Sunday, February 4, 2018

Vegan & Gluten Free Eats on the Big Island

vegan gluten free dining

I love food. Fresh flavorful food. I want my taste buds in euphoria not just eating to survive. I'm immensely disappointed when I go out to eat and two bites in I'm thinking about how it could be so much better. What is the point of bland food? Being gluten free, vegan and having no short list of food allergies, its not always easy to find places I can get excited about. These places rocked my palate, were full of flavor, had creative menus, fresh & organic and all local small businesses.

Kaya's exterior

Kawanui, Big Island Hawaii
(Between Kona and Captain Cook)

This was my staple when I visited last year as its only about 10 minutes from my parents house. It's in a slightly updated old general store right off Mamalahoa Hwy. A laid back atmosphere but quick to get your order out.
You can't go wrong when ordering as everything is yummy. Most of the baked goods are Vegan and Gluten Free. The scones are the best I've ever tasted. I kept thinking they were mismarked and couldn't possibly be gluten free. =) They have fabulous locally grown organic coffee with 6 milk choices including almond, coconut and hemp.

Vegan Dragonfruit Scone Hemp Latte
Dragonfruit Scone and Hemp Latte.

Kombucha on tap from HI Kombucha . They'll also fill your growler. We had Tangerine Lillikoi and Pomegranate Mango. The Hibiscus is also wonderful. We paired with Strawberry Brownie and cranberry orange scone. My sister talked about the brownie for days.

HI Kombucha Strawberry Brownie Cranberry Orange Scone

The best Samoa Cookie in the world! Make sure you order a second one for the road as you will inevitably crave it later.

Vegan Gluten Free Samoa Cookie

Hilo, Big Island Hawaii

Sweet Cane Cafe, Hilo Hawaii Vegetarian Restaurant

My first time at the farm to table Sweet Cane Cafe made me wish I could pack it up and move it to Nashville. They are a GMO free Vegetarian restaurant and everything on the menu can be made vegan or gluten free.  I got the Zucchini Pesto (raw zucchini noodles tossed in macadamia nut pesto and fresh tomatoes and avocado). It looked so amazing a couple of people sitting next to us changed their original order and another couple was overheard saying, "Its okay, we'll get that next time".

Zucchini Noodle Macadamia Nut Pesto Vegan Eats Plant Based Cafe

Still getting over a sinus infection from the flight, I also ordered a Wellness shot (ginger, turmeric, noni, liliko’i, lemon, cayenne) My sister got the Pumpkin Coconut Curry over quinoa. Our plates were licked clean.

Hawi, Big Island Hawaii

Sweet Potato Kitchen, Hawi Hawaii

You're safe here chicken. 

Sweet Potato Kitchen, Hawi Hawaii Colorful walls

When I visited the Big Island last year we stumbled upon this place just as they were closing. It was tucked away behind a building on the main road. I made a mental note to look for them this trip and they had changed locations. Now they are right on the main road and the new place is wildly colorful and fun. Even the cash register is hot pink. This all organic and gluten free vegetarian cafe specializes in Vegan dishes.

Hawaiian Veggie Burger

Vegan Gluten Free Hawaiian Veggie Burger

I ordered the Hawaiian Bounti Burger, the newest item on the menu. Veggie patty made in house from veggies, fruits, seeds, grains and herbs, topped with seared pineapple, red onion, local lettuce, Hawaiian plum sauce on a house baked gluten free roll (which didn't fall apart until I was almost finished, possibly some kind of record). It came with green papaya slaw and house made pickles. My loud mmm mmmmm were made all the way until the end.

Vegan Gluten Free Hawaiian Veggie Burger 

Lets start adding seared Pineapple to everything. It can be the new avocado. 

Sweet Potato Kitchen, Hawi Hawaii Fuchsia walls

Kailua Kona, Big Island Hawaii

Herbivores Kailua Kona Big Island Hawaii

A quaint little drive thru with outside eating area, Herbivores is 100% plant based and has many gluten free options. I had the BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich with sweet potato chips. I added avocado because I add avocado to everything. My first experience with cooked jackfruit and it was amazing.

