About carynfasko

Matcha Almond Cookies
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A few months ago I received an email asking me to enter a recipe contest utilizing matcha. I ended up making some super amazing matcha almond cookies, but before I get to that, I have a few things I would like to say about matcha. For those of you that don’t know what matcha is, it is basically ground up green tea leaves and looks like a green powder. Instead of steeping it in water like with traditional tea, it is mixed into the water and consumed. Because it is actually consumed, some people claim there are even more health benefits of matcha versus traditional green tea.  For those of you that do know about matcha, you have probably heard a lot of buzz about all the health benefits. It seems to be mostly touted as good for your brain and mood, but I have also seen fat burning and metabolism boosting claims.

Matcha Almond Cookies

Prior to this contest, I have never used matcha before and wanted to do some research to see if it lived up to all the hype. Of note…if you don’t know me very well I am a skeptic at heart and like to investigate things myself before I actually believe pretty much anything or trust things, people, etc. It does make me a very good dietitian but sometimes can be a drawback in the social scene or networking for my business. For example… “Why is this person talking to me? What do they want?” is a thought that often goes through my brain.

Anyways…when searching for actual research studies involving matcha, I really did not find that many, and quite a few of them that came up had nothing to do with matcha, but had an author with the last name of Matcha. Super helpful. What I did find however, was that some of the components of matcha have been researched, so a lot of the health claims don’t necessarily involve matcha itself, but those specific compounds in the matcha. While I prefer research with whole foods versus specific components or nutrients, (because we don’t eat nutrients, we eat food) there is really not much available. So let me tell you about some of the research involving a couple of the individual components that are in matcha, because honestly that is all I have.

Caffeine
Has been found to improve performance on certain cognitive tasks, especially ones that are of a longer duration
Increased self reporting of alertness

L-theanine
Improves self reports of relaxation

These two component appear to work synergistically. Adding the L-theanine to the caffeine helps prevent the jitteriness of caffeine due to its relaxation effect, so it is a different type of “high” versus what you would get from drinking coffee.

Additionally, we know the traditional way of consuming green tea is good for you. Research has shown it can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, improve heart health and may even help you to live longer, among a host of many other possible health benefits. Green tea is loaded with lots of powerful compounds and antioxidants, so that’s great too. We can guess that at least some of these benefits of consuming  traditional green tea will likely also be present when consuming matcha but we really can’t say for certain or to what extent. Also, more is not always better, even if it is more of a good thing, so just dumping a whole bunch of matcha in your smoothie probably isn’t the best idea.

Matcha Almond Cookies

Whether or not matcha is better than traditional green tea is a question that remains to be answered. If you enjoy matcha, go ahead and continue to enjoy it, and if you want to try it, go ahead. But don’t set your expectations too high and believe everything the package claims. So bottomline – adding matcha to recipes will add some caffeine, and a boost of antioxidants, but to say that its health benefits are greater than traditional green tea or to give specific health claims is unfounded at this point in time.

Despite the lack of research I did go ahead and try my hand at including matcha in a recipe with minimal expectations as how it would effect my health. Because maybe in a year or two we will have some more research and proven health benefits. (There were a few promising animal studies I stumbled upon…so maybe the people studies are coming soon?) So let me get to the matcha almond cookies….

I ended up taking one of my favorite almond cookie recipes (It is from David Lebovitz’s blog and you can find it here) and modifying it to include matcha and decrease the amount of sugar and calories to make it a little more nutritious (well as nutritious as a delicious cookies can be). And my matcha almond cookies were born! Adding the matcha definitely added a different layer of flavor and I loved it. It went really well with the almonds and the agave. I may continue to experiment with the matcha to add some flavor depth and additional antioxidants to recipes, but I don’t expect my life or health to change significantly because of it.

Matcha Almond Cookies

Matcha Almond Cookies

Ingredients
3 Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
2/3 Cup Agave Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
3 Cups Almond Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Matcha (I used Kiss Me Organics because I received a free sample)

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Add egg whites and salt to a large mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat egg mixture on low until peaks form. Combine agave with beaten egg whites, then add almond extract and stir well. Add in flour, baking powder and matcha and mix until uniform. Scoop batter by heaping teaspoons onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake cookies for 15-17 minutes or until browned on edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Makes approximately 40 cookies.
Matcha Almond Cookies
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Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies, Healthy, Dessert
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It has been a bit of time since I posted a new recipe…between going on vacation with my family, having a sick baby, hurricane Irma, and of course work, time has been pretty limited. But the hurricane is gone, things have calmed down and we have survived. Irma didn’t cause any damage on our property and our electricity was only off for a little more than a day so we were pretty lucky. Especially when considering all of the downed trees and fences in our neighborhood.

