maple alps

Mango Swirl Ice Cream (vegan)

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

Going for ice cream is one of those iconic things about Summer break. Strolling down the street with your little cone or sitting and enjoying some company and views is part of what Summer brings. Thankfully, there are more and more dairy-free options being offered, but depending on where you are, they can be hard to find - and expensive when you do find them.

Thankfully, I don’t have to go out to enjoy a delicious cone of ice cream, and I don’t have to spend $5 or more on a pint in the grocery store. I can just make it in my kitchen. It does require some planning and waiting, but it is all worth it in the end!

Affiliate links are used in this post.

Mango Swirl Ice Cream (vegan) | www.maplealps.com

Earlier this summer I shared my chocolate chai ice cream recipe, but today I have something fruity for you for when you want to use your fresh produce (or even the frozen stuff in your freezer). 

I decided on mango because who doesn't love a good juicy mango? I could seriously eat mangos all summer long and never et tired of them. In fact, I do! :)

Yes, you will need an ice cream maker for this recipe. I'm hoping to add some churn-free ice creams to my index in the future. The good news is that you can get a relatively inexpensive ice cream maker and it will work beautifully. Mine is a simple one with a base that freezes and an electronic churn and I love it! Only paid $30 for it brand new a few years ago (check out Amazon for one).

Mango Swirl Ice Cream (vegan) | www.maplealps.com

The swirl is the most fun part of this whole thing. Half of the swirl mixture is added to the end to make the effect - and adds more fun fruity flavour!

My husband's eyes opened very wide in delight when he tasted this, so I counted this recipe a success.

Mango Swirl Ice Cream (vegan) | www.maplealps.com

Mango Swirl Ice Cream
Makes about 8 servings

For the Mango Swirl:

2 cups mango
2 TBSP organic cane sugar

For the Cream Base:

2 cans full fat coconut milk
2 TBSP arrowroot powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt

  1. Mix all of the ice cream ingredients (to avoid clumps, you can do this in a blender, or dissolve the arrowroot powder into a small, separate amount of coconut milk) into a small pot on medium heat. Do no let it boil, but allow it to cook and thicken - about 5-8 minutes or so.
  2. Cool and then chill in the fridge for at least 5 hours.

  3. While the cream base chills, make the swirl by adding the mango and cane sugar to a small pot. Cook on low heat and constantly stir as the fruit softens.

  4. Once the fruit no can no longer maintain its shape, use an immersion blender to puree it until it becomes a thick sauce (feel free to leave chunks if that is your cup of tea). Set aside and allow to cool.

  5. Once completely chilled, put the mixture into your ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer's directions.

  6. As the mixture becomes thicker, like soft serve, start to slowly pour in about half of the mixture.

  7. Ladle the finished ice cream into a container. Scoop the rest of the mango swirl in three sections along the top and use a bread knife to swirl it in.

  8. Freeze a few more hours and then scoop and enjoy! 

 

Do you have an ice cream churn to enjoy during the Summer?


 

Tricks For Minimalist Packing

TravelAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

It is no secret that I love to travel. After spending years abroad, moving every year consecutively, and travelling a ton, I’ve come to appreciate being able to travel without all the heavy baggage. I’ve talked about how I figured out that I could live a year on everything that fits in two suitcases, and I’ve also figured out that I can travel for a week or more with everything I can fit into a carry-on bag. It is such a liberating feeling walking around with the bare minimum and still having a great time - if you’ve experienced it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I had an opportunity for readers to suggest blog topics, and minimalist travelling came up, so this post is for you! Here are some of my tips to enjoy a minimalist travel experience. Fair warning: I am incredibly low maintenance. I don’t wear makeup, and I can wear the same shoes all season long, every single day. As long as I don’t stink, and look more or less put together (I do have hot mess days), I’m satisfied. The good news is that you can make what I will be sharing work for you! Minimalism looks different for everyone.

I’ll explain a little at first, but if you don’t want to do allllllll the reading, scroll down to the bottom for a simple packing list.

