Neighbor Island Adventures: Kauai

Kauai magicIn May, my parents were on the island visiting, and we went to Kauai for about 5 days of pure bliss. The air seems to tingle with energy there. During those 5 days, we were pretty busy doing nothing! We slept, ate, hit happy hour with our books and watched the sunsets, explored the south side of the island, met with friends, and went to the beach. It was a great opportunity to unwind.

While there are a few places to get plant-based cuisine, it’s definitely more limited than O’ahu. Here are a few of the dining highlights.

Our fanciest dinner was at Merriman’s in Poipu where they did have plant-based options.  We were (or shall I say –  I – was) excited that we had the table next to where Johnny Depp likes to eat.  The server shared some interesting stories about the celebrities that live quietly among locals  in that area.  My meal was:

Edamame hummus with taro chips

Edamame Hummus

Quinoa salad with local kale and lettuce

Quinoa & Kale Salad

Heart of palm stir-fry with pa’i’ai fritters.

Heart of palm stirfry

Lilikoi Mojito     Melon Margarita & Wild     Li Hing Mui Margarita

Top left : lilikoi mojito while dining with Shar and Art at Gaylords

Top right: melon margarita at the Sheraton

Bottom left: Li hing mui margarita at the Hyatt

I also want to say a special thanks to Shar and Art, who embody the spirit of aloha,  for taking the three of us out for lunch at Gaylord’s.

Eat Well, Live Well

I always wanted to be a contributing author to edible Hawaiian Islands and this dream came true with the launch party that happened in early 2014 at Taste.

The name of my featured article is Eat Well, Live Well: A Game Plan for Health

edible Jawaiian Islands Jan - Mar 2014

The photography (and actually everything) in this issue is really spectacular.  So professional! All the articles are a very interesting read, with the entire content focusing both on health and sourcing local.

Game Plan for Health

The party itself was a lot of fun in the pop-up restaurant space Taste in Kaka’ako. I provided vegan brown rice sushi for pupus (appetizers).  Here is what people were saying about the day…

leslie reading article

Here I am seeing the article in print for the very first time.

dania leeann leslie

That’s Chef Lee Ann Wong behind me who was featured on Bravo’s Top Chef in the background nibbling my “sushi butts” as she called them, as I sliced everything for the other guests in attendance. Next to me is Dania Katz, the brilliant woman in charge of the magazine (and who organized the launch party).

jenn's pic of leslie's sushi

This photo (above) means a lot to me because it’s from Jennifer Hee of Kale’s Deli who is a brilliant vegan baker and chef herself!  Anyone on the east side of the island, go check out their menu.

kim shibata instagram

melissa808 instagram

How I used the Law of Attraction to get a celebrity client

One day, I was home watching You Tube videos and doing some work on my computer when I got an email via the contact form on my website.  After reading through it, I contacted the person (who turned out to be the assistant at the time) to answer his questions and thus found out who was inquiring about my services.  When I first heard the name, I actually didn’t know who it was, so after hanging up, I Googled to find out who it was.  Seeing the photo of the person made me scream and jump up and down in my living room. I really love the films this person was in and had seen all of them!  I was a big, big fan.  I must say, it was exciting and fun working with this person and I was so grateful for the experience.

So how did I attract this? Here is what I did: For about 30 days straight, I practiced a visualization technique for 15 minutes every morning as soon as I woke up, and for 15 minutes again before falling asleep.  Focusing on what I wanted, I literally felt that feeling in my body in every detail possible, such as what I would be wearing, what the sounds were around me, what the smells were, who was with me, and every other nuance I could imagine.  I often put on my favorite song and danced in my living room to raise my vibration, also imagining this goal.  Eventually, the universe rearranged to bring that into my life.  It was not exactly in the form I had expected or by what was on my vision board, but it certainly was just. as. amazing.!

Give it a try and see what manifests for you.  At the very least, meditating for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each day will bring you into the present moment.

Year in Review: 2013

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to review my accomplishments.  It’s important to validate one’s progress and also set new goals.

For me, 2013 brought gifts and challenges, and overall was very experimental, as I had lost my regular space for cooking classes and sought other options. This opened the door for new offerings.  A few of the wonderful things looking back at 2013 have been:

  • 3 pop-ups at TASTE in Kaka’ako (Detox, Vegan Ramen, and Cinco de Mayo)
  • A mention in Modern Luxury, Hawai’i
  • Writing an article for Edible Hawaiian Islands (which comes out 1/2014)
  • Giving a talk for The Vegetarian Society of Hawai’i (Compassionate Activism) on O’ahu and Maui
  • New cooking classes (Thanks SH for providing your home for several of them!)
  • Partnering with the University of Oregon Alumni Association, Hawai’i Chapter for a fabulous food and wine event at CookSpace
  • Acquiring some simply amazing new customers
  • Expanding my coaching
  • Cooking for someone who makes a big difference for a lot of people in our world (maybe some day I can say who that was!)
  • Perhaps most important of all, making new friends and having a lot more fun than in previous years.

Thank you so much for being a part of this community!

Happy holidays and see you in 2014.

Special Vegan Dining Experience

This weekend I joined the women of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Hawai’i Chapter, to celebrate their birthday at the Sheraton Waikiki. The original menu was not something that I would have normally eaten, so the Dames President of the Hawai’i chapter arranged for me to get a special vegan course menu, and it was absolutely scrumptious. I felt completely spoiled and so happy to be out enjoying such a tasty and special meal as this is more difficult to find here in Honolulu. The course was prepared by the Executive Sous Chef Colin Hazama and his team.

Summer Cooking Style

In summer, plants ripen and reach their growth.  At this time we can begin to use foods that have more active expansive energy, such as leafy green vegetables, summer squashes, sweet corn, and locally grown fruits.  Fresh salads can be served more frequently in summer or enjoyed in the form of marinated, pressed, or lightly boiled salads.  During the hot summer months, we naturally use simpler cooking methods such as boiling and steaming, and quick sautéing, which require less time in the kitchen.  Grain, noodle, bean, vegetable, and sea vegetable salads are used more often in the summer.  Sushi is especially enjoyable.  In hot humid weather, we often lose minerals through perspiration.  To replenish these nutrients, we may serve small amounts of strong condiments.  Umeboshi plums and umeboshi tea are excellent for this purpose and cool off the body better than soft drinks or other cold beverages.  Some dishes, such as somen or udon noodles may be served cool or chilled, but it is better not to prepare foods or drinks icy cold.  Instead, cooking effects can be created by light boiling, by shorter cooking times, and by using less salt or other seasonings.  Small amounts of chilled kanten (fruit gelatin), vegetable aspics, or cool tofu, garnished with scallions, tamari soy sauce, and ginger can be served often.  Fruit salads, fresh melons, and fresh cucumbers are also very refreshing when taken in moderation at this season.

From Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking

Body Confidence

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Is your body image positive or negative? 

If your answer is negative, you are not alone.

I have informally questioned my students if they are happy with their bodies, and they resoundingly say “NO. I’m too fat. I don’t like my eyelids, chin, or my cheeks. My thighs/butt/arms are too big.” (and the list goes on and on). This is true in Korea as well, where recently there was a news article about how it was hard to tell the women in a beauty pageant apart because they had all had the same plastic surgery done. I was surprised that while not as often as women, men also have these concerns. One man said, for example, “I’m just too skinny. I wish I had a stronger body.” (See the additional facts about women, below.)


Poor body image and low self-esteem can affect other areas of our lives including problems with finances, friendships, career, and romantic relationships due to a big energy drain that comes from depression, anxiety, unhappiness, worthlessness, obsession with calorie counting/weight loss, and maybe even an eating disorder.  The actual ingredients and processed food items that are in the Standard American diet also overwork and stress our organs, and put our moods on a roller coaster, draining our energy.


Thinking that weight loss is the answer to problems, many women fall into the diet trap and start taking supplements or partake in other unhealthy dieting methods, like skipping meals, starving themselves, smoking, or avoiding whole categories of food, like carbs. Unfortunately, this can create even more problems from improper nutrition and a vicious cycle of emotional pitfalls.  These extreme methods are not sustainable over time, and yo-yo dieters end up actually gaining more weight in the long term.


Would you be excited to know that you don’t have to skip meals, starve yourself, smoke, or avoid carbs to have your ideal weight? To know that you can stop counting calories?  How do you do this?

