Monthly Archives: September 2013

Super Matcha Fragilista

Super Matcha Fragilista

Oh brother, another drink. The thing is, I just assumed that everybody was already doing this but it turns out I need to hammer this message home:

YOU NEED TO DRINK MATCHA EVERY DAY

I’m talking tea ceremony! Fancy whisk! Drinking from a bowl!

Matcha is finely stone-ground, high quality shade-grown, steamed green tea leaves. You spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into a lovely bowl, add some water just south of boiling (60-70 degrees Celsius), and whisk it until frothy and dissolved. If it doesn’t froth well, then what you’ve got is crappy powdered green tea, not matcha. The whisk is supposed to be bamboo (called a “chasen”), and your whisking style is supposed to be in a Z pattern. Think Zen. Hey, if no one’s watching: whisk how you like.

GREEN TEA VS MATCHA

Green tea has a ton of benefits; we all know that. But see if you can get through this next paragraph without having a FOMO panic attack and brewing yourself a preventative cup:

Green tea increases the metabolism while also reducing appetite. Polyphenols work to intensify fat oxidation. Green tea regulates glucose levels, preventing high insulin spikes. It relaxes blood vessels so changes in blood pressure don’t lead to heart attacks; also, reduces high blood pressure and protects against blood clotting. It rebalances cholesterol ratios – more good, less bad. It targets cancer cells without damaging the surrounding cells. It delays Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s deterioration, protects brain cells from dying and restores damaged brain cells. Catchetin in green tea is an antioxidant which destroys bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections and cavities. L-Theanine in green tea is an amino acid that imparts tranquility and eases depression. Green tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, so will protect against aging and disease in general. Phew, tell me you’re drinking some already!

The problem is, you need to regularly drink at least 2 cups a day for these benefits, and probably a lot more. Drinking that much tea is so exhausting.

SO LET’S CUT TO THE MATCHA

Matcha has all the benefits of green tea (catchetins, amino acids), but possibly 137 times more. That’s kind of a huge multiple, so let me back it up with this study from the University of Colorado in 2003. To break it down, the antioxidants in a bowl of matcha tea are 137 times stronger than in a cup of the green tea specifically available at Starbucks, which is to say: stronger than low quality green tea. Most of the green tea available in the West is low quality. So if you can get your hands on some really fancy imported high quality green tea, and if you infuse the leaves at least 3 times, then possibly matcha is only 3 times richer in antioxidants than your custom import. But why go to all that trouble when high quality, organic matcha powder is readily available at health food stores, tea shops and high end groceries – and is usually sold right next to the bamboo whisk.

Matcha powder was invented by a Buddhist monk, Eisai Myoan in the late 1100’s. He introduced it to his fellow monks as an early biohack – using it helped the monks calm down and prepare for meditation. The secret weapon: L-Theanine. This is an amino acid and a glutamic acid which crosses the blood-brain barrier and induces changes in brain alpha waves and reduces mental and physical stress. Combined with caffeine, L-Theanine improves cognition, promotes faster reaction times, and increases working memory.

You only need one cup a day, and should start with a small amount of matcha powder (1/4 tsp). I’ve been using it for a pretty long time, so I tend to shovel the powder in. But I pay for it. There is A LOT of caffeine in matcha powder, and even though it is slow-release and alkalizing (rather than fast release and acidifying like coffee), you are still going to feel it. Don’t drink this at night unless you are trying to catch up on a whole season of Breaking Bad.

There are also warnings about drinking matcha with milk, as a latté, as conventional dairy milk can reduce the antioxidant effects of the tea. So try almond or cashew milk, especially homemade from soaked organic raw nuts. But I’m not terribly worried about a bit of steamed milk, especially if it gets you to start enjoying matcha. Something is better than nothing.

RITUAL NOT CONVENIENCE

Drinking matcha tea should be a ritual, not a fast-food convenience. See if you can keep a little bowl, a whisk and a small tub of matcha powder at your office or place of work, and enjoy this every morning.

When I’m out and about, I am often tempted to order a Matcha Latté from Starbucks or the Whole Foods café – but be warned that these chains use a matcha powder that is really low quality and diluted with sweeteners. Always ask for unsweetened (it will still be sweetened, just less so), and know that you are having a treat, not a healthful beverage.

Finally, a shout out to my cousin Kyra who forgot her matcha tea ceremony set at my cottage six years ago, which turned into me appropriating it and discovering a new love. THANKS!

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Back to School Bagels

Back to School Bagels

This can actually happen, people. Bagels without grain. I mean, the Oopsies are a game-changer because they are perfectly LCHF. But these come close.

Let’s Talk Macronutrients

This recipe makes 6 bagels, which break down to 7g carbohydrates each, plus an amazing 18g of fat and 11g of protein. Your ratio for one of these is 69% fat, 13% carbs, 18% protein. Pretty ideal.

(Compare that a classic bagel has 45g of carbohydrate, 1g of fat and 9g protein – you can see that it is the opposite of a low carb high fat product. If you eat a classic bagel, you are probably going to feel full, bloated and yet simultaneously hungry. You can see why Dr. William Davis chose to put a stack of bagels on the cover of his best-selling book, Wheat Belly!)

Now if you add a few ounces of cream cheese or nut butter, or cheese and salami, or a fried egg with bacon and cheese… OMG I could go on and on.

But for people who still remember fruits you could do the classic Australian breakfast: toasted grainfree bagel smeared with ripe avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt. Throw a tomato on top, preferably fried in bacon, and life is pretty good.

To make this really easy on yourself, do this in a food processor (like a classic Cuisinart).

Back To School Bagels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Into the bowl of a food processor, add:

1.5 cups almond flour
.25 cup golden flaxmeal
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp sea salt

Pulse a few times to blend.

Break into a large measuring cup or similar:

5 eggs
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Stir this up with a fork and then pour the wet mixture into the adding funnel of your food processor while you pulse everything together.

Now it gets a little messy. If you are a tidy person, you can carefully spoon this thick dough into a buttered DOUGHNUT PAN (mine is from Crate and Barrel).

If you are not as skilled, scoop the dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner. Pipe the dough out into clean circles in your doughnut pan.

Seeds on top help this to “look” more like a bagel, as eating is a visual exercise. So over the top of the bagels, sprinkle:

.5 Tbsp sesame seeds

Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 6 bagels.

After you’ve perfected these, start adding cheddar, scallions, garlic powder, poppy seeds, onion powder, jalapeños, cinnamon and raisins, or whatever you feel like.

It’s as if you just inherited your own What-A-Bagel.

One Last Note (of Caution)

You couldn’t actually take these bagels to school, even though they are called Back To School Bagels. They are made with almond flour, and schools don’t allow any kind of nut product anymore. So these are technically for breakfast before school, unless you go to some awesome nut-loving school or are home-schooled, you lucky freak.

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