Protein bliss balls (VGN & GF)

Life at work has been slightly hectic and somewhat overwhelming. This is because various unexpected changes (team- and job tasks-wise) have recently taken place and I am still trying to find my overall rhythm again. Since I have been getting home late and knackered, I see my time and headspace for the things that I enjoy doing and that make me feel grounded and at peace rather limited. Thus, if I am not away for the weekend I make sure to devote a couple of hours of my Sunday to meal prep. It saves me some valuable time during the week and makes me feel ready to take on the new week. I don’t know about you but I love to use my time during weekends wisely. Whenever I have a weekend free of major plans, I make sure I carve out some downtime/me time and I prioritise certain tasks that make me feel like I am more on the top of my game.

A few weekends ago, I wanted to make a snack that I could easily take to work with me and what you see in the picture below was the result: RAW VEGAN PROTEIN BLISS BALLS. The name could not be more appropriate as these no-bake balls really are mouthfuls of pure bliss. What a “cooking” accomplishment haha

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Even though this was only my second time making no-bake bliss balls, this recipe turned out to be so much tastier than the one I did for Christmas. I added vegan protein powder with chocolate hazelnut flavour and that was give it such a nice twist! This is an easy peasy recipe with only 4 ingredients. In less than 10 minutes you have a portable protein-packed and energy-boosting snack made of wholesome ingredients. So, without further adieu, here is the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 80gr pitted dates (I used Mazafati dates but you can use any other type such as Medjool)
  • 70gr toasted almonds
  • 15gr unsweetened shredded coconut (plus a bit more for the coating )
  • 7gr chocolate hazelnut protein powder. The one I use is made of brown rice and peas and it is from gold nutrition but feel free to use any other chocolate-flavoured protein powder that you may have at hand.

Directions:

  • Blend almonds in a food processor. Then add in dates and pulse until loose crumbs form.
  • Add in shredded coconut and protein powder and pulse until well combined. Knead together until the mixture sticks together.
  • Roll into balls and dip into shredded coconut (or in any other topping of your choice, such as cocoa or matcha powder )
Notes:
*You can store them in the fridge up to 1 week, or even longer in the freezer.
**You can also use other nuts, like hazelnuts or peanuts, instead of almonds. I am sure they would not compromise on the taste.

I am genuinely happy with how tasty these bliss power balls turned out: naturally sweetened, chocolate-y and slightly crunchy but still fudgey! I took them to the office and during a hectic week of work and it was marvellous to have them as a snack. They are just that perfect pick me up snack to have at work because they fuel you up without weighting you down, you know?

Even though they can be easily consumed as an “on the go snack on the go, you can also store them in the fridge and have them after lunch/dinner since they are a great bite-size dessert. Another alternative is to add to them to your breakfast smoothie/yoghurt/porridge bowl in the morning! I had a rushed morning the other day and as I did not have the time to have my breakfast at home as usually, I packed some puffed spelt, a power ball and a blueberry coconut-based yoghurt with me to eat at work (featured in the picture below). As featured in the picture below, super yummy and easy breakfast prepared in less than one minute!

 

Because this recipe is so quick and simple to make, I am sure I will be making it more often. If you happen to make these deletable grab-and-go bites, please let me know how you like them! 🙂 In case you have a different recipe of no-bake vegan bliss balls, please share it in the comment section below.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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Savoury chickpea waffle (VGN & GF)

SOOOO guys I finally bought myself a waffle iron!! I have wanted to buy one ever since my mom bought one. This is because I got to see how great it is to have some freshly made waffles for breakfast. Plus, it also reminds me of the lovely breakfasts in family we have in our balcony or garden every time I go back home for the holidays.

This is my most recently acquired kitchen appliance and I am over the moon with it! It is seriously such a breakfast/lunch/dinner game-changer!! It comes so in handy when I am having a crazy week with overtime and everything else we all deal with. In busy days, I surely prefer speed and convenience over anything else.

