Surviving Burnout – How to restore your health and happiness starting right now

surviving burnout

surviving burnout

I haven’t always lived a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it was quite the opposite until about seven years ago. My “aha moment” came at a time in my life when I was at the peak of my career and going downhill fast. Surviving burnout was one of the biggest struggles I have ever had to deal with. But truly, it was also a gift in disguise.

My story

It’s 5:30am and still dark out. The wind howls outside and my partner is fast asleep beside me. I have just reluctantly turned off my alarm clock for the second time. My body hurts.

In the darkness, I grab a white t-shirt, a pair of baggy, greasy, stained chef pants; underwear and socks and walk to the bathroom. I turn on the light. It’s bright, too bright. I squint my way over to the shower and turn it on. I shiver as I undress and hop in. My shower won’t even be long enough to warm my body through.

I get dressed, throw my hair up in a bun and pop my contact lenses into my squinty, burning eyes. I grab a hoodie, pea coat and scarf and a Yoplait yogurt on my way out the door. My morning routine is now complete.

As I walk to the subway station, eating my yogurt, I call my fish purveyor to place the day’s order. Talking to him for ten minutes is the highlight of my day. He is kind, makes me laugh and sympathizes with me. I need it. It starts my day off on a good foot.

If there aren’t any issues with Muni that day and my train actually shows up I get to work at 6:45am. The linen truck and my prep cook are already there waiting for me. I joke around with them for a minute, push aside the homeless man who has made a bed in front of the back door to the restaurant, and walk in. I relish the few minutes I’m in the chef’s office putting away my coat because it’s warm in there.

I get my prep cook going on the tasks for the day and then assume my duty of going into the walk-in cooler for a half an hour to gather items I need for the day. By the time I finish I’m so cold I can’t feel my fingers or feet.

If I don’t get continually interrupted by deliveries while I’m in the walk-in, then I can resume my day on schedule not feeling like I am starting off on the back foot. Though, this pretty much never happens.

The next twelve plus hours are spent on my feet half way in panic mode and half in an adrenalin high. I try my best to get through a never ending prep list, deal with line cooks and their personal problems, try not to lose my shit when I’m hit with large surprise catering orders (that I don’t have time for) and two fast and hard lunch and dinner services. In between “putting out fires” and covering cooks, so they can take breaks,  I have to magically find time to complete my administrative tasks and be “creative”.

With the exhaustion I am feeling I don’t have a single creative thought in my brain, nor do I have the time to steal one out of a cookbook or magazine. The daily specials start to look the same and I can see the line cooks growing bored with them. Shit, I’m bored of them. But, I’m in survival mode. Every day.

When I get home that evening I cook my partner and I dinner, we eat, drink a few beers and then I go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. I do this over and over every day like a rusty drone ready to short circuit at any given moment.

This used to be my life. I was pale, skinny, malnourished, had chronic headaches and backaches. My feet hurt all the time. I had a horrible diet, didn’t exercise, didn’t rest and had wicked mood swings. Sure there were people in my life who made me smile and who I loved but for the most part I faked a smile to cover up how I was feeling inside, which was exhausted and miserable.

I remember being so stressed out one day that I had to stop in the street and sit down. My heart was racing, I couldn’t breath and tears were streaming down my face. I was having my first panic attack. On my day off.

I had never had a panic attack before. Was this the new normal? Was this going to be my life? I couldn’t even enjoy a day off without panicking about what was happening at the restaurant? It was then, that I knew.

I started to think about my life. What I had missed out on, what I would continue to miss. How little joy was left. When my father passed away I hadn’t seen him in almost two years. He was my best friend but I barely had time to talk to him when he would call. I thank god now that I had at least picked up the phone. I missed him terribly and I blamed work for not being able to have had more memories with him.

After twelve years the restaurant industry had finally won. I had officially been defeated mentally and physically, and I was done.

A career that I had worked so hard for and given my whole life to had chewed me up and spit me out. I felt weak and embarrassed. But I also felt free. My last day managing a restaurant kitchen was probably one of the happiest days of my life.

A new normal

The healing process began immediately afterward. I took about two months off where I didn’t even think about work. I started traveling – going to places I had never been, visiting family and taking time to relax, eat and sleep.

I started eating three meals a day, sitting down even. And although my hips were so tight I couldn’t even sit Indian style, I started a yoga practice, which I now accredit to saving my life.

It took a while for me to slow down. Being a chef had trained me to do everything in my life fast, from brushing my teeth to walking down the street. Impatient didn’t even begin to start to describe who I was. I was a “master” at multi-tasking (at least that’s what I thought) and I planned everything I did for efficiency rather than enjoying the process. I was also extremely pessimistic, sarcastic and pretty closed off emotionally to my friends and family.

I had a lot of work to do.

After bumming around a couple years working part time in a few friends’ restaurants, helping out with prep and doing some consulting, I decided it was time to get serious and get back to work. But this time, on my own terms.

I became an entrepreneur and never looked back.

I was motivated by one thing and one thing only — a flexible schedule. Until now, I had never had that in my life, since I started working at the age of 15.

I realize now, that in that moment I started living my life according to my own personal values instead of chasing status, recognition or money. It was one of the most important shifts I ever made.

Over the past several years I have changed my life dramatically and have never felt better. There are so many things that I have learned that I wish I knew back than.

There is a combination of healthy habits that I have adopted slowly overtime since leaving the restaurant industry. I truly believe that with the right mindset and framework that anyone can make these changes in order to restore their health and bring peace to their life whether you are in a demanding job or not.

Surviving burnout

When you are experiencing burnout it is hard to see anything else. You don’t have time for anything. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why you are burning out in the first place.

For the sake of your life, and the lives of those you love around you, you need to stop, look at your situation and reassess it in order for things to change and get better.

Take one afternoon and think about how you are going to do the following:

