Silicone freezer bags – an easy and convenient swap

It is not news that pretty much everything we do has an impact on the environment, e.g. the food we eat, the things we buy, the transports we use (private or public), and the list goes on. Thus, I think that it goes without saying that one of the best ways to treasure our planet – the only home we have – is to be mindful about our day-to-day purchases and actions. If you are one of my regular readers, you would know that environmental sustainability is something I personally care about. A lot. And if I want to be overall more eco-friendly and do more for the planet, then reducing my waste load (in particular plastic waste) seems like the first and most logical step to take. That being said, as an attempt to lighten my ecological footprint and avoid single use plastic, I have been trying to find plastic-free alternatives to my everyday products. And that is the main reason why I am writing this post today.

I would like to tell you about the current undisputed star in my kitchen. I am so satisfied and pleased about this eco-friendly purchase that I just could not keep it to myself.

Sooo, I have been using glass and plastic food storage containers for most of my life. I find them to be very convenient to store leftovers ingredients/foods as well as fresh produce like cut-up fruits and veggies. As someone who cooks nearly everyday and likes to use the weekend for some meal prepping, I find freezers to be one of the greatest man inventions ever. However, given the small size of my freezer, I struggle to find enough space to fit it all. The problem of food storage containers is that they just take up too much space, which forces me to limit how much meals and foods I can prep for the week. Of course that I could use regular plastic bags but that would just go against what I strive for: a low impact lifestyle. Thus, the limited storage of my freezer led me on a quest for a better, more practical but still environmentally-friendly alternative to regular food storage containers and plastic bags. I am so happy to have “stumbled upon” on food storage bags made of silicone! This turned to be such an easy and convenient swaps guys and you can find below in detail all the reasons why.

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Advantages of silicone food storage bags:

  • The bags are made of food grade silicone, which is a non-toxic material free of BPA, latex, lead and phthalates. Thus, a safer plastic alternative for our health
  • Since this material is also an abundant natural resource, they are a more ecologic and sustainable plastic alternative for the planet
  • Silicone is sturdy and resistant to extreme temperatures, making it a long lasting alternative to plastic. These bags can be reused over and over again without really  cracking, peeling, drying out or becoming brittle.
  • Self-sealing convenience, which makes them leakproof (great for clumsy and accident-prone people like me haha)
  • Semi transparency of the material, making it possible to see what is stored in the bags
  • Light weight, which makes them super convenient to transport and have on the go
  • They do not take much space due to the material malleability and being airtight
  • Very easy to clean
  • They are odourless (a feature for those who are quite sensitive to smells would be happy to know I guess? haha)
  • Pretty affordable price. I got these 4 bags for 7 pounds on Amazon, which I find it to be a pretty good deal. I mean, is it not great when you can help save the planet without having to go broke while doing it so?

Changes of habits can be challenging at first but they get easier over time. However, I think that once we start to open our eyes to the great impact that our lifestyle choices may have on our planet and all living things, we begin to choose differently. I have embarked on this journey towards living a more sustainable and eco lifestyle about two years ago and I feel like this is a lifetime commitment. There is a lot of learning, exploring, experimenting and trial and error involved but it does give me a sense of purpose, you know? I am not sure how to put it into words but I just find it rewarding to implement certain changes in my life when I know that they are the right thing to do for the planet and generations to come.

I hope you have found this post somewhat informative and useful. Do you have Were you aware of their existence? As always, I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts about these eco-friendly freezer bags? Were you already aware of their existence? Do you have them already or are they in your wish list? What are other sustainable items you have bought and recommend? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂
Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary)

I flew to Budapest at the end of last year to meet my best friend, who is currently living in Germany. When we were University students and flatmates living in Lisbon we used to say “once we start making money, we will travel together to all the places we have dreamed of and it will be just epic”. Now that the time has come, I am so happy to see that we are actually making happen what we our younger selves once promised. This was our first time in Hungary and our very first trip abroad together and it could not have been more amazing or memorable really. It exceeded both our expectations. ♥

Even though my bestie eats everything and does not have any special dietary requirements like I do, she is also a huge foodie who is always keen on trying new foods! I really admire her love for food in general. She is great cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen, which I find to be quite inspiring. I showed her the list of cafes and restaurants that I wanted to visited and that I compiled prior to our trip. Gathering a list of cafes and food spots that seem to be unique/characteristic in the way they look or in the vegetarian/vegan food they serve is something I always do before traveling! 🙂  It was a real joy to see that she was as excited as I was to go to all the spots I have looked up.. and as a result, we got to eat so much good food in amazing looking places!