This post contains affiliate links

Tricks For Minimalist Packing | www.maplealps.com

 

Pack only necessities

Do not, and I repeat, do not bring something just for the sake of having it. Make sure you absolutely need it. This even applies to your wallet! The only things that need to be in your [tiny] wallet are your credit/debit cards (+ an emergency card just in case), your ID, and some cash is good to have. Gift cards to stores you won’t be at don’t need to come. Neither does your library card, other membership cards, or the picture of your boyfriend - you have your phone for that. *wink

 

Travel-sized

Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, you might be able to eliminate a lot of toiletries! You really do not need to be lugging around a hair dryer, straightener AND a curling iron when you’re backpacking across Europe or visiting a friend for the weekend (chances are they have a hairdryer too…) Take only what you need, and take only small amounts of it. You can buy these amazing travel sized bottles to refill your favourite products that may not come in smaller sizes. The travel-sized aisle in Target is amazing - but don’t go overboard (note: though the folding toothbrushes are great, I do opt to bring my bamboo toothbrush everywhere I go [get your own here!]). I will advocate for one amazing piece of travel-sized bliss, however: this amazing razor (since shorts are lighter than pants, right? Haha).

 

Versatile, Versatile, Versatile!

Make sure the items in your bag can be used more than once! If you’re going to a wedding, that may be a different story, but try to get a lot of use out of everything you pack! When it comes to your clothes, make sure the pieces work together in several different ways to stretch out your outfit possibilities without taking more. I usually travel to places where I do have to look more or less presentable. Having pieces that work both casually and can be dressed up is really helpful!

 

Light, Light, Light!

This is key! The lighter your necessities are, the easier it is to cart them around. Consider your electronics and shoes especially, as those can get heavy. I usually take one pair of closed-toe shoes (and wear them as I travel) and pack sandals depending on where I’m going and what I’ll be doing. If I travel by plane with a carry-on, I pack a small lightweight bag for day trips.

 

Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothing

If you’re staying longer than a week, that’s okay. Take some quarters for the laundromat, or ask your host if you can borrow their washer. Worst case, use a sink. I’ve done it, you can too. Pack fabrics that dry easily when you choose the hand washing method. I do take 7 pairs of underwear though, despite seeing many people who suggest only 3 or 4 and washing them every day. I just like fresh underwear to last as long as possible, haha. Honestly, no one is going to be bothered if you pack 6 pieces of clothing to wear. They won’t notice!

 

Quality is important

Herein lies the key! I never knew how important quality was until I stopped looking at the price tag and started looking at pieces that will last. This is especially important for things you’ll be using a lot like shoes and water bottles.

 

Comfort vs. Luxury

You want to be comfortable! Walking around everywhere for a week is not going to be fun in your highest cutest wedges! You'll also want to be sure to wear comfortable clothing for the same reason. Yes, you will be travelling and there is no reason you shouldn't be able to use everyday items as normal (to be comfortable!), but think about the things you could probably do without. 

 

Choose Luggage Carefully

Make sure you get quality luggage that is appropriate for your minimalist trip. A backpack might be sufficient for you. I personally like having a carry on size piece with wheels, because it makes getting around airports and train stations easy for me. I do pack a small backpack in this though, for day trips when I don't have to take everything with me. Packing cubes are also really helpful with packing minimal amounts - if they are in your budget.

 

My Basic Travel Necessities:

Clothing:

  • large scarf (perfect for the plane!)
  • 3 tops
  • 2 bottoms
  • 1 dress/skirt (the trick is to make sure they all go together to maximize outfit possibilities and that they are lightweight - easy to wash/dry)
  • 1 or 2 pyjama
  • undergarments (2 bras + 5-7 pair underwear),
  • bathing suit if needed
  • jacket/hoodie
  • shoes (sneakers + sandals - again depends on what I’ll be doing)
  • socks (2-3 pairs)

*these will get you by nicely, but consider the following: commit to doing laundry of some sort, add or subtract depending on the length of your stay, consider sticking to one colour palette, and there really is no need to go out and buy something new. Choose from what you already own - you might be surprised at what is in your own closet :) 

Toiletries (travel sized!):

  • bar soap
  • Mini razor
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • shampoo/conditioner (may be optional depending on where you’re going!),
  • divacup
  • Body lotion
  • chapstick

Other Toiletries:

  • Contact solution (travel sized, of course)
  • Glasses
  • Any medication
  • Hand Sanitizer/sanitizing wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • A couple band-aids (these come in handy!)
  • Peppermint Essential Oil (good for headaches and motion sickness!)
  • I don't wear makeup, but you might - choose only essentials

Electronics

  • Computer or Tablet
  • Phone
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Fitbit
  • Any charging cords (if two devices use the same cord, only take one)
  • Camera (next level: just use your phone!)

