Thank you all so, so much for being so happy with me about the finishing of my thesis! I still cannot believe it is done (I am slooooooooowwwww ), and I am also still completely exhausted. I feel as if a mill stone has been taken from me, and now I realize how much I have been squashed into mash underneath it. I feel somewhat detached from everything around me.

Right now, it is just half past 10 pm over here, and I am on my way to bed already. Very unlikely for me – usually, I go to bed long past midnight. I even fell asleep in the tram today, and I was constantly freezing (what always happens when I am tired), so I will just acknowledge these signs and get some rest. (Please notice the learning progress that has taken place with things like signs and rest during the past months! )

And of course, life is going to go on with a vengeance soon again. I still have my remaining final exams to take, but before that, I have a piano recital next weekend for which I have been preparing as well during the past weeks, and some research projects that want to be taken care of. I am very excited about that! So you see, I will not get bored or wonder what to do with my free time. Too many plans!

For now, I will leave you with this beautiful little short movie my friend recently showed me. She told me that she had to think of me immediately when she watched it (and we have never even met in real life), and that she thought I might like it. And I did! I more than liked it, actually – I absolutely loved it. It probably is one of the most wonderful and touching things I have ever seen, and it made me cry (every single time of the 20 or so times I have watched it so far – this is from somebody who usually cries once every 5 years or so, on the average). I love the music, the design, and the story.

The little movie is called “The Silence beneath the Bark”, congenial to the silence I currently feel within myself. It tells about the trees … I hope you like it as well!

Now, it is bed time for me. Sleep well or have a happy day, wherever you are!

Noooooooooooooooooooooooo, I am not going to shut my blog down! (Not that this would mean the end of an era, anyway.) The news is that I finished my diploma thesis!

I still cannot believe it. This project has been a constant companion in my life for the last 1 1/2 years, and until recently, I honestly did not think I would ever wake up one morning and it would be gone. Today, it was that day. I finished it last night and already sent it to my supervisor, so he has something to read on his flight back from New Zealand.

I also cannot believe I wrote almost 39,000 words on test validation. This is the largest thing I have ever made myself so far, and it shall mark the end of the time in my life when I had problems to bring things to an end. The thesis showed me that I actually can.

The smileys are having a big party now.

This week, we have the carnival all over town. Traditionally, the carnival marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent – the word “carnival” is said to derive from Italian “carne levare” (remove the meat) or late Latin “carne vale” (goodbye, meat). (On a nutritional sidenote: I am not into things like that anymore, anyway.) However, meanwhile, it mostly means a lot of celebrating and partying (accompanied by the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol), particularly in the western, middle, and southern parts of the country. For somebody who comes from northern Germany and has not grown up with these traditions, it is a culture shock indeed.

I usually stay at home on days like these, but today I had an early-afternoon appointment with two friends at the institute, to bring our research project forward. This was exactly the time when the parade would take place in the inner city. So, the city was completely stuffed with people who wanted to see the wagons and catch the candies which were thrown from them. It was a hopeless endeavor to get through that crowd.

~ just looking at all those people fulfilled my (already somewhat non-existent) need for social exposure for the next couple of months ~

I had to sneak through the side alleys and approach the institute from behind, to get there at all. On my way there, I shot a picture of the river for you.

~ the trees on the hills are still winterly poor and leafless ~

At 3 pm, the whole city was drunk already, and thick walls and double glass windows did not suffice to keep the noise out that came from the street. Also, the basses were so loud that the whole building was vibrating. But three psychologists who are on a mission would not be stopped by anything. When we finished our meeting at 5 pm, the parade was over, and the inner city looked like a battlefield. I happily serve you the leftovers.

~ this is not snow, it is confetti! ~

~ these used to be the traditional carnival candies, I know them from my childhood already – so lovely they still exist! ~

So, I have survived the carnival for this year. What about you? Do you have carnival traditions where you live? Do you like street festivals like this, or prefer to stay away from them?

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!

One statement you hear a lot (or even most often …) in the context of healthy eating is to “eat everything in moderation”. You can probably tell from my cheeky post title already that I have my concerns with this statement. Please do not get me wrong: I am sure this statement is meant well, and I do not at all want to offend anybody advocating it. But to be honest, telling me to “eat everything in moderation” makes my toe nails roll up (German saying). You could also tell me, “Just be normal!”, for a similar effect. Let me tell you what I think is so problematic about this statement.

(By the way: This is your chance to visit the bathroom or get yourself some tea / coffee / water / wine now, because as always with my just thoughts posts, this is going to be a long one.)

A good starting point is to take the whole phrase apart. Like this: “eat” – “everything” – “in moderation”.