The recipe of the savoury waffles I am sharing with you today is something really easy that you can throw together in literally 5 minutes. All you need to have on hand are 6 real simple ingredients. I use chickpeas flour in place of regular refined flour for an extra punch of protein and because I personally love its taste. However, for a gluten free version, you can also use quinoa, buckwheat or even rice flour instead. Ok, enough of waffling around (pun obviously intended because I am that funny)! Here is the recipe:

 

Savoury chickpea waffles (makes two)

Ingredients:

  • 40 gr chickpeas flour
  • 5 gr psyllium husk
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • A splash of unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk of your choice)**
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

 

** I always eye ball it but I probably use around 30ml

Directions:

  • While you are heating your waffle iron, combine all dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  • Add in the wet ingredients (water and milk) and stir them together/combine them
  • Let waffle batter sit for 10 minutes.
  • Scoop a few heaping spoonfuls of mixture into waffle iron and let it cook until it stops steaming and the light turns on. I actually leave for another minute or so because I like my waffles golden brown.
  • Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Transfer waffles to a plate, serve optional add-ins and enjoy!

Note: I never use cooking spray or oil because my waffle iron has non-stick plates. However, please bear in mind that you might have to use some oil in your batter or cooking spray in your iron in case this is not the case with the waffle maker you use.

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I love to pair my crispy waffles with tofu scramble (you can find my recipe here: Tofu Scramble) but you can top them with whatever you like. I have also topped my waffles with some smashed avocado, sautéed mushrooms, capsicum and scallions and they tasted great.

Wish you all a great week ahead xx

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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

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

Baked pumpkin cinnamon oatmeal (VGN & GF)

My favourite time of the year – FALL – has arrived and this season calls for baking soul-warming comfort food recipes! Hence why I am here today! If you guys did not know already, I am a huge lover of pumpkin. I eat it all year around but… as soon as Fall arrives, I feel this huge urge to come up with new recipes where I can use it! I have been eating pumpkin nearly every single day and I don’t seem to get enough of it haha what can I say..? It is too big of a love!! I will certainly be sharing some fall-inspired recipes with pumpkin. So, my friends, please get ready for tons and tons of pumpkin everything!

Oatmeal is one of my favourite go-to breakfasts. I find it to be so satisfying and comforting, regardless of how hot or cold might be outside. Plus, you can really get creative with it according to what you’re craving: spices, seeds, nuts, dried or fresh fruits, nut butters…whatever floats your boat! Nevertheless, if I am at home and have the Sunday afternoon all to myself, I usually like to try out a new recipe. For this reason, last Sunday I decided to twist up the oatmeal game and do this fall-inspired baked pumpkin cinnamon oatmeal instead! It filled my house with the cosiest aroma and, as the result turned out quite good, I am here to share the recipe with you! It is easy to prepare and down right delicious. Plus, it is an easy make-ahead breakfast that is down right delicious and that you can enjoy all week.

 

Ingredients:

  • 70gr gluten free oats
  • 180 pumpkin puree
  • 180ml almond milk (I used the unsweetened roasted almond milk from Alpo but if you want to make it sweeter, you can use the regular version instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • A handful of cacao nibs
  • A handful of any kind of nuts: pecan, walnuts, pumpkin, almonds… (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl
  2. Once the ingredients are well incorporated, pour the mixture into a baking dish
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until the oats become tender and the liquid tick.
  4. Cut it into slices or squares and serve warm or store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Leftovers are just as good as reheated! 🙂

 

For a perfect final touch, you can drizzle your slice with maple syrup or even a plant-based milk (I reckon that adding a splash of almond or coconut milk would make it even tastier!), add a spoonful of coconut yogurt and/or fruit on top if you like.