Eating a whole foods plant-based diet makes it easier to gain and maintain a healthy weight because

  • the food is high in fiber, creating longer lasting fullness, so you don’t feel as hungry all the time
  • is also lower in calories
  • meets your nutritional needs before you caloric needs, which means that you can eat more than you normally would with Standard American Diet foods and still keep a healthy body weight

~~Healthier eating even supports the production of happiness chemicals in the brain!~~

In my next cooking class, I will be teaching:

  • Healthy and delicious plant-based recipes that support whole body wellness
  • Food & mood connections
  • Mindful eating with hunger cues, both for hunger and fullness
  • How body image is just a cover up for what’s really going on emotionally
  • Tips for becoming size positive

Body Confidence Cooking Class


  • 42% of first, second and third grade girls want to lose weight. Collins, M. “Body figure perception and preferences among preadolescent children.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 10 (1991), pp 199-208.
  • 45% of boys and girls in grades three through six want to be thinner; 37% have already dieted; 7% score in the eating disorder range on a test of children’s eating habits.Maloney, MJ, McGuire, J. Daniels, Sr., and Specker, B. “Dieting behavior and eating attitudes in children,” Pediatrics 84 (1989) pp 482-487.
  • 46% of nine- to eleven-year-olds say they are sometimes or very often on diets. Gustafson-Larson, A. M., and Terry, R. D., “Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth grade children.” Journal of the American Dietetic Assoc. 92 (7)(1992), pp 818-822.
  • 70% of normal weight girls in high school feel fat and are on a diet. Ferron, C. “Body Image in adolescence in cross-cultural research” Adolescence 32 (1997), pp. 735-745.
  • During puberty, most girls’ bodies need to gain, on average, 10 inches and 40-50 pounds, including more body fat. Friedman, Sandra Susan. When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence. Firefly Books, 2000.
  • Females need 17% body fat in order to menstruate for the first time and 22% to have regular cycles. Cooke, Kaz. Real Gorgeous: The Truth About Body and Beauty. Norton, 1996.
  • Over half of the females age 18-25 studied would prefer to be run over by a truck than to be fat, and two-thirds would choose to be mean or stupid rather than fat. Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.
  • A survey of college students found that they would prefer to marry an embezzler, drug user, shoplifter, or blind person than someone who is fat. Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.
  • Up to 35% of normal dieters will progress to pathological dieting and, of those, 20 to 25% will progress to partial or full-blown eating disorders. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., and Estes, L.S., “The spectrum of eating disturbances,” Intl Journal of Eating Disorders 18 (3) (1995) pp. 209-219.
  • The death rate for eating disorders is 5 to 20%. American Psychiatric Association, “Practice Guidelines for Eating Disorders.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(2) (1993) pp. 212-228.
  • Americans spend $50 billion annually on diet products. Garner, David W., PhD, and Wooley, Susan C., PhD. “Confronting the Failure of Behavioral and Dietary Treatments for Obesity,” Clinical Psychological Review 11 (1991), pp. 729-780. $50 billion is more than the Gross National Product of more than half of all the nations in the world, including Ireland.

From the Council on Size & Weight Discrimination, 

Body Confidence Cooking Class

Vegan Prix Fixe Menu

Something I would love to see more of on Oahu is high end vegan cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. I love dining out but usually don’t because there are so few options. I’ve known about Roy’s for a while, but just recently dined there to see what their vegan prix fixe menu was all about. I have to say, although the food was generally saltier and oiler than I would normally prepare for my own clients, it was all lovely, flavorful, presented well, and the service superb. The waitress said that the menu changes every few months, so that’s nice to know I can go back and have something different. I chose the menu option paired with wine. I prefer red wine, but everything they paired with the food was white. Be prepared to spend money on this when you go. When you add in the the tip and parking, it will be about $75 (less if you leave out the wine pairings).

Here’s what the menu looked like as of June 2013.

Edamame with Prosecco

Curried Kabocha and Carrot Soup with a Pineapple Emulsion

I’m pretty sure that this had sugar in it. It was still delicious.

Asparagus Tartare with Sweet Potato Chips, Roasted Chickpeas, and Tomato (might have had a balsamic reduction on the side)

Kung Pao Eggplant over Quinoa with Cauliflower Sauce

Not spicy (fortunately!) and extremely flavorful! I was definitely getting full.

Apple Crisp with Lime Sorbet

By the time this huge dessert came, I was already pleasantly stuffed! I ate the sorbet and apple chip and then a few bites of the apple crisp. They packed the rest for me to take home, which I heartily enjoyed for breakfast the next day.

They do have two other vegan menu options, one of which is sushi. I’ve had that before, and it’s also very delicious!