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.

pulses

pulses 2

Pulse photos via Ecocentric Blog

Heart-Disease-American-Heart-Month-Eat-Red
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.”

~~~~~~~~~~

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.

The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, 2014

If you’re wanting to eat more organic produce but are on a tight budget, the Environmental Working Group has published a list of foods that you should definitely buy organic due to the high amounts of pesticide residue, and a list of the those items that are safe to buy conventionally.

Why is it important to eat more organic produce?

Pesticides are implicated in various health issues such as disrupting brain development, behavioral issues, cancer, and the decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure is more detrimental for children because the dose they receive is more concentrated due to their smaller bodies.

The list includes:

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that should be purchased organically:

1. apples
2. strawberries
3. grapes
4. celery
5. peaches
6. spinach
7. sweet bell peppers
8. nectarines
9. cucumbers
10. cherry tomatoes
11. snap peas
12. potatoes

…plus lettuce, collards, & kale
…plus blueberries and cherries
…plus summer squash & zucchini

See the full list

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that is safe to purchase conventionally:

1. avocados
2. sweet corn
3. pineapples
4. cabbage
5. frozen sweet peas
6. onions
7. asparagus
8. mangoes
9. papayas
10. kiwis
11. eggplant
12. grapefruit
13. cantaloupe
14. cauliflower
15. sweet potatoes

Farm-to-table yoga event

My birthday was not too long ago and my wonderful friend SH gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.  She bought a seat for me at Yogarden’s Farm-to-Table & Yoga events held at Green Row Farms and I went with my other friend GS.  GS & I stopped on the way at Sweet Home Waimanalo to get some lemonade and then we made our way into the back roads of Waimanalo. When you show up, you get a farm tour and learn about permaculture design methods, do yoga outside looking at the Ko’olau mountains to live music, and then eat a delicious plant-based meal with community. The theme for this dinner was Cajun/Creole and my friend Jennifer Hee was one of the people preparing the meal for about 40 people. Since we were dining by starlight & candles only, it was too dark to get any food photos, but an example of one of the farm-to-table dishes was corn that was grown, dried, and then milled in Waihole and then cooked for us at this event into polenta. Yummy! Since I’ve been working a lot, it was truly inspiring and rejuvenating for the soul.

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!

Roy’s Waikiki – Vegan Prix Fixe 2

When my parents are here, it’s a tradition to dine at Roy’s and my favorite one is the Waikiki location because they have a vegan prix fixe menu available.  This was the new menu they had since the last time I was there.

Cauliflower Soup
Cauliflower Soup

Vietnamese Buns with Portabellos
Vietnamese Buns with Portabellos and Spicy Dipping Sauce

Eggplant Tempura over Somen Noodles
Eggplant Tempura over Somen Noodles

Blueberry Coconut "Cheesecake"
Blueberry Coconut “Cheesecake” and Berry Sorbet

There was no way to eat all the food so the cheesecake was my treat for the next couple of days.  I love going back to see what new creations they are cooking up!

 

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.