Vegan Mac & Cheese

Hey guys! A great way to transition into a vegan lifestyle or to try out vegan recipes is to make vegan version of the foods you love. Now you have to be prepared for some major taste differences- but just be open to them! You may even prefer some of the changes, and discover foods that you’ve never had before. For example, this mac and cheese recipe doesn’t taste like traditional mac and cheese,  but that doesn’t mean its not freaking delicious. Its creamy, comforting, satisfying and just outright amazing. Plus no animals needed to be harmed in order to enjoy it- so you can feel good about every single bite (its not hard when it tastes this good). The best part was it took 20 minutes start to finish- that is major winning in my books. Craving comfort food? Try out this recipe! Let me know if you do- I hope you guys love it!

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces dried pasta (I used 1 package of organic pasta)
  • 1 cup peeled & diced potato
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (not too small or it will be hard to remove from the water)
  • 3/4 cup water from boiled veggies
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I used unsweetened almond milk and it was fine)
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I didn’t have any and it was great without too)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 pinch paprikaIMG_1465

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain & set aside.IMG_1467
  2. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add chopped potatoes, carrots and onion. Cook until vegetables are soft enough to blend- about 10 minutes depending on how small you chopped them. IMG_1466
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the water. Place in a blender along with 3/4 cup of the water they were cooked in and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. IMG_1468
  4. Pour sauce over the pasta.IMG_1469
  5. Mix together and add salt to taste.IMG_1470

And voila! Its that easy. Share with vegan and non-vegan friends and family (or hoard it in your fridge and eat it all by yourself- can you tell I find it hard to share?)

(Find the original recipe here)IMG_1471

If you try this recipe out please let me know! Don’t forget to follow my Instagram for more posts like this: @lightlovelifeblog .

Thank you all for reading,

Love & Light!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (Vegan)

Okay you guys- this is the best banana bread ever- period. You would never know it was vegan- its moist, has some crunch on the outside, is super chocolatey and has just the right amount of banana. So make this and share it with your friends and family and don’t tell them its vegan until they say how much they love it (or don’t and eat the whole thing yourself, both are good options).

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Recipe (adapted from food network.ca) for 1 loaf:

  • 1 tbs ground flax
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar or cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp sugar for topping
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. Whisk together flax and water. Let sit for 15 mins in fridge to thicken. (This is your ‘egg’)
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. 
  4. In a seperate bowl, mash bananas into a purée, then add vanilla, coconut oil, almond milk, sugar & flax mixture. 
  5. Add wet mixture to the dry and gently fold together- don’t over mix! Fold in the chocolate chips. 
  6. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking/loaf pan. Sprinkle the 1/2 tsp of sugar on top. (This added the most delicious sweet crunchiness). 
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes (if doubling it will be closer to an hour). When a skewer comes out relatively clean its ready. Let cool (for as long as you can manage- its going to smell really good) on a wite rack before cutting. 

Enjoy! I think adding in some walnuts would be amazing in there. Let me know if you try it out!

  
Mmm, look at that crust!

Love & Light,

Kiah

Açaí Bowls

Açaí (a-sigh-ee) berries are known for numerous health benefits, and are a great addition to smoothies/smoothie bowls/banana ice cream- and they taste great too. They are commonly found in the Amazon rainforest and have been used as a healing agent for centuries. Find out all about the various health benenfits of açaí here: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-acai/

  
 The ‘açaí bowl’ trend is just using açaí powder in thick smoothies, often with frozen bananas- thats where the purple color comes from. You can buy freeze dried açaí powder at most health stores, and even grocery stores are beginning to sell it among other natural supplements. Don’t get duped and spend $12 on a tiny bowl of blended fruit when you can make yourself a huge bowl at home for way cheaper. Below are some basic recipes for different ways of using açaí powder, but it all comes down to whatever you want to add. There is no right or wrong way to make an ‘açaí bowl’…

•Açaí Bowl:

-2 frozen bananas

-1 cup frozen berries

-1 tbs açaí powder

-splash almond milk/coconut water

Blend and add desired toppings (I like granola, hemp seeds, chia seeds, fresh/frozen fruit). To make this a smoothie, just add more liquid. 

