Posts tagged ‘Atlanta’

April 3, 2011

Matcha Do About Nothing

I can’t believe the weekend is almost over. It’s been so beautiful, with 70-degree weather and clear, sunny skies. Such a treat after a long, dreary week filled with overcast skies and rain. On gorgeous days like this, it’s quite easy to rise with the sun and flee to Piedmont Park for a quick run, a leisurely walk or simply to doggie-watch (I melt every time I see a Schnauzer). In contrast, during the storm-filled week, I found myself dragging in every way…skipping workouts, rising out of bed with unnecessary resentment toward my alarm clock, even passing on breakfast a time or two in the rush to get to work (for shame..I know, I know!). By Thursday, I was fed up in more ways than one. I needed an energy boost and a light, refreshing and QUICK breakfast to reclaim the spring my step and the season upon us. Farewell, oatmeal: I shall see you next fall. Tis the season of the green smoothie.

And about that energy boost. I’ve been trying to completely cut out coffee for now and rely on green tea for my caffeine fix…there are several reasons for this, and I’m sure I’ll explore them in a later entry. So in line with this goal, I picked up some matcha green tea powder from Market Spice several weeks ago during my trip to Seattle.

Source

Matcha–which can be quite expensive according to the grade/quality–is a type of Japanese green tea that has been finely ground into a powdered form. Elaborate tea ceremonies surround the preparation of matcha tea in Japan, and the powder makes a frequent appearance in Japanese cuisine, as a coloring agent as well as a flavor additive. Green tea in general has been praised for its potent antioxidant levels as well as its pro-metabolic properties. Consider matcha then as the king of green teas: it delivers much higher antioxidant levels (at least 3-fold for the antioxidant EGCG) and stronger health benefits than your ordinary cup of bagged or loose green tea. So the answer was clear. It was now also the season of the matcha.

For some time now, I’ve had my eye on the recipes at Green Lemonade, a healthy living/detox blog. When I saw a little number for a Matcha Green Tea and Apple Detox Smoothie, I knew I’d struck gold.

Delicious, light, refreshing. And the best part? I don’t have to take the extra time to brew a cup of green tea! Pinkies up, folks.

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March 24, 2011

Green. Eggs. No ham.

Why hello again. Apologies for being gone so long. I haven’t exactly had writer’s block. Life just happened. Distractions, meetings, and such. I’ve been working long hours at my job for the last couple of weeks, trying to catch up on work after my Seattle jaunt, and since I have to write so much during the day, sometimes I am overtaken by the need to zone out for a while after hours. This all sounds like an excuse. What I meant to say is…Sorry I’ve been gone. I’ve missed you. And I’m back.

After my last post, I feel like I should post something rather cheery. And the title of this post may certainly suggest that I will do such a thing. But over the weekend, a dear friend suffered a horrific tragedy, one that made me want to hold on to everyone I love with a vise-like grip. Life right now feels a bit heavy, and as Will Ferrell would say, “This may sound like gibberish to you, but I think I’m in a tragedy.”

It reminds me of my brief time in West Africa, where the year is marked out according to rainfall… La saison seche et la saison des pluies. The rains began shortly after I arrived and continued on after I left. I probably saw the sun less than a week total. But the people I met there were accustomed to the moodiness of the land, and knew that the rainy season would pass. Life is punctuated by tragedy, and sometimes the punctuations don’t seem to be fairly spaced. The impermanence of life is one of its harshest realities and greatest gifts: terrible things happen, but they pass. And when they pass, we get back to living.

And in my life, getting back to living means good times (translate: good meals) with loved ones, or as I’m often apt to do, by one’s self. NPR and I got to spend one full day together this last weekend, and it was wonderful. The city smiled on us with sunshine and 70-degree weather. NPR did not smile, since–due to his polar bear tendencies–he tends to melt when the thermostat rises above the 60’s (that would be Fahrenheit, apologies to the Centigrade audience). We frolicked in Piedmont Park, were amazed at the astounding Bodies exhibit in Atlantic station, and topped off a perfect day with a delicious meal at Cakes and Ale. Sound familiar? Readers of Bon Appetit? As much as I would love to show you what we ate, I neglected to bring my camera and have nary a picture to share. I will tell you that this restaurant deserves the accolades it received in Bon Appetit. Although if I had to choose between Cafe Alsace and Cakes and Ale (both housed in the charming downtown Decatur), I think I might have to side with my little bit of France. In Georgia. I know that sounds weird.

