[You’ll flip over this elegant, visually impressive Marbled Matcha-Lemon Raw Vegan Cheesecake! It’s smooth, creamy, and suitable for vegan, sugar-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, soy-free, yeast-free, low glycemic and anti-candida diets.]
There’s a phrase in French, “coup de foudre.” The literal translation is “thunderbolt,” but colloquially, people use it to mean “love at first sight” (which can sort of feel like you were hit with a thunderbolt). I tend to use it to mean “love at first taste” for foods that I love deeply, madly and truly, sometimes before I even try them. Matcha tea is definitely one of my culinary “coups de foudre.”
A few years ago when matcha was all the rage on food blogs, I vowed to sample some for myself. Based on the gorgeous, grassy green hue and slightly earthy smell alone, I was instantly in love. And while I played with the glorious green powder, trying it in everything from smoothies, to truffles, to tiramisu, to cookies, mostly, I just drank it for my morning tea. One peek at my instagram or Facebook feeds and you’ll see that the emerald beverage is a cherished staple in my life.
When I first found out about My Matcha Life, a new company dedicated to sharing matcha of the utmost quality and educating consumers about all the amazing benefits matcha has to offer (their slogan is, “It’s more than a tea, it’s a lifestyle”), I was ecstatic.
I learned about the company from my dear friend Heather Nicholds, who sang its praises on her site. I practically begged Calli O’Brien, the company’s founder, to let me try it! Calli graciously spent time chatting with me on the phone about why matcha tea is so special as compared to your typical tea. And within the fairly narrow field of matcha teas, My Matcha Life stands out as a winner there, too. I was delighted when Calli agreed to work with me on a post to introduce my favorite beverage to RH readers.
So read on!
[YES. This cheesecake is not only sugar-free, grain-free, egg-free and dairy-free–it’s suitable for ALL stages of an anti-candida diet!]
When it comes to health benefits, matcha beats all other teas. Matcha is the undisputed king of teas when it comes to nutrient density, antioxidants, and other health boosting effects. Because matcha powder is made by grinding the entire tea leaf and then whisking it into water (versus steeping the leaves, which means many of the best nutrients head straight into the compost bin along with the discarded tea leaves), you consume the whole leaf in your cup of matcha and acquire all the health benefits of a whole food. This also means one cup of matcha provides the same health benefits as ten cups of regular tea.
A few of the amazing benefits include lowered blood pressure and cholesterol; stabilized blood sugar levels (great for those of us on the ACD); stronger immune function; blood detoxification (due to the chlorophyll it contains); anti-aging effects (it contains the highest source of catechins, the “anti-aging” antioxidants, of any food); and a boost in metabolism, which can help with weight management. There’s even been some research that suggests the catechins in green tea might be useful in the battle against candida (woot woot!).
But matcha provides more than physical health benefits. Back in 1211 (!), the Japanese Monk Esai wrote that matcha is “nature’s ultimate mental and medical remedy.” In fact, since I’m perpetually on a mission to de-stress, I found this characteristic to be immensely appealing (perhaps you, too?). Unlike other caffeinated beverages, matcha contains the highest natural source of the antioxidant L-theanine, which calms the mind while simultaneously providing a boost to mental clarity. Turns out those monks use matcha while meditating to increase focus and energy for their intensive concentration. It also helps to lower stress levels (no wonder I love it!).
[Here’s the stunning bowl, whisk and whisk stand you can get to prepare your matcha like they do in traditional Japanese matcha ceremonies!]
Over time, formal ceremonies arose around how to prepare and drink the beverage, and a traditional matcha is made in a wide, low bowl, blended with a bamboo whisk for maximum aeration (you can watch Calli prepare it that way in this video). My own preparation method is decidedly more 21st century, but the ultimate enjoyment of the tea is no less emphatic.
[My typical morning mug-o’-matcha. Want to know my super quick, non-traditional, no-bamboo-or-bowl-required 21st Century prep method? Stay tuned for my Periscope (@rickiheller) on the topic, coming up next week!]
Why I adore matcha. After drinking this beverage pretty much daily for the past 7 years or so, I can say unequivocally that it’s the healthiest addiction I can imagine. In addition to the smooth, bright and slightly umami flavor, I love matcha tea for its myriad health benefits. As a Type A personality, I appreciate the soothing, calming effect it has on me, and I definitely concentrate better when I have my cuppa–and miss it when I don’t (as when traveling or brunching with friends).
I’ve also had occasion to try more than a dozen different brands over the years, and My Matcha Life’s Tea Lover’s (the premium ceremonial tea that I tried) is hands down the best I’ve ever had. With a certain richness and a bright, crisp taste, it’s also perfectly smooth and incredibly satisfying. Just glancing at the tea, you’ll note the superior quality, from its bright, grassy green rather than the dull olive color I’ve seen too many times when sampling matcha. Just as with other plant foods, the brighter and cleaner the color, the better the quality of the produce, and the more antioxidants it likely contains.
