More kabocha? (Neon Green Oat Bran)

Now that you know what kabocha is, you must be dying to try out some new recipes for it ūüôā ¬†This recipe is even new to me – neon green oat bran. ¬†Yes, I’m a nut.

19-neon-green-oat-bran

To make your neon green oat bran, you need these ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped kabocha
  • 2/3 cup oat bran + 1.5 cups water
  • splash of vanilla (optional), pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons raisins (optional; I didn’t use them today)
  • 1-2 cups spinach (optional; I DID add it)

Directions: Steam the kabocha for 5-7 minutes.  Cook your oat bran (with the vanilla, salt, and raisins if using).  Put the steamed kabocha, oat bran, and spinach (optional) in the blender.  Blend on high for about 30 seconds.  Dump it into a bowl, making sure to scrape every last bit out of the blender!  EAT.  ENJOY.

This is like pumpkin oats, but a million times better. ¬†And it’s very macrobiotic. ¬†Squash + raw greens + whole grains = amazing for your body! ¬†It’s simple and delicious. ¬†Will you try it?

What is kabocha? (FAQ)

One of the most common questions/comments I get is this: “what is kabocha?”

14-kabocha

Kabocha is a Japanese pumpkin. ¬†Kabocha is actually just the Japanese word for squash. ¬†It’s dark green (though it can have orange-y spots too) and hard. ¬†The inside is orange. ¬†It hardens as it ripens. ¬†I once bought a few kabochas from a sketchy place that were not ripe (they weren’t sweet, and they were much easier to cut) but I didn’t realize it until after I had cut into them. ¬†This only happened once, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. ¬†You can usually find them at an Asian market but I’ve seen them at the farmers’ market and Whole Foods as well. In season they’re as low as $0.50/pound, but anything under $1/pound is a good price (I’ll go up to $1.30 or so at the max).

Kabocha are usually about 2-3 pounds (the ones I get are around 2 pounds), but I think that they can get much bigger than that. ¬†I often eat a whole kabocha in one day. ¬†It hasn’t turned me orange (yet). ¬†I think they’re slightly more starchy than a butternut, but taste way better (IMHO).

Kabocha are high in¬†beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B2, and more. ¬†I’ve found different nutritional info online. ¬†This site lists it as 60 calories per 100 grams (544 calories per 2 pounds), but this site lists it as 30 calories per 85 grams (320 calories per 2 pounds). ¬†Too much confusion, and I don’t care anymore – just give me my kabocha ūüôā They are a great part of a healthy macrobiotic diet.

15-kabocha-steam

My favorite way to cook it is to steam the kabocha. I cut it up in chunks (throwing away the seeds, but you could roast them if you wanted to) and steam it for about 5-7 minutes. ¬†You should be able to pierce it quite easily with a fork when it’s done. ¬†I usually top mine with parmesan, brown sugar, and/or earth balance/butter (any mix of the 3).

16-kabocha-with-parm

You can also toss the steamed kabocha in a salad, topped with more parm of course (or not). ¬†This salad was a base of romaine, plus sauteed veggies (cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms, daikon), steamed kabocha, pickled lettuce (something I got @ the Chinese market), parmesan, and the last of my tj’s raspberry vinaigrette.

17-kabocha-salad

Another great way to enjoy kabocha is kabocha fries.  In this case you can follow the directions for my butternut squash fries, or you can simplify it a bit by microwaving the kabocha chunks for 5-7 minutes, then sticking them under the broiler for 5 minutes or so (until they get crispy).  Coco has tried the microwaving version and she liked the way they turned out.  Try dipping the fries in my homemade unsweetened ketchup.  Divine.

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What’s your favorite way to eat kabocha? ¬†If you haven’t tried it yet, what’s your favorite way to eat another squash? ¬†(And if you haven’t tried it – DO IT.)

Sauteed squid, leeks, and tomatoes

Last night I made a completely new dish – I had never cooked with squid before! ¬†A few weeks ago I picked up some frozen boiled squid at my local Japanese market and I’ve been trying to find a way to use it. ¬†I came up with this… (I’m pretty sure it’s a Vietnamese dish.)

Sauteed squid, leeks, and tomatoes

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Ingredients (serves 2)

  • squid (I used 200 g, frozen, already cooked – but you could use fresh as well)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • <1 tablespoon sesame oil (for sauteing)
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • 1 medium/large firm tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper &¬†1/2 teaspoon Asian 5-spice powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Marinate the squid in 1 tablespoon of fish sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan/wok over high heat.  Add the squid; saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the leeks and tomatoes and spices; saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture, stir, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the last tablespoon of fish sauce; stir; serve!

I served mine over steamed kabocha (what else?) and Bobby had his over white rice.  We split the dish exactly in two and it was perfect.

Squid is a great option – it’s high in protein and low in fat. ¬†It can lower cholesterol and it’s a good source of Phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. ¬†The cooked tomatoes are a great way to get antioxidants (cooking them actually increases the lycopene content) and more of our vitamins (C, A, potassium, and even iron – very important). ¬†Leeks of course are high in fiber but also have a good variety of vitamins (folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C). ¬†They’re easier on the digestive system than regular onions, and they even have antiseptic and anti-arthritic properties.

