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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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

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

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

Juice by Nature (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon and I was feeling like trying a new place in Amsterdam to have a good cappuccino and perhaps a sweet treat. I had already looked up Juice by Nature on Happy Cow and since it had lots of vegan options and it was conveniently located in the city centre, I decided to give it a go. I loved the place as soon as walked into it. This hidden gem is now on my top favourite food spots in Amsterdam! This is not only because of all the amazing vegan food served but also because of  how lovely and clean the place looks inside and of how helpful and friendly the employees are. They will most likely greet you kindly as soon as you enter and you can ask them whatever you want to know about the food options served (what ingredients were used, how they were prepared, etc..). They will happily help you on that. The entire menu is VEGAN and has such a wide variety of options; from breakfast stuff, colourful salad bowls, soups and sandwiches to refined sugar free sweet treats that are allergen-friendly and appropriately labelled as being “gluten free”, “nuts free” and “lactose free”.

I ordered myself a slice of raw carrot ginger cake. Though I have come across with various “raw vegan carrot cake” recipes online, I had actually never eaten it before. I even had a friend sharing her recipe with me,  but oh well, I never got to it (shame on me, I know). Anyway, as soon as I saw that they had it, I was just like:”yup, that is it. you are getting right into my tummy!”. It was the only slice left and I am so glad I was the one having it because oh wow, it was so yummy!! When it comes to raw desserts, the ones that I am most familiar with are cheesecakes, bliss balls and the like. As I am not much of a cake person (especially when they too sugary, fluffy and with lots of cream on them), this raw carrot ginger cake looked very appealing to me. Aaaand guys, let me tell you, it was extremely delicious: moist, mildly spiced and with a subtle hint of ginger. The frosting was so dayum good and not too sweet. The cake is made of real and simple ingredients like carrot, red fruits, spices (ginger, cinnamon, etc..), maple syrup, dates and cashews. I was not very sure about the combo of carrot with red fruits but trust me, it works perfectly! I paired the slice of cake with a cappuccino with coconut milk, which disappointed me a little bit. I like a good frothy cappuccino and this one came served with no foam on top whatsoever…Anyway, it was still tasty.

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It is visible that the people managing this place put a lot of love, effort, quality and care into the service offered and space itself. As the photos below show, it is so pretty, clean and neat. I love its nature vibes!

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As a bonus, the people managing Juice by Nature also care about the environment and do not support the single use of plastic. Plastic free straws are available as well as 100% recyclable napkins. All their takeaway food come in biodegradable and recyclable packaging.

So, all in all, and just to wrap it up: delicious healthy and high-quality food, chilled and lovely atmosphere, environmentally-friendly place with simply cute decor, friendly and helpful staff and affordable prices. There is really not much to dislike, is there? Thus, if you happen to be in Amsterdam looking for a central and healthy food spot tucked away from the hassle and bustle of the city, then come here. I am pretty sure that you will be delighted with all the vegan food options offered as well as with the inviting, clean and chilled atmosphere.blog 1.jpg

(coolest toilet door ever – can I have it, please?)

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Raw Coconut Lemon Cheesecake (VGN & GF)

Happy January and Happy 2019! Hope you had a great start to the new year.

Who is (always) in for some yummy raw vegan cheesecake? *hand raised*

I have made this cheesecake recipe both for Christmas and New Years and as it turned out to be a lovely creamy tangy sweet treat, I decided to come here to share it with you.

This is an easy no bake dessert with a date-almonds crust and a lemon-coconut-cashew filling. It is entirely vegan and somewhat allergy-friendly since it contains no gluten or dairy. It is also refined sugar free for those of you who like to go for naturally sweetened desserts. I must say that I do not have the biggest sweet tooth and that is one of the reasons why I love this cheesecake. It has just the perfect balance of sweet sour! Now let’s jump right in! This 11-ingredients no bake cheesecake would make, in my opinion, the perfect sweet treat to have on hand throughout the week for when you crave something sweet or, of course, take along to dinner parties.I personally love how rich, creamy and naturally sweet it tastes. Also, as this recipe does not require an oven, I’d say that it is relatively easy to make as there is not the risk of turning out under- or overcooked!

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 100g fresh pitted dates
  • 70g toasted almonds
  • 20g shredded coconut

Filling:

  • 200g cashews (soaked in cold water for at least 4 hours)*
  • 200g coconut yogurt
  • 100g agave syrup (or other natural sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon zest
  • 1tsp of melted coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt
Directions:
  1. Line the bottom of a round cake pan/baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. For the crust, blent all three ingredients in a food processor to a sticky paste. Remove and set aside.
  3. Press the crust mixture with your fingers (you may also use the help of a spoon) into the cake pan/baking tray and compress it until you get an even layer.
  4. Refrigerate for at approximately 1 to 2 hours to firm up (and while you prepare the filling).
  5. Add all the ingredients required for the filling to your (already cleaned) food processor and blend it all until silky and very smooth. If it does not seem like it is together, just add a touch more of lemon juice or even of the coconut yogurt; that should help.
  6. Pour the filling over the prepared crust and freeze it overnight. In  case you do not have that long because you are in a rush, freeze it for 3 hours. Enjoy!!
*Remark: For a softer cheesecake, you can store leftovers in a container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Alternatively and for a harder cheesecake texture, you can also store it in the freezer up to 1 month.

In my opinion, this 11-ingredients no bake cheesecake would make the perfect sweet treat to have on hand throughout the week for when you crave something sweet or, of course, take along to dinner parties.I personally love how rich, creamy and naturally sweet it tastes. Also, as this recipe does not require an oven, I’d say that it is relatively easy to make as there is not the risk of turning out under- or overcooked!

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(I apologies for not having decent pictures of the cheesecake but I guess I was just way too eager to try it ahah)

 

If you decide to give this recipe a go (which I definitely suggest you to do so haha!), please let me know how it turned out! 🙂
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