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?

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.

Since I have moved to here and thus live 600 km away from my parents, Easter is the holiday I do not spend at home anymore. I usually visit my parents in March during the semester breaks, but a few weeks before Easter, the new semester has already started, and I do not go again then. Most of my friends have left already or stay with their families because they do not come from so far away, so I am usually on my own and have a quiet weekend. I do not mind at all, though.

This year, I am (still) sick – spring and summer colds are often so much more severe and persistent – and annoyed because I have missed two Japanese lessons, my exercise plans are currently on ice, and it is sunny and warm outside while I am stuck inside, often in bed. Once a day I go out and walk a little to prevent rusting completely and keep the mollusk at bay, but I must be careful not to overdo it. Happily, I do not have to go very far to have a nice walking environment. Some scenes from a walk …

~ a small castle in the city ~

~ people sitting in the park ~

~ bell towers everywhere ~

So you see, I am not totally inactive. My piano is here, I work on my thesis a little, do some conceptualization of characters and places for a novel I am planning to write (together with a friend, hopefully – more on that soon), and I have my kitchen, of course.

Something I always wanted to make but never dared is a pot roast. Naturally, I feel scared by big pieces of meat, and I am not used to cooking in advance so far. These are things I want to change, though. Meat and brown rice are good for cooking in advance (while I prefer veggies to be fresh and find them rather icky as leftovers), so I want to make more of these and was happy to find roast beef meat on offer the other day.

My mom makes an awesome pot roast – the last one of hers I was happy to enjoy was a venison pot roast she had made for dinner at Christmas. It was so good that I still have a picture of my plate from then.

~ I still drool when I think of it ~

If my mom says that making a pot roast is the easiest thing in the world, it is. Basically, all you have to do is roast a big piece of meat from all sides, season it with salt and pepper, add a little water and leave it alone for 1 1/2 hours. This is something I can do! My style, I also threw in some veggies, herbs, and spices of which I thought that their flavors might combine nicely, and the result was delicious.

Bay, Coriander, and Tarragon Flavored Beef Pot Roast

4-5 servings


ghee, butter, or oil
750 g (1 1/2 lbs) roast beef meat
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 onions, peeled and cut into slices
2 stalks of celery, cut into slices
4 bay leaves
1/2 tbsp coriander seed
1 tbsp dried tarragon


Heat some fat in a big pot and roast the meat from all sides over high heat.

When the meat is brown all around, season with salt and pepper, add onion and celery slices, bay leaves, coriander, and tarragon. Carefully add some water, until it stands about 2 cm high in the pot.

Cover and cook on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Let it cool a little, then take the meat out of the pot and drain carefully. If you like, you can clear the broth with a simmer, cook it a little further and add some sauce thickener to make gravy. Cut slices from the roast, serve with a nice vegetable side, and enjoy.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. You can reheat them, but they also taste cold and make a nice addition to a quick salad or veggie stir fry.

~ left over beef pot roast with a spicy bean sprout and spinach stir fry ~

~ leftover beef pot roast with tomato, bean sprout, and parsley salad ~

So, at least the food is a little festive for Easter this year. I am totally in love with pot roasts now and already think about the next one.

Have you ever made a pot roast, or do you have a favorite recipe to share? Are you going to cook something special for Easter?

I sit around a lot, every day. I sit in front of my laptop (writing), at my piano (playing), on the sofa with a book or a pile of articles (reading), or – with my knees tucked to my body – on a chair (eating). I also sit when working or attending a colloquium at uni, and when giving piano lessons (on a chair next to my student – who also sits – at the piano). When I do not sit around, I lay around, in the bath tub (bathing) or in my bed (sleeping). In a nutshell, I need exercise. And I spend too much time within buildings. So something has to be done about it. Starting today.

~ looking back at cute little houses on the way up to the mountain side ~

I am not a gym rat. (I have a gym membership and I go there every week – have I mentioned that I sit on the stationary bike or at some machine there? – but I am not the kind of person who hits the gym every day in order to get fit. To be honest, what I love the most about my gym is that it has a sauna. I also like that it has climate control what is very useful in hot summers and cold winters. Otherwise, I prefer fresh air.) I am also not a runner – an insight I have gotten after countless unsuccessful attempts to get into running. But I am a walker.

~ there is nothing better than comfy shoes and warm clothing in cold weather ~

I have always found that walking frees the mind and fosters creativity, and some of my best ideas when stuck with something I was working on I have gotten while walking. One of my favorite activities is simply walking around, with some lovely music on my ears – like this fabulous little piece by one of Sweden’s best Jazz combos. It is a tragedy that the pianist Esbjörn had drowned on a diving tour a few years ago. (If the embedded video does not work, you can watch it on YouTube directly.)

Moreover, walking can be great exercise and really warming it you walk energetically. The place where I live supports energetically walking a lot since it is full of steep gradients. Heidelberg lies in the valley of the Neckar river, surrounded by the Odenwald which is a low mountain range in southwestern Germany. You just need to follow one of the small roads that go up the mountain side, and after a few minutes it will turn into a narrow path that leads into the Odenwald.

To the right and left of the path, people have their gardens at the mountain side, where they grow apple and cherry trees, flowers, or vine, and many of them have little houses there. The gardens are narrow and steep, and every few steps you pass another garden entrance. Many of the gardens look a little shabby, but they are also lovely.

~ it was chilly, and there was frost up here ~

~ a lot of beauty could be discovered by the wayside ~

When you leave the gardens behind, the path that has led along the mountain side so far goes further uphill into the forest mountains.

After another steep ascent, the path leads to the regular trails that run crisscross. On these trails, you can go for miles and miles across the mountain forest.

By the way, this is one of Germany’s most beautiful half-marathon distances. It is also one of the hardest because it goes up and down all the times, and sometimes the running path is very steep for several miles. (Lucky me was just walking. I am not going to run this distance!)

Another lovely fact about the trail is that it is secure to use. I was walking around up there alone, in the late Sunday afternoon, and it was getting dark gradually. But I had not to be afraid for a single moment, because I knew nothing would happen to me. Every now and then, I meat couples, joggers, families, and other walkers. It was very peaceful. And there was not even a tiny piece of litter lying around. (I must admit that this is something I really like about Germany.)

A part of the trail is called the Philosopher’s Way, and it goes along the mountain side directly above the city. From here, you have a wonderful view at the inner city and the castle.

The Philosopher’s Way maybe is Heidelberg’s Venice Beach in some way – minus the beach. Seriously, if you can afford a villa up here, with a wide view over the city, the river, and the valley, you will easily be able to afford a stylish car as well, to get up to where your villa is.

~ some people appreciate steepness as a nice detail of their fitness regimen ~

Today I am in severe pain, but I have made the resolution to do a little walking like this every day, to balance my rather intellectual and physically sluggish every day life. I never had to care for my mind because it always worked well, but my body tends to go short and needs some more attention. And due to this little one-hour walk, it has as well started to call attention to itself, more than it usually does. (Did you know that you have muscles beneath your shin bones? I did not, but I know now. Even my arms hurt today. ) Anyway, this is the good pain.

How do you stay fit in your every day life? What is your favorite kind of exercise?