Saturday, July 31, 2010

Satisfying a craving for pizza

Somehow I got stuck on the idea of pizza and just kept thinking about it. I just gave in and created one for myself (all vegan, of course). My all time favorite pizza has always been with Greek ingredients like feta cheese, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, basil, and yes, tomatoes..... I have some blanched collards on the side.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gourmet Ethnic Cooking Series: Indian

The last place I enjoyed really tasty Indian food was in Japan where there were numerous places to eat out. Every once in a while, I crave this type of cuisine, but have a hard time dodging eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes, which don't always agree with me. The following menu was created when the Macrobiotic Community Dinner was still happening, and I decided to teach it as part of the 3-week Ethnic Gourmet series. Some of the recipes are adapted from World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.

For the class, the menu was :

Red Lentil Dahl
Quinoa and Veggie Samosas
Apricot Raisin Chutney
Spiced Basmati Rice
Carrot Halwa

Ruth took numerous photos of me assembling the samosas and the group that I can share with you (thanks Ruth!).
We had a engaging time talking about macrobiotic principles, including yin and yang foods, what is moderate and extreme, the effects on the body, and why it's important to eat variety that is better quality yin/yang.

Of course, the best part is dishing up and eating!!

We finished the meal with this carrot pudding and a spoonful of vanilla soy ice cream on the side.


"Leslie, the class was fabulous! I totally enjoyed watching you cook as well as learn more about yin/yang and the energetics of different foods. The Indian menu was such a treat. I've gotta try rolling out those samosas (you make it look so easy), and seeing if I can duplicate that yummy dahl and apricot chutney. I was pleasantly(!) surprised at some of the food combination, eg, rice and shredded coconut, and carrots for dessert with ice cream. The exotic, complex flavors were outstanding. You can bet I'll be trying all of these recipes soon! You did it again! Mahalo nui, R"

Growing My Own

One day just a month or so ago, I got inspired to grow my own food and threw some seeds into a planter. Just a relatively short time later, I have a wonderful salad blend, including red russian kale, mizuna, and arugula. My other veggies and herbs are growing nicely, but the turnips and radishes are getting munched by very hungry caterpillars. Have to figure this out naturally!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Windward Farm Tour July 24, 2010

On July 24th, I met about 40 other people via Kokua Market to take a farm tour to the Windward side of the island. The point of the tour was to get to know the farmers on the island and learn all about who is producing our food. The very lovely Susan Yamada jumped in with me so we could ride out there and took some amazing video (you'll see the links to her videos just below).

The first stop was Waiahole Poi Factory on Kamehameha Highway where we all made sure everyone was together before heading up to Reppun Farm. Here is the storefront for the Poi Factory (video). From there we drove up into the valley and crossed a stream to get to the farm (next video). You can see how absolutely lush the valley is on the windward side of the island.

We made our way up to the farm and learned about their incredible shangri la including the battles for water, a precious resource on the island; their bees and how to keep them healthy and thriving; their coffee beans and roasting process (a VW bug windshield wiper motor runs their roaster); and a fruit eating piranha that is part of their aquaponics system. The Reppun's are entirely off the grid, using solar and hydro electric power. Everywhere you look, they have food growing, high and low! In the following photos you'll see the coffee roaster, lilikoi, evidence of bees and honey, and the achiote tree. Some of the women who were with us were from the Phillipines. They call this the lipstick plant because you can break it open and use it for lipstick. The colors were stunning!

We wound around the land and came upon their taro field. All of the farm is incredibly beautiful, but the taro loi (patch) in specific was breathtaking and idyllic. They pump the river water in with the hydroelectric power and flood the patch. This taro is known for being hard from the cold water, and apparently the people are also rumored to be hard headed (this is what one of the Reppun brother's said.....).

One of the most surprising things to me there was the cashew tree. I've never seen how this nut is grown until now, and I love learning new things. The fruit itself is sweet and juicy, and has a flavor and texture much like starfruit. The nut grows out of the bottom of the fruit.

We took a break by having lunch at Sweet Home Waimanalo where Kevin Vacarello told us about their farm-to-table efforts. (I enjoyed the tofu and black bean burger with a sweet potato salad and mango dressing, as well as 'nalo greens with a vegan BBQ dressing. Mmmm...)

The last part of the tour took us to Palaka Moon Farm where we saw the farm in its very initial stages of preparation. They plan to grow everything possible to serve in their restaurant and to make the farm itself zero impact on the Earth. It was interesting learning about the physics behind engineering a farm that is not only sustainable but leaves no footprint on the earth and simultaneously seeing it in action at Reppun's. It was a great contrast to see what it takes to establish a farm that can provide food for the community.

We all had a simply fabulous day. I know I did!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gourmet Ethnic Cooking Series

The Gourmet Ethnic Cooking Series is underway and there have been rave review for the Tempeh Tacos, Spanikopita, Dolmas, Baklava, and Mexican Chocolate Cake, among other tasty treats.

What I'm hoping to get people to embrace is that there is no need to ever deprive yourself of good, tasty, food. You get all the flavor, all the fun, and quality of life.

