Tea tag. Some of you were so kind to send me a picture of their favorite mug, and I will include them into these posts one by one.

For today’s post, I have chosen my favorite mug. She is a psychologist (like me) and a vegan (unlike me), and although she does not live far away from me, we have not met in person yet. This will hopefully change soon! She even has an original Yogi Tea mug.

About the mug, she told me that she likes it very much because it is transparent, so she can see the color of the tea. This makes her happy every time. Yay for the little things of happiness!

My mug for today is the little blue flower-pattern mug I got from my grandmom. It is one of my very favorites, and since we both love psychology a lot, I pictured it in front of a pile of psychology books. (I am currently drinking tea from this mug as well, but I have put the books away meanwhile.)

The Yogi Tea wisdom comes from Clara’s “Enchanting Peppermint” Yogi Tea this time. The tea tag says, “trust in the wisdom of the heart”. I love that very much. Several times in my life, I have made decisions that turned out to be unfortunate later on, because I neglected what my heart was telling me, and went for rational arguments instead. Rational arguments can be helpful, but many other factors play a role as well in whether or not we are satisfied with a decision we have made. These other factors may not even come to our consciousness, and some of them probably do not seem convincing because they are not based on reasoning but rather on feeling. Now, I have learned (by experience) to listen to the subtle feelings which I indeed have about many things and persons, and these feelings are often a better guide than the rational mind. This does not mean to neglect your senses, just that you should also listen to what the feeling is telling you. Do not forget the feeling is wise and knows a lot about yourself. And yes, this statement is indeed supported by psychological research.

If you like this series and want to partake in it as well, please send a picture of your favorite mug and tell me what you like so much about it – I will come around to posting it one day . You do not have to picture your mug with some Yogi Tea wisdom because I also have Yogi Tea in my cupboard, but if you like that as well, it is always appreciated.

Do you trust your feelings?

For some time now, I have been drooling over my friend wonderful homemade juice creations. She juices every from bell peppers to garlic. Here is one of her wonderful creations.

~ sweet broccoli kale juice from Spabettie ~

And then I recently saw that also my friend drinks homemade juice, made from lots of greens. So what do you think, who else wants fresh juice?

Now the problem is, of course, that I do not have a juicer. I also hesitate to buy yet another kitchen appliance … So, time to get a little creative. And since I have a blender, I figured that I might use him to make juice. And it worked.

I started very basic with a simple green vegetable juice made from just spinach. You can also use other greens such as kale, broccoli, lettuce, or whatever you like, to make something like this. I found it quite bitter and it was a little too much for me to drink it pure (how do you do it?), but it is very nice when you water it down and add some lemon juice and ice, or balance it with a little sweetness from fruit. It is also a nice addition to a smoothie. Even an already green smoothie will be more nutritious when you make it with green juice instead of water. I am looking forward to trying fancier juice creations in the future.


350 ml (1 1/2 cups)


2 handfuls of spinach (or other greens)
350 ml (1 1/2 cups) water


Blend everything in the blender. Filter the “soup” using a sprout bag or a (washed ) nylon sock. Now you have green juice ready for further use or direct enjoyment (if you are hardcore). This technique works equally fine with other vegetables or fruit, or any mix of fresh stuff. Just add some water so you will have something to drink afterwards 😉 .

So, my (probably juicerless, but hopefully blender-equipped) friends, join the juicing fun! What would you like to juice?

As long as I can remember, I have always taken exceptional pleasure in concocting stuff. Concocting took place in very different regards: For example, I made up stories in my mind, invented places and characters, and designed clothing and equipment for them. I built paper castles. I regularly snitched my mom’s hand cream and converted it into an organic super power lotion by mixing petals and leaves from daisies, clover, dandelions, and buttercups into it. And I also liked to “bake”.

~ lalala ~

I put this into quotation marks because it was not what you would call baking. The purpose was not to create a nice cake, but the fun along the way. My favorite ingredient was green food color, and I was the master of what I may call “volcano mud cakes”. I would sit in front of the oven and eagerly observe how my concoction inside would first grow and then implode, while the slugde would spill over the edges of the cake-pan. It was the greatest pleasure.

~ imagine this in green ~

Today, I am still not a baker. I am a concoctionist (have I just concocted this word?), and when I prepare something in the kitchen, it can be best described as throwing together stuff. With cooking, this is usually fine, but baking often calls for elaborate recipes that want to be followed thoroughly to work out at all … Not so much my cup of tea. I like cooking better.

And still, when I recently read on Katy‘s blog that she was looking for a protein-rich breakfast baked-goodie thing, I felt determined to challenge my baking “skills” once again, and concoct something for her – without green food color, this time.