After a long walk by the Danilo in the freezing cold, we were ready for a sweet treat and a hot beverage to warm us up. Hence, we decided to stop by the cafe “Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro” before heading to the thermal baths. This cafe was in my list due to its mouth-drooling raw sweet treats and that whole idea seemed just perfect since we were way too cold and in much need of a break from all the walking. As I have mentioned before here, raw vegan cheesecakes are my kind of dessert. They are usually very rich in flavour, creamy and not too sweet. They are also normally made mainly with real and simple ingredients, like nuts and fruits, which I absolutely love.

 

My friend ordered a cappuccino with coconut milk and I ordered a hibiscus tea that came in a big cuppa! It fell like a huge hug coming from a cup. We also ordered these two slices of vegan raw cheesecake (gluten free and only naturally sweetened) to share. And yes, they were as good as they look. * win win *

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If I remember well, these were flavours of the cheesecakes we ordered: Dried apricot and Chocolate & Pomegranate and Raspberry cheesecake.

There was a wide variety of them, which just made it harder to decide which ones to get. Anyhoo, we were both very happy and satisfied with our choices. They were not only aesthetic pleasing but also pretty sinful.

About the cafe and service offered

I found the cafe to be slightly overpriced (certainly more expensive than most places in Budapest) and perhaps a little bit overhyped too. It is a small cute cafe with tasty vegan sweet treats but it seems like it is just lacking in soul. It is not exactly the food spot that I would describe as cozy or inviting.  The entire atmosphere is a bit “meh” and the fact that there is not a real coffee espresso machine, makes it all seem a bit amateurish. Also, the staff did not come across as being very welcoming, friendly or even passionate about her work. This was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing to experience. I mean, do not get me wrong, we still enjoyed to come here due to the delicious sweet treats and hot beverages we had. They hit the spot and were just what we needed but I feel like this would not be a honest review if I did not mention the less positive sides of the service.

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All in all, I think that the place is just not being explored to its full potential. It is a real shame because the food concept is attractive (i.e. all 100% plant-based, raw and gluten free food ) and the menu offers a good variety of healthy and nourishing savoury dishes and sweet treats. Plus, it is in a fairly central and popular area (near the Parliament).

From what I have looked up online,Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro was actually the first 100% raw vegan restaurant opening in Hungary. I am glad I had the chance to visit it and I have now formed an opinion by having experienced it first-hand. I’d still recommend this place in to any person who happens to be in Budapest and is curious about raw vegan food and/or who is a cheesecake lover.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My month of January in review

Well. January just flew by like a fastball. It is crazy how the first month of the new year is already done. Time seems to be speeding up as I grow older and older… Or is it just me? Anyway, as February is already here, I thought I would share with you some of my last month’s highlights. I always like to take time to reflect on the previous month as it improves my self-awareness and provides perspective.

Personal highlight of the month:

After being in a long-distance relationship for nearly 5 years, my boyfriend has left his home country – England – and moved in with me. It was about time! Now we will be both living and working in The Netherlands. We are both so darn happy and grateful for this huge change in our lives and relationship. This really goes to show that great things take time. ♥

Most exciting purchase:

Flights to London. My sister is having her graduation ceremony in May and I finally got to buy the plane tickets so I can be there to congratulate her in person. She finished her PhD from Imperial London College and I could not be more proud of her. Seriously.

Favourite ethical purchase:

Freezer bags made of silicone grade food, another small step towards using less plastic in my day-to-day life. I am so pleased with this purchase! Because the material is odourless and non-toxic (free of bpa, latex, lead and phthalates), it is a more sustainable and safer plastic alternative both for the planet and our health. Other characteristics of these bags that I am very pleased about are their self-sealing convenience, transparency of the material (i.e. you can easily see what is stored in them), light weight (i.e. easy to transport). They also don’t take much space at all, which is great given the fact that my freezer is not very big. Plus, as they are sturdy and resistant to extreme temperatures, you can just reuse them with no issues whatsoever. For those wondering, I got these silicone freezer bags from Amazon and totally recommend.

