Plentiful Plants

Daily eats of a Torontonian student

Cocoa Bean Bonanza July 26, 2009

Breakfast this morning was a simple bowl of snow peas, (particularly delicious) raspberries, and carrot filled with hemp nut butter and sprinkled with dulse.  Mmmm, dulse.

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Lunch was a pretty fantastic salad.  I tossed a couple slices of cubed ShaSha Co. Ezekiel bread with orange juice concentrate, lemon thyme and finely julienned beets (my fingers came out the other side fully intact :)).  Then I served the mixture on a bed of red leaf lettuce and topped it with Marti cheese shavings.

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Then in the afternoon I had a bit of fun.  You know that cacao-date paste I made yesterday?  And the almonds that didn’t turn into almond milk?  Well I ground the almonds into a butter, mixed it with the date-cacao paste, shaped the mixture into balls and threw them into the freezer.

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Then I went out and bought a bar of President’s Choice Organic 70% dark chocolate.  And melted it.

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After a bit of dipping, rolling, and some chilling in the freezer I ended up with these rather wonderful little truffles.  The white is just condensation since I had just taken them out for the picture.

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I also used up the little bit of extra chocolate to roll some frozen banana chunks for a snack.  You know, along with licking the spoon and quality control checks and so forth.

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Then, to add to the cocoa bean bonanaza I cooked up a HUGE pot of legumes.  I boiled 1/2 cup each pintos, chickpeas, adzuki, and black beans (which got their own pot to avoid dying everything else).  Then tossed the beans with a bag (~1 cup) each of thawed peas and asparagus from the freezer, a couple scoops of the pesto I made yesterday (maybe 3 T), the zest from a lemon and a lime, juice from half the lime, a pinch of salt, and a handful of parsley.  That big mess made one very large, very tasty bean salad.

2009_07_26_beans

You maybe wondering what I’m going to do with a whole plate of truffles and a ton of beans.  Well my former roommate and her then boyfriend-now husband are about to move to England for grad school, so we’re doing one last dinner and Settlers game night before they disappear.  I’m told there will be soup, and other people are bringing unknown items.  So I’m off for the night, but I’m bringing my camera 🙂

By the way, sometimes you can find smiles in the most unusual of places.  When I went on a mission to go buy chocolate this morning, I also found three bunches of marked down (but still very nice looking) organic bananas, which I hastily added to my basket for freezing purposes.  As I was leaving the grocery store there was a giant, thunderous down pour, and even with an umbrella, I (and everyone on the street at the time) ended up with soaked pants/socks/shoes/shirts/bags.  When I got closer to home, I passed by a homeless man standing on the sidewalk, holding out his hat.  But instead of asking for spare change, I heard “Spare ticket to Maui?”  He made me smile, and while I generally don’t carry cash, I came home with only two bunches of bananas, and he seemed happy.

 

Blend, Baby, Blend and an Impromtu Contest! July 17, 2009

It was so dark out today! Whenever I went to take a picture, the sun was very well hidden, and it kept threatening to start raining (spitting) but never quite came. Or I may have simple changed locations before the rain actually came in some cases.

Anyways, a blender action shot for breakfast. That monster contained a mango, chia seeds, and a whole lot of collard greens.

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For lunch I had a salad mess containing cucumber, asparagus, carrot, red pepper and tomato with a Peach Bourbon BBQ sauce topping.

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And in the afternoon half a pint of raspberries and a banana dissappeared.

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I went to Whole Foods today for the first time in a couple of months, and spent some time browsing, which resulted me in sending too much money, but ending up with lots of fun new things to try. One of those things was a hunk of Marti cheese, which is a raw ewe’s milk cheese that to me tastes kinda like a cross between parmesan and muenster (aka pretty awesome). I used it as a topping for my dinner, a big bowl of blended soup containing zucchini, carrot, lots of red pepper, a couple small dates, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

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And some honeydew for dessert.