I wanted for something that was nutritious, tasty, and gentle on the blood sugar level. So, it needed fiber, protein, and healthy fats. One look into the food shelf – okay, ground almonds are there. What might go well with almonds? Hm … Poppy seeds, maybe? For a nice, marzipan-y taste? Katy might like that. Protein has to come from eggs, since she asked for something without protein powder. And we need a sweet-tasting vegetable for the fiber – such as carrot, since I have already baked with pumpkin in the past. Too boring to do that again (next time, maybe). And then some spices … Calls for a dive into my spice shelf, with sniffling my way through all the jars and everything … Oh, and look, there are also hemp seeds! – So you see, this is how I concoct.

And I can happily say that she (who got the recipe at once) made these little thingies immediately and loved them. If you want to make them yourself, just go easy on the recipe – you know, it is a concoction, right? So, just switch nuts, seeds, and spices according to what you like and have in your kitchen. Also, you can add a little brown sugar if you want for some sweetness, because I made them sugar-free. As long as you stick to the veggie-egg-nut mixture in somewhat the original proportions, the stuff will stick together and taste good.


makes about 9 patties


100 g (3 1/2 oz) ground almonds
100 g (3 1/2 oz) shredded carrots (use a blender or kitchen machine)
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp hemp seeds, crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 dash of salt
1 pinch of ground cardamom
1 pinch of ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground five-spice
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
2 eggs (or flax eggs, to veganize)


Mix all ingredients together.

Form little patties with your hands and put them on a paper-covered baking tray.

Bake at 200 °C (390 °F) for 15 minutes, or until slightly brown. The patties should be a little crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Enjoy!

First of all, I want to thank all of you for your understanding, thoughtful, kind, and helpful comments and emails regarding my internal struggles about eating animal products. I had never expected so much feedback and so much kindness. Thank you all so much! Your words and thoughts are warming my heart.

My conscience is still very troubled, and I feel it will stay that way – some things just accompany me for years, and this feels like one of them. Although I have decided to go on eating animal products, this topic is far from being through for me, and you will read more on that on my blog in the future. Now that the pressure of not eating meat and fish again is taken from me, I feel much easier and motivated to try out new sources of good nutrients. So, I stocked up on some new (and finished off) goodies. As you can see, I am determined to try quinoa again (and again and again, until I finally come to like it).

~ in clockwise order: oat bran, quinoa, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds ~

After some days, my (admittedly quite died-down) appetite for legumes is coming back, manifesting in a pot of adzuki beans I currently have on the stove. And then, the most wonderful thing arrived last week …

I had never imagined I could like a protein powder that much! And it not only tastes good, but also makes me feel good immediately when drinking it. Energy in a jar! So, I have developed a habit to start the day with a protein shake, and this works very well and keeps my blood sugar level calm throughout the day.

In a more physical regard, my mom’s kindness is warming my body these days, because she knit a wonderful pullover for me which just arrived with the mail a few days ago.

I wear it a lot since the past days have been very cold suddenly, and I shiver at up to (are rather, down to) -10 °C (14 °F) whenever I leave the house. We even had a little snow, although it is nothing compared to one year ago.

I hope you are all well and warmed by kindness!

My parents and I are currently eating our ways through all the leftovers that have accumulated during the Christmas holidays …

~ munch, munch ~

What I think works very well is to combine leftover foods with something fresh, and make new dishes of old things all the time. Leftovers, in a wider sense, here also contain foods which my mom bought to make me happy (she did!) – lots of chicken, cherry tomatoes, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and the like – and which had not been prepared since everything else was so much, and thus had to be finished off as well, due to the freezer being stuffed already. Here is a little gallery showing dishes we (okay, mostly I ) enjoyed during the past days – and a recipe, in the end.

~ chicken with cherry tomatoes and leftover green beans ~

~ leftover venison and green beans with brussel sprouts and shiitake ~

~ chicken with leek and onions in tomato sauce ~

~ chicken with carrot tagliatelle ~

~ leftover venison and potatoes with brussel sprouts ~

~ roasted pork and shiitake with fresh cherry tomatoes ~

~ leftover venison with onions, shiitake, and lamb’s lettuce ~

~ chicken with turnip, shiitake, and sweetheart cabbage ~

~ leftover fish and potatoes with tomatoes and lamb’s lettuce ~

The last dish I made as a quick dinner for my parents one day, and all the fish and potatoes left from the Christmas dinner went into there. My parents enjoyed this dish very much, and I really take pleasure in cooking for them when I am here. Please feel free to use other kinds of fish and vegetables for making this, or tofu to veganize it. I just used what was there and had to be eaten.


