Happy Heart Month

Here are some heart-healthy tips for you to celebrate February’s Heart Health Month:

1. Laugh and be happy! Happiness helps your heart
2. Have a supportive social network and spend time with positive people. Loneliness and depression are linked to heart disease
3. Reduce your stress (meditate, exercise) Get your heart out of fight or flight mode
4. Quit smoking and reduce the amount of alcohol you’re consuming
5. Eat a heart healthy diet, such as lots of fruits and veggies, healthy fats, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains. AVOID trans fats, refined and processed foods, too much salt, and too much sugar.

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Pulse photos via Ecocentric Blog

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Red foods photo via PCRM

Kula, Maui strawberries
Kula, Maui strawberries

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Osechi Ryori Photos

I’ve put together a set of photos that highlight some of the deliciousness I learned during my macrobiotic studies in Japan. Some of the dishes are pictured here.  The dishes eaten during the first few days of the New Year are intended to bring more abundance, happiness, longevity, and health into your life.

All of these recipes were vegan and macrobiotic using the best quality organic and hand made ingredients. There was no refined sugar contained in the recipes, only natural macrobiotic quality sweeteners.

Boiled Vegetable Salad with Dressing

Chirashizushi (Beautiful Decorated Sushi Rice)

Datemaki (Tofu and Millet Rolls)

Kombumaki (Kombu Rolls)

Kuromame (Black Soy Beans)

Makizushi (Sushi Rolls)

Namasu salad (Raw Vegetables with Vinegar Dressing)

Nishime (Simmered Root Vegetables)

Oden (Daikon Stew)

Omelet (Tofu, Vegetables, and Hijiki)

Sekihan (Red Beans Rice)

Shofuyaki

Yakisoba (Stir-fried Vegetables and Soba Noodles)

Dessert: Cranberry Kanten

Dessert: Kurikinton (Chestnut and Sweet Potato Twists)

Yum!

Lucky Foods For The New Year * Osechi Ryori

When I lived in Japan, one of the tastiest menus that I learned was how to prepare the traditional New Year’s food. First introduced during the Heinan Period, osechi-ryori is basically a bento (boxed lunch) prepared in advance, stored in a cool place, and reheated when it is to be eaten during the first three days of the new year. Each dish and ingredient in osechi has meaning, such as good health, fertility, good harvest, happiness, and long life.

Cleaning up everything from the previous year and starting the new year with a clean slate complete with nourishing healthy food is very culturally important!

Here are some of the ingredients and their significance.

Mochi

Black Soybeans (Kuromame)

These sweet and hearty beans signify good health, vitality, wealth, abundance, and prosperity. These are typically made these days with sugar and shoyu, though the macrobiotic way is to replace these with natural handmade mirin, brown rice syrup, and unpasteurized, fermented shoyu.

Soba Noodles

Long life

Kombu (seaweed)

Usually made into kombu maki (as seen on the left), this represents joy.

Nishime

A slow simmered vegetable dish signifying “harmonious family relationships”.

Renkon/Lotus Root

This is an auspicious food, because you can see through the holes of the root “into the future.”

Datemaki

Sweet rolled omelette (seen on the right) traditionally mixed with fish paste which symbolizes wishes for many auspicious days filled with gold, wealth, fertility, and children. I learned how to make it with tofu and millet (also, minus the fish paste).

Datemaki

Gobo/Burdock Root

Usually made into a dish called “kinpira gobo”. This symbolizes “wishing for luck to split and multiply.”

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Have a safe, happy, healthy, and abundant new year everyone!

osechi plated final

Thanksgiving photos

Preparing holiday meals with seasonal ingredients makes for fresh and vibrant food.  Here is a sampling of some of the dishes I cooked this Thanksgiving in various stages of preparation.

Big Island Personal Chef Work

Recently, I’ve had the super fun opportunity to travel to the Big Island for work. It’s an adventure to fly in, source the ingredients (and in the process, get to know the health food store Big Island Naturals), and then cook.  If you’re on a neighbor island and interested in having me cook for you, please drop me a line!

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

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.

Cookspace Hawaii

When my friend Ashley sold her share of Baby aWEARness, my space for cooking demos went “aloha”!  I was trying not to worry about this (even with all the people asking, “Why isn’t anything on your calendar?” when one day, Melanie Kosaka called me and let me know about her new business Cookspace Hawaii that was coming on-line in the spring of 2013. Holy Wow! What manifesting luck was that?!  I recently had my first class there, which was a private corporate bonding event, and this space simply a dream come true.  Hope you’ll come check it out on 3/17 when I teach my Go Green Cuisine cooking class!

 

Photos of 1/24 Pop-up Dinner

Here are some photos taken by various people from the pop-up dinner on 1/24 at Taste.  Thanks to everyone who attended. It was so much fun.

(Various photos by Amanda Corby, Kaimana Pine, Melissa Chang, Megumi Kurachi)

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva arrived here on Oahu 1/15/2013 hosted by Hawaii SEED to share her wisdom with us about issues central to food sovereignty.  She inspired those of us in the room with so much information I could hardly keep up with my note taking!  Some of the main points that I gleaned I’ll share here in this post.

Who is Vandana Shiva?

Vandana_Shiva,_environmentalist,_at_Rishikesh,_2007

According to Wikipedia, Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books. She was trained as a quantum physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from a Canadian university.  She’s known as a visionary leader and a figure of the world-wide solidarity movement for food sovereignty and has been featured in recent documentary films. She has fought for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, genetic engineering are among the fields where Shiva has contributed intellectually and through activist campaigns. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering. In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which led to the creation of Navdanya in 1991, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving many men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 2000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 34 seed banks in 13 states across the country.

What were some of her key points?

ecofeminism1) ECOFEMINISM: Ecofeminism is the social movement that regards the oppression of women and nature as interconnected. Many of her comments centered on the innate wisdom, beauty, and power in nature.  A couple of times while discussing her recommend action steps to make personal change (specifically organic gardening and cultivating a connection with nature), she drew a parallel to the recent gang rape of a young woman in Delhi.  She suggested that the so-called “right to genetic engineering of seeds” is the equivalent of this gang rape. Not only is what’s happening with biotech connected to violence against women, but it is also connected to what is happening to other species of our planet, in particular, factory farmed animals.  She spoke out against feeding cows corn instead of their natural diet of grass, as well as allowing them to live in such horrifying conditions. She said that to successfully do organic gardening, such as understanding the interconnections between pollinators (birds, bees, butterflies) and the health of the soil and weather are a true science, whereas biotech has absolutely no understanding of this complexity. These companies instead just add inputs (chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers) and overlook nature.  The companies take varieties of seeds that have, for multiple generations, been saved by organic farmers and run the seeds through computer programs separating out the gene sequences.  She said, for example, that while organic farmers know which of their seeds would be drought tolerant, the biotech industry has no idea which gene sequence is responsible for that particular trait.  Irregardless, they create seeds anyway and simply take a gamble on the future of life.  The most important part of farming is NOT growing the vegetables themselves, but actually caring for the soil quality (the nutrition the plants get as they grow).  In places overrun by seed companies, the soil has no microorganisms, but is rather a cloud of toxic chemicals in the dust that blow in the wind. She suggested that after speaking with the companies, that it sounds like they know exactly what safety issues exist, but they are focused only on profits.

2) Racial Genocide: The other key point that she brought up was that seed companies quite intentionally go to a geographic region and modify the indigenous plants sacred to native people.  Much like the US government gave blankets to Native Americans infected with small pox, the seed companies go after the most important plants to indigenous people.  In Mexico, they have monopolized corn; in India, cotton, wheat, and eggplant; and in Hawaii, have gone after taro (kalo). Further, there is now only 5% of cotton seed in India that is organic. That’s right, 95% is biotech.  She said that the cotton belt is also known as the suicide belt. The seed companies come to the farmer’s land and ask the farmers to “sign on the dotted line”. They deliberately sell the farmers seeds that the seed companies know are going to fail in that region.  (Why? Again, profits.) The farmers thus have to buy more seeds, thinking perhaps their failure was just something random that season. Over time, farmer’s inputs go up by as much as 500% as they are purchasing everything they need to grow the crops (fertilizer, seeds, pesticides) putting them into severe debt.  What is even more insulting is that they market the seeds to farmers by using Hindu deities. If for example, a seed packet has Hanuman’s image, the farmers often say, “Why would Hanuman lie to us?” By the time the farmers realize that there is no way to pay down their significant debt, the companies come back and seize the land, separating them from all they have ever known, and from their spirituality.  The farmers ultimately commit suicide. She said in a place where Hindus believe in reincarnation, there is no longer a place where they can reincarnate to.  With this company’s plan, she said, there is no other life. She felt they are waging a war against sacred cultures and that the so-called “science” needs to be taken out of culture.  Fertilizers are leftover ammunition from bombs, so this is the science of killing, not life. Monoculture is a recipe for starvation and environmental destruction. (Biodiversity is the opposite of this and what will provide more food and protect the environment, especially with climate change.)  The “biotech scientists” they speak of are actually just made up people that claim to be experts. When you actually research them, they do not exist at all. (If you have ever seen the movie The Yes Men Fix The World, they are the antidote!)

3) Health Issues: Ever wonder why so many people are now having gluten issues? One thing Vandana Shiva talked about was how wheat is being cultivated now to yield high gluten. Why? To make more profits. Wheat that is indigenous to the place (in her case, India) is naturally LOW in gluten.  Research with animals fed biotech food shows that they die from cancer and lose 50% of their offspring also to health problems.

4) The Right to Ignore Unjust Law: “Progress means thousands of small and medium size sustainable organic farms.” Shiva said that Gandhi has been her inspiration for her teachings and life work. He taught that one need not follow a law that is unjust.  In Gandhi’s time, this dealt specifically with salt and cotton.  Now in current times, this deals with the right to save seeds.  She will save seeds that to her represented freedom, and her dream for 2013 is food freedom zones filled with gardens everywhere. In these gardens we can claim unity which she said rests on biodiversity.  Our strength is in the power we share with nature and that the power of non-violence is stronger than the power of violence.  The power of money held by these corporations will be defeated by our love of the earth and of each other across the world. Another speaker there, Andrew Kimbrell said, “What can you do? Defend love. We live on love, not efficiency.”

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