matcha smoothie with 'cream top' almond milk

for me, the greatest benefit of unemployment is the ability to spend more time developing my yoga practice. i am forever grateful for the generosity of one of my mentors, for floating me along as i flounder through unemployment. i've truly enjoyed settling into a schedule of a daily practice - something i have never made time or space for in the past ten years of practicing yoga. but when your schedule is released from the constraints of a forty-hour work week, you have no excuse to not roll out your mat, even just for 20 minutes each day. 

timing meals around yoga is fairly important, as it is difficult to lie on your belly or do core work with a fully stomach. but i wake up hungry and would be grumpy by the 11 am if i just skipped breakfast entirely and hoped on my bike for morning yoga class. so instead, i've created the perfect little smoothie with matcha green tea powder for a boost in energy and metabolism to benefit a workout. matcha is made of crushed green tea leaves, and has 10x the amount of antioxidants of a cup of green tea and slightly less caffeine than a cup of black coffee. it's also delicious. 

here's a little secret... i love almond milk in smoothies! it is far lower in calories and sugar than juice, and adds a wonderful creaminess. additionally, adding a little healthy fat to smoothies helps you absorb the other nutrients and sustains you longer. so for a longer than i care to admit, i was blending almond milk and nut butters into my smoothies. then i realized what a total waste of money and added processing this was! it occurred to me that i could make my own almond milk, and just not strain the almond meal. i want those healthy fats and fiber! i call it 'cream top' almond milk. the full fat version. 

'cream top' almond milk ~ makes 1 quart 

1 cup raw organic almonds
4 cups water
4 medjool dates (optional for added sweetness) 

soak almonds and dates overnight in several cups of water. in the morning, drain from soaking water and place in high speed blender with 4 cups fresh water. blend at highest speed for about one minute, until almonds break down to a fine meal. store in an airtight jar and use within a week for smoothies! 

or! if you just want one smoothie to try out, you can soak just a date and 1/4 cup of almonds overnight and blend into your smoothie in the morning.

morning matcha smoothie ~ serves 1
1/4 cup raw organic almonds
1 medjool date (option for added sweetness)
1 cup water + more for soaking
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 ripe banana, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
*(or skip first three ingredients and use 1 cup pre-made 'cream top' almond milk) 

soak almonds and date overnight in a cup of water. in the morning, strain and place into high speed blender with 1 cup fresh water and remaining ingredients. you may adjust the amount of matcha powder and ginger to taste. blend until smooth and drink 30-60 minutes before exercise or whenever you need an energy boost.

this smoothie is only about 300 calories, so it isn't a full meal but great for a pre-yoga/workout snack! you could easily expand this smoothie, adding a full banana, your choice of protein powder and a bit more water.