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Friday, December 16, 2011

Matcha Smoothie


{Isn't the light green color awesome?}

* This is a guest post by Jill from "The 411 at 488"

 All you green tea lovers, be well advised to GIVE THIS SMOOTHIE a go!  I had to make an extra big batch this morning to satisfy  LARGE second helpings for both the Mr. and I!  Whew, I can’t say enough about this refreshing and healthful start to my day!  The earthy Matcha (green tea powder) mixed with the creamy frozen banana and the sweet/tart nectarines came together perfectly to make this one of my favorite smoothies yet!  As always, a big hit of protein powder and ground flax seed filled my stomach and kept me very satisfied until later in the afternoon–even after burning up all of my energy stores during an excruciating 90 minute power yoga session first thing this morning!


If you haven’t already picked up a can of matcha to make my green tea panna cotta or lattes, stop by your local asian grocer the next time you are in the neighborhood–it isn’t cheap, but don’t worry, a small amount of the powder goes a LONG, LONG way!

So the dietitian in me HAS to tell you all about the health benefits of this green powder.  I am sure you have all heard the health buzz on green tea, right??  Well, think about the fact that this powder is 100% ground green tea leaves–NOT just the water that the leaves have been steeped in–giving you concentrated exposure to the ‘good stuff’.  So what is so good about it you ask??  To start, matcha provides a whole boat load of antioxidants to help prevent aging (LOVE IT) and chronic diseases (doubly LOVE IT). Fruits and veggies are great sources of antioxidants, but matcha is unparalleled in comparison. In fact, matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants than even fruit’s best performers–pomegranates and blueberries!  Experts at Tufts University have uncovered that matcha possesses an amazing twenty times (yep, I said 20x!!) more so than pomegranates or blueberries.


Even better, matcha contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known as catechins, which aren’t found in other foods. More specifically, the catechin EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) provides super-charged cancer-fighting properties. Most importantly, EGCg and other catechins counteract the effects of evil free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCg, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body’s integral well-being and balance.  Sound pretty good?  Just wait, there is more!

Over a thousand years ago, matcha came to Japan as an aid to meditation practice.  I know, SNOOZE-VILLE, right!??  Which is why they would routinely drink matcha — to remain alert, yet calm. Modern science has recently confirmed the lessons of centuries of tradition. Matcha is rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brain’s functioning. While stress can induce beta waves—an excited, more agitated state—L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. And while L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas. As an additional benefit (and maybe because of this), L-Theanine may help memory and learning ability–I am sure we can all use a little help there!  Simply put, it promotes concentration and clarity of mind without any of the nervous energy found in coffee. So a green tea latte (made with Silk’s vanilla coconut milk, of course) really does make a lot of sense as an afternoon snack/pick-me-up!!

{Creamy smooth, lightly sweet, and full of healthy ingredients!}

Guys and gals you are going to LOVE THIS…one of the most unexpected benefits matcha drinkers experience is a boost of energy through the day. In one study, researchers had thought that this was from the caffeine in matcha, but they found that it was actually the combination of matcha’s natural properties. Another recent study in particular found that matcha even improved physical endurance by 24%. Even if you aren’t facing a grueling workout, matcha can help you through the everyday marathon, whether it’s that project due the next day or getting the kids from school to soccer practice.  Oh, and on top of that a recent study shows that if consumed regularly, matcha may boost metabolism and burn calories up to as much as 4 x!

Whew, I am FINALLY done!  So, can you think of anything with health benefits comparable to matcha–all for next to ZERO calories??  Me either!  Fire up your blender and get ready to FEEL the beauty of this sensible, yet delicious breakfast or afternoon drink!  If you discover different scrumptious ways to use your matcha powder please send me a note with the details–I would love to hear your ideas!  Cheers!


Matcha Smoothie
Serves: 2
1 fresh banana
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen nectarines or peaches (mango could work, too!)
1 scoop ground golden flax seed
2 scoops beneprotein (or your favorite protein powder)
1 tsp. matcha powder (add more to taste)
1-11/2 cups coconut milk (depending upon your desire consistency)
____________
Throw it all in your blender or smoothie machine and let it rip!  Drink and ENJOY!!

Jill has an awesome food diary, The 411 at 488, full of healthful and delicious meals.  I met Jill through a friend (what up, Coop!) and I am so glad to know of her and her awesome site.  She is a registered dietitian and knows what she is talking about when it comes to health.  Visit her at her site and tell her Amy said "Hi!"

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