Kabocha + Garlic = a healthy combo

Pearl left a comment on my kabocha explanation with a lovely recipe suggestion.  I tried it last night and it didn’t disappoint.  And hey, it’s even macrobiotic!

Kabocha & Garlic


Ingredients (serves 1)

  • ~2 cups chopped kabocha
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup water
  • dash of sea salt
  • drizzle of brown rice syrup (or sprinkle of granulated sweetener)


  1. Heat the EVOO over medium heat in a cast iron skillet (okay, you can use whatever kind of skillet you want.  But cast iron is a great way to add some iron into your diet.  Just beware of Teflon pans – they can damage your liver and thyroid).  Add the garlic and saute until it starts to brown, or until it starts smelling great.
  2. Add the kabocha and stir to coat with EVOO.  Saute for a minute or so.  Add 1/2 cup of water, and continue to cook the kabocha as it boils off.  Once the water is almost gone, test the kabocha to see if it’s soft enough.  If it still needs more time, add another splash of water, wait for it to boil off, and test it again.  Repeat if needed.
  3. Serve topped with salt and brown rice syrup, to taste.  (Pearl suggested a granulated sweetener – perhaps brown sugar – but I wanted to make this macrobiotic so I used brown rice syrup instead.  Do what you like.)

I savored this slowly and it was delicious.  I was reading about all the benefits of garlic in Jillian’s new book, Master Your Metabolism.  She says that garlic (and other veggies in the allium family – leeks, onions, etc…) is a great detoxifier and helps to keep the liver healthy.  It even lowers total cholesterol (but raises HDL, the good one).  Jillian recommends crushing garlic before you eat it, or pairing it with olive oil which both increase the benefits.

Yesterday I made this nice little (macrobiotic) snack before I went out to tutor:



  • 2 free-range egg whites, microwaved; drizzled with brown rice syrup
  • fresh seaweed (rinsed of salt and soaked in water for 10 minutes)
  • mushrooms and a tomato sauteed in 1-2 teaspoons EVOO


It was really yummy and perfect to tide me over until dinner.  What’s your favorite snack?

FAQ (Part 3)

For my other FAQ installments, check out the FAQ page.

8. Coco asks, “what’s the best book you’ve ever read. why?”

Ah – I don’t know if I can pick one!  In terms of health books – I think French Women Don’t Get Fat (by Mireille Giuliano) is definitely a favorite.  Her advice is real and healthy, and I like her voice.  As for fiction, I would probably say that my favorite recent book was Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (he wrote Coraline).  I have no idea what my favorite book of all time is, but that one was really fun.  It’s a funny fantasy novel that’s slightly apocalyptic.  The characters are great and the writing is hysterical.  (There are the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse – but Pestilence has been replaced with Pollution due to the discovery of penicillin).  I also used to be rather obsessed with the Harry Potter series, but I’ve gotten over that.  I have been reading Godel, Escher, Bach for the past 5 years and I still haven’t finished it.  It’s a great book though.  I haven’t touched it lately.  Check it out if you’re a math nerd.  You can also friend me on Goodreads.

9. Coco asks, “what’s the best movie you’ve seen lately. and why you liked it?”


I’m not a big movie person.  I tend to get very distracted, even in theaters.  BUT, I did absolutely love Marley & Me, which I saw a few months ago.  I don’t think that I looked at my watch or got distracted at all during the whole movie.  I’ve also read the book and I highly recommend it.  I think that part of the reason that I liked the movie so much was because I knew what was going to happen.  I always have to ruin endings for myself (I always read spoilers).  I also liked it because I could relate to the story – I grew up with a crazy yellow lab.  Bobby and I just got Milk from Netflix so I think we’re gonna watch that tonight or tomorrow.  I hope I can pay attention.

10. Coco asks, “Does Bobby read your blog?”

Bobby does read my blog.  He doesn’t comment much, but he reads it every day.  He did a guest post once (a restaurant review).

