As I learn more about health & fitness, I’ve been trying to catch up on so-called ‘superfoods’. There’s so much talk about goji and lucuma and chia and quinoa and matcha that it’s hard to know what’s what. Diet is so important to overall health, I try to be aware of what I'm eating (even though it often does include little indulgences!) but the amount of information is overwhelming.
Plus, at the end of the day, I still want to enjoy what I eat and not obsess over every little thing. I love cooking and baking and I hate the idea that you have to compromise flavour or enjoyment to be healthy, so finding foods that are healthy and taste good is important to me.
Matcha seems to be a super-buzz-word of late, with lots of different matcha drinks and snacks on the market. Every trendy cafe now seems to have some kind of matcha-based dessert, snack or matcha latte on offer.
KissMe Organics came to the table with an offer to try a pack of their organic matcha green tea powder which gave me a good place to start on my superfood research and the perfect opportunity to read up on the benefits and test it in real life to see if it did what it said on the tin.
So, first of all, a few points I've learned about matcha:
- it's kind of grassy tasting
- it's the finely ground green tea leaves that you normally just steep in water, so they have a lot of the same benefits but multiplied because you're actually eating the leaves
- it contains lots of polyphenols which are antioxidants (good for you!)
- it has about three times the amount of caffeine as steeped green tea (not good, depending on your caffeine stance--frankly I'm all for it!) but it also has a chemical which balances out the caffeine so you supposedly don't get the down sides of caffeine like an energy spike or jitters
- it boosts your metabolism--maybe. They're still doing studies on this.
- you might not want to have too much (many experts say one cup of brewed matcha per day) due to some concerns about lead content, especially if it's grown in China.
So, knowing that the caffeine high might be better for me, it might boost my metabolism and it has lots of those lovely antioxidants, I started to try it in a bunch of different ways to see what I liked best.
First up was matcha lattes. As a coffee fiend I’m particularly interested in alternatives that give me that caffeine boost in the mornings but might be healthier. It’s a tough ask because I love the flavour of a good coffee, but I was willing to give matcha a go since I do like a nice green tea, too. You can find lots of recipes for matcha lattes and drinks online, so it's easy to experiment, but I tried the traditional teaspoon of matcha, made into a liquidy paste with hot water, then topped with frothed milk.
Having tried this a couple of times, it's okay and definitely an acquired taste (not that coffee isn't, I've just had years of practice with that one!). I don't mind it but didn't notice a massive difference from my regular morning source of caffeine so I probably won't give up my cappuccinos any time soon. Matcha lattes were nice for an occasional alternative, though.
Next up I wanted to try some recipes. Since matcha's a stimulant, I figured a breakfast bowl was the way to go. One night I threw together some chia seeds and almond milk and in the morning added a spoon of chia, some agave and topped it with banana and blueberries. Now THIS I could make a morning routine. The matcha flavour is still an acquired taste but you can sweeten this recipe with agave (or maple syrup) and add your choice of fruit. Yummy, healthy and this kept me feeling full for hours! I also didn't have my morning coffee that day and didn't notice missing my caffeine fix... So maybe there's something in that, too! I've included my recipe at the end of this post if you want to try it for yourself.
My most recent and favourite recipe for matcha so far, though, was a matcha rice with miso aubergine I found on the Blue Apron web site. The only thing I changed was removing the (rather large) amount of sugar from the rice section of the recipe and added a bit of sesame oil instead (okay, that was Mr F's bit of genius--fair dues).
I'm not going to say too much about this other than: just try it!
I have a lot of matcha powder still left so plenty of experimentation left to do, but I definitely feel more up-to-speed on the benefits (proven and unproven) of matcha. Because of its savoury/umami flavour, it's been fun to use in all sorts of recipes, and means it's an easy way to up my antioxidant intake--and ease of use in my regular daily life is always going to make me more likely to use something.
Matcha chia breakfast bowl recipe
2 Tbs chia
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp matcha
2 tsp agave (or to taste)
Banana, blueberries or other favourite fruits
1. Mix first three ingredients together in a bowl
2. Refrigerate overnight
3. Add agave
4. Top with fruit
Have you tried matcha? What did you think and would you swap it for coffee or make it a regular part of your diet?
Disclaimer: Occasionally I am offered free product in exchange for a review, as was the case with KissMe Organic Matcha. The opinions expressed in these reviews are my unbiased opinion and are not affected by or paid for by the companies mentioned.