When I am hungry and it isn’t meal time, I sometimes choose to consume something to take the edge off my hunger, but that will allow me to be hungry at mealtime. Here are a few of my choices.
Matcha latte: Matcha is a great choice if you want something warm in your belly, a calm energy and a bit of a metabolism boost. Read my notes about matcha below. I often start my morning with a matcha latte, but it also makes a satisfying, nutritious afternoon snack. It can be consumed hot or cold. To make it hot, I microwave about a cup of milk in a large mug for 1 minute, 20 seconds. I’m lactose intolerant, so I usually use almond/coconut milk, or sometimes soy milk or a combination of the two. I add a bit of honey or maple syrup to it, less than a teaspoon, but you can use the amount you like or none at all. While that’s warming, I heat water to 175 degrees (I love my Breville electric tea kettle!) and put around 3/4 t. of matcha in a small glass measuring cup, and fill it with around 1/2 cup of the heated water. Then I whisk the matcha until frothy, and use my Aerolatte to make my milk foamy. Pour the matcha liquid into the mug of milk and enjoy! Matcha can also be consumed without milk.
For an iced matcha latte, add the matcha to the milk in a Mason jar with any sweetener, put a lid on securely, and shake until dissolved. Drink straight or pour over ice.
A note about matcha: Matcha is a high quality, finely ground green tea that is consumed in powdered form so the whole leaf is ingested. Consequently, it is a more potent source of nutrients than steeped green tea.
Matcha has considerable health benefits, as it is one of the best sources of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect us against heart disease and cancer, help reduce blood pressures, regulate blood sugar and they have anti-aging benefits. Although matcha contains a fair amount of caffeine, it creates an “alert calm” due to its high content of a natural amino acid called l-theanine. It is a little pricey.
There are numerous matcha products on the market, and the quality varies wildly. My favorite is Encha matcha, which can be purchased at encha.com. I buy the latte grade. I also love Arbor Tea and Mem Tea, including their matchas. Ceremonial grade is for drinking straight, and cooking grade is for, well, cooking! Nowadays, matcha is being used in all kinds of recipes, giving foods a lovely green color!
Chai: Like matcha, this can be really comforting and filling. I like the taste of chai even better. I warned you that I was a food flavor snob, so I’ll tell you that there are three “levels” of what might be considered chai. I’ll explain from the best to the worst.
[yumprint-recipe id=’9′] Miso soup: Admittedly a very different choice, but easy to make, filling, and good for your digestion. You can try Mollie Katzen’s easy miso soup recipe here. Another option is to buy Trader Joe’s miso soup mix and make according to the directions. I like to dilute it more than they say because it is pretty salty. I also like to mix in things like real tofu cubes, edamame, baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced scallions, or whatever you like that doesn’t need to cook very long. To “doctor” it, you need to boil the water first and add everything but the soup mix. When it is done, remove the mixture from the heat and add the dry soup mix. You can even add a teaspoon or more of real miso as long as the water isn’t boiling, as many of the benefits of miso are lost in the boiling process.
(Serves 3) Level 1: This is the best chai, but also most time-consuming to make. I make a batch of a quart, and reheat it as needed. Here's what I do:
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 15 min
- 2 c. dairy or non-dairy milk. I like soy for this because it is creamy.
- 2 c. water
- 1 t. cardamom seeds, ground up in a mortar and pestle, or 1/2 t. ground cardamom
- 1 piece of cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long, or 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- About a 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, grated or chopped. You can use 1/2 t. ground instead
- 1/2 t. garam masala (an Indian spice)
- 2 heaping teaspoons of loose tea, or 4 tea bags. Decaf works great, too
- Honey, sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup to taste
- Combine milk and water in a pot, and heat over medium-low heat. Add everything else except tea and spices, stir well, and heat until it is very hot but not boiling. Keep an eye on it, as it can boil over very easily.
- Once it gets almost to the boiling point, turn off the heat and let it steep, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Add tea and sweetener to taste. Let steep another 5 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
- Enjoy! Keeps in the fridge for around 4-5 days.
Level 2: There are some liquid chai mixes in aseptic packaging that taste pretty good and available in the supermarket, like Tazo and Oregon chai. They even come in trendy flavors like Pumpkin Spice. The only drawback to these is that they have a fair amount of sugar in them, and are a little too sweet for me. Otherwise, they are WAY better than Level 3.
Level 3: These are tea bags labeled "chai," but don't let that fool you! It is a very poor excuse for chai, and I don't consider it real chai. Basically, it is spiced tea. There is nothing wrong with drinking this if you like the taste, but there is no way to doctor this stuff to make it taste like real chai and it should be called something else.