Mint Cold-Brew Latte

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It has been gray for a record breaking number of days here in Northern Virginia, so I had to get a sunshine fix any way, any means possible. The mint/coffee fusion has been culling Instagram likes and off-shoots since cold-brew coffee became commonplace (if Starbucks is on it, you know it’s big). Yet I had never attempted an at-home version that didn’t make me wonder about pesticides, dirt, or residual “fake taste” as I like to call it. So this was my solution: use my standard cold brewing technique with a tea like fusion process for 1 round, keeping the taste subtle and no disintegrated leaf bits to be found.

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Cold Brew How-To:

My mother has found the ultimate cold brew ratio for the strong coffee loving clan. This stuff is strong. Really strong. Like now I drink coffee from shops and ask if it’s tea. But that’s how we like it. I would suggest adding equal parts water or a ratio of coffee: water: milk, 1: ½ : ½ if you like a less strong cup.

What you need

  1. 2 glass pitchers
  2. Large filter cup
  3. Large dye-free paper filters
  4. Large dye-free tea bag
  5. 3 + 2 cups cold filtered water
  6. 1/3 pound coarsely ground coffee

How-To

  1. In a dye-free tea bag add 4 large sprigs of mint (at least 12 leaves). Set aside.
  2. In a large glass jar/pitcher add 1/3 pound coarsely ground coffee (about 1 2/3 cups), 3 cups cold filtered water, and the tea bag filled with mint.
  3. Set aside in a cool, non-sunny area of your home (some folks fridge it here, I leave mine out, if you know something I don’t about why that is awful please share).
  4. After 24 hours remove the tea bag and pour the separated coffee from the grounds over a filter into a large pitcher (save the grounds that stay in the filter!). Place those grounds BACK in the original jar, add 2 cups of cold filtered water this time for the second brew (no mint this round).
  5. After another 24 hours filter again, this time discarding the grounds. Add this to the first round.
  6. You’re done. Make a latte, take a sit: that was good work!

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Wondering why the course grind? You want maximum absorption potential with the least likelihood of the grinds slipping through the final filtration. No gritty coffee thank you.

Note: Take a tip from Jon Taffer and smack the mint in the palm of one hand with the back of your other hand, this will release some of the oils without crushing the leaves (beauty and practicality). I include the shake-to-combine method here because I always find, unlike dairy based creamers, that non-dairy options just do not blend well when poured over.

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Friend Feature: The Anna Claire

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This is the second installment in Make Dinner Matter’s new series: Friend Feature. The first was The Brooke: a beet pesto flatbread with a zesty arugula salad. Each recipe in this series is inspired by the healthy go-to meals that feed the folks of all diet-types in my life. They have either shared a favorite recipe or cooked one up themselves and I have adapted it to MDM compatibility and shared it with you all. Each is named after the generous friend.

This perfectly delightful salad is from my double-named yoga sister: Anna Claire. It was an unintentional find for the series, she whipped it up as a pleasant surprise at our most recent get together. She is a true navigator of ethical eating, a woman who knows her values and strives to live a life in tune with them. An absolute inspiration for making dinner matter: the sustainable, moral, and relational dimensions of what it means to eat and to eat well.

I hate to admit but I have been off the nuts and seeds train… for basically always. I did not get down with crunchy little things in my food that aren’t the occasional almond. But these poppy seeds have started something of a personal revolution. Their visual appeal launches the eating pleasure before texture or flavor even enter the experience. Their allergy-friendly delights are not over-whelming either; I find they have a very mild flavor and their teeny tiny size doesn’t incite gritty comparisons like some other seeds. But yet they added so much to the dish, they even encouraged me to sprinkle on a few pumpkin seeds (and actually want them on my fork!).

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This meal is perfect for the meal-prep route. Keeping the elements for at least one meal, cooked fresh at the start of the week, make an immense difference in the food choices (or better yet, the lack of choices) you make throughout the week. Roasting 2x the amount of veggies listed, ripping up two heads of lettuce, and getting the dressing together means that there is at least one easy, accessible, nourishing choice in the fridge no matter how rushed or exhausted 6pm feels. Be kind, take the time to care for future tired/stressed out/sad-because-you-found-out-that-pillow-you-really-wanted-from-Etsy-sold-out you (please tell me I’m not alone here).

Go forth, befriend your people and your plate.

April Link Lovin

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This is my favorite Link Lovin’ ever. There is so much good in here: from whole grain cake (because #health) and tiny pigs with wheelchairs, it’s all good! Enjoy it.

