I recently came across an advice column on Esquire.com called “Ask a Clean Person,” c/o Lena Dunham’s newsletter, Lenny. The writer is surely a kindred spirit: cleaning is my jam, Dumplings. Nothing thrills me more than throwing a hamper full of dirty clothes in the washing machine (despite the trek to the laundromat) or tackling a sink full of dirty dishes. I even have a little note on the fridge that says “clean more,” which I wrote in my special gold glitter gel pen and decorated with stars.
Okay, before you put me on your crazy list, let me tone it down and tell you about the non-crazy clean things you can do, including with your diet. The piece I read on Lenny was about cleaning your home with 30-minute projects, which anyone–crazy or not–can easily do and feel good about. It got me thinking about what else I could clean up, especially with the back-to-school season upon us. Freshly sharpened pencils and new, clean stationary are the epitome of fall, even when you’re not a student.
What struck me first, though, as a cleaning project was my eating habits. This summer has been weirdly busy, and it’s lead me to some less-clean eating choices I justified as “spontaneous” or “convenient” in any given situation (bagels at my office’s summer Friday breakfasts, makeshift meals when I returned home from a long weekend with a sadly stocked refrigerator). But now that the regularity of fall is back, I’m ready to start with a cleaner, and more cost-effective, dietary slate.
Granola is one of my favorite things to make at home: I can exert control over the ingredients and save money. It’s also really easy to make “clean.” Like many other healthy buzzwords, clean is not particularly well defined, but one can think of it in these general terms: focusing on whole foods, limiting refined sugars, and choosing organic when possible. A vegan diet is geared toward clean eating, but the aforementioned summer distractions can steer even the best vegan off track.
This recipe is highly personalized to include my favorite flavors–the cardamom and tahini is a particularly delightful, albeit surprising, combination–while minimizing the sweet factor. Plus, it’s super clumpy, achieved with the lighter-than-oats quinoa flakes. (If you can’t find them easily, you can substitute for a flour of your choice, and yes, more clumps!) I also chose coconut oil for my liquid over other oils (like olive) for this reason: I keep my granola refrigerated or frozen, and the chilled coconut oil will solidify slightly for more clumps. All ingredients were organic, but of course that’s not a *requirement* (the clean police won’t come for you if they’re not; trust me, I know). Don’t get intimidated by the ingredient list, either: it’s a lot of stuff in little jars, but it’s worth it when each bite is bursting with so many different flavors and textures.
Whether you’re going back to class this fall, getting your kids ready for school, or just embracing the season, you can find in this granola a warming, nutritious, squeaky-clean start to your day.
Clean Chunky Granola
1. Prepare flax egg in a large mixing bowl and let it set. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
3. Add the liquid ingredients and mix.
4. Add the spices (to taste) and vanilla.
5. Spread in an even, homogenous layer (this is key for clumping) on your baking sheet and cook for 45-50 minutes, until slightly browned on the top. Don’t disrupt or turn the granola while it’s cooking. Let cool entirely, then break into clumps. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks on the counter, or longer in the fridge or freezer.
Also by Jennifer: UnGrilled Eggplant with Savory Vegan Yogurt Sauce
Related: Low-Sugar Granola Bars
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Photos: Jennifer Kurdyla