Bairro Alto (Nijmegen, The Netherlands).

As you might have guessed from my other posts so far — I love to explore new spots with delicious food! A few weekends ago my boyfriend and I went for a Sunday brunch at a new place and I am here to share my thoughts about it.

What primarily brought me to this cafe was its name: Bairro Alto. For those of you who do not know, Bairro Alto is one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods in Lisbon. It is located in the downtown area and is best characterised by its cobbled streets. Though calm and quite by day, it is actually one of the city’s most vibrant and full of life areas by night. It has countless bars, restaurants and fado houses. Due to the small sizes of these places, people end up cheerfully socialising in the streets (most likely with a glass in their hand). This creates a very unique and special environment. One that I so dearly miss. ♥ Thus, as someone who is Portuguese and has lived in Lisbon for 4 very happy years, you can imagine how stumbling upon this cafe’s name in The Netherlands has immediately aroused my curiosity and interest to visit it.

The first thing I asked to the staff was if it was owned by someone Portuguese (yup, Miss Curious right here!) They told me that it is actually owned by a Dutch lady who has travelled to Lisbon and fallen in love with this specific neighbourhood in Lisbon. As someone who is  proud of her country of origin, this really has made me smile and has somewhat made my day.

 

First of all, I was delighted by its outward appearance. Pretty colours, lots plants and natural light. Seriously, does not it just look lovely?

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(photo from their instagram page)

My boyfriend and I went here on a Sunday morning and though busy, we managed to find a table for the two of us. It was quite crowded when we got there but it got less busy as the time went by. However, something to bear in mind is the fact that since it is a small-ish cafe, the seating space might be limited during the popular times/hours of the weekend.

Food and overall atmosphere

As we love a good cup of coffee, ordering a cappuccino is always a given. I ordered mine with decaf coffee and soya milk and my boyfriend ordered his regular. Both cappuccinos came beautifully served and mine in particular tasted wonderfully (a cafe with good quality decaf coffee gets extra points from me!).

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After having a thorough look at the menu, I decided to go for a toast sandwich. This is something I have been craving for so long! I can literally count with my fingers the times I had one ever since I stopped consuming dairy (5 years ago).

I chose the toast filled with grilled seasonal veggies, hummus and chimichurri sauce . In the menu this specific toast sandwich had goat cheese but I asked them if it would be possible to have it without. They said that they could do it for sure and proposed swapping it for hummus! As the hummus lover that I am, I happily said “oh yes PLEASEEE”.

Apparently they can make every item available in the menu vegan! How awesome is that?

I am so glad I could satisfy my craving with this toast sandwich that was both so rich and filling. The slices of wholegrain seeded bread were thick and flavoursome. The root veggies gave it that perfect crunch and the hummus added that creaminess that I love. For sure one of the most delicious toast sandwiches I have ever eaten. It hit all the right spots!

My boyfriend went for the smoked salmon sandwich with cream cheese, hard boiled egg and red onion. It came served with a mixed greens salad, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes and pine nuts. He really really enjoyed it!

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The food totally filled us up and we left the cafe feeling both happy and satisfied! Big win.

Another thing that I loved about the cafe was their attention to detail, something pretty evident in the crockery used. Just have a look at it:

 

cheeky and beautiful work of art ♥

I also loved how pretty it is the inside. Simple but still somewhat artsy, which makes the overall atmosphere great.

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Pricing

In general terms, I find Nijmegen to be slightly cheaper when compared to Utrecht and Amsterdam and the price we paid just goes to show that. My toast sandwich costed 7,5€ and the one of my boyfriend costed 5€. Quite affordable and “great value for money” in my opinion.

Staff and service

I found the staff to be super friendly, accommodating and chatty. They took their time to serve us but the wait was worth.  On our way out, I made sure to let them know how much we enjoyed our food, their attention to detail and the cafe overall vibes. They were pleased to hear this!

Though I only wish I had also given a slightly more constructive feedback. I should have called their attention to the fact that their menu does not come across as being vegan-friendly. There is not even a single item that is actually vegan in the menu. However, I did decide to go there anyway because of two reasons. Firstly, I was really really curious about the cafe’s name. Secondly, my previous experience with cafes/restaurants that do not seem to be vegan-friendly has taught me that I should not let the online menu put me off. It might not be up to date and oftentimes the staff is so accommodating that they will just “veganize” their food options for you. This is exactly the case of Bairro Alto.

Despite having vegan sweet treats available (that are not even mentioned in the menu), they are also able veganize every single of their food items (just like they did with my toast sandwich). Thus, I really think they changing their menu and website in a way that reflects the reality would just go in their favour. Otherwise some people may decide to put it off, which is a real shame given the fact that it is such a lovely cafe with yummy food. Next time I go there, I will let them know this for sure. I think that it is important to give our feedback, whether we have a positive or less positive experience. This is because, in my humble opinion, I believe that anyone who is passionate about the business he runs (or helps running) appreciates it

Location

The cafe is conveniently located right at the heart of city centre (at Kannenmarkt 6) and for that reason is not hard to find at all.

