Tuesday, 30 July 2013

green gold...matcha green tea


Most people start they day from a cup of coffee and as I sit in cafes and observing caffeinated society the whole phenomenon of coffee really intrigues me.  So much is happening over a cup of coffee...we catch up with friends, we read book, flick through glossy magazine, check emails, text the loved ones,  even a lot of business meetings tease days moved from the office to a less formal environment of Starbucks. But as much as I enjoy the nutty dark roast aromas and the sensations of a warm beverage, more than a cup leaves me irritated and tired. That is why, I have swapped morning latte to delicious cup of fine powdered Japanese match green tea. It is absolutely amazing and maybe after that post you will give it a try.
Matcha is a fine ground, powdered and thanks to its beautiful vibrantly green color it is  used to flavor and dye foods such as cakes, mochi,  green tea ice cream and many variety of sweet treats (I will post some wicked recipe soon:)) I called it green gold as there is so many benefits hidden in it, one of them are antioxidants (more than in blueberries and spinach). Below recipe for those who want to create they own tea ceremony. Enjoy!

caffeinated society @ Wagas cafe, Shanghai


Traditionally, prior to use, the matcha is often sieved in order to break up clumps. 
If the sieved matcha is to be served at a Japanese tea ceremony it will then be placed into a small tea caddy known as a chaki. Otherwise, it can be scooped directly into a tea bowl...this is what I am often do:P
A small amount of matcha is placed into the bowl, traditionally using a bamboo scoop, then a modicum of hot (not boiling!) water is added. The mixture is then whisked to a uniform consistency, using a bamboo whisk known as a chasen.  Because matcha can be bitter, it is traditionally served with a small sweet, (I recomend some of the raw bliss balls) and without added milk or sugar.
Personally, I am a big big fan of Matcha Green Tea Latte, the trick is to prepare to make the tea first, then add the hot milk. Of course, I made few my own tweaks to that using my homemade cashew, almond or sunflower milk :-)



Monday, 29 July 2013

Caffeine


Last week I have celebrated two years anniversary with my beloved one (whoop whoop...whole two years, time flies when you have fun:)) and as we both love relaxing in the nice cafes we went to Caffeine, newly open caffeinated place in Shanghai. The owner is Chinese-Australian so the place has the best coffee from Melbourne.  After taking ages looking at the menu, which showed all kind of variations of coffee, hard to believe that single shot of espresso can be transformed in so many ways. We have treated our selves to Caffeine’s iced coffee, which might seem pricey, 55 Chinese yuan which works out about 6 pounds, but considering that it takes 8 hours to make a cup, it works out as great value. Yes, 8 hours! In the iced press a melting ice-block drips onto coffee grounds for eight hours. 
So we spend afternoon sipping the ice coffee, watching the life go buy and enjoying each others company! Perfect antidote to the sweaty summer months.

watching the world go by...

menu @ Caffeine

ice coffee preparation

all set:)




Sunday, 28 July 2013

Fresh mint, cucumber and clean up of the fridge!


Fresh mint & cucumber are a match made in heaven; this is what I have discovered after today's lunch!
Sometimes I open the fridge and make a dish with whatever I can find in this huge treasure box,
tossing everything together: leftover chickpeas (which you could see in the last post), cucumber, and asparagus. I also had an open carton of yoghurt...so I modified the yoghurt salad dressing (also featured in last blog post) and added loads of fresh mint instead, achieving a nice refreshing flavour. On the side I have mixed quinoa, pumpkin and parsley which just happened to be stored in tiny plastic containers on the right hand, bottom shelf.
So I encourage everyone to clean up their fridge. Save yourself an extra trip to the supermarket and create some new culinary wonders!



Fresh Mint & Yoghurt Salad Dressing 

a handful of fresh mint
1 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium clove garlic chopped 
pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients then gradually whisk in the olive oil. 
You can substitute yoghurt with cream, buttermilk or whatever you will find in your fridge.





Saturday, 27 July 2013

Chickpeas salad and the scent of a jasmine


For lunch nothing beats nice salad, especially when it is soooo humid and hot outside. Summer in Shanghai definitely makes me miss Polish winter! 
The chickpeas salad is hearty, filling and with loads of flavor. I have used mainly asparagus as a main veg as it is in session right now but I think anything would work as well like zucchini or cucumber. The refreshing yoghurt based dressing cools down the body and gives some relief in that ongoing heat. You can make more dressing and use it later on vegetables, noodles, salads, and grains.
On the way home I have passed a lady selling beautiful bundles of jasmine. Couldn't resist as the scent is dazzling and makes the whole home smell like summer.