  1. Set boundaries: Before you can start to do any type of work on yourself no matter what it is you have to build the courage and strength to set boundaries and reclaim your life. This might mean pissing people off, letting others down, being made fun of and/or having to isolate yourself temporarily. It does not matter. This is the first and most crucial part of recovering from burnout. To do this, you must first figure out how much time you need to take back for yourself in order for you to regain your health and sanity. You will then make yourself an “ideal” daily schedule and share it with the people whom it will affect the most. Then you do your very best to stick to it, not allowing anyone to alter it with their own personal agendas. This is where you learn to say NO (for probably the first time in your life).
  2. Get on a sleep schedule: If you are burned out chances are you are not getting enough sleep every night. Sleep is absolutely crucial for your mental and physical health. Get yourself on a schedule that allows you to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep every night can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, low energy, lowered immune system, poor mental health and can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s cancer and diabetes. According to Matthew Walker, the director for the Center for Human Sleep at UC Berkeley and the author of Why We Sleep, “..after just one night of only four or five hour’s sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in you body every day – drop by 70%” and “the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life”. So, make sleep your first priority.
  3. Look at the way you handle stress: Are you in panic or worry mode everyday? Do you feel constantly frustrated, pissed off, tense or anxious? Do you feel like “nothing can ever just be easy” or that you can’t seem to get your life into a good place? Chances are this is something you have actually manifested yourself. Is it really just a coincidence that something “goes wrong” every day? The reality, is that even with jobs that are more stressful like a police officer, a fire fighter (or a restaurant chef!) you always have a choice in the way you handle yourself. It may not seem like it, but you do. Have you ever noticed that there are people in your life, maybe even people you work with, that just never seem phased by anything? You are running around like your hair is on fire trying your hardest to keep up and keep the proverbial “boat” from sinking and they are just cruising. That person should get fired you say or maybe you just personally loathe them. But why? Isn’t what you want for your life for it to be easier and less stressful? In a way, you want what they have. Harping on the past and worrying about the future rarely brings anything productive to the present moment. Know that you are doing your best. Trust that you are doing everything in that moment that you can, in order to be successful in the future, and just let life happen. If you are working with integrity and effort than that is all you can do. Are you worried that someone is going to say you didn’t try hard enough? Are you worried about being a failure? That is your ego taking over. Tell it to shut up and go about your day being the rock star that you are at an even keeled pace. And just remember this, the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So the next time you have to manage your emotions or a situation, no matter how big or small, keep that in mind. Make sure the way you handle yourself is the way you want to show up in this world, to yourself and to others. That, and the proven fact that stress causes the same major health issues that sleep deprivation does. Eventually it will literally kill you.
  4. Create a solid morning routine: The old days of me giving myself a half an hour between waking up and running out the door are over. The best way to ensure you have a good day is to set yourself up for success. This starts with making your to-do list the night before and getting a good night’s sleep. Give yourself at least an hour before you have to hit the shower and leave for work to mentally prepare yourself for the day. For me this includes, drinking a full glass of room temperature lemon water, to cleanse my liver and boost my metabolism; meditating, journaling, reading and having a healthy breakfast. Everyone should create a custom morning routine that fits their own needs yet gives you ample time to ease into your day with intention.
  5. Eat healthier: This has just as much to do with the food you eat as it does the way you eat it and think about it. You could be eating the cleanest, most nutrient packed food everyday but if you are shoving it in your mouth on the run, eating more than your body needs or moralizing every piece of food you put (or don’t put) in your mouth than you are not eating healthy. Find the foods that make you feel good and give you energy, drink lots of water and enjoy what you eat. Food restriction does not help you maintain a desired weight and it screws with your head. You know deep down what you need and how much you need of it to thrive. Less processed foods, more REAL food. Don’t over complicate it.
  6. Move: It may sound counterproductive to someone who is on their feet 12 hours a day to develop an exercise routine. After all, “I’m running around moving all day, aren’t I?” Working on your feet all day and exercising are not the same thing. You need at least 30 minutes a day where you are moving without having to think about anything except the movement that you are performing. My current favorite workouts involve swimming, TRX and yoga. I also sold my car and walk a lot more now. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it gets your blood pumping and helps strengthen your muscles. Yoga is my favorite because it incorporates mindfulness, meditation and movement all in one – three things crucial for balancing burnout symptoms. If you are lethargic and tired from being burned out exercise will actually give you the energy and mental clarity that you need.
  7. Practice self-compassion: Above all give yourself a break. You have been pushing yourself past your limits for too long. It is time to show yourself some love and care so that you can then show the same to others. It is OK to be a hard worker but not at the cost of sacrificing yourself.

It is time to take back your life right now. Good luck.

Do you have a burn out story? How did you survive? What were the changes that you made in your life that helped you recover? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more health tips, cooking ideas and resources. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

21 Reasons To Meditate Everyday

21 reasons to meditate

21 reasons to meditate

If you do not think meditation works than it will not work for you. This is how powerful your mind is. If you are a believer or at least have an open mind then read on….

There are many reasons why meditating everyday is beneficial for your mental and physical health. Here are 21 of them…

  1. Neuroplasticity – You are literally re-programming your brain by developing this practice.
  2. It’s affordable – This form of stress-reducing, self-care doesn’t cost a thing.
  3. Increases intelligence – With a consistent practice your cerebral cortex will strengthen overtime helping you to better process and retain information.
  4. Stress reduction – Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system which shuts off the “fight-or-flight” response in your body. It does this by releasing calming hormones to counterbalance stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which if always activated cause chronic stress.
  5. Strengthens you immune system – When your body is in a constant state of stress it can lead to high blood pressure, poor digestion, increased fat storage (Ever wonder why you eat a healthy diet and exercise but still don’t lose weight? Look at your daily stress level.) increased blood sugar and a compromised immune system. Since meditation deactivates stress it is capable of reversing all of those things. Always remember, your thoughts manifest in your body.
  6. It creates mindfulness – Your probability of acting more mindfully throughout your day will increase enabling you to make wiser decisions by responding versus reacting.
  7. It’s easy – Meditation doesn’t take any skill, you can do it anywhere and at anytime. Just close your eyes and sit.
  8. To gain clarity – Meditating shines a light on what is truly important to you so you can spend less brain energy on the thoughts that are less important or even worse, debilitating.
  9. To understand yourself – You will start to notice thought and emotional patterns which will reveal to you your true nature.
  10. It enables you to be present – Once you start noticing that your thoughts are only thoughts then you can start to detach from them and instead concentrate on enjoying the present moment. Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future.
  11. Increases patience – You will start to notice that the things that annoyed or upset you easily and quickly in the past will no longer trigger you.
  12. Increases focus – You will be less likely to want to skip around between tasks. Your mind will be more at ease and you will start to catch yourself when you become distracted, enabling you to gently bring your mind back to the task at hand.
  13. You will be more in touch with reality – Meditation allows you to see that the only thing that is really true is what is happening in that exact moment not the stories that you create in your head.
  14. It’s enjoyable – Ok, maybe not so much in the beginning. But once you get past the first several days of squirmy restlessness you will start to enjoy being in a state of peace and your brain will want more of it. I look forward to meditating every morning now.
  15. It helps you build and maintain other healthy habits – Stress and not understanding how to deal with your emotions can sabotage your efforts when trying to build a healthy lifestyle. Meditating helps you stay true to your values. A daily practice creates a domino effect enabling other healthy habits to become easier and more likely to form.
  16. You will be more in tune with your body – It increases your ability to listen to your body and learn what it is telling you so that you can respond accordingly. For example, you will start to understand things like, why you have a headache, if you really are hungry or if you’re just anxious or why your heart is racing.
  17. Increased lung performance – You will start to become more aware of the way you are breathing, not just while meditating but throughout your day. This not only allows you to control how deep you breath but also to make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath.
  18. It builds confidence – When you stop holding on to limiting thoughts and stop rushing from one thing to the next you start to trust yourself more. You start to believe that everything that needs to get accomplished will and that you will remember everything you need to remember.
  19. It heals suffering – By sitting with yourself everyday you are able to start seeing and accepting the root cause of any suffering you may be experiencing rather than resisting it, wishing things were different and therefore staying stuck in it.
  20. Increased success – “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – Bobby Unser. Meditation helps you become more mindful in your preparation and better able to see opportunities.
  21. Increased happiness – Chronic stress leads to depression. Meditation creates internal peace, which leads to contentment.

These reasons have both been scientifically proven and experienced in my own life, and only after just a short while of practicing daily. The longer you practice the more engrained the habit becomes, the stronger your mindfulness muscle becomes and the more you will reap these benefits. Happy meditating!

Have you noticed any benefits to having a regular meditation practice? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more health tips, cooking ideas and resources. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Celebrating Hawaii’s Emerging Meat Industry – Forage Hawaii Farm To Table Dinner | November 2017

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

Last weekend I joined forces with Forage Hawaii in hosting our first farm to table dinner on Oahu.

I met Jessica Rohr, owner of Forage Hawaii, taking regular trips to the Kaka’ako farmers market where she distributes local meats every week. Jess and I hit it off right away, both of us being so passionate about cooking and supporting local. When the day finally came, that it dawned on us we should work together, the wheels started spinning and plans to host a dinner event celebrating local farmers and ranchers were made.

After going on a farm tour of Mari’s Gardens in Mililani one afternoon it was settled, we found our venue and this thing was going down.

