Meatless Mondays: Yellow Deli Matcha Magic

Monique and I have a monthly ritual that involves the two of us, plus two or three other friends (and sometimes all of our spouses) heading out of the cozy Temecula Valley to breezy, gorgeous Vista.  There, nestled right in the middle of an old town filled with salons, yoga studios and Sunday morning breakfast spots, is The Yellow Deli.  Now, I don’t know much about the people that run it.  I know that they’re of a specific religion and that they grow a lot of the food and tea they sell.  I know that they built the restauraunt (and others in various locations) with their own hands.  I also know that eating there requires patience and a love for the people you’re dining with, because it might take a while to get your food.  Don’t show up starving!  But the sheer charm in the hand-crafted elements of the Yellow Deli, from the tables to the menus so carefully doodled with black ink, is sure to keep spirits bright.  After all, our world is always so go, go, go!  Why not relax and eat in a tree house once in a while?  I’m especially fond of the Yoga Vista Special, but my lunch-mates usually order the Yellow Submarine or the Morning Star Rancher.

Silly me. I didn't even bother taking a picture of this place and we've been going for months! This is taken directly from their website but it's just so darn cute! I encourage you to look at their photo album of the Vista location to see all the handcrafted treasures!

Silly me. I didn’t even bother taking a picture of this place and we’ve been going for months! This is taken directly from their website but it’s just so darn cute! I encourage you to look at their photo album of the Vista location to see all the handcrafted treasures!

Last month it was just girls, so we spent an especially long time upstairs at the Mate Bar, sipping coffees and teas.  I’d never noticed their strange basket of green bars before, but since everything else is just fantastic I decided to give it a chance.  It wasn’t until the next day, the bar having been forgotten in between fits of caffeine-induced laughter, that Monique and I broke into it.  At first I thought the taste was a little on the strange side, but the more I snacked, the more I realized there was something magical about it.  “Yellow Deli Magic,” we like to call it.  The staff there won’t give me a full recipe, naturally, but they did give me a few ideas about what was inside.  Matcha makes it green and that seemed like a great jumping off point for Google.

This recipe for Matcha Energy Bars comes from Mama Moderne.  I used it to get an idea of what to add, but tweaked it a little based on what I had in my kitchen, too.  The best part is making them is quick and there’s very little clean-up that you can’t just toss in the dishwasher.  No cluster of bowls to be hand washed!

I suppose I should warn you: these are not the most attractive looking bars. But this isn't a beauty contest. We're going for taste and ability to hold a person for longer than just a regular granola bar!

I suppose I should warn you: these are not the most attractive looking bars. But this isn’t a beauty contest. We’re going for taste and ability to hold a person for longer than just a regular granola bar!

Recipe: Matcha Energy Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened because that’s what was on hand!)
  • 1 tablespoon Matcha green tea powder
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (out of carob, sadly.. so these aren’t 100% vegan, but you can make them so!)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Prepare an 8” x 8” casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the peanut butter, rolled oats, shredded coconut, Matcha green tea powder, agave nectar, water, vanilla extract, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse until well combined. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick paste. If it is too dry add a few tablespoons of water until a thick paste forms. Transfer to a medium size bowl and fold in the nuts, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips by hand.
  3. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared casserole dish. Bake at 325°F for 15-17 minutes or until the bars feel firm to the touch and look dry. Allow to cool. At this point, I transfer the casserole dish to the fridge and let it chill for 20 minutes. It makes them easier to cut. Cut into eight even bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap or aluminum foil for easy transport.

Number of servings (yield): 8

Here's what it looks like when it's mixed up enough. Not too pretty, but give it a taste! It's niiiiiice!

Here’s what it looks like when it’s mixed up enough. Not too pretty, but give it a taste! It’s niiiiiice!

Mixing the peanuts, chocolate chips and sunflower seeds. If you prefer cashews or any other add-ins, this is the place to throw them in! The Yellow Deli has something in there that tastes like puffed wheat of some sort. Gives it another type of crunch!

Mixing the peanuts, chocolate chips and sunflower seeds. If you prefer cashews or any other add-ins, this is the place to throw them in! The Yellow Deli has something in there that tastes like puffed wheat of some sort. Gives it another type of crunch!

Press the mixture into the dish with a spatula. It's actually kind of fun because it isn't very fluid. Sort of like play-dough. I suppose if bars aren't what you're after, you could make matcha sculptures.

Press the mixture into the dish with a spatula. It’s actually kind of fun because it isn’t very fluid. Sort of like play-dough. I suppose if bars aren’t what you’re after, you could make matcha sculptures.

The Yellow Deli bar is the longer one. I purchased one today, intending on giving both of them a proper taste test, but I'm still overly stuffed from lunch! I nibbled a bit and, besides the puffed wheat, I don't notice too much of a difference in flavor. The add-ins are different, though.

