Category Archives: Beverages

High Protein Matcha Latte

macha-with-brushSome time at the end of last year, I started drinking more tea in place of coffee. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE coffee. But unfortunately, coffee doesn’t always love me. As I grow older I find that my body isn’t metabolizing it as efficiently as it used to. This led me to the auspicious discovery of matcha – green tea leaf powder. Many years ago, I had ceremonial matcha in Japan at a couple of tea ceremonies, and I remember it being very bitter and strong. We sipped it while nibbling on sweet yokan (a Japanese sweet bean based dessert).

Last fall, during my coffee abstinence period, I wanted a caffeine boost via tea, and I tried a Green Tea Latte at Starbucks. I became addicted. Since then, I’ve been experimenting with matcha and trying to make my own lattes at home. It is too much of a luxury to pay over $4.00 for a daily drink, and I learned that the Starbucks’ version has 25 grams of sugar in a tall size!!

Matcha is considered to be a super food for its exceptionally high content of antioxidants. It is widely known for as a unique aid in staying alert and focused without the jitteriness that sometimes accompanies drinking strong coffee (or for me, coffee in general). This is because though it contains caffeine, matcha also contains amino acids including, L-Theanin, which slows the release of the caffeine.

I still love the flavor of coffee, and I will sometimes “indulge” in a decaf, but for my daily morning fix, I have been drinking my High Protein Matcha Latte. I bought a cute little milk frother on amazon, and that has changed my life for the better as well!


First I mix unsweetened coconut milk with vanilla protein powder. I use Optimum Nutrition Vanilla Creme whey protein. You could just skip this part if you don’t like powders and sweeten your drink with something else. I heat the mixture briefly and froth it up with my frother. Look how wonderfully it does its job!

Then I make my matcha in a medium sized bowl (chawan). I have been using Jade Leaf Organic Matcha. If anyone has another recommendation they love, I would love to try it as well! Please let me know in the comments below. I’m only using the culinary grade for now, because the ceremonial grades are so expensive in general.

I use 1/2 teaspoon matcha which I sift through a mini strainer. Then I add 1/2 cup hot water (don’t use boiling because the tea leaf is delicate) and whisk it until dissolved. I bought a Japanese whisk, but any whisk will do. Then I add the frothed milk to the tea.


I sprinkled some more matcha powder on for garnish for this photo 🙂

High Protein Matcha Latte

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, soy milk, cow milk, or almond milk

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/2 teaspoon matcha powder

1/2 cup very hot water

  1. Mix coconut milk and protein powder together. Heat for 30 seconds in microwave. Stir. Heat for another 30 seconds. You don’t want to heat too long or the protein will curdle, which is really unpleasant! Froth milk using a whisk or mini frother.
  2. Sift matcha powder into a small bowl or coffee mug. Add hot water while whisking.
  3. Add milk to tea. Enjoy!


Mmmmm….A nice cup of goodness!


Happy New Year, folks!



Filed under Beverages, Breakfast, Superfood

Citrus Tonic and My Sketchbook

citrus tonic

I’ve been sick AND busy, and this is about the extent of my experimenting with recipes!  I made this in my Vitamix:  One whole orange and one whole lemon.  You can add honey or sugar for sweetness, but I like it tart and left it out.  I had such a sore throat and was congested, and this really hit the spot — kind of like an epic Vitamin C kick in the pants.

Then I decided to paint it:


Recently, I’ve begun painting every day in my Moleskin sketchbook as a daily routine.  At first it was really hard, and I felt super self conscious about what I was painting, but I’ve finally found a certain level of comfort with it.  I don’t really care how they will turn out — it’s the process that counts — or rather, the practice– a kind of meditation.  Sometimes I am so tired and exhausted at the end of the day, especially when I was really sick, I only spend ten to fifteen minutes on them!

To read more about the development of this practice, go here.

To see my daily sketch paintings in the future — I plan to do continue to do one every day — right now they have been focussed on street life in Brooklyn — follow me on Instagram! 🙂

Citrus Tonic (really nice for when you’re feeling the cold bug taking over your face!)