Don’t rain on my parade

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

The rain dumped all day. And then stopped right before the guests showed up. Just in time for a tour of Mari’s Gardens, the biggest hydroponic and aquaponic farm in Hawaii. Guests got to learn all about their organic, sustainable farming practices and see the very impressive variety of lettuces, microgreens, edible flowers, fruits, vegetables and fish farmed on property.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

Knocking it out

A behind the scenes look at the hours leading up to dinner…

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

Ingredient driven

An exceptional meal starts with exceptional ingredients. 50% of the produce used was from Mari’s Gardens including: ulu, Meyer lemons, limes, Negi onions, watermelon and Cheriette radishes, watercress, edible flowers and a variety of herbs and microgreens. The other 50% of the produce was sourced from other small farms on island. All of the meats used were locally sourced from: 2Lady farmers, Maui Nui Venison and Makaweli Meat Company.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

Showtime

After Jess and I kicked off dinner and the food started flowing we had the privilege to hear from some of the key players responsible for the pushing Hawaii’s local meat scene forward: Patsy Oshiro and Stacy Sugai from 2Lady Farmers and Kimo Tuyay from Maui Nui Venison.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

The pork course

Patsy and Stacy told us the story of how 2Lady farmers came to be, thanking the Shinatos from Shinato Farm for their mentorship and helping them get their small pig farm off the ground. They likened their farming style to  Mothers raising their children stating that they really care for their animals like family. Their intentions are to take what they have learned from the Shinsatos and pay it forward, offering mentoring programs to future farmers here on Oahu.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

The venison course

Kimo taught us about wild venison. We learned how it is not only delicious but more sustainable to harvest and healthier to eat. He announced a couple of new projects on the horizon including a new line of Maui Nui Venison jerky hitting the market in January and the Kahikinui project, where they will be harvesting another local wild, population – wild cows. After the event Kimo said in regards to 2Lady farmers, “it was interesting to hear the same sentiments they had towards the pigs they raise as the wild deer we harvest, which is less stress equals better product.”

I think everyone was able to take away something important from all of the speakers and reaffirm to themselves why it is so important to continue to support local, non-factory farms.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get many photos of our guests of honor but I think that their beautiful cuts of meat speak for themselves.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography
Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Photo by: Ketino Photography

The response to our first dinner was heartwarming. It showed that there are a number of people here on Oahu who truly support the farm to table movement and appreciate the people who are providing nutritious and sustainably grown food to this island. It just goes to show that by voting with your forks you can be a part of something that is ethical, pro-health and help to create change in your community and environment.

There’s no “I” in team

Our team did an amazing job and worked tirelessly all day to ensure the event was a true success. Huge thanks to Spencer, Lauren, Annie, Ardus, Ikaika, Jacey, our photographers Rob and Ketino and Brendon and Tanya from Mari’s Gardens. We could of never pulled this off without you.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
The team. Photo by: Ketino Photography

Stay tuned for the next Forage Hawaii vs. Healthy Locavore farm to table dinner…

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner
Boss ladies. Photo by: Ketino Photography

For updates on when the next Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner will be and about all other Healthy Locavore events subscribe to the weekly Healthy Locavore newsletter here.

Mahalo nui loa to everyone who attended. See you next year!

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Forage Hawaii Farm To Table Dinner

Forage Hawaii Farm to Table Dinner

November 11, 2017

Forage Hawaii – Farm to Table Dinner

Forage Hawaii - Farm to Table Dinner
Forage Hawaii - Farm to Table Dinner

About the event:

This farm to table dinner starts with a behind the scenes tour of Mari’s Gardens – Hawaii’s leading aquaponic and hydroponic farm.  From there you will be whisked away to a truly one of a kind dining experience where you will get to enjoy a 5-course tasting menu prepared by chef Sarah Burchard (a.k.a. The Healthy Locavore) featuring local meats and produce from Mari’s Gardens, listen to guest speakers from Hawaii’s emerging meat industry and be the first to hear about a new product launch announcement from Jessica Rohr of Forage Hawaii.

We will be providing a refreshing farm to glass non-alcoholic beverage. We invite you to bring your favorite wine, beer or anything else you love to accompany your meal with. Wine glasses will be provided.

Directions + Parking:

*Attention apple maps users –

There is one direction that is missing at the end when you use this app. After making a right on Hokuliilii st. you will make a left on Makapipipi st. and then take your first right. You will then see Mari’s Gardens up on your right.

*Coming from town –

Once you get on the H1W toward Pearl City you will exit Waipahu.
Keep right onto Kamehameha hwy
Turn left on Lanikuhana ave
Turn left on Makohilani st.
Turn right on Hokuliilii st.
Turn left on Makapipipi st.
Make your first right and Mari’s Gardens will be on the right.

*The address is:
94-415 Makapipipi St. Mililani, HI 96789
*Their phone number is: (808) 625-2800

*Park in front of Mari’s Gardens on the street. There will be plenty of room for everyone.

Click here to view a map of the neighborhood.

About the presenters:

Forage Hawaii distributes high quality meats from local Hawaiian farms strait to the consumer through farmer’s markets and direct ordering. Forage partners with farms that use sustainable, humane and natural farming practices. Their mission is to spread awareness about local farms, the nutritional benefits of natural farming and to make local meats more accessible to Hawaii residents.

The Healthy Locavore is a food and lifestyle blog written by Sarah Burchard. Sarah is a health coach, personal chef and freelance writer based in Honolulu. She is fiercely dedicated to supporting her community and sources locally grown and produced ingredients for all of her nutritious and culturally inspired dishes.

About the sponsors:

2Lady Farmers is owned and operated by Patsy Oshiro and Stacy Sugai. Their mission is to provide locally, sustainably raised pork to Hawaii and pave the way for the next generation of pig farmers. Raised on macadamia nut cakes, their pork has a clean, sweet flavor and has been farmed naturally with no hormones or antibiotics.

2Lady Farmers

Maui Nui Venison is committed to sourcing wild,  axis deer from responsible suppliers. Their product is USDA certified and 100% local. The largest from the tropical deer species, axis deer have evolved in Hawaii without the stresses of seasons, migrations and predators resulting in a less then 1% intra-muscular fat and a subtle, full flavored taste.

Maui Nui Venison

Makaweli Ranch is the direct link from ranch to table. They are dedicated to providing premium, 100% natural, wild harvest and free-range meats. They think globally, source locally and are proud to follow the Robinson family’s legacy of land preservation, environmental consciousness, self-sustaining agriculture and the humane treatment of livestock.

Makaweli Ranch

About the venue:

Mari’s Gardens is a USDA organic aquaponic and hydroponic farm in Mililani. They are proud to set the highest quality standards for this emerging industry assuring that their produce is both safe and healthy. They are dedicated to providing locally grown produce to the people of Hawaii while having the least environmental impact.

Mari's Gardens

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Coconut Chia Seed Pudding With Savory Granola And Tropical Fruit

coconut chia seed pudding

 

coconut chia seed pudding

Chia seed pudding has become as popular to eat for breakfast as yogurt parfaits these days. Like yogurt, the simple base for this pudding is very versatile and can be flavored and topped with almost anything.

Living in Hawaii I’m partial to topping it with tropical fruit myself but you could also use fresh berries, diced stone fruit, apples, pears and pomegranate seeds. Really any kind of fruit you can think of.

This is a handy go-to breakfast for a few reasons: 

  1. It’s fast. You make it the evening before so it is ready to eat the next morning. All you have to do is sprinkle on your toppings and grab a spoon.
  2. It’s easy to make. The pudding literally takes 1-2 minutes to put together. You don’t have to make your own granola like I do, store bought is fine and much simpler. If you use fruit like frozen berries there is not even any fruit prep to do.
  3. The ingredients are non-perishable. Keep some cans of coconut milk and toppings like granola and cacao nibs in the cupboard so you have them whenever you need them. If you store toppings like nuts, seeds and shredded coconut in the refrigerator they will stay fresh for months. You can even keep frozen berries on hand in the freezer .You never have to run the risk of any of the ingredients for this dish going bad before you get to them
chia seed pudding
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Coconut Chia Seed Pudding With Savory Granola And Tropical Fruit

This is a very basic coconut chia seed pudding recipe. You do not have to use the suggested toppings to garnish it with. You can use any fruit or toppings you desire or even just eat it plain. The tropical fruit I used in the photo shown was lilikoi, red dragonfruit and papaya from Hawaii.

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Dairy free, Gluten free
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 14 fl oz Coconut Milk 1 can, unsweetened
  • 1 Tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 5 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Garnishes:

  • 1/2 cup Savory Granola store bought or see link below to make your own
  • 1 Tbsp Cacao Nibs
  • 2 Tbsp Shredded Coconut
  • 2 tsp Hemp Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Tropical fruit diced

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the coconut milk, vanilla extract, sea salt and honey. Whisk the chia seeds in last. 