Thanks for the questions. I have more to answer, and I promise I’ll get to them shortly…  If you have additional questions, leave ’em in the comments!

Review: PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook

I recently received a free copy of peta2‘s new project: the Vegan College Cookbook.  This cookbook has “275 easy, cheap, and delicious recipes to keep you vegan at school.”  It’s written by Starza Kolman and Marta Holmberg.


I had fun reading through the book.  I read most of it on the drive home from Napa on Saturday (after Bobby sobered up he took over the driving).

It’s broken up in two parts“what you need to know” and “recipes you’ll love”.  In “what you need to know”, you’ll find a quick and dirty intro to microwave cooking, an intro to veganism, a huge list of great vegan products, and a list of kitchen basics.  In “recipes you’ll love”, you’ll find breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, soups and stews, sauces/dressings, dinners, drinks, dips, snacks, and desserts… plus three spotlights!  Those are on peanut butter, ramen, and potatoes.

I think the “spotlights” are great.  They give a bunch of fun ideas to jazz up cheap ingredients.  I know a lot of people that lived on ramen when we were in school!  I bet they would have loved some healthier and tastier options.

This cookbook offers a ton of fun recipes.  I will definitely be trying some of the ramen recipes (like the ancient Japanese noodle secret salad), the salad recipes (like the strawberry field greens forever), and many others (like the peanut butter cup pie!).  But here are my critiques:

  • the only cooking method is a microwave.  i don’t really ever use a microwave… but this is actually a plus for college kids.
  • i would say at least half of the recipes are not really recipes.  (examples: bagel + cream cheese + jam; yogurt + fruit + granola)
  • no pictures!
  • there’s a heavy emphasis on processed and fake vegan foods – this is not what veganism is about (for me at least)

I liked the book enough to order a copy for my sister (her birthday was a few weeks ago and I never got her a present).  I hope it gets there soon.  I ordered it off of Amazon for just $10.19 and free shipping (along with Master Your Metabolism for my dear momma).

What was YOUR favorite college meal?  I pretty much lived on baked goods and salads.  I ate a lot of huge muffins, cookies, and other goodies.  I’ve scaled down my sugar consumption since then 🙂  Dessert is still my favorite meal – always has been, always will be.  And yes, of course dessert is a meal.

Random experiments – burdock, pad thai!

I bought fresh burdock the other day because it has some amazing healthful qualities.  I’ve made kinpira gobo before (burdock and carrot dish; Japanese) but I wanted to do something with the burdock alone.  I basically followed the kinpira recipe, but omitted the carrots and cut the burdock into discs.  It was great – kind of like burdock chips!


Burdock (the root) is a staple in a macrobiotic diet.  It’s a root veggie, but better for you than most root veggies (like white potatoes).  Burdock is high in dietary fiber (6g in a 100g serving), calcium, potassium, and amino acids; it’s also low calorie.  In traditional medicine, burdock is used as a diuretic, diaphoretic (sweat), and a blood purifier.  The oil extract is even used to cure baldness and nourish your scalp.  It can also be used topically as a cure for skin conditions (acne, eczema, etc…).  My mom used to make burdock tea during pregnancy; I’m not sure what it was supposed to do, but she birthed 3 healthy (and huge) babies – so it certainly didn’t hurt.

I’ve been having a lot of fun in the kitchen making “pad thai” – I use various veggies and shirataki noodles.  I have a recipe posted for Butternut Squash Pad Thai, and my current experiments are based off of that recipe.  I don’t have measurements, but here are the ingredients…  I saute the toppings and protein (fish usually), then add the noodles, kabocha, spices, and sauces.  It takes less than 10 minutes.