One navel orange, peeled

One lemon, peeled and seeded

Honey, agave, sugar, or other sweetener if desired

1.  Process in blender and drink up!



Filed under Art Related, Beverages

Kahlua Egg Cream

kahlua egg cream top

Last summer we got a Soda Stream, and we’ve been addicted to it ever since.  I don’t know if we save money with it necessarily (we have to buy the cartridges  of CO2 and we drink waaay more soda water than before we had the Soda Stream).  But it is better for the environment because we  never buy bottled drinks anymore (unless traveling).

We have a collection of syrups that we have amassed, and it is fun to mix flavors and experiment. Denis always drinks Cola Free, which tastes like Coke Zero.  Jamie likes Root Beer, and my favorite is Diet Cream Soda.  I like being able to sweeten the water to my own taste, which is usually not as sweet as canned soda.  The Cream Soda flavor pairs well with a dash of fruit juice.  Recently, I’ve been drinking it with about a tablespoon of tart cherry juice.  With apple juice, it tastes just like Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.

Another fun aspect of having soda water around is being able to make the quintessential Brooklyn beverage, the egg cream, at home!  An egg cream, as you might know, does not have eggs in it at all- – just syrup, milk, and soda water.  It’s a retro fountain drink, and since you have to drink it immediately after the soda water is added — it’s not something that can be bottled.

Even Jamie has mastered the art of making a good egg cream.  For a traditional Brooklyn one, you must use U-Bet’s!  But if you can’t get your hands on a bottle, any chocolate syrup would work.


The next important factor:  You must use a new bottle of sparkling water/seltzer/club soda or a freshly made bottle of Soda Stream soda water!  The carbonation is key to creating a really good egg cream head.

egg cream 2

To make one, pour syrup into a tall glass, add milk, then the soda water.  Stir to combine and serve or drink immediately!  The lovely head goes down pretty rapidly.

As you might know, I LOVE Kahlua and I like finding ways to use it in recipes.



Check out my Kahlua Tiramisu here.

I decided to try my hand at a Kahlua Egg Cream.  You could make this with Chocolate Syrup if you wanted, but I wanted a vanilla one, so I used Soda Stream Diet Cream Soda syrup.  It was heavenly!

kahlua egg cream top

Last month the  MATS Bootcamp class I’ve been loving for the past five months, ended.  I was kind of sad to finish, because being in the class was such a great experience.  It was so inspiring, and I met so many other great artists taking the class.  My work has greatly improved in the process as well — it’s helped me to approach it differently and really focus on creating a lot more personal pieces for myself.  I will be taking more of Lilla Roger’s classes in the future though, so that is something to look forward to!

The theme for our last assignment was our favorite beverage.  Of course I had to do a piece on soda water!  Here’s my version inspired by vintage beverage ads:

soda water final copy

Traditional Egg Cream

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (preferably U-Bets)

about 1/2 cup milk

Soda water

1.  Add syrup to tall glass.  Add milk.  Slowly add soda water making sure the head comes to the top (depending on how strong your carbonation is will determine the speed at which it rises).  Stir to combine syrup.

2.  Drink or serve immediately.

Vanilla Kahlua Egg Cream

2 teaspoons cream soda flavored syrup

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon Kahlua

1/3 cup milk

Soda water

1.  Add syrup to tall glass.  Add Kahlua, then milk.  Slowly add soda water making sure the head comes to the top (depending on how strong your carbonation is will determine the speed at which it rises).  Stir to combine syrup.

2.  Drink or serve immediately.




Filed under Art Related, Beverages

The Hungry Artists’ Recipes

recipe header

Ok, I’ve had this blog for what, going on 3 years here, and I have never compiled a recipes page.  Major head slap.  People often ask me for recipes on the blog, and my feeble response is to “do a search”.   Really lame.

I guess when I began the blog, I didn’t know it would grow this big.  I should have had a recipes page on day one.  I realized this fact a couple of months ago, and the prospect of going back and linking everything and getting it all in ship shape paralyzed me.  I realized it is never going to happen unless I start NOW.  So, I am currently building it, but it will take time.  I have over a 100 recipes on the site to categorize and link.  And now is not the best time in terms of my book and illustration projects (though when is it ever, right?) I am currently involved in.