  2. Ladle the pudding into 4 ramekins or coffee cups, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

  3. The next day, unwrap your puddings right before serving and garnish each one with granola, cacao nibs, shredded coconut and tropical fruit. 

  4. Chia puddings (without garnishes) will stay fresh in the refrigerator up to 5 days. 

Recipe Notes

I recommend using Organic Aroy-D coconut milk for this recipe. It comes out nice and creamy and thick. Other coconut milks may result in a thinner pudding. 

The recipe for my savory granola is right here.

Need shredded coconut? - Use this

Need cacao nibs? - Use this

Need hemp seeds? - Use this

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Producing Pastured Chicken And Influencing Change On Oahu

J. Ludovico Farm pastured chicken
J. Ludovico Farm pastured chicken
Julius Ludovico talks chicken with fellow farmer, Amy Shinsato at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market

If you walk over to the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on a Wednesday night you will see rows of white tents, tables full of fresh local fruits and vegetables, the Shinsatos selling 2Lady farmers’ pork and groups huddled around picnic tables slurping up hot bowls of pho at The Pig and the Lady stand.

If you aren’t paying close enough attention you would never know that you can also buy fresh local chicken at this market. In fact, it’s most likely the only farmer’s market on Oahu where you will find local pastured chicken.

At a modest table with no signage, probably scattered with some jars of honey and bunches of apple bananas, you will find a man with a long beard and thick black rimmed glasses named Julius. Julius owns and operates J. Ludovico farm, a chicken farm, slaughterhouse and processing facility on Oahu.

Tired from a long week of working on the farm, you will soon discover that Julius enjoys working the farmer’s market because it is essentially the only way he ever gets to take a “break”.

Almost every week I come down to the market to buy a chicken and chat with Julius. We talk about natural farming, how he got into the chicken business and what his hopes and dreams are for his farm. He’s a smart man. He is also extremely thoughtful when it comes to his business and delightfully unapologetic when it comes to his opinions on natural farming.

The inside scoop

Not everyone always makes the time to stick around and get to know their local farmer. Which is a shame. You may have the best intentions to buy healthy foods or support local businesses, but until you engage, chances are you know pretty close to nothing about what you are buying or who you are supporting. In the past 6 months of getting to know Julius and his farm I have learned a lot about natural farming and why it is really damn hard to find pastured chicken on the island.

Julius’s farm is a rare breed on Oahu and his story is remarkable.

You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy

Julius grew up in the Philippines raising pigs with his Mom. He remembers always raising them with the intention to have one to eat and one to sell. When the family picked up and moved to Hawaii all of that changed. Julius became an accounting major at the University of Hawaii and found himself working for a non-profit called The Partners In Development Foundation.

But, Julius missed his days growing up, raising pigs. So, it wasn’t surprising that after being introduced to the principals of Korean natural farming by Hawaiian agriculture expert, Mike Dupont at work one year he decided to quit the company and go back to farming.

The next year, Julius and his wife Jamie moved to a one and a half acre farm in Pupukea and bought 16 pigs. They were the second farm on the island to practice Korean natural farming. A system that utilizes naturally occurring bacteria and other microorganisms to fertilize soil and care for animals without chemicals. The result is healthy soil, high crop yields, zero waste and animal pens that don’t smell or attract flies.

Although they were smaller and simpler versions, Julius built five pens modeled after the Korean natural farming system that he learned about from Mike.

Eventually Julius realized that what he had built was a labor of love. The couple realized that they could never scale the operation large enough to make a profit. So, reluctantly Julius sold off all of his pigs.

How Julius “accidentally” became a chicken farmer

After selling off the pigs, Jamie suggested that they try their hand at raising chickens. Julius, being open to the suggestion, agreed and five months later they owned 50 hens all laying eggs.

Baffled as to what to do with all the eggs, Julius went over to his kid’s elementary school and signed up to work the North Shore Country farmer’s market.

After completely selling out at his first market, Julius realized that there was a big demand there for local, pastured eggs. The couple bought more chickens, produced more eggs and kept adding more and more markets to their schedule every week. The hustle was real and ultimately they just couldn’t keep up with the demand. Completely exhausted and burned out, Julius started cutting back, finally only committing to one market a week, The Honolulu farmer’s market at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

One day a fellow friend and farmer of Julius’s was placing an order for some meat chickens. He asked Julius if he was interested in buying any. Julius was on the fence but his friend insisted, saying that since he was already going to buy some that he may as well order some for Julius too.

Julius opted to raise pastured chickens using the Korean natural farming practices he had used with his pigs. He asked the farmer’s market if it was ok to started selling his chickens along with his eggs. Being naïve at the time he didn’t realize that he would need special permits in order to sell his chickens. Now Julius had a new problem, he had to track down the USDA FSIS supervisor to find out how he could acquire a permit.

After searching for the supervisor for two months Julius had to laugh at himself. He had actually been living next door to him all along. The supervisor told Julius exactly what to do, he did it and a few months later Julius was in the chicken business.

From the farm to the table

The first restaurant Julius approached was Real Gastropub. He brought them a sample of his chicken and, after finding out if they were interested, disclosed that it would be two months until he could produce their first order. Real agreed and after just one delivery the chef was hooked. He no longer wanted a few chickens every couple of months, he wanted 12 chickens a week.

Julius realized he had a problem on his hands. He had the demand, but since the chickens took two months to grow, he didn’t have the supply for a weekly delivery. After a lot of thinking and researching Julius finally figured out how to make it happen. That is when the real chicken production started.

A year later Andrew Le from The Pig and The Lady called up. They had heard about Julius’s chickens and wanted in. Real Gastropub had officially put J. Ludovico farm on the map. They were now the go-to for pastured chicken and all the high end restaurants on Oahu wanted it on their menu.

Controversy at the market

As the farm to table movement grew more popular on Oahu so did the demand for local, organic ingredients. Customers at the market started coming up to Julius looking for his certified organic sign. When Julius informed them that he was not indeed certified, they looked at him confused (even repulsed sometimes) and would keep walking.

“My farm is not certified organic nor do I plan to get certified”, he says. “I feel like there are other ways to do it. It may come down to a little bit more education or information but I’m not getting certified, it’s too expensive.”

I know from my talks with Julius that he does not use fertilizer or chemicals. In fact, chemicals scare him. He moves his birds everyday. They eat grass and worms in addition to commercial grain.

He admits he gets frustrated sometimes having to explain to people about his natural farming practices only to get shut down by customers who don’t understand.

“Just because something is labeled organic it does not mean that it is chemical and pesticide free. In fact, there are synthetic chemicals on that registry that the organic lobbyists petition the USDA to keep. When you are doing small-scale agriculture (like in your backyard) you don’t need chemicals or pesticides. But when you are farming on a larger scale (even just an acre) there are certain challenges that you are never going to have a solution to without pesticides. The use of organic bacteria (such as BT ) used for pesticides is regular practice on many certified organic farms”, Julius explained.

The other question Julius is inevitably always asked is if he gives his chickens GMO feed. “When people ask me if the corn I feeds my chickens is GMO I say, I don’t know but, it is likely, since unfortunately 96% of all corn in America is now GMO”, he says.

Tired of being told week after week from customers that he should feed his chickens non-GMO feed, he decided to look into it. “I dug deep”, he said. “I looked at the literature on the Non-GMO project’s non-GMO feed. And what I found out is that, they have a threshold. Let’s say they get a container of corn for example, they take a sample and do a PCR test on it and if it doesn’t go beyond 10%, meaning if there is 10% GMO in that batch of corn they will label it “non-GMO.” I though about this and realized that if I bought the non-GMO feed I would be paying a premium, have to raise my prices and my feed could still potentially contain GMOs. I just didn’t feel comfortable with that.”

Julius says he no longer engages with customers who turn their noses up to his natural, yet not certified organic, chicken unless they ask the right questions. “I don’t have time to educate everyone and if someone is stuck in their ways or uninformed then that’s their fault. I’m not here to educate them, I’m here to feed my family”, Julius says.

