Vegan Chai Granola

IMG_2425This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to get my yoga teacher certification through a one month course at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in the Bahamas. I felt like I had prepared pretty well for the month (waking up a little earlier, practicing yoga every day), but, wow, was I wrong. We woke up every morning at 5:30 to go to morning Satsang at 6 (a half-hour of silent meditation on a hardwood floor, followed by chanting and a lecture), then two hours of hatha yoga practice. At 10, we had a brief break for brunch (say that 5 times fast!), followed by karma yoga. Being the youngest person in the YTT course, I was given the odd jobs around the kitchen— re-arranging and wiping down the pantry, scrubbing down the cleaning closet, and scrubbing the ovens twice a week. After karma yoga, it was time for chanting practice or Bhagavad Gita class, depending on the day, followed by a short break. Then a two-hour lecture, and another two-hour hatha yoga class (this time, learning how to teach). At six, we had dinner, and at eight was another two-hour Satsang. Then bed, wake up, and repeat for 30 days.

It was, in a word, exhausting. 

I’ve never been a huge breakfast person, but by the time brunch rolled around at 10, I was starving. While brunch usually consisted of a buffet of fruits, vegetables, and grains, I adopted a go-to meal: homemade granola, soy milk, and peanut butter with a side of chai. I found that this mixture kept me full until dinner at 6, and I knew I was getting enough protein to keep healthy.

While I worked in the kitchen, I also got to meet the sweetest girl (aptly made Honey!) who made the granola every day, and smelled it as it cooked. I love making granola, but I had only ever liked this pumpkin spice granola recipe (which is amazing). I prefer to keep pumpkin spice recipes for the fall, to preserve the sanctity of the flavor. However, I realized that a chai spiced granola would be absolutely amazing, with almond butter as a perfect binding agent.

If you’ve never made homemade granola, have no fear. It’s just about the easiest thing to make and smells absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. It’s important to check for crispness as the granola approaches the later stages, and to mix up the pan periodically to prevent scorching. Feel free to double the batch, but make sure your granola has enough room on the pan. This makes a great breakfast with plant milk and fruit, a topping for smoothies or shakes, and even just a snack on it’s own. I love to make extra and give jars to friends and professors!

Vegan Chai Granola

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

– 3 cups oats (any kind will do; I like old-fashioned

–¼ cup uncooked quinoa

– ½ cup almond milk (creamy is best; not the best recipe for homemade)

– ½ cup maple syrup 

— ½ cup nuts or seeds (pecans or raw sunflower seeds work best)

— ¼ cup ground flaxseeds 

— 2 tsp chai spice 

— 1 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast the oats and quinoa on a baking sheet, about ten minutes. 
  2. While oats and quinoa are toasting, mix together other ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Pour oats and quinoa into bowl and mix everything. Spread back onto baking sheet. 
  4. Drop the oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake granola for 20 minutes. 
  5. Stir granola, and return to oven for 20 minutes. 
  6. Continue to check and stir at 5 to 10 minute intervals until quinoa is crunchy. 
  7. Let cool. Store in a jar or airtight container for up to a week. Serve with non-dairy milk. 

Did you like this recipe? Any suggestions? Let me know!

Happy baking!

vegan chai granola

The 5 Biggest Greenwashing Tactics (And How to Avoid Them)

Greenwashing. It sounds nice, right, like using all natural soap to clean your baby’s hair, or making the house sparkly clean with only baking soda and lemon. I suppose that would be green-washing. But, tragically, the reality isn’t nearly as idyllic.

Greenwashing is essentially what happens when a company tries to make their products, services, or whole organization appear eco-friendly, even when it’s not. It’s similar to the food claims that something is “all natural” and “fat free” or even “vegan”. These may sounds fancy and healthy, but really carry little meaning in regards to overall health. Similarly, products that are greenwashed may make you feel like you’re making a good choice, but in reality they can be just as harmful as their conventional alternatives. I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the most common forms of greenwashing that I see nearly every day.

1. “All natural” 

So, just like in food labels, this doesn’t really mean anything because there are essentially no governing bodies to determine what gets this label and what doesn’t. Just because something is in a green or brown packaging and boasts that it’s natural, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is– or that you want it near your body. Verify the ingredients list, and check for certifications, such as being organic or a biobased product. usda_organic-logo

Speaking of that green and brown packaging– that counts too! Companies will try to market their products in subtle ways that make us reach for them without thinking.

2. “vegan”

This one should be cool, right? But a certain company, whom we shall call “Farnier Gructis” has started proudly marketing certain products as “vegan formula”. But the products are still tested on animals, which isn’t very cool. Or, by my morals and definitions, vegan. Which brings me to the next topic:

3. This Product Not Tested On Animals

Oof. This carries a lot of questions. Were the ingredients tested on animals? Are other products by the company tested on animals? Always look for a certification, such as Leaping Bunny or PETA’s cruelty free logo– they will show which products are cruelty free and vegan!

 

4. Recyclable container/packaging

Ugh. This one is super hard, because obviously recycling is good, but not the best option. Opt for products that are packaged in recycled and recyclable packaging– or, better yet, little to no packaging. Paper and glass are much more easily and cleanly recycled than plastic.

5. Made with “xxx”

No, not moonshine. Saying a product is made with something doesn’t really even mean it’s a major part. If your fruity tooty mango shampoo has more chemicals than mango, it’s really time to let that go, man. Ha.

Spend a little time researching the brands and products you buy. Find if they test on animals, if they have certifications, where you can buy them for the cheapest. Knowing which makeup brands and cleaning supplies have a good reputation can make greener shopping easy. I like Mrs. Meyers’ cleaning supplies, and I sometimes use Seventh Generation as well, or brandless.com. If you can’t find products that suit you, just remember that nearly everything (including you!) can be cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils– there are tons of recipes on Pinterest, from shampoo to dish detergents.

I challenge you to open your eyes a little more while doing your shopping, and maybe make your home a little greener, a little brighter, and a little cleaner!

xoxo Emma