What makes me feel good is that in eating a diet that is plant-based, local, and organic whenever possible that we are doing good for our bodies, for the Earth, and fighting the corporate food system. When we choose to avoid processed and refined ingredients that lead to chronic illness we feel so much better, physically, emotionally, and morally as well.

The next class will focus on Indian cuisine. When I traveled to Barcelona, Spain, I went to a Hindu Vegetarian restaurant that served the most amazing samosas I have ever tasted. My love and memory was so strong that I recreated them for one of the last Macrobiotic Community Dinners that we served before they ended. I'll be teaching my super yummy recipe for the samosas!

Cheers to good health, empowered people and communities, and to fair food.....

Blueberry Kanten

One of the main emphases in macrobiotic cooking is harmonizing your cooking style with the seasons. We're in the thick of summer right now in Hawaii, and coming home, one of the most refreshing snacks that I love is kanten.

The main ingredient in kanten is agar agar flakes, an odorless, colorless sea vegetable which contains no calories. Kanten is made from fruit and fruit juice of your choice, agar agar flakes, brown rice syrup, and a pinch of sea salt.

One of my favorite books

This book by Carol Adams is the first one I happened to find that got me to look at food in a whole new way. Reading this was the seed that was planted and has now grown and been integrated into my current food philosophies. A must read!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Testimonials from Hiroyuki's Visit

My teacher, Hiroyuki Naka, was here on July 7th to hold health consultations. We were fully booked, and I wanted to share a couple of the testimonials from the participants:

"Naka-san is focused, perceptive, present and kind - qualities needed to make someone feel special and important. He allowed me to feel the importance of health; I so appreciated his sharing his knowledge of foods and how to prepare them to enhance my health. I truly appreciated him focusing specifically on my needs.

I know he has the gift to help increase people's health through food, nature's own medicine to heal our own bodies. He is a reflection of his own authentic, genuine and healthy lifestyle - a true inspiration for me!

I felt honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to be evaluated and assisted by Mr. Hiroyuki Naka and I would highly recommend his health consultations to everyone IF their highest priority is health.

I look forward to my next health consultation with Mr. Hiroyuki Naka!" M. Kosasa


"I had a 90 minute consultation with Hiroyuki Naka and it was definitely worth every penny! It truly was a powerful and life-changing experience. Everything he said resonated with how I've been feeling and I loved that his advice for healing incorporated both food/physical and prayer/spiritual. When he encouraged me to pray for my inner self, I had chicken skin. He not only gave me the foods I should and should not eat but the words to use in my prayers. He understood me on so many levels and I strongly feel that if I follow his direction, my life will change dramatically for the better. It already has. He is a gifted soul and anyone would be blessed to have an encounter with his kind and knowing spirit. I will definitely follow-up with him again. It was crucial that I receive his guidance on my journey to wellness!! Mr. Naka was able to take everything I've learned so far from Dr. Shintani and even Macrobiotic Cooking classes and individualize a health plan specifically for me and my growth. This experience took everything to another level, a more personal level. We are all on our own journeys with our own issues and Hiroyuki Naka is the most gentle and wisest guide that can help each soul follow their own path to light. DO IT!!!" ~~ K. Loebl


"Hiroyuki Naka is a truly gifted counselor with insightful knowledge. He gave me invaluable advice and guided me to make healthy changes in my diet, cooking, and busy lifestyle. He possessed a keen sense of intuition about my health, and I was amazed that he understood and analyzed my condition so thoroughly within the hour I spent with him. I would highly recommend Hiroyuki Naka to anyone who wants to move toward a macrobiotic path of vibrant health!" F. Nishimoto

Kauai Cooking Class Travelogue

On Friday, July 16th, I flew over to Kauai to meet Sharleen and Arthur Isoshima who generously hosted my first cooking class on Kauai. The two of them are genuine ambassadors of the aloha spirit.

They secured a perfect place for the class, the Jam Room at Kukui Grove in Lihue. In addition to the wonderful students, I was surrounded by late greats, which I found comforting. (Did you know that John practiced macrobiotics?)

Shar and Art helped me gather the ingredients for the class from Papaya's Natural Foods in Kapa'a. I always enjoy seeing what other stores have to offer outer-island and this is a well-stocked one. The majority of the produce we were able to find local and organic. Later that day, I was very blessed to meet Kim Thich, a long-time macrobiotic practitioner who recently moved from the east coast with his wife to Kauai, and we all sampled a few of the items from his very beautiful and healthy organic garden.

The Introduction to Macrobiotics class was incredibly fun and I am grateful to all who came and spent their Saturday morning learning. (below is Shar's photo)

The following day, Shar and Art treated a few of us to a whirlwind adventure on the west side of the island! We went to a salt loi to see how Hawaiian families traditionally harvest sea salt, Hanapepe for taro and sweet potato chips, the Kauai coffee plantation, to Waimea Canyon, and to Koke'e State Park. Everything was breathtaking!

(the last photo here is April's)

On the way back to drop me off at the airport, we had pupus and drinks at the Grand Hyatt. This is a photo of the lettuce wrap I ordered.

I'd really like to thank Art and Shar again for their generosity and hospitality in inviting me over