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Favourite book:

The Undutchables: An Observation of the Netherlands, Its Culture and Its Inhabitants by Colin White and Laurie Boucke. As an expat living in The Netherlands, I find this book to be unbelievably humorous and entertaining! I think that it is the kind of book that someone who is interested in learning more about the Dutch culture would find very interesting and insightful to read. It captures many of the funny quirks of the Dutchies at the same that presents them in a very funny and authentic way.

 

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Favourite song:

Mumford and sons – Guiding Light.

I know, I know. It is not exactly a new tune but it is so lovely and pleasing to the ear.

Favourite movie:

“Johny English strikes again”. Any comedy movie with Rowan Atkinson is a must-watch for me! I watched it right on the first day of the year and it made me start 2019 on a “positive” note if you know what I mean. My boyfriend and I had a really great laugh. Is it not laughter the best medicine and therapy one can have?

Favourite homemade dinner:

BBQ pulled jackfruit tacos. Yes, oh yes.

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Jackfruit is one of my favourite meat replacements and I had been wanting to make this recipe for a loooong looong time. I am so glad and happy with how tasty it turned out. The boyfriend, who is a meat-eater, said that they were freakin’ delicious and he actually also said that both the texture and flavour resemble chicken meat! What a win in the kitchen! 🙂

Favourite memory:

One of my good friends from my home country came visit me with her boyfriend. She came exactly when we had the first real snowfall of the year and she got so thrilled haha! ..and oh well, in all honesty, so did I. I feel like it does not matter how long I live in The Netherlands for, I still get excited every single time I see snow. It is just oh so pretty and magic and peaceful.  Anyhoo, focus focus. As I was saying, my friend came visit and I made a reservation in one of my fave restaurants in town. We delighted ourselves in some lovely vegan Vietnamese food, shared some funny stories and laughed a lot! Both our partners came along and it was lovely to see how they just clicked and got on well with each other. It was a really great night and we got to build some new beautiful memories together to add to our 20 years of friendship.

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The first real snowfall of this Winter.

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All in all, a great start to the year 2019! 🙂

How did January treat you? What were some of your January highlights? Please let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

 

3 reasons to choose soy candles over regular ones

I love lighting up candles, especially when Fall and Winter roll around. There is just something so special and relaxing about a soft, flickering light. Plus, they just make any room feel homey and cozy. However, as I have been becoming more and more environmentally-conscious when it comes to my purchases, I could not help but wonder how eco-friendly were the regular paraffin-based candles I was buying. When I started looking and reading into it..well, let’s just say I was not impressed. This meant that with little deliberation, I went ahead and bought myself a selection of soy candles for the first time.

I was so pleased to find soya candles at Søstrene Grene , which is a Danish retail chain and one of my favourite lifestyle stores (especially for home decor).

Before jumping into the reasons why I think it is better to use soy candles over regular ones, I just want to make a brief remark. It is important to highlight that even though I believe they are a better option for the environment than paraffin-based ones, they are still not the most sustainable option out there. There are a few aspects to take into consideration when buying soy candles. As you probably have heard there are many concerns and issues related to the massive soybean industry, like deforestation (mainly in Brazil) and pollution caused by the heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers. Thus, I would advise you to try buying soy candles from companies that are able to ensure that the soy is domestically grown (which most of the times is), non-GMO and from traceable growers. If the soy candles are produced locally, you are actually supporting local businesses/farmers, whilst encouraging local agriculture, which is great. Now that this is out of the way, let’s jump right into the 3 major benefits of using soy candles as opposed to regular ones!

  • Soy candles are natural.

Contrary to paraffin, which is derived from petroleum, shale oil or coal (non-renewable resources), soy candles are made from soya beans, a natural ingredient that is biodegradable and a totally renewable resource. They, therefore, burn cleaner, create a negligible amount of soot and can actually release their fragrance easier and wider.

  • Better for your health and the environment

While burning petroleum-based candles toxins that are carcinogenic in nature may be released. Though, if the candle is 100% made of soy beans you can rest assured that, while burning, no harmful toxics are being released into the air you breathe or into the earth’s atmosphere.

  • Last for longer. Hence, more cost-effective 

Even though soy candles are generally more expensive when compared to regular ones, they last for a longer period of time making them a more cost-effective in the long-term.  Their burning rate is lower and up to 50% longer than regular candles.

These are the candles I bought at Søstrene Grene:

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I must say though that this was not my wisest purchase ever… As soon as I saw the candles for sale, I got so excited that bought them right away without properly reading the label. It was only when I got home that I noticed that they are actually made of 95% soya and 5% paraffin. So, I guess that this purchase ended up by not being exactly the  best purchase for the environment or health as I thought but.. lesson learned. Next time I will certainly be paying more attention and will not my excitement carry me away. Anyhoo, I am very happy with how good the scents I went for are – “twilight oak” and “sea salt rose”- and I am also very impressed with how slow they burn. Plus, each of them was just under 3 euros, which I find to be super affordable. All in all, I feel that this purchase was still a win when it comes price-quality and value. These soy candles are certainly a safer and overall better option than the regular candles I used to buy.

I hope you have found this post somehow informative and insightful. I believe that when you consider all of the positive attributes soy candles may possess (if sourced sustainably), you will not be giving up anything when you choose buying them over regular ones. You can find soya candles in all of the fragrances you’re accustomed to and they are just better for you and the environment.

Now tell me, have you ever bought soy candles? If so, how do you like them? Do you have a specific brand you like and would recommend? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Monday reminder.

As we jump into a new week (and soon into a new month), I would like to leave you here what I wish I was told last night when I was struggling to fall asleep.

You are a whole being. You are not someone who is broken or who needs to be fixed. You are not someone who is not good enough or unworthy. You are whole.

Where you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. Even if you everything . Trust the timing of your life and, most importantly, trust yourself.

Put your thinking mind at rest. (Over)thinking just creates problems that would not even exist in first place if only we were present. (Over)thinking just perpetuates resentment, guilt and pain. So, my dear one, take a deep breathe and know you are safe. Know that you are already whole. Know that you are everything you need to be.

 

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Red lentil dahl (VGN & GF)

The temperatures have significantly dropped in The Netherlands this past week. It has been snowy and rainy. As someone who was born in a sunny and warm country like Portugal, I must say that I get all excited when it snows! Well, except when I need to grab my bike and realise that I have my saddle frozen… that is just not fun. Apart from that, I love it!! haha It is such a beautiful change of scenery. Anyway, because cold and snowy weather asks for hearty comfort food for the soul, today I bring you my red lentil Dahl  recipe. This is now the third time I have made it (always using different ingredients and measurements) but this recipe turned out to be the tastiest. I was so happy with its thick consistency because a good Dahl is traditionally fairly thick. The boyfriend love it and so did I! 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram or you have been following me here for a while, you guys should now how I am al about humble comfort food, especially when it is thick, creamy and infused with fragrant spices. This dhal is quite simple to make, perfectly spiced and comforting. It will satisfy your taste buds and certainly nourish your body down to the core. ♥

 

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So, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 300gr of lentils, cooked
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (400gr) or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (or 2 cloves of minced garlic)
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp of turmeric
  • 2 tsp of ground ginger (or 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of fenugreek (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Vegan soya or coconut yoghurt (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils and soak them overnight in a bowl of water (see note)
  2. In a large pot heat 1/2 cup of water over medium high heat. Alternatively, if you prefer you can also use a tsp of olive oil instead of water
  3. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Once translucent, add in red pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is fragrant and has started turning gold. Then add salt, spices and turn heat to medium. Stir for another 3 minutes letting the spices toast and release their flavours.
  4. Strain lentils and add to the pot, along with water and tomatoes. Give a good stir, bring to boil, cover, and then turn heat down. Let gently simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are perfectly cooked and soft.
  5. . Afterwards uncover and check consistency. If it is watery, continue to simmer uncovered until it becomes nice and thick.
  6. If needed, adjust seasoning to your liking.
  7. Serve Dahl over a hearty grain like rice or quinoa; or pair it with toasted naan bread or flatbread toast.
  8. Garnish with chopped green onions, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of vegan yogurt.

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*note: whenever I cook dried legumes, I make sure to soak them overnight for optimum digestion and less cooking time. Plus, soaking not only neutralises anti-nutrients but it also increases the nutritional value. It breaks down the hard-to-digest carbohydrates and protein tinto simple components that are easier for our bodies to absorb.

