Mint Matcha Almond Larabars

Random question: who here likes tea? Over the past couple of years, I have started to get really into drinking tea. Maybe it's the Irish coming out in me. Except I usually like to go for herbal teas. Like literally, the best tea that I have ever had in my life is Rishi Turmeric Ginger tea. It's so flavorful, bright, and energizing! Seriously, you should go try it. Except your tea standards will be forever changed, and I don't know if anything else can stack up. That's just my opinion.

I do like to go for a chai tea sometimes. Or even a green tea. Have you guys heard of matcha green tea? It's all the rage. Basically, it's green tea leaves ground into such a fine powder that you can dissolve it into water and drink the whole thing. A lot of research has been done showing that green tea, especially matcha, has some pretty notable health benefits. Although matcha has caffeine to wake you up, it also has theanine which calms you down. That results in a state of focus and energy. Cool, cool. But matcha also has lots of antioxidants which scientists THINK (key word) may decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease and slow down the process of aging. Although the science is still being worked out, all of this information sounds promising!

If you want to amp up on the health benefits, and you want a delicious accompaniment to your matcha tea or latte, look no further! I have waxed poetic about my love for Larabars in the past, but this time I took it back a little closer to their roots of dates + nuts + flavorings. In this case, the nuts are almonds and the flavors are matcha and mint. You've probably seen lots of teas that combine green tea and mint tea, and they do it for good reason; the flavor combination works. This recipe is so easy and includes all good-for-you ingredients. It's actually the perfect snack to power you through all of your school work and the three jobs you manage to get for yourself at once. Did I mention that I am now the Managing Editor of News for The Eagle? I'm really excited to continue to build on the success we have had lately and continue to produce meaningful content.

Now before I get to the recipe, two announcements that are particularly relevant to those of you who live in the District.

  1. This Friday, if you shop at Politics and Prose and/or dine at Comet Ping Pong and mention "FRESHFARM" at the register, 20 percent and 5 percent of your purchase will be put towards the Matching Dollars program at FRESHFARM Markets, the non-profit I will be interning with this summer. This money is used to provide food insecure residents of the District with access to healthy produce AND create demand for the produce grown by local farmers. It's a win-win-win because you also end up with an awesome new book to read and pizza! Get to it! And you can make a direct donation here.
  2. I lied and there are going to be three announcements. Speaking of my internship for this summer, I will be FRESHFARM Markets' FARMSHARE Program Assistant/Intern. A FARMSHARE is just like a CSA but it is pulled together from the various farmers at the market. If you purchase a regular share (for $30 per week feeding one or two people), you get five to seven types of amazing seasonal produce! (If you're looking to feed more people, a $40 per week large share feeds two to four people with eight to 10 types of fruits and veggies. You have the option of purchasing your share from the FRESHFARM Market locations at CityCenterDC (Tuesdays), Foggy Bottom (Wednesdays), Ballston (Thursdays), Penn Quarter (Thursdays), or H Street NE (Saturdays) and buying extra items like eggs, bread, or a market treat for an additional $5 each per week. You can also reserve a share for the entire season (24 weeks between May and October) or for half of it (12 weeks from May to August). For more information and to sign up visit here.
  3. Now the third notice that was going to be the second one at first! I have also volunteered to help develop the social media for the National Park Service's launch of the Park Rx Initiative! Park Rx is an effort, "to strengthen the connection between health care and parks and public lands to improve the physical and mental health among individuals and communities." The idea is that doctors could be and should be prescribing time spent outdoors to help people improve their mental health. It has been scientifically proven that going outside actually does this! So, to coincide with celebrations of the National Park Service's centennial birthday, they are launching Park Rx to help people live better lives and encourage them to #FindYourPark. How awesome is that? So, if you're in the DMV on Sunday, April 24th, I highly recommend that you check out Meridian Hill Park between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the local launch event, featuring health screenings, fun activities (including ones that are great for families!), an appearance by the Surgeon General of the United States, and more! I will share links to the Facebook and Twitter pages soon as they're still in progress at the moment. Later on we plan to start an Instagram too, and I don't know yet but there might be some Periscoping happening from the event if you can't make it out in person. Actually, you should try to see if there is an event happening in your area because Park Rx is a nationwide movement, and right now I think we have over 20 events confirmed to be taking place elsewhere on April 24th too. All of that information will be included in our social media, so look out for that too!
  4. Okay I lied again. I have one last announcement. As the semester is ending and I'm moving onto other projects, I'm going to have to say goodbye to my job with City Dos Rescue. Working in the office with my two fabulous co-workers has been so fun over the past few months, and working to save shelter pets has been immensely rewarding. Everyone at the organization is so dedicated and passionate about animals and it's even more awesome because most of the people there are 100 percent volunteers. What started out as a tiny non-profit that hoped to rescue a few dogs each year has now rescued hundreds and is now rescuing cats too. They were chosen as the Best Non-profit, Best Charity Event, and Best Place to Volunteer (Runner-up) in this year's Washington City Paper Reader's Poll for the second year in a row (in 2014, they were the Best Place to Volunteer and Runner-up for Best Non-profit) and selected by the staff as the Best Dog Rescue. I wish I could stay and help CDR along its way, but alas, I have to move on to other things. However, CDR could always benefit from donations to help rescue more animals. I can assure you that whatever you can give will go to good use.

Wow a lot of this post got to be about money really fast. Let's get back to the tea and Larabars now to help us relax!

Super awesome guide to help you choose the best matcha for the job here. I use Encha matcha for this recipe, but you do you. Funny story, last year when I ordered some matcha from them, they accidentally sent me Latte grade matcha instead of the Ceremonial grade that I ordered. So I ended up emailing with the CEO of the company and I got a free bag of tea because then they sent me the product I ordered. Okay cool now for the recipe!

Mint Matcha Larabars

Makes however many you want depending on how you cut it! I made 16

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups of almonds

approximately 26 dates, pitted (if your dates are kind of hard, you should soak them in water for a little while first)

1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

1 teaspoon mint extract

water as needed

Directions:

  1. Line an 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil and set aside
  2. Add the almonds to a food processor and start to break them down.
  3. When the almonds have reached a gravel-y, coarse consistency, stop the food processor. Add the dates, matcha, and mint extract. Put the lid back on the bowl and start to process again.
  4. If you're having trouble getting the mixture to come together, add water one tablespoon at a time until you get a sticky ball of dough that will hold together in a ball.
  5. Press the mixture into the prepared pan as condensed as possible. Place the pan in the fridge or freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the bars to set.
  6. Remove the pan from the fridge and take dough out of the pan using the edges of the foil (don't have to clean that dish!). Cut them into bars or squares. Honestly, you can do whatever you want. Roll them into energy bites or break out the cookie cutters and go crazy.
  7. Wrap the bars up individually and store them in the fridge or freezer.
Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food
— Hippocrates