•Açaí Nice Cream (Banana Ice Cream = Nice Cream)

-4 frozen bananas

-1 tbs açaí powder

Blend in a food processor or powerful blender (my Vitamix is incredible). Add toppings!

  
I hope you guys try out açaí and reap the benefits. If you like the posts on here please follow my instagram for the same types of things (plus more!) @lightlovelifeblog

 
 Love & Light,

Kiah

Montréal: The Importance of Solo Travel

I got back from my trip to Montréal one month ago today and my travel bug is stronger than ever. Because I have yet to plan my next trip, I figured I would share this trip with you all and some of the things I learned along the way. My cousin was taking French courses in Montréal and I decided I wanted to go visit her. I would have a place to sleep for at least a week until she returned to Winnipeg. She was staying in an apartment with two other girls in The Plateau (the area around Mont-Royal) who were attending the National Theatre School. I got home from a not-so-great day of work one night and my travel bug got the best of me- I booked a one way ticket to International Pierre-Elliott Trudeau airport. I texted my cousin and told her I’d see her in a couple of weeks.

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L’Avenue du Mont-Royal 

On February 19th, I boarded the 45 minute (small) plane from Kelowna to Vancouver, with little to no plan as to what I would do when I arrived in Montréal. I remember thinking about how constructed our lives are in Western society, and how easy it is to be pushed into the school-work-marriage-kids-retire kind of life. What about exploring, learning and growing? What about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and becoming more open, aware people? This seems much more important to me. I met a man on the flight who’s wife had died from cancer, and we had the most beautiful conversation about life and love and healing and how much we both miss the people we love. With these things in mind I continued my travels to Montréal- journaling the whole way.

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Mile End, Montréal

The first night my cousin and I went to a bar, drank wine and ate burritos (could not have been better). My first day was spent eating delicious food, drinking espresso, and walking around The Plateau and Mile End- both districts in the city. I found the second Ekhart Tolle book- “A New Earth”- at a used book store, and ate fresh bagels at St. Viateur (they make them right in front of you in huge stone ovens with long wooden handles- its amazing). I got a metro pass and started learning how to use the system. I met up with some friends that happened to be in the city, and had to get to Old Montréal to meet them all by myself (I was very proud of myself for getting there with my own devices). I couldn’t believe how beautiful this area was- the buildings were enormous, made mostly of rich, grey stone and intricately carved- detail that I feel is lost in much of modern architecture. I arrived here first in the dark, and the buildings looked all the more magical. The cobblestone streets- wide on the main roads and narrow between the buildings- brought me back to the streets of France and Italy that so easily stole my heart.

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Old Montréal

The streets of The Plateau had a different kind of charm- each apartment tall and thin with winding metal staircases, and each business housed in a different looking building yet somehow attached to the one next to it. No picture I took could do the city justice, so I didn’t take too many. Instead I did my best to soak it all in and be in the moment. It was hard to believe that I was in still in Canada- it felt like a whole other country. The French language was everywhere- English was almost non existent unless you spoke it first- and this only added to the effect. It was absolutely beautiful- the people, the buildings, and most importantly the culture. After only a few day- I was in love.

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One of many apartments I have decided I want to live in, Le Plateau, Montréal

Downtown was yet again a whole different experience. It was as if every corner I turned in Montréal there was another cute coffee shop, another local bookstore, or another adorable set of apartment buildings to admire. The buildings went from 2 stories to sky scrapers real quick once I hit downtown. I wandered around for hours (and fell once on the ice, tossing my phone as I went down, I wasn’t embarrassed at all) just taking it all in. These times by myself allowed time for reflection, appreciation, and for everything to sink in. I could feel myself changing in so many ways; I was doing everything by myself and with my own money for the first time in my life. I had a lot of time alone and had to be content with the discomfort that comes from being out of your normal routine. It was difficult for me to just be okay with reading in a coffee shop or walking around, feeling unrooted and without a clear purpose. This in turn actually helped me realize my TRUE purpose- not to accomplish anything, but to just BE.