And breakfast? You didn’t mention breakfast!

Did you even have to ask?

Apologies for the photo quality–this was one of those instances where the dish looked so scrumptious that I scrambled to take a shot as quickly as possible and then dove into the dish, hoping in vain that the picture turned out. Not so much.

A little better. Oeufs en Cocette, courtesy of the lovely Coco at Roost. I followed the recipe with a few exceptions: (1) I swapped rainbow chard for swiss, and (2) I used these lovely baby heirloom tomatoes from Melissa’s. A wonderful breakfast with two thumbs up from the boy. And if you haven’t visited Roost yet, I encourage you to stop by. Coco’s recipes are both delicious and healthy, and her entries make you feel like you’ve been invited over for coffee and are sitting down for a chat in her kitchen.

***
And for the “Green” bit of this post title…I decided to treat myself to a green juice the other day. Yes, that’s right…I equate veggie juice to a treat. If you have heard about Kris Carr, you’re probably familiar with her mantra to “Make Juice, Not War.” Kris, the late Jack LaLanne and many others are big promoters of juicing, mainly for its nutrient benefits and high digestibility. I particularly love green juice since it takes away the icky relish factor that can arise when you try to replicate green juice recipes in smoothie form. Given that I’m shy of a juicer and an unlimited food budget, I do have a few personal juicing caveats:

1. Only every now and then. Juicing is expensive, whether you own a juicer or you purchase from a juice bar. It takes an incredible amount of produce–especially if you are juicing greens–to squeeze out 8 ounces of juice.

2. Only after workouts. In green smoothies, the presence of fiber, fat, and protein (if you add a supplement) prevents a spike in your blood sugar following consumption. Since the fiber has been strained out in the process of juicing, all juices–including green ones–will cause your blood sugar to increase considerably. Your body is best prepared to handle this spike following a workout, this this is the time that you are most sensitive to insulin.

Again, these are just my personal guidelines for juicing. Feel free to use or discard them. Either way, I do encourage you to give green juices a try. No juicer? Do it on the cheap, à la me. Blend, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Here is a recipe I made up the other day:

It’s Not Easy Being Green Juice

Ingredients:
1/2 bunch of curly kale
1 sweet apple (I used Gala)
1/2 Meyer lemon
purified water

Directions:
1. Separate kale leaves from stalks. Place leaves in blender. Add 1/2 cup water and blend. If the blender gets stuck, add more water. Continue to blend until relatively smooth.
2. Core the apple and add piece by piece to your green juice. Blend. The texture will thicken considerably, so feel free to add more water to increase blend-ability. Continue to blend until smooth.
3. Strain mixture through fine-mesh. It may be useful to use a spoon to press the mixture against the mesh and get as much juice as possible. Pour extracted juice into mason jar, mug, martini glass, etc.
4. Squeeze lemon juice into your juice and stir. It really makes a difference to use Meyer lemons…they are naturally very sweet!
5. Drink immediately, or chill for ~15-30 minutes. I personally prefer mine lightly chilled.
6. Enjoy. Smile. Pay it forward.

À Bientôt!

March 3, 2011

Atlanta is for Lovers

NPR came to town again. To visit me, or perhaps to snatch up some of our beautiful weather. Have you heard? The south is beautiful in the spring. Last year’s rain made me forget, but this year just might be making up for it. Thank you, Atlanta. [Editor’s Note: Gratitude toward the city is retracted for the one day of bad weather this last week that also included an evening tornado watch. Badly done, Atlanta.]

To celebrate an early printemps, we had some spring-worthy meals:

Chocolate Granola courtesy of La Tartine Gourmande. I know, I know.

Served with almond milk, golden raspberries, strawberries and my favorite goat milk yogurt. Oh, the treasures you find at Trader Joe’s.

Like everything at La Tartine Gourmande, this granola was exceptional. Lightly sweet, with the perfect hint of dark chocolate. Béa suggested using 70% or 64% Valrhona chocolate, but after a mad dash to all the usual places proved fruitless, I opted for Theo’s 70% dark chocolate, a fine alternative à mon avis. Have you tasted Theo Chocolate before? A Seattle-based company, I had the good fortune of touring 3400 Phinney Chocolate Factory (owned by Theo) several years ago on a visit to my sister. If you are in Seattle, GO. Simply delicious and too good to miss. Where else can you get your Willy Wonka fix and sample award winning fair trade chocolate? Why the interlude on Seattle? Stay tuned.