I will begin with the “eat” part. Principally, there is nothing bad about a recommendation that tells you to eat, particularly not when we are talking about healthy eating, but also in general. Not to eat (at all) would be a very bad idea, no? I also do not have a problem that this “eat” comes as an imperative, since we are discussing a recommendation here. So, the “eat” seems to be okay. Moving on.

“Everything” is a little trickier. What exactly is ”everything”??? Well, basically, “everything” can actually be anything – including light bulbs, a chair, your pillow, a brickstone, your left arm … Go figure. But since we are still moving within the context of eating (and context is important to make sense of a statement), I will be nice and limit this “everything” to anything commonly refered to as “food”. This again gets us to the question what “food” is.

~ they look funny, but … umm … seriously?? ~

You may remember that, a while ago, I made a post on what food actually is. In that post, I came to the conclusion that food is nothing per se, but that the meaning of “food” has to be actively constructed. (And there are several, sometimes contradictory notions of the concept of “food” existing in parallel at different levels of perspective, such as the levels of society and individuals.) Depending on how you interpret the term “food”, the recommendation to “eat everything in moderation” has diverging meanings. However, it remains problematic nevertheless.

On the one hand, you may define “food” as everything commonly considered as food. This means, “food” is everything (more or less) edible that does not kill you immediately after swallowing it, and contains a certain amount of calories. In this regard, it makes sense to recommend moderation, in so far as “food” also contains a couple of rather unhealthy things that should indeed be limited (or probably not be consumed at all – but that is another story, since we are talking about moderation here, which allows a little bit of everything). What is problematic here is the “eat everything” part of the recommendation, because literally, this means you should also eat the unhealthy things to some extent (but not too much of them, mind you).

On the other hand, you may define “food” as everything your body can thrive on. This means you narrow the term down to “real food” that serves to nourish your body and fuel you with energy. In this regard, “in moderation” is the problematic part of the recommendation, because why should you be moderate about what your body wants and asks for? This would mean you would deprive it of what it needs, no?

So you see, I have my concerns already. But we are not finished yet. You can assume the most problematic part is still to come … Also note that we have a nice increase of “problematicness” (just made up this word) with the “eat everything in moderation” statement. (Just a sidenote.)

You will have supposed already that the particularly tricky part is the “in moderation” part. Let me say I am not opposed to moderation in general. Moderation is related to balance, and balance is a very nice thing and, as far as I believe, also very important with regard to happiness and well-being: Nothing is good when driven to the excess. But I am also a psychologist, and this is why I am sensible to and aware of the fact that it matters how things are framed. For instance, the same statement can be perceived completely differently, depending on whether it is expressed in a way that encourages you and opens up a range of possibilities to you, or in a way that limits you and the options available.

To my mind, the word “balance” has a positive connotation, because it means something I consider valuable and beneficial to achieve in my life. However, the word “moderation” has a negative connotation, because it reminds me that I have to be careful not to overdo things. In other words, “moderation” (for me) is an euphemism for restriction. It actually is restriction in disguise. This is triggering for me because I am a very easy victim of reactance: I always want what I am not to have. (Do you remember reactance? I have covered that in a post as well, because I find the concept so valuable in understanding human motivation and behavior.)

However, to do justice to the term “moderation”, we have to differentiate it further. Moderation is not bad per se. But there is “active” and “passive” moderation, and this makes a huge difference.

Let me start with the nicer one, which is passive moderation. This means that you do not have to consciously control yourself to be moderate, since your body tells you to be so, somewhat automatically. Believe me (as somebody who did not believe this anymore herself, but miraculously relearned it during the recent 1 1/2 years): The body is capable of regulating its nutritional needs by authentic hunger and satiety. The word “authentic” is very important here, because there probably are certain foods that leave you hungry half an hour after eating them, or make you want more and more, the more you eat of them. But this is not actual hunger, just a blood sugar roller coaster reaction. All foods that actually nourish you will keep you satisfied for a couple of hours after eating them, because they give your body what it needs and do not mess with your blood sugar levels. These foods are, most likely, vegetables, healthy fats, protein sources, and probably whole grains and fruit (if you are not overly carb-sensitive). From these foods, you can eat until you are satisfied, and do not have to waste one thought about moderation. Imagine you just finished off a steak or a big slice of roasted tofu with a generous serving of mixed salad, sprinkled with olive oil and some nuts or seeds. Do you feel like having a second serving of this? Probably not, because the body cannot handle protein to an infinite extend, and the fats coming with a dish of this kind also contribute a lot to satiety, not to mention you are filled up by the veggies.

On the other hand, there are foods that taste good but make you want to eat more of them, so you have to stop yourself before feeling satisfied, applying active moderation. These foods are likely to be of the sugar-overloaded and simple (“white”) carb-heavy kind. Next to the sugar-fat combo that seduces you to eat more, foods of this kind usually do not have a lot of volume, so your belly will not notice it is filled up sufficiently until you have finished off the whole package. If you include things like that into your diet on a regular basis, moderation might in fact be an adequate recommendation, because otherwise you might end up eating nothing else. However, it also means constant vigilance.