Just to wrap my final thoughts, I am very glad that this was the chosen spot to have our first coffee and brunch in Nijmegen. It did not disappoint in the slightest! I want to come back again to try one of their lovely-looking cakes and/or cookies and I am certainly planning to do so! When you add in the lovely and attentive service, it was an all round great brunch spot!

Thank you very much for reading and enjoy the rest of your day x

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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Top nutrition benefits of SPELT

As someone who suffers from IBS and who has followed a very restricted diet (mainly gluten free and low in fodmaps) in terms of quantity and variety for way too long, changing the way I approach food was certainly not an easy task. Quite frankly, it is a work in process to this day.

As an attempt of reducing my IBS symptoms, I have cut out gluten from my diet in the past. Subsequently,  this resulted in some nutritional deficiencies and in gaining fear of certain foods. As much as a specific food does not sit well with your stomach, when you leave it out of your diet, you are also leaving out all the potential health benefits that that food may have for your body. I have come to learn that micromanaging what I eat, demonising (groups of) foods and labelling them as “unhealthy”, “bad” or “off limits” is not the way to go. I ended up by wasting so much energy on obsessing over foods and it is simply not worth. We have so much mental energy per day and I realised that I could be putting it to better use.  Thus, for the past half year or so, I have been incorporating a greater and greater variety of foods into my diet. Gladly, I now feel so much better. I have gained more love and excitement for cooking new recipes and for experimenting with food. I have also gained more knowledge about what certain foods can do for us and that is one of the reasons why I am writing this post. I want to talk about SPELT today, which is one of the foods that I have introduced into my diet and that I have been loving to eat lately.

I personally do not think that it is beneficial for our bodies or minds to completely cut gluten out of our diets, unless of course we have an allergy or severe intolerance to it. Whole grains can play an important role when it comes to maintaining a well-functioning body and to having good digestion, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They are a great source of dietary fibre, vitamins and essential minerals.

If you are not highly intolerant or allergic to gluten, I would highly recommend you to give spelt a go. The fact that there are so many different ways of preparing it, makes it really easy to be incorporated into our diet. Plus, nowadays spelt is readily available in most supermarkets and in a variety of forms (pure whole grain form, puffed or ground into flour). You can can also easily find spelt cookies, crackers and bread.

Despite not consuming gluten on a regular basis because my diet is mainly plant-based and focused on whole foods, I do eat every now and then. I like doing it so because this way I am able to keep my diet varied, which is key to getting the right nutrients in and have a well-nourished mind and body. Being mentally and physically in a good place, makes it so much easier to succeed in life and find true balance and wellbeing within.

I don’t know about you but I like to be informed about the nutrition and health benefits of the foods I put in my body. Hence, after doing some research, I have compiled some information about spelt that I would like to share with you.

First of all, spelt is an ancient grain that has been around for many years. It is a subspecies of wheat and it was actually one of the first grains used to make bread. Despite not being gluten free, it contains considerably less of it when compared to common wheat. Hence why it is actually tolerable by many people with sensitivities. When it comes to its taste, spelt has a nutty sweeter and lighter flavour when compared to whole wheat. I personally like it more as I find it to be more rich in flavour. I have gathered the 5 health benefits that I considered as being the most important. So let’s just get into it!

  • Unlike wheat, spelt has a high water solubility, making it easily digestible and quickly absorbed into the body.
  • It is high in important minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin and magnesium. These minerals are needed for the production of red blood cells and for a well-functioning human body with a healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular system.
  • It boasts a higher protein content when compared to regular wheat
  • It is particularly rich in vitamin B-3 (niacin) and in B17, which is believed to be an anti-carcinoma, helping to fight against cancer.
  • When compared to wheat, it has a greater quantity of certain essential amino acids – namely cystine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine and neurotransmitters, phenylalanine and tryptophane – which our bodies cannot produce but need to be able to thrive!

That being said, I think we could all agree that spelt is undoubtedly a nutrient rich grain. So if this is a grain that does not cause us any abdominal discomfort or any physical health issue, why keep it out of our diets?

Lately, my favourite of consuming spelt has been in its puffed form for being so versatile. You can literally add it to anything you like: porridge, smoothie bowl, yogurt, granola, etc… One of my favourite go-to breakfasts at the moment is puffed spelt soaked in unsweetened soya yoghurt and topped with some fruit and/or a nut/seeds butter (see below). Even though I vary what I have for breakfast every morning and I love doing it, I know I could easily have this for breakfast 7 days in a row haha

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Breakfast this morning before heading to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym: Unsweetened soya yogurt, finely chopped fresh strawberries and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter obsession!). Easy, simple but so tasty.

I hope this post was informative enough to arouse your curiosity about spelt and I hope it has encouraged at least some of you to give it a try if you have not already. As always, I would love to hear your feedback on it. Also, if spelt is already part of your diet, I’d love to know what is your favourite way of consuming it. I am always on the lookout for new breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas where I can include it in a different way than I am used to.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Pumpkin and vegetable soup (VGN & GF)

It is finally pumpkin season and to celebrate it, I just came from the supermarket with various types of pumpkin (some of which are actually completely new to me). You should have seen me carrying them through the steep and narrow stairs (typically Dutch) of my house! haha but hey, they looked so cute and oh so pretty that I could not help myself! #sorrynotsorry Also, I swear they screamed “Please take me home with you!” and so I did (even though I have no idea of what I am gonna do with them because it feels like it is a waste to just cook them! haha).

Anyhoo, I am here today to share my pumpkin soup recipe, it is the perfect comfort food for brisk and cold Autumn nights. It is a bit different from the “typical pumpkin soup” because I added two of my fave veggies (cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach) to make it extra nutritious and comforting.

Whenever Fall and Winter come around, soup makes up my perfect staple diet for the week. I love to cook a pot of it in the weekend and store it in the fridge for when I come back home from work and gym feeling knackered during the week.

This soup recipe is just gently spiced with ginger powder and turmeric because I wanted to make sure that the pumpkin flavour shines above the rest. However, please do feel free to adjust the seasonings to your liking. My favourite thing about using pumpkin in my soups is the perfect silky and creamy texture it gives to it.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 200g carrot, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, peeled and cubed
  • 150g cauliflower, grated
  • 100g brown mushrooms (or any type really), finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 2tsp of ginger powder
  • 2tsp of turmeric
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill a medium-sized pan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  2. In the meantime, peel and dice the pumpkin, carrots and zucchini and put them aside.
  3. Then grate the cauliflower and put it aside.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the diced carrots, zucchini and pumpkin. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 10 minutes. Then, add the spices and salt and simmer for around 20 mins until pumpkin is soft.
  5. Turn off heat, and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth.
  6. Add the grated cauliflower to the soup and simmer it again until it becomes soft.
  7. Then add the mushrooms and spinach leaves and let it all cook for more 3-5 minutes.

….And this is what you end up with:

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A thick and creamy soup loaded with flavour! If you decide to make this soup recipe (which I hope you do!!), let me know in the comment section how you liked it! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Source, York (England)

I traveled to the north of England earlier this year and I finally had the chance of visiting the lovely city of York. Going to cozy and pretty cafes and trying new and good foods are always part of my travel itinerary whenever I go on holidays. In my opinion, one of the greatest joys of wandering is discovering that little gem of a restaurant or cafe along the way. ♥

After a well-spent morning exploring York’s ancient walls and alleys, we decided to stop by at the restaurant “Source” for lunch. This time was actually my boyfriend who looked up this restaurant online and I was super glad with his suggestion! 🙂 The cloudy weather got me craving some real comfort food and I must say that the dishes I ordered totally hit the spot!

The restaurant is conveniently located in the heart of the city and all the ingredients used are locally sourced. Even though Source is specialized in slow meats, superfoods and vegetarian dishes, they also have a menu that is entirely vegan. 🙂 Despite its simple decor and relativelly small space, the restaurant has a clean and inviting atmosphere with an open kitchen (a concept that I love) and comfortable seating. The staff was accomodating and friendly.

You can see below the dishes I ordered:

Starters to share (£6.00):

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Caulliflower florets roasted with turmeric, chilli and ginger and garnished with fresh rocket leaves and pomegranate seeds. They came served with a yoghurt dip. As I do not consume dairy products I did not try the dip but boyfriend did and approved! 🙂 *small remark* can we please take all a moment to appreciate how pretty the what looks like to be handmade ceramic dinnerware is? Love it!!

As for the main, I decided to order this mouth-watering and hearty ratoutille (£12.00):

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The ratatoutille consisted of oven baked aubergine, green and yellow zucchinis with a super yummy red pepper and tomato sauce. It came served with some traditional bread, which I kindly asked to be toasted since it was supposed to be “warm” according to the menu. It was absolutely scrumptious and its aroma would leave you drooling trust me. By the way, who would have guessed that my first Ratoutille would be in England, rather than in France? haha

Given the quality and portion sizes of the dishes above, I found them to be fairly priced. I must also add that we did have to wait quite some time for our dishes but as soon as they arrived, we could understand why. It was visible how carefully they were prepared. Plus, it was totally worth the wait because the food was just excellent and wonderfully presented. So, if you guys happen to be in York and want to eat some good food, I’d totaly recommend this restaurant. 🙂

 

P.S. I apologise for not sharing any pictures of the restaurant itself or of the dish my boyfriend ordered but I guess I was too absorbed in the moment and in my food that I totally forgot.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful