Eating a well balance diet without sacrifice is how I've been successful with managing my weight loss for the past five years. Convenience is key when you want to adhere to proper nutrition and making sure your body is getting everything it needs. I love matcha for its antioxidants and caffeine boost. The flavor is bitter but also grassy and slightly astringent tasting. It pairs well with sweet flavors and I've had a lot of success adding it to desserts. A few weeks ago a company called MotionMatcha was brought to my attention. Their product makes transporting matcha very convenient. They sell single serving packets of matcha in flavors like strawberry lemonade, pomegranate berry, orange vanilla and just matcha. Each packet contains anywhere from 2-6 grams of matcha powder depending on the flavor. All the flavors are low in sugar and calories making them a nice addition to your afternoon routine. Out of all the flavors I tasted I was partial to the original matcha and the pomegranate berry. You can purchase the packets direct from their website in single flavors or a sample pouch of all four flavors.
None of the flavors were very strong so they worked nicely in the various recipes I experimented with. My first instinct was to add the matcha to smoothies. I developed a coconut matcha cooler that I'll post later this week. Matcha and chocolate go well together so I opted to make a chocolate matcha chia pudding. The bitter notes of the matcha are still present but mellow out when you add the honey and coconut. I created this easy chia pudding as a way to satisfy my sweet tooth and punch up the nutrition factor. It works great for dessert but can also serve as an alternative to your morning oatmeal. Feel free to change-up the toppings and make it your own. I went with shredded coconut and almonds since they are such a great compliment to chocolate.
4 grams matcha powder (2 packets of MotionMatcha's "Just Matcha")
26 grams chia seeds
1.5 tbsp cocoa powder (use a good quality since your not cooking)
2 1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup of almond milk (or dairy/non-dairy of choice)
2 tsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp slivered almonds
I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate matcha and I'd love to hear from you. What's your favorite way to cook with it. Do you add it to pancake batter, oatmeal or baked goods? Share your ideas with me and the Inspired by Tea readers.
Spring is in full bloom and a great excuse to spruce up your home and wardrobe with something new. I'm a big supporter of artisan makers. When I'm looking for something unique the first place I go is Etsy. Full disclosure I have my own Etsy shop JbTwineDesigns but this isn't about me. I wanted to publicize other Etsy stop owners for this spring guide. When you purchase from an Etsy shop there is a good chance your item is made to order. There is a personal element that's impossible to duplicate when you buy from big box retailers. The talent is really endless and the people selling take great pride in the products they create. I've come up with a variety of well-curated and fun shops that offer something for everyone. This guide highlights an item from each shop but I encourage you to visit and see what else they have to offer.
1. Silver Circle Necklace by Margaret's Jewelry Box - $21
This simple and elegant silver necklace is a perfect addition to your spring jewelry collection. Accessories are a great way to reinvent your look without breaking the budget. It's light weight and pairs beautifully with a variety of looks. All of the jewelry in Margaret's Jewelry Box is handmade and affordable. Whether you're looking for a gift for a loved one or yourself this Etsy shop has something to please everyone.
2. Elephant Greeting Cards by Karing Vibes - $12 for a set of 4
Nothing says cute like animals wearing sneakers. The stationary available from Karing Vibes is all based on original sketched and hand painted designs. These elephant cards are blank inside allowing you to use them for any occasion. The whimsical and vibrant designs are showcased on cards, baby onesies and prints.
3. Gardens Herb Napkin Set by JuneDecember - $38 for a set of 4
When having a brunch or dinner party the last thing you want to use is paper napkins. This napkin set designed and handmade by JuneDecember features lavender, sage, thyme and rosemary screen printed on 100% flour sack cotton. What I love most about this shop is the attention to detail and the old fashioned influence to many of their products.
4. Yellow Bird Pillow Cover by Andrekart - starting at $36.99
Pillow covers are a perfect way to refresh your home décor. The pieces created by Andrekart are true works of art. The covers are made from spun polyester poplin and individually cut and sewn by hand. Add a unique spin to a boring chair or a splash of color to an old sofa. You can mix and match looks without having to replace your accent pillows and you can add some art without putting a nail in your wall.
5. Red White Scarf by In The Bag Design - $15.75
Updating your wardrobe is easy with the right accessories. Scarfs are a great way to express your individual style. The ones created by In The Bag Design offer the perfect balance between versatile and trendy. Pair with a white button down or a little black dress the options are endless. I loved the bold design of this red and white flower pattern because it represents the essence of spring. The quality and artistic design of all the products is what made this shop stand out.
6. Lemon Body Scrub by Seasons of Love Gifts- $3.75 for 2 ounces
Pampering should be a priority every season. I'm obsessed with body products especially when their made with high quality ingredients. The scrubs from Seasons of Love Gifts are made using natural sugar and essential oils in scents like vanilla, coconut and orange. The shop offers a wide array of products from body butters to gift sets all at affordable price points.
7. Passport Covers by Alice Handmade World - $31.25
These eye catching leather passport cases made by Alice Handmade World add a personal touch by letting you customize the charms from a list of 31 available. You can also personalize with your name and choose from almost 2 dozen colors. The bright colors and soft leather are a nice way to protect your passport and show some style at the same time.
8. Arrowhead Necklaces by Ameyaa Jewelry - $22
The necklaces from Ameyaa Jewelry make a statement. I loved the shape and handmade appeal of these arrowhead pendants. Made with a natural stone called jasper no two will ever be exact. They range in length from 16 inches to 30 inches and can be layers or worn on their own.
Simple, relaxing and affordable are all words that describe The Tea Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A corner spot that houses almost a hundred different teas. Their baked goods are a delicious variety of vegan and gluten-free options. Think quinoa and sweet potato muffins and dried fruit scones. The tea runs the flavor gamut from chai's to greens to a slew of herbal infusions. Don't be shy to ask questions and of course ask to smell the teas before you choose.
The Tea Bar is an affordable cafe that takes pride in the teas it serves. I highly recommend ordering by the pot, secure a seat and bring a good book. So many of these cafes are filled with laptops but I still love the relaxation a good book can induce. Whenever I've ordered a pot of tea it always feels very personal. Each tea brews differently and timing is everything. So make sure to ask how long each pot should brew.
The space is on the smaller side but it's comfortable. There are various small tables for two and one communal table. I've gone during the week and on weekends and have been lucky to find seating. Williamsburg has seen an explosion of coffee and tea bars. I've written about a few of them with Matcha Bar being my favorite. What impresses me about Tea Bar is the prices. It's an affordable way to try various teas and get a moment to yourself. A big reason I love tea is how it induces a feeling of serenity. Tea Bar of Williamsburg brings a nice change of pace. If you're in the area stop in, take a seat and enjoy a pot of tea.
The Sunday morning waffle obsession continues. These high protein waffles are pure clean eats. I used Garden of Life organic plant protein in smooth vanilla. The black tea added a nice flavor and the specks of tea throughout looks like vanilla beans. These waffles are sweet without any added sugar. If you use gluten free oats then these waffles are also great for gluten free diets. Top with whatever suits your fancy and enjoy. Here's a tip, why not make a bunch of these and store in the freezer so you have waffles all week long.
Makes 2 Waffles
1/4 cup reduced fat shredded coconut (let's do organic)
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
1 tsp loose black tea
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup liquid egg whites
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp water
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
I topped these with peanut butter and a few banana slices. Try using any tea you have on hand but the better the tea the better the flavor.
I discovered Taste Artisanal Market a year ago at the Coffee and Tea Festival in Brooklyn, New York. Based out of West Chester, Pennsylvania the husband and wife team of Lisa Ferraro Klinge and Steve Klinge started in 2010. They specialize in spreads, cheeses, crackers and honeys that can be found across the East Coast. Their honeys are an eclectic collection of sweet, spicy and savory. Using a mix of chiles, herbs, fruits and flowers they create full-flavored and unique combinations that pair perfectly with everything from cheese to fruits to even pizza.
The best honeys are usually locally sourced and Taste Artisanal Market gets theirs from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They use this high grade honey as a base to create items like their spiced chai honey with hints of ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. It's warm and slightly spicy, a great addition to tea or drizzled over apple pie. Also in the collection is a spice infused honey made with Calabrian chiles that adds a real punch. They recommend pairing with savory foods like a creamy burrata. The sweet and spicy complexity is also a great match for acidic foods like tomato sauce. Artisanal honey seems so fancy but the people behind Taste bring a fun and exciting quality to the products they produce. Their fig honey is anything but boring mixed with plump figs and organic rosemary the flavors scream grilled cheese or baked brie hot out of the oven.
Recently I had the pleasure of trying a brand new flavor, ginger turmeric. Flecks of organic turmeric give this local honey a beautiful deep golden hue similar to curry. On its own the honey has warm peppery notes that are intensified by the added organic ginger. The flavors seem to develop on the palate and the result is a perfect balance of sweet, bitter and floral. An added bonus is the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. This versatile product works well with tea or added to a dressing for something a bit more complex.
When looking for quality it is best to seek out small batch producers that know each step of the process. Many honeys on the market can contain added water or be stripped of pollen, an identifying trait of where the honey comes from. In this particular case you get what you pay for. The honey sold by Taste comes in 9oz jars and retails for $12. The intense flavor and high quality means a little goes a long way. A single jar can last a few months. Of course once you try these unbelievably flavorful honeys it might be difficult to use it so sparingly.
The 11th annual coffee and tea festival arrived in Greenpoint Brooklyn this past weekend. Over 60 exhibitors where on hand to welcome the thousands that came to sample and taste their way through the Brooklyn Expo Center. Just like last year the VIP ticket allowed you to experience the festival two hours earlier and a gift bag. The focal point of this events is always the sampling. An array of teas, coffees, sweet and savory snacks were on full display, the VIP ticket made this a more pleasant experience. The other great thing was talking to the vendors and finding out about their products and stories. It's hard to speak with everyone and when the crowds get rolling it's nearly impossible. This year I made a commitment to seek out a few unique brands and really find out what makes their products special.
Capital Teas is a sponsor of the festival and always has quality teas and teaware. A standout this year was their roasted almond fruit tisane. It's best described as an oatmeal cookie in a cup. The apple, almond, and cinnamon flavors are naturally sweet and satisfying without the added sugar. Nothing goes to waste with this nutty tisane. The contents are completely edible and would be perfectly mixed into oatmeal or cookies. capital Teas also offers unique teas that can be added to beer to enhance flavor or wine mixers that they claim enrich the character of your wine.
Haute Chocolate Brooklyn wants to indulge your hedonistic side. The fine chocolate company makes six distinctively rich flavors like espresso and toasted almond. They debuted their newest addition this weekend, an earl grey chocolate that was floral with mild notes of citrus. The tea flavor stood up well to the rich 70% semi-sweet Peruvian chocolate. Another standout was the cinnamon chipotle. A spicy blend of savory chipotle peppers and sweet cassia cinnamon. The chocolate has no additives, gluten-free, vegan and sweetened with coconut and maple sugars.
The luxurious Silver Needle Tea Company offers pure single estate teas directly from the source. Their teas are clean, flavorful and rare. Exclusively selling green, white, oolong and black teas that come from China, Taiwan, and Japan. The company takes pride in the craftsmanship and environmentally friendly practices of its sourcing partners. Their exquisite packaging was a real standout and made it the perfect gift for any tea lover in your life. Silver Needle also offers a monthly membership program that includes a new tea each month delivered to your door. It's a great way to experience the quality and sophistication of these pure unblended teas.
Tea packaging has come a long way over the past decade. Many tea purveyors displayed beautifully designed canisters that highlight the uniqueness of each company. This was certainly true for Damn Fine Teas, a company founded by Charles Andrews and Erik Dunham. Their teas are fun and whimsical in both flavor and aesthetic. All the tins were created by Aesthetic Apparatus, a design company based out of Minneapolis. The tea is nothing short of spectacular. The mount grey brought out the best in a tea that can sometimes be too perfumy. Their version was well balanced with just a slight aroma of lavender and bergamot. It was floral but not overpowering. Damn Fine Teas was built on passion and love, something evident in my brief conversation with the founders.
Kombucha also made an appearance this year. My favorite was from a Brooklyn company called Pilot Kombucha. The handcrafted fermented tea is made in small batches with organic and local ingredients. The three flagship flavors include grapefruit mint, turmeric aloe, & blueberry lemongrass. I was also fortunate to try a brand new flavor, celery juniper. It was clean, crisp and very refreshing. The low sugar content gives this kombucha less carbonation but the flavors are pure and light. It's available at various stores throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.
A cup of tea or coffee always seems to compliment something sweet especially a classic like a gingersnap. The people behind Finally Ginger have taken the simple spicy cookie to the next level. Their chewy preservative free version comes in flavors like oatmeal cranberry, orange and chocolate chunk. Each bite is filled with real ginger and each flavor is made with simple ingredients. These small batch cookies can be purchased online and even offer a three or six-month subscription service. I love the idea of receiving a dozen fresh baked artisanal cookies each month in a few flavor. These gems were some of the best cookies I've ever tasted.
After two hours of sipping, snacking and talking to all the vendors it's hard to not come away with new favorites and plenty of swag. As you can see in the photo above my VIP gift bag and the additional samples I picked up makes the festival worth the price of admission. Each year that I attend I'm rewarded with new finds and great stories. Many of the exhibitors are small businesses competing in a crowded marketplace. Events like the coffee and tea festival make it possible for these companies to get the word out and attract new life long customers.
Mornings can be stressful, just getting out of the house can sometimes feel like a chore. There are lunches to be made, gym bags to pack and kids to round up. You shouldn’t have to wake up two hours earlier just to get things done. I’ve learned that with a little planning and organization a less stressful morning is within reach. The first thing to do is take stock of what you spend the most time doing in the morning. A big one for me was making breakfast. Putting together a healthy and satisfying meal usually meant sacrificing precious time in the kitchen. This resulted in a great breakfast that I didn't have time to enjoy. My solution was to come up with a list of filling morning recipes I could prepare the night before or make in bulk on the weekends. It became my mission to cross off as many items on my daily morning to do list as possible. I rather fill that time with relaxing habits like stretching and meditation. It's important to understand that mornings set the tone for the rest of our day. By eliminating a few routine tasks, we can free ourselves from time constraints and create a stress-free morning.
The list I've compiled below will give you some suggestions on making your mornings easier. The trick is to uncomplicated the morning by eliminating things that can be done the night before. Accomplishing just one or two of these items will free up valuable time and hopefully create a less hectic morning.
It might not be possible or necessary to implement everything on this list. My personal favorite is the brain dump. Right before I go to sleep I empty all the thoughts and ideas that are circulating in my mind. I seem to sleep better because I'm free of the worries that can sometimes clog my thoughts. This random list of things will eventually become my to-do list for the day or week. Other tasks like packing lunches and a gym bag the night before can free up at least 15 minutes each morning. Also having spa water ready in the fridge and taking the time to meditate gives you an added element of relaxation and focus.
Now it's your turn to help others tame the morning craziness. I'd love to hear from you. Please leave me your suggestions for making mornings easier. You never know which suggestion could help others in their quest for calm.
Waffles on Sunday's are a staple in my house. Eating healthy is an important part of my families life. It can be difficult to come up with new and exciting was to do the same old foods. This past weekend I collaborated with my better half on brunch. Bored with the same sweet recipes, we mixed it up with some Middle Eastern flare. We used chickpea flour as the base and from there the recipe took on a life of its own. The addition of a few spices and a hefty dose of zucchini brought this savory waffle together. The toppings can add another element of flavor and texture. I opted for slices of avocado and a drizzle of hummus mixed with yogurt. These were easy to make and quick to the plate.
Makes 4 Waffles
1 cup chickpea flour
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
ground pepper to taste
½ large zucchini – grated
½ cup + 1 tbsp almond milk or dairy of choice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp applesauce
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne powder
a few dashes of hot sauce