The Yellow Deli bar is the longer one. I purchased one today, intending on giving both of them a proper taste test, but I’m still overly stuffed from lunch! I nibbled a bit and, besides the puffed wheat, I don’t notice too much of a difference in flavor. The add-ins are different, though.

And there's our fairly similar masterpiece. I really enjoy how moist this one is compared to the Yellow Deli's version.

And there’s our fairly similar masterpiece. I really enjoy how moist this one is compared to the Yellow Deli’s version.

One thing I don’t usually do is discuss nutritional facts, but I think it’s important to note for these type of bars.  Are they snacks or are they meal replacements?  Considering the amount of healthy fats, the calorie count is much higher, so be cautious when popping one of these in your mouth.  I ate an entire one and found myself to be immediately full.  I’d consider cutting them into sixteenths instead, to take the calories down and to not be tempted to keep eating just because it tastes good!

I plugged the recipe into a website that figures out the calories and set it for eight servings. Just so you know what you're getting into!

I plugged the recipe into a website that figures out the calories and set it for eight servings. Just so you know what you’re getting into!

The next item made of Yellow Deli Magic that I’d like to deconstruct is their iced Peach Mate.  Or perhaps that vegetable lentil soup I had today.  It’s a good thing we have to drive to Vista to eat this magical food, otherwise my waistline and my wallet would be in trouble!

Tuesday Tip Day: (Nearly) Guiltless Frappuccino!

The other day I got an e-mail from Starbucks announcing that, for the next week and change, Frappuccinos are half-off between the hours of 3pm and 5pm.  This is their “happy hour.”  I haven’t had a Frappuccino since giving up dairy last February (my waistline is seriously thanking me, I think!), but the allure of a deal plus the new Mocha Cookie Crumble flavor had me sliding through the drive-thru at about 4:51 yesterday.  Whew!  Just in time.

Also, you can order these with soy milk.  Since 2010.  Just in case this was still news to anyone (as it was to me, on Friday).

I think part of the yummy-factor is the chocolate flavored whipped cream they swirl on top so they can avalanche a pile of cookies before they slam on the lid.  I skipped the whipped cream, too.  So, what I ended up with was a not-quite-full drink that seemed pretty.. sloshy.  Maybe someone new was making them or maybe in the last year the standard for blended coffee drinks has changed, but I prefer mine with a little more ice.  It was just.. wet.  And way too sweet for my liking.  I’ll be fair and say that yes, the soy milk has more sugar than dairy milk, but I don’t think it’s the soy milk’s fault that a Tall size of this drink, with no whipped cream (and non-fat milk plugged into the nutrition counter) has a whopping 46 grams of sugar.

For reference, one teaspoon of white, granulated sugar is about 4 grams.  That drink has roughly 11.5 teaspoons of sugar in it.  That’s very nearly a 1/4 of a cup.

And just for fun?  Pretend you got a Venti.  That’s 90 grams of sugar.  Never mind the 560 calories spent on a beverage.

I could go on and on, mostly because comparing calorie and sugar amounts is entertaining to me (in a jaw-dropping way), but this isn’t a lecture on nutrition!  This is a way for you to make your own frapp in your own home, using drastically fewer scoops of sugar.  This isn’t the cookie one, though, but a recipe for my old personal favorite, the Green Tea Frappuccino (which has the same sugar content as the one we just examined, with the soy milk sugar content included).

That flower in the background is fushia. It's my new favorite!

That flower in the background is fushia. It’s my new favorite!

I saved the cup after discarding the remainder of my sloshy, sugar-fest so I could pour my drink inside and at least pretend.

Recipe: Green Tea Frappuccino

Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
  • 2 ounces hot water (not boiling)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces non-dairy milk (I used soy for the thickness)
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla-flavored syrup (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of green tea powder in two ounces of hot water. Whisk until completely dissolved.
  2. Stir in 3 teaspoons of sugar (or sugar substitute, your choice!) and 1/16 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Add 4 ounces of milk. Stir.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla syrup. (I happened to have Torani syrup on hand)
  5. Add ice cubes and blend in blender until smooth.

Number of servings (yield): 1

Looks pretty close to the real thing!

Looks pretty close to the real thing!

So, I suppose Tuesday’s tip is this: watch that sugar!  Sure, restaurants are now required to post calories and fat grams, but sugar content is still a big deal.  While they’re bringing their calories and fat down as to not scare off potential patrons, the sugar content is hiking.  You can drink a green tea frapp at Starbucks (the one with 47 grams of sugar) for only 230 calories and 2 grams of fat.  Doesn’t look too scary, does it?

But it is.  It is.