BBG Jackfruit Sandwich Gluten free bun

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich avocado gluten free bun

My brother and sister had the BBQ Jackfruit Nachos and a hot dog with sauerkraut. I was tempted to try theirs but the cheese on the nachos is cashew based and I'm allergic and my sister's bun was not gluten free. =( My siblings are only occasionally vegetarians but found the food to be delicious.

Vegan hotdog with Sauerkraut

BBQ Jackfruit Nachos Kailua Kona Hawaii

Herbivores Kailua Kona Hawaii 100% Plant Based

If you are looking for snacks, ingredients or a local deli...
Island Naturals market, with 3 locations on the Big Island, is filled with organic, gluten free and vegan options. They also carry local fruits and vegetables and the biggest avocado I have every seen in my life!  They have a customer appreciation day every second Sunday when they offer 15% off your total purchase.

Fresh Tropical Fruit Pineapple, Coconut, Mango, Avocado, Cacao

biggest avocado giant avocado Hawaii
I would have held it next to my head for comparison but I have a larger than average head. 

   My first experience with both fresh cacao and soursop. I ate the cacao seeds raw and for a few hours I felt REALLY good. They produce phenylethylamine and anandamide when consumed, the focus, excitement and bliss chemicals. Umm, yea they do.

fresh cacao soursop cut open cacao seeds tropical fruit

Don't forget the fruit stands and farmers markets! 
Found all over the big island, some are as simple as a card table on the side of the road, with big concentrations down south and in Hilo where most of the fruit grows. 

fresh cut coconut water fruit stand hawaii

Rambutan fruit stand avocado Hawaii

Monday, August 21, 2017

Chocolate Cherry Buckwheat Pancakes Vegan & GF

Chocolate Cherry Buckwheat Gluten Free Vegan Pancakes

These pancakes have replaced all the other pancakes I've made over the years as my weekly treat. It's difficult to experiment with other flavors when these rock my world every time. Since I cook for a party of one this recipe makes 2-3 medium-ish pancakes.

1/2  cup Buckwheat Flour
2   tsp of Cacao Powder or Cocoa Powder
1   tsp Baking Powder
1   Tbsp Flax Seed Meal
1/2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1   Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 1/4 cup of Coconut Milk/Almond Milk or water
1/2    cup chopped sweet cherries

Gluten Free Vegan Pancakes What to buy ingredients

Both the chia seeds and flax seed meal mixed with a little water are used as egg replacers. I like the nutty flavor the flax adds to the mix.
Let the batter set on the counter for 5-10 minutes to make the pancakes fluffier. You may need to add more liquid if it becomes too thick though.
After you pour onto your skillet, lift and turn so that the batter runs a little in all directions, making the pancake bigger and thinner. If its too thick it will take longer to cook and may not cook evenly.
Once you start to see air bubbles around the edges it is safe to flip.

Baking Food Prep Sweet Cherries

Nothing is better with chocolate than peanut butter or in my case being allergic to peanuts, a peanut butter alternative.
I make my own sunflower seed butter by putting roasted sunflower seeds in the food processor along with a little sunflower seed oil and salt until it's creamy. I can make a whole jar for less than $2 this way. Budget-friendly and really yummy!

In between the pancakes is sunflower seed butter with maple syrup and sliced cherries on top.

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Pancakes

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bee Balm Tea - DIY Growing, Harvesting & Drying

Bee Balm Echinacea Flowers

I bought a small Bee Balm plant at Gardens of Babylon last spring and planted it near the corner of the garden. I dreamed of going out my back door and picking blooms for tea and I'd have a great view of the butterflies. It was a little 4-inch pot and it was so small I almost put it in a planter. It did get bigger but I didn't pick the blossoms the first year. My grand idea of making my own herbal teas drowned in a sea of a stressful job in a surface of the sun summer. 

This spring the little Bee Balm came back and brought all its friends. 

Bee Balm Garden

It quickly grew to over 5ft tall and started cuddling up to the echinacea, kale, and squash. I thinned it out and planted it in 3 other places in my yard. It loves the sun! Once established it didn't even need to be watered. The consistent blooming brought in more butterflies and bees than my garden had seen the previous years. Franklin got a lot of rain in June. I used twine and a couple of tomato stakes to encircle the lower half and keep the blooms off the ground.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Bee Balm Flower
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 
Hummingbird Moth
Hummingbird Moth (they are the cutest!!)