Chickpea Salad 

1 cup cooked/canned chickpeas
1 cup cooked asparagus
1/2 cup cooked purple onion
a big handful of  leafy greens
a handful of parsley 

Combine the asparagus, chickpeas, onion, and leafy greens in a large bowl. Coat generously with a splash of the yoghurt dressing, and toss well before serving. Garnish it with the parsley.
To add spicy kick to my salad I have fried my chickpeas with some coconut oil and a dash of chili! 


Yoghurt Salad Dressing 

1 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium clove garlic chopped 
pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients then gradually whisk in the olive oil. 
Any leftover you can store in the fridge for up to 2 days.


Friday, 26 July 2013

Spice your life...pumpkin pie smoothie

Another morning glory creation! Perfect when you are in a rush and looking for sth satysfying and filling but at the same time sugar free and guilt free. So this morning i have made a whole liter of this pie and had some before morning practice and after. Perfect time saver:)


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie 

1 cup cooked pumpkin
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 scoop protein powder
 1/2 cup water 
dash of spices

Blend all the ingredients till you achieve nice, smooth and creamy texture. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
I have added coooked quinoa and protein powder for extra protein boost but you can skip this part and just add less water. But it is a coconut water that gives it a nice coconut sweat flavor so don't skip this ingredient. As spices are consider just play with it. i added loads of cinnamon ( as I absolutely love it) and pinch of fresh ginger but nutmeg or all spice also could do the trick. Just be creative and adjust it to your own liking. Spice your life!



Thursday, 25 July 2013

Morning glory

Nothing beats delicious smoothie in the morning!
This recipe I found online and is called flat belly smoothie! This recipe calls for berries which are claimed to reduce belly fat,. The sweet pineapple contains an enzyme that helps ease digestion. And  yoghurt gives you beneficial bacteria to improve gut flora, and of course leafy greens are the biggest superfood packed with nutrients and fibre! 
Reading about all this wonderful benefits of the smoothie I thought to give it a try!I justified having fruit despite my NO sugar, no fruit= fructose challenge. It is delicious and I no doubt I run to the restroom after drinking it but I am surprised that after a week of seriously cutting sugar I am not craving it any more that much and the smoothie was a bit to sweat for me! Plus I gave myself this week to just see how I cope and to still have a bit sugar as too sudden change brings stress on our body. And stress in any form is not good! So you might noticed in the previous post blueberries, goji berries etc. Also I felt bad throwing away all the remaining fruit I had in the house and I made massive batch of energy bars last week (which included plum, berries and raisins) so as not to create waste...I ate it :P. But...(there always has to be BUT)  from monday I am quitting for good! These few past days actually showed me that quitting sugar is possible and what often stops us from making change is our own mind and fear " ahhh...am I going to cope!!change!!no sugar!! ahhhh) so with this mind set it is much harder to achieve anything. So slowly slowly by taking mini steps and praising yourself on the way (you can do anything!!!


Flat Belly Smoothie 

1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 tbs almond butter
 1/2 cup water 
1 cup leafy greens

Blend all the ingredients till you achieve nice, smooth and creamy texture.
I didn't have almond butter so I have just through few soaked almonds but I think peanut or any other nut/seed butter will work as well.


Sunflower seeds and oats milk

As I haven't been drinking dairy milk for quite a while now I was usually going for the soy one. But since being in China, despite massive soy culture, I really struggled to find a decent one. The one found in the shops are packed with sugar and the one with out it are not great quality and I don't enjoy the taste either. All of that, encouraged me to make my own nut and seeds milks. I have already made litters of almond milk, cashew, coconut, hemp and as below sunflower and oat one. They are delicious, creamy and so good for ya!



Sunflower seeds and oats milk 

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup oats
2 cups water
pinch of sea salt

Soak the seeds and oats in water overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Drain the water from the seeds and oats and discard. Blend the sunflower and oats with 2 cups of fresh water until smooth.
Strain the blended almond mixture using a cheesecloth or other strainer.
Homemade milk will keep well in the refrigerator for three or four days.




Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Asparagus

The fleshy green spears of asparagus are now featuring in the Chinese vegetable markets, tied in bunches. I'm the person picking through to find the bundles with the most little guys. 
A few tips when dealing with those precious ones...Don't overcook them, you want them to remain bright and vibrant with a bit of crunch. Also, do your best to get all the asparagus pieces roughly the same size - both length and thickness. Today I parred them with an omelet fried on coconut oil and sprinkled with fresh spring onion and avocado, delicious combo!

Buckwheat

I love hearty salads full of greens and vibrant colors. Today I have based one on cooked buckwheat and quinoa. 
I have used leftover buckwheat to roll into a nori wrap together with mung bean pesto and some avocado. Perfect to take as a snack during a busy schedule.


Buckwheat, quinoa salad 

1/2 cup cooked buckwheat 
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
pinch of pink himalayan salt
1 lime
3 med bock choy

Mix cooked grains (buckwheat, quinoa) with lime juice, olive oil and the green onions. Taste and adjust for salt. Stir in the bok choy. 
Serve, turned out onto a platter, topped with the remaining green onions.
You can play with this recipe using all sorts of grains like brown rice, millet etc. Sky is your limit:)

Lotus seeds

Lotus seeds are one of many strange foods I came across since arriving to Shanghai. I have been passing on the streets people selling those strange looking green UFO's and been wondering what they were till once in the metro I have noticed two girls snacking on it or rather on the seeds inside. And thought that had to try those lotus nuts. I wouldn't call it perfect or delicious snack as they are rather bitter in taste. But after doing my research on them I have learned that they are of great importance to East Asian cuisine and are used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine and in Chinese desserts. 


Blueberries

Ahhhh...beautiful, fresh blueberries. Small but packed with nutrients and flavor turn any dish/ dessert to a real treat.


Blueberry Matcha Desert

1 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup soaked cashiews
1 cup blueberries
1 scoop matcha green tea
 1/4 cup water 
pinch of sea slat

Blend all the ingredients till you achieve nice, smooth and creamy texture. Decorate with berries on top.
I have made this particular dessert in layers: one has matcha powder in it another is without it. Creates cool visual effect.


Creamy Coconut Blueberry Smoothie 

1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 avocado

Blend all the ingredients till you achieve nice, smooth and creamy texture.
For this particulaone i have created my own coconut yogurt by heating up coconut milk and adding a spoonful of yoghurt than left overnight to set and culture. Devilicious!



Monday, 22 July 2013

Leftovers...raw Pina Colada bliss balls

Ok, so I am trying to have no sugar but maybe you have already notice that it is still sneaking in through my food...basically I had few leftover fruit and food that still had some fructose in and really felt bad throwing it all out so thought that a little bit won't harm.
I have created raw Pina Colada balls with leftover pineapple and shredded coconut but I am sure any fun fruit combo will do the trick.



Raw Pina Colada Bliss Balls  

1/4 cup pineapple
3 tbs cacao powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tbs coconut oil

Blend all the ingredients till you achieve nice, smooth consistency ready for rolling into balls. Sometimes you have to tweak the proportion (adding more powder or liquid ingredients).  Roll the balls in shredded coconut. 
If you want sweeter ball you can add some soaked dates.  


Pesto

Today I have had my post-yoga smoothie ( avocado, coconut yogurt, cacao powder, brown rice protein powder, fresh mint, courgette, almond butter and flax seeds...no shugar, felt a bit bland i am planning to add berries to the next one. As berries are low in fructose I thought to use them in some of the recipes, plus they are delicious and full of goodies. Hopefully those magic blue fruit will change my smoothie to a real treat! will check it out tmr!
As busy teaching I had late brunch which included nori wrap with quinua, avocado and fresh coriander, on the side I have treated myself to delicious pesto!



Pesto 

a hand full of fresh basil
1/4 cup spring onion
a handful almonds meal, toasted 
(I have used almond pulp left over from making almond milk) 
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 large clove garlic
squeeze of lime lemon
loads of extra virgin olive oil (enough to create creamy consistency) 


Blend all the ingredients until it turns into a paste. Taste and adjust to your liking.


Brunch was followed by goji cheesecake made with tofu cream (silken tofu and few soaked cashews) after that I was so full that later before teaching another yoga class all I had was matcha latte with hemp/sunflower seeds milk. 


Hemp and Sunflower seed milk

cup of soaked sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of soaked hemp seeds (shelled) 
pinch of sea salt

Blendall the ingredients and than strain using nut mylk bag.
I use a cotton bag which i got while buying my beloved Tom's shoes, so feel free to experiment and finding your own creative way of straining the milk :)