I just want to say that the recipe page is a work in progress.  It has been really enjoyable to go back and look at older recipes though.  Some I haven’t made in awhile, and I will definitely have to.  Especially the soup recipes!  As some of you might know, the impetus for starting this little blog was the publication of Soup Day, which I wrote and illustrated and came out with Henry Holt in 2010.

Here are the categories I came up with, and here is the recipe page for the whole collection (so far).  Also, there is now a RECIPES link on the header of every page and post! Thanks for your patience and hope you try out some old favorites!






salmon roll up close





lighter peanut butter chocolate popcorn







Filed under Appetizers, Beef, Beverages, Breakfast, chicken, Children

Green as a Coconut, Spinach, Chocolate Smoothie

Topped with toasted coconut and sliced almonds

Topped with toasted coconut and sliced almonds

So this is only day 2 of my weaning myself off of caffeine, and I feel like this:

Copyright Melissa Iwai 2005

Copyright Melissa Iwai 2005

All I want to do is sleep.  Which probably means I am sleep deprived.  Which is why I decided to stop drinking coffee in the first place.  I have been struggling with insomnia and stress, and hopefully this will help with that.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of work to do, and my daily coffee seemed to help make me so much more productive!  Have any of you dealt with this issue?  Any advice or tips you can give?

In the meantime, I’m still trying to keep a healthy lifestyle.  I’m still drinking my smoothies.  Jamie too.  Remember this one?  It’s his favorite Chocolate Banana Smoothie (with Secret Ingredient).

These days, I drink one daily and it’s a riff on Jamie’s Chocolate Banana Smoothie and my Strawberry Bliss Smoothie.

Strawberry Banana High Fiber Smoothie

Strawberry Banana High Fiber Smoothie

It has the frozen fruit, spinach (whoops! there goes the secret!), and pysllium husk that those have, but I’ve also added protein powder and coconut milk as well.  I often try to make it as thick as possible so I can eat it with a spoon.  I top it with a little toasted coconut and almonds, and it makes me feel like I’m eating a soft serve ice cream for breakfast.  This is especially nice in these hot summer months!

I toast unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds on foil in the toaster oven.

I toast unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds on foil in the toaster oven.

I keep frozen banana, various fruits, frozen spinach in a bag, and frozen coconut milk in the freezer at all times.

One can of Trader Joe's Light Coconut Milk fills one ice cube tray. How convenient!

One can of Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk fills one ice cube tray. How convenient!

I freeze the coconut milk in an ice cube tray.  One cube equals 2 tablespoons, if you are curious.  When it hardens, I transfer the cubes to a ziploc freezer bag and store for future use –i.e. almost every morning.

This is what I put in the blender:


The fruit I used this time was nectarine, but that varies.

Frozen Coconut Milk, Banana, Nectarine, and Spinach

Frozen Coconut Milk, Banana, Nectarine, and Spinach–pretty!

I know it looks green and icky, but it is SOOO good!

I know it looks green and icky, but it is SOOO good!

Here's a more Martha Stewart photo for ya!

Here’s a more Martha Stewart photo for ya!

Coconut, Spinach, Chocolate Protein Smoothie

2-3 ice cubes

1/4 frozen banana (I slice them and freeze, so this is about 4 slices)

1 cube of frozen coconut milk (or 2 tablespoons)

a handful of other frozen fruit — I use nectarines and strawberries often

1 teaspoon psyllium husk (if you want more fiber — also it acts as a thickening agent.  You could also use Chia Seeds)

a little less than 1/4 cup milk (or almond milk if you want to keep it vegan), depending on how liquid you want the final to be

teaspoon of toasted coconut and almond for garnish (optional)

1.  Crush ice cubes in blender.

2.  Pour in remaining ingredients and blend. If you make it thick, like mine, you need a tamper to press everything down — I use a Vitamix.  If you don’t have a tamper, I would just keep stirring it every now and then by hand to remove clumps, and blend again.