 

Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies

 

Because of all our hurricane prep, I now find myself up to my eyeballs in canned beans. I used a can of black beans to make burrito bowls for dinner last night and me and Baby V both had leftovers for lunch today… But i still have like 10 cans of various kinds of beans taking up precious space in my pantry. So I’m sure many of you in Florida are also facing a similar problem. And I have a few solutions. 1) Hurricane season is not over yet so you can always save them in your garage or some other place, or 2) Slowly try new recipes and experiment with them. If you choose option 2 (which is way more fun), I have some links to a few of my recipes for you and will also share my Almond Chickpea Blondies recipe. It is super almondy – so if you love almonds you will loooooove these. If you are not a huge fan of almonds then definitely check out the list below for other options for using up those canned beans. Oh and also I just want to mention how super super easy this recipe is. I love recipes where I dirty minimal dishes and basically just mix everything together and bake…these Almond Chickpea Blondies are just that type of recipe.

 

Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies, Healthy, Dessert

 

 

Some of My Favorite Recipes with Canned Beans

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake – I use a combination of fresh and canned ingredients (including chickpeas) to make this simple flavorful vegetarian bake. Perfect for Meatless Monday or any other busy weeknight.

Coffee and Cream Brownies – Black bean brownies made with coffee and cream cheese to help hide the “bean” taste. Great for coffee and/or chocolate lovers.

Turkey Chili – Uses both kidney beans and black beans, and has some pretty great flavor.

Chicken and White Bean Soup with Veggies – The name pretty much says it all…

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies – Definitely one of my favorite brownie recipes – classic combo of peanut butter and chocolate. Also… super easy.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers – These are kinda like burrito bowls, except the bowl is a pepper. My favorite part though, is all the melty cheese…

 

Ok…and now for a new recipe :)

 

Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies, Healthy, Dessert

 

 

Almond Chickpea Blondies

Ingredients

1 Can (16 oz) Reduced Sodium Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans – Drained and Rinsed

1 Egg

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 Cup Honey or Maple Syrup

1 Cup Almond Flour

1 Teaspoon Almond Extract

1/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray glass pan (8×8) with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except the chocolate chips to a good blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and spoon onto prepared pan. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until edges start to brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

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Berry Yogurt Bark, Healthy frozen dessert, gluten free,
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I hate wasting food. And since Baby V has started eating solids I feel like I am wasting a lot of food. And yes, I can’t help it when she throws half her food on the floor but I try to minimize the food waste as much as possible. One thing that really bothers me is the fact that the grocery store by my house has only the giant containers of full fat plain greek yogurt, and after you open it, the yogurt needs to be used in 5 days. And I’m sorry but Baby V cannot eat ~32 ounces of yogurt in 5 days (I would actually be quite concerned if she could). My husband doesn’t eat yogurt, and I could probably eat the full fat yogurt, but I prefer to continue to eat my non-fat greek yogurt at lunch so I can limit my calories and save my saturated fat intake for fancy cheeses (it’s all about balance …right?).
So anyways…I decided to use some of the extra yogurt to make a little something I am going to call Berry Yogurt Bark. It turned out to be a yummy frozen treat that I can slowly indulge in, one piece at a time, or serve to guests when they come over. It is super easy, takes about 5 minutes and looks so pretty.

Berry Yogurt Bark, gluten free healthy frozen dessert

If you don’t like the fruit I use or are not a nut fan, you could use my recipe as a template and change out some of the ingredients to make it your own. Oh and one word of caution. If its a hot summer day, I wouldn’t take this recipe outside unless it is going to be eaten immediately. It can get rather messy if it is sitting out and becomes unfrozen…

Berry Yogurt Bark

Ingredients
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1-2 Tablespoons Honey*
1/2 Heaping Cup of Sliced Strawberries and Blueberries
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sliced Almonds

Directions
Line a 9×23 in glass baking dish with parchment paper. Add yogurt to a small mixing bowl and stir in honey. Gently fold berries into yogurt mixture. Spread out over parchment lined baking dish with a spoon. Sprinkle with almonds. Cover and freeze for about 4 hours or until frozen solid. Break into pieces after frozen and serve immediately.

*I like it with 1 tablespoon of honey but my husband thinks it is not sweet enough and needs 2 tablespoons…so I am leaving the exact amount up to your taste preferences :)

Berry Yogurt Bark, gluten free healthy frozen dessert

 

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