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Vegetarian Month at Hard Rock Cafe {Honolulu, HI}

vegetarian month at hard rock cafe

Today I had a lovely vegetarian lunch with my friend at Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki. We started with some delicious carrot juice and a couple appetizers (not pictured here, but you can see them in the video below). One was a crispy flatbread topped with garlic oil, grilled ratatouille vegetables, shredded Romano and mozzarella cheeses and a drizzle of garlic aioli. YUMMM

vegetarian month at hard rock cafe

OMG this house-made patty of cauliflower, garlic, egg, goat cheese, oregano and breadcrumbs, topped with zucchini, squash, Monterey Jack cheese, arugula, tomato and garlic aioli, served on a toasted brioche bun was DELICIOUS. I made a mess eating it, but it was worth it.

vegetarian month at hard rock cafe

I so appreciate it when restaurants (and especially big companies), acknowledge and embrace their vegetarian customers! See the whole Waikiki location’s menu here and enjoy this quick video of our lunch:


Vegan African Peanut Stew {Recipe}

I posted the below picture to my Instagram account this weekend, and so many people commented asking for the recipe, that I decided to post it. However, I want to make sure to give proper credit where it’s due: this is not my recipe. I found it on Pinterest, and it’s by the lovely Emily, a Registered Dietician in Portland, Maine. Her blog, Sinful Nutrition, features plenty of recipes, so check her out.

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Kiyo made Emily’s African Peanut Stew and I absolutely loved it! It’s nutritious, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free, and it freezes and reheats well… so it’s the perfect meal to make for a group, or to prepare for your own Sunday or Monday night dinner, and then eat all week. It’s delicious and filling on its own, or you could serve over a grain (such as rice, quinoa, freekeh etc.). We left out the edamame, added tofu, and used kale instead of spinach. It was so delicious, you guys: creamy, nourishing, so hearty and satisfying, yet light and delicious. I added Trader Joe’s green, herby hot sauce my friend Jenna sent me and it was perfection.

Vegetarian African Peanut Stew

vegetarian african peanut stew


Book Review: Sugar Knockout

Cherie Calbom, aka “The Juice Lady,” holds a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition, and is the author of 32 books. Her latest, Sugar Knockout, came to me at the perfect time. Everyone seems to be talking about the evils of sugar, although many of us do not seem to know why sugar (and its nebulous cousins the “sugar alternatives”) are actually bad for us. Luckily, this book is enlightening. While I’m not an authority on the topic, I have noticed in my own body, that I break out, have mood swings, experience fatigue, and feel just generally awful when I eat a lot of sugar. Unfortunately, it’s often. When I started reading this book, I was very interested to find it contained a quiz to measure whether or not you have a sugar addiction (I had a suspicion for a few months now that my need for sweets was becoming out of control). I answered each question, turned to the interpretation page, and read “If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, then you most likely have an addiction to sweets.” Well, guess how many of the 26 questions I had answered yes to? SEVENTEEN. Clearly, I desperately needed the help this book offers. (You can take the quiz online here).

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What I like most about this book is the flow from introduction, to presenting the problem, and finally providing a practical solution for individuals. While it is slightly dramatic at times, the book does acknowledge areas where more research is required (for instance, when it discusses sugar’s impact on ADHD and autism, it includes “studies about how sugar affects the behavior of children are contradictory…” etc.) but if you think about it, this book has to be written in this urgent tone, to get us to pay attention. We already know that sugar is not good for us, yet “we’re a nation gone wild on a sugar binge.” If you don’t think you eat a lot of sugar, I encourage you to go take a look in your kitchen and check all the labels for sugar content; remember that 1 serving size is probably smaller than the amount you eat at once. And hey, no judgement here, I definitely eat a ton and eat more sugar than I think, too. Why wouldn’t food manufacturers pump our food (even savory food) full of sugar? Not only are our brains hardwired to crave sugar, but it’s actually an addictive substance that mirrors dangerous drugs in how it affects our brains. Unfortunately, despite its appealing taste and pleasant affect on our nervous system, there are myriad reasons why our overall sugar intake must decrease. The book outlines eleven compelling reasons in detail, but the one that most caught my attention was this: your body produces more free radicals when your blood sugar is high. Free radicals can “inflame the brain, thyroid gland, pancreas, and just about any place in your body.” Ever wondered why we are supposed to eat so many anti-oxidants? It’s to combat free radicals, which age us. Not that you would stop aging completely if you could simply eliminate free radicals, but the less sugar you consume, the less inflammation you will experience, the stronger your immune system will be. If this isn’t reason enough for you, there are many other compelling reasons to quit sugar (or at least decrease your intake) outlined in the book. If it’s weight-loss that you’re after, there’s a whole chapter on that. There is also a shopping list, a discussion of sugar substitutes and alternatives (your best options, according to the Juice Lady, are stevia, barley malt syrup and luo han guo).

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Luckily, the book sets us up to first strengthen our immune systems, then detox (break from sugar completely) and finally, learn to live with healthy sweeteners, such as fruit and dried fruit, coconut sugar, etc. I think that is something we all sort of want to do, but either can’t find the time, don’t know where to start, think it’s too hard, etc. This is a great guide. If you’re too reluctant to give up beloved desserts, know that the sugar-free dessert recipes at the end include Raw Vegan “Cheesecake,” Coconut Pineapple Sorbet and Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mousse. Not bad at all for being sugar-free, eh? Of course, since it’s the Juice Lady, there are also a few great juice recipes included, mostly for when you’re working on building immunity and detoxing from sugar. While I haven’t yet attempted any of the dessert recipes (I haven’t yet tried to apply the book to my life, but I plan to shortly) I did make a couple of the low-sugar juice recipes that are included (these recipes are helpful even though I already make juice at home, because don’t forget, fruit is sugar in the form of fructose).

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The first recipe I tried from the book was delicious.

You Are Loved Cocktail

From The Juice Lady’s Anti-Inflammation Diet

  • 3 carrots, scrubbed well, tops removed, ends trimmed
  • 2 ribs of celery with leaves
  • 1 apple
  • 1 cucumber, peeled if not organic
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 lemon, peeled if not organic
  • 1/2 beet, scrubbed well, with stems and leaves

Cut produce to fit your juicer’s feed tube. Juice all ingredient and stir. Pour into a glass and drink as soon as possible. Serves 1-2.

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I have to admit that I messed up this second recipe; I thought that I had memorized it, but I had confused it with another. So, the original recipe is as follows:

Pancreas Helper Cocktail

  • 1 large vine ripened tomato
  • 8 organic string beans
  • 1/2 small or medium lemon, peeled

Cut your produce to fit your juicer’s tube. Juice ingredients and stir. Drink as soon as possible. Serves 1.

Note: green beans are known to be good for the pancreas.

sugar knockout recipes

I accidentally added a beet with its greens, but the juice still tasted really good! My boyfriend and I split it. It was very thick and dense, so I don’t think I would have wanted to drink all of it by myself. It really filled me up and even with the beet, it was still very savory.

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I am excited to try out the 10 Tips to Enhance Your Immune System (full descriptions for each are included in the book):

  1. Avoid sugar
  2. Clean up your diet
  3. Take fish oil
  4. Include a good probiotic
  5. Get plenty of sleep
  6. Ditch unhealthy fats
  7. Lose weight
  8. Drink eight glasses of purified water each day
  9. Exercise
  10. De-stress, meditate, pray, and relax

I LOVE how the author is not afraid to include the spiritual aspect of wellbeing. Even though her book is a food-science manual for the average person, it is by no means a one-size-fits all diet or plan, and it clearly acknowledges multiple times that eating right is just one, albeit extremely important, aspect of a healthy and fulfilling life. Yes, it provides lists of foods to avoid and supplements to stock up on, but overall, this book is telling you to get yourself healthy first (in all ways), then try to reduce your sugar intake (if you can, completely) and then learn to live in a healthier mindset where sugar is an actual treat, not just another ingredient to be used with abandon.

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Have you read this book? Have you struggled with sugar addiction? Have you attempted a sugar detox or have you given up sugar completely? Please comment, I would love to hear your stories! 


What I Ate Wednesday, Honolulu

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Wow, I ate a lot on Monday!

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I woke up feeling sick (running nose & sore throat), so I drank a few drops of essential oils (I will write about this cold-fighting combo later this week). I headed out to a super-early C2 yoga class at Core Power Yoga.

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I was STARVING when I got back! I made 3 eggs, scrambled, for breakfast, with ketchup and mayo, a small piece of toast and iced coffee with chocolate soy milk. Yum!

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Then I got ready for work, and somehow, I was still hungry, so I had part of an almond bar someone brought us from Trader Joe’s. These are really good, I like them as an alternative to individually-packaged bars. It has the texture of a soft cookie, but is slightly less sweet.

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Then I went to work and by the way: we are having an anniversary party this weekend! If you’re in Honolulu please stop by 🙂

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There was leftover Halloween candy at work, so I had to have a mini-pack of M&M’s.

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I got out at about 2:30 and ate a hurried lunch in the car on my way to my other job: vegan enchiladas that Kiyo made, with a side of guacamole I bought from the burrito place nearby. Kiyo made the enchiladas with black beans and squash, from a recipe in the awesome Thug Kitchen Cookbook, which I am working on the review for! He did add cheese, making it not-vegan.

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After job #2, I ate a starfruit on the way to teach yoga.

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Sunset yoga was gorgeous; even though the class was really small that day it was still lovely. 

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Finally, I got home around 7:30. Luckily, Kiyo heated up leftovers from Sunday night dinner and had them ready: roasted grape tomatoes (I made these with just olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt & pepper & spices) and pumpkin mac & cheese!!!

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We almost never have dairy milk in the house, but we did from the mac & cheese, so I had a small glass of milk for dessert with Trader Joe’s pumpkin Oreo’s that my friend Jenna sent us (there’s no Trader Joe’s in Hawaii, unfortunately). These are SO GOOD! And only 150 calories for 2, which is great.

What did you eat today?

Kan Zaman, Honolulu

Kan Zaman Honolulu

As you might expect, there aren’t myriad Moroccan restaurants in Honolulu. One of the few is Kan Zaman (which means “Once Upon a Time” in Arabic), located in the heart of downtown. My dad took Kiyo and I out there for dinner right after we moved back to Hawaii about a year ago, and I recently met Kiyo there for lunch. You can sit outside, in the back, and throughout the small restaurant the decor is simple yet perfect. It’s very simple and charming, and you can tell it’s Moroccan, but it isn’t excessive in any way.

The first meal we began with the mezza sampler, which was fabulous. It included (left to right): baba ganoush, warak inab (Lebanese stuffed grape leaves), hummus and taktouka (a Moroccan cooked tomato and green pepper salad). Served with pita bread, this was the perfect starter to share and whet the appetite.

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My second-favorite item was another that we all shared (we shared everything we ordered, which isn’t necessarily what’s intended at the restaurant, but it’s possible and quite easy). Not only does the house-pulled mozzarella with za’atar look beautiful, but it’s fun to eat! Also served with pita, as well as “vine-ripened” tomatoes, which were a little lackluster. I’ve never seen mozzarella like this, and I am a fan (but to be fair, I am a fan of pretty much any and all cheeses).

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We shared two entrees. The first was merguez sausage served over (not much) couscous and steamed carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, potato, chickpeas, onion, tomato and zucchini (I felt like they skimped a bit in serving our portion. Do you see all those vegetables there? I certainly don’t remember tasting pumpkin). The sausage was plentiful and was good, but not the best I’ve had.

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This looks like a plate of just french fries, but actually, it was our second entrée: chicken tajine. Braised with coriander, smoked paprika, cumin, lemon, saffron and olives, it was indeed topped with fries. These were extra tasty since they soaked up the juices from the chicken. It wasn’t the prettiest dish (I especially am wary of all-brownish plates) but it was good. The flavors didn’t pop as much as you might expect, but they were married nicely.