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Downtown Montréal

The two girls I stayed with are two of the most fantastic humans I have ever met. They are so inspiring in their pursuit of their dreams, and to their core are loving and caring. They really did take me in and make me feel like family- Eva and Dejah I am forever grateful to you two. We drank wine every night and sang songs we had written, we drank too much at bars and had important conversations, we went thrift shopping and went to theatre shows, we went to brunch and slipped along the icy sidewalks (seriously treacherous) – those two were the sunshine in those (literally) gloomy days.

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Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Montréal

I visited a few cathedrals in Montréal- some by myself and some with friends. I was overwhelmed time and time again at the intricacy and the dedication etched into each one. Some people prayed and some people took photos- the contrast in people’s interest in the buildings intrigued me and made the experience that much more compelling.

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Notre-Dame Basilica, Montréal

I could have sat for hours and just looked at the beauty Notre-Dame held. The enormity just overtook me- its hard to find words to describe these buildings. The history and the unbinding dedication that people have to religion is both moving and terrifying.

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The view from the Plains of Abraham, Québec City

The hardest moment of the entire trip came when I took a train to Québec by myself. I stayed in a hostel for one night so I could explore the city. Everything was fine until I arrived at the hostel and realized I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for the next 24 hours. It was incredibly snowy and cold and the Plains of Abraham were pretty much invisible. After walking around for hours and putting off going to dinner alone, I finally ended up in a pub by myself. I ate my pizza in the corner of the restaurant and listened to the groups of laughing friends and family all around me. As soon as I could I paid my bill and left. Back at the hostel I called my dad. Fighting back tears the whole conversation, I told him how lonely I was and how I wasn’t sure what I was going to do all by myself. Having traveled for years by himself, he of course knew just how I felt and just what to say to keep me going. That night I cried for a while (thank the lord the other girls in my dorm room were out) and did some journaling. I am so grateful I took the time everyday to write down what I did and how I felt- I already need to go back and look to remember everything.

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Rue du Saint-Jean, Old Québec

I visited the Plains of Abraham Museum the next day- it was definitely low season as I was the only one there. The history of Québec really is amazing and I found a new respect for the ground that I walked on. Somebody had died in virtually every spot in that area and that was quite a profound realization. The sun came out and the sky cleared, and for the first time in my little trip to Québec I felt peace. In one way or another we all live in some kind of bubble, and every time it breaks it can be painful and uncomfortable, but it is so necessary. The sadness I felt alone was so important, and needed in order to grow and become content without other people.

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Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quécec City

The last week of my trip included spending too much money on food, drinking too much wine and sitting in lots of coffee shops. I ran up Mount Royal to the stunning view at the top, I bought cool clothes at thrift stores (which required me to buy another suitcase to bring it all home), I walked the streets of Montréal which had begun to feel like home. I made incredible new friends and created the most wonderful memories that I will carry with me for a long, long time.

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A well timed and much needed reminder in a coffee shop, Old Québec

All in all, going on this trip solo was the best thing I could ever do for myself. We can’t grow unless we do new things- even if they’re scary or they hurt as we are pushed out of our comfort zones and into new things. I believe growth- and uncovering what already exists under the layers of opinions and ideas that we have acquired over time- is the most important thing we will ever undergo. Growth is how we become better people- to each other and to ourselves. It is how we realize our flaws and how we accept differences- in people, places and ourselves. We learn about our own abilities and the greatness of other people. We understand the connectedness of everything, and how openness allows endless possibilities of love, experience and friendship.

Keep exploring, keep learning, keep experiencing. Never stop growing. IMG_0963.JPG

Morning Routine

Setting aside the time to begin my day with intention is incredibly important to me. I always wake up with at least a full hour to get ready in before its time to leave the house. Over time I have developed a routine that allows me to be cenetered and prepared for what is usually a full day of work. Here is how my mornings generally go…

  • Wake up: Again, I always give myself at least 1 hour to get ready. I prefer more time, but when I start work at 5:30am, getting up at 4:00 is early enough for me (this is when I usually hit snooze at least once). 
  • 10 minutes of meditation: This is by far the most integral part of my morning. These 10 minutes allow me to slow down, center myself, and start my day with a clear intention. Lately I have internally repeated the mantra ‘I choose happiness, I choose ease’, or something along those lines, to remind me that I can allow myself to just be happy and at ease, no matter what the day brings. I usually meditate right in bed, and sit with a pillow under my spine as its easier to keep a straight back and is more comfortable for me. I just set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes and begin. If you are new to meditation, or even if you’re not, there are plenty of guided mediations of every length on youtube that can be much easier to stay concentrated with.   
  • Shower: I generally don’t shower in the morning as I prefer to have dry hair, but when I do I always dry brush before. Dry brushing increases circulation and helps reduce cellulite and other imperfections. It also removes dead skin and softens. I bought my brush for $6.99 at Winners but there are plently of better quality brushes to be found online or in health stores. I also use the same brush in the shower with my soap which is from The Soap Works. I have been using their soap for years, and many of them are plant based and all are very gentle. I use them for shaving as well. When I don’t wash my hair and find it is a bit greasy, I use a homeade dry shampoo. Mine is just 2tbs cornstarch and 2tbs cocoa powder (for dark hair), but you can omit the cocoa for light hair. Apply to the roots with an old makeup brush. 

  

  • Face routine: My face routine has simplified enormously over the years, as my diet has helped clear my skin and I have elmininated the toxic products I used to use. I recently discovered Nutra facial products and instantly loved them. The ingredients are all plant based and simple, and they are not too expensive. I use the Gentle Foaming Cleanser and the Facial Toner, both found at my local health store. For moisturizer I am constantly trying new brands, but I am currently using (and loving) boo BAMBOO anti-age face lotion (its vegan and also found at my local health store).

  
 I have used the Spin For Perfect Skin brush, and it is great, but unfortunately both kits I bought have broke within a month so I haven’t used it recently. Despite this I really do love it and feel a difference in the deepness of the cleansing.   

  • Miscellaneous: For deodorant the only brand I will use is Siglarr. It is my best friend’s parents who own the company and make the products, and no deodorant has ever had such clean ingredients and worked so well. You can check them out at http://www.siglarr.ca. I use Nature’s Gate toothpaste and lotion- both are vegan and non GMO. 

 

  • Vitamins and water: I take B12, probiotics and a multi vitamin everyday. I also drink 1 litre of water every morning before I eat. It gets my digestive system going, and keeps me full and hydrated. Sometimes I drink it warm with lemon, plain, or whatever I’m in the mood for. Lemon is a great additive for both taste and its detoxifying qualities. Warm water is easier on your system, and you definitely don’t have to start with a full litre.  Just a cup of warm lemon water is fantastic. Your body will thank you! 
  • Make my lunch: I try and prep something the night before, so usually making my lunch is heating up leftovers and throwing it in a thermos. I usually take a container or veggies, fruit and a granola bar or homeade baking if I have it. Some vegan bars I eat are Cliff, Lara and my recent dicovery Double Chocolate Brownies (all from Costco).  I will have a vegan lunch post up in the future.  
  • Makeup/get dressed: Depending on the day I might apply a bit of makeup, and then get dressed. The vegan makeup brand I use is Pacifica. 
  • Breakfast: I ALWAYS make the time for a proper, delicious breakfast that I can sit down and eat. Lately I’ve been having different varieties of toast on my homeade sourdough bread. This one is tomato, fresh basic, olive oil, salt and pepper.   

Whew! I think thats the gist if it. Now I would grab my helmet, hop on my bike and head to work. I hope this sparked some ideas for some rituals you may want to incorporate into your morining. Remember to value your time and do what works for you! I promise your day will be so much sweeter when you start it like this. 

Love and Light!