The Best (and Easiest) Vegan Pancakes

I have been making the same pancakes so often (you can find them all on my instagram page @lightlovelifeblog) that I felt it was time to make a blog post on them. They have become a favourite for breakfast not only for me but for the whole family. I often wake up to the smell of these pancakes cooking that my dad makes for all of us. I’ve never had vegan pancakes that are this light, fluffy, and most importantly- fail proof. If I can make them perfectly every time- anyone can. Plus they don’t have all the nasty stuff thats in most pancakes. You can check out the original recipe here.

 

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Pancakes layered with bananas, topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries & maple syrup.

 

I have now tried and tested a bunch of different additions, toppings, sauces and flavour combinations. I’m going to share with you guys some tips and recipes to take your pancake game to the next level. First things first, here is the basic pancake recipe:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour (whole wheat works great and is the better option health wise, but if you want something closer to the pancakes you ate growing up, or the ones you might get at a restaurant, white flour will make them taste lighter, fluffier, and lets be honest- just a little bit better. If you’re gluten free I’m sure oat flour would work great.)
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbs oil (I use avocado oil, but coconut oil is great too- it just might harden up when you mix it in with the batter)
  • 2 tbs maple syrup (make sure its pure maple syrup- no Aunt Jemima crap- sorry Aunt Jemima you know I loved you as a child but who’s got time for high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) together in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (milk, oil, syrup, vanilla) together.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry and stir. Fold in additions.
  4. Let batter sit for 5 minutes and heat a pan to medium-low heat (important for even cooking). Batter should get a bit bubbly on the surface- now you know its ready!
  5. Lightly oil pan if needed, and scoop out 1/4 cup portions onto pan (I’ve found that this recipe is so good I can make giant pancakes with it too). Flip once bubbles form and edges start to darken. Repeat until batter is gone.
  6. Top with whatever you’d like! (Keep reading for lots of ideas)

 

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Blueberries & chocolate chips mixed into batter, topped with frozen blueberries, chips & maple syrup.

 

Additions:

Nothing will transform pancakes like adding stuff straight into the batter. The pancakes pictured above have dark chocolate chips and blueberries added to them. Both are delicious on their own, but added together its a dream. The blueberries were frozen, and this also helps the colour from bleeding into the batter when you mix them in. They’ll warm up while they’re cooking. I’ve also added frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), and paired them with a chocolate sauce. Moral of the story- berries and chocolate are always a win.

 

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Mixed berries mixed into batter, topped with warm berries & chocolate sauce.

 

Toppings/Sauces:

Fruit is always a go-to topping- it adds natural sweetness and texture and makes your pancakes look way nicer too (plus you can feel good about eating 8 pancakes because you’re eating them with fruit- right?) Frozen fruit is really nice because you get something cold on top of warm pancakes, but warming up frozen fruit into a kind of puree (like above) is even better. Bananas are always great too and they pair well with almost everything.

The only thing  better than maple syrup on top of pancakes is chocolate sauce. I personally don’t want to spend a lot of time making a chocolate sauce when all I want to do is devour my pancakes, so when I game across this chocolate sauce idea I was intrigued. All you do is mix cocoa powder with maple syrup! At first it seems like they won’t mix together, but after a minute or two they transform into a rich, dark, creamy chocolate sauce that you can bathe your pancakes in.

I’ve also added things like hemp seeds or chia seeds for added nutrients and different textures. Experiment!

 

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Pancakes with warm berries, banana & chocolate sauce. 

 

I hope this gave you all some ideas for how to make delicious, original pancakes. You can create whatever you’re in the mood for, simple or complex,  and then you get to do the best part- eat!

 

Happy pancake frying!

 

Don’t forget to follow me on instagram: @lightlovelifeblog or email me with any questions at lightlovelifeblog@hotmail.com.

Love & Light,

Kiah

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Why Am I Vegan?

Naturally, I get asked this question so often that you’d think I’d have a word for word answer memorized and ready to go. However, I’ve found I never have a very articulate answer to give. Usually I say its for a lot of reasons- which it is- but what exactly are those reasons? I think it is very important to know why we do things, and I’ve had lots of time to reflect on this question, so here are the reasons explained – to the best of my ability. Please keep in mind that these are my feelings now, with the information that I have acquired so far, and that I am always as open as possible to other ideas and opinions. Please do your own research and soul searching in order make your own informed choices- everybody and every body is different.