2 servings


butter or oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
150 g (5 oz) salmon fillet, cut into pieces
150 g white fish fillet (I used cod), cut into pieces
3 cooked potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
4 tomatoes, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pinch of ground chili
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 big handful of lamb’s lettuce (or spinach)


Heat some fat in a large pan and roast the garlic until fragrant. Add fish, potatoes, and tomatoes, season with paprika, thyme, oregano, basil, chili, salt, and pepper, then put the lid on and let everything simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. By then, the fish and tomatoes should be done, and all the flavors should have nicely combined. Throw in the lamb’s lettuce and cook openly for a little longer if there is too much liquid you wish to reduce, then serve and enjoy.

Please share what you do with leftovers! You can choose several options, if you like.

The holidays have been cozy and filled with delicious foods again. The main Christmas holiday is December 24th in Germany, not the 25th as in most other countries. As usual, the day began with setting up and decorating the Christmas tree while listening to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

In the afternoon, my two grandmoms came to my parents’ house, and we all had tea and coffee together and talked, since they had not seen me in such a long time. For the ones who wanted, there were sweets to enjoy.

~ cream-filled Christmas cake my grand aunt had sent us ~

~ Niederegger marzipan chocolates, a delicacy from my hometown ~

With exception of the cake, everything was gluten-free this year: My parents both switched to a gluten-free diet several months earlier, due to my dad’s aggravating and increasingly harmful bowel issues. When the doctors recommended to raise his consumption of fibers by eating more whole grains and legumes, I had suggested to try a gluten-free diet first, to rule out the possibly he had developed a wheat sensitivity after getting bowel surgery a couple of years ago – thanks to my friend Panda who once mentioned that food intolerances can result from having an infection or undergoing surgery, especially in the belly and bowel area. In that case, increasing (gluten) whole grain consumption might have had very unfortunate effects.

I am very happy that the gluten-free diet seems to work for my dad: He has not had a single attack in the last half of a year, and has not been to the hospital, which he was every three or four months before, when he got the most severe cramps and obstruction of the bowels. My mom cooks a lot of potatoes, and sometimes rice or other gluten-free grains, and my dad eats gluten-free bread and the like. Now, my mom has made her traditional Christmas stolen with gluten-free flour for the first time, and an accomplished baker she is, she immediately found out that gluten-free dough is likely to need an egg more not to become dry and crumbly, since it lacks the elasticity provided by wheat gluten.

~ my mom’s gluten-free stollen ~

For Christmas dinner, we had fish this year – salmon and cod caught by my dad on his last fishing vacation in Denmark – with vegetables and potatoes, and a fruit salad for dessert. The fish was prepared differently so everybody could have it the way he liked it best, or try it all.

My dad had marinated the salmon with olive oil, lemon juice, and a Mediterranean spice mix, and roasted it in a large, heavy pan.

Part of the cod was breaded with a mixture of egg-yolk and gluten-free flour, and roasted as well.

The rest I carefully cooked with slices of fresh ginger, dried lemon leaves, and tarragon.

Sides were potatoes, green beans and carrots, and a green salad my mom just seasoned with a little light olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of sugar (northern German style ).

For the fruit salad, I undertook the task to deseed a pomegranate, and this was a great occasion to try out the pitting technique I had seen on a blog a while ago, and had not tried out so far (while being very curious about it). The idea is to simply cut the pomegranate into halves, and then holding one half with the cutting surface downwards, and tapping the half from above with a blunt object. I used a wooden thing actually thought for flattening meat cutlets (or so), and it worked amazingly well. The seeds fell out undamaged, and the whole endeavor could be done without giving the kitchen a pink pomegranate juice shower.

~ melon, mandarin, banana, and pomegranate fruit salad ~

I leave you for today with a picture of my Christmas dinner plate. In the next post, I will show you what happened to the many leftovers we had.

What did you have for Christmas dinner this year?

You probably know that I do not eat out very often (for money reasons …), and if I do, I usually order a mixed salad with roasted chicken. The annual Christmas dinner of the personality psychology department, however, is an exception – the professor is not only very kind and generous, but also an absolute foodie, so he always invites his whole department (the secretary, research fellows, PhD students, student research assistents, and the retired professor) to a very nice restaurant, and lots of delicious food and good wine are enjoyed for sure.

