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5 Favorites

June 2, 2019

Welcome to my first edition of “5 Favorites” where I’ll share my new finds and favorite foods or wellness products. I hope you enjoy a little sneak inside what inspires me and the foods I enjoy.

ENJOY LIFE PROTEIN BITES

Why I like these is there are no funny ingredients. No weird oils or sugar substitutes. Real chocolate and real sugar is used. 100% plant based protein (coming from sunflower seeds & rice protein) these little balls pack about 8 grams of protein per package (4 bites per package).

Although you could use this as a snack I find these are a great dessert alternative too. They are sweet and chocolatey so definitely could satisfy that sweet tooth.

Enjoy Life prides themselves on creating products that are allergy friendly. Although I don’t have any food allergies I still like to eat these because they are delicious plus I like finding clean and wholesome alternatives for my clients that may be in need of soy-free or wheat-free products. And nowadays most kids have to pack peanut-free lunches. Fortunately, Enjoy Life is free of all these allergens plus free of dairy, egg, tree nuts and more. If you are not familiar with Enjoy Life check out their website here. They make chips, cookies, baking chocolate, etc.

I found these little treats at Trader Joes for $1.29 or you can buy the larger packaged size on Amazon, click here.

CULINA YOGURT

The BEST dairy-free plant-based yogurt out there! Creamy, smooth, thick and honestly if I didn’t already know it was diary-free I would think it was regular Greek yogurt. I find its not as tart as Greek yogurt and has a subtle sweetness that balances out the mild coconut flavor. This yogurt is so addicting and cute, it comes in a little reusable terra cotta pot! Just adorable!

This stuff not only tastes delicious but is GOOD for you too. How often does that happen?! It is made with simple and limited ingredients like coconut cream (just coconut + water), real fruit like blueberries or strawberries, sweetened with maple syrup and good-for-you probiotic cultures (more on probiotics here).

Culina is based in Austin, TX. and is a newish company but growing fast. They are currently available at some retailers like Whole Foods or Sprouts. You can go to their website to find a location near you here. And if there isn’t one, shoot them an e-mail so they can work with grocers in your area to get the product on the shelves!

Although I love the terra cotta pot idea, sustainable zero waste grass to clay packaging. After 5-6 pots I run out of ideas on what to do with them. At this price point, its more of a splurge than something I would buy regularly. Maybe over time another less expensive bio-degradable material will be used to bring down the price point to be more comparable with other non-dairy yogurts.

GOURMET TEXAS PASTA

I came across this company at my local farmer’s market in San Antonio and I am so glad I did! They make wholesome plant-based pasta. All their pastas contain zero eggs or dairy unlike regular pastas. They use non-GMO vegetables, herbs and spices to create a flavorful pasta. I tried a sample that was simply prepared; boiled, seasoned with a little EVOO and salt. WOW it was delicious and so flavorful! The texture wasn’t weird either, it was just like pasta!

They currently sell only fusilli, fettuccini and linguini but you can get these in a wide array of flavors, in fact they have 38 varieties and 8 gluten-free pastas. Some of the flavors that sound delicious are the Spicy Red Curry & Coconut Linguini, Hatch Chili Pasta, & Szechuan Orange Spice Linguini to name a few.

The pasta is available for nationwide shipping online at Gourmet Texas Pasta. OR if you live in the San Antonio area head to the Pearl Farmers Market on Saturdays to taste test and buy your favorite pasta flavor.

KOSMIC KOMBUCHA

Another favorite food company based in Austin, TX. Kosmic has crafted the art of kombucha with so many interesting and delicious flavors. I recently tried the Sway Home Brew (at the restaurant Sway in Austin) made of organic kombucha, lemongrass, lime, young coconut water, local honey. It was so refreshing! Even my mom who doesn’t like kombucha said “I could drink that.”

What I like most about Kosmic is their kombucha isn’t too kombucha-y, it’s not overly fermented or vinegary tasting and not overly sweet either. Kosmic’s kombucha is brewed with teas and herbs & with a touch of sweetness from honey it really is the perfect refreshing drink. With so many unique flavors I can’t wait to try others like Local Lemon Love – organic kombucha, hibiscus flower, lemon and local honey or Groovy Green – organic kombucha, kiwi, pineapple, coconut, wheatgrass & agave.

What is Kombucha: in brief, it is a fermented tea. A “scoby” or bacteria culture is grown during the fermentation process providing a probiotic & antioxidant rich beverage with many health benefits. Kosmic Kombucha also explains it here in more details.

Where to buy Kosmic Kombucha, check out their location finder. It seems mostly Texas stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc. are carrying the product.

DOLCEZZA GELATO

We’ve all had gelato, that rich creamy frozen goodness that originated in Italy. I’m no gelato expert but I’ve had the real Italian gelato from Italy and I have to say Dolcezza does a real good job and officially is one of my favorites!

Based out of Washington, D.C. this company focuses on using local farmers to source their seasonal ingredients from the fruit to the cream. I appreciated that Dolcezza keeps the ingredients minimal and uses real straight-forward ingredients to churn their slow made small batch gelato.

I picked up a pint at my local Whole Foods, Peanut Butter Stracciatella. Oh my, this was so creamy and not an overpowering peanut butter flavor. Truly a perfect balance of creamy peanut butter gelato with thin chocolate pieces throughout. Other flavors I’d like to try are Mascarpone & Berries, Roasted Strawberry and Espresso, mmm!

Their website did not provide much detail on where you can get this gelato. Looks like they are only selling through wholesalers right now or if you live in the D.C. area they have several retailers. But I’d keep an eye out at your specialty grocery you might be seeing this one on the shelves soon. And if you do see it, stock up! You’re going to love this gelato!

Head to Dolcezza Gelato to see their flavors & locations.

Drink Nutrition

TOP BENEFITS OF MATCHA & HOW TO MAKE MATCHA LATTE

May 15, 2019

Matcha is becoming super popular. It’s no longer just limited to your lattes and teas, you can find it in protein bars, energy bites, smoothies and more making it easier to enjoy all the benefits from this green superfood. I’m big fan of matcha not only for the health benefits but I love the earthy taste of matcha. My favorite way to enjoy matcha is in the form of a latte. By using almond or coconut milk I find the bitterness fades into a subtle sweetness. Since $5 lattes at the coffee shop aren’t really in my budget I’ve come up with my own deliciously creamy version for home. I actually think it’s better than the coffee shops and best of all and I can enjoy this warm drink as I sit in my comfy pants and slippers and slowly sip with a book in hand – its the perfect cozy situation.

Not only is matcha powder a beautiful vibrant green it boasts of an impressive list of nutrients and health benefits to go along with it. Such as, antioxidants, increased mental clarity, improved cognition, liver and heart benefits to name a few. So lets take a closer look as to why matcha is so stellar.

Why Drink Matcha

Well, besides it’s beautifully green color and earthy taste, matcha is considered a superfood. This green powder is an antioxidant powerhouse!  You might be familiar with regular green tea and know that green tea is good for you because of all those antioxidants. Well similarly, matcha has antioxidants but on steroids. One serving of matcha has as many antioxidants as 10 cups of regular green tea! Essentially Matcha is green tea powder but harvested and processed differently. The matcha leaves are specially harvested and then the whole leaves are ground making it more concentrated then just brewed green tea leaves.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are your body’s defense agents to fight toxins from pollution, chemicals, and radiation that we are constantly exposed to day to day. In particular, a potent antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (say that 10 times fast!) abbreviated EGCG is found to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity and matcha contains this powerful antioxidant.

A lot of what we know at about matcha is because powerful antioxidants found in green tea and blueberries for example have been studied for years and matcha contains these same antioxidants but at an even higher potency.

While matcha has become a trendy drink, I think it’s important to understand some key benefits to have a better purpose for incorporating matcha into your diet. Matcha can enhance an already healthy lifestyle but don’t expect this to cure disease, although those claims may exist there are no scientific studies to prove this. Think of matcha more as a dietary supplement to compliment already healthy habits. Benefits of matcha may help restore your bodies integral well-being and bring harmonious balance. Meaning it may help decrease stress, bring calmness and focus and may enhance brain function and memory.

Matcha itself has limited research but because matcha contains similar antioxidants to green tea studies do exist showing green tea may improve heart health, liver function and mental health. But remember one single health food is not a fix-all. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats is key to maximize the potential of matcha.

While matcha does have a lot of health benefits it may not be for everyone. Matcha has its own distinctive flavor, slightly grassy, earthy tasting, somewhat bitter followed by a lingering sweetness. Some people find matcha too bitter however adding matcha to foods and beverages helps to minimize it’s pungent flavor. I really enjoy using matcha in the form of a latte. I find using almond milk offers a nutty sweetness that balances out the matcha perfectly. Equally delicious you can use coconut milk which has a creamy sweetness that really made the matcha latte a silky dream. So either almond or coconut milk you can’t go wrong with!

Also, matcha contains caffeine but has a slow release compared to other caffeinated drinks like coffee. Matcha has a lot less caffeine than coffee, only 30 mg/teaspoon compared to 150 mg per 8 ounce cup coffee.

Tips For The Perfect Matcha:

Purchase only the organic communal grad matcha: this ensures the highest quality process and pure matcha. Other forms may be a blend and may not contain the same benefits. I use Jade Leaf Matcha, as seen in the photo above. This is a high quality organic communal matcha that has a great taste.

Some low grade matcha brands may appear dull or dark. A good quality matcha should be bright green.

If you plan on making matcha lattes regularly, I would recommend investing in a Japanese bamboo whisk, I have Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo whisk. It is delicate whisk made specifically for matcha to perfectly smooth and blend matcha. You can use a standard whisk but make sure you blend the matcha well so there are no lumps.

How To Use Matcha

Preparing matcha is simple. I usually prepare the dairy-free milk in a small saucepan while I get my matcha ready. I put 1/2-1 tsp matcha in a mug and add 2 tbsp or so of hot water and whisk in a “z” pattern with my bamboo whisk until the matcha is smooth, lump free and frothy. Then once your milk is heated add to your mug and stir.

If a matcha latte isn’t your thing, there are several other ways to incorporate it into your diet so you can unlock the benefits. Try adding a teaspoon into your smoothie or try my recipe for Matcha Energy Bites which has a subtle matcha flavor but you reap all the healthy benefits of matcha!

Let me know if you enjoyed this post below and if you make this delicious drink please tag #platefulnutrition, I’d love to see your creations!