Luckily, as I have found out on my own, if you do ask and you do seem interested than Julius will tell you everything you want to know.

Desperately trying for sustainable farming in Hawaii

A while back Julius was teaching and taking frequent trips to the Big Island. Mike Dupont invited him, several other local farmers and a couple of the animal nutrition experts from the University of Hawaii to a meeting in Hilo. What they discussed at this meeting was, “What do we have in Hawaii in abundance and what can we do with it?”

Julius left the meeting intrigued and curious. Two years would pass before he and Mike would be reconnected. Julius asked Mike, “What happened to the ideas we came up with at that meeting?” Mike told Julius that he analyzed the list of ingredients and created a data base. Without hesitation, Julius said, “I’m farming chickens, lets do a feed trial.” Mike agreed to it.

Working with a local mill Julius proved that if his farm milled it’s own feed locally, cutting out the need for shipping, than they could cut their costs in half.

Now came the hard part. Getting the feed just right.

It is not a matter of just finding ingredients that are in abundance. It’s also a matter of creating a blend of ingredients that creates the perfect balance of nutrients for the chickens to thrive on.

From talking to Julius I learned that there is a reason why commercial feed is made up of soy, corn and wheat (farm subsidies for GMO crops also play a role I’m sure). The combination provides the exact amount of protein, carbs and fiber needed for a chicken’s diet. Julius’s challenge is to find local ingredients that would replace each of those without disrupting that formula.

“We have tried macadamia nuts and they are amazing. They are high in protein but can only replace about 35 percent of the soybeans. Anything more than that and the chickens do not do well. They just don’t have the same amount of protein that the soybeans do. Next, is replacing the wheat and corn. We are currently doing a cassava trial to see if that could replace the wheat. But there are certain properties of corn that are irreplaceable, so if you want to replace corn you need to have a few different ingredients. The corn doesn’t necessarily make the chickens grow bigger but the carbs do give them the energy they need”, Julius said.

Julius wondered why they couldn’t just make a blend of cassava, macadamia nuts, corn and soy so that they could at least eliminate the need to ship over wheat. Mike explained to him that they can’t do that quite yet. They need to do trials with each ingredient separately first to isolate the nutrients and find out what each ingredient does exactly for the chickens. He said that sometimes combining certain ingredients can potentially turn them into anti-nutrients, which cancel each other out.

Once they tested each ingredient separately than they could start formulating a feed recipe. Julius says, “If we had the funds we would have the information we needed by now and would already be producing locally grown feed, but as it is now the trial has been dragged out the past 4 years and it could probably take several more.”

As it stands right now, Julius and Mike are the only ones doing this trial and it is completely self funded. When Julius applied for a grant he was told, “Sorry, we aren’t interested. Even if you are successful the country won’t benefit from it since it will only work in Hawaii.”

Julius did the math, if he grew all of the crops in order to make his own chicken feed he would lose money. “You’re better of selling what you grow”, he said with a defeated look.

It was then, that it really sunk in for me. Commercial feed exists for a reason and it is extremely difficult to change that reason.

Julius says, “We may have the same commercial feed that conventional farms use but since we are not a factory we handle everything by hand and produce a better quality product. It’s kinda cheesy to say but, we actually care. We know the chicks from the time we pick them up at the hatchery day old to harvesting them and taking them to the slaughterhouse. We know them intimately. There is a certain connection that we have that factory farms never will. When you put in the effort and care about what you are doing it shows in the final product.”

How you can support local farming

Julius encourages people to develop relationships with their farmers. “Get to know what they do and how they do it. Just because they are doing something different from what you think (or have heard) they should be, doesn’t mean that they aren’t putting out a good product or that it’s wrong. There is a good reason for what they do. Every farmer has their own quirks and special ways of doing things. In Hawaii there are so many microclimates that you have to adapt accordingly. You have to make it work where you’re at. One of the things that makes us not a factory farm is the fact that it can’t be replicated on another side of the island. You have to always observe and adjust according to your environment. Your farming practices and feed are changing constantly. You have to be quick because you could lose product. I never say what other farms should do, I just know what I need to do for my farm.”

Just the facts

J. Ludovico Farm has the only chicken slaughterhouse on the island. They encourage more farms on Oahu to raise chickens and partner with them. You grow the chickens and Julius will slaughter and processes them for you.

Some of the top restaurants in Honolulu have J. Ludovico Farm chicken on their menus. Pig and the lady, Piggy Smalls, Fete, Herringbone, Basalt, MW, and Chef Mavro are just a few of them.

You can find Julius every Wednesday at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market at the Neil S. Blaisdell Center from 4-7pm. 777 Ward Avenue Honolulu, HI 96814

Customers who are interested in purchasing one of Julius’s chickens are encouraged to pre-order them. Julius does not store any frozen product. He slaughters on demand, so what you order on Friday, gets slaughtered Tuesday to pick up at the market on Wednesday.

You can email your request to jludivicofarm@gmail.com the weekend before a Wednesday market. Whole chickens are $6/lb

For more information on what J. Ludovico Farm has to offer visit their website at https://jludovicofarm.com/shop/

You can also follow them on Instagram @jludavicofarm

When asked about farm tours Julius got very serious and said, “Sure, we are happy to give you a tour but you better be prepared to show up at 5am and work the farm with us all day.” The same goes for the slaughterhouse. They would more than appreciate volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays to come lend a hand. But a word of advice, if Julius tells you to move, you better get out of his way.

Are you excited about local farming on Oahu? Which farms are you proud to support? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

The Magic of Mindfulness

mindfulness
mindfulness
Photo by Ketino Photography

Mindfulness is having awareness of the present moment. It is something to be practiced. The result overtime is experiencing less suffering and more joy in your life. Simply put, savor each moment as if it were your last.

What Mindfulness does

Once you start practicing mindfulness you will start to notice many interesting things in your life….

  • You are less likely to react negatively to emotionally charged situations.
  • You will start to transform pain into healing and darkness into light.
  • You will create an awareness that enables you act instead of react.
  • You will start to think about what you truly want, need or feel, making decisions based on your values instead of temptations or the desire to escape.
  • Challenging moments become less intense and no longer consume you.
  • Your physical immune system will become strengthened.
  • Your relationships will grow stronger.
  • Accidents will be prevented.
  • Your true nature will start to show unadulterated.
  • You will experience more success and joy in your life.

Why Mindfulness works

Your ego is a powerful force. It tries to define you and make you feel like you are a separate entity from the rest of the world. But you are not.

It seeks out ways for us to hide from who we really are, what we really think and what we actually need by finding ways to escape our discomfort. It creates resistance in your mind and forms a hard outer shell that separates you from reality, keeping you in your comfort zone. Only it’s not actually comforting.

In challenging times, you may show emotions of anger, fear or anxiety. These are all emotions that arise from identifying with your ego, or your perceived reality. When you practice mindfulness it is you who is in control of your thoughts instead of your ego.

Do you overeat, drink too much, fight constantly with your spouse, hate your job or stress about your future? Believe it or not these are all things you can change by practicing mindfulness.

Practicing mindfulness puts these actions into perspective, forces you to pause and think and allows you to act with intention. The gap that you create in the constant flow of your thoughts enables you to start becoming aware of why you are in these situations and how to make better choices before you do or say something you will regret.

For example, let’s say you had a hard day at work so you come home, prepare dinner, open a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass. There are several scenarios that could evolve from here. Below are two of them, one being a scenario where you are mindless and one where you are mindful….

A. You turn on the TV plow through your dinner and look up an hour later to realize that the glass of wine you started out with is now an empty bottle. You start to feel ashamed and regretful knowing that tomorrow you are probably going to have a headache, which is not going to make your day any easier than today was.

B. You swirl the wine in your glass inhaling the aroma of the wine taking small sips throughout your meal savoring the nuances of that particular varietal and enjoy the feeling of getting a slight buzz. Once the meal is over you put a cork in the bottle and save the rest for another night feeling satisfied and happy. With a clear head you go to bed thinking tomorrow is a new day.

Scenario B is a good example of participating in an activity mindfully. The actions are deliberate, done with intention and executed using value based decisions. You are completely aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Alternatively, scenario A is a good example of a mindless act. When you react, like eating or drinking on autopilot,  instead of acting with intention it is because you are seeking a particular result. This result usually comes in the form of a quick fix that you think will bring you comfort. Since the decision was not based on your values you end up feeling regret, shame or angry with yourself instead of comforted. When you don’t get the result you were hoping for you start to experience more suffering than what you originally started with.

How to practice mindfulness

Observe your thoughts and actions as they are. Do not let them define who you are or let them turn into bad habits. Instead become curious as to why you have certain thoughts or do the things you do. To find out who you really are all you have to do is sit back and watch.

There are many ways to do this such as……

  • Meditation – Sit with yourself and experience what is. When thoughts arise, acknowledge them without judgement and let them pass.
  • Yoga – A moving meditation. Notice your breath and how you attempt each pose. Are you holding your breath? Are you clenching? Are you angry that you can’t get the pose down perfectly? Yoga can be a perfect metaphor for how you live your life. Do you tense up and judge yourself when it gets hard or do you treat yourself with compassion and know that you are perfect just the way you are?
  • Live in the present moment – Give your attention to what you are doing instead of thinking about the result you want to achieve. You do this by trying not to dwell on things that have happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Use all of your senses here. What do you see, smell, hear, taste or feel right in this moment? How can you bring more awareness and engagement into your current situation?
  • Constantly check in with your body – Do you have a “pit” in your stomach? Are you clenching your jaw or tapping your fingers? These are all feelings that stem from non-acceptance. Your thoughts can materialize in your body. Notice where you feel pain or tightness and try to release any gripping or fidgeting.
  • Catch yourself complaining – Next time you find yourself doing this stop and ask yourself, “What action can I take to resolve this issue?” If you cannot find an answer either leave the situation or accept it as it is.
  • Breath work – There are many helpful breathing exercises that you can do but simply paying attention to your breath is a great way to start. Next time your thoughts are racing stop and see how you are breathing. You might be breathing fast, or shallow or not at all. Stop and smooth out your breath, breathing deep from your belly and then resume your day.

Use practices like these to gain insight on who you really are and what you really need. Practicing mindfulness all of the time even in ordinary situations, not just when times get tough, is the key to growing the skill. Over time your mindfulness muscle grows stronger enabling you to cope with anything life throws your way. The more you practice the more skilled you become. The more skilled you become the less suffering you endure. This is the magic of mindfulness.

Is mindfulness a practice that you have adopted in your life? If so, what positive results have you noticed so far? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more health tips, cooking ideas and resources. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Resources

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Mindful Meal Challenge by Darya Rose (Summer Tomato)

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Eric Ripert Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness, The Tim Ferris show

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Forage Hawaii Farm To Table Dinner – Menu Announcement

Forage Hawaii Farm to Table Dinner

Forage Hawaii and The Healthy Locavore are proud to announce the menu for our farm to table dinner on November 11, 2017.

It is packed full of locally grown ingredients and promises to ignite your tastebuds. A delicious way to support local farms and ranchers.

Chef Sarah Burchard blends her San Francisco fine dining experience and love of Hawaiian cuisine to create fun spins on classic dishes like poke, loco moco and haupia. And in true Healthy Locavore form, all with a nod to clean eating – using mostly organic, whole foods and making everything from scratch including her home-made spice rubs, kimchee and yogurt.

Forage Hawaii farm to table dinner menu
Forage Hawaii Farm To Table Dinner Menu

After touring the farm at Mari’s Gardens you will get the opportunity to try many of their greens, herbs, fruits and vegetables in our 5-course farm to table tasting menu.

You will also get to hear Patsy and Stacy, a.k.a. 2Lady Farmers speak as you try their delicious pork loin. As well as hear Kimo from Maui Nui speak during the venison course.

The combination of the behind the scenes tour, speeches and tasting menu make this a true farm to table experience. We can’t wait to see you!

Purchase Tickets

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

The Importance Of Wellness Retreats

wellness retreat

wellness retreat

Picture yourself completely relaxed and taken care of. You are staying in comfortable (maybe even luxury) accommodations in a beautiful part of the world away from the city and in touch with nature. Nutritious meals are fed to you three times a day, you can sleep in or nap as you wish, there are no expectations of you and you have no responsibilities. Sounds nice right? This is the beauty of the wellness retreat.

Yoga, meditation and/or overall health can be the focus of any wellness retreat. Although there are usually classes scheduled each day they are intended to be restorative and more importantly, optional. The intention is more to provide a space where you can focus on your own needs rather than follow a strict schedule of activities.

Going on a retreat for the first time can be a life changer. Even a short retreat can be enough to create a lasting impression.

Re-entering the “real world” after going on retreat is a fascinating phenomenon. On the one hand the over stimulation can be a bit of a shock to your system, on the other hand you feel re-energized and ready to take on the world.

At the first retreat I ever attended on the north shore of Oahu, our host, Jennifer Reuter explained something to us that would stick with me forever. She explained the difference between a vacation and a retreat.

Vacations

Vacations can be a blast. They are often highly anticipated, packed full of fun activities and designed to take you out of your normal day-to-day routine. I have learned so much from vacations I have taken over the years. I’ve traveled to new places, learned about different cultures and tried new foods. They are the perfect time to bond with friends and family or reignite the spark between you and your partner.

The downfall of all of this fun and excitement however is the fact that there is often a lot of energy that has to be put into these occasions. There is a lot of planning that goes into them. You may need to travel on multiple planes or do a lot of driving, you have to be mindful of other peoples schedules, personalities and needs and work around them. There is usually a tendency to over indulge on rich foods and alcohol and stay up much later than your usual bedtime. There could be hours of sightseeing packed into each day or schedules to stick to. It can be mentally and physically exhausting.

When it is all over, and I’m sure many of us have said this in our lives, we need a vacation from our vacation. We come home and go back to work more tired than before we left. We are thrown back into our worlds starting off on our back foot trying to play catch up with life, our energy and getting back into our daily routines.

Vacations are joyful events but they can also be extremely depleting.

Wellness retreats

A retreat lives up to its name. It is a time to pull back and withdraw from all external commotion. Instead of accommodating others, you focus on yourself and your own needs. It is a time to fill your cup back up. To look inside and see what it is you really need in order to become re-energized.

On retreat you have all the time you need to relax and just be. Time to reflect and be quiet. The food that is served is designed to be nourishing, cleansing and to take no effort on your part.

Activities can include things like yoga, nature hikes and swimming. They are intended to cause you to reconnect with your body and move in a way that makes you feel good.

There are no substances or events that are depleting, only ones that are replenishing. It is a time to meditate, read, journal, reflect, move your body in a restorative way, hydrate, nourish and re-energize.

When you return from a retreat to the “real world” it is common to feel more focused and full of energy.

There are many life-changing events that can occur on retreat but the real take-away is always how you feel afterward. You feel like a new person – inspired, motivated and like your cup has been filled back up. This is the importance of wellness retreats.

Want to know more about the retreat I went to on the north shore? Click this link for more information about Jennifer Reuter wellness retreats.

Jennifer Reuter
Jennifer Reuter

Jennifer Reuter is a yoga and meditation teacher on the island of Oahu. She offers retreats, sound healing baths and yoga teacher trainings. She is extremely gifted,  passionate and knowledgable. Learn more about her philosophy and offerings here.

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Maui For Foodies

Punakea Palms

Punakea Palms

The road to Hana is paved with…….not enough restaurants!

Sure, there is world class snorkeling, humpback whale watching and the infamous road to Hana. But, if you are a chef or a foodie like me you plan your trips around food and squeeze those things in if there is extra time!

If you find that ludicrous than this particular travel guide is not for you. There will be no beach recommendations or ocean excursions mentioned here. There will, however be a boatload of restaurants, farms and places to buy good booze in this post. Hey, even healthy locavores need to have fun too.

This is Maui for foodies.

Plane from Honolulu to Lahaina
Plane from Honolulu to Lahaina

If you are coming over from Honolulu chances are you’ll be wedged in a puka shell sized puddle-jumper such as the one pictured above. I recommend flying into Lahaina to avoid the hoards of tourists at the bigger and busier Kahului Airport on the other side of the island.

But be prepared, other than a tarmac and glorified hot dog stand you won’t find any amenities at this airport. Have a ride lined up or you’ll be walking to your hotel. Rental cars are a must have on this island.

Lahaina (West Maui)

The towns up and down the west side of Maui, including Lahaina are no doubt some of the most picturesque on the island. Large banyan trees, beautiful beach parks and views of Lana’i and Moloka’i line the coast.

We opted for an oceanfront Airbnb at the Kaleialoha Vacation Rentals for our accommodations. It was a cute little one bedroom with beach access, spacious lanai and fully stocked kitchen. There was a sea turtle that swam around below us every morning.

Airbnb in Lahaina
The lanai at our Kaleialoha vacation rental
Airbnb in Lahaina
View from our Kaleialoha vacation rental

Places to eat near Lahaina

Choice Health Bar

This is a great place to stop for a healthy vegan breakfast, lunch or (non-alchololic and sugar free) power drink. All of the produce used on the menu here is organic and handpicked locally. Menu selections include things like overnight oats, chia pudding, pad thai, kale and quinoa buddha bowls, acai bowls, smoothies and shots of noni juice.

Choice Health Bar
Overnight oats at Choice Health Bar

Merriman’s Kapalua

When you are ready for pau hana (happy hour) and an epic sunset, cruise over to  Merriman’s and grab a spot at the bar overlooking Kapalua Bay. Peter Merriman is one of the founding fathers of Hawaiian cuisine and helped pioneer the farm to table concept here. 90% of the food at this restaurant is locally sourced.

And they make a damn good man tai too.

Merriman's Lahaina
Merriman’s Lahaina

Lahaina Grill

If you are craving classic, old world inspired cuisine and are having a foie gras void in your life (like I was) than this is where you come. It’s not cutting edge but it is decadent. Think escargot, Wagyu beef ravioli with black truffle, filet mignon and lobster. Pro tip – Order a few things to share for the table and a nice glass of wine and leave it at that. This place can get pricy.

Seared Ahi and Hudson Valley Foie Gras at Lahaina Grill
Seared Ahi and Hudson Valley Foie Gras at Lahaina Grill
Marcho Farms Veal "Osso Buco" at Lahaina Grill
Marcho Farms Veal “Osso Buco” at Lahaina Grill

The Mill House

Hands down my favorite restaurant on the island.

Tucked inside the Maui Tropical Plantation through a path of botanical gardens and fountains made of old sugarcane cogs you will find one of the most beautiful restaurants on Maui. And the best part? They farm the majority of the produce they use on site. The rest all comes from other parts of the island. Everything including the unbelievable table bread (buttery Hawaiian dinner rolls and rustic sourdough rye? Come on!) and delicate pastas are made in house. Hats off to chef Jeff Scheer. You nailed it.

The Mill House
The botanical gardens at Maui Tropical Plantation
The Mill House
The Mill House
The Mill House
The Mill House
Local Fish Crudo & Mortadella Musubi at The Mill House
Local Fish Crudo & Mortadella Musubi at The Mill House
Chicken Bao Buns & Pork Shank Rillette at The Mill House
Chicken Bao Buns & Pork Shank Rillette at The Mill House
Greens from the farm at The Mill House
Greens and root vegetables from the farm with carrot puree and lemon vinaigrette  at The Mill House
Local fish at The Mill House
Local fish, coconut-cucumber curry and spicy papaya salad at The Mill House
Bone Marrow with Braised Taro Leaf Risotto at The Mill House
Bone Marrow with Braised Taro Leaf Risotto at The Mill House
Chocolate dessert at The Mill House
Chocolate mousse and banana ice-cream with candied cashew at The Mill House

Punakea Palms

Just a man and his coconuts….

On the surface it would appear that Punakea Palms sells farm tours. But, after taking a tour here I know now that what they are actually providing is an educational experience in natural farming,  sustainability and the health benefits of coconuts.

This is a family owned and run operation. In fact, the owners live on the property so what you are basically taking a tour of is their back yard.

Punakea Palms
The view from Punakea Palms

The owner’s son, Kai is the mastermind behind the coconut groves here. He is both the farmer and the tour guide. Kai starts the tour by giving you some background on the land in which you are standing from. Old sugarcane fields. Or more importantly, soil that has been heavily depleted from hundreds of years of burning the land to harvest sugarcane.

It is from here that you realize that Kai and his family aren’t growing coconuts so much to sell (there is surprisingly not a big enough market and coconut products are too labor intensive to be profitable) as they are to save the land.

They now grow halloa ( a legume) on the land which nourishes the soil with nitrogen providing the dry, scorched land with moisture. They water the palms with water from the valley that carries nutrients with it as disperses through the farm. They have planted pine trees on the property to encourage more rain, helping to restore the ecosystem of the land back to the rainforest it once was before being turned into sugarcane fields.

Kai goes on to explain that coconut palms are indigenous to Hawaii and were the first trees to sprout up when the islands were first being formed by volcanos. They require warm tropical climates with a lot of rainfall, about 20 gallons of water everyday to be exact. He said that the coconuts themselves act as seeds. They fall from the tree and with sun and moisture they set roots and sprout up.

Punakea Palms
Punakea Palms

From here Kai goes into harvest times and how to check what stage the coconut is in when picked.

At 5 months (or less) the coconuts are not ready. The water is a bit sour and the meat is underdeveloped, like jelly.

At 6 months the coconuts are young and the meat is starting to firm up.

Prime harvest time for coconut water is  7 months. The coconuts will be heavy and when shaken you will hear water sloshing around inside of it. The meat at this point is the perfect texture to scrape out and eat with a spoon.

If making coconut milk is what you desire than you wait until the coconuts are firm, dry and light in weight.

As we sat on the grass under a shady tree (which you will need to take advantage of since it gets very hot on this farm) Kai cracked coconuts and continued to educate us while we sipped fresh coconut water from bamboo straws.

Water fresh from a coconut is a flavor you will never find in any bottled version. Even if the brand uses non-heated methods for pasteurization.

Kai also dispelled the myth that pink coconut water occurs in nature. Apparently it is only  a result of pasteurization.

Punakea Palms
Punakea Palms

Kai finishes the tour by teaching the group some of the ways to process coconuts for eating and drinking. He’ll show you how to use a traditional coconut stool shredder to grate the meat out of mature coconuts. You’ll also get to try your hand at using a more modern coconut meat removal tool to carve out the meat  to make coconut milk with.

Making coconut milk is a surprisingly simple, yet labor intensive process, that involves carving out the meat from a mature coconut, pureeing it in a blender with a mix of coconut water and filtered water and then squeezing it through a nut bag.

The milk that comes out is rich and delicious and will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge. The coconut meat that you capture in the nut bag by straining off the milk can be dried and made into coconut flour.

Punakea Palms
Making fresh coconut milk at Punakea Palms

Kahului

What can I say, it’s the city the major airport for the island is located in.

Tin Roof

If you are a foodie, no trip to Maui is complete without a stop to the infamous Chef Sheldon Simeon’s, Tin Roof.

You may remember him from Top Chef season 10 and 14. He is on tap to host the new season of, YouTube show, Cooking in America and his new restaurant HALA this fall. I even hear he is planning to open a Tin Roof on Oahu. Fingers crossed!

His menu is a playful take on your typical Hawaiian plate lunch restaurant. He of course uses local meats, fish, produce and artisan made products and prides himself on making “honest” food for his community.