Pipevine Swallowtail
Pipevine Swallowtail

The entire Bee balm plant is edible. I used the blossoms and the leaves for tea. It's great as a calming before bed tea as it's been known to help with insomnia. As part of the mint family, it is also great for digestion. 

Drying Flowers for Herbal Tea
Bouquets drying in the windowsill. 

Fresh Bee Balm, dried bouquet, and when the dried blooms and leaves are removed. 

DIY Bee Balm Tea Steps

Dried Bee Balm for tea

Each small bouquet fills a Mason jar with tea.  I leave it whole and loose but you could also crunch it up and enclose in reusable tea bags. You can make your own from organic cotton muslin, I found a cute DIY post from Little House Living here or buy some on Etsy from Bear Earth Herbals here . 

When I make a large batch of tea I use the French Press. I throw in about an inch high of herbs and pour in my whistling tea pot water, let set to desired strongness, then press. In two 32 oz glass jars I put one tablespoon of maple syrup. I pour in the French press tea in equal parts to the two jars, swish around mixing the syrup then add fresh filtered water (I drink reverse osmosis) until the jars are full. 
Then refrigerate for great iced tea in the summer. 
Bee Balm Herbal Tea

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Everyone Has Their Own El Guapo

Facing your El Guapo

My personality type, an INFJ, is often called a walking contradiction. 
As much as I hate being pigeonholed, there is truth in this statement. 
I swim in the depths of the creative and adhere to the logical. I want it now and I’ll wait til later. I want your skin attached to mine and I want to be left alone. I search endlessly for my soul mate and fall in love with men that are emotionally unavailable. My music is alphabetized; my closet arranged by color and season, my movies by category and sub-category…i.e.-Sci-fi- Space, Sci-Fi-Time Travel, Zombie, Superheros-DC, Superhero-Marvel etc.

Then I have the pile.

The pile consists of everything in my house I gathered together that no longer brings me joy. A weekend of thinning out the clutter, spurred on by The Minimalists documentary. I piled it up in the middle of my kitchen so I’d have to dispose of it quickly. Now 7 months later, I sweep around the pile, I dust the pile, I’ve told all my friends about the pile and I randomly give it the bird when I walk around it in the morning.
I could put these items in my trunk and take them to the local thrift store. But that wasn't the original plan for these items. I'd already donated most of it; this small man made mountain was actually the reduced version of the pile. These were the items I thought I could perhaps sell and make a little money on since my income is currently derived from freelance. 

Items like various coffee makers in their original boxes. 

I keep original boxes because when I move, it will make them easier to pack.
I’ve been living in the same house for 8 years.

I talk about tackling my pile every weekend. And every weekend I do something else, like pull weeds in the garden or lay on my couch and solve climate change.

To quote Steve Martin's character in The Three Amigos, “All of us have an El Guapo to face”.

Mine happens to be a pile of things that no longer bring me joy but continue to torment when I stump my toe on them in the dark on my way to the bathroom.

While talking about my El Guapo recently with a neighbor, she revealed to me her much larger and overwhelming El Guapo. Her El Guapo had reduced my El Guapo significantly to non-El Guapo status.  It wasn’t even Jefe at that point. 

I started going through my pile, taking pictures of anything I still thought was valuable to make my small eBay fortune and donated the rest. It only took me a few hours and it's no longer in the middle of my kitchen. Why did I let that self-inflicted Everest plague me for 7 months?!

The unknown can paralyze you. Fear of failure keeps you from making decisions. But once you take that first step, everything becomes easier than you thought it would be. Nothing will ever be perfect. Fear breeds in the over thinking, not in the actual doing. Whether you succeed or it backfires, nothing is as awful as being tormented by what if’s in your head.

Where you are right now probably feels like it will last forever. It's helpful for me to think back to where I was 6 months ago, 1 year ago, 5 years ago to realize how much things change. And even so, I may still be tapping my foot and wallowing in the misery. But it will pass. You are transitioning into something else as we speak. Let hope fill your heart to combat the anxiety in your head. 

  I love my imagination and I hate my imagination. It brings me through the tough times and creates the tough times. Maybe balancing my contradictions is my real El Guapo.