Discover more from good mood food
Kabocha Squash Bowl with Chili Crisp Chickpeas
& balancing our online selves with our real life selves
Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’ve made it here and aren’t yet a subscriber, come join! You can expect recipes, musings, and faves in your inbox every Wednesday! Paid subscribers get even more! Learn more about the paid tier of my newsletter here. You can also try a week for free!
I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a very strange thing to live your life online, as you start to view yourself through the lens of how other people see you, which can be very damaging. Who am I in real life vs who am I online?
Some people let their full selves out on the internet, but I’ve typically reserved a subset of myself exclusively for offline. This can be strange too, as you start to feel almost like two different characters.
I don’t see a world in which I don’t keep some of my life private. Not everyone needs to know intimate details about my family or my relationship or my future children. If it involves someone else, I’m always going to be more careful. And unfortunately, we live in a time where there is a lot of nastiness and vitriol online, and when I’m going through something sensitive, I’m not always willing to open myself up to the opinions of strangers. I don’t think many people understand what it’s like to have so many people coming for you at once.
It’s a slippery slope, though. Leave too much out and you’re faking it, curate too much and you contribute to the polished, unrealistic expectations that social media can create. Plus, you connect with others most deeply when you speak from the heart, when you’re honest about where you’re at and how you feel.
It’s hard to explain, but lately, I’ve been trying to balance myself on both sides. Be a little looser on social media, let in my real humor and my unfiltered thoughts so people get an idea of who I really am. But I’ve also been working on caring about how I live in the outside world, focusing on taking action beyond stories and posts and really crafting a life that feels aligned with my interests.
As someone who spends a lot of time online but also a lot of time with friends and family offline, it’s apparent to me that I’m not the only one who has this disconnect. What happens on the internet is very different than real life, from those little highlight moments to more important things like debate and activism. I hope that we as a society can all work on finetuning that balance across the board, even for people who aren’t creators or public figures.
Anyway… on a lighter note, Grant and I are heading to Japan this week! There will be a break from newsletter content next week, but expect me to jump back in when I return, with lots of travel stories as well as some new recipes!
If you want to follow along on our journey, I suggest you follow me on Instagram if you don’t already!
THINGS I’M LOVING!
I have been a longtime user of the Wet Brush, but my mom just recently introduced me to the Wet Brush Paddle, which I find to be much more gentle on the hair, especially if you have longer hair or hair that tangles easily.
It’s been a long time since I’ve bought and worn necklaces that I really like (I’m very much a rings and earrings gal), but I decided I wanted to have at least one cool necklace to bring on my trip to Japan this week. I found this Aurora Pendant necklace from Jenny Bird and thought it was so cool, simple, and chic! The length is adjustable, so you can wear it at a longer length or shorten it to be more like a choker.
LA isn’t quite in sweater weather yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from stocking up on sweaters for when the temperature drops. This fuzzy green sweater from Topshop/Nordstrom has an oversized, slouchy fit, and it’s nice and cozy. I also happen to love the other cream color option they have!
I thought it would be nice for my newsletter recipe to include a full meal, as most of my squash recipes this week are side dishes. This vegan bowl is made with kabocha squash that’s roasted with a touch of soy sauce, chili crisp roasted chickpeas, quick pickled veggies, sesame kale, and a sizzled scallion dressing.
Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash that is actually sweeter than a butternut squash with the texture of a sweet potato. If you’re looking for it in the store, it’s short and squat and a deep green color. The rind is edible, which makes prep a bit easier!
This rice-based bowl is hearty and filling, and it pulls some inspiration from Chinese cuisine (the chili crisp oil in the chickpeas and the scallion dressing).
Kabocha Squash Bowl with Chili Crisp Chickpeas
Ingredients (serves 2)
1/2 kabocha squash, cut into wedges
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp chili crisp oil
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 large Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
2 small carrots, peeled and julienned
2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 2 cups)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sesame seeds
Handful of broccoli sprouts
1/8 cup olive oil
4 stalks scallion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
Pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut your squash into half-moon shapes. You can do this by cutting the squash in half starting at the top of the stem to the bottom. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. Cut off the ends, and then cut in half again through the top. Then slice the squash into 1-inch wedges. Add squash into a medium bowl and toss with avocado oil and soy sauce. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and add the squash in an even layer.
2. Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper, and add the chickpeas and chili crisp oil. Toss until chickpeas are evenly coated.
3. Transfer both baking sheets to the oven, placing the squash on the top rack, and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping the squash halfway. Squash should be soft and roasted and chickpeas should be crispy.
4. While squash and chickpeas are roasting, prepare the brown rice with your preferred method. I add to the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 20 minutes on high. Then I steam release after 10 minutes.
5. Add the cucumbers and carrots to a bowl and cover in 2-3 tbsp rice vinegar. Mix together, and set aside to marinate. Add the kale to a medium bowl. Add a drizzle of sesame oil and a pinch of salt, and massage with your hands. Add the lemon juice and sesame seeds, and toss.
6. Prepare the dressing by heating up olive oil in a small saucepan until it just begins to smoke. Add scallions, garlic, paprika, and crushed red pepper to a small bowl, and add the hot olive oil. Mix together to coat everything in the hot oil, and then add the rice vinegar.
7. When everything is ready, assemble the bowl. Start with the rice at the bottom, and then add the kale, chickpeas, squash, marinated, vegetables, sprouts, and the dressing. Top with more sesame seeds, if desired, and serve warm.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!
I made the best healthy burrito, and you’re going to want to get in on it! The star of the show is really the cilantro jalapeño yogurt sauce which goes inside the burrito AND serves as a dipping sauce. I recommend making a big batch of these, freezing them, and keeping them on hand for when you need a quick and healthy meal!