ByChloe (NY, USA)

Hi my dear ones,

I am back with another hotspot review. I have so many long over due posts (very diverse in nature) to share with you. I have been making a greater effort to be more present in this platform but it’s been busy lately, so please bear with me. Writing and sharing content here is something I really enjoy doing and something I want to make more time for. It is certainly not easy with my full-time Finance job, which entails working long hours during some weeks but hey, I am not complaining at all. I love both my job and this creative outlet. I just need to find greater work-life balance that allows me to do both. I am sorry for not being able to share my experiences as they happen but I hope that is not a reason to put you off from reading my blog posts.

Now, let’s get into today’s hotspot review.

I went to NY with my boyfriend last September for my 26th birthday. This was for sure one of the most memorable trips I have had so far. I loved every moment of it and we got to explore so many different areas of the city, such as Manhattan, Brooklyn and Ellis island.

Naturally, we also got to try plenty coffee and food spots (something we both love to do together) and it was so much fun!

One of the food spots that was on my list was ByChloe, a plant-based restaurant with locations in NY, Rhode Island, LA, Boston, Toronto, and London. I have actually tried to visit one of their restaurants during my last trip in London but, sadly, I could not make it. However, since this is an American restaurant chain, I am actually glad I got to visit it during my stay in the US.

Location and atmosphere

We visited ByChloe, situated in Rockfeller Plazar, and this is the perfect location if you want to quickly get something to eat before or after going to the top of the Rockfeller centre (or before AND after like it was our case haha).

The inside of the restaurant is fairly spacious, with loads of room to sit and eat in, and it has a super chilled vibe. Luckily, there was no line in either of the two times we got there but the scenario might be very different if you go earlier in the day.

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Food

First, we went to ByChloe for a quick snack because we were feeling a bit peckish and our time slot for the Top of the Rock was not until 8 pm. Afterwards, we decided to go back for more, which just goes to show how much we enjoyed it haha!

We wanted to try a food that was quite popular in America but still small-ish as we were not ready to have dinner yet. For that reason, we ordered a small portion of their Mac n’ Cheese to share and it went down a treat! The pasta had a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce and it was then topped with shiitake bacon and almond parm cheese. It was creamy and tasted oh-sooo cheesy. The shiitake bacon on top gave it that final perfect crunchiness. Yums! I still need to try to replicate this recipe because it was just scrumptious!

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After being left in awe by the amazing view that the Top of the Rock has over NY, we decided to go back to ByChloe for dinner.

I ordered the Kale Caesar sale with shredded, chopped romaine, shiitake bacon, avocado, almond parm cheese, maple-wheat croutons (SO GOOD!), sunflower seeds and caesar dressing. I usually order any dressings that my food might have on the side but this time I kept all the ingredients in my order so that I could try the true original version. I am glad I did because this was definitely a salad done right! I loved the combination of different textures and it was SO wholesome and packed with flavour!

My boyfriend ordered the BLT sandwich with shiitake bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chipotle aioli served in a 7-grain toast. He is not a huge fan of plain simple avocado but he totally approved the whole combo. His favourite part was the shiitake bacon, which I agreed that it was just to die for!

 

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Price

I found the food to be not too expensively priced for New York, especially given the great portion sizes. The small Mac n Cheese was $4.95, the Kale Ceasar salad was $11.45 and BLT sandwich was $10.95.

Service

 

The service was very efficient. We placed our orders at the counter, our names were noted down and called when our food was ready.

Good sense of humour and friendliness are the two things I appreciate the most whenever I go out to eat and ByChloe did not disappoint at all when it comes to this. The person who served us was super nice and funny. When I told her my Portuguese name, she looked at me very confused and with no idea on how to either pronounce or write it. My boyfriend jokkingly replied” actually her name is “James”. She laughed and immediately replied “Ok James, you both can sit down and I will call you when your food is ready!”. I really loved how she just played along (and for the record she did shout “James” when our orders were ready). 

All food comes served in recyclable and compostable packaging that is appropriate for take away. I understand that the food is marketed in a way that suits the New York lifestyle and that by using eco-friendly plastic free packaging, ByChloe is already doing better than half of the businesses in town. Nevertheless, I still find that to be a bit wasteful if you are actually eating in like it was our case.

On a more positive note, ByChloe is a restaurant chain that is mindful about the quality of the food used and is committed to use ingredients that are organic, seasonal and locally sourced (whenever possible).

 

Whilst ByChloe isn’t necessary in the business of peddling “ultra-healthy” industry (and it does not have to be), you can certainly still opt for options that are more on the whole foods side. If you are in the mood for something sweet, ByChloe also got you covered with their cupcakes, cookies or even their banana bread. All in all, there’s a wide variety of food options to appeal to everyone’s taste! If I ever have the chance to visit one of their location, I will certainly do so. Whether you are vegan or not, I would totally recommend you to check this place out if you are anywhere near the Rockefeller precinct!

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

My vegan Chistmas Eve meal

As per usual I have flown home for Christmas. This festive season as a whole lot meaning for my family and I. My sister, who is at the moment really into veganism, cooked so many different vegan recipes for the family. Her main purpose was showing mum and dad that plant based food does not have to be dull or tasteless.  on highlighting the benefits that a diet without (or with low) meat consuption has for human health and for the Planet. Subsequently, it seems like my parents have actually managed to reduce their meat intake over the past year! 🙂 *win*

My sister motivated me start cooking more new vegan recipes. I have this (seemingly endless) list of all sorts of plant based recipes sitting in my phone and laptop. Since I have been acccumulating them for the past year or so, one of my goals for the new year is to start giving them a try. Now I can see that I am totally missing out by cooking the same things over and over again (regardless of how much I might enjoy them).