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Another Whole Food purchase that I just tried is Stash Mint green tea powder. It’s made of regular tea leaves that are ground superfine so they dissolve instantly in cold water for iced tea. Unfortunately, I’m really not a fan, I even dumped out the rest of that glass. Though to be honest, I probably should have known I wouldn’t like it given my distaste for matcha green tea. So if you do like matcha, I say give it try, you’ll probably love it 🙂

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So how about a quick, impromptu mini contest? If you do like matcha, or are just curious, leave a comment by Sunday night and I’ll randomly choose 3 people to mail a few packets of Stash Mint Green Tea Powder. I’d like to see some of you readers come out of the woodwork!

 

All around the mulberry bush July 5, 2009

I was semi-starving when I got home from work this morning so I quickly grabbed a tomato, sliced it up, and covered it in leftover cheese sauce from yesterday. Excellent combination.

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Then I made the sad discovery that I had accidentally left out the quart of strawberries I got at the farmer’s market yesterday, and a whole bunch of them had gone moldy. So I nibbled on some while sorting through them and trimming up the good ones. Then I used a few as a topping for another bowl of chia oatgurt. I didn’t mean to fill the bowl quite so full, but there was so little left in the jar I just wanted to finish it. There’s also a big spoonful of CHu on there too, fantastic dish.

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However, I made up for the lost strawberries by making use of the 20 minute gap between starting a load of laundry and moving it to the dryer. I channeled my inner urban forager and filled up a 1L container with fresh, delicious mulberries from the tree in front of my apartment building. I’ve always thought mulberries don’t start until August, so I was very please when my roomie alerted me to the fact that the sidewalk was littered with them. And there are still plenty of unripe berries on the tree, so there as far more where these cam from.

I snacked on a few wonderful handfuls in the afternoon. I love mulberries so much! I remember sleeping over at my grandparent’s farm and picking them with bare feet, and my grandma helping me to scrub the stains off my feet afterwards.

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Along with a few figs.

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For dinner I made use of something else I foraged this morning on my walk home, day lilies! I started by sauteing beets and brussel sprouts in a little olive oil and salt. Then I made some Zesty-fied Balsamic Salmon. And finally I wilted beet greens and the petals from 3 day lilies. And garnished with a few L’Allegretto cheese shavings, and one more day lily. I loved the raw flower, plain, but I think the petals were a but lost with the strongly flavoured beet greens.

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And finally, some dessert chocolate.

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Pika, Pika, July 4, 2009

PikaCHU!  I made the most fantastic Emily inspired concoction today, but it comes last!

The morning started off with a fantastic creamy, and refreshing green monster. In the mix is kale, watermelon, lime, and brazil nut milk. And I drank it out of a bowl japanese style, because it was too big for a glass 🙂

2009_07_04_monster

For lunch I whipped up a cheesy sort of sauce, melting some agar in boiling water first, then blending it with more brazil nut milk, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, chives, green onion, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. That tasty sauce was poured over a bead of shredded brussel sprouts and chopped carrot, and topped with a few shavings of L’Allegretto cheese. It made one delicious, peppery (the sprouts!) salad.

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Then later in the afternoon some snacking happened. First was raspberries.

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Then one (or three) giant, flattened figs.

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And a handful or two of craisins.

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Then after a long nap I woke myself up with wheatgrass juice and blueberries.

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And now I’m about to enjoy a bowl of chia oatgurt with CHU. CHU (sounds so much better than CHBU) being a wonderful 1:1 combination of chocolate hazelnut butter (I food processer-ized hazelnuts with a few cacao nibs) and brazil nut milk (sweetened with stevia and vanilla). It’s SO GOOD!

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And I’m planning on bringing a Ginger Snap Larabar to work with me tonight.

