Three years ago I heard about this super green powder which seemed to be the new in thing. Japan’s most revered form of green tea has now become a must-have ingredient. Matcha unlike traditional green tea, preparation involves covering the tea plants with cloths before they’re harvested. This encourages the growth of leaves with better flavour and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder so there is no bitterness. I know a good few people who include matcha in their general food diet and believe it greatly helps their cognitive performance. I have tried it before but never stuck with it as I would forget to take it. I actually don’t mind the earthy spinach taste but I guess for some it would take getting used to.
When Vivid Drinksasked if I would like to try their Brainbox 14 day Matcha Plan in the hope that it would increase my mental focus and concentration I said yes please after all I need all the help I can get. You may have read my January goals post where I mention how I want to take care of myself a bit more this year and that includes brain health. I accept there will be stress in life but managing it is vital to wellbeing. I was really impressed with the website’s productivity ideas for example having the colour yellow in the office or your workspace has been shown to boost concentration and alertness or adding plants in the workplace can be very beneficial. The higher level of concentration can be attributed to the plants ability to reduce excess carbon dioxide in the air.
Upon opening the Brainbox I found two small boxes each containing 7 single serve sachets. Also included was a wall planner of puzzles, teasers and recipe ideas for each day. The idea of working through them I thought was great to help my gray matter. I’m usually rubbish at crosswords but felt pretty pleased to have completed one in full! Mr M worked out the triangle teaser whereas I was out by 3 but nevermind. I did all on the other tasks and it made me think how giving the brain some daily exercise is just as important as physical exercise. As a busy mum I know how exhausting days can be so on day 5 for example the task was to make a list of three priorities for the day. I am a list maker so this was fine to do.
As for the powder there is caffeine and an amino acid called L’theanine all helping this matcha to be the antioxidant enriched powder that keeps the mind relaxed and alert. This seems to be one health fad that has the backing of science. The ways in which I have incorporated matcha into my diet are by adding it to soups, yogurt, butter on toast, smoothies, hot chocolate with almond milk and I tried to make matcha cupcakes but they didn’t turn out so well. Still I am going to stick to this green goodness. The Brainbox is available in Holland & Barrett retailing at £19.99 and I would love to know if you use matcha and have any recipes you would like to share.
I love discovering new cook books those go-to sources ripe with beautiful recipes and loads of good information. I’ve listed the books that I peruse often particularly now that I have a family of my own. Once Upon A Time I whole heartedly relied on my mum’s cooking (Gujarati cuisine) and grew up mainly on vegetarian food (although I’m not a vegetarian, my parents are). I’m far from Master Chef standard but I will attempt to make dishes and sometimes they turn out really well and at other times the results are shocking because I’m not consistent when it comes to cooking but that doesn’t stop me from trying. Luckily Mr M is sympathetic to my cause and will eat the food I prepare whether it turns out well or not, but then again I am the primary cook in the household although his Thai cooking is pretty impressive.
On a Snow boarding trip to France in 2012 Mr M and I stayed in a lovely chalet with the hosts cooking us meals from this delightful book. I had to purchase it and I’m so glad I did as there are meal planners and tips on all sorts of things to make cooking that little bit easier. I’m a Leicester born girl and Lucy has her very own shop there. The lemon posset is a firm favourite in our household which I made recently pictured below.
This pretty food writer from Croydon was destined for big things and if you watched the first series you’ll know Rachel Khoo cooked from a tiny kitchen in her Parisian flat. Back in 2007 I was single and lived in a studio flat in London and this reminded me of my cooking experiences. A cooktop and an oven which is pretty much what I had at my disposal. I like the originality of the recipes. The croque madam muffins are my favourite.
If I want some inspiration I usually head to the Good Food website and managed to pick up this kitchen staple in a charity shop which is packed with over 600 recipes. It’s got a great reference section and has a range of recipes to impress.
My favourite cuisine is Italian food, and a lovely friend of mine introduced me to this book by Gino D’Acampo which is what I am currently using as I try and get into better shape for my holiday. The baked ham and eggs is a regular weekend brunch favourite with Mr M. My attempt at the Chestnut and Chocolate cake failed miserably but then you win some you lose some.
Nigel Slater is one of my favourite cookery writers. I love how he combines ingredients to create simple but delicious dishes. I find my self eating more vegetarian food these days and this book has some nice veggie dishes. I adore the kitchens that he cooks in particularly the beautiful one in the new TV series Eating Together celebrating multi-culinary Britain. For now I must be content with my 80’s kitchen.
I was lucky to be sent this gem of a book by award winning Zainab Jagot Ahmed which I reviewed and you can read about it here. I’ve made lots of dishes from this book for my incredibly fussy eater. I’ve been able to introduce aromatic spices to Jay’s palette and he seems to prefer this. This book is wonderfully written with colourful photos and has really great easy to follow recipes for the whole family. There is a lot of advice and information from the author to help new parents introduce new flavours and textures as part of the weaning process. The tasty recipes have been thought out so well and there is something for everyone.
Do you have any Cook Book recommendations to share?
I would watch the Food Cookery Channel all day if I could.