Featured Ingredient: Matcha Green Tea
Green tea is at the top of the functional beverage heap, warmly promoting wellness thanks to a wallop of antioxidants. In particular, the antioxidant EGCG has been purported to help fend off a wide variety of maladies including diabetes, cognitive decline and cancer. It may even help whittle away a jiggly middle.
Traditionally served to emperors, Japanese green matcha tea is produced when green tea leaves are steamed, dried and then ground into a powder. Because the whole leaf is consumed, it delivers more EGCG than traditional green teas brewed from the leaves using water. Matcha is also abundant in L-theanine, an amino acid which helps relax you when things get hairy. It has a distinct vegetal flavor with some lingering sweetness. Wonderful when simply whisked with hot water, you can also incorporate matcha into a host of recipes including baked goods, ice-creams, smoothies and whipped cream in the recipe below.
You can find matcha at tea shops or online at www.matchasource.com.
Frozen Chocolate Banana Cups with Matcha Whipped Cream
Makes 8 Servings
Recipe adapted from Alive magazine
2 ½ ripe medium bananas
2/3 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
¼ cup honey or agave syrup
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, palm sugar or Sucanat
1 tsp matcha powder
Put bananas, peanut butter, honey and cocoa powder in a blender and process until smooth. Line muffin pan with 8 lightly greased paper muffin liners. (You can skip this step if using silicon muffin cups). Scoop banana batter into 8 muffin cups. Place tray into the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours.
In a deep mixing bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream with a whisk or electric mixer on medium until soft peaks form. Sprinkle sugar and matcha over cream and beat until soft peaks return and matcha is incorporated. Do not overbeat. It’s best to chill the whisk (or beaters) and bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help the cream whip quickly and increase its volume.
When ready to eat, remove banana cups from freezer, unmold and let stand for about 10 minutes to soften slightly. Place a dollop of matcha cream over each cup. Store extra cups in the freezer in a closed container to prevent them from taking on surrounding odors.