Cooking Family Meals with Tea

By Laura Schmidt RD, LD

There is something nostalgic about sitting on the front porch and sharing a glass of tea with neighbors or family that lends to slowing life down and making memories. But have you tried cooking with tea? With September being National Family Meals Month, it’s the perfect drink to have on the table and perfect ingredient to add to your recipe as your family gathers around the table for a meal at home.

Tea is guilt-free with zero calories per serving. Unsweetened iced tea is 99.5 percent water, making it an ideal thirst-quenching drink. Tea is also packed with antioxidants and offers a way to add flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. The rich flavor of tea is not only soothing in a mug or glass, but it adds depth to any recipe.

You can also feel good about tea’s sustainability. Every glass of Lipton Tea is more than just a cup of tea. Lipton works with the Rainforest Alliance to help provide access to education and a brighter future for families who work on Lipton’s tea plantations. Rainforest Alliance certified farms also ensure sustainable farming practices and improve quality of life for tea vendors, according to Unilever. Lipton has helped the Rainforest Alliance certify more than 500,000 smallholder farmers, helped set up 1,685 Farmer Field Schools, and trained more than 450,000 farmers in better growing practices.

In many recipes, you can replace water with tea or use powdered tea (such as matcha green tea or tea ground in a spice grinder) as a garnish, spice or rub on meats. In addition, you can smoke meats or meat substitutes with tea leaves or marinate meats with brewed tea. When steaming foods, such as fish, rice or vegetables, you can add a pinch of tea leaves to the water.

Here are some ideas for savory tea foods:

Boil eggs and other foods in tea instead of water.

Infuse teas into broths for soups and stews. Flavorful black teas (like Assams and Ceylons) are better for beef or pork broth, while umami-rich Japanese green teas (like Gyokuro and Sencha) are better for chicken or seafood broth.

Marinate tofu, seitan, seafood, or meat in tea for 30 minutes or more to impart flavor and remove unpleasant odors.

Use brewed tea and tea leaves as an ingredient in rice dishes.

Stuff whole fish with oolong or green tea leaves before steaming fish.

Whisk matcha into sauces and dressings.

After brewing a Chinese green tea, retain the leaves and saut them with vegetables and/or meats.

Poach fruit in black or oolong tea with sugar or honey. Add spices as desired.

Use tea or tea-infused milk/cream to make tea sorbets and tea ice creams.

Add a splash of tea to your favorite smoothie.

For sweeter tea foods, try infusing an Earl Grey tea into a ganache for tea chocolate truffles. As you warm milk to make hot chocolate, steep some tea in it. Strain the tea leaves (or remove the teabag) and continue to make hot chocolate as you normally would.

Source: Unilever.

Here’s a recipe to get you started using tea:

Lemon Pepper Iced Tea Chicken

Serves 4

All you need:

cup unsweetened Lipton iced tea

Juice from one lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

1 fresh rosemary sprig

4 (6 oz each) boneless skinless chicken breasts

All you do:

1. Combine tea, lemon juice, garlic, honey, olive oil, salt, black pepper and rosemary sprig in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Seal and shake until well combined. Add the chicken breasts to the bag and coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 8 hours.

2. Preheat the grill until hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard the marinade and grill, flipping as needed, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 270 calories, 5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 410mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 37g protein.

Source: adapted from emilybites.com

The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.

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