Other:

  • Water Bottle (this will save you so much money!)
  • Minimalist Wallet - only the essentials: passport, credit cards, cash
  • microfiber towel (lighter and dries quickly but optional depending on where you’re going)
  • Earplugs (optional)
  • Extra reusable bag (good for laundry, etc.)
  • Packable daypack (so you aren't carting your carry on everywhere)
  • I always bring a small Bible, but you could use your phone app
 

What are your packing essentials?


 

Lime Maple Tofu Fajitas (vegan + gluten free options)

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

When you think about a busy day you've just had rushing around doing everything under the sun, do you enjoy coming home to cook a meal? I personally do not. During the school year, a typical work day for me is both physically and emotionally draining. Kids are crazy (I do LOVE my job)! If it were at all possible, I would totally hire a chef to come and cook nutritious dinners for me - but alas, my budget does not allow for that (I don't even think I have to double check it to come to that conclusion, hehe!)

Thankfully, there are a few meals I can easily whip up that taste like they were being prepped for hours. These fajitas are one of those meals. It's quick, easy, and nutritious! They are also very versatile and work with just about any leftover in your kitchen. They also taste great the next day for lunch which is a huge bonus for me!

Lime Maple Tofu Fajitas (vegan + gluten free options) | www.maplealps.com

I'm not a Mexican food expert by any means. The very first time I ever made fajitas I was in Austria and decided to take a weekend trip to visit a friend. I wanted to make her dinner, so I threw some peppers, tomatoes and tofu in a pan and whipped up a similar product. Since that day, I've made these, and the recipe changes pretty much every time. I've since omitted the tomatoes from my original mixture, but I love the lime and maple I put in these. I actually have never looked up a fajita recipe, so I don't even honestly know if I can call these fajitas - but I suppose they are. Haha!

The trick is keeping your pan on low heat. It gives the onions a really nice caramelization and flavour. You can seriously add anything to the filling. I've added beans before. I've also done a crumbled TVP instead of tofu. And as I mentioned before, I've added tomatoes - crushed or diced or whatever my heart desired.

Lime Maple Tofu Fajitas (vegan + gluten free options) | www.maplealps.com

For the tofu, I baked it in the oven. It got to soak up some more of the lime and maple and doing it in the oven allowed it to get firmer and chewier. 

Anyhow, I'm glad to share this super quick and easy meal with you - hopefully it makes your work week easier!

Lime Maple Tofu Fajitas (vegan + gluten free options) | www.maplealps.com

Lime Maple Tofu Fajitas
Fills about 8 fajita-sized tortillas

1 large red onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 large orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 block extra firm tofu
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lime
3 tsp maple syrup
Splash of olive oil

8 fajita sized tortillas (can get gluten free)

Garnish/Toppings Ideas:
Fresh cilantro
Fresh lime wedges
Fresh avocados/Guac
Lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Sour cream
Cashew cream sauce

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
2) Press the tofu in a kitchen towel so that you get as much water out as you can and cut it into long strips
3) On a prepared baking pan, lay the tofu and sprinkle with 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp maple syrup, a bit of olive oil, and squeeze half a lime. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn off oven and leave them in there until you're ready to add them to the vegetables.
4) To a pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil. On low heat, cool your onion for about 5 minutes until soft. 
5) Next, add the peppers and continue cooking.
6) Add the remaining tsp of salt, the cumin, chilli powder, and red pepper flakes and mix until the vegetables are coated.
7) Drizzle the maple syrup and the other half of the lime over it and add the garlic.
8) Carefully add the tofu, mix, and you are done!

 

What's your favourite quick dinner recipe?


