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Thursday
Apr232015

Loving Matcha and Green Tea Smoothies

I've been drinking a few cups of green tea every day for the past few years. I do enjoy the taste but more than that I've noticed that since I began drinking the brew I've experienced fewer cold viruses. So now when I have a scratchy throat, instead of popping vitamin C pills I drink extra green tea. The tea is easy on my stomach unlike coffee. I recently discovered matcha green tea, which as you can see below presents as a vibrant green powder instead of tea bags. Matcha tea is ground whole green tea leaves, so you end up drinking a super strong concentration of its cancer-fighting plant chemical epigallocatechin gallate (up to 3 times more than is found in regular green tea), yet with only about a third of the caffeine in a cup of brewed coffee...so less stomach irritation and jitters.

To prepare a cup of matcha tea, you only need about a half to one teaspoon of the powder mixed into warm water (boiling water can destroy the tea creating a bitter taste) and then whisked briskly until the tea dissolves and a foam is created. It tastes like regular green tea but more intense. Matcha tea is all the rage now, added to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, banana bread and even cookie dough. It adds that beautiful all natural grass-green hue (I have a feeling St. Patrick's Day recipes will pop up next year using matcha tea!). DavidsTea offers three kinds of matcha green tea and three more flavored matcha varieties. They'll prepare it for you hot or cold, and even sell a special tea bottle with a built-in wisk in the cover so you can easily shake up your matcha tea to go.

Below is my first try at an easy matcha smoothie incorporating my usual fave smoothie ingredients. It's mildy sweet, rich and filling. Enjoy!

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie 

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla soy or almond milk

1 small frozen banana

1/2 cup diced pineapple

1 tsp matcha green tea powder

2 tablespoons chia gel* 

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend on high until mixed well.

*To make a batch of chia gel, mix 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds into 8 ounces water and let sit for 15-20 minutes.


Tuesday
Apr072015

Quick and Easy Granola Bars

If I can take any kind of shortcut with cooking, I will find it! So when I say these bars are quick and easy, you can trust they are. This recipe has four ingredients and needs only a saucepan and baking dish. Goes into the oven for about 20 minutes. I eat a packaged granola bar every day because it's convenient and satisfying, so I loved this homemade version from Diary of a Fit Mommy. She used three ingredients that most people already have in their kitchens. I only changed it by adding one more ingredient of a chia/flaxseed blend sprinkled on top of the bars before baking.

Easy Granola Bars

Ingredients

3/4 cup honey

1 cup peanut or almond butter (or sunflower seed butter if nut allergies)

3 cups old fashioned oats

Chia, ground flaxseeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. On low heat, add peanut butter and honey into a medium saucepan and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour oats into the mixture and stir well until combined. 
  4. Pour batter into a 9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until top is firm to touch.
  5. Cool well before cutting into squares.

The one downside with these bars is that they're crumbly. When trying to cut them into squares, some fell apart. So I saved the crumbles in a Tupperware and have been sprinkling them into my Greek yogurt and oatmeal...or just eating a spoonful when I need a quick pick-me-up! 

 

Sunday
Mar292015

Chia Carrot Smoothie

I've been using chia seeds for a while, sprinkling them into yogurt or oatmeal, as a good vegetarian source of omega-3s, high quality protein, and fiber. They don't taste like much or have a noticeable texture as a mix-in, which is why you can easily add them into almost any food. Recently I tasted a Mamma Chia Raspberry Passion drink and absolutely loved it. The seeds were hydrated so they became gel-like, kind of like the tapioca pearls in bubble tea. I immediately looked up how to make chia gel, which is super easy. Just add 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds to 8 ounces of water, shake well, and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Chia seeds soak up to 10 times their weight in water, which transforms them into a gelatinous substance with multiple uses: as an egg replacement in baking, instead of eggs as a binder when making meatloaf or meatballs, or to thicken soups and sauces. 

But I was most interested in adding them to smoothies. I don't like flaxseeds in shakes because they taste grainy, so I thought a chia gel might work perfectly! There were also a few other ingredients I wanted to add. One was Blue Hill's Carrot Yogurt, which is part of an innovative line of savory tart yogurts that have very little added sugars, so are low in carbohydrate. The other was Metamucil Fiber, made from a soluble fiber called psyllium that dissolves quickly. A teaspoon of this would add even more fiber along with the chia gel to help create a very filling and healthful shake.

An easy chia gel. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

My first taste of the yogurt wasn't great...sour! I have to admit I grew up loving Columbo Strawberry yogurt, which is full of sugar. I now eat mostly Greek yogurt but still choose sweeter versions, so this took getting used to. To tame the tart, I added frozen banana and the orange-flavored Metamucil Fiber. Much better. As I started snapping photos of the shake, I wanted a deeper color so on a whim threw in some turmeric. I know that sounds crazy but what a cool discovery, because it deepened and enhanced the existing flavors! The result was a very tasty and savory shake with a hint of sweetness and with a thick filling texture from the chia gel. Awesome.

Chia Carrot Smoothie

1 container Blue Hill Carrot or Sweet Potato Yogurt

3 tablespoons chia gel

1/2 frozen banana

1 teaspoon Metamucil Sugar-Free Orange Fiber

Soy or almond milk to thin out, as desired

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

*Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth

I made a large batch and noticed the next day that the leftovers had thickened even more, so I brought it to work as a delicious yogurt ๐Ÿ˜€.

Disclosure: I've partnered with P&G on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more information at MetaWellness.com.