This year, the dinner took place at the restaurant in Heidelberg, and two weeks earlier we all received an email with a link to the menu (unfortunately only in German) so we could pick our dishes. I had to translate half of the menu from “Gourmet” into German … (Thank you, Google! ) I am sorry I did not picture all of the dishes, but I pictured at least some of them, and so I am proud to present you my first gourmet food parade!

The dinner started with the entrees some of us had ordered, and this one enjoyed next to me gave me food envy.

~ sautéed scallops with spinach and pine nuts ~

Others had pheasant mousse with truffel splinters on madeira jelly with lamb’s lettuce and brioche, or lettuce salad with chopped walnuts and requefort cheese. Everything looked very good.

Then, there was the main course … It took a little longer until the food was served because everything was freshly made, but the waiting was absolutely worth it, and meanwhile, we indulged in conversations and sipped on excellent wine ordered by the professor – red and white, according to liking. I only had the white wine, and it was just as I love it: dry and light, with a gentle, slightly mineral taste.

Of the main course, I pictured most of the dishes enjoyed that night.

~ turbot fillet with truffles and ribbon noodles on creamy savoy cabbage ~

~ spined loach cutlets with tomato basil sauce and ribbon noodles ~

~ goat cheese ravioli with tomato basil sauce ~

~ sliced duck breast fillet and chestnuts in cognac sauce ~

~ roasted pheasant with savoy cabbage and crispy potato puffs ~

The chef was very nice and brought me just roasted fish and a side of sautéed vegetables, without any gluten or dairy in it (for allergy reasons), so I could totally enjoy this dinner as well. This was my meal:

~ roasted spine loach and sautéed vegetables ~

I think this was the first time I had spined loach, and I was really pleased. The flesh was nicely firm and had a wonderful flavor. My friend (who also works as a research assistent) gave me a bite of her pheasant to try – another first-time experience – and I liked that one as well. It tasted nicely game-y and was wonderfully seasoned.

Desserts ordered where little cones of mousse – chocolate, passionfruit, or gingerbread mousse – that came with a garnish of different fruit.

~ my friend’s mousse au chocolat ~

During the course of the meal (that took several hours altogether), lots of good and inspirational conversations were had, and we also had fun rearranging the table decoration and building little artworks from it. Structure nerd, anybody?

~ as you can imagine, I loved the Smiley ~

~ I made this whirl galaxy ~

I am a little sad this was my last Christmas dinner with the personality department – my contract runs out by the end of December and I will not extend it since my parents can give me a little more financial support for the last months of my studies, and I want to go into another direction with my own research later. Anyway, I would not have been a student research assistant anymore by the end of the next year due to graduation until then. But the time I worked in this department I have always enjoyed, and it will not be forgotten.

Do you come to enjoy a gourmet dinner on occasion? If yes, what was the most awesome thing you enjoyed so far?

Two of my piano students are elderly ladies – one of them learns the piano from scratch, and the other one has taken up lessons again after many years of pausing. They are both very motivated and enjoy the lessons a lot. To show me their appreciation, the first one has given me a beautiful watercolor painting she made herself, that now hangs in my living room next to the piano and perfectly fits in there.

The other one likes to bring me a little something for every lesson – such as a bag of nuts, trail mix, or fresh fruit. For the last lesson, she brought an apple, a banana, and an orange, and since I have not established the habit of eating fresh oranges (maybe I should?), I knew that I would use that one for cooking.

When I thought about what to do with this orange, the idea of something Asian-inspired came to my mind, and with the shrimp I had just bought, accompanied by turnip that is just in season over here – and thanks to Chopinand‘s suggestions to pair turnip with Japanese flavors – a little gourmet dinner was born and happily enjoyed tonight. This recipe is also another tribute to Tammy‘s turnip recovery endeavor. I am so happy I made two servings so I have another one for tomorrow, because this turned out to be really delicious.


2 servings


butter or oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp of fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium sized turnip (about 500 g), peeled and cut into pieces
1 tsp dried wakame (seaweed)
300 g (10 oz) shrimp
1 orange, juiced (if you use organic, also add the orange cest)
1 tsp miso (I used brown rice miso)
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 big handful of fresh dill


Heat some fat in a pan or wok and roast the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add and roast the turnip cubes, then add a little water and the dried wakame, and cook covered for about 10 minutes, until the turnip is soft and the seaweed has unfolded. Remove the lid and add the shrimp. Stir-fry for a minute or two, then add the orange juice (and orange cest) and miso. Mix everthing well while cooking openly. Season with chili and dill. When the shrimp are done, serve and enjoy.

Do you sometimes cook gourmet meals just for yourself? If yes, which one was the last one you enjoyed?