In celebration of the wonderful health products we love in our Thai cooking, over the next weeks I'll be exploring a wide range of healthy ingredients you can use in cooking, cocktail making and general health up-keeping.

Matcha is a fine green powder extracted from the green tea plant commonly sourced from Japan. I was already in love with matcha before I realised how easy it was to buy the goods. When I finally bought some for myself the love turned into more of an obsession. It's was a matcha-madness... If there's anything that fastens my heartbeat and gets my blood racing, it's the mention of matcha. Maybe because consuming matcha does that to you like coffee, right? Well, yes and no. Matcha does contain caffeine, but is processed in your body in a different way. Drinking coffee and energy drinks gives you a caffeine spike where you're suddenly alert and jittery then before you know it you're in a sluggish state worse off than you were before your beverage. Matcha acts differently in its caffeine delivery thanks to its included antioxidants and amino acids, in particular L-Theanine. It's an amino acid that promotes relaxation and calmness while also keeping you alert and focused. So when this amino acid is combined with caffeine it regulates caffeine's energising effect to release it in a sustained and gradual manner. This also means matcha doesn't tamper with your sleep routine like caffeine commonly does.

Best place for a matcha latte can be found right next door to Social Street S2 at Sukha Life on Hutt Street. Sukha Life is a health focused cafe and mean plan business. I came across their matcha latte at their recommendation one morning when I was searching for my caffeine hit of the day. They have the creamiest house made almond milk that pairs perfectly with the matcha flavours when warmed and frothed together.

Find Sukha Life just to the left of us at 172A Hutt Street, Adelaide.

You may have heard of the metabolism boosting properties of green tea. Well, since matcha is a ground-up, more intesified version of green tea, you'll be sure that it works in the same (even better) way to give your fat burning properties a good boost. It's great news that if you want to fix up your health with weight loss techniques, a sure way to do so is to drink more delicious drinks! This is in moderation of course. Diet contributes to 70-80% of weight maintenance while exercise makes up the remainder. Want to boost it up even further? Drink a matcha smoothie or tea before/during a work out and not only will the energising properties give you a performance kick, but the metabolism boost will extend your workout further.

Here's a matcha pre/post workout smoothie that will get you ENERGISED:

200ml milk of your choice

1 banana

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 tablespoon matcha powder

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup yoghurt

Have any other tasty ingredients lying around? Add them!! Ideas include: avocado, coconut, berries, peanut butter, mango, ice cream, sorbet, dates, cocoa...

So aside from health benefits, what excites me the most about matcha? The flavour of course. Matcha's flavour is a quality that distinguishes it from bland old green tea. The smell is fresh, could be described as a little grassy but don't let that deter you. You'll come to connect the smell to the fresh, intense earthy taste of matcha. Like cocoa, matcha can be used in a large variety of sweets and drinks to add a flavour. You can even use matcha with cocoa like I did to make a rich blend of these two earthy flavours.

RECIPE 1: Raw Choc Matcha Slice

I'm all for culinary improvisation so don't feel like you have to stick to exact ingredients/measurements in this recipe (or any recipe!).

For base:

2 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

pinch of salt

1 cup soaked dates

Blend base ingredients incrementally (walnuts first until blended, then cocoa and so on...) until mixture is combined and moist. Flatten down mixture in a tray as hard as you can. Place in freezer.

For topping:

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 (or more...) tablespoons matcha powder

Mix topping ingredients in a bowl over boiling water. Add desiccated coconut like I did if you swing that way. Cover over base mixture. Pop into fridge to set.

This slice is easy as that! It took me a total of 20 minutes to make and another 20 mins to drool over what I'd just made enough to prematurely cut a slice for myself and try it. And damn was it good. The flavour of the matcha suits the hard yet melt-in-mouth texture of the topping. And the moist base blends its cocoa-y goodness together so well.

Okay so what if you're looking for a quick matcha fix? There's an abundance of products out there, you just have to know where and what to look for. What other scrumptious goodies come matcha style?... You can find most matcha products at asian supermarkets. For the matcha powder it's easier than you might think... check out chemists, healthfood stores and even supermarkets.

Matcha mochi

Matcha panda bikks

Matcha icecream

Matcha Kahlua

Matcha bubble tea

Some recipes to try...

Matcha peanut butter cups

Matcha choc chip cookies

Matcha muffins

For the sake of this matcha themed post I constructed this appealing matcha smorgasboard. Can you guess what I did after taking the winning pics? Yes, I did half demolish it. For experiement's sake... of course. How did I feel? I felt pretty great actually. Okay maybe the matcha overdose got to me a little... because I found I was running through my house yelling "i love matcha". Then I went for a work out and dang was I focused. Then I sat down and wrote this. So... ahem tell me how great matcha is now.

Thanks for reading. Matcha appreciated!

#health #food

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