Have you tried Matcha yet? It’s a special type of Japanese green tea that’s much higher in antioxidants than regular green tea, and gives you a natural energy boost without the headaches that can sometimes come with coffee. I’ve been having a morning milky matcha instead of my regular soy latte for a few months now, and feel much more energised and clearer headed for it. My go-to brand for Matcha at the moment is this one here; it’s locally owned, all organic – what more could you want?
This recipe meanwhile, was a happy fluke while we were away on holiday, driven by my curiosity at how this lovely green powder might be used for more than just lattes. Green tea and chocolate you say? I know it sounds odd, but they ended pairing perfectly together. The matcha has a bitterness too it, similar to cacao, both of which are nicely offset by the natural sweetness of the dates in these. What’s more, given we were away with limited tools, I made these bars simply with a food processor and reused plastic ice cream container as the tray. Which goes to show you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to create really delicious, quick and easy, plant-based whole food.
These super tasty bars are really fast to make too. This was the version I made for us, but you could easily switch up the ingredients – the walnuts for almonds, the dates for raisins or sultanas (I’m planning to try these versions once we get home and I restock our matcha supplies). But here’s my holiday-original – straight from the simple ice cream container, and brimming with goodness. Yes, these marvellous Matcha Chocolate Bars are…
- Done in 10 minutes
- One food processor only
- A double dose of antioxidants from the matcha and cacao
- Low in sugar, as well as naturally dairy, gluten and refined sugar free, and
- A great way to try out matcha!
Matcha – the antioxidant powerhouse
As mentioned above, matcha is a special variety of green tea, where the delicate whole tea leaves are ground into a fine powder and then stirred into water (or plant-milk if you like) and consumed. The leaves are grown in the shade, which significantly increases their antioxidant, chlorophyll and amino acid content above regular green tea. Given this, plus the fact that you’re consuming the whole leaf rather than disposing of it after brewing, means a cup of matcha provides 137 times the ORAC-scale based antioxidants of regular green tea (and 21 times that of the often thought antioxidant king – blueberries).
Matcha tea has been sipped by the Japanese for over a thousand years, with various studies having shown it to increase energy, improve concentration and focus, boost immunity and metabolism, and enhance mood. Japanese monks are reported to have traditionally consumed matcha tea prior to meditation, to enhance their focus whilst helping to retain a sense of calm. The ideal mental state that I’m sure you and I would both benefit from during our busy work weeks!
One rationale as to why this combination of benefits exist, is that the natural caffeine in matcha tea leaves (around 1/3 of that in coffee) is balanced by the presence of the amino acid theanine. Theanine creates alpha waves in the brain which promote relaxation, and has also been shown to improve recollection and learning. Which may explain why many people feel energised and enlivened by a cup of matcha, without the headaches or jitters that can come with coffee.
If you’re consuming matcha in the traditional way as a hot beverage, my favourite way to make it is to sieve 1/2 tsp of matcha into a mug. Pour over a little hot water (not boiling) and stir til the matcha is dissolved, then fill the rest of the cup up to 3/4 with more hot water. Top with around a 1/4 cup of your favourite plant-milk (I love my Almond, Coconut and Sesame milk recipe here in this, or otherwise organic soy milk), and add a dash of coconut sugar or stevia to sweeten. If you prefer a milkier latte, reduce the water to 2/3 of a cup, and top with 1/3 cup of warmed milk. You can skip the sweetener, but I like it with a little – it helps to balance the natural bitterness of the green tea and give a smoother creamier result. To keep it truly traditional, and to get a lovely foamy texture, you can also use a bamboo whisk.
Once you’ve added Matcha lattes to your morning routine you may be wondering how else you can utilise this gorgeous green superfood, and that’s where these delicious Matcha Chocolate Bars come in! Packed full of simple pantry ingredients (that we even had on holiday), they’re easy to make, store beautifully in the freezer, and make a delicious brain boosting afternoon tea snack. The flavour combination of matcha and chocolate is certainly somewhat quirkier than some of my other recipes, but if you already like matcha lattes or green tea, you will absolutely love these!
If you make these delicious bars let me know if in the comments below, take a picture and tag me on Instagram (use both @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics in the main caption so I don’t miss you from my feed). Or share your pics over on my Facebook page here.
Enjoy these bars, hopefully they will impart you with an extra boost of relaxed focus in the coming week. Til next week, stay happy and well.
- 1 c walnuts dried activated*
- 1 c cashews dried activated*
- 1 c dates
- 1/2 c cacao powder
- 1/4 c tahini
- 1/4 c cacao nibs
- 3 tbsp liquid sweetener
- 2 tbsp matcha powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Blend walnuts, cashews and dates in a food processor until they reach the consistency of a chunky couscous.
- Add remaining ingredients and pulse gently until combined enough to stick together between your fingers, but still retaining some texture.
- Press into a square baking tray lined with biodegradable plastic wrap (I actually used a reused plastic ice cream container here as we were on holiday and didn’t have anything else!). Place in freezer for an hour to set.
- Remove, sprinkle with extra matcha powder, then slice into bars. Keep stored in the freezer for up to a month.
- I’ve used walnuts and cashews here as that’s what we had with us, but the mellow flavour of almonds and cashews would also work really nicely in these.
- I always like to use dried and activated nuts and seeds where possible, as they’re easily digested, have the phytic acid removed, and are super crunchy which gives your raw treats a really nice firm texture once set. I make these activated nuts and seeds in large batches once a month and store in glass jars, ready to use in recipes like these as well as on salads. You can buy pre-activated nuts and seeds from our online store here. Otherwise you can easily make these bars with raw nuts instead.
- If you want to make these bars nut-free, swap the walnuts and cashews for a blend of sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds and desiccated coconut.
- I used maple syrup in these bars, but you can use whatever liquid sweetener you have to hand- I always have coconut nectar, brown rice syrup, yacon syrup and maple syrup in the cupboard and all are great, with slightly different tastes, textures and nutrient profiles.
- I’ve made these only very lightly sweetened with 3 tablespoons of sweetener, but please taste the mix before pressing into your container and if you want them slightly sweeter add an extra 1-2 tablespoons of sweetener.