On a practical note, I even loved the packaging they use! Because matcha powder is so fine and light, it’s easy to lose precious tea when scooping out of a bag (since most tinned matcha has a sealed bag inside the tin). Invariably, the powder clings to the bag or floats onto the countertop and is wasted. With the Tea Lover’s tin, you can transfer the residual matcha in the near-empty can directly to your mug by pouring water into the tin itself (as I did right after I snapped this photo last month). No wasting the prized matcha powder!
But isn’t it incredibly expensive? This question actually arose on my Facebook page one morning after I posted my usual breakfast-with-matcha image. As reader Diane discovered (see the comments to the photo), matcha works out to MUCH less than a Starbucks (or even Tim Horton’s or Dunkin Donuts) coffee–at just less than $1.00 per mug for the Tea Lover’s (the organic premium, or “ceremonial,” matcha that I’ve been sipping), and even less for the Barista’s (delicious traditional quality, great for mixing with milks or in lattes, only about 41 cents per serving). If you’re interested in cooking applications (like the cheesecake below), then the Foodies would be a good choice, too (at 24 cents per gram).
[Perfect for a showstopping dessert at the holidays–and everyone can enjoy it!]
And now I want you to experience matcha, too!
Okay, I’ve waxed poetic about matcha long enough–now I’d love for you to give it a try so you can experience the same love that I do for this incredible healing beverage–I hope you love it as much as I do!
If you’re still wary about drinking matcha “straight” to begin with, start by adding it to smoothies or other drinks. Or, with the holidays coming up, this rich, decadent marbled matcha-lemon raw vegan cheesecake will make a stunning first impression. This cake was a huge hit when I served it to a couple of friends a few weeks ago, and both were total matcha newbies.
And whether or not your take advantage of the great discount, please show My Matcha Life some social media love! Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, twitter and Pinterest to see gorgeous, enticing photos and learn about all the ways matcha can improve your health. Matcha lovers unite! 😀
Marbled Matcha-Lemon Raw Vegan Cheesecake
I love raw vegan cheesecakes, but most of them are actually frozen cakes that have to be served semi-frozen after sitting at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before cutting. I wanted a cake that had a firm, smooth, and creamy texture right from the refrigerator–just like traditional cheesecake. This cheesecake will surprise and delight you with the perfect rich, silky texture and slightly tart, lemony base highlighted with stunning ribbons of tannic matcha tea swirled throughout. I think you’ll love it!
For the Crust:
2 tsp (10 ml) chia seeds
2/3 cup ( g) almonds (or use a mix of walnuts and almonds)
1/4 cup (60 ml) shredded unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp (30 ml) natural smooth almond butter
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
up to 1 Tbsp (15 ml) unsweetened almond milk or water, only if needed
For the Filling:
2-1/2 cups (375 g) raw natural cashews (dry–do NOT soak first)
1/2 cup (120 ml) almond milk
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon zest
6 Tbsp (150 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (not bottled)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) virgin coconut oil, preferably organic, melted
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut butter, melted
10-20 drops plain or vanilla pure liquid stevia, to taste (optional)
Make the crust: Line a 6-inch ( cm) springform pan or pie plate with parchment paper (note: this is smaller than a regular springform pan).
In a coffee grinder or spice grinder, grind the chia seeds and xylitol to a powder. Place in the bowl of a food processor with the nuts and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add remaining ingredients and process until the mixture comes together in a sticky dough that sticks together when pinched between your thumb and fingers. It should not be too moist; just moist enough to stick together.
Press the crust firmly and evenly over the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Make the filling: In the jug of a high-powered blender (you will need a strong blender for this one!), blend the cashews, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, salt and xylitol until smooth. Add the coconut oil and coconut butter and blend again, scraping sides frequently, until perfectly smooth and satiny.
Remove about one cup of the mixture to a small bowl, and stir the matcha powder into it. If desired, add the stevia to the mixture and adjust for sweetness.
Pour about half of the white batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of the green mixture randomly over the top of the batter, leaving some white spaces here and there. Next, use a clean tablespoon to drop dollops of the remaining white batter between the dollops of green, filling in the top. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth or even.
You can marble the mixture one of two ways: either take a blunt knife or thin spatula and gently draw it through the mixture in the shape of figure-8’s to create a swirly pattern. OR (this is the method I used) use a thin spatula and gently fold over and under the mixture as you rotate the pan (the way you would fold egg whites into a cake). Then take the spatula and gently draw a few swirls through the top layer of the batter. Both will produce a pretty result; the second method will produce a marbling that extends closer to the bottom of the pan.
Non-marbled variation (super easy, but still very pretty): Pour half the white batter into the pan. Freeze for 10-15 minutes, until the top is slightly firm. Next, top with the matcha batter, spreading evenly over the white. Freeze another 10-15 minutes. Finally, top with the rest of the white batter, and smooth the top. Dust the top of the cake with a light sprinkling of dry matcha powder, if desired. This variation creates striped slices, with a green ribbon down the middle of each slice.
Allow the cake to firm up in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, preferably 24 hours. Remove from the pan and serve. There is no need to let it sit at room temperature before serving. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen. To defrost, place the wrapped cake in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.
Suitable for: ACD All stages; sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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