FOOD

Coconut macaroons, not the French macaroons. I loved this article on all the potentials, but they forgot an essential element (in my book) – the flour! A few tablespoons of all purpose flour goes a long way towards making the center of the macaroon feel substantive rather than stringy. Also adding a bit of lemon zest makes them truly Spring worthy!

Missing the taste of whole-grain, like rye and bran, in baked goods is something gluten-free/vegan home-baking (for the everyday cook) has yet to satisfy. In the beginning of my transition to this diet I kept tons of flours on had and used my own blends or those listed of upwards of five to six various kinds. It just wasn’t sustainable; so I largely use all purpose blends now. But this article and the delicious cake it features is a nice reminder that there are people out there working on how to bring back the taste, and the nutrition, of whole grain into gluten-free diets.

I have to make meatless meatballs one of these days!

Fancy water = fancy day.

I love to Spritz. Finding allergy-friendly Spritz components can be a bit of a challenge but nothing that a good google (or a good Pellegrino + wine) can’t handle.

New to Make Dinner Matter

Instagram: Hopefully by now you have noticed a bit more day-to-day activity on Make Dinner Matter because of they newly unveiled MDM Instagram! You can follow along with daily recipes/meals along with tips and resources through my handle: @makedinnermatter
Grapefruit Margaritas
Kale Mango Smoothie

 

LIFESTYLE

The College of Chinese Wisdom: How contemporary Western emphasis on self-discovery and self-acceptance have led us astray from the dynamic, messy, evolution of identity.

Pain is part of the experience of being alive: Krishna Das (a beautiful voice that carried me through many years of finals and paper writing) talks about how being present with pain, not running away or repeating our pasts is a natural part of life.

“…The alternative to hypocrisy isn’t moral purity (no one manages that), but cynicism. Give me hypocrisy any day.” George Monbiot

“How I deal with the unbearable hypocrisy of being an environmentalist:” Accepting the trial and frequent failure of practical environmentalism without turning towards defeatism.

Let’s lighten up already, goodness! Clean the kitchen, minus the fumes and potential bleach disasters.

Always nice to end with laughter, if this article doesn’t elicit at least a few spontaneous giggles you may need your funny bone checked.

 

Forever yours in allergy-free friendship,

MJ

Kale Mango Smoothie, gluten-free vegan

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Did you know Make Dinner Matter isn’t just about recipes? There are lengthy guides to various holidays and business recommendations too! This smoothie is my at-home version of a local South Block Juice Co. favorite (sans the plastic container + eight dollar price tag). It is great, it’s green, it’s easy!

Having a to-go option, that isn’t a packaged bar, gives the usual allergy-friendly snacks a nutritious step-up: the fresh spinach keeps it creamy, the coconut water gives that extra flavor that often goes missing in home-creations, and the almond milk gives it lasting satiety. This isn’t to say keeping a Kind bar in your bag/car is a forbidden practice: quite the opposite! Adding a fresh blend like the one here can make that bar feel like a meal; warding off future hanger meltdowns or potentially risky food choices made out of desperation (“No, no I’m sure it’ll be ok…” is usually a telltale sign). Yes, it can feel out of the norm to eat an extra mid-day snack or a pre-dinner one, especially when going to meet other people at a restaurant or bar. But part of making food-allergic life easier, and more fun, means honoring hunger when it strikes and being prepared for when it will.

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Notes: I find this smoothie best enjoyed day-of, as I find with most smoothies.

Grapefruit Margarita gluten-free, vegan

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I love wine, I love rose, I love white wine. Odd way to start a tequila post. As much as I love wine, sometimes I love a margarita more. It’s a shock to me too. The salty rim, the strong tequila, the zest of the citrus: it comes together to make a moment, not just a cocktail. This is a recipe for the nights that call for an at-home oasis, a moment for you (or you + yours) to sit, drink, and savor.

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A brief discussion on the idea of ordering a margarita at a bar, and trusting that no beer droplets or contaminated shakers will do you in:

So many things can be difficult when you throw food-allergies into the mix. Now on top of coordinating friends availability, preferences, timing you add in “Can I even drink there?”? It’s a doozy. There are certainly some places that just don’t have enough safety procedures in place, or nights that are so busy that those safety procedures get pushed aside that that eliminate them from my roster. But for the most part (and I mean the 90% most part) going to a truly happy happy hour has been dependent on me learning more about alcohol!

Keeping a guide up on your phone, even downloading it to your reader section, is the best starting place. This takes away so much mental strain and frantic googling. This is the one I keep handy, but Make Dinner Matter will soon have it’s own!

How to Hit the Bars and Stay Gluten-free

This is a much longer, not really in-the-moment friendly guide. It is definitely good for self-educating.

Urban Tastebud Guide to Gluten-free Alcohol

 

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