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.
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.
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! 🙂
Sometimes it is hard to completely switch my mind off of work mode the minute I leave the office. Oftentimes it feels like I need an entire day just to unwind from a hectic week at work. That is why I make sure that every now and then I have a slow weekend that I can I use to fully recharge for the week to come. My first weekend of December was just like that. I had two and half days all for myself and trust me, they did wonders to my mind, body and sould. Hence why I am here today to share it with you.
I headed to the gym for an evening workout when I left the office and decided to combine my fitness session with the start of what I expect to be a compulsively readable and exciting thriller book.
After the gym, I headed right away to the Nederlands Dans Theather to attend/watch a dance performance from “Significant Moments”. A friend of mine was kind enough to offer me the ticket and I am so grateful for it. I was in complete awe with the group’s absolutely amazing performance from the beginning till the end. The human body really is capable of so much beauty and is just art in itself. I loved it all, from the dynamic, amazingly coordination and energetic pieces infused with humour to the show of lights, sounds and rhythm. A gorgeous concoction of ballet, hip hop, modern dance and acting. This is what I call “starting the weekend right”.
As I was biking my way home, I found myself in this cycling road and had to take a picture. The bare trees were looking so Christmassy and pretty with the fairy lights! It made me realise how I feel overall “lighter” and joyful when I allow myself to stop, look around and find beauty in the small things of life.
Morning Breakfast before heading to my cardio/strength training class at the gym: vegan and gluten free mini pancakes paired with coconut yoghurt and fresh blueberries. When I think I might fancy some pancakes for breakfast, I usually prepare them the night before so that all I need to do next morning is to pop them in the oven and eat! Quick, simple and without the need of rushing. I know, I know…they might not look like the prettiest pancakes but they were still tasty and crispy regardless! Plus, ugly pancakes are just as delish as perfectly golden and round ones!
Despite the gym class being quite physically intense (as per usual), it was still great fun! It is amazing how the instructor makes every class so entertaining with his cheerful mood and energy. There are moments when it does not even feel like you are working out. You just go with the flow, have a great time and end the class with a big smile (and ok a sweaty and red face too).
After my gym class, I caught a train to a nearby city, where I had never been before, and went for some much needed Christmas shopping. The city is called Amersfoort and is just 15 minutes away from where I live.
It was a short train journey but I still managed to do some reading and eat my homemade wrap for lunch. This is usually the meal I go for whenever I know I am gonna need a lunch on the go. It is simply a carrot wrap filled with mushroom-based mince meat from Quorn, green onions, spinach and cilantro. It was very yummy and it totally hit the spot!
One of my goals for this year was to explore not only more of Europe but also more of the country where I live. Thus, I was glad to cross another Dutch city off my bucket list just before the end of the year! Despite having been caught up in the rain and getting soaking wet (which is not that unusual anyways lol), it was a well-spent afternoon roaming and wandering around the unknown streets of Amersfoort.
I also got to explore a new cafe, something I absolutely love to do whenever I have the chance. The cafe is called “Barista cafe Amersfoort” and is it not so quaint and cozy> The staff could not have been friendlier and the atmosphere radiating Christmas vibes was so lovely and inviting.
I ordered myself a decaf cappuccino with unsweetened almond milk and a slice of dairy and gluten free toasted banana bread with cranberries, almond flakes and hazelnuts. The cappuccino was perfectly served and the banana bread just scrumptious. They both provided me that extra shot of motivation and, as a result, I was able to have a productive afternoon working on new content for the blog. I don’t know about you guys but I have always loved working in coffeeshops. I find that they enhance both my creativity and concentration levels.
Because I was enjoying my time at the cafe so much, I also decided to ordered a fresh ginger tea with lemon (one of my favourites).
When I left the cafe and made my way back to the train station, I managed to capture the last bit of autumn.
As it was super cold outside, when I got home I went straight to the shower and then put on some fuzzy socks and my comfy pjs. After feeling all nice and cozy, I made myself a nourishing dinner: chickpeas pasta, green beans, mushrooms, baked mustard tofu, watercress leaves and fresh cilantro. Just what my body was craving. I ate it whilst catching up on the last episode of “This is Us”. Any other fans of this show out there?
After a restful night of sleep, I woke up on Sunday morning and headed to the yoga studio, which is just a short walk from my house. I love doing a Power Yoga class first thing in the morning because it not only gives me mental clarity but also because it allows me to start my day in a positive light. Sunday is the only day of the week where I skip breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. It is advisable to practice yoga in the morning on an empty stomach. Having food in the digestive system can disrupt the overall yoga practice as it interferes with the rhythm of the body. Doing yoga poses take energy away from the digestive system and, if we have food is in our digestive tract, its capacity to digest becomes limited.
After my yoga practice, which once again did wonders to my mind, body and soul, I was craving some real homemade comfort food. So, as for my post yoga refuel, I had this bowl of couscous paired with a mushroom and cauliflower stew. I topped it all off with fresh cilantro, some squeezed lemon, cracked pepper and toasted pine nuts. It was so tasty and it just goes to show that plant-based eating does not have to be dull or boring at all.
One of the things I love the most about being at home during the weekend is to have the time to really tune in with my body, listen to the foods it craves and feed it accordingly. Plus, nothing beats nourishing our bodies with a homemade and hearty meal made with love and care, am I right or am I right? ♥
December is here, which means that Christmas is officially less than a month away and therefore it is most definitely not too soon to pop on a Christmas film and begin to feel festive! Yay. Plus, it was super cold and wet outside… and what’s better than staying in and watching movies when the rain is beating down?
I watched the movie “The Man who invented Christmas”, which tells the story of how Charles Dickens created “A Christmas Carol”. It is a lovely story and I recommend anyone who sees this season as special and somewhat magic to watch it.
Also, when the weather is not working in my favour, I love a good book to snuggle up with. So after watching the movie, I have finished reading the book “The Universe has your back” whilst sipping a cup of hot camomile tea. I absolutely loved it and it was just the perfect way to end the rainy Sunday.
This relaxing weekend left me refreshed and ready for the new month and for everything that it holds. How amazing is it that each month offers us the chance to start fresh, with a new mindset, focus and intentions? This slow start to December reminded me of how important it is to give myself a little grace, turn off my ” go go” mentality, put aside my to-do list and just unwind. After all, with our busy lives and only some precious little time away from the grind, we need to make every moment of our free time count. The best way to do it is by making time for the things and people that make our soul happy and our life more fulfilled.