Anyway, in this post I would like to share with you the vegan dishes that sis and I cooked (with the help of the entire family) for our Christmas Eve meal. Everyone seemed to love them, which made us oh-so-happy.

The most important thing whenever I go back home is to be reunited with the ones I love. At Christmas time, as our Portuguese tradition dictates, we do it at at the table. Eating together has been always a thing we do as a family but there is something extra special about it when Christmas rolls around. We all gather together around the table sharing delicious food and great stories, cracking jokes and laughing a lot. 💛 This year was no different. Despite some of the usual traditional dishes (not exactly plant-based), our Christmas Eve menu included various vegan dishes. My sis and I felt so grateful for having a family who is so curious and willing to eat plant-based dishes that they have never heard of; especially at such a festive time like Christmas, where eating traditional Portuguese food is a way of celebration in itself.

As a starter, I have made this oven baked fillo dough stuffed with hummus and cherry tomatoes and topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley (recipe from this the compassionatecuisineblog). It was the first time I made this recipe but because I liked it so much, I already did it other two times! #sorrynotsorry

As a main, my sis and I made this vegan portobello mushroom Wellington. It was just to die for guys. Its texture, taste, oh my.. I am drooling just with the thought of it. One thing is for sure, I will certainly be making it more times due to its huge success! This recipe is from boshtv. I am incredibly glad that my sis showed me this awesome youtube channel and website full of mouth watering vegan recipes. There is clearly so much passion involved in the work and cooking of the two guys behind Boshtv. They really show how easy and delicious plant based eating can be and inspire me to adventure myself more in the kitchen. We paired the Wellington with orange and thyme roasted heritage carrots with beetroot and toasted caramalised pecans.

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For dessert I have made bliss balls (made of cocoa, dates, peanuts and shredded coconut) and a raw lemon and coconut cheesecake. I have actually come up with this cheesecake recipe myself and since it actually turned out to be very tasty, I will most likely share it in a separate blog post.

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Now tell me about you! Do you also share a Christmas Eve meal with your family? What is a typical dish of Christmas that you usually have? What is your favourite food(s) to have during this festive season? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Slowing down.

Sorry guys. I know it is been a while but sometimes life just happens. I have been trying my hardest to balance my professional life with my personal and social life, which has been quite challenging. Trying to balance them out has forced me to disconnect myself to a certain extent from this online social platforms. Sometimes this is what we need: disconnecting from social media in order to fully connect with life.

The past 2/3 weeks have been crazy hectic. My full-time job, usual fitness routine and some other tasks kept me very busy during the week days and then some social and travel plans kept me occupied and active during the weekends.

I had days when I felt pretty overwhelmed due to being overloaded with work and some inner thoughts but I also had other days when I felt overwhelmed with pure happiness and love instead. Love from my partner who is always so thoughtful and supportive. Love from my family who is always so caring and helpful. Love from my friends who encourage positive change and help me cope with bad times. I could not be happier with my social life at the moment since I have had the chance of being reunited with my parents, boyfriend and some of my best friends in three different countries and in a space of like 10 weeks. Although the past months have been very fulfilling, they have been also quite intense.

I think that I ended up by temporarily forget that cramming my life full of endless to-do’s and plans can be also a health hazard. There were several weeks where I got home feeling absolutely shattered and worn out every single day. There were some rough nights of sleep that – perhaps due to anxiety and stress – did not allow me to wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. On top of it, because I had plans for every weekend, I did not really find the time to completely unplug from the day-to-day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I do not enjoy having plans in the weekends. I really do, especially when they imply lots of travelling, exploring new places and meeting up with people (which was the case during the past few months). my busy weekends have resulted in many new, happy and special memories that I wouldn’t change for the world. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that not having a weekend to myself for 12 weeks in a row left me mentally drained. I value alone time a lot and I need to have weekends “off” from time to time due to the breakneck pace of work all week long.

As I get to the weekend feeling often stressed out, reactive and scattered, sometimes all I want is to have some solo time to relax my mind, unwind my thoughts and recharge. Reading, writing, planning the week ahead, doing yoga and/or meditation are all things that allow me to empty my head and clear my thoughts. When I am able to do this during the weekend, I feel refreshed and can hit Monday ready to go. On other hand, when I have too many busy weeks and weekends in a row, things end up by getting purely overwhelming for me and, as a result, I find myself struggling to re-gain my control over and balance in life.

In order to have a balanced life, I need to have a handle on certain internal and external factors that I find very important. Put simple, internal factors are my mind; heart and health and external factors are my work; relationships with my boyfriend/family/friends and involvement in social events/fun activities. Even though both types of factors are interconnected, I feel like when I am too focused on the external factors, I tend to lose focus from the internal ones and vice-versa. This is exactly what I have been experiencing lately.

I had one of my best friends coming from Germany just to visit this weekend and we had such a lovely time together but now that she is left, this is actually the first Sunday afternoon that I have all by myself. I am devoting myself to  writing, reading and yoga, which is exactly what I needed to feel grounded and clear-headed. Now that I have taken some time to just slow down, reassess my life and re-prioritize, I feel like I have found myself again.

Although the upcoming two weeks and six weekends are not going to be as free and probably run as smoothly as I would like, I think it is time to slow down and take back control. When the pace of my life gets too fast and things get too chaotic again, I just need to force myself to stop, breathe and refocus. I need to make time for the things that bring me inner peace, calm and groundedness. After all, as Ghandi once said “There is more to life than increasing its speed”. ♥

Can you relate to this in some way? How do you find your balance in life? Would lovely to hear about it in the comments! x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful