Mmm, Matcha

by letthegoodin on January 28, 2015

Matcha Green TeaAfter sharing this photo of a morning cup of matcha green tea on Instagram/Facebook, I received several questions about preferred brands and the “whys” of matcha. After sending a few individual responses, it seemed worthwhile to share more information here!

As for the myriad benefits of matcha, they include:

  • It is an undeniable powerhouse of antioxidants, including the potent catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) which may have cancer-fighting properties (click here to read more about scientific studies done on matcha and cancer, and here about a study done on rats)
  • Can boost energy levels, endurance and metabolism
  • May help improve cholesterol
  • Some find it can have a calming effect (without making you sleepy) – because of the amino acid L-Theanine contained in matcha leaves
  • May be good for memory and focus

*Note, matcha does include naturally occurring caffeine. I personally can sometimes be sensitive to coffee caffeine, but have never felt jittery from matcha. If you’re caffeine-sensitive and interested in trying matcha, just have a little at first and earlier in the day to see how you feel and make sure it agrees with you before drinking more.

There are many brands of matcha available – some great, some less so. A few personal favorites include:

The main two things to keep in mind when perusing and purchasing are source and quality. The best matcha comes from Japan, is organic (ideally) and high-grade. It’s also pure – not blended with other flavors or sweeteners. The highest quality matcha tends to be a bit pricey, but it’s worth it even to just buy a small amount. You’ll taste and feel the difference.

Matcha is traditionally a ceremonial tea from Japan. When you sip a great cup, it’s not hard to understand why. It is something to be savored, enjoyed and appreciated!

For one serving, heat water to just under boiling. Using a traditional matcha whisk or a small regular kitchen whisk, whisk a small amount of matcha powder (often about 1 tsp for 1 cup/ 8 oz water total) into a bit of the water until smooth (no clumps) and frothy. Then gently whisk/stir in more water. You can also replace some (or all, for a richer drink) of the water with a non-dairy milk – coconut, rice and almond all work well.

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Chopped Bruschetta Salad

by letthegoodin on January 22, 2015

Chopped Bruschetta SaladHere’s a recipe that transforms bruschetta by deconstructing it and turning it into a salad. All of the deliciousness plus added nutritiousness.

One of my go-to bruschetta recipes is a concoction of tomatoes, olives, beans, greens and some herbs and seasoning (oil, vinegar, pepper, salt). But you can only get so much of that on a slice of bread – and as delicious as bread may be, the reality is the real nutrition comes from what’s on top.

So I prepared the bruschetta topping as usual, but added in loads more greens and had a few slices of bread on the side to scoop up some bites with. All of the goodness of bruschetta, but a bit healthier!

Try it with your own favorite bruschetta topping — throw some on top of a bed of greens with a piece or two of bread on the side. You won’t be disappointed.

Recipe: Chopped Bruschetta Salad (makes 2 servings)

[click to read on…]

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DIY Holiday Treat Gift Ideas

by letthegoodin on December 23, 2014

As Hanukkah comes to and end and Christmas is just around the corner, you may be scrambling for some last minute gift ideas. A thoughtful do-it-yourself (DIY) gift can be just the thing. More time may afford you the ability to make a handmade treasure like a knit hat or scarf, but whether or not time is on your side, you very well may have the ingredients you need already in your home to put together a lovely gift to give.

While a box or jar of your famous cookies or bars is a fail-safe (consider buying a nice glass or ceramic jar/container to fill with your homemade treats as a two-piece gift – or do this with large mason jars), you can also package your own baking mixes in jars – which lets the recipient then make it when they want. Not a bad idea when there is already an abundance of indulgence around the holidays! Flats of large mason jars can be purchased pretty inexpensively at hardware or bulk stores, and all you have to do is layer dry ingredients in one at a time – starting with the largest quantity at the bottom.

Use your favorite recipe – just about all are workable. A few tips to keep in mind when compiling the jars:

  • Whisk together the base ingredient (typically flour of some sort) with the other small and fine things (salt, baking powder/soda, spices, etc.), and pour that into the jar first as the base layer.
  • If chocolate chips or dried fruit are included, add those in as one of if not the last ingredient on top.
  • Decorate the jars with ribbon, a personalized gift tag, a painted design or whatever else you think of.
  • Jars like this have increased in popularity in recent years, and are usually a recipe for indulgence – which is great (we all need a little indulgence!)! But why not also consider throwing something a little cleaner or healthier into the mix. Try a recipe with a whole grain flour, less sugar, etc.
  • Don’t forget to include an attached tag or sticker on the jar that includes the full recipe and instruction list, including the wet ingredients that will need to be added in.

Want an alternative to baking mixes? Try:

  • Bottles or jars of homemade extracts (e.g., vanilla beans + vodka)
  • Bottles or jars of alcohols (e.g., lemons + sugar + vodka = limoncello) — even if still aging
  • Jars of homemade jam, nut butter (nutella?!), caramel
  • Jars or baggies of homemade superfood powder blends

I’d love to know what your go-to DIY gift is – or if you’re looking for a particular recipe that you can gift – leave a note in the comments or send me a message.

Wishing you happy and healthy holidays!!

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The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, brimming with happiness and love. And yet for many reasons, it can also become a particularly emotionally charged (positive and/or negative) or stressful time. Between obligations, year-end work demands and more, it can be easy to get caught up in doing all of the things you are responsible for doing, as well as focusing on others’ needs.

So it’s a good time to remember to keep yourself balance as much as possible, check in internally, and take care of yourself. If you aren’t feeling and being your best, you’ll suffer first and the most, and it will trickle elsewhere in your life. Self-care is not selfish – it’s vital for your own well-being!

Stress is important to acknowledge. It is a reality that we all must deal with on relative levels, typically more often than we’d ideally like – so it’s incredibly important to know how to deal with it better from preventative or proactive, and reactive, standpoint. While it’s impossible to completely remove or control external stressors, we can learn how to shift our perspectives, perceptions, self-awareness and self-care to better manage such things. Stress is only as bad as we left it affect us. We are our reactions, and with some work, we can learn to process external stimuli and situations differently in a healthier way that becomes much easier and more productive.

Keep in mind that our emotional/mental and physical selves are not separate entities – when one is stressed, the other is impacted as well; conversely, helping one can help the other too – so it’s important to always take care of both.

Here are some ideas to consider. Some may be best employed as “in the moment” diffusers, some are helpful as preventative or ongoing practices that are best if done daily – better equipping you to deal with stress.

15 Simple Self-Care Solutions to Minimize and Mitigate Stress

[click to read on…]

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Hearty Miso Soup

by letthegoodin on December 8, 2014

Hearty Miso SoupMaybe you’re still feeling a little full post-Thanksgiving. Maybe you have chilly-weather sniffles. And/or maybe you just love warming, nourishing delicious soup. No matter the reason – this is the soup to make, now. Beautifully murky miso soup is a favored offering at Japanese restaurants, but don’t wait until you’re out to eat to have it – make it yourself, and you’ll never look back. And this recipe includes more vegetables (way more scallions! KALE! carrots! mushrooms!) for a heartier, more satisfying bowl. Low maintenance, high flavor.

Note: The brand of miso you use will impact the overall flavor, so try different brands until you find one you like. Also, you can use just about any seaweed in here. Wakame is particularly great – it adds that signature brininess to the broth that marries with the miso so well. And like many sea vegetables, wakame is full of important nutrients.

Recipe: Hearty Miso Soup (makes about  4 servings)

[click to read on…]

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Cross Training Yoga from Travis Eliot’s “The Ultimate Yogi” Program

October 8, 2014

This is so exciting! One of my (if not my most) favorite DVD programs is Travis Eliot’s “The Ultimate Yogi”. Whether you follow it as a guided 108 day program, or use it at your own pace, it’s a wonderfully supportive and effective home program that really touches on all elements of yoga and can [...]

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Spicy Sesame-Peanut Buckwheat Noodles with Julienne Vegetables and Roasted Tofu

October 7, 2014

Peanuty, sesame-tinged sauces so nicely compliment a tangled plethora of vegetables and noodles. And the flavors can be be wonderfully varied by by playing around with ingredients and quantities. I think I make it a little differently every time, but it never disappoints! A few years ago, I shared a recipe for cold & spicy [...]

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Healthier Pumpkin Squares

September 25, 2014

As mentioned in my last post, I love fall. Across the country, it’s a season that to me reveals itself beautifully… changing leaves, cooler nights, a generally cozier feel. Also with the onset of fall comes an onslaught of pumpkin everything… including another recipe here. I couldn’t resist.   While I don’t really like pumpkin [...]

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Vibrant Green Uber Juice

September 21, 2014

Fall is such a beautiful, wonderful time of year. My favorite, actually! But it’s also a common cold season, so it’s as prime a time as ever to make sure we care for ourselves and our immune systems -  which we can do in part by staying hydrated, getting proper sleep, managing and reducing stress, [...]

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Skin Care: What’s On the Outside Must Go Inside

September 17, 2014

I’ve paid a lot of attention for years on what I put in my body – but it was only in more recent years that I also started more closely considering what I put on my body. What now feels like a very obvious notion was slower to creep up on me… all that lotion [...]

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