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Hot tea with milk and spices on dark background

Living the Chai Life

If you are a coffee or tea lover you may be faced with a long list of choices each day for how to enjoy your favorite morning brew. There are a dizzying number of new flavors and preparations for these warm, and what are for some, necessary, beverages.

Whether you’re a good old-fashioned “I’ll take it black”, the “I like mine with just a touch of sugar and milk”, or the type with an order that runs for 6 sentences kind of person, haven’t you been at least a bit intrigued by the chai craze?

What is Chai?

Chai, which rhymes with “hi”, originated in India and means “tea” (so you won’t want to say chai tea unless you want to say tea tea). The term “masala chai” means “spiced tea” and is an even more precise reference. Masala chai has been a staple of Indian culture for centuries.

Chai can be made many ways, but the traditional ingredients are black tea with heavy milk, sweetener, and a blend of spices often including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and peppercorns.²

Sweetener is used to help bring out the spices but doesn’t have to be sugar. Honey, agave, maple syrup or even stevia could be used.

The Spread of Chai

Reportedly, masala chai goes back more than 5-thousand years to when a ruler in what is now India had it developed for medicinal purposes.¹

Served in shops, restaurants, and homes across India for a long time, chai first become known in North America in the 1990’s but didn’t reach wide popularity until recent years⁴

The new-found popularity of this spiced tea has generated a market for convenience forms of masala chai. Pre-packaged mixes and concentrates can be found in specialty stores. These handy short-cuts may not be the traditional way of preparing it, but it is a good thing if it gets more people drinking chai. Why? Because masala chai is good for you.

Benefits of Chai

While some of these ingredients may be new flavors for you, the blend is unique and can really help you get your day started off well, or help you wind down after a stressful time. Chai can also be good for your physical health.

The ingredients in chai provide anti-inflammatory benefits and they are rich in antioxidants. When consumed after a meal (as is traditional) chai can also provide digestive support³

Try chai

Want to attempt to make your own – check out these Chai recipes – or do yourself a favor and come visit Atlanta Bread for our twist on this ancient beverage. Our tasty new pumpkin-spiced chai latte is now available! It will warm you up and add some spice to your day!

¹https://www.teatulia.com/tea-varieties/what-is-chai.htm

²http://www.chai-tea.org/whatisit.html

³http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-chai-tea-9942.html

http://worldteanews.com/news/global-evolution-chai

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Uncooked sliced butternut squash on wooden background

Fall in Love With Butternut Squash

Fall brings the changing leaves, cooler temperatures, football, and autumn vegetables that signal a shift in what we’ll be enjoying over the next several months. One of the best ways to enjoy the new season is to sample new flavors, experience new adventures, or start a new relationship. Fall in love with someone or something.

Take a risk

You can do this by visiting local festivals, traveling to places you’ve never been, or to go where some people fear to go – squash.

O.K., don’t bail on me just yet. I’m not talking about the slimy yellow squash that your mom overcooked when you were a kid. I’m referring to the delicately sweet taste and hearty texture of the Butternut Squash.

The bio

I have to say it’s got a very nice shape, and when you cut it open, the deep golden-orange color says “fall is here”. But where does Butternut Squash come from and how do you prepare it? Let’s delve into a few fun facts about this healthy item and get you inspired to go gourd!

It’s technically a fruit that grows on a vine but is cooked and served as a vegetable. While the lineage of the most common type, the Waltham Butternut, originated  in Massachusetts (there is some question as to who actually developed it¹)  it’s true ancestry is all-American and goes way back.

First cultivated about 8-thousand years ago it was present in what is now the Americas before humans roamed the earth². But our species has been attracted to this smooth-and-curvy-on-the-outside, firm-and-tasty-on-the-inside delicacy for some time.

Oh, and it’s healthy for you too.

The recommendation

The Butternut Squash is low in calories and loaded with vitamins A and C and other anti-oxidants (which help prevent cell damage caused by free-radicals³) They contain no cholesterol or saturated fats but are a good source of fiber⁴. Definitely a fresh and healthy choice.

Butternut Squash is not only healthy and beautiful, it’s got a great personality too – it’s a bit nutty and mildly sweet.

Make a date

So why not go on a new adventure  this fall with new flavors. Don’t be shy – make something happen with Butternut Squash and see where the relationship goes. It can be baked, fried, steamed or pureed – it’s versatile that way. Here are some great recipes to try from Real Simple

And if you don’t feel like cooking – come in for a bowl of our brand new Butternut Squash Soup at Atlanta Bread and fall in love with the gourd!

Sources:

¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butternut_squash

²https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucurbita

³http://greatist.com/health/what-are-antioxidants

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/butternut-squash.html

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Fun Facts About What’s Growing In The South Right Now

Who doesn’t love freshly harvested, seasonal foods, right from their local farmer this time of year?  Here in the South, we are fortunate to have an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies available to us year round, but fall is a special time of year in the south. Health-conscious individuals should be on the lookout for fresh, healthy, seasonal ingredients that are harvested during this bountiful season.  As much as it may not feel like fall outside, fall is right around the corner, as is harvest time for our local farmers.  Check out what’s growing in Georgia this time of year.

Fresh veggies and greens for fall.

There are so many fresh, healthy veggies to get excited about this time of year.  Arugula, beets, lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, beets, carrots, cabbage, squash, radishes, turnips, and eggplant are all in season in the south right now. With all these great ingredients being harvested right now, it’s the perfect time to create healthy salads full of your seasonal favorites. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market or farm co-op and check out the bounty of healthy, delicious foods Mother Nature is providing us with right now.

Healthy nut harvest time is almost here.

The fall months of October and November are also harvest season for Georgia’s pecan growers.  Georgia is the nation’s leading pecan producing state.1  We all know and love pecans for special treats like pecan pie, or pecan candies like pralines or chocolate clusters, but did you know that pecans are packed with essential vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, B vitamins, potassium and phosphorus?  They are a great source of protein and fiber and studies have shown they can lower cholesterol.1  So, no matter if they’re roasted, toasted, glazed or candied, add a little flavor and fun to your salad with pecans, and enjoy the health benefits they provide at the same time.

What’s in your salad?

It’s easy to choose from the bounty of fresh veggies in season right now, but the ingredients you choose for your salads may make a difference in the health benefits you receive.  In case you haven’t heard much about Arugula (in season right now) it’s quite the healthy green…in fact, it is one of the top ten most nutrient-dense foods, according to livestrong.com, in fact it’s 30% more nutrient dense than cabbage, and almost 50% more so than cauliflower.2 Arugula packs a healthy punch with its many vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, C, K, along with calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, beta-carotene and lutein.2 So, as you shop your farmer’s market this time of year, make sure your salads are full of fresh, healthy, seasonal greens like nutrient-dense arugula that will really contribute to the health benefits of your salads.

Be sure to take advantage of all the healthy, seasonal ingredients available to us right now.  If you’re in a rush and don’t have the time to visit your local farmer’s market or co-op, don’t worry, you can find the freshest seasonal offerings at your local Atlanta Bread!  Our Southern Harvest Salad represents the best Mother Nature has to offer with just a touch of southern charm.  Treat yourself to healthy seasonal mixed greens and and the health benefits of fresh arugula and diced beets, served with creamy goat cheese and candied pecans drizzled with our house balsamic dressing.  A delicious blend of healthy, farm-fresh ingredients and a little southern charm!  To stay up to date on all the great seasonal happenings at Atlanta Bread, simply download our app!

1  http://www.agr.georgia.gov/georgia-grown-pecans-.aspx

2  http://www.livestrong.com/article/5381-need-health-benefits-arugula/