Maple Alps


Going Plant-Based? Here are 15 Things to Think About

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

Different individuals want to go plant-based for different reasons. Some are told by a medical professional to do so, others just want to because they see the benefit (or saw too many documentaries). Whatever your decision, it’s important to note that going plant-based should not be seen as a diet. It is a lifestyle that will greatly improve your wellbeing and life!

Several times this past year I’ve been asked about how I went about going on a plant-based diet, and so I decided to share some tips on the blog. My plant based journey started for health reasons, and as I learned more and saw the benefits, I kept adding to the list. Ethical reasons, for example, were not something I originally thought of, but now is something I strongly advocate for. I feel satisfied with what I eat, because choosing a plant based diet has really forced me to be intentional about what I put in my body.

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Going Plant-Based? Here are 15 Things to Think About |


Motivation & Commitment

Remember your motivation for wanting to start a plant-based diet. Do you want to make healthier choices? Lose weight? Have more energy to accomplish your daily tasks? Live longer? Save animals? Remember your why!


Eat A Lot

Fresh plant-based food has a lot less caloric density than foods filled with empty and fatty [the bad kind] calories. Expect to want to eat a lot. I remember first transitioning and wondering why I was eating double the food, but losing weight.


Fill Your Fridge & Pantry with Healthy Food

It’s harder to eat unhealthy foods when your home is stocked with the good stuff! Purge your pantry and refrigerator and don’t feel guilty about tossing the food that is of little to no benefit for your body! If you’re thinking about money, think of it this way: a doctor bill in the USA will cost more than it costed for your junk food! A note: many products out there marketed for those on a plant-based diet are more or less “vegan junk food.” Be sure to read labels to ensure you’re getting nutritious foods - not just unhealthy alternatives to products that normally contain animal products. More on that later in this post.

vegan pantry |


Focus on Vegetables & Fruits - & Don’t Forget: Legumes Are Your friends.

Stock up on vegetables and fruits (bonus points if it’s all mostly in season!). Legumes are filling and so delicious! Best part? No nutrition labels to read! Try to avoid having to read them by getting foods that do not have a nutrition label (ideas: fresh produce, bulk beans and rices, etc.)


Make Food Swaps

Avocado on toast instead of butter or cream cheese, tofu instead of chicken, water instead of sugary drinks; there are plenty of easy food swaps to make your new plant-based diet doable


Take Food on the Go

We live in a time where we are always on the go. Eliminate the temptation to eat junk food or fast food by making sure to have wholesome snacks with you. Keep almonds in your bag and pack your own lunch - it’s not as hard as you might think! If you’re like me, using pretty, waste-free food storage containers might motivate you more!


Start One Meal at a Time

Eating plant-based is more than a diet. It is an entire lifestyle change. Ease into by starting with just one meal a day being completely plant-based. A good one to start with is breakfast. It’s so easy to make vegan pancakes, smoothies, granolas, muffins, and other great breakfast foods. Gradually add a plant-based afternoon meal, and you’ll soon find it is easy to have all of your meals completely free of animal products.



Get Educated and Get Resourceful

Watch documentaries, read books, talk with nutrition professionals. Just a few of my favorite resources: The Cheese Trap (book - get it here on Amazon), Forks Over Knives (documentary, cookbook, magazine, website), What the Health (documentary), How Not to Die (book - get on Amazon)


Get a Support Group/Friend

Everything is easier when you have someone supporting you or keeping you accountable. Enter the journey with a friend, or have your best cheerleader support you along the way. Have someone to report to if you need accountability. Maybe enlist someone to be your guinea pig for all the tasty recipes you’ll be whipping up.


But Start Your Change Quietly

Instead of telling everyone you know about your decision, you may want to start quietly. To be frank, you will avoid a lot of scrutiny and questioning as you answer these questions for yourself and figure out how to listen to your own body and deal with your own addictions (mine was cheese!). Focus on yourself and your mission. Remember your why and think about how much better you will feel.


Equip your Kitchen

Some plant-based foods require different kitchen tools. For example, you’ll likely scarcely use steak knives, but you’ll definitely need a high powered blender (definitely a kitchen essential)


Don’t Worry About the Protein

Those on a plant-based diet get plenty of protein. Unless you have an extreme medical condition, you do not need protein shakes to get it. Great sources of protein include beans, soy products like seitan and tofu, quinoa, hemp seeds and even nuts. Chances are, you’ll get more protein than those who are concerned about you getting that protein.


Keep Things Exciting

Try new foods and prepare ingredients in different ways. Blend flavors, experiment, and have fun! Start a dinner club. Buy a cookbook or two. Browse recipes on the web. Test out restaurants. There are also a ton of ethnic foods that are plant based and wholesome! Just have a blast trying out new things.


Be Mindful: Read Food Labels

This may shock you at first - especially if you were not in the habit of reading food labels. The first thing to look at is not the nutritional value, but the ingredient list. You may be surprised about what exactly is lurking in your favourite vegan snacks, but you will start feeling good about others! Remember: aim for have to read as few food labels as possible by buying whole foods that don’t require them!


Be Kind to Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. You’re human. Just get back up, dust yourself off and try again! And again(!) if need be.


Meal Planner |

Some Recipes to Get You Started:


Tricks For Minimalist Packing [Plus A FREE Checklist!]

TravelAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 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.

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Tricks For Minimalist Packing |


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



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 (I like these ones from Amazon) are also really helpful with packing minimal amounts - if they are in your budget.

minimalist packing checklist maple alps


My Basic Travel Necessities:


  • 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 (seriously life-changing!)

  • 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


  • Computer or Tablet

  • Phone

  • Earbuds/headphones

  • Fitbit or Watch

  • Any charging cords (if two devices use the same cord, only take one)

  • Camera (next level: just use your phone!)


  • 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?

checklist download |
Tips for Minimalist Packing |

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 |



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 |


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!