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Where has the week gone? July 3, 2009

This week felt like it flew by!  First I had Wednesday off, then Thursday I left the office to do some quick work at a subway station, which meant I got home really early, then today was the normal summer hours half day!  I guess I’ll make up for it by working Saturday night (Boo!).  It’s actually not that bad, kinda fun, but it does feel like it destroys the weekend a little bit.  But then Monday is a field trip to see a bridge in Huntsville!  Aside from the freeway up to Montreal a couple of times, and one road trip to Sault St. Marie via Tobermory 10 years ago (then back via Michigan), I’ve never been to any part of Ontario north of Toronto, so to me, Algonquin Park is considered WAY up north (keep in mind that Toronto is already ~100km north of where I grew up).  You know, as opposed to WAY WAY up north by Hudson Bay where nobody lives (apparently there’s a Polar Bear Provincial Park?) or even just Thunder Bay.

Anyway, on the the eats (I just spent forever being distracted by Google Maps!)  Breakfast this morning, I used another one of those super dark plums, along with blueberries, half a banana, chia seeds, and a big handful of kale in a tasty little green monster (I brought the rest to drink at work)

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I also brought part one of lunch to work with me, broccoli, cucumber and baked kabocha drizzled with Ted Reader Peach Bourbon BBQ sauce.  Delicious.

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When I got home I was hungry for lunch part 2, chia oatgurt with a spoonful of PB2.

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Then lunch dessert/snacks, the last two Pumpkin Pie Bites.

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And a sweet, juicy, super-ripe peach

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For dinner I cleaned out the fridge with a GIANT salad containing the last of the lettuce and aspargus my parents brought me, cucumber, red pepper, chives, and the leftover tomato/avocado suace from yesterday.  And I’m pleased to report the mandoline was playing nicely today.

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And to really clean out the fridge, I also finished the kabocha and broccoli, with a bit more BBQ sauce.

2009_07_03_kabocha

 

Just say no! July 2, 2009

To recreational slicing!…but that part comes last.

It was dark and dreary when I got up this morning so my pictures aren’t so nice, but I started the day with a tasty shot of wheatgrass juice with a big squeeze of lime.

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As well as a bowl of chia oatgurt with the leftover raw strawberry jam I made yesterday.

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For lunch I brought a mini, super strength green monster (less water than usual) of kale and peach.

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And some kabocha with ketchup.

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Plus some Pumpkin Pie Bites. I had two, the rest were for sharing.

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When I got home I got myself into trouble.  I bought a mandoline slicer yesterday, but had to go back to exchange it this afternoon because 2/3 pieces in the box were missing.  So when I brought it home today, I was excited to try it out.  I managed to do a very nice job of julienning zucchini, but then I went to far.  I was going to blend some tomatoes, but I wanted to see how well the mandoline would do slicing them.  So just for fun I started slicing.  It wasn’t particularly easy due to the thick skin and non-serrated mandoline blade, but it was working well enough.  Then I was a bit too forceful and slipped and sliced into two of my finger tips!  The ironic thing was that I was using the handguard.  A few minutes before hand, I was very slowly, feeding the last slice of zucchini through without the guard, and my roomie warned me to be careful, but it wasn’t until I switched back to using the safety device I hurt myself!  I’ll spare you picture, but let’s just say washing my hair tonight it going to be tricky, a one handed affair.

So I was starving, but I wanted to wait for the bleeding to stop before proceeding with dinner preparatations, so I started off with the Starbucks Raspberry Peach yogurt parfait that was hanging out in the fridge.

2009_07_02_yogurt

A while later I finished making my real dinner.  I came up with this in my head way before seeing Gena’s post yesterday, but it’s so tasty it deserves a shoutout, plus Guacanara is a pretty fantastic name.  I blended two tomatoes (kumatos!) and an avocado with a few sprigs each of rosemary, thyme, and sage from my window garden.  So, so good!

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Did anyone else notice the green/red pattern throughout the day like I just did?

 

Out On The Town June 24, 2009

So I discovered half a carton of egg whites in the back of the fridge and figured I should probably eat them before they went bad. Which meant breakfast this morning was an imitation of my Sunday Fran’s breakfast. Egg white omlette with light feta cheese, dill, chives, oregano, and thyme. I liked mine better 🙂 And on the side I had a sweet and juicy tomato.

2009_06_24_breakfast

I went to a training thing for work today, and as a result, I unexpectedly went out to lunch with my coworkers (for free for me! fun perks :)). We went to New Generation Sushi, aka my (and most people that I know’s) favourite sushi place on Bloor St. I got the sushi lunch special which was the usual salad and miso soup with 7 pieces of sushi. Salmon, tuna, squid, tamago, crab, clam, and red snapper.

Then for dinner I had what I made for lunch, a salad mess of asparagus, carrot, red pepper, avocado, and mole sauce. But I added a bed of spring mix, a handful of Kashi crackers, and a spoonful of almond butter for the crackers.

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And I plan on enjoying a Ruth’s Lemon Hazelnut MacaPower bar during SYTYCD (I didn’t forget this week!)

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Out Of The Fridge And Into The Freezer June 15, 2009

Breakfast this morning was a icy cold due to the use of frozen fruit, since I realized the freezer is starting to get quite full. But it was a welcome coolness since my room was a but warm after my window decided to blow itself shut last night. In the tropical mix was kale, chia seeds, banana, and pineapple with a sprinkle of coconut on top. And along with that I had perfect, giant lychee. Seriously, this lychee tasted exactly like my memories of the awesome lychees I had in Taiwan when they were in season. And to give you an idea of it’s size, your typical lychee is about the same size as that toonie.

2009_06_15_breakfast

For lunch I chopped up a giant salad. It started with romaine, then piles of kabocha, asparagus, red pepper, and cucumber were added. Plus I mixed up a little dumpling sauce for dressing, soy sauce, sesame oil, and apple cider vinegar, delish.

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And for snacking I had a big container of strawberries, a peach, and an apricot. Please pardon the slightly mutilated peach, it was nice and ripe (ie. soft), and the pit was not cooperating with my extraction attempt.

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Then for dinner I fixed up a stirfry of sorts, I boiled some amaranth, then tossed it in with shitake mushrooms and Europe’s Best Nature’s Balance frozen veggie mix sauteed with olive oil, parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary, and balsamic vinegar, plus a sprinkle of feta cheese.

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And that savoury bowl was followed by a sweet dessert, kabocha with a swirl of hemp seed butter and raspberry jam. This stuff is addictive, I swear.

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Goopy Sludge and Recognition June 10, 2009

Let’s try and make this quick, I’ve got some SYTYCD waiting for me 🙂

Goopy sludge # 1 of the day, green brown monster.  On the fruit side I chose banana, peach, and frozen raspberries.  And since I knew the raspberries would muddle the monster anyways, the green side was covered by leftover beet greens that had been hidden in the fridge and almost forgotten about, plus a little spinach, and chia seeds.  1/2 cup of cooked greens looks so small but packs a lot of punch!

2009_06_10_monster

My late morning snack consisted of a Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif bar.  It was good, very cookie like, the peanuts were a nice addition without being in-your-face peanutty like the peanut butter flavour.  I would have been even happier with more chocolate chips though.

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I was weird and swapped lunch and afternoon snack in the timing scheme of things since the clif bar did a good job of filling me up.  At lunch time I had a container of honeydew and blueberries.

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Then later in the afternoon I dipped my way through goopy sludge #2 of the day.  I food processor-ized black beans, chili paste, PB2, lime juice, soy sauce, and a bit of water for a tasty spread.

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And the dippers were carrot, cucumber, zucchini, and celery.

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For dinner I started off with more honeydew (it’s a big melon, and really tasty!) and kiwi while I was waiting on the oven.

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Then I had a fantastic serving of freshly baked kabocha, to which I added soy sauce when I got down to the  outer skin layer in order to make it super fabulous.

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And along side that was amaranth pilaf.  I found amaranth a while ago from the bulk bins, and finally decided to cook it up with onion, parsley and thyme that got caramellized first before adding the grains and water.  They’re so cute and tiny!  And the pilaf had a fun chewy texture.  Although there was a slight bitter taste, so I think I was supposed to rinse the amaranth first, like you would quinoa.  At least I know for next time, and it was still pretty good.

2009_06_10_amaranth

And the recognition part of the day.  Every day I wake up and  look out my window to see a large billbord that is usually adorned with an advertisement for some CTV show.  Last year I wanted to ripe my eyes out a little bit after waking to Addison Sheppard for four months.  For the past few (3?) months the billboard has been bugging me because I didn’t know what show it was advertising.  I figure the title was hidden somehow in the gibberish behind the guy’s head but I could never pick it out.  This morning I was looking at the gibberish again and had a feeling I had seen it somewhere else recently.  I suddenly came to the realization that the advertisment is for The Listener!  Now I’m wondering why the sign has been up for months when the show only started airing last week (although apparently NBC aired it in March)…

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Mystery Food June 5, 2009

I had something new to try in my green monster this morning, a packet of Vega Smoothie Infusion.

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I blended it up with kale and a banana. I think it was good, it definitely added a nice fruity flavour to the smoothie that could not be attributed to the banana, but the smoothie had a really strong bitter kale aftertaste that doesn’t usually happen it me, and I wasn’t really enjoying by the end. I didn’t add any more kale than usual so I wasn’t expecting that. Maybe the greens powder in the mix just pushed it over the top. If I buy it again I’ll definitely tone down on the added greenery, then it’ll probably be super tasty.  The monster was a darker shade of green than usual…

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It was a short day at work so all I brought with me was cherries and cukes and tea in anticipation of a late lunch at home. I was also factoring in the room I would need in my bag to lug home my hard hat and safety acessories. I did also thoroughly enjoy two Lindt truffles from the giant box someone left in the kitchen for their birthday, hazelnut and dark chocolate, yum!

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When I got home I wasn’t hungry yet so I had two medjools, then went on a shopping trip.

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In chinatown I came across this. And had no idea what it was, so I bought it, of course. I do love an adventure 🙂

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I was thinking it might be some sort of flower bud.

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But when I took a closer look at it, it sort of reminded me of corn. Really fat, red corn. So I tried peeling back the leaves.

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Nope, not corn. Then I was daring, and cut it in half. I started to revert back to my original hunch that it was a flower bud of some sort.

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So I entered a search into google, “asian edible flower bud red large”, and the internet’s magical powers let me figure out that I had bought a banana flower. It seems that it’s used a lot in the Thailand-Sri Lanka corner of the globe. It was really neat once I started to pull it apart properly. Under each leaf is a little row of flowers that eventually grow into bananas! And you’ll notice that once a leaf is broken, the sap oxidizes and turns black really quickly.

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Under that leaf…

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Eventually I decided to pull out all the little flowers, then finely chop the lighter coloured leaves. I soaked them both in lemon juice and water for a while, then sauteed them in sesame oil and sweet chili sauce.

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It was alright. Nothing special, not bad, not not particularly good either, along the lines of bamboo shoots or the tougher bits of artichokes. But now I know what it is. And it was a pain taking the stamens out of all the flowers, and the leaves tasted better anyways, so I’ll just discard the flowers if there is a next time.

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In the process of identifying this weird new food I was getting hungry, so I finished off the head of boston lettuce drizzled with light caesar dressing.

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And I also just had a pita with a bit of peanut butter. But this post doesn’t need anymore pictures, does it? Now off to bed with me so I can get up super early for an International Hiking Day adventure! And so I’ll be tired enough to nap in the evening in order to work tomorrow night.

PS.  (The other) Exciting grocery find of the week, I knew exactly what it was, too bad I couldn’t find it a couple weeks ago, Kabocha!