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spring cleaning ... and a cookie recipe

Ahhh….Spring Cleaning! That time of year when you throw open the windows, tuck away those bulky sweaters, purge all you’ve collected over the winter months and finally tackle the junk drawer you can barely open. The notion of purging unwanted clothes and housewares is pretty straight forward; bag up all the things that no longer fit, you don’t love anymore or just don’t plain need. Pass down to friends or donate. Instantly feel lighter. Easy Breezy. But how about a clean up of your “cleaning supplies”? Ever actually read the long list of ingredients on the back of even your “eco-friendly” sprays and scrubs? And when’s the last time you took inventory of those spices way in the back of the cupboard? Two areas often overlooked when the annual spring clean comes around are those bottles hanging out under the sink and the pantry, or for us city dwellers, the overstuffed cabinets that hold our spices and dried goods. 

First, let’s talk cleaning supplies. There is a spray or scrub on the market for just about every surface in your home, but should cleaning the kitchen counter and the bathroom counter really require a different product? Most surfaces can be cleaned with exactly the same ingredients and a lot less of them. So eliminating the number of cleaning supplies you have is step one. Step two is saying “no” to chemicals you can’t pronounce. Minimizing our exposure to harsh chemicals, especially on surfaces where we prepare food, means reducing our exposure to hormone disruptors and potential carcinogens. Not to mention, these harsh chemicals can have just as much of an impact on the planet as on our bodies when they get rinsed back into our water system. Step three, consider making your own cleaning products. Some of the best natural cleaning agents you may already have in your house. Vinegar, which you will find in just about every DIY eco-friendly cleaning product, is a natural disinfectant and can be used on glass, counters, stainless steel and hardwood floors. Baking soda mixed with a bit of water makes an excellent scrub for stubborn stains and is a natural deodorizer. A halved lemon sprinkled with a bit of salt can be used to scrub stainless steel appliances, leaving them shiny as new. Add essential oils to any of the above and your house will be smelling fresh without the use of synthetic and harmful fragrances. Step four, when you do need to buy something make sure it’s all-natural and try to buy in bulk and refill existing bottles, instead of buying new bottles each time. Now you’re ready to clean up that “cleaning” cabinet and not only simplify your cleaning arsenal but also keep unwanted chemicals out of your home. 

DIY All-Purpose Spray

this recipe couldn’t be easier and is the perfect gateway into the world of DIY cleaning solutions. Use it on all your surfaces and customize the scent to your liking using essential oils. 

1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar 

1 cup distilled water 

20 drops essential oils (tea tree, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, grapefruit, peppermint, clove, orange…) Get creative and make your own combination. Some of our favorites are: lavender + rosemary, clove + orange and lemon + tea tree. 

Combine and store in a glass bottle. Be sure to give a good shake before each use. 

Now on to your pantry. First things first, empty all the shelves with dry goods and spices. This is a great time to use a mix of deodorizing baking soda and warm water to get out any sticky spills and smells ;) Next, check expiration dates on everything packaged and compost or toss anything past its date. Ground spices generally lose their freshness after six months so definitely toss anything that you’ve had for a year or more. Dried beans start to lose their moisture after a year or two. Past that point they will require longer cooking time and will most likely result in a tougher bean. Nuts and seeds will stay relatively fresh at room temperature for six months, but keep much better in the fridge where they can last up to a year; and the same goes for dried grains; rice, oats, popcorn. Nuts, seeds, grains and beans all store best in airtight containers rather than the flimsy packaging most come in. Consider investing in glass jars with tight fitting lids to store all your dried goods. This will not only make it easier to see what it is you have but also give your items the best chance of staying fresh for much longer. Combat future food waste by moving items with closer expiration dates to the front of your cupboard so they aren’t forgotten before going before they go bad. If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably be left with a couple handfuls of random nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, maybe even some chocolate chips at the end of your pantry clean out. What better way to reward yourself for all your hard work than with a perfectly satisfying cookie that puts all those stragglers to good use. 

Cupboard Cookie 

Don’t let all those nuts and seeds at the back of your pantry go to waste. Instead turn them into this satisfying and healthy treat.

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax + 3 Tbsp. filtered water)

1 1/2 cup gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp sea salt

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

½ cup nut or seed butter (we used sunbutter)

½ cup pure maple syrup

1 1/2 cups mixed nuts / seeds / dried fruit (we used 1/2 cup hemp seeds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup raisins) 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flax egg and allow it to gel for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the oats, cinnamon, sea salt, chia seeds, nut/seed butter, and maple syrup. Using a rubber spatula stir in remaining ingredients until well combined and evenly moist. 
  4. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, scoop about 2 Tbsp. of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Using lightly wet hands, flatten the cookies a bit. 
  5. Bake for 10-12, until golden brown on the edges and firm to the touch.
  6. Remove from the oven allow to cool COMPLETELY before removing from the pan.
  7. Store cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.