Tag Archives: antioxidant

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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The Crazy Hot Drink: Foundation Drink No. 1

The Crazy Hot Drink

SERVE IT IN CRYSTAL ALREADY

This drink was inspired by my husband’s cousin, who is obsessed with anti-oxidants. Last April 2012, he literally mailed me some brown powder from British Columbia in a Ziploc baggie, and suggested I try a TBSP every day. Fishy, right? But how could I resist?

Here is the simple 5-ingredient recipe:

  • 12 parts raw cacao powder
  • 1 part cayenne
  • 1 part cinnamon
  • 1 part turmeric
  • 1 part dried ginger

Shake it up in a container of your choosing and store in the freezer. Every morning, my preference is to dissolve about 1TBSP of this “magic powder” into a small goblet of very hot water. Sometimes I add a little milk to make it creamy (try freshly made cashew milk, or raw milk).

The first morning I tried it, I thought it was painfully hot and disgusting, and I cursed my husband’s cousin and his little baggie. The next morning I was still curious, so I tried it again. Not so bad. By the third morning, I was CRAVING the magic powder! Now I make it fresh every few weeks, store it in the freezer, and enjoy 1-2 TBSP every morning. This drink makes me more alert, gives me energy, stimulates digestion (I’m talking BMs here!), and is the greatest start to the day.

Way you will not enjoy it: in a smoothie. It is so spicy and strange, why ruin a giant smoothie. This is better enjoyed in a small serving. Way you might enjoy it: cold. But it will be more difficult to dissolve the spices.

WHY BOTHER?

Consider this a FOUNDATION DRINK. This will replace so many synthetic supplements and make sure that you are getting the micro nutrients and anti-oxidants that your body and mind need. The lowdown:

RAW CACAO: the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate. Contains 54% heart-healthy fat in cacao butter: 34% oleic acid, 33% stearic acid, 26% palmitic acid, 6% other; 31% carbohydrates: 1% sugar, 16% fiber; 11% protein: arginine, glutamine, leucine; 3% polyphenols: flavonols, proanthrocyanins; 1% minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese; and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and E. Raw Cacao can lower blood pressure, improve circulation, promote cardiovascular function, neutralize free radicals, improve digestion and enhance physical and mental well-being by relaxing smooth muscles, dilating blood vessels, increasing circulation of serotonin and other essential neurotransmitters in the brain.

CAYENNE: the dried powder of the hot cayenne pepper. Contains alkaloids, apasaicine, capsacutin, capsaicin, capsanthine, capsico PABA, fatty acids, flavonoids, carotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-bacterial, anti-cold and flu, anti-fungal, anti-allergen, stimulates saliva and digestion, relieves joint pain, normalizes blood pressure, supports detox and weight loss, and prevents migraines and blood clots. Cayenne can raise the metabolism as much as 25%, and you will notice this magic powder gives you a lot of energy!

GINGER: the dried, powdered root. Contains essential oils of gingerol, zingerone, shogaol, farnesene, vitamins B5 and B6, potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Improves intestinal motility, soothes nerves, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, relieves pain, headaches and is the best remedy for motion sickness, nausea and morning sickness.

TURMERIC: the dried yellow roots of the turmeric plant, related to ginger. Circumin is the principal pigment, rich in antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory properties and seems to prevent Alzheimer’s in India when prepared in traditional curries combined with pepper. Contains Vitamins B3, B6, C, E, iron, potassium, manganese, zinc.

CINNAMON: the dried bark of a group of trees in the cinnamon family, though “true cinnamon” comes from Sri Lanka. A single TSP of cinnamon contains 28 mg of calcium, 1 mg iron, 1 g fiber, and considerable vitamin C, K and manganese. Cinnamon improves insulin resistance, digestion, is anti-inflammatory and slows the decomposition of food (it was used as an embalming agent in ancient Egypt). Sniffing cinnamon improves brain function, but don’t try it; stick to sprinkling it on your apples to lower the glycemic load.

As you become more accustomed to the magic powder, you can adjust the ratios. It would be more beneficial to increase the ratio of cayenne, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon: raw cacao. Consider the raw cacao the treat that makes it all go down. I am probably down to 8 parts cacao: 1 part each of the other four spices.

I have also tried adding maca powder for its fertility powers (steer clear teenagers, stay in school), but I didn’t like the resulting flavor and couldn’t really add enough maca to make it beneficial.

Sarah Britton at My New Roots has a delicious spicy “Haute Chocolate” recipe which is much more palatable, as it includes coconut sugar, honey, vanilla, maca and sea salt – which makes it more of a superfood indulgence than a daily foundation drink.

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