3.  Pour into a wide rimmed glass or bowl and top with crunchy toasted coconut and almond topping if you desire!


Filed under Beverages, Breakfast, Vegetarian

The Sketchbook Project and Cinco de Mayo Whole Fruit Margaritas

What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than a freshly made margarita?

What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with a freshly made margarita?

This past weekend marked both the advent of Cinco de Mayo and the day the Sketchbook Project Mobile Library was in NYC at Street Fest! The Sketchbook Mobile Library houses sketchbooks created last year via the Brooklyn Art Library and travels to cities across North America for people to view.

Jamie is the kid on the scooter.

Jamie is the kid on the scooter.

It was of special interest to me and Jamie because we took part in the Sketchbook Project and our sketchbook is included in the tour!

Sketchbooks in the mobile library.

Sketchbooks in the mobile library.

Checking out books.

Checking out books.

Our sketchbook!

Our sketchbook!

Looking at the sketchbook traveling with ours -- artist is a 14 year old girl.

Looking at the sketchbook traveling next to ours — the sketchbook artist is a 14 year old girl.

I first heard about the Brooklyn Art Library that houses the permanent collection in the New York Times.  I brought Jamie to the library located in Williamsburg last summer during a visit with my friend, Kaori, who used to live in the neighborhood.

Various stationery items for sale.

Various stationery items for sale.

A wall of sketchbooks.

A wall of sketchbooks.

Some rules.

Some rules.

library 1

We loved the vibe and the creative spirit of the venture.  You can go there and buy a sketchbook and fill it and add to the collection.  You can also check out other people’s sketchbooks.  There are so many wonderful ones.  Of course Jamie wanted to do a sketchbook. And me being a softy for anything creative, said yes.  I paid the $25 fee to get started and we were given a blank sketchbook to fill.  As always, Jamie wanted to do a food theme.  Trust me — it wasn’t my idea!  We took turns filling up the pages and deciding on what kind of food to highlight. It was a really fun collaboration. Sometimes his idea would inspire me to do something and vice versa:

Evolution of Sushi and Yaki Onigiri Recipe

Evolution of Sushi/Yaki Onigiri Recipe

Fish for sale and Japanese Breakfast at Inn

Fish Market/Japanese Breakfast at Inn

Mochi Cakes

Mochi Cakes/Make Your own Mochi!

Then the cuisine turned all-American….

Burger Party!

Burger Party!/Hamburger Game

Breakfast Smoothie

Breakfast Smoothie/I Love Strawberries

BBQ Ribs/Slow Cooker Pork Recipe

BBQ Ribs/Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe

Our sketchbook will be on tour for 2013.  Anyone in the world is welcome to participate in the next Sketchbook Project.  Sign up here if you want to take part!  To see more sketchbooks online, you can view them here.  There are so many amazing ones!!

The next day was Cinco de Mayo so….

It was Margarita Time!
margaritaI found the best frozen margarita recipe made from whole fruit!  What a great idea, right?  I love frozen margaritas, but they tend to be overly sweet.  This one isn’t and it is FULL of fresh fruit flavor.  Next time, I will add twice as much lime and halve the orange amount for a tarter lime flavor.  But this one was great.  I even made a virgin one for Jamie, which he loved. 🙂

Whole Fruit Margarita (adapted from Better Recipes — here is the original recipe)  Mine is for 2 servings and I changed the ratio of fruit

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups ice cubes

2 tablespoons water

1/4 orange, peeled

1/4 lime, peeled

1/4 lemon, peeled

1 1/2 ounces tequila (or more if you like!)

1/2 ounce Triple Sec

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1.  Chill margarita glasses.

2.  Run a wedge of lime around rim of glass.  Spread salt on a plate.   Coat rim of glass with salt by placing upside down on plate.    Set aside.

3.  Crush ice in blender.

4.  Add remaining ingredients.  Pour into prepared glasses.  Garnish with lime wedge. Serve immediately.

margarita 2


Filed under Art Related, Beverages