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

January highlights.

Hi all,

At the beginning of each month, I like to hit “pause”, step back and reflect on the one that has just past. I am sorry for this long overdue post about my January highlights… I started writing it in the beginning of February but then life got in the way and time just went by in a blink of an eye.

Anyway, let’s just get to it.

In my opinion, carving out time to reflect on our achievements (as well as struggles) it is very important for our personal growth. I feel like when I am introspective, my self-awareness and sense of gratitude increase and, as a result, I can better tackle challenges that might come my way head on. This being said, I think everyone should take some time to reflect on what they’ve achieved and experienced every month.

No matter how hectic life might be, we are all worth some time for. 

So about January.. I feel very humbled and grateful for all the happy moments and all the “firsts” I got to experience. Naturally, not everything was wonderful (I mean, is it ever is?). I’ve also had my tough moments where everything felt rather overwhelming.. but they surely do not make my January any less good. After all, the way we perceive what we experience depends on the lens through which we choose to view our life.

The highlights/experiences I am just about to share were actually a really great reminder of how exciting life can when I adventure into the new. So, here they are:

1. Ice skating

Coming from a place where ice skating is not a thing, I am so excited I got the opportunity  to try it. This was the very first time I ice skated in my 26 years of existence and boy was it fun. I must say that I am not the most coordinated person but I am quite outdoorsy and basically love all kinds of sports (collective sports, winter sports, summer sports, etc..).

I have been wanting to give a go to ice skating ever since I moved to The Netherlands and I have finally done it YAYAYAY! This experience was sponsored by my company and it was so much fun! My balance and coordination were definitely challenged and I am pretty sure I did not look very graceful whilst ice skating (at least certainly not when I fell and got my bum wet haha) but I really reeeeally enjoyed it.

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2. SKALAR live show

In Christmas I got my boyfriend and I two tickets for this live show of light and music in Amsterdam and I am so pleased for having done so. It was absolutely spectacular and I can’t honestly compare it to anything that I saw before.

This large-scale artistic production is delivered by the German light artist Christopher Bauder and by the musician Kangding Ray. Every single one of their shows is unique.

If you are a very visual person, then you’re sure to love it. These two great artists bring “choreographed light and electronic music to life in real-time” and it is impossible not be left in awe. We were sat down and looking up for one hour in order to absorb as much as we could. What an amazing sensorial experience this was!

 

 

3. Visited two coffee spots that were on my “cafes to visit” list for way too long

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you are well aware of how much I love to explore new cafes.

I have always found inspiration surrounded by people and by the smell of coffee. Hence why I have always loved to study and write at cafes. I like when the atmosphere is laid-back and creative but that is certainly not the only factor that matters to me whenever I am at a cafe. I care about the transparency of the coffeeshop when it comes to the sourcing and production of their coffee. I care about the quality of the coffee and whether it is organic and fair trade or not. I care about the service and the genuine love of the people running the cafe.

A cafe can look like the most instagrammable place but if it lacks soul, then I won’t most likely bother to go back.

All that being said, I am very happy to say that I have finally crossed off two different coffee spots from my list of cafes to visit in The Netherlands and they did not disappoint.

You can see some photos of both below.

The Village Coffee & Music, Utrecht

 

Bocca Coffee

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A good cup of coffee is more about the passion injected into it by the barista and the hard work of all of those before him in the supply chain than anything else.

 

4. 17Km Leersum hike 

I had this 17km hike to Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a national park in the south of Holland, planned since December per the invitation of a friend of mine. This was probably my longest hike ever and, as strange as it may sound, I felt somewhat recharged after it. It was a different way to spend my Sunday with my boyfriend and friends but I really enjoyed the experience. I also got to explore a beautiful area of The Netherlands that was new to me, which was lovely.

There’s something quite special about being completely immersed in the natural world, far from the “civilization”. I am a firm believer that a walk in the woods can do wonders for our mental health and that nature is the antidote to a stressed and overwhelmend mind. Our own breathing and footsteps, the fresh and crisp air on our faces, the rustling trees.. all of this provides a sense of tranquil awareness that I simply can’t put into words. Being out in the nature can be so healing and I want to do it more often. Plus, going for this hike with my boyfriend and friends gave us some uninterrupted time to catch up on “life”, which was great.

 

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5. Sprouting workshop

I’ve always naturally gravitated towards nutrition- and health-related topics. For that reason, I got super stoked when I found out that a work colleague is a nutrition therapist and gives workshops on how we can best benefit from incorporating certain fermented/sprouted foods into our diets for optimum nutrition and digestion!

If you follow me for a while, you probably know that I have IBS (“irritable bowel syndrome”) and, as a result, my body struggles to digeste certain foods. Since my diet is based on plants, my protein intake comes from them. Legumes and beans are rich sources of protein but are not great for sensitive digestive systems due to their indigestible carbohydrates. Thus, given that I can’t consume them on a regular basis, I have to rely on tofu and soya milk/yoghurt as my main sources of protein. This is of course not a bad thing but it naturally limits my diet in terms of vitamins and minerals.
To those of you who don’t know, sprouting foods like legumes (e.g. lentils and chickpeas) and even grains (e.g. wheat and barley), reduces their fodmap content, making them easier to be digested and absorbed by the body. Plus, sprouting foods also tends to enhance their nutritional value, making them richer in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamins C and K.
That being said, because I wanted to learn how I can best add variety to my diet without increasing my IBS symptoms, I decided to attend my friend’s workshop about sprouting foods! She took us through the entire sprouting process and it was so insightful and informative! I was able to deepen my knowledge about all the nutritional benefits of sprouting different grains,legumes and seeds and how we can eat sprouts for optimum digestion. At the end of the workshop we got to eat a yummy lunch all together (with sprouts of course!). We had a warm bowl of coconut pumpkin and spinach soup with some toasted sprouted bread. Both so flavourful and nourishing. I also brought home a sprouting starter kit and a booklet with lots of useful information. I have already started to grow my own sprouts and I am finding it sooooooo exciting!! 🙂

 

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Lastly, but certainly not least:

6. My 4-year anniversary in The Netherlands 

A highlight that made all the above highlights possible.

I can’t believe that 4 years have gone by since I moved to this country. It really does not look like that long at all but hey, it really is how they say: Time flies when you’re having fun. 

I moved here to do my master’s degree, got a job shortly afterwards and stayed here since then. I have learned and grown so much during these 4 years. It has been a roller coaster ride with ups and downs but not even once have I regretted the decision of moving to The Netherlands.

 

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…And this is it! My highlights from the very first month of 2020. I’d now love if could share some of your 2020 highlights in the comment section below! 🙂

Thanks a lot for reading and wish you a lovely week ahead!

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Cloud Cakes (Paris, France).

With my 26th birthday just around the corner, I found myself reminiscing about how my last birthday morning started last year. This post has been a long time coming but I wanted to share it with you regardless 🙂

My boyfriend and I travelled to Paris last September to not only celebrate our love but also my birthday (two great cheesy excuses to travel, right? haha)! Anyways, as the morning person who lives for breakfasts that I am, one of my birthday wishes was to start my day with a big and special one! That was exactly what happened and I loved every second (as well as every bite of it). I think that my boyfriend knows pretty well by now that all he needs to do to own my heart is to feed me a nice and yummy breakfast haha!

We went to Cloud Cakes, a dainty vegan bakery and coffee shop in the centre of Paris that I had looked up on Happy Cow* (see notes at the end of the post) prior to our trip. After reading the positive reviews, seeing some photos of the food and realising that they had VEGAN CROISSANTS, I knew for a fact that this was the place to go for my birthday breakfast! I am so glad we went there because it did not disappoint in the slightest!

If the menu looks very appealing, I can be someone pretty undecided when it comes to making my mind up about what to eat. For that reason, whenever I go to a food spot for breakfast/brunch, I usually like to order at least two items from the menu and share them. This way I get to experience a variety of tastes and trying something to eat that is “new” and/or “unknown” does not look like a major commitment!

Food

Whilst deciding on what to eat, we ordered two soya cappuccinos. They were excellent and the fact that the latte art was on point immediately felt like a win. Anyways, after some considerable thought, we ordered the “sweet morning toast” with peanut butter and jam, the pancakes with whipped cream, fruits, sliced almonds and maple syrup (on a side) and of course…a croissant! I mean I just could not possibly go to Paris and not eat a freshly baked croissant, could I?

Even though the two pancakes came beautifully presented and tasted good, my boyfriend ended up by eating them because I they were a bit too sweet for my liking. I would also like them to be a little bit thicker but the texture really is down to personal preference.

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However, I did love the delicious combo of P&J on toast. The two toasts came with poppy seeds and fresh blueberries on top which I dount to be a real great twist. I was also quite impressed with how crazy-good the vegan croissant was! Totally on point (taste- and texture-wise)!! It totally exceeded my expectations so you can trust me when I say that these vegan croissants are an absolutely must. I though I’d never find one of those!

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“When you feed yourself what your body needs when it needs it, that’s love”.

The cafe also outlets a good variety of vegan cakes and cupcakes and it has you covered whether you want to go for something decadent or healthy! We will certainly have to come back to try them.

Staff, service and overall atmosphere

Even though the place was not full at all, we had to wait quite a bit to be served but we did not mind too much because it just meant that the pancakes were freshly made! The server spoke English and was friendly enough. Nevertheless, we did not find her to be super accommodating. She did not come to check on us once we were served nor did she ask how did we like the food when we paid for it. It is not something outrageous but, as I have mentioned in some other posts, a café/restaurant always scores extra for me when the service is excellent and the staff friendly and attentive.

When it comes to the cafe’s overall atmosphere and space, I loved how cozy and pretty it was. The attention to detail was pretty visible. However, I would advise to go in early-ish for breakfast because it is also small and it does not have plenty of seating. I think we were quite lucky with the time and day we went there (Thursday at 10am) because there were only 4 other customers in the cafe. Thus, just bear in mind that if you go later (and especially in the weekend) in the morning/day you may not get a seat.

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This 10 am breakfast was the proper fuel we needed to face the full day of exploration ahead. It was so filling that, believe it or not, I could not literally eat anything else until dinner time! Now just to wrap up my final thoughts and to hopefully convince you to come to this vegan cafe:

  • The menu has a really great and tempting variety of sweet and savoury options. Because everything is plant-based there is no need to worry with the ingredients that they contain 😉
  • The café’s atmosphere is really inviting and the entire place looks cozy and adorable
  • The location is in a central and lovely neighbourhood to roam around
  • 100% vegan food spots are not overly common in Paris and that is a reason in itself why Cloud Cakes is quite a gem!
Notes:
*Happy Cow is an online website and mobile app that serves as guide to vegetarian and vegan restaurants all across the world.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

My trip to Budapest: What I loved the most

This post is long overdue. As I wrote in the post Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary), I travelled to Budapest in November of last year. It was an amazing trip with my best friend, in which we fell in love with the beauty of the city. Though there were a myriad of things I loved about Budapest, if you were to ask me to name the 5 things I enjoyed the most, these would be my answer:

  1. The jaw-dropping night views

Even though Budapest is beautiful during the day, I must say that when the sun sets down it is like the entire city gains a new life. The city slowly evolves as the day goes by and it has a special charm after dark that I can’t put into words. You have to see and experience it yourself.

All monuments become beautifully illuminated and the light gives them a whole new meaning. The Danube, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, the Parliament get all lit by night. So in case you are planning to visit Budapest any time soon, I would highly encourage you to go for a walk at night time along the river banks. I can promise you that you will be left swoon at the stunning sight.

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2. Its countless beautiful cafes/restaurants and characteristic ruin pubs 

I think that a big deal of success of any coffee shop or restaurant is the atmosphere and culture created in it. When I visit a new spot for food or just for a cup of coffee, I want it to have a welcoming and comfortable environment. An inviting atmosphere where I lose track of time whilst having a good conversation with my friends/family/boyfriend . Because I am a huge fan of journaling or getting some work done at coffee shops, I love when I feel that the space is inspiring and builds creativity.  This was definitely the case  of this cafe we got to visit in Budapest.

 

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Seriously guys..how beautiful and special does it look? We ended up here randomly and were so glad we did. We stopped by in order to recharge our batteries with a hot beverage and got positively surprised by the cozy atmosphere and amazing decor the moment we stepped in.

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We also went to this ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, on our first evening in Budapest and it is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It is basically a giant pub that was set up in a crumbling and abandoned building; a place full of mysticism, where chaos, eclecticism and vintage design meet.

3. The dip-based dishes and Shakshouka

When my best friend and I get together we are all about chatting whilst nibbling on something. So if you, just like us, are all about it too and love warm flatbread paired with a good hearty and creamy dip… then Budapest is certainly the place to go to! We ate all the hummus, tahini, muhammara and baba ganoush we could possibly eat haha. I mean… you can never get enough, can you? We tried all sorts of dips in various places and we were not disappointed. They were all unbelievably creamy, super rich in flavour and oh-so-tasty. My friend has no dietary restrictions but I do not consume meat or dairy. We ate out nearly for every meal and this did not represent a problem. Even though traditional Hungarian cuisine is known to be heavy on meat and cheese, flatbread with dips and Shakshouka seemed to be part of every menu. So if you are vegetarian or vegan, fear not! You aren’t going to be missing out on the local cuisine 🙂

Despite following a diet that is mostly plant-based, I do eat eggs occasionally. For that reason I was able to have my very first shashouka and I loved every mouthful of it.Even though this is a dish originally from North Africa, it is very popular in Hungary.  For those of you who do not know, Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached/stewed in a fresh tomato sauce with chilli pepper and garlic. The one I ordered came topped with fresh coriander, roasted aubergine and a drizzle of tahini. It was absolutely heavenly.

 

Restaurant Dombrumba

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Restaurant Mazel Tov

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4. The thermal baths

Sadly, I got an ugly cold right on my second day in Budapest. Lucky me, hey? I woke up with a running nose, a sore throat and feeling a bit light headed. As you can imagine, the last thing I wanted was to fall sick and have the whole trip spoiled. As a good cup of lemon and ginger tea is my immunity-boosting natural remedy of choice, I made sure I drunk it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Every single day. It did not seem to make my cold go away but at least it did not make it worse. Anyway, on our third evening in the city we decided to got to the thermal baths. Even though this was one of the things that I was super excited to do, I was also a little bit fearful that it would make my cold worse. Nevertheless, I just had to do it because, despite being a popular attraction for tourists, it still is a public comfort for the locals. So knowing myself as I do, I was sure that I would regret skipping this experience.

We chose to go to Rudas Baths as per advice of our Airbnb owner. Apparently this thermal bath is as just as good as the other ones but less touristy. We went there at around 7pm and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. It was just the perfect way to wind down after a cold day of touring the city.

Rudas Baths

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There was this jaccuzzi on the roof terrace and it had an amazing view over the city. Priceless.

5. “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market”  with a local

What I enjoy the most about travelling is the possibility of immersing myself into the destination and the locals. Even though I like to do some touristy things, such as visiting certain monuments/museums or going on a walking tour, what I truly seek when traveling is to discover hidden gems, mingle with the locals and dive into the local culture. Traveling really is about venturing into the new, the unknown, the unfamiliar. I love leaving the destination with enriching life experiences and new knowledge about the language, the people and their unique lifestyle habits.

As my best friend shares this same view when it comes to travelling, we decided to buy an “experience” through AirBnb! I don’t know if you know it already but this online platform not only offers short-term accommodation but also experiences that allow you to delve into the local culture. The experience was called “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market” . We booked it for Sunday morning, which was our last full day in Budapest. We were actually the only people who attended it on that specific day, which in my opinion just turned the whole experience more special. The Hungarian guide, Reka, was a self-proclaimed travel foodie and we learnt so much about the local cuisine in Hungary with her. She talked about its influences, the most popular dishes and what are ingredients and spices most commonly used. She was super friendly and we could really connect with her through the act of cooking and tasting delicious food. The entire experience lasted for about 2.5 hours and it was absolutely worth. It was about 10:30am when we arrived to the market and we had a shot of Pálinka, the national fruity firewater waiting for us haha. No objections allowed. Remember when I wrote that I got a sore throat on my second day in Budapest?… well not anymore after drinking the shot! haha

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We actually messaged Reka before booking this cooking and tasting session and we asked her if this experience was still worth and appropriate for someone who does not eat meat or dairy products. She answered that the main dish could be cooked with no animal-derived products and that there were many vegan options for us to try at the farmers market. I really liked the fact that Reka was super flexible and did not pose any issues. We purchased the experience and we were so glad we did because it turned out to be so enjoyable and vegan-friendly.

The dish we cooked together was the Hungarian semolina dumpling soup (Grízgaluska leves). Its tradition version has pork liver dumplings but those were added separately to my friend’s plate. Funnily enough she did not really liked them and said that she would have preferred the soup made vegan like mine was.

While the soup was cooking, Reka took us on a tour around the market. We got to try food from every single stall. I skipped the stalls where cheese and sausages were being sold but I still got to eat so many things, such as vegan cheesecakes, raw cookies, granola, nuts, jams and chutneys. Everything was sourced locally, organic and homemade. The people selling these food items were so chatty, friendly and passionate about what their products. We had a great time!

 

After eating all sorts of foods, we were not sure if we had any room left for the soup… but when we noticed how yummy it looked and smelled, we changed our minds and agreed that we could certainly make room for it! haha

Anyway, here is the final result:

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Directly from the farmers’ market to the table. So hearty and comforting. We paired it with homemade mulled wine, which totally warmed us up.

This really was the best way we could have experienced the local culture. The market (and Reka) gave us an experience that we have not experienced anywhere else. We had the chance of connecting with the locals,  learn about the local cuisine and chow down delicious Hungarian food. We left the place feeling so happy, satisfied and full! 🙂

 

Our trip really was amazing and memorable. Travelling showed me once again that there is no one way to live life and that is just wonderful. ♥ Plus, Budapest is a pretty affordable city with such an unique charm and I definitely recommend it to any travellers. I hope you enjoyed to read this post and please let me know in the comment section bellow if you’ve ever been to Budapest or if it’s on your travel plans. If you have been to this city what did you enjoy the most? 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Grilled tofu skewers (VGN & GF)

It is summertime and the sunny weather brings out the BBQs with family and friends. I am not a meat eater but BBQs are no less fun because of that. Summertime grilling is oftentimes focused on meat as the main event but vegan meals can stand just as tall. There is plenty of quick and easy naturally plant-based side dishes such as grilled veggies, corn on the hob (a true crowd pleasing) and cold salads. There is also a wide variety of veggie patties available at supermarkets these days and you can always opt by making your own vegan burgers using meatless ground “beef” for instance. However, if you are not into mock meats or just prefer less processed or more “natural” whole foods , you might want to give today’s recipe a try: GRILLED TOFU SKEWERS. The idea of these is rather simple and they come together so quickly. In fact can we even call this a recipe? The part that takes the longest is the preparation of the tofu but, trust me, even that does not require much effort.

Organic firm tofu is one of my weekly staples and it is such a nutrient-dense food due to its high protein, iron and calcium content. Plus, it is delicious in more ways than I can tell! I know that many people turn their noses up at tofu but I think that this recipe might convert anyone who’s dared to say they’re not into it. 😉

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/4 pineapple
  • 1 block of organic firm tofu (about 180 grams)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 tsps of ground ginger
  • 2 tsps of garlic powders
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Press block of tofu to extract liquid for about 30 minutes. Then, cut it into small cubes.

2. In a bowl combine the juice of one lemon, garlic, ginger powder, ground black pepper and salt. Add the tofu and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an extra  30 minutes.

3. Prepare veggies: cut zucchini, pineapple and peppers into squares of about the same size.

4. Assemble skewers: thread vegetables and tofu alternately on the skewers. Distribute them evenly in whatever order you want.

5. Heat a grill pan/grill until sizzling hot, if needed grease with some olive oil, and then place skewers in and cook for about 3-5 of minutes on each side. As I had some leftovers sauce, I brushed with it on the skewers while they were cooking. Cook until zucchini is fork-tender and the rest is slightly charred. If you do not want your tofu charred then just leave it until it becomes golden brown.

6. Remove from grill pan/grill and serve while still hot.

For that perfect final touch, I added some freshly squeezed lemon juice on top of my skewers and paired them with some oven roasted sweet potato and salad greens. Needless to say that you can also eat these tofu skewers for a grain of choice like rice or quinoa for instance.

Here is the final result:

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I personally love the sweetness that the pineapple gives to these tofu skewers but if you think it might not be to your liking, then by all means omit it. This recipe on the whole is very versatile and super flexible. You can use whatever veggies you have left in your fridge, like onions, aubergine, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Just go with what you love or have on hand.

If you liked this recipe and decided to give it a try please let me know how you liked it. Also, because I love love looove to eat outdoors when the sun is out, I am always on the lookout for new meal ideas! So please do share with me in the comment section below your go-to recipes for picnics and BBQs 🙂

 

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful

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

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