Sunday’s “pad thai” (best one so far):


  • base: grey shirataki noodles (boiled and drained)
  • toppings: sauteed in sesame oil – a tomato, mushrooms, sliced leeks, and lotus root; steamed kabocha
  • spices: chili powder, garlic powder, Asian 5-spice powder
  • sauces: water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, PB2 regular
  • on top post-pic – PARM

Saturday’s “pad thai” (with “dried anchovies” from the Korean market).  It was way too salty.  Are these actually anchovies or is this a mistranslation?:


  • base: clear/white shirataki noodles (boiled and drained)
  • toppings: sauteed in sesame oil – mushrooms, bean sprouts, little fishies; steamed kabocha
  • spices: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano
  • sauces: water, soy sauce, PB2 regular
  • on top post-pic – nutritional yeast, and then PARM because the I did not like the nooch

Friday’s “pad thai” (with octopus!!):


  • base: tofu shirataki noodles (boiled and drained; this was 6 servings @ 15 cals per serving; Bobby got about 1 of those servings – he’s not a fan of tofu shirataki and neither am I)
  • toppings: sauteed in sesame oil – carrot, mushrooms, sprouts, octopus; steamed kabocha
  • spices: cumin, garlic powder, oregano
  • sauces: water, soy sauce, PB2 regular
  • on top post-pic – PARM

What’s great about all of these is that I can have “the same” thing for dinner each night… but it’s totally different every time.  Because I’m using shirataki noodles I have room for a starch on the side, and usually that starch is about 1.5+ pounds of steamed kabocha with parm.  I think I’m overdosing though; Bobby says I need to eat something other than kabocha every night.  Still haven’t turned orange, but I’ll keep watching out for it.  I just love kabocha too much.

What is the food you cannot live without?  For me – kabocha!

There’s a party in my salad

I’m always jealous when Sarah goes to Sweet Tomatoes.  When I found out that there’s one less than 2 miles away from our apartment, I had to go.  Bobby let me pick the restaurant tonight, so I took us to this lovely salad buffet feast.

I was going to do it right and listen to Sarah – 2 plates – one for business and one for fun – but then these awesome broccolis (joan’s broccoli madness) hopped on the business plate and my plans went out the window.  I had 2 plates, and they both looked pretty much the same – 2 party plates!  Okay, they weren’t completely party plates – it was more like a business/party mix both times.  Some of the things that I remember dumping on these plates…


  • Joan’s Broccoli Madness (non vegetarian) (amazing! some really creamy dressing.  and probably bacon.)
  • Strawberry Fields w/ Carmelized Walnuts (vegan)
  • base: lettuce mix
  • toppings: carrots, jicama, sliced zucchini, tomatoes, sliced cucumber, mushrooms, blanched broccoli, beets, banana squash (whatttt), peas, corn, pickles, black pepper, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something…
  • dressings (on the side for dipping): honey mustard, strawberry vinaigrette, ranch

I also had some of Neighbor Joe’s Gumbo – I mostly just picked out the okra, tomatoes, and chicken.


Yum!  I also dipped the salad in the broth as kind of a dressing.  After I stuffed myself with salads, I had to have dessert.


The mousse was so good in all of its sugar-free glory.  I haven’t touched the fake stuff in a while, but the splurge was worth it.  I might have accidentally ended up eating about 3 cups of this stuff.  But it only has 40 calories in 1/2 cup, so I think it was okay.  I didn’t have much of the froyo because the mousse won me over early on.  I was really full for about an hour afterwards, but it’s going away now.

Here’s Bobby’s *first* plate – skinny boy can eat!  But I stole his broccoli madness.


Overall I was really pleased with tonight’s salad extravaganza.  Sweet Tomatoes is an awesome restaurant – it’s basically a buffet for salad lovers.  They have some other random items (teeny pizza slices, soups, pastas), but those are not the main event.  This place is all about salad.  Everything is labeled really well, and you know exactly what you’re eating.  They also have a very comprehensive menu with nutrition facts online.  I was really impressed with the restaurant itself – everything was incredibly fresh, and they had a great selection.

Have you been to Sweet Tomatoes?  What do you get at salad bar buffets?