His Mochica chicken is addictive. Crunchy and tender,  glazed with a sweet sauce, furikake and asian rice crackers. The Pork belly is succulent and flavorful. Sides include things like spicy kale salad, ‘ulu mac salad, saimin noodles that you can get dry or with broth and what is called a dime bag (I’ve heard rumors on what people think this is – some say it is a mixture of crumbled up rice crackers, doritios, furikake and spices).

Save room for dessert because they carry Pono Pies! Ridiculously good vegan and gluten free pies made with breadfruit. I tried the banana-coconut cream version and it was amazing.

Heads up these guys are only open 10am-2pm, they’re closed on Sundays and there is probably going to be a long line.

Actually, do yourself a favor, if you are flying out of the Kahului airport stop by here first to get some ono flight “grinds”!

…and don’t forget to throw down a few bucks for the Pau Hana Fund. (That’s the cash pot for after work beers for all you civilians.)

Tin Roof
Tin Roof
Mochica chicken, Saimin, Pork Belly, Mac-Ulu Salad and Banana-Coconut cream Pono Pie from Tin Roof
Mochica chicken, Saimin, Pork Belly, Mac-Ulu Salad and Banana-Coconut cream Pono Pie from Tin Roof
Pono pie
Banana-coconut Pono pie

Upcountry

No foodie trip to Maui is complete without a tour of upcountry. As you drive out to the countryside away from the coast, climb higher in elevation to the center of the island and up the Haleakala crater you will find farms rich in volcanic soil, stunning views and paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys).

Pa’ia –

Pa’ia is where upcountry starts farthest north by the coast. It is a quaint little hippie, surfing town full of great dining options, an organic health food store and lots of boutique shopping right on the edge of one of the best windsurfing beach in the world.

Milagros

If you’re only in town one night grab dinner at Milagros. A Mom and Pop establishment serving some of the best Mexican food in Hawaii (believe me, in Hawaii it’s hard to come by). Grab a margarita and some enchiladas or fish tacos out on the patio and let the people watching commence.

Makawao –

This is known as cowboy country. In the days of King Kamehameha the third he sent vaqueros (Spanish cowboys) from California to come and teach the Hawaiians how to wrangle their cattle. Up until WWII this town provided supplies to neighboring farms and went all but dormant until a resurgence in the 80’s brought in upscale retail, yoga studios and hip eateries….and of course, there is a cowboy museum too.

T. Komoda Bakery

Legendary bakery specializing in donuts, dinner rolls and their famous cream puffs. Locals say get there early. Past 10 or 11am they just about sell out of everything.

Hali’imaile

This tiny town is only a few miles long and is mostly made up of a few must see businesses…

Hali’imaile Distilling Company

Home of Pau Vodka made from pineapples grown right across the street and other spirits made from locally grown ingredients. Tours running every hour.

Hali'imaile Distilling Company
Hali’imaile Distilling Company

Hali’imaile General Store

We have had the cookbook for this restaurant sitting on our bookshelf for years. The food is highly regarded here but what is equally impressive is their cocktail menu. Ask for Wendy, who has been bartending there for 17 years. The first bartender I have ever met whose favorite tool behind the bar is the blender. She has constructed an entire menu from it. She uses local spirits (some distilled just across the street), fresh herbs, fruit and a lot of love in every drink she makes. She’ll even make up a new one right there on the spot for you if you’d like. Be on top of your game, she’s got some good zingers you’ll miss if you aren’t paying attention.

The Lemongrass-Ginger Frost at Hali'imaile General Store
The Lemongrass-Ginger Frost at Hali’imaile General Store

Makai Glass

A fine glass art and glassblowing studio that you can take a free tour of. Sculptures are inspired by Hawaii sea life and volcanic formations and they are incredibly beautiful.

Makai Glass
Makai Glass

Maui Pineapple Tour

Learn everything from how pineapples are grown, harvested and processed. There will be pineapple to sample and even bring home. This is a pretty famous attraction on the island so book your tour in advance.

Kula –

Positioned on the slopes of the Haleakala crater, a dormant volcano and the second largest mountain in the world is Kula. Miles of pristine farmland boasting some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the ocean that you will find on the island.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

A wonderland of over 7 varieties of lavender broken up by walking trails, gazebos and zen gardens. Farm tours are available daily.

Maui Wine

Pineapple wine? Yep, and many other interesting varietals as well. Sip on exotic wines as you enjoy the beautiful vineyard and breathtaking views.

Surfing Goat Dairy

I love the story of this place. Thomas and Eva, husband and wife team from Germany, were a couple of surfers who came to Maui to “retire”. Over 9 years later they own the only certified humane farm in Hawaii, one of two goat farms in the entire state and make award winning goats cheeses that have found their way on to menus all over the country including, at the White House (the variety, Utterly Delicious was served at President Obama’s inauguration).

Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy

They raise about 200 goats by hand. They are completely self sufficient in terms of energy (Hawaiia Sea Spirits is the only other farm on Maui that can say that). Their whole farm is decorated with broken surfboards that they rescued from becoming landfill at the dump (they traded the county goat cheese for them).

Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy

Their cheeses are light and mild. Pasteurization done immediately after the milking process removes any gamey flavor the goat’s milk could impart. They offer 30 different variations of goat cheese including a cheve that sits in rennet 24 hours, and aged cheese called ping pong and over the top varieties like “Midas Touch” (dusted with 23k gold flakes) and “Perigord” (covered in black truffles and truffle oil.).

My personal favorites were their feta and the Ole, which is flavored with jalapeños, artichokes, lime and cilantro.

Not to mention the goats are damn cute. I loved that they had a special pen for the female goats that were too old to milk anymore called “The Golden Girls Caralle”.

Cheese tasting at Surfing Goat Dairy
Cheese tasting at Surfing Goat Dairy

Hawaii Sea Spirits 

You gotta love a farm that offers you free food right off the bat as you walk in. Of course I helped myself to some bananas and of course they were delicious.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

This is Earl, an ex-bartender and the distillery’s entertaining (and extremely knowledgable) tour guide. He walks you through the USDA certified organic farm filled with varieties of sugarcane from all over the world, the distillation process and concludes the tour with a tasting. An education in finely crafted booze you will never forget.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Our tour guide, Earl at Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

The distillery is known for two premium spirits. Master distiller, Bill Scott has created  Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum., both crafted in a state of the art and eco-friendly facility using sugarcane grown organically on the property.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

As you tour the grounds you will be invited by lush, colorful landscaping.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

They make a 150 proof white rum that has nuances of banana, coconut, vanilla and marshmallow.

While Rum is defined by its ingredients, vodka is defines by its distillation process.

Earl explains that they first mix the sugarcane with distillers yeast for three days until it ferments. They then take that 10% alcohol “sugarcane beer”, heat it and distill it until it reaches 40% alcohol. This is now called a “sugarcane spirit”. For the vodka, they distill it 40 times until it is super clean. From here they blend the spirit with their very clean and fresh ocean mineral water. This water is part of their claim to fame. It started as a glacier in Greenland.  Over the span of 2000 years the world’s current carried it to Kona, Hawaii where it is than tapped into 3000 feet below sea level and brought to Maui to their farm.

Since the only things that matter for the quality of vodka are water, fermentation and distillation Hawaii Sea Spirits has vowed to nail all three.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
The “bar” at Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

Back at the bar Earl pours shots for everyone. The vodka is slightly sweet, doesn’t burn going down and actually enhances other ingredients when mixed into a cocktail.

He explains that their rum unlike most other rums is made from fresh sugarcane juice and not molasses. It has not been aged or spiced and because of that is completely clear in color. It smells like coconut and tastes like banana bread.

O’o Farm

Organic farm that produces all of the produce Pacific’o restaurant in Lahaina serves on its menu. Their farm tour includes a gourmet lunch with freshly harvested ingredients while enjoying a cooler climate with breathtaking views.

All foodie obsessions aside no trip to Hawaii is complete without a trip to the beach. So do like the locals do, enjoy some good food, quality time with friends and family and a nice afternoon nap by the ocean…. island style.

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.