~ why not just relax about food? ~

To be honest: I do not believe that it is a good idea to regularly eat things like that in the long run. The reason basically is that I am a lazy girl (I cannot mention that often enough ), and I want to invest my cognitive capacities into something else than pondering whether or not to eat a cookie, given I aready had some chocolate with my breakfast and am probably going to have a little dessert after dinner. I also dislike to feel uncomfortable, so I do not like to stop eating before I feel satisfied, and then struggle through those infamous 20 minutes the body allegedly needs to perceive satiety signals coming from the tummy, while tigering around (another German saying) in the kitchen and piling up food stress. I have done that for many years, and it was enough for this life and all the ones to come.

Instead, I want to really enjoy eating. I want to eat without counting bites or calories internally, or asking myself how much of the food I should leave on the plate not to appear overly self-indulgent. I want to eat my favorite things seven days in a row, if I feel like, without feeling bad and worrying about not having covered the whole range of “everything”. I want to think about food and eating in terms of enjoyment, satisfaction, and nourishment, and I never want to feel I have to restrict myself again. In a nutshell: I do not believe in moderation.

Maybe it is just me, tending more to the extremes than to the middle. So, this might not apply to everybody. I can very well imagine there are people who go well with the moderation recommendation, but what concerns me is that the recommendation is framed in a way that it seems to be for everybody indifferently. At the same time, it seems to express that those who do not go for moderation do something wrong. However, I do not think this has to be the case. Rather, everybody should follow the way that is right for her or him, may this way be about moderation or driving things more to the edges.

A regard in which eating everything is often especially worshipped is eating disorder recovery, and I want to devote some thoughts on that particularly. I have read on many blogs and in many comment on blogs that people who are recovering from an eating disorder often desperately adhere to the principle of eating everything again. This is okay, because in eating disorder recovery, you have to overcome a lot of food fears, and often also have to gain weight back. Eating everything again helps with that. And it is also true that the only way to overcome your fears is to confront them. In this context, that means: Eat the cake, chocolate, cream dessert, cookies, pizza, or whatever. I have done the same, and it helped me to overcome my food fears and gain the weight back.

However, at some point, I had to realize that this strategy probably does not work in the long run, because eventually, you have to establish a way of eating that is reasonable on a day-to-day basis. Just for me, I can say that the principle of eating everything in moderation is counterproductive in the long run, because it binds me to observing my intakes and measuring my servings of certain foods, and keeps me obsessive. I think I would not have been able to make progress with recovering, if I had not decided to go with real food at a certain point of my life. Again, this is me, and it certainly does not apply to everybody. Especially in the beginning of eating disorder recovery, it is essential that you overcome your food-related fears and expose yourself to them. Therefore – and this is very important! – choosing to follow a special diet is probably not helpful in the early stages, until you have cleared up all the psychological mess surrounding food. At a later point, it may be helpful, though. Remember, only when you are fully committed to recovery, and health is the driving motive behind your actions, you are ready to make responsible choices about turning away from certain foods again.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, but focusing on a selected range of foods that I know (from researching and trying it out) nourish my body and make me feel good, now gives me a greater freedom with eating. It allows me to throw moderation – or restriction – overboard, because I do not feel a need to control myself anymore. It does not make me feel like limiting my food options, because for me, the things I do not eat are not what I consider as being food for me, from a nourishment perspective. It also made me more excited and curious about discovering different foods. I now eat to fuel myself, and what I eat are things I really enjoy. I get the feeling of satiety during eating already, and most of the times, I do not even want for a second serving. But if I do, I can have one without worrying about it, since I know my body will want it for a reason.

Do you know the story of the very hungry caterpillar? This one used to be one of my favorite books when I was a child.

In the story, the caterpillar suddenly develops an enormous appetite – therefore, it is the “very hungry caterpillar” – and starts eating its way through all the leaves it can find out there (and also through almost all pages of the book). It does not waste a single thought on moderation, it just eats because it feels the need to eat. And it eats nourishing, caterpillar-appropriate food, to finally pupate and then become a beautiful butterfly. Maybe we should all become like the very hungry caterpillar a little more.

So, what comes out of this in the end? Well, I think we probably do not have to abandon the “eat everything in moderation” statement completely. But I would adjust to this one: ”Eat real foods until you feel satisfied, and eat the rest in moderation to your own responsibility, or not at all.” And my friend Rufus just made the great suggestion to make it a little more geared to individual needs, like this: ”Eat your real foods until you feel satisfied, and eat the rest in moderation to your own responsibility, or not at all.”

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.