  • Humans have evolved past the point of needing animal products

Initially, I went vegetarian (almost two years ago now) for one week to try it out with a friend. I made sure to do my research first about how to get all of my essential nutrients, and started supplementing with B12, flax oil (omegas), probiotics and a multi vitamin. I also made sure to incorporate the right foods into my diet- lots of dark leafy greens, legumes, fruits, veggies, etc. (there is all the information you could ever want online- I definitely recommend doing your own research). After that week, I realized just how easy it was to cut out meat entirely. I didn’t even miss it- and I was a “eat-a-12-ounce-stea-and-still-be-hungry” kind of girl (seriously- I was that person that made fun of vegetarians as I chowed down on my burger- gross, right?).  I felt lighter and healthier, and it felt like my digestive system didn’t have to work nearly as hard to break down the foods I was eating. I was replacing meat with good carbs like rice, fruits and vegetables. New to the diet as I was- and as a previous paleo enthusiast- a warning from a family friend about the dangers to my health about cutting out meat entirely had me eating it again. Another couple of weeks went by and I realized: this is silly, I don’t WANT animals to live horrific lives and be slaughtered just for my taste buds. (Yes there are more humane ways of farming, but they are rare, expensive and still end in the death of an animal). I knew if I was smart about it I could easily get everything my body needed by eating a plant based diet- and I could avoid all the negatives that come with eating animals. It suddenly seemed very selfish to kill another living thing for the purpose of pleasure- which brings me to my first reason. As a species, we have evolved past the point of needing animals for survival- we can obtain the nutrition we need through plant based foods. In other words- it isn’t necessary to kill and consume animals, so why do it? How have we rationalized taste and conveineince for the death of another living thing? Once I made that connection, it was impossible to see animal agriculture in the same way again.Over the next several months, I slowly transitioned into a vegan diet. Again I was astonished at how easily I was able to stop eating the foods I never thought I could live without- cheese being up there on the list. I was opened up to a whole new world of cooking, and instead of feeling limited, I felt like I had opened the door to a whole new world of food- one of abundance and health. (If your body does not allow you to be vegan, or you have to eat certain animal products in order to be healthy yourself, I encourage everyone to source as ethically as possible and bring awareness of where your food is coming from into your life.)

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  •  It is an extension of my spirituality

I think the most profound connection I have made since going vegan is to the life force that exists in everything in the universe. I would have thought that sounded pretty “my-name-is-rainbow-and-I-hoolahoop-next-to-my-hippie-van” a year ago, but I really have developed  a deeper connection to the natural world around me that extends to all living things. It is a connection of oneness; and with that I feel love and appreciation for other living creatures, and have no desire to inflict pain and suffering onto them. This connection wasn’t made until I allowed it to be. Through yoga, meditation, spiritual readings (Ekhart Tolle changed my life and will change yours too), being open, and allowing my own ideas to form apart from mainstream media and the “norm”- I now feel connected to people and animals in a different, more equal way. The conditions that these earthly creatures undergo in factory farming is terrifying. Animals are subjected to overcrowding, conditions that severely restrict movement, body alteration without pain relief (aka chopping off baby chicks beaks and throwing their live bodies through grinders), lack of feed, rape to inseminate and emotional harm. I have no need or want to make animals suffer like this. It is unnecessary and I believe we can live in harmony with other animals.

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  • Animal agriculture has devastating effects on the planet

The realization of the effects of the animal industry on our environment completely solidified the vegan movement for me, and kept me motivated to live this lifestyle. Here are some facts about the environmental impact of animal agriculture:

  1. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction (caused by clearing forests, converting land for feed crops/grazing and by targeting animal predators). The use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers interferes with animal reproduction and poisons waterways.
  2. Animals agriculture is responsible for 91% of amazon destruction, with 1-2 acres of rainforest cleared every second.
  3. Animal agriculture accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions- more than ALL of the exhaust from transportation (this means all road, air, rail and marine transportation).
  4. Livestock and their byproducts produce at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, thats 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions (the raising, processing and transportation of livestock contributes most of these emissions).
  5. Methane (which cows release into the atmosphere) is 25-100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide to the environment, and has a global warming potential of 86 times carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame. Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.
  6. Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2E limit by 2030 with merely animal agriculture.
  7. 25,000 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 POUND of beef, 477 gallons for 1 pound of eggs, almost 900 gallons for 1 pound of cheese, and 1,000 gallons for 1 gallon of milk. Does that sound sustainable to you?
  8. Animal agriculture is responsible for 20-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world.
  9. Livestock land or livestock feed land uses 1/3 of the world’s ice free land, with livestock covering 45% of the Earth’s total land. This use of land has created over 500 nitrogen flooded ocean dead zones.
  10. 130 times more animal waste is produced than human waste in the US. 7 million pounds of excrement are produced every minute by animals raised for food, while 116,000 pounds of total waste are produced every single second. This is only in the US.
  11. 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted, and we could see fish-less oceans by 2048. 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year- 1 in 5 of these are caught unintentionally and discarded as by-kill. 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed each year.
  12. We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people. 82% of children live in countries where the food is fed to animals that are later eaten by Western countries.
  13. Vegans use 50% less CO2, 1/13th water and 1/18th land compared to a meat eater. Vegans save 1,100 gallons of water, 45 lbs of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 lbs of CO2, and an animal’s life EVERY SINGLE DAY. Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
  • Vegan: 1/6 acre
  • Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
  • Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan

why am i vegan environment effect

These facts screamed at me- how do we live in a world where this is not only allowed but not widely known? Why is all we talk about CO2 from our vehicles and not taking long showers when the effects of the animals industry are incomparable? I couldn’t consciously have this kind of negative impact on the environment anymore. I’m not saying that if everyone went vegan the world would suddenly be perfect. There are immense economical and political problems that need to be dealt with that I can not even begin to comprehend. However, these steps will never be taken if there is not a serious change in consumer demand, and being part of that voice for change seems like a good start to me.

  • Health reasons

Initially when I went vegan, I wasn’t very aware of the health effects associated with animal product consumption. As I did more research, meat and dairy became more and more unappealing- and actually quite terrifying. I am NOT an expert and don’t claim to be, but I have done lots of research and can speak from personal experience. Almost all animal products come from industrial food animal production (IFAP), where thousands to tens of thousands of cows, pigs and chickens are confined within a single facility. The feed given to these animals is formulated to maximize production at the lowest cost possible. This means that the feed may contain antibiotics, arsenical drugs, animal carcasses and other ingredients that introduce harmful contaminants into our “food”. Micro-organisms that cause diseases such as antibiotic resistant pathogens can enter the food supply. The use of antibiotics in the feed lowers the effectiveness of antibiotics by developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Workers in these facilities face toxic gases, unsanitary conditions and disease- all in the places that produce the meat we eat. The excess waste produced by these animals contaminates drinking water with nitrates, disease causing contaminants and heavy metals, and leads to concerns over toxic human exposure. The air can also be contaminated and is linked with high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. These public health harms more often fall upon low-income communities and those of colour, who are already affected by poor health status and limited medical care. Excess meat consumption has also been strongly linked with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer and early death. Studies suggest the high saturated fat and cholesterol content, high energy density, carcinogenic compounds, and L-carnitine that may lead to plaque build-up in arteries all contribute to the health risks associated with meat consumption. Meanwhile, diets with high vegetable, fruit, whole grain and bean content can protect you against these diseases- not to mention promote health in countless ways.

why am i vegan calf and mom

Now lets talk about dairy. First lets get this “strong bones need milk” bullshit out of the way (sorry but seriously). Calcium is vital to the remodelling process of our bones, but only up until a certain point. After someone has consumed about 600 milligrams in a day- easily reached without dairy products- calcium has no effect on bone integrity. Recent studies have shown that dairy products have no benefit on bones and their fracture risk. Plant based sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, dark leafy veggies, beans and fortified products (like almond milk- which provides about the same amount of calcium as milk). Some people drink milk to obtain vitamin D (needed for the proper absorption of calcium), but no dairy products naturally have this vitamin. You can obtain enough vitamin D from the sun, or find it in fortified foods and supplements. Dairy has been strongly linked to cancer of the reproductive system, breast and prostate. Cow’s milk contains IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor (cow’s milk contains growth hormones just like human milk that aid in the rapid growth of the calf) and estrogen metabolites (can cause human cells to grow rapidly)- both increasing the risk of cancer. Cows make milk to feed to their baby calfs- not humans. Dairy cows are constantly impregnated (they only produce milk when pregnant) and have their babies taken from them shortly after birth, so that they don’t drink the milk for us humans. We are the only species that drinks milk after we are babies, and drinks the milk of another species. If thats not the most backwards system ever, I don’t know what is.

why am i vegan not your mom

I have found that with a whole foods vegan diet I can eat whatever I want and as much as I want and feel energized to live my life, fuel my workouts and just feel good. I think it is important to mention that going vegan won’t magically turn you into a size 0 instagram model, and that should never be the reason you decide to go vegan (or be a goal in the first place). If you are motivated to make the world a better place, starting with yourself, then sticking to a vegan diet will just feel natural.

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I strongly recommend watching:

  • Forks Over Knives
  • Vegucated
  • Cowspiracy
  • Food Matters
  • Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
  • Blackfish

(All on Netflix!)

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you learned something about veganism and feel inspired to discover it for yourself. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions or want support starting your journey with this lifestyle. You can find me on instagram at @lightlovelifeblog or email me at lightlovelifeblog@hotmail.com.

 

 

Sources:

cowspiracy.com

jhsph.edu

pcrm.org

ohsheglows.com

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!

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!