Now where was I? Good company, good meals, good weather. Perhaps I should upgrade that to excellent. Here are a few more:


Mediterranean-ish feast à la NPR (Chicago aficionado, med student, incredible chef all in one). Again, no real recipes to share with you (“an NPR original!”) save a couple that I forced the boy to share. Bison meatballs, spice-infused tzatziki (you can find the recipe for both here on Epicurious), veggies, homemade wheat-spelt pitas, and rainbow chard sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onions, lemon juice, chili peppers and topped with Kalamata olives. For serious impact factor in your next dish with rainbow chard, try including the stems! Colorful and tasty. I don’t know why I’ve always just used the leaves?!

We also stopped for a midday feast at one of my favorite restaurants on earth. Bundled away in the already charming downtown Decatur, Café Alsace is run by Alsacian owners and features exquisite French cuisine, eclectic décor and cozy elbow-to-elbow seating that makes you believe (without even closing your eyes!) that you have been magically transported to a café in France by walking through the front door.

And apparently we aren’t the only ones who enjoy this place; along with receiving numerous awards from the city, a bustling crowd made it in for lunch on a Tuesday. Who goes to lunch on a Tuesday? Well, besides us.

I was on cloud nine with an herbed chicken salad featuring apples, almonds and veggies, all on a bed of greens drizzled with fig-honey vinaigrette.

We decided to prolong our delectable lunch with a bit of dessert:

Nutella and macadamia nut ice cream, made in-house and topped with the sweetest strawberries (Alsacian trade secrets, perhaps–where do you find them in February??). I wish you were with us, too.

Still hanging on to my bit of France in Atlanta, I couldn’t resist ordering an après-lunch espresso.

Best. Espresso. Ever. And I wish you were with me to enjoy it.

There is more to say, but I have to admit I’m out of time. NPR and I are trading Atlanta sunshine for Northwest drizzle to visit these two:

Sister and Huz…the best of Seattle.

I haven’t quite figured out my posting rhythm yet, but I’ll most likely return early next week. For now, NPR and I will spend some much-needed quality time with Sister and Huz. Until then, take care of you.

Ciao!

February 17, 2011

Bon weekend!

I’ve been floating all week. NPR flew out for an early Valentine’s weekend [Editor’s Note: “N” indicated that his nom de plume of choice was NPR. I find this quite suitable as–like the radio show–he is quirky, bursting with random facts and fun to listen to. We’ll try it out, and we can take it to popular vote if met with disgust]. It was perfect…the food, the weather, the guy…le sigh. Didn’t mean to rhyme there–my apologies, it won’t happen again.

So I decided to touch down to earth today to share a post with you. Yes, I will torture you with my weekend photos, but it will all be worth it for the best bowl of muesli EVER. Seriously. Although I know that I promised all of my posts wouldn’t be about muesli, this one is just too good not to share. But it will be at the end, so you’ll have to wait for it.

The perfect weekend, in my mind? Here’s what my camera thinks.

Explorations:


Trekking to little known parts of Atlanta for a highly recommended fair trade coffee shop.



I splurged with a cappuccino, while NPR went for a green almond tea. Delicious, but didn’t quite measure up to the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.


Bonus: realizing the Chattahoochee River is along the way.

I know. I laugh when I say Chattahoochee, too.


Joining the rest of Atlantans in Piedmont Park to celebrate the first beautiful days of weather the city has seen in a while!

Enjoying delicious, homemade meals:


Enchiladas à la Mama Pea. Yes, they are vegan. Yes, they are the best thing ever. Go make them now.


Breakfast tacos, based off of this recipe from My Sprouted Kitchen. Serious yum factor, albeit a bit messy.

And other, unpictured things:
-eating an incredible Tuna Tartare salad at a favorite fine dining establishment
-enjoying delicious homemade chocolate pudding, courtesy of Amanda
-watching Crazy Sexy Cancer and becoming even more inspired by Kris Carr. Ladies, take note: a guy who is willing to sit with you through a TLC documentary is certainly a keeper!

Last, but certainly not least: the BEST muesli I have ever had in my entire life, courtesy of the genius of La Tartine Gourmande. Amazing. I followed her recipe to the T, and trust me, it is worth it! The colors, textures and tastes are perfection. This recipe is a treat from preparation to consumption…it is truly muesli nirvana.

I know, I know.

This is love in a bowl. So what are you waiting for?

Go show someone you love them.