How’s that for a nutritious meal? ¬†I hope you enjoy it ūüôā ¬†What’s your favorite seafood (if you eat it)?¬†¬†Mine is shrimp. A definite yum.

Salad summary & a foot massage

I finished Leng’s salad challenge on Saturday (2 weeks of eating 1+ salads a day). ¬†It was a really wonderful experience. ¬†I felt incredibly energized and healthy while I was eating so many salads. ¬†The only problem that I found was that I had to eat a lot of extras along with the salad (bread, protein, snacks) because otherwise I wasn’t getting enough to eat. ¬†It’s not that the salads left me hungry – they were very filling. ¬†It’s just that the way I like my salads (all veggies) is not the most well-rounded way to eat. ¬†But I learned how to supplement them, and I had a great time with the challenge.

Here is my last salad of the challenge (Saturday):

10-saturday-night-salad

 

  • base: romaine
  • toppings: sauteed woodear mushrooms and zucchini; steamed kabocha; picked cucumber (not pickles)
  • protein: parmesan
  • dressing: tj’s raspberry vinaigrette

 

Since I’ve been having so much kabocha recently, I decided to give it a rest yesterday (Sunday). ¬†I didn’t have a salad, and I didn’t have kabocha! ¬†But I missed them both, and I will probably have them today. ¬†I have 2 kids to tutor tonight so dinner is up in the air.

I almost forgot – yesterday my friend and I went to this place to get foot massages! ¬†It was $20 for an hour and it included 40 minutes of foot massage and 20 minutes of a full body massage (you stay in your clothes though). ¬†It was really fun. ¬†I’m definitely going to go back. ¬†Bobby had gotten a flyer for the place (King Spa in San Jose; if you want the address I can find it) on his car and he told me I should go try it. ¬†I was worried that it would be sketchy, but it was super clean and they even gave us hot tea to drink. ¬†The room was dim and they had some peaceful music playing. ¬†They also had a large TV that played random pretty scenery.

Have you gotten one of these foot massage things? ¬†I’d never heard of a $20 hour-long massage until I moved to the Bay Area, but there are actually a lot of places that do it.

Menu Plan Monday (mostly vegetarian/macrobiotic)

Even though I post a menu plan almost every week, it’s rare that I stick to it. ¬†Menu planning can be frustrating. ¬†How am I supposed to know on Sunday what I’ll be craving in 5 days? ¬†Recently I’ve been listing different dinner options instead of placing them on exact days, but I’m still finding it difficult to follow.

Another thing that makes a plan hard to follow is that Bobby and I are rarely in the mood for the same thing. ¬†Tonight we lucked out – both of us were craving pho, so we went for it. ¬†But take this morning for instance –

11-our-breakfasts-sunday

That’s a bowl of green oat bran for me (oat bran, raisins, vanilla, salt, spinach) and a ham sandwich for Bobby (kaiser roll, mustard and a little bit of mayo, spinach, tomato, honey ham) + his calcium chew in orange flavor (I had mine when I woke up). ¬†We wanted totally different things, but we happily ate them together. ¬†I think improvisation and eating what you crave is important, so I don’t always stick to what I have written down. ¬†As long as I use up what I have in the fridge and I don’t waste much, I’m happy. ¬†How about you? ¬†Do you stick to the plan (if you plan) or do you play it by ear?

Menu for the Week of April 26 – May 2

Sundaydinner at Pho Little Saigon (pho)

Other Dinners¬†–

  • squid sauteed with leeks (monday i think) & rices
  • leftovers (tuesday)
  • stuffed portobellos, steamed kabocha & a protein (chicken/tofu/fish)
  • hugh jass salad & a carb
  • make your own spring rolls (with shrimp) & peanut dipping sauce
  • salad with burdock kinpira & a protein (tofu, chicken, or seafood)
  • eating out one night

Lunches –¬†Big salads (romaine, spinach base; kabocha & random veggies for topping; parmesan & bacon bits; various dressings), tortillas, brown rice & butter, omelettes, burdock kinpira

Breakfasts –¬†green oat bran,¬†brown rice mixes, yogurt cake (for Bobby; I need to use up the yogurt that I bought before it goes bad)

Desserts – fruit, milk ice pops, possibly some tofu pudding (silken tofu blended with sweet things), maybe a white fungus dessert (I’ll do a post soon on white fungus since so many of you are curious!)

If you ever have questions about anything that I post about, PLEASE ask! ¬†I love answering questions and I try to respond to every one. ¬†I’m going to update my FAQ page, so this is an open call for anything you want me to talk aboutadvice (health, yoga, life, whatever), things that I eat (like white fungus or kabocha), exercise (walking, yoga, etc…), my past, my future plans, my jobs (tutoring, teaching, blogging, and some other randoms), my cat (Couscous the tabby), my boyfriend (Bobby; we’re about to hit 3.5 years in a month), my family, ANYTHING! ¬†Just ask ūüôā ¬†I’ll keep reminding you because I want to get lots of questions.