If you give this recipe a go, be sure to leave your feedback in the comment section below! Would love to hear from you.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

A week of vegan breakfasts.

Breakfasts make me happy and they have always had. Whenever I have my beloved ones over, I like to surprise and treat them with a beautiful and delicious morning breakfast. After all, one of the best things in life is to eat food we enjoy with with people we enjoy. ♥

We all know how important it is to have a well-rounded and varied diet that includes foods from each of the main food groups (protein, fats, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables). This is because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients. Nevertheless, I must say that, I unconsciously neglected this for quite some time. I got way too comfortable eating the same foods over and over again and did not even realise how “limited” my diet become. Anyway, I got a wake up call last Summer and said to myself “enough of this. I am a huge breakfast person and as such I should be more creative with the foods I eat first thing in the morning.” I am so happy with the decision of switching up my breakfast game. I have been loving it and it is so freeing to finally make use of all the goodies I have kept in my kitchen pantry for way too long. Plus, by allowing myself to have different things for breakfast, I have noticed these positive things happening:

  • I feel like I am now able to listen to my body more and eat with greater intention and pleasure. I wake up, tune in and ask myself: “What do I feel like eating today?”. I think about all the possible yummy breakfast combos I can have and go for the one that appeals my body the most; the one my body craves the most. Food cravings are just our bodies communicating what they truly need and ignoring them should never be an option.
  • I wake up more excited and looking forward to my first meal of the day.
  • I feel more energised and overall upbeat after having it.

Here is an entire week of breakfasts..and, trust me, I was able to whip up all of them in a matter of minutes.

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Gluten free sorghum cereal from @Nutribex (details about it on this blog post Breakfast Cereals: Current Addictions) soaked in unsweetened almond milk and topped with fresh raspberries, coconut yoghurt from @kokodairyfree and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter addiction!)

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Oat waffle topped with dried red fruits, a dash of organic cinnamon and a spoon of dark tahini. For the waffle recipe I used gluten free oats, unsweetened almond milk, psyllium husk, baking soda and water. Even though the picture only shows one waffle, the recipe makes actually two. I’d say that the texture and consistency of the waffles need improvement but the taste is on point. Now that I finally got myself a waffles machine, I will be experimenting some new recipes (both sweet and savoury) and I can assure you that if they turn out tasty, you will be seeing them here soon.

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Toasted Breton dark whole grain bread with vegan butter from @alpro. This bread was baked and bought at my favourite organic local store and it is just one of the best that I have ever eaten. I kid you not. It is so wholesome and rich in flavour. There are no nasty ingredients added, only grains that have so many amazing benefits for our health, such as quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth

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Chocolate chia porridge topped with cinnamon and passionfruit. I have made it using gluten free free oats, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk (it makes it so creamy) and vegan pea and brown rice protein with chocolate hazelnut flavour from @goldnutrition.

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Sweet potato breakfast bowl with unsweetened soya yoghurt, toasted soya flakes, organic whole grain wheats filled with raisins from @wkellog_uk ,and a spoon of dark tahini.

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Organic and gluten free oat crispbreads from @jardinbio. I topped one of the crispbreads with coconut yoghurt from @kokodairyfree and strawbs , another one with smashed avocado, lemon juice, cracked pepper and arugula and the other two with dark tahini and strawbs. I ate 4 in total but one of them did not fit on the wood cutting board … I mean we do love photos of aesthetically pleasing food, don’t we? haha)

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Mini oat pancakes topped with coconut-based raspberry yoghurt from @abbotkinney’s, fresh raspberries and a spoon of dark tahini. This recipe is exactly the same as the one of the waffles.

*Remark: The mug you see in some of the pictures has my usual decaf cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk, unsweetened soya almond milk, organic decaf coffee, maca powder and cinnamon! Love it.

 

I hope this post has somehow inspired to get a bit more creative and switch things up at breakfast time! Because – and hey listen this carefully – you should never ever settle for a boring breakfast!

Breakfast should be an enough good reason to make you want jump out of your bed every morning! 🙂

*Brief disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of the brands I mentioned. Like always, I am just sharing what I enjoy. Plus, it might be useful to share the brands of the foods for those who might wonder 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful