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Hello, everyone! Sorry about missing a blog post last week. Our Thanksgiving travelling was (happily) extended and I was unable to upload a blog post as per my usual Sunday routine, but I am back in action now and am excited to tell you about the little restaurant I discovered during my travels. Firstly, I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving full of delicious vegan food! I know Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for us vegans because often times, we are surrounded by so many people that still eat the flesh of poor, helpless animals. This was certainly the case for me. As sad as it made me, I was doubly grateful I became vegan and am no longer contributing to the death of innocent animals. In fact, I was armored with my lovely vegan desserts I had been recipe testing as well as Field Roast’s Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute, and of course, countless vegetables dishes my dear mother-n-law prepared. It was wonderful to enjoy a compassionate holiday!

On my last evening of my Thanksgiving travels, my husband and I went to a tiny restaurant in Montclair, NJ called True North Osteria. They are not an exclusively vegan restaurant, but do offer many vegan dishes which are simple yet tasty! They boast life-changing pizza (which was not bad), but for me, the true standouts were the small plates of vegetables that were roasted and then reinvigorated with wonderful reduction sauces and the occasional sprinkling of pistachios! And the bruschettas……YUM! Check out the photos!

True North Osteria

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Interior True North Osteria

Interior True North

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Mushrooms with Truffle Balsamic

Brussel Sprouts

Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts with Pistachio and Shallots

Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta:Cherry Tomatoes with Citrus

Cauliflower Bruschetta

Bruschetta:Chickpea Puree with Cauliflower, Capers and Olives

Pesto Pizza

The True North:House Made Pesto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Vegan Cheese

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can prepare for Christmas—-my FAVORITE holiday of the whole year! Once we had wiped out our leftovers from both Thanksgiving and True North Osteria (yes, I did have leftovers; I did not eat everything in one sitting believe it or not!), I needed to get myself to my local Trader Joe’s and stock up on groceries. Well, if you’ve been to Trader Joe’s recently, you know they are ready for Christmas too! Their shelves are swarming with their holiday goodies, mmm mmm mmm!

One of my favorite items is their chocolate palette. I mean, for a chocoholic such as myself, how can you not be drawn to anything called a “chocolate palette?!” Having said that, this year my temptation for the chocolate palette was mixed: Do I want it? Yes! Yes! Yes! Is it on the Food Empowerment Project’s chocolate-approved list? No. In fact, none of Trader Joe’s chocolate is. Do I give myself this once-a-year treat? I decided to do it. I am aware of the social issues with chocolate and am little by little cutting back on the offending companies, but I am not 100% there yet. Please don’t hate me. (However, I am curious to hear your thoughts if you think I am a hypocrite or if you yourself are still navigating tricky territory in your lifestyle changes—-please let me know in the comments, friends!)

If you’re not familiar with the chocolate palette, it’s a collecton of various chocolates from around the globe in varying percentages of dark chocolate. The individual bars are pretty sizable and all have a different taste. This year, Trader Joe’s bound the collection with a passport theme—-very cute. I started off with the 70% dark chocolate from Ghana which is described as “Peppery…with a Bitter Dark Chocolate Bite.” However, I did not detect either of these flavors. Maybe it’s because I eat a lot of dark chocolate, but I actually did not find it to be bitter at all. In fact, it seemed pretty smooth and mellow to me. Does that mean it wasn’t good? Um, no. It was wonderful!

Trader Joe's Chocolate Palette

All the varieties of Trader Joe's Chocolate Palette

Ghana 70% Dark Chocolate

Ghana 70% Dark Chocolate

Ghana 70% Dark Chocolate about to be EATEN!

This chocolate stash is just the beginnings of the goodies I am sure I will indulge in throughout the holiday season. I will be sure to fill you in on anything of particular amazement that I stumble across. Money is tight this year, but I would love to order some delectable goodies from companies I have never tried before such as Allison’s Gourmet but I’ll just have to wait and see.

What about you guys? Are you excited for the Christmas season? What goodies to you make or indulge in this particular time of year? If you have any special recommendations, don’t hold out on me and let me know! We vegan foodies need to stick together, right?

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