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Airport Food, Reykjavik

Reykjavik Airport Food

On my way back from Germany, where I spent a long weekend at Oktoberfest in Munich, I had a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland’s coastal capital. Lucky for me, Keflavík International Airport has some pretty solid food options, such as this green juice. I do wish it had some vegetables in it, but still, to find green juice in an airport was pretty exciting.

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I’m not sure what this sandwich was exactly, but it was pretty good.

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It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but for airport food (and picked out randomly by a non-English speaker), it was pretty damn good. I think it was just tomato and cheese.

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What I Ate Wednesday: Honolulu

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Happy WIAW! I have once again started to document days for WIAW, and then forgotten about it by the end of the day. But these are all things I ate within the last week:

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Breakfast: avocado toast, made with Ezekial bread and Cholulah hot sauce.

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Lunch: An acai bowl from Island Vintage Coffee in Waikiki in between teaching and taking yoga classes. My dad and I both love this acai bowl (with extra honey!) and we shared this along with the following sandwich:

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a caprese sandwich with a side salad.

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Dessert: On another day, I bought myself an afternoon treat: one kids’ scoop each of Thai iced tea and Nutella ice cream from a new place in Honolulu (full post about this soon). SO GOOD.

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Club A Steakhouse, New York

Club A Steakhouse NYC Salad

One year, when Kiyo and I were still living in New York City, we went on a belated Valentine’s Day date to Club A Steakhouse (we never have gone out on actual Valentine’s Day). It was a large restaurant (we were seated upstairs) that felt very closed off from the frenzy of the city, which was nice for a date. We started with the usual breadbasket and split a salad with blue cheese, onion, radish and tomatoes.

Club A Steakhouse Dinner

Kiyo and I both had meat, and we split mac & cheese and French fries (just trying to keep it light, you know). It’s been awhile so I can’t remember details but I know we both enjoyed our first two courses.

Club A Dessert

The dessert was my least favorite part of the dinner, by far. To be fair, both tiramisu and zeppole fall very low on my list of favorite desserts. But, these zeppole were served cold, which was very unappealing. Whatever the cream was on top was ok, but the donuts being cold really made me not want to eat them at all. The tiramisu was ok, but not noteworthy. Overall it was a very nice date experience, but I’d recommend skipping dessert or finding it someplace else nearby… Magnolia Bakery, anyone?

Club A Steakhouse

Open: Monday – Tuesday 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Location: 240 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022 Phone: (212) 688-4190

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Brasserie du Vin, Honolulu [Just Closed]

Brasserie du Vin honolulu

At the end of Kiyo’s first day of work in Honolulu, I met him downtown near his new office, for happy hour at Brasserie du Vin.

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We enjoyed a reasonably priced dinner of olives, french fries, fresh bread, cheeses served with nuts, bruschetta with mozzarella and wine.

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Kiyo got to enjoy his favorite dessert: crème brûlée.

Unfortunately, the owner of the popular French bistro / wine bar decided it would be too expensive to keep running the business with a 51 percent rent increase. So on January 31, the restaurant shut down. Currently there are no plans to reopen.

Brunch at Sweet-E’s Cafe, Honolulu

Sweet-E's Cafe

One weekend, before Kiyo and I solidified our work schedules (he works Monday-Friday and I work Thursday-Monday or Tuesday, which is awful, we never have a day off together!) we made it to brunch at Sweet-E’s Café in Kaimuki. He had eggs the only way he likes them: scrambled. Look how huge that plate is! We definitely could have just shared.

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He didn’t love his, but then again, he doesn’t really like breakfast food. I, however, was in love. I had spinach and tomato eggs Benedict with Portuguese sausage and a side of fried rice. SWOON. Even though the wait was long, if I ever find a free weekend morning in my future, I will be back.

Sweet-E’s Cafe

Location: 1016 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816 Phone: (808) 737-7771

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