 

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This breakfast recipe is just perfect for rushed mornings because all you need to do it to pull out a serving, pop it in the oven or microwave, then add any toppings you like to finish it off! It is filling, heart-healthy and wholesome. Please do let me know in the comments if you make it or if you have a similar recipe of baked oatmeal! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Tofu Scramble

Nothing beats a slow and steady weekend brunch at home with your beloved one(s)!♥ It was so wonderful to slowly wake up to a bright and sunny day this morning and since my boyfriend was at home, I decided to treat him (well, treat us..) to an entirely homemade brunch. Since my boyfriend is British, I promised that I’d include a sort of vegan English breakfast in our brunch. Gladly, he was not disappointed with the result. *phew*

So, today I am here to share my absolute favourite brunch staple: TOFU SCRAMBLE!! It is not only super easy and quick to prepare but it is also very nutritious due to its high protein content and 0% cholesterol.

The recipe below includes the basics I usually use often but you are free to play around with the spices and use any veggies you have left in the fridge.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 200g firm tofu
  • 1 small thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 red, yellow or orange pepper diced (I actually used a mix of the three)
  • A big handful of spinach leaves
  • 50 gr mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1/4 finely sliced leek
  • Fresh parsley to garnish

 

  • Seasonings:
    • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
    • 2 tablespoons of nutrional yeast
    • Cracked black pepper to taste
    • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Start by pressing the tofu, which increases its capacity to absorbe any flavourings and seasonings added to it. You can leave it draining with something heavy on top for about 10-15 minutes
  • While the tofu is draining, you can prepare and chop all the veggies.
  • Warm a skillet over medium heat with some water on it. Once hot, you may add the already thinly sliced onion and pepper(s) and saute until fragrant (about 3 to 5 minutes). Stir ocasionally.
  • Once the tofu is well pressed, you can crumble it slightly using a fork (or simply your hands) to get the preffered consistency for your scrambled tofu.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms, leek and crumbled tofu to the skillet as well as the nutritional yeast and the rest of the seasonings (make sure that the tofu is well coated). You will have most likely to add some more water to thin. Stir until well combined and let it cook it for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, until the tofu starts to get brown.
  • Serve immediately with some fresh parsley on top.

We served our tofu scramble over some gluten free multiseed toasted bread and paired it with vegan sausages. I do not consume processed meat-alternatives like this on a regular basis but it is good fun to switch things up every once in a while. Plus, I could not call it a vegan English breakfast without the sausages, could I?

If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments how you like it! 🙂

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Small remark: I always buy organic tofu and would advise everyone to do it since, from what I have read, non-organic tofu is most likely genetically-modified and sprayed with toxic chemicals, which is just stuff our bodies do not need.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

SNCKBR, Utrecht (Holland)

Heya x I hope you are all doing great on this fine Wednesday!

I have recently got the chance to go to the largest vegan restaurant in Europe (that just so happened to open in Utrecht) and I would like to share my review with you.

As you can imagine, I got extremely excited with the news that SNCKBR, the largest fully plant-based restaurant in Europe, was going to open in the Dutch city where I live in! As my curiosity spiked as soon as I read these news, I decided to read more into it. So, apparently the workwear of the personnel is fair trade, the restaurant’s interior is completely leatherless, all the ingredients used are sustainable (i.e. biologically grown whenever possible) and all dishes are free from refined sugar and E-numbers. Pretty awesome, right?

As my boyfriend was coming to visit within just a couple of weeks, I decided to wait for him to try this new vegan place in town. After all, great food tastes even better when shared with great people, right? ♥ Even though my boyfriend is a meat eater, when I told him about how cool the whole concept of this restaurant sounded, he said that he was totally in for it (possibly due to seeing my over the top excitement but oh well …haha)!

We went to SNCBR on Saturday for a sort of brunch. As soon as we got in, the first thing that struck my attention was the decor. I am of the opinion that a great interior can do to a cafe or restaurant as much as great food/drinks can. Despite its quite discrete exterior, the interior is well-designed and the seating is super lush! I loved the trendy vibe created by the decor neon lighting. I must also add that you would never say that the restaurant is so big that it has actually space for 110 people just from looking from outside. What a hidden gem!