 

Climb Every Mountain // Austria

TravelAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

Okay, not going to lie, but the title of this post was definitely inspired by The Sound of Music. You'll get it if you've seen it, but how can you NOT think of it when in the Austrian mountains??

I'm really glad I married an Austrian so that I have the perfect excuse to go as often as possible. It's been a year since we were back in Austria (which makes me a little sad), so I thought a little bit of the views from last summer would cheer me (and you?) up a little bit. 

Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com

You know a hike is going to be good when it starts out with baby goats. Seriously. We did make a few animal friends along the way...

Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com

The views! I so miss this place!

Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
Climb Every Mountain // Austria | www.maplealps.com
 

Counting down the months until we get to go back to enjoy mountains, family, and friends!

 

Have you ever hiked in Austria?


 

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments

Growing up, our family had an open door policy. This means that anybody could come and be with us in our home whenever they wanted - and they would be treated like family. Nothing was off limits. Thanksgiving, Christmas, any and every long weekend holiday - anyone could come. This hasn’t changed. Now that I’ve moved away, I still hear about who came to what dinner or spent the night and it always is fun and surprising to hear about.

A year ago or so, we really tried to be intentional about having more people over to our home, but life gets so busy. This is true for anyone. There’s an increasing trend of being so busy with what we do in life, that we tend to neglect those we do life with. It seems that the art of hospitality is getting lost.

 

Related: The Myths and the Calling of True Hospitality

 

Relationships are so important. A few weeks ago on Instagram, I asked you to share some topics you would like to see on the blog. A few people mentioned the theme of hospitality and hosting others. Today I wanted to share with you how to host with intention and simplicity. These are some easy steps we took that worked for us when we decided to be intentional about sharing our home and showing hospitality to others.  I think it’s a very important thing to gather together to encourage one another, so I hope these tips help you as much as they helped us!

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity | Hosting Made Easy | www.maplealps.com

 

 

Write down some names

Write down the names of some people you would like to reach out to. Those you would like to get to know more, those who are going through a hard time and need ministering to, those who come to mind when you sit down to write down names. Pray about and over your list. I want to encourage you not to just think of your friends or those who can invite you back over. This should not be the purpose of your visits.

 

Find a reoccurring day in your schedule that always works for having some company over and start making phone calls.

For us, weekends are almost impossible to have people over, so we chose one day (sometimes two) during the week to have people over. Maybe the weekends work best for your schedule - that’s great. Block that time off and start calling the people on your list. Fill in the slots, week by week (or month by month depending on how often the schedule you set allotted for). We aim for twice a month. 

 

Don’t focus on a fancy meal

Make sure you have asked about food allergies or sensitivities before planning your meal. People will feel most at ease with an easy, light, healthy meal. There is no need to be formal when you are wanting to focus on relationships. The point of this practice is to touch hearts with warmness, not impress them with your cooking skills (though I’m sure yours are great too).

 

Make your home inviting

While every surface does not have to sparkle, your home should be tidy and neat. No one truly likes a dirty place. Light a candle or pick up some fresh blooms from the grocery store (or from your garden). Make sure any table linens you use are clean. You can even use cloth napkins (We do, but that’s because we don’t have any paper ones)! Serve your simple meal in pretty dishes rather than straight from the pot. Little touches like these will make your home even more inviting. Fun tip: if it's warm enough and if you have outdoor furniture and sufficient shade, sitting outside is a great idea!

 

Related: True Hospitality Made Practical: Three Easy Tips

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity | Hosting Made Easy | www.maplealps.com

 

Worry about souls, not table spreads

Make sure your conversation also has a purpose. Be encouraging, not critical. Be kind about everyone you speak of. Listen carefully and be interested in what your guests say. Help them feel at ease during their stay and offer a prayer for them before they leave.

 

Remember that they are there to visit with you, not your house

There is no need to be stuck in the kitchen all day. There is no reason to slave over polishing every corner of your house (or every piece of silverware) for their arrival. Your guests love you and they love your authenticity. They will appreciate the simpleness and ease in which you present your hospitality.

 
Relationships are so important! Gather with intention!
 

Do you gather with intention? Tell me about it below!