So many names for this guy! So, is it really a gourd or a melon? When ripe, it’s used as a vegetable, but the unripe “fruit” is very sweet, and is used as a fruit. Interesting? I think so too! At least the Japanese could decide on one name. It’s called a Tougan (冬瓜). The kanji in this word is for winter 冬and melon瓜. Yay for fun with kanji! Why did this winter melon show up at the farmers market last month and not in December? It actually ripens during the summer, but because of the waxy exterior, it lasts long through the winter.
This vegetable is useful in ayurveda for both pitta and kapha. It’s very cooling for pitta during the summertime. It helps balance acidity for those with pitta issues like ulcers. It is also useful for diabetics and those desiring to lose weight. It’s also a diuretic so it will support in detoxification. Continue reading →
My friend came to visit last month. We had an amazing time traveling around Okinawa, Osaka and Kyoto. That probably goes without saying though. We found ourselves on an ice cream kick in Okinawa, before heading to Osaka and Kyoto. It all started with ube ice cream then we moved on to green tea ice cream. There was some Okinawan sugar cookie, pistachio, vanilla and beni imo ice cream mixed in there as well. I’m addicted to the ube ice cream which is a type of purple potato. It tastes like carnivals and magic. I know you want some now, but it’s not what this post is about! Gomennasai. Seriously, we probably ate 14 ice cream scoops each in the 2 weeks she was here. We may, or may not have had double ice cream on some days. What can I say? It was really hot!! Continue reading →
Beni imo may be my most favorite thing about living on Okinawa. Seriously, I love this ‘tater! It’s like a sweet potato, but has lovely vanilla notes. AND IT’S PURPLE! It’s really exciting to cut into one of these beauties. The color is just so intense and somehow unexpected every time.
Last thanksgiving, I turned these into a sweet potato soufflé, which is tradition in my family. I also got a little daring and made a side dish with beni imo, Okinawan brown sugar and pineapple bits. I’ve made a Thai-inspired beni imo soup. You can use it anyway that you would use a sweet potato. They occasionally find their way into a curry, but I really like to let the color shine alone, like in this recipe. Continue reading →
Yesterday, I would have traded a slice of chocolate cake for this bitter melon dish. Crazy, but true. I wouldn’t have traded a whole chocolate cake for it though, I’m not insane. I blame the heat. My body needed some cooling bitter taste.
Goya Chanpuru is an Okinawa classic. This knobby green bitter melon is useful during the hot, humid summers of Okinawa. Chanpuru means “to mix” and can be used with any number of vegetables. The usual recipe has goya, onion, egg and pork of some variety. I didn’t do anything fancy here. I just wanted the goya. I guess it was a teensy bit fancy since I bought both green and white goya. What’s the difference, you ask? Not a clue. Continue reading →
I was inspired this week to try some new Okinawan summer veggies. I saw this huge green vegetable, with a sticker price of around $1.75, and decided that I must learn to like this, based on the price alone. I stood there in the middle of the market, entering kana into my Japanese translation app to discover that yuugao is bottle gourd! Then I Google what the heck a bottle gourd is good for. Apparently, they make delightful liquid vessels once they’re dried. Also, people eat them. I’m off to a good start! Continue reading →
Well, it’s blazing hot here on Okinawa. Pair the heat with the high humidity and it’s like a non-stop sauna. Wahhh! My husband is REALLY enjoying this weather, but it’s making me a lot bit cranky. I’ve been looking for ways to keep cool and keep my pitta nature under control. Ding ding ding! Cooling, refreshing salad!
I went to the local farmers market and came back with a bunch of summer veggies that I wanted to experiment with. You’ll probably be seeing some of these in upcoming posts. I’ll be using Okinawa varieties of produce, but I’ll list substitutions next to the ingredients in case you don’t have access to the same produce. I’ve also included picture of these ingredients and the label in case you are in Japan. Continue reading →
I know. It sounds lame. Uninteresting. Boring even. BUT! It is delicious. Simple. And nourishing.
Ayurveda says that fruit in the morning is like gold. It’s the best time to get the maximum nourishment from fruit. Cooked apples in the morning help create ojas. We want ojas! Ojas is beauty, health and immunity.
If you’re a light-breakfast kinda person, like me, this will be perfect! If you need a heartier breakfast, eat the stewed apples 30 minutes before you eat anything else for best digestion. Ok! On to… Continue reading →
I hate buying shampoo and conditioner. Even the organic, SLS free, phthalate/paraben free kinds have a bunch of funky ingredients. Those brands sure aren’t cheap, either. It’s one of the only remaining conventional beauty products that I’ve been purchasing.
I wash my hair a lot. I’m just not one of those people that can go several days without a shampoo. I run and do a lot of sweaty yoga nearly every day. I live on an island with blazing heat and lots of humidity. 2-3 showers a day just to keep cool during the hottest bits of summer. My hair is prone to being oily in a pitta provoking climate like this one. Continue reading →
Ghee is clarified butter. It means that the milk solids are removed from the butter fat. It is shelf stable because the water and solids have been cooked out or removed. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, it will be solid or liquid. Ghee has a very high smoke point which means it’s difficult to burn and it won’t create dangerous free radicals as many vegetable oils will at high heat. Its short chain fatty acids are easily metabolized by the body.
An Indian kitchen is incomplete without ghee. In ayurveda it is so highly regarded that it is called the “single most ojas producing food on earth” by Maya Tiwari. Ojas is health or juiciness. It’s essential for a well-functioning immune system. When you see someone that looks really healthy, that is ojas shining through. Ghee is not only food, but is used as medicine in ayurveda. 100 year old ghee is prized for use as medicine, and is passed down from generation to generation. If one could produce an essential oil of love, it would be ghee. I think that’s a nice thought. Continue reading →