Food

First of all, I found the menu to be quite creative and unique, offering a diverse selection of plant-based starters, mains, sides and desserts. Contrary to what the restaurant’s name may suggest, this is definitely not a typical snackbar. The menu offers some healthy comfort food options, such as steamed bar buns filled with eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables or cauliflower/pumpkin and sage pizzas! It took us quite some time to choose what to order because there were several dishes that we were eager to try! After careful consideration and much thought, we finally made up our minds and ordered our food.

Here it is:

imageImage-2.png-6Image.png-5The way the food was presented ,clean, appetising and just beautiful, left mesmerised.

 

My boyfriend ordered a no-chicken wrap, which consisted of a tortilla filled with crunchy vegan soya-based “chicken”, guacamole, tomato, iceberg lettuce leaves and tomato salsa & a side of fries with truffle mayonnaise. He said that his wrap was average at best. It was good but not incredibly good if you know what I mean. He was especially disappointed with the tomato salsa, which was not very rich or spicy as it should. However, he really loved the crispy (not soggy) fries with the truffle mayo.

I ordered some pecking “luck” (not duck!) pancakes that came with marinated soya chunks, sliced spring onions, cucumber, pretty edible flowers and plum sauce.  The pancakes were perfectly made: thin and not greasy (just how I like them to be). When it comes to the soya protein chunks, I must say that, sadly, I was not that impressed. Even though they had a lot of seasoning, I found them to be quite dry. Despite not being big on sauces, the plum sauce was so good that made it all taste much better. I also ordered some grilled veggies as a side and, contrary to the soya protein chunks, their taste did not fail to fulfil my expectations.

We also shared some yummy gyozas filled with shitake mushrooms, miso seasoned tofu, Chinese cabbage and Vietnamese sauce. They were my favourite! So scrumptious, rich in flavour and, from far, one of the best that I have ever eaten! I love gyozas sooo much that I could seriously make an entire meal out of them! #sorrynotsorry

It is also worth mentioning that, for those of you who are allergic, intolerant or simply avoid gluten, eating here would not be a problem at all since the menu has various options free from it. One great convenience regarding the menu is that it not only indicates the dishes containing gluten, but it also clearly points out which dishes contain nuts, peanuts and soja.

Service/Staff

The overall service provided by the staff could have been better to be honest. It was rather slow (even though they were not that busy). This is something I normally don’t mind much because it may be just a sign that the chef is putting all his love, care and attention in the dishes he/she is cooking. However, when we realised that the waitress forgot to bring the fries that we ordered and pointed it out, she was not even apologetic… Of course that the sort of negligent service we experienced might have just been an exceptional case, rather than the norm.

Location

The restaurant location is absolutely great! It is right in the city centre, super close to the Utrecht Central Station.

Price

Even though our portions’ size were reasonably good, I found the overall prices to be a little bit over the top. Just to give you an idea, the price of the wrap was 12,95€, which I find quite pricey given what it is.

 

That being said, I don’t want my mixed opinions on the food and service to be deceiving or put you off. I think that it is great to have a fully-plant based restaurant in town; particularly one offering a good variety of healthy (and ok less healthier) food options that are also original and different than the “typical” vegan dishes you would normally expect to find at a vegan restaurant/cafe (e.g avocado/hummus toasts, curries or buddha bowls). I am definitely going to go back to SNCBR so I can try other dishes! 🙂 I feel like only then will I be able to fully make my mind about this restaurant.  have recently changed their thing worth mentioning is the fact that they change the menu regularly. Hence I am sure that I will be extremely eager and excited to try a new bunch of dishes when I next go there!

Just to wrap it up, I think that due to being opened for just a few months, SNCKBR has still some untapped potential, which, in my opinion, is bound to change as time goes by. Thus, if you happen to be around, whether you are vegan or not, do go to this restaurant and try some of their food. I doubt you will regret it. Plus, I am all for supporting any projects and businesses with true soul behind and that strive to make real positive impact on the community.

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*Two things worth noting:

  • This restaurant has also two other branches in Holland. One is located in Amsterdam and the other one in Eindhoven. However, the one in Utrecht is the only one that is 